West Nineteenth, Houston
Where tempting treasures—antique, retro, and exotic—await.
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1. The Homestretch is, simply, irresistible. Its antiques and objets have been collected and presented with novelty, vision, and simplicity—such as a frou-frou chaise, say, recovered and reborn in burlap. The folk art is real as opposed to manufactured, and the leather club chairs are worn to a perfect patina. Go. 617 1/2 W. Nineteenth, 713-868-6902
2. Need your own private Buddha? Wind Water Gallery has them in S, M, L, and XL, along with other Far East imports, including shimmery silk robes, affordable pearls, and, for modernists, small statues and windup alarm clocks featuring Chairman Mao. If he can’t get you up, no one can. 548 W. Nineteenth, 713-426-4885
3. Those who cook—as well as shop—globally will want to visit Penzeys Spices, which is as brightly lit as a hotel kitchen but smells like heaven itself. Here you’ll find everything from ajwain seed to za’atar, from charnushka to sumac. Pepper mills and gift boxes (“Deluxe Spicy Wedding”) are also available. 516 W. Nineteenth, 713-862-6777
4. If there were a superstore for vintage clothing, Retropolis—with two entire floors of cowboy boots, stoles, negligees, fur-collared sweaters, and the like—would be it. A Burberry cape can be had for $40, as long as you have the cojones to fight the emo kids for it. 321 W. Nineteenth, 713-861-1950
5. Maybe you haven’t thought of origami as a way of life since fifth grade, but Tansu will reinspire you. Elegant Japanese papers—folded and not, all light as a cloud—are here in abundance, together with jewelry, handbags, furniture, fountains, and silk sleepwear to induce serenity in the most frantic of shoppers. 321 W. Nineteenth, Ste. B; 713-880-5100
6. Years ago, Nineteenth was junque heaven. Though the character of the street has changed—more shops devoted to design and imports—you can still troll for treasure at all the remaining antiques stores, such as Grace Hart & Company. (Others to hit: Chippendale, Eastlake, Louis & Phyfe, and Charm of Yesteryear.) 313 W. Nineteenth, 713-862-1010
7. The ceiling of Zozans Imports looks like a glass rainbow. Lamps from Turkey in all shapes and sizes hang here, glistening in the sun, starting at only $42, and so tantalizing you’ll have to buy at least three. Of course, you’ll also be drawn to the hand-painted plates, embroidered pillows, and woven purses. 301 W. Nineteenth, 713-869-2939
8. If there’s a better fried green tomato sandwich in Houston than Claire Smith’s concoction at Shade, Grand Central for Heights dining, it has yet to make itself known. The lamb patties with feta are not to be ignored either. Or the bread pudding. Just don’t eat so much you are too tired to shop. 250 W. Nineteenth, 713-863-7500
9. Balinskas has what may be the best local collection of imports from India, China, and Indonesia, as well as religious art from Mexico, and you’ll be surprised at how great it all looks together: rugs, wall hangings, chests, beds, handmade platters, and even jewelry (don’t miss the crocheted Czech necklaces). 242 W. Nineteenth, 713-880-4774
10. Like most of the emporiums here, Tulips & Tutus is the polar opposite of a megastore. You won’t find these toys everywhere else: The Twilight Turtle projects the constellations—slowly—on the ceiling ($36); grinning Sophie the Giraffe will soothe even the crankiest teethers ($20). Lovely assortment of baby shoes too. 238 W. Nineteenth, Ste. A; 713-861-0301