Dining on the Rails: A Guide to Light Rail Lunching in Houston

Categories: Local Spotlight

lightrailguide.jpg
Map and illustrations by Monica Fuentes
Click to see the entire map.

When owner Staci Davis decided on a location for her restaurant, Radical Eats, one thing was extremely important to her above all: Davis wanted her vegan paradise to have access to the new Metro light rail North Line that's currently being built along Fulton. When the line is completed, riders will only have a few short blocks to walk from the Moody Park station to her restaurant. For now, the construction and the dust are a bit of a nightmare, but Davis insists that it's worth it.

And at the new 8th Wonder Brewery that's being built in EaDo, the planned Stadium stop on the East End Line will not only service the Dynamo's shiny new stadium -- it will bring visitors to the craft brewery as well as to concert venues like Warehouse Live and restaurants like Huynh.

Light rail development -- for all its many quirks and flaws (it's called the Danger Train for a reason sometimes...) -- will ultimately be good for Houston. I hope. There's only so much unchecked growth and sprawl that can take place in a city before its residents and planners become stewards of the land, attempting to encourage progress while being smart about it at the same time. It's the way of all great cities, or at least it should be.

To that end, the light rail line we currently have gets a lot of flack: It doesn't run to the suburbs, it only trolleys back and forth between Point A and Point B, et cetera. But I'm one of the people who's found it supremely useful.

I ride the light rail to the Museum District and to Reliant Stadium so that I don't have to deal with parking. I ride it to my doctor's appointments or to visit hospital-bound friends in the Medical Center (or to eat at Trevisio) because the only thing more confusing than the hospital corridors themselves is trying to recall where you left your car. I ride it to the Best Block in Houston to see shows at the Continental Club, to get cocktails and coffee at Double Trouble, to eat brunch at Natachee's or dinner at t'afia. I ride it to the Preston station and get my movies at Sundance or my culture at Jones Hall.

And, as you would expect, I ride it to restaurants up and down the line. People will often complain about walking in the Houston heat -- that's why we have tunnels, after all -- but the funny thing is this: You get used to it. Really fast. And walking off a meal is one of my favorite activities to do outside of eating the meal itself. If more of us did this (myself included, as I don't walk nearly as often as I should), Houston would undoubtedly remove itself from the running each year as the Fattest City in America. Walking is good. Try it.

On that note, we've put together a handy visual guide -- to scale, no less! -- of all the lunching and dining options off the main stops on the light rail. Some will require a bit of a walk (perhaps five blocks at most) while others are literally right in front of the stop itself. If you use it online, you'll note that you can click on the restaurant names to be taken to a site about the restaurant itself. If you print it out, you can use it as a visual reference when you take your first heady steps into the rail car before it rattles and shakes off into city.

Whatever you do, just remember to put in your $1.25 before you ride -- getting a Metro ticket for failing to pay is about as much fun as coming out of dinner to see a parking ticket under your windshield wiper.



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Location Info

Radical Eats

507 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Huynh

912 St. Emanuel, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Trevisio Restaurant

6550 Bertner St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails

3622 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Music

Natachee's Supper 'n Punch

3622 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

T'afia - CLOSED

3701 Travis, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Sundance Houston

510 Texas Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Film

Jones Hall

615 Louisiana St., South Houston, TX

Category: General

My Voice Nation Help
12 comments
Joyce Almaguer-Reisdorf
Joyce Almaguer-Reisdorf

If you enjoy the rail and would like to see better transit connectivity throughout the Houston area you must take a few minutes and review the following:  http://www.houstontomorrow.org/initiatives/story/lets-spend-our-transit-taxes-on-transit/.  If METRO can be allowed to use its entire transit tax on TRANSIT (vs. building the Grand Parkway, redoing the streets in West U., etc.) we can accomplish this before we're all living in nursing homes.  Without the ability to use the entire sales tax allocation, we won't be seeing a University Line (the line along the Richmond corridor) for instance, until 2025.  

just saying
just saying

Definitely bummed not to see Pizza Piola on the list.  I fell in love with it while living in South Beach (Miami), and went there all the time.  The food (and not just the pizzas) is spectacular.  Skip traditional dessert and go for a delicious glass of scorpino.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Kuff, we definitely plan to do this with the other lines when they're finished. We're also working on a light rail pub crawl map at the moment, too... :)

Charles Kuffner
Charles Kuffner

Very useful, thanks. As someone who works near a stop at the south end of the line, it's frustrating that there are so few lunch options nearby, that is to say in the Medical Center - hell, there's nothing remotely close to the Museum District station, either. I'd take much greater advantage of this if that were the case. As it is now, I usually only go to one of these restaurants when I had other business to take me into Midtown or Downtown. Do you have any plans to do this same kind of map for the three lines that are under construction? That would be very cool. Thanks!

lauren covington
lauren covington

yay for this.. love this article on so many levels.  1. walking off meals is the best! i have to drag my husband to do it, (he likes surrendering to the 'ugh, too full to walk' feeling; but is ALWAYS glad that we did it.).  2. parking can really suck.. and often you end up paying for it. why not pay for the metro and have an extra glass of wine since you won't be driving? 3. so many great historic district haunts! i'm a bit biased, but it's a true gem in houston.

Newyorkelle
Newyorkelle

Me too! I keep looking for the trains when I go into the tunnels lol. Can't wait for the new lines. As a non driver Texas can be pretty difficult, but Houston has been very easy for me. Great map!

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

Their service is definitely top-notch. Hope your next trip goes well, food-wise :)

Philipe De La Lobos
Philipe De La Lobos

To do the Midtown stops any justice this map would have to be interactive or a lot bigger.  There are so many more restaurants to chose from at the Ensemble/HCC, McGowan, and DTC stops that it is clearly incomplete.  Nice idea and excellent execution by the artist.  

Hanabi-chan
Hanabi-chan

I use the light rail also to get to the Museum District, Hermann Park and the Reliant complex. I find a cheap parking place downtown with a block or two of a rail station, get rail ticket(s) and just sit back and relax in air conditioned comfort, not having to worry about the traffic,  finding a parking space at my destination and paying out the nose for the privilege. Might I suggest a restaurant not on your list? Van Loc.  I took my daughter and 3 of her friends there for my kid's birthday in March. I believe you exit at the McGowan station. Yes, it is a bit of a walk, but we also went to High Fashion Fabrics next door, hopped on the rail to the Contemporary Arts Museum, then to Texas Art Supply, then back downtown to my car.  Took the rail to the Japan Festival with a stop at Tacos a Go Go. We rode the line all the way to the end and back to take advantage of the A/C. I am looking forward to the other rail lines once they open. 

Eric S
Eric S

Couple of quick additions: Hong Kong Diner on Franklin b/t Main and Travis. They have a full dim sum menu during lunch that's pretty tasty. Thien An, on Travis near the McGowan station: I prefer it to most of the other Vietnamese places on the map, although they are closed for vacation until July 9.

Jalapeno
Jalapeno

Very cool map.  Is there a sturdy paper copy in the Press?  I'll need to pick one up...

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