First Look at Heights Ashbury

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Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
Soup and salad: Exceeding expectations.
"I know they tried to name this place after San Francisco," my friend Hala said as we walked into Heights Ashbury last Friday afternoon. "But there's no way you could accidentally mistake this for San Francisco." She looked around at the Uncle Charlie poster art on one bright orange wall and the broad entry leading to the front door, where store display cases had been ripped out and replaced with cheery outdoor seating.

"This place screams 'the Heights' to me," she grinned.

As well it should, being smack dab in the heart of the Heights on 19th Street, the old subdivision's once and future main street. Although there's a distinct "hippie" vibe from the vegetarian offerings and the fresh-squeezed juices inside Heights Ashbury, the name and its clever play on words are fitting.

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The coffee shop is still very new, having only opened a few weeks ago. And as such, it still lacks that cozy vibe that will only come with time. For now, however, several groups were settled in comfortably that afternoon, mugs of lattes and mostly eaten quiches littering their tables. It's getting there.

I ordered a cortado and two different kinds of tacos, of which there are several here. My eyes also lit up at the sight of a Oaxaca-style taco cooked inside a bright green banana leaf, so I ordered that too. Hala got the soup and salad combo. I didn't have high hopes for such a boring-sounding item, but was quickly proven wrong.

It's so rare to see kale used, much less raw, so it was thoroughly refreshing to see a green salad delivered that was made with all kale, no lettuce to be found. It was dressed with sweetly pickled red onions and a tart vinaigrette that tamed the bitterness of the dark greens. To its side, a white bean soup with bright red tomatoes swimming with diced potatoes and carrots was equally vibrant and surprisingly refreshing on a hot day.

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Fried green tomato taco.
I loved both items so much, I made half a meal of her soup and salad while trying not to ignore my red cabbage-laden tacos.

Both were wonderful, although the tortillas could have stayed together better. But when fried green tomatoes and fried avocado is involved, I'm less inclined to care. Between the cornmeal-battered fried green tomato tacos here at Heights Ashbury and the tartly sweet Viola Lee tacos at Greatful Taco, I'm keen on thinking this is going to be the summer of the fried green tomato taco: the ultimate expression of East Texan cuisine and Tex-Mex as one.

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So although my tamale was ultimately disappointing, runny and unremittingly bland, I came away impressed with the food in the young kitchen -- which is serving food from Radical Eats -- nevertheless. It's certainly a welcome change from standard coffee shop fare, even if the kitchen does close each day at 2:30 p.m.

But if you come past 2:30 p.m., there are always juices and smoothies available after all. And that's what I'll be heading back to Heights Ashbury to happily try next time.



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Location Info

Heights Ashbury Coffeehouse - CLOSED

242 W. 19th St., Houston, TX

Category: General


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16 comments
Mern721
Mern721

So no fried green tomato tacos for us in the Heights? :-(

Guest
Guest

Two tamales, one tamal.

Katie Laird
Katie Laird

I heard that Radical Eats is moving to a new spot in June - so they will probably have expanded hours (thank the lord in tamale heaven above, I could rarely make it to eat during Heights Ashbury hours unfortunately).  Next time, try the Purple Haze salad - unbelievably addictive.  Nom.   

Staci
Staci

Actually we are moving at the end of the week.  It turns out that the kitchen is just not big enough for our growing tamale business.  We are moving to 3903 Fulton, across 45 from the Heights.  We will be able to serve dinner in our new location as well as Aguas Frescas and Liquados.  We will expand the menu to include a variety of Enchiladas, Moles and Chili Rellenos.  We are planting  a garden on the back patio too.  Look for us to re-open about mid June to limited hours.

joel_luks
joel_luks

I haven't made it there yet. Your descriptions are beautiful vivid, I will make it a point to check it out in the next day or two :)

Ray
Ray

2:30? Will they change that in the future?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Just like we don't say or write "panino" because it sounds weird to our English ears, I am pretty sure we'll continue to bastardize "tamal" by saying/writing "tamale." It's just gonna happen. It's the evolution of language, especially when it comes to loanwords. Ain't it grand?  :)

Tony Locicero
Tony Locicero

Really!!  I spend about 80% of my eating out food budget after 2:30!!!  Even weekend breakfasts seem to be afternoon events!

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Wait, wait, wait... Heights Ashbury is already closing and moving? Am I reading this correctly?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I'm not sure. You could try asking them at the shop or on their Facebook page.

Ec
Ec

Panini is always plural because it is made with two pieces of bread..  Just like spaghetti, which is plural as well.

Cheflambo
Cheflambo

I'm still confused.  Heights Ashbury might expand their hours, but the food is going away, and it will be coffee & juice only? Hmmm....

Katie Laird
Katie Laird

Just Radical Eats - Heights Ashbury as a juice and coffee spot will still be there.  But no veggie food from the Rad Eats kitchen, they'll be in new digs.

Adam
Adam

Radical Eats makes the food magic currently coming out of the Heights Ashbury kitchen (at least til the end of the week). They are two different companies. Radical Eats is moving (to 3903 Fulton) and expanding both our menu and our hours. Heights Ashbury will remain on 19th street.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Okay. That clears it up. So who'll serving food at Heights Ashbury now? *sad face*

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