Old Town Spring

Dozens of charming, century-old homes just north of Houston have been transformed into a historic shopping district, complete with wooden clogs and fried Oreos.
STREET SMARTS A Quickie Guide to Old Town Spring
Lana Williams Gallery
Photograph by Kenny Braun

1. 
The Little Dutch Girl

The sign out front advertising the homemade fudge sold inside (more than twenty flavors!) 
is a sneaky—if unintentional—bait and switch. You may duck in for a sugary treat, but you’ll walk out of this souvenir shop with a load of made-in-Holland mementos: delicate blue-and-white Delftware (perhaps a tea set 
or a windmill-shaped bell), a few yards of intricate cotton lace, 
and a pair of surprisingly functional wooden clogs. Not to mention the salty diamond-shaped licorice, buttery stroopwafel cookies, and wedges of “very aged” Old Amsterdam cheese that are too tasty not to take home.  210 Gentry, 281-355-0199, littledutchgirl.com

2. 
Loose Caboose BBQ and the Funnel Cake Express

These sister eateries are located directly across from each other on the town’s main drag. First, climb the stairs into the bright red caboose to order a pulled-pork sandwich, turkey leg, or Frito pie. Then head over to the glorified concession stand a few yards away to choose your own dessert adventure: Fried Twinkies or fried Oreos? Fried cheesecake or fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? A heart attack for here or to go? If taking a vacation from your diet is wrong, you won’t want to be right.  26403 1/2 Preston 
Ave. and 203 Midway, 281-288-1733 and 281-288-6099, thefunnelcakexpress.com

3.
 Crossroads Collection

If your familiarity with tea doesn’t extend far beyond Lipton or Luzianne, let Robin Green, the proprietress of this hybrid boutique-tearoom, school you on the fundamentals (types, brewing techniques, food pairings) as you sniff your way through more than one hundred loose-leaf options, from the fruity Snow Monkey Plum to the nutty Bai Mu Dan. In the back room, order a marinated fig salad or smoked turkey and pesto sandwich for lunch, plus a pot of Old Town Spice to go with your lavender scones or candied-ginger-and-green-tea bread.  123 Midway, 281-528-6550, crossroadscollection.com

4.
 Wunsche Bros. Cafe

In 1902 Spring was a railroad boomtown and this popular gathering spot—located just across from the tracks—was a brand-new hotel and saloon run by the children of German immigrants. (See if you can spy the founding brothers Wunsche—Dell and Charlie—in the black and white photos that hang on the wall.) While you’re waiting for your chicken-fried steak (or half-pound burger or catfish po’boy), tackle the signature appetizer: a basket of twelve fried sausage-sauerkraut-and-cheese balls served with a dish of sour cream.  103 Midway, 281-350-1902, wunschebroscafe.com

5. 
Puffabellys Old Depot

At too many live-music venues the food plays second fiddle to the tunes. Not so at this nostalgia-tinged hangout (it resembles an old railroad depot), which serves up comfortingly unpretentious standards like Shiner Bock–battered onion rings, chicken-fried chicken, fried green tomatoes and pickles, hand-breaded Gulf shrimp, and delectably peppery burgers (the patties are shaped by hand). We wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the musicians who take the stage—traveling troubadours like Gary P. Nunn, Jesse Dayton, and Dale Watson—agree to be paid in slices of the homemade cherry pie. 100 Main, 281-350-3376, puffabellys.com

6. 
Thad’s

At Thad Abbott’s home decor emporium, the display’s the thing. The veteran shopkeeper keeps this converted Victorian house brimming with beaded silk throw pillows, elegant wrought-iron-and-stone serving platters, and a panoply of other ornamental wares, which he showcases in striking, more‑is‑more arrangements. The ever-changing milieu is a fertile hunting ground for beyond-the-usual gifts like handblown glass wine decanters with ice chambers, bowls made of lug nuts, and the in-demand Orleans crème brûlée candles, made in Marble Falls. 110 Main, 281-353-6400, thads.net

7. Lana Williams Gallery

We’re quintessential do-it-yourself-ers,” says Kelly Speer, who now helms the art and accessories gallery that her mother, Lana, opened nearly thirty years ago. It’s a true family affair: in addition to Lana’s watercolor paintings and collages (mostly still lifes and tropical landscapes), you can snap up Kelly’s natural stone jewelry (think turquoise and topaz) as well as the vintage Coach purses she decorates with antique coins and fossilized ammonites. And it’s Kelly’s husband, Richard, who welds the iron drapery tie-backs and custom tables that have become their most popular items. 26407 Preston Ave., 281-288-4043, lanawilliamsgallery.com

8. 
Just For The Birds

As cozy as a sparrow’s nest, this small shop has everything you need to spoil your winged backyard “pets.” There are basic supplies, as in food (dried mealworms and suet cakes, but no seed) and shelter (from repurposed cowboy boots to ten-compartment purple martin “castles”). And then there are not-so-essential creature comforts, like mosquito-repelling “water wigglers” for the birdbath, Squirrel-A-Whirls to distract would-be seed looters, and hummingbird feeders made of handblown recycled glass. 209 Main, 281-288-9019, 
 justforthebirds.com

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