Your Expert Guide
Upper Kirby: A diverse mix of homes in lovely hidden-pocket neighborhoods
There are so many great places to live in Houston that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.
Growing up, Kindi Scartaccini moved often, both nationally and internationally. One fortuitous side effect of this globe-trotting was that it helped her develop a love for new surroundings and, ultimately, a passion for real estate.
"Real estate satisfies so many things I enjoy: helping people, design, the hunt, and negotiating," Kindi says. "It is continuously changing, which allows me to constantly learn and grow."
With an emphasis on relationship-building, Kindi has built her practice on the premise that quality customer service reigns supreme. One of the ways she helps her clients find the perfect neighborhood is by introducing them to the "little hidden gem" that is residential Upper Kirby. She is a big supporter of local businesses, of which there are many in the neighborhood.
"I think a lot of people think of Upper Kirby as a commercial area and might not even be aware of the hidden pockets of individual neighborhoods," she says.
Kindi herself has lived in the area — in various neighborhoods — since 2004. She cites the walkability, oak-lined streets, terrific neighbors, and proximity to restaurants, museums, art galleries, and shops as major draws.
A true diversity of housing styles and price points doesn't hurt either, she says.
"Upper Kirby has a real neighborhood feel, a low-key, casual vibe," Kindi says. "It is made up of single professionals, families, and empty nesters, so it’s a real mix. Throw in that it's centrally located to freeways, near the Med Center, downtown, Rice Village, Highland Village, River Oaks District, and River Oaks shopping, it’s just a perfect location!"
Kindi shared a few of her personal favorites about life in Upper Kirby. Here's her guide:
Where to eat & drink
"Tiny Boxwoods!" she exclaims. "I've been going since it opened."
She also adds Milk & Cookies, Relish Restaurant & Bar, State of Grace, Avalon Diner, French Gourmet Bakery, Bebidas, Kata Robata, Duo Houston, Giacomo’s Cebo e Vino, Pondicheri, Armandos, Goode Company Seafood, and Littles Oyster Bar, just to name a few.
Where to play
You'll often spot Kindi walking to Levy Park and around the neighborhood with her pup, Lucca, or at Thompson + Hanson for gardening inspiration.
There's so much fun shopping to be found, but some favorites are Stone House, Abejas, Found, and Kuhl Linscomb, plus several antique shops like Bill Gardner Antiques and Upper Kirby Consignment.
To help keep fit, there are a handful of fitness studios including pilates and yoga studios nearby, and wandering around the Urban Harvest Saturday Farmers Market at Buffalo Speedway and Westheimer for a local outdoor experience. And of course, the ability to walk to so much will keep you active.
There is also the Color Factory, which is an immersive and interactive art exhibit that's fun for all ages.
If you love sports, Kirby Ice House is a great place to watch the game and catch up with friends. At night, she says to head to McGonigel's Mucky Duck for live music.
What to see
Upper Kirby is known for its distinctive red street signs and the landmark UK-style London phone booths, but Kindi points out another landmark: the River Oaks Garden Club Forum of Civics.
"It is listed on the Texas and National Historic Registries and John Staub was the architect when it was remodeled," she says. "Prior to that, it was known as the John Smith County School, which was built in 1910."
Another City of Houston landmark is the Alabama Theater, which opened in 1939 and was designed and built in the Art Deco style by architect W. Scott Dunne — it now houses a Trader Joe’s!
The neighborhood boasts several art galleries, including Moody Gallery, Laura Rathe Fine Art, and McClain Gallery to name a few, and is close to the MFAH, the Menil Museum, and the Rothko Chapel.
Where to live
"Style of housing in Upper Kirby is so diverse, which I love," Kindi says. "Seriously, from condos and high-rises, to townhouses and patio homes, to single-family homes that range from bungalows to midcentury to recent construction."
Styles also run the gamut, from traditional, modern, and contemporary to French-influenced to Mediterranean.
Square footage and lot sizes are just as diverse, with homes ranging from 600-plus square feet up to approximately 7,000 square feet. Lots range from small “patches of grass” up to 7,500 square feet, with a few lots going up to 15,000 square feet.
Because of these ranges in size, type of home, and style, there is a variety of price points within the Upper Kirby neighborhoods "which is why these 'hidden gems' are so great!" Kindi says.
Kindi Scartaccini works and plays in Upper Kirby. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 713-539-8828,