Served With a Side of Nostalgia: Houston's Top 10 Time Warp Restaurants

Categories: Top 10

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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.
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.

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.

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Photo by Groovehouse
A cheesburger and fries at Burger Park.
10. 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.

house-of-pies-jeff-balke-2.5209955.131.jpg
Photo by Jeff Balke
Remember when all the nice restaurants had ceiling fans with stained glass light covers?
9. House of Pies

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.

8. Bellaire Broiler Burger

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."

Location Info

Venue

Map

Burger Park

6704 Martin Luther King Jr Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

House of Pies

3112 Kirby, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bellaire Broiler Burger

5216 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire, TX

Category: Restaurant

Dot Coffee Shop

7006 Gulf Freeway, Houston, TX

Category: General

Yale Street Grill

2100 Yale St., Houston, TX

Category: General

Perry & Sons Market & Grille

12830 Scarsdale Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

C & D Burger Shoppe

10606 Fuqua St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

City Cafe

513 College Ave., South Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Barbecue Inn

116 W. Crosstimbers, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Triple A Restaurant

2526 Airline Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Another Time Soda Fountain

800 Third St., Rosenberg, TX

Category: Restaurant

New York Bagel & Coffee Shop

9724 Hillcroft, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
27 comments
Ali
Ali

Dot has the added bonus of being the setting for the coffee shop scenes in Reality Bites. 

GNJ
GNJ

Love the Dot!!!  Real BIG diner food!

Lauren
Lauren

Yes!  Tel-Wink is another SE time warp for sure.  And going toward C&D, there's always good 'ol Shuttle Burger.  Alas, not much to choose from out here, and a lot of it is still stuck in the 50s turned 70s-80s bad remodel stage..

AtaboyLuther
AtaboyLuther

Dot's should be included in your burger bracket.  They also have the best fried cheese in town.

Ribalding
Ribalding

I worry about the Triple A.  The crowd gets older and older, every year.  Last time my wife went, she reported being the only customer under 70.  Not a good sign.

C'mon, Heights Hipsters!  Be TRULY ironic!  Go eat with old people.   Keep this place alive. 

Sarah Gabbart
Sarah Gabbart

I want to eat at all these places - thanks Katherine! 

One I would put on this list is 2M's Burgers in Rosenberg - they are plain, simple burgers that taste fantastic. It's so old school my grandparents had their post wedding meal there in the early 50s and swear it hasn't changed a bit. Now the state of the inside of that joint *shudder* - let's just say take your burgers to go.

sbterry
sbterry

Great list!  I am sure we can all think of a place or two we would add, but this list is "quality".  And to those commenters who say you can get better food at places other than on this list, you are right, but that was not the intent of the article.  I know there are better burger places, but walking into BBB takes me back to my childhood when going there with my dad.  There are many places I can say that about throughout the city.  My guess is the naysayers are not native Houstonians!

Eric S
Eric S

Cleburne Cafeteria belongs on this list, somewhere, although the prices are anything but retro. 

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Ever since they remodeled Cleburne's interior, it looks like a hospital cafeteria. All the old charm is gone. :(

Jessica
Jessica

Doyle's?  That place is  total time warp.  

Kid_a_ok_computer
Kid_a_ok_computer

Hi, Katherine. Any chance of getting photo credit? :)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/e...

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Hi! I pulled the rotator photo (the square image in the Top Blog Stories rotator up there) straight off our restaurant listings page for Dot Coffee Shop: http://www.voiceplaces.com/dot... The two photos look very similar to me, but the one in our listings page was contributed by someone called "therubadu." Is that also you?

If so, the contribution means that the photographer is giving the Houston Press permission to use the image on our site. If not, then either someone called "therubadu" dropped your photo in there without your permission, or the two photos just look stunningly similar. I honestly can't tell...

Kid_a_ok_computer
Kid_a_ok_computer

I'm not "therubadu." I could it was my pic just from the small rotator image. I didn't see any way to contact therubadu at the link. Not that big of a deal. I know the picture is mine, and so does therubadu.

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

Looks "Kid a ok" should be going after therubadu instead. He definitely has a stolen and cropped the photo as his own. As a photographer myself I hate this - Bad form, therubadu.TA

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

Thank you for this list.  As much as I love the latest and greatest, a reminder of the establishments that have weathered the decades helps us keep in touch with our Houston heritage.

Txjboy
Txjboy

Had lunch yesterday at the Bellaire Broiler Burger.  Fantastic chili cheeseburger!  BBB is a remnant of Britton's Broiler Burger.  Britton's had a number of Houston area locations like Westbury Square and somewhere on Westheimer.

Corey
Corey

Langford not homey enough, or old school enough to make this list?

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I do love Lankford Grocery. I love its biscuits and gravy on the weekends and I love its Grim Burger so much I included it on my list of 100 Favorite Dishes in Houston. But something desperately needs to be done about the dilapidated state of the place for me to more seriously recommend it to anyone. I've nearly killed myself slipping and sliding on that greasy floor the last two visits -- and I was far from alone. They need to clean their act up a bit.

Corey
Corey

 I sit outdoors, and eat my CFS and eggs under the clouds or umbrella as the case may be. I find it rustic and a little charming, and I was surprised the bathroom wasn't uber disgusting. This is what a small town diner in the middle of BFE Texas looks like, so I embrace that aesthetic.

Mc
Mc

Shit enchiladas.  They literally had shit smelling enchiladas.  

Corey
Corey

duly noted, thanks..

Tim
Tim

I may be wrong, but I don't recall that BBQ Inn has mashed potatoes.  I think the choices are fries or a baked potato.  I say this mostly because if they did have mashed, I'm sure I would have ordered them at least once and remembered them.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

You're right. I'm thinking of the stuffed baked potatoes that come with a metric ton of sour cream and butter. Mmmmmmm.

TAnna
TAnna

 Actually, they don't come packed with anything :)  You get a little cart of toppings you can choose for yourself!

lauren covington
lauren covington

nice rosenberg pick! having grown up in sugar land, i'm a little ashamed i've never been. 

Sarah Gabbart
Sarah Gabbart

I grew up in SL too and have totally missed out on this, even though my whole family lives in Rosenberg and Richmond. Time to right this wrong - I'm heading there this weekend!

Mike N.
Mike N.

Don't bother. Not really a shake or malt guy, so while I had a shake, I don't have much of an opinion on them, but the burgers are truly meh.

When I went, they are cooked beyond well done, and ended up rubbery and hard. My friend ordered his medium rare and they refused, even after he spoke to the manager or owner lady.

That and the quality and flavor of the fries tells me the food probably came right from the back of a Sysco truck (Hobbit Cafe is the same in that the concept/decor/setting is used to excuse serving mediocre Sysco food at elevated prices).

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