Hot Blocks: 19th Street

The stretch of 19th between Ashland and Yale seems like it was plucked out of a small town. Heights locals stroll down the quaint sidewalks and duck into quirky, locally owned shops of which there are many. It's a great place to send out-of-towners or spend a weekend afternoon, as the stops are condensed, walkable and exhibit the eccentric flair for which the Heights is known.

Updated: February 09, 2010

Neighborhood Guide to 19th Street


Retropolis

321 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008

Happily jaunting down 19th, it's easy to miss the narrow entrance of this vintage shop, which actually reaches far back and onto a second floor. It can certainly be overwhelming to sift through the hundreds of sequined tank tops, petticoats and polyester men's shirts, but if you have patience you'll come out with some great pieces, be it yellow-tasseled moon boots or cowboy kickers--depending on your style.


Shade

250 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008

Amid all the low-key clothing stores and sandwich shops, one of Houston's notable restaurants humbly sits. Although owner Claire Smith has since opened Canopy in Montrose, Shade's deft mix of Southern and Asian-influenced cuisine put the Heights on the foodie radar years ago. Start your Saturday with the popular brunch offering and the delectable pastry plate.


Cricket's Creamery & Cafe

315 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008

Tuckered out shoppers and kid-toting mommies refuel on vegetarian sandwiches and coffee at this comfortable, colorful cafe. Ask one of the surly teens behind the counter for one of the rotating gelato flavors like pineapple-coconut or banana split. The best seat in the house is in the former window display, now a cozy couch nook with a magazine stand.


Casa Ramirez Imports

241 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008

You can be sure that anytime you visit this Mexican folk-art store, either owner Macario Ramirez or his wife Chrissie will be there to welcome you. The level of hospitality (look for the cookie bowl by the door) matches the riot of color on the shelves and hanging from the walls. Even if the paper-mache skulls and bouquets of paper flowers seem slightly pricey, it's nearly impossible to leave without purchasing something.


Sew Crafty

321 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008

Resulting from what is surely some New York or Los Angeles trend, Sew Crafty touched down on 19th Street as Houston's first and only sewing lounge. Less of a store and more of a meeting place, the adorable, welcoming space is open for crafters to use the lounge's sewing machines for personal projects--and it also offers classes on sewing, beading and knitting multiple times a week.


Carter & Cooley Co

375 W 19TH St, Houston, TX 77008

This 20-year-old deli is the result of careful preservation. Bentwood chairs, a pressed-tin ceiling and transom windows in a building that dates back to 1921 amount to the coolest place to eat a liverwurst sandwich in the entire city. Order off the extensive sandwich list or design your own.


Grace Hart & Co

313 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008

Several merchants occupy the cavernous space inside this antique store, which means different sources and different types of goods for shoppers' varying interests. This is not a junk dump; the treasure-to-trash ratio is high. The glittering display of antique glass tinted sherbet colors, mid-century furniture and yellowed postcards have created a time-suck vortex that you will struggle to free yourself from.