Hidden Houston

No Zoning? No Problem!

Our four favorite examples of what happens when you take a no-holds-barred approach to development

By Alice Levitt October 24, 2016 Published in the November 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Hou 1116 tommy and dan garcia pratts yfdmah

Tommy and Dan Garcia-Prats

Image: Eric Kayne

Houston’s almost total lack of zoning often means running across restaurants—or farms, or circuses—right where you’d least expect them. Below, our four favorite examples of what happens when you take a no-holds-barred approach to capitalism:

Finca Tres Robles

Since 2014, Tommy and Dan Garcia-Prats have coaxed everything from kale to kohlrabi from their one-and-a-quarter-acre urban farm, which sits in the shadows of a group of Second Ward warehouses—the first of its kind inside the 610 Loop. The brothers offer a delivery option, but it’s more fun to pick up veggies à la carte at the farm stand when it’s open—Wednesdays and Saturdays. If you're quick, you can also attend their next farm dinner: Chef Ben McPherson is cooking a Fall Farm Dinner using fresh produce from the Garcia-Prats brothers’ gardens on Nov. 5, with live music from East End norteño musician Cosme Guerrero. Head to facebook.com/FincaTresRobles for info and tickets.

257 North Greenwood St., smallplaces.org/fincatresrobles

The Orange Show

Some would call postal worker Jeff McKissack’s 3,000-square-foot installation, crafted between 1956 and 1980, outsider art. Others would call the venue a labor of love. If you live on its otherwise quiet, small bungalow-lined street in Gulfgate, you can just call the carnival-style tribute to McKissack’s favorite fruit “neighbor.” Don’t miss the newly-opened Smither Park next door, built on a previously vacant plot of land, its massive, mosaic-covered walls six years in the making.

2402 Munger St., orangeshow.org

Mockingbird Bistro

Little-known fact: The building that now houses this Montrose mainstay was once called Quasimodo’s Sanctuary. The restaurant has retained its soaring ceilings, chandeliers and stained glass, none of which you’d expect to find in its otherwise residential neighborhood, which reminds chef-owner John Sheely of San Francisco.

1985 Welch St., mockingbirdbistro.com

Bethel Park

When it was built in 1889, Bethel Baptist Church was the spiritual heart of Freedmen’s Town, Houston’s haven for former slaves. Following a 2005 fire that demolished the church, three walls were salvaged and repurposed as a park in the middle of Midtown’s many corrugated metal townhomes, in memory of a community that’s now been mostly erased.

1387 Crosby St.

Show Comments