It ain't what it used to be

Anvil's Hay Merchant spreads the streak of gentrification into the heart of Montrose

Anvil's Hay Merchant spreads the streak of gentrification into the heart of Montrose

News_Bobby Heugel
Bobby Heugel at Anvil
News_Tower Theater_neon_night_straight
Tower Theater Photo by Clifford Pugh
News_Chances_sign_Nov 2010
Chances Courtesy of Chances
News_Anvil
Anvil Courtesy photo
News_Bobby Heugel
News_Tower Theater_neon_night_straight
News_Chances_sign_Nov 2010
News_Anvil

Is Montrose getting too big for its britches? That's something for you to decide, but one thing is clear: Neartown isn't so much uptown these days as it is upscale.

There's a fancy streak running down Westheimer Road through Houston's funkiest neighborhood, beginning at Indika and Feast to the west and (so far) ending near Mark's and DaMarco's to the east.

Until recently, the middle had stayed relatively grungy-cool, with places like Chances and Erotic Cabaret being mainstays near the old Tower Theater. But Tower is soon to become El Real, a sure-to-be-trendy Tex-Mex concept by celebrity chef Bryan Caswell, Bill Floyd and Robb Walsh. And just across the street, Houston's oldest lesbian bar (now shuttered) is set to become the city's most gushed-over beer bar.

It's hard to make "beer bar" sound pretentious, but Hay Merchant, the upcoming concept by Anvil's Bobby Heugel and Kevin Floyd, will probably manage. It's no fault of theirs, mind you, but craft beer lovers (of which I am one) take their passion, and often themselves, seriously. If Anvil's regular crowd to date is any indication, it's going to be a mix of people actually in the know and those who just want to be "in." The whole thing is a Stuff White People Like entry waiting to happen, really.

It's not to say we're not salivating over the thought of Floyd's selection of 80 on-tap microbrews, cask ale pumped by hand or the emphasis on livin' la vida local, it's just to say that things are changing.

Ming's gave way to gourmet sliders, and my Taco C is a Smoothie King.

What's next, molecular gastronomy at Numbers?

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