Announcing the Washington Ave Award. Your Nominations, Please?

The category announcements are rolling here at Swampies central. Earlier today we introduced the 5th category in the this year’s Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate. Here’s the complete list of our categories so far: Favorite Houston Design Cliché, Best Teardown, Parking Lot of the Year, Drive-Thru of the Year, and Walmart of the Year. Keep those great entries coming for all of them!

Now we come to category number 6. We call it the Washington Ave Award. Is it an award for the best thing on or about Washington Ave.? Sure, it could be. But the award in this category could also go to something that isn’t necessarily anywhere nearby, but that still demonstrates the qualities most clearly exhibited by the Washington Ave area. The Washington Ave award! Got any potential winners in mind?

Refer to the official nominating rules here if you need them. But really: We need your smartly formulated suggestions for this category! Add them and explain them well below — or email them to us privately.

63 Comment

  • Midtown or, alternatively, the Richmond Strip or Lower Westheimer for showing us the future of Washington Ave.

  • It’s got to be Phil’s Texas BBQ at Heights Blvd and Washington.

    The building went from a trashy, run down auto repair shop and used car lot to a hill country style bar and restauraunt. And the food’s good too…

  • Douchebaggyness. Thats a quality clearly synonymous with Washington Ave.

  • Glenwood Cemetery is the most beautiful spot in Houston, and remains a stark contrast to the social scene growing and changing on Washington Ave.

  • Gee, Michael Jones, an interested pary in Phil’s perhaps? That place is terrible, and clearly wants to be a bar much more than it does a good place to eat. Sheesh.

  • dark horse tavern is the only thing i can think of mentioning that doesn’t make me lament the current status of the entire inner loop.

    that awesome antique furniture store with the huge pieces is gone, right?

  • Gentrifying Jesus, will always get my vote. Come find stucco inside the loop….

  • And Phil’s sucks! Read the b4ueat reviews, the food was so bad the owner came personally apologized and guaranteed a refund, though of course mine never materialzed. Maybe I’ll try it a 4th time and not think it’s worse the Hickory Hollow.

  • I second Glenwood. It’s the only awesome thing along Washington. Everything else is overpriced and fake.
    @firehat… not sure your point. Midtown and lower Westheimer are awesome.

  • A tie between Laredo Taqueria and Wabash antiques and feed. Both show that it is possible for old Houston to live and thrive in new Houston, and that we do not have to shut down and demo any business that has been on Washington prior to 1999.

  • Wabash Feed Store! My favorite place to shop in all of Houston.

  • I would say for non-bar drinkery, is catalina coffee – They reused an existing building and made it great.

    You could also have a best taqueria, there are quite a few still around.

    How about the best place to park?

  • Phil’s is pretty awful, IMHO. I’m no BBQ connoisseur but I was very unimpressed.

    I’m a big fan of 5 Guys, though I know they’re not unique to Washington.

    El Tiempo is great, their margaritas are the strongest in town.

    Final vote: Douchebaggyness, from Tanith27 :-)

  • Star Pizza hand’s down.

  • Spec’s! Oh wait, nevermind..

  • I second Wabash… My tomatos were great this year. If you have special needs for pet foods, they usually have it and I’ve actually bought variuos bday, christmas and other presents there. (I am not a vested party) The addition of farmer’s market products (though pricey) is nice too.

  • I have two nominations;

    1)Thoughtless Developers and thoughtless buyers – Example; The townhouses at 114 Heights Blvd (one block north of Washington). To jog everyone’s memory, these are the ones that are on the railroad tracks and back up to the recycling center. These have to be the gold standard of the thoughtlessness that developers put into location selection… and also the gold standard for buyers who just blindly bought anything. BTW, 3 of them are still for sale after more then 2yrs at the low low price of $350k! I guess the prices went up since the rail line went silent.

    2) Over Saturation of a market – Example; Corkscrew turns to Sugarcanes and then closes. Gotta love Houston for over saturating any possible idea to the point where they eventually start to fail (corrugated metal townhouses, wine bars, frozen yogurt shops, gastro pubs, lick and stick siding, food trucks, etc). This one takes the crown in my book because of the owner’s quote when Sugarcane’s opened “When we started The Corkscrew it was just us and it was an unusual concept…. There’s an oversaturation in the marketplace now and I don’t want to be one of many” Right…… so you close a wine bar to jump on the next trend idea of a high end cocktail lounge… cough cough Anvil.

  • Wabash Feed is awesome and my kids love to see the animals, so I vote for that as the best on Washington in the non-food/drink portion. Others would be El Tiempo where you can never have a bad meal or experience and Beavers (off Washington) where they mix great drinks and laid back.

    @Michael Jones – Phil’s BBQ gets a HUGE golf clap for cleaning up the building and is much nicer to look at but dog food is better than what they serve in there. I’ve been twice and will never go back. I don’t know of anyone who has come out of there happy that they went. Gabby’s and Hickory Hollow are far better than Phil’s could ever hope to be.

