Making Change on Montrose

Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
Vaya con dios, Taco Cabana
The intersection of Montrose and Westheimer is nothing if not mutable.  From being a sleepy residential neighborhood in the 1920s to the 40s to a run-down hangout for drug addicts and rough types in the 1970s and early 80s to a haven for LGBT community in the late 80s and throughout the 90s to the rapidly gentrifying area it is today with million-dollar townhomes and upscale restaurants, Montrose is always changing.

The restaurant scene in particular has come a long way.  Alongside staid businesses like Niko Niko's and Mark's American, late-night joints like Little Big's and BB's Cajun Cafe and dressier haunts like Da Marco, Anvil and Feast are making Montrose one of the best places in town to grab a bite.

One of the most striking changes recently has been the closure of the Taco Cabana at the corner of Westheimer and Montrose.  The fast food Tex-Mex restaurant had long been a bastion of late-night eating in the 'trose.  It's not much to cry about; there are hundreds more throughout the Houston area to choose from, after all.  Gone are the bright-pink exterior walls and neon sign.

But what's moving in to the old place?

...it's Smoothie King, which is moving from its current location on Westheimer and Hawthorne.  Surprise!  If you thought it was going to be another hip concept like shakes and sliders, sorry.  Just another chain to drive blithely past every day.  But more changes are afoot up the road.

Doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

At the corner of Montrose and Branard, familiar caffeine outpost Diedrich Coffee has undergone a slight name change.  Although the sign out front still looks the same, a careful eye will note that they're now called "Dirk's Coffee."

Back in 2006, the California-based coffee roasters decided to close their retail locations across the United States and do away with their franchise operations, in order to focus exclusively on the wholesale coffee business.

California and Texas are the only two states who still had Diedrich Coffee shops until recently, when the franchise owners officially changed the names.  While the name "Diedrich" may be gone, the coffee and atmosphere at "Dirk's" remain unchanged.

No felicidades for the old Fenix yet.

In other news, it's been rumored for almost a year now that the former location of the late, lamented Felix Mexican Restaurant will become a 24-hour breakfast place called Tost.

However, since the change was supposed to take place under the guidance of Scott Lutwak -- owner of the now-defunct Crome nightclub -- and since the large "for lease" sign still looms out front, it's becoming increasingly likely that Tost is toast.  It's a shame, too, because a round-the-clock breakfast joint that isn't Denny's or Katz's would probably rake in the cash at this location.

Still opening soon, however, is Vinoteca Poscol.  Within the next few days, the wine bar will be officially open for business every day at 5:00 p.m., serving an array of food alongside a well-chosen wine list.

Next up?  I still have high hopes that someone will tackle the strip center at the corner of Westheimer and Montrose and put in a Trader Joe's.  We can dream, right?

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