Served With a Side of Nostalgia: Houston's Top 10 Time Warp Restaurants
There are restaurants which evoke a strong sense of nostalgia, even if you've never dined there before. You can look around at the picture-lined walls or the spots near the counter where the linoleum has rubbed away and know that you are only a small speck of the humanity that this place has served over the years. It's a sense of perspective that's both startling and comforting.
Photo by Troy Fields Another Time Soda Fountain in Rosenberg offers legit milkshakes and banana splits just like the pharmacy which once occupied this building used to do generations ago.
It's how I felt the first time I walked into C&D Burger Shoppe in South Houston. I'd never eaten there before, but it seemed like coming home. And it's how I feel every time I walk into Bellaire Broiler Burger, where even my many years of accumulated memories are no match for the decades more that seem to cling thickly to every surface in the restaurant. (Although it's more likely that those are just years of broiler grease build-up.)
And even though Houston isn't the type of city to tenaciously hold onto, or even build upon, its [relatively] short history, there are at least a few restaurants left in town where you can step back in time and catch a glimpse of how life in the Bayou City used to be.
Honorable Mention (because there are just too many good places to list): Another Time Soda Fountain in Rosenberg, New York Bagel & Coffee Shop in Meyerland and LaKing's Confectionery in Galveston, a must-visit during any trips to the Strand.
10. Burger Park
Photo by Groovehouse A cheesburger and fries at Burger Park.
Burger Park has been serving the South Park and Sunnyside communities for so long, it's even endured a street name change in its 44-year history. South Park Boulevard is now MLK Boulevard, but very little else at Burger Park has changed -- including the prices. Expect to pay only a few bucks for one of the 400 to 500 burgers it turns out every day, and that includes a bag of fresh, hot fries and a slush in your choice of tongue-turning flavors.
9. House of Pies
Photo by Jeff Balke Remember when all the nice restaurants had ceiling fans with stained glass light covers?
One of the few constants in Houston since I was a child is the fact that a long night of partying is best wound down over cottage fries and a slice of Bayou Goo pie in a plastic booth at House of Pies. Despite a string of fancier late-night places that have come and gone over the years, House of Pies is still a favorite in those wee small hours of the morning.
The wood paneling on the walls is probably petrified by now, so long has Bellaire Broiler Burger haunted the intersection of Bissonnet and Bellaire. It's at least a third of the charm here. The rest of the charm is made of equal parts gruff old ladies manning the grills and unremarkable burgers that are transformed through the twin powers of cheese and chili. Alison Cook said it best about Bellaire Broiler Burger 18 years ago: "...thinnish chili and cheddar cheese turn gray, unsucculent patties into magnificent overachievers; the vintage wood paneling and booths make them taste even better."