Restaurant News

Retrospect Coffee Bar Is a New Midtown Gem

Courtney, a barista at Retrospect, gets down to business.
Courtney, a barista at Retrospect, gets down to business. Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp
Midtown has a killer new spot for coffee, crepes, and even wine and beer (and mimosas by the pitcher) at 3704 La Branch. It's called Retrospect, and it actually shares a parking lot with the area's beloved beer and hang-sesh hub Axelrad.

In fact, Retrospect is kind of like your favorite new coffee and hang-sesh hub. Or rather it will be when word gets around that this spot, adjacent to HCC and offering discounts to students/faculty and people who ride bikes, is open early and pretty late.
click to enlarge
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp

The shop has apparently been a long time coming— owner Stephen Harrison had originally intended to open in the fall of 2015, according to a previous report by Culture Map. The spot is home to ample outdoor seating, including nine or so picnic tables in a nice-sized backyard, where a crepe stand and gurgling fountains jerry-rigged from tin washtubs and some clever handiwork can also be found amid patrons on laptops or entrenched in deep conversation. There's also covered seating in front, and more of those tin washtubs, used as planters.

The actual coffee shop itself is pretty small, only 297 square feet, though a long shipping container has been added to expand the space as well. The original structure reportedly dates back to the 1920s when it was a gas station and home to Houston's first commercial Kelvinator, which is what you call those coolers that keep drinks cold at the quickie mart.

The shop's build-out is pretty lovely, with original windows that let in loads of light and a handful of baristas who are sweet as the iced Cafe de Ola, chock-full of cinnamon and notes of anise. It's a must-order for summer, though there's also a single-origin iced coffee and a wealth of espresso options from roasters including Amaya, Xela and more.

Crepes range from savory to sweet and are named after famous Texans. The Janis Joplin ($8), a vegetarian crepe with cracked egg, sliced avocado and cheese, is a perfect breakfast bite, especially when dipped in a side of sriracha.  

click to enlarge
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp

Retrospect also serves pastries, muffins, snacks and the like from Angela's Oven and Pat Greer's Kitchen. Plus, there's also housemade granola, and a selection of Honey Child frozen custards. Crepes and other morning items are actually served all day.

Restrospect Coffee Bar
3704 La Branch, 713-993-6600,
Hours: Monday to Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 6:30 a.m. to midnight. Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to midnight. Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Gwendolyn Knapp is the food editor at the Houston Press. A sixth-generation Floridian, she is still torn as to whether she likes smoked fish dip or queso better.