    Will there be an O-ver-rated category? If so I would like to go ahead and nominate Benjy’s and Phil’s BBQ.

  • Most effective/mispelling of a name TQLA, and good food to boot.
    Best simple place with the WaCo Loco; Broken Spoke.

  • If we’re talking overrated and overpriced – Laurenzo’s hands down. Food is bland and average at best and WAY overpriced.

  • El Rey – hands down the best “fast food” on the strip or in Houston for that matter. Love that drive-thru for my daily fix of huevos and fresh squeezed OJ.
    I am also a big fan of Wabash.

  • Amen to el rey, taqueria loredo, huge laugh at the Specs comment, you know the city approved that and then revoked it thanks to Memorial Elementary — too many kids stopping in for tequila samples I presume. Pizzatolas(sp?) has good BBQ too, and if I were still living in Rice Military I’d be braving the Ed Hardy douchebag set at BW3’s on Tuesday nights.

  • Catalina Coffee (and, to large degree, that whole strip from Darkhorse-Catalina is a great rehab)
    Glenwood Cemetery
    Beef fajita party pack for 1 at El Tiempo. Trust me. You and your well-fed dining companion will be more than satisfied at the ludicrous amount of grub El Tiempo dishes out ostensibly for the hungriest fajita-crushers north of the rio.
    And another vote for Broken Spoke.

    Also, to the extent the build-out f/k/a Spec’s didn’t receive any awards last year, there should at least be an honorable mention for “Greatest Municipal Shaft Job” or something along those lines.

  • While Benjy’s may qualify as overrated, I’d say Catalan is perfect. The menu always has a great combination of international cuisine with just the right touch so that it fits an American palette. Wine list is good too!

  • Have to go Old School with this one and throw my immense personal influence behind Wabash.

    (New school vote would be Catalan. Maybe next year.)

  • Definitely second (or third) the “positive” nomination of Catalan.

  • Catalina coffee and the broken spoke. Both are great places and a nice shift from the west end of Washington.

  • My vote goes to Guadalajara Bakery for their breakfast tacos. El Ray gets my honorable mention.

    Biggest disappointment goes to Zoe’s Kitchen. Keep going back, keep coming out disappointed…

  • 1. Glenwood Cemetary is one of my favorite things in Houston. I frequently introduce it to people who have lived in Houston their entire lives, but never realized it was there.

    2. Laredo Taqueria is a link between Washington Ave. present and Washington Ave. past. A delicious delicious link.

    3. Spec’s is a great example of that certain Houston brand of irony: a liquor store that can’t open on the booziest stretch of pavement in the city, because there is a school three blocks away and out of sight.

  • surprised no one has mentioned Les Givral Kahve on Washington; coolest interior and fantastic Viet food. Also next door the sports bar should get an award for most/biggest TV’s. Second the comments about el Rey and Wabash.

  • Walter’s on Washington is the best thing about that street. It is the only place you can go to listen to good music and not run into a bunch of popped collars and pink Lacoste shirts or a bunch of Sorority chicks screaming “Oh ma god!!!” Plus, the beer is cheap.

  • gosh. I wish washington would go back how it was 10 years ago. Mary Jane’s was still around and I almost got stabbed.

    down with progress!!!!!

  • Broken Spoke cafe is pretty awesome

  • Broken Spoke and Wabash!!!!

  • I’m going to throw in the Washington Wave. Having a shuttle bus with a stripper pole doing nothing but driving drunk douchebaguettes from one bar to another is pretty unique to the area.

  • how about all the original places that opened up second locations on washington . . .

  • Fire Station #6, 3402 Washington Ave. Fast, and outstanding ems service on 2 occasions for us

  • Does any other street in Houston come close to the level of love/hate relationship that we seem to have with Washington Avenue? Taken individually, there are a lot of things to like. Sure, it has way more than it’s fair share of douchebaggery and townhome builders run amok, but it does have a few positives. I think Catalan is one of the best restaurants in Houston. Hickory Hollow is great. Rockefeller Hall is a really unique venue. And the smell of baking bread @ StudeMontrose is unreal!

  • Good old sunbeam, was there when there were still rice Silos on Studemont versus the over priced apartments and that giant monstrosity of a tower of today. Or going to the Vatican and interviewing bands at that awful Mexican restaurant that is now Candelaris. Well, I’ve seen everyone from Nirvana to My bloody valentine play Washington Avenue, I have some sense of history having lived on the WoW for years, and then Rice Military, 5 years ago we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  • Yeh Houstonian’s absolutely right….all the places that opened up 2nd locations on Washington….especially if those places opened up before Washington turned into D-Bag Central ( look up your facts )

  • If Phil’s is dog food then Les Givral’s qualifies as industrial waste.

    The best thing on Washington was Corkscrew and it epitomized what many of us hoped Washington would be. A cool re-use of a vintage building sans the douchebaggery.

    Now it’s gone and life goes on so I’ll also nominate Glenwood Cemetary since six feet under is where 70% of what is currently on Washington will be in five years.


  • scott c., that’s exactly why Phil’s should win this award. The absentee owner built a hideous building, called it a restaurant using a “formula” for a successful restaurant but it’s really just a bar like all the rest on Alcohol Ave. Nothing exemplifies better what Washington Ave. has become- tacky with no heart and a shoot of booze.

  • @ tanith.. douchebaguette!.. freaking hilarious! LOL OMG! JK JK..

    but wow.. you guys really hate the new Wash Ave..

    my vote – Catalina Coffee

  • I would add to the Wabash votes, but I actually logged in to nominate the Esperanza School.

    They just moved from their Heights Blvd. houses to the former HISD elementary just north of Washington Ave. on Roy Street ( There was a little trepidation among watchers and parents that they would lose some of the bungalow charm along the way.

    However, the owners and staff have put a tremendous amount of work into the building and the grounds — playgrounds, vegetable gardens, nice looking fences, fruit trees. It isn’t all the facade either, they have quite a vision and lots of positive energy to make it happen.

    Unlike most of the other nominations in this category, you can’t get your drink on here. Gee, maybe the WAVE is more of a community after all?

  • cm, I saw that Nirvana show at the Vatican in 1991, too. Freakin’ Amazing! Wow, thanks for bringing back great memories!!

  • The best thing about Washington is the new office/retail development at 4601 Washington Ave. It is the only building in the whole area that put in a multi-level garage so it can actually handle the amount of parkers that come to the center in a safe and secure manner. It also serves as an example of what Washington Ave could become. A new area of multi story mixed use development that could establish a new footprint for responsbile urban development in the city of Houston.

  • Jro you’re dating us, somewhat though I will admit to being in High School in 1991. Haha. I also saw Mazzy Star at Rockefellers, and lied to get in left my id in my dorm room (yeah again still in HS). The 90’s version of Washington avenue was a hotbed of live venues usually very run down. Now all were left with that compares favorably is Walters.

  • cm, :)  dating us indeed! I was in my mid-20s in ’91.  Yes, Washington Ave was approriately grunge-y back then. My how things have changed…

  • Wabash Feed Store

  • yall remember a place near walters called the cak house? LOL. crackheads putting on punk shows, and washington is scarier NOW

  • I didn’t make it to any shows at the Vatican, but I did see Lush with Dambuilders and Weezer after it had become The Abyss. And yes, Weezer was the opener on that bill.

  • I was at that show too (lush/dambuilders). I’ll scan all my ticket stubs from that era.. Best show ever at that venue had to be Dinosaur Jr, Jesus and Mary Chain, and Curve. Driving home to Klein was not much fun after that show..

  • When I saw this category, Catalina Coffee immediately came to mind. I’m glad to see it’s already received several nominations already. Great coffee, great building, great location!

  • Glenwood Cemetary

  • Let’s applaud the general lack of urban planning, crumbling infrastructure (leaning telephone poles from a half century ago, no neighborhood sidewalks, open ditches etc.)and a complete lack of cohesiveness among developers, owners and residential planning even though organized civic groups exist to benefit the area the rehab blight continues. That said the shining beacon throughout it all are the fine establishments mentioned above and the general willingness of the public to try to make this Washington Avenue great.

  • GENTRIFYING JESUS – I believe he has had a rather significant impact on the area. Was he behind the coincidentally timely shutdown of Crew Fitness? Vanity is a deadly sin… Speaking of sinners, prob not to the property owners liking but he has somehow continued to keep a couple cool buildings in great location from becoming the latest and, yet another, haven for douchebags.

  • All these nominations and not one mention of Los Dos Amigos? This reeks of fail.

    I will put my vote in for good ol’ Los Dos. Great food, surly staff and the only place that can actually call itself a hole in the wall and be factually correct (some drunk a-hole drove a car through the west facing wall a few years back and they stayed open with a tarp in place).

  • Call me sentimental, but I think the SuperNeighborhood 22 Council is the best thing to happen to Washington Avenue. They are a group of dedicated volunteers who want the best for the neighborhood and tirelessly work with the city and other groups to improve the quality of life for the residents.

    If you are looking for a place, my votes go to Wabash, Glenwood and Catalan.

  • The City of Houston recycle center behind Star Pizza is great place to drop off all recyclables with the new clearly labeled green dumpsters.

  • 1. Catalina Coffee

    2. The old Corkscrew (sad to see it go!)

    3. Sunbeam Bakery — love waking up to the smell of fresh baking bread!

    4. The COH Recycling center fo sho!

  • One more vote for gentrifying Jesus!