The Rugglefication of the Heights’ 11th Street Cafe

Storied Heights hangout 11th Street Cafe, at the corner of 11th St. and Studewood, is now closed, a tipster reports. It’s scheduled to reopen Saturday with a new menu and a slightly different name: Ruggles’ 11th Street Cafe. The Heights location will be the third in Bruce Molzan’s growing Ruggles Green empire — the counter-service restaurant’s second location opened in CityCentre last year.

Photo: Candace Garcia

76 Comment

  • I have never seen anyone eating there, and for good reason if you look on the Yelp page. It’s a great location, hopefully this will change things. The whole intersection has a lot of potential.

  • This is good news. While I don’t think Ruggles Green is outstanding, I’ve never had a bad meal there and usually like their specials.

    Hopefully the Ruggles brandname combined with this stellar location in Houston will produce another solid option for lunch or dinner.

  • It was never the same after Miss Pat got sick.

    Used to be a friendly little neighborhood spot. Then got itself Yuppified. What a shame.

  • Used to go there for club sandwiches back in the 90’s. It was quaint, if a bit uneven. Glad to see it’s still around.

  • Back in the day, 11th Street Cafe, Someburger and Andy’s were about it for Heights dining. Haven’t been there in years, and am thrilled to have a Ruggles Green opening in the neighborhood.

  • awesome! It is one of the very best locations (except for parking) in the Heights and has suffered from inconsistent management and food quality.

  • wooo hooo! Finally something happens on that corner. Now if Liberty Kitchen can open…

  • Great news! Used to eat breakfast there all the time in the late 80’s and 90’s. They had dependable pizza as well. But it fell off the map with changes in management. Looking forward to something fresh.

  • Never went there, but was aware of the decline at 11th St. Glad to see Ruggles coming to the Heights. I just hope the restaurant scene in the Heights remains the place for innovation and originality and does not become the place where restrauntuers just build another _____ (BB’s, Christian’s Tailgate, Jenny’s, Taco a gogo, D’Amico, etc.).

  • I don’t believe that 11st closed because it got “yuppiefied”, whatever that means. Food was bad, too much competition now. Back when it was Andy’s and Someburger in The Heights, being the best in the neighborhood was like winning a tallest midget contest. Now way too many good places to choose from. Someburger and Andy’s aren’t long for this world IMHO.

  • My neighborhood food prayers have been answered as I have hoped for a Ruggles Green in the Heights since the original opened. Best part – parking is not an issue as I can walk for my fix. Thanks, Bruce Molzan.

  • Lets hope they do something about the parking. I’m fed up of having steer my kids through the traffic on Studewood because the lot is full and a bunch of {insert expletive here} have decided to park on the sidewalk.

  • Someburger and Andy’s are not the ones getting competition. They are mainstays and will be there awhile, until the property owners decide it’s time for a change.

  • WOW. Awesome news.

  • How did this take so long? Seriously. This has been the most consistently mediocre restaurant in the Heights for several years. If it was ever good, I have not seen any vestiges of that past in my experiences, but I will trust the word of old timers. This has always struck me as a great location, and I look forward to eating an acceptable goat cheese salad there now.

  • Speaking of Liberty Kitchen, does anyone have any news? It’s been rumored since last year and they seem to have been doing steady work at the building since February, but still nothing. Elsewhere on Studewood BB’s Cafe and this new Ruggle’s are turning around openings just a week or two after cleaning house. What gives with Liberty?

  • Old School said:

    “I just hope the restaurant scene in the Heights remains the place for innovation and originality…”

    When has this ever been the case?

  • The wife and I always joke that we have not had bad service in a while – so we head to 11th. Good pizza – hope they keep that on the menu.

  • Ryan- BBs opened in the space where 6th St Bar & Grille was with nothing more than a few NOLA inspired neon lights added to the walls. Otherwise, everything is exactly the same. I don’t know what kind of build out Ruggles is doing on 11th but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be all that dramatic of a change.

    I am optimistic about Liberty Kitchen; they are taking what was once a convenience store, then a cheap tamale joint with little dine in area and trying to make it an upscale oyster bar. It’s a complete rehab/build out. Plus, it was 2nd in line on their priority list after BRC. Anyway, I think it’s the more dramatic make over of the 3 and definitely more time consuming. They’ll get there. And I hope it will be great.

    While we are steadily outgrowing our home, all the options within a couple of blocks make it harder and harder to think about ever leaving this part of the Heights!

  • Aw cool. No more Heights Trash. They need some class around there. Thanks

  • Good to hear. I really like Ruggles Green on Alabama.

  • @jimbo, if there are cars parked on the sidewalk, and you can’t get your kids safely by, call HPD and ask for an officer to come out. Even better, have your spouse and each of the neighbors call as well. There’s no reason to let jerks endanger your family.

  • A vietnamese restaurant would have been nice. I know we have Vietnam on 19th but one on 11th would have been great for our neighborhood.

  • Good god that’s some good news right there!

  • @Jimbo – the most frequent sidewalk parker appeared to be the owner.

    Even after years in Houston the frequency with which people park on sidewalks here still amazes me (probably because I have never lived anywhere where you wouldn’t have gotten your ass towed in heartbeart for it). Of course, the pedestrians in the Heights wander around in the street while ignoring sidewalks, so perhaps it evens out.

  • SWEET! Looking forward to the variety of places to eat. I can start at Zelko Bistro and weave my way down the street. We’re gonna need to get 2nd jobs to pay for all of these meals out. . . .

  • Dave:

    Stella Sola
    Glass Wall
    Chilosos Taco House
    Bistro Zelko
    Revival Market

    All one of a kind, original restaurants in the Heights.

  • I like Lola (sort of) and I like Glass Wall. And I love Zelko. I’m not sure I’d call them particularly original though – I think they are well-executed (OK-executed for Lola). But a lot like other nice restaurants in a lot of other places. That’s not a knock on them – there are trends in their business, like ‘comfort food in upscale yet funky setting’ and ‘modern interesting food with fresh ingredients’ and so on. There are, by definition, very few highly original restaurants; here in Houston Feast, Indika, and the departed Catalan come to mind. On your list the only one I’d think of in that category is perhaps Stella Sola.

    Which doesn’t mean they aren’t good places that I am generally happy to see in the Heights.

    As for Ruggles, well, it’ll be an improvement for sure, though I’ve been pretty underwhelmed by my experience at other Ruggles Green locations (as opposed to the real Ruggles in Montrose, where I recently had a fantastic meal).

  • @heights life, as much as I am interested to see Liberty Kitchen I do still miss breakfast at Tamale Factory. Lets hope that Gentrification Jesus doesn’t force out all the little joints in the Heights.

  • Was at Stella Sola a couple of weeks ago and wasn’t as impressed as the last time I went a year or so ago. On Zelko, maybe it’s just me but I just don’t get it. I love the space but both times I have eaten there I have been underwhelmed by the food, at least as compared to the glowing reviews. I would say what we need in the Heights is a little more diversity, I am grown a little weary of the whole reimagined American classics trend.

  • Ruggles Green….eh. I was hoping a Barnaby’s Cafe would take the spot.

  • Good news for sure.

  • OldSchool,

    Happy Fatz (they have like 8 hot dog selctions)
    Jus’ Mac

    both are pretty unique/original restaurants as well.

    I would say Zelko is definitely original. A lot of places are trying to do something similar, but Zelko’s execution is superb. I have never had anything other than a stellar experience when dining there.

    Ruggles Green in my experience has been consistantly good. I enjoy their menu’s selections and they make some decent coffee/deserts.

    There is plenty of room for original/creative restaurants here in the heights, the key is in the execution. Whether you like it or not, Jus’ Mac is a key example of how original restaurants can thrive in the Heights.

  • Caneco: Shame on me for forgetting about Jus’ Mac. I just heard about Happy Fatz the other day. I thought it was just a desert shop. Looks like I will be having a hot dog this weekend.

    And my point about originality wasn’t that Heights restaurants were reinventing food. It was that their are a lot of restaurants that are not location no. 3 of 6 of a local chain. We are fortunate in Houston to have some pretty decent local chains, but there is something special about having the first and only. I would just like the Heights to be a creative laboratory for new restaurants as much as it is becoming a neighborhood the local chains want to notch on their belt. That would be a win/win.

  • I totally agree on chains vs independents. Just pointing out that “original” doesn’t mean “independent.” Jus’ Mac is independent and that’s great, but “original” was the first reinvented mac & cheese place, which was about five years ago, and not in Houston.

    I like the restaurants in the Heights. I do wish that Houston had more originality in its dining. It seems to me that with our eating-out culture, decent economy, and interesting regional influences this area should be great for creative chefs to start a trend, not pick up on it a few years after they got sick of it in SF/LA/NY, but that hardly ever happens.

    Which doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy eating in the Heights! This is more of a general gripe about Houston dining. Though, it’s improved dramatically in the last few years.

  • John,

    Although Jus’ Mac is not the first ever, they are definitely the first in Houston. I would consider the first of it’s type to appear in a major city an original restaurant. By your logic, nothing could ever be original, because nearly everything has been done already at some point somewhere. There are no original ideas, only mutations of previous ideas.

  • You’re extending my point to an absurd extreme, which is not a convincing way to dispute it. yes, all food is related to previous food in some way. However, something like Stella Sola, which takes an ethnic cuisine and adds a local approach – and not one would associate with that cuisine – is indeed an original idea. Feast absolutely qualifies as original (& has restaurant critics in faraway cities talking about it as a result). Being the first to pick up the latest hipster food trend (cupcakes! mac & cheese! yet more comfort food!) is not terribly original. Well executed, it’s a pleasure, but the Heights restaurant scene isn’t particularly original or diverse even for Houston, and certainly not in a broader sense. It’s growing and it’s good and I support it regularly with my money.

    I realize what was meant by the initial statement, which wasn’t original, so there’s really no need to beat this to death. The right word was ‘independent’ and I think it’s a great thing.

    (Now would someone open a good Indian place?!?)

  • yay! have tried to eat there in the past. tried to like it… hoping this will be something great!

  • Awesome news!
    Glad we have no parking signs on our street though. This influx of restaurants, Stella Solla, Glass Wall, Berry Hill, Zelkos has created parking hell on the weekends on our little narrow Heights streets.

    Anyway, welcome Bruce, haven’t talked to you since the Cite Grill days! Put some original Ruggles power in this one please!

  • John,
    I find your point an absurd extreme. The fact that I take it slightly further and you call it extreme is amusing (and not a convincing way to dispute it).

    quaint comfort food restaurants existing in a quaint comfortable neighborhood… sounds about right to me.

    I think your interpretation of the world “original” doesn’t fit with the general opinion.

    Every restaurant can’t be ran by a known chef making high end food for the houston elite. $ > $$$$ for 90% of the population.

  • “I think your interpretation of the world “original” doesn’t fit with the general opinion.”

    I really haven’t met anyone who’s terribly confused about the meaning of “original.”

    “Every restaurant can’t be ran by a known chef making high end food for the houston elite.”

    Because you certainly can’t be original without a lot of money, can you? (The first taco truck was an original idea.)

  • I think Houston StrEATs is original, but you’ll probably say “its just another hipster bandwagon food truck blah blah blah”

    Its not the meaning of original, its the perspective. Your’s being skewed from mine. Your saying original as in a brand new idea, i’m saying original as the first of its kind in the region.

    Frida is pretty original, albeit i hear it is subpar.

  • John (yet another): Where are all these people ‘parking on sidewalks’ that you speak of? I’ve live in the Montrose area for 6 years and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone parked on a sidewalk… and I travel the neighborhood quite often.

    I think if a car was actually parked up on a sidewalk, they’d ‘get their ass towed’ quite quickly.
    Do you mean people parked on the street too close to a driveway? Or people on a driveway that’s too short or?

  • @Cody: the Heights – I see this daily while walking my dog – people regularly park over sidewalks all over the neighborhood.

  • I think he means where the driveway is too short (or they just don’t pull up enough) and the car blocks the walkway. This is particularly bad on the West side of Studewood. Often there will be a truck or van that stretches basically from the fence/garage to the street, forcing you walk in the street to pass by. The house just South of Antidote does this daily.

  • @caneco Precisely.

  • Yeah, I longboard around the ‘hood pretty frequently, and try to stick to the sidewalk when on busier streets, this guy ticks me off everytime. I know it has been reported (i spoke to someone at Antidote with a stroller that said they called it in) and i’m baffled at how it can keep going on. I wonder if anyone has ever put one of those “I’m an inconsiderate jerk” stickers on there?

  • Caneco / John: Ah, gotcha. Well, while parking in a shallow driveway so your car sticks out onto the sidewalk a bit might be annoying to people, I wouldn’t quite call that “parking on the sidewalk”. Especially considering the end of the car would still be on the driveway area from the street and not on the actual sidewalk.
    From your comment, I was picturing someone literally parking up on a sidewalk and was thinking ‘I’ve never seen that, even when walking around midtown where some drunk moron might actually do something like that’ :)

  • The sidewalk is under the car, so yeah, i would call it parking on the sidewalk. It may seem like a small thing (and it’s not just sticking over, but totally straddling)… but if you are in a wheelchair, or have any trouble walking, etc. it ranges from inconvenient to dangerous. And shows an utter lack of consideration for anybody else. (I’ve made visitors move their cars if they do it at my house.)

    I find it surprising, even after years in Houston, because anywhere else I’ve lived it mostly would never cross anyone’s mind that blocking a sidewalk is OK. And you’d be quite likely to be ticketed/towed.

  • I respectfully disagree. I have a property with a short driveway (I