If you had told me five years ago that something like Revival Market could exist in Houston, I would never have believed you.
But the shop, a hybrid locally-sourced grocer, butcher shop, coffee shop and restaurant that opened Monday on Heights Blvd., near White Oak Drive, has taken the burgeoning interest in local and organic food in Houston and brought it to a logical and truly exciting conclusion — a 21st-century version of a classic neighborhood market.
Sitting on the corner of an upscale strip center, the inside of Revival wows with a mix of clean lines and rustic touches, including pine paneling reclaimed from a former Heights home and a stunning bouquet of cotton atop one of the counters.
Co-owners Ryan Pera (formerly of The Grove) and Morgan Weber (of Revival Meats) have assembled a who's-who of local venders to stock the shelves, including fresh breads delivered twice daily from Houston's Slow Dough Bread Co., cheeses from the Houston Dairymaids, dairy products from When Back When Dairy ad Lucky Layla, sweets by Rebecca Masson's Fluff Bake Bar plus produce, fresh flowers, olive oil and more.
There's even a map of Texas producers so customers can see where everything in the store came from.
The idea for Revival was originally a butcher shop, so the meat counter is predictably impressive. It has the first dry curing room of any retail shop in Houston, with a selection of salumi, and will feature pork from Revival Meats but also other high-end meats like quail, duck and rabbit.
Want something a little more exotic? They'll special order anything from Thanksgiving turkeys (get your request in soon) to bison and Texas antelope.
There's also jars of honey sourced in the Heights by the president of the Houston Beekeepers Association ("It's probably the most local thing in the shop," says Weber) and red and white wine vinegar made from a batch started by Pera's grandfather in North Carolina.
But Pera, who has worked under chefs including Tim Keating and Jonathan Waxman, is doing more than working the counter. Revival has a menu of sandwiches that range from andouille banh mi to a Market BLT and a smoked mangalitsa hot dog, plus salads, soups and sides, all prepared fresh to be eaten in Revival's small café seating area or front patio.
And for a grab-and-go meal, Pera is offering a full case of goodies like Gulf shrimp salad, mac and farmstead cheese, Southern-style cornmeal, Mangalitsa porchetta, and local baby carrot salad.
Pera said he will also be adding pizza with fresh local basil and mozzarella from Texas Mozzarella Company (and also offering the dough for sale) and Vietnamese pho.
"I love pho but it's usually so cheap for a reason. I want to make a really good pho with local high-quality beef," says Pera.
And Revival is also getting in the cutthroat Heights coffee battle, with a separate coffee bar that opens at 6:30 a.m. every day and sources local roasts including Katz, Amaya, and Fusion and breakfast pastries from Krafts'men. (And yes, they also do that pretty foam-heart thingin the lattes, which I love.)
Will Revival replace Kroger in your shopping needs? Not quite. But if you make the rounds at the farmers' markets, Revival can offer the same high-end local products without the four-hour shopping window.
And for a quick post-work stop for bread and milk (and maybe a slice of Masson's yellow cake with chocolate frosting) Revival Market has everything you want but fresher, better and more convenient.
Here's hoping that five years from now we won't be able to imagine Houston without it.