Tucked away between Rice University and the Galleria are West University and Rice Village. These areas are beautiful pockets of Houston filled with stunning architecture, tree-lined streets and lovely small businesses. For the best of eating, drinking, shopping and playing, check out a few of the many small businesses that are worthy of a shoutout.
Travel to Europe without leaving Houston by heading to Simone on Sunset. This neighborhood oasis is complete with a courtyard full of candles and comfortable seating, ushering you into an inviting café. The cozy spot is a gathering place for amazing spirits, curated wine selection and delicious bites like tandoori scallops, Simone signature shrimp, smoked duck, and lamb tacos. Plus, Simone on Sunset offers happy hour every Wednesday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. This spot is truly a neighborhood gem that shouldn’t be missed for an intimate night out.
For craft coffee, look no further than Cavo Coffee in West University. Cavo Coffee prides itself on the beans that it roasts right next door at Cleo Roasting Co. Cavo’s large glass windows even allow patrons to get a view of Cleo Roasting Co.’s coffee lab in action. There’s everything on the menu from a daily drip and café au lait to espresso drinks like a cortado and flat white. For the true coffee connoisseurs, there are slow brews like the Aeropress, V60 and Siphon. Of course, there are plenty of options beyond coffee like matcha lattes, spicy chai lattes and tea. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., with thick-cut pain de mie used for cinnamon bread, or stop by for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and enjoy a delicious quiche or turkey club.
You could say she’s a Houston celebrity, but anyone who enjoys beautiful things should visit Chloe Dao’s eponymous boutique. The designer catapulted to international fame after winning Project Runway Season 2 in 2006. However, Dao Chloe Dao has been one of Houston’s premier shops located in the Rice Village shopping district for the last 21 years. As a full-service boutique, it offers styling, alterations on in-store purchases, and custom design. Along with Chloe’s locally made collections, the boutique includes carefully curated, one-of-a-kind merchandise. If you’re lucky, you may run into the designer who is often in the store helping clients style the perfect look.
For a fun cocktail and overall experience, you must visit a funky, understated yellow house called Under the Volcano. Under the Volcano is a Day-of-the-Dead-themed neighborhood bar that opened in 1989. Named after the classic novel by Malcolm Lowry, the art, décor and furniture, all purchased in Mexico, reflect the Mexican holiday Día de Los Muertos. As the first craft cocktail bar in Houston with an emphasis on Latin America, only fresh-squeezed juices and herbs are incorporated to create drinks like the Strawberry Basil Margarita, Paloma, Añejo Old Fashioned, Caipirinha and others. Olé!
For a bit of local art that benefits the community, head to Main Street Theater. Founded in 1975, Main Street Theater produces innovative, thought-provoking plays for adults and children, and theater arts education/integration programs tailored to the needs of each school and community partner. Most productions run for about a month and the schedule is constantly updated with new plays and experiences. Main Street Theater has two locations in both Rice Village and Downtown, so make sure you know the location at which your production is playing. We know visitors will enjoy plays with some of Houston’s most talented thespians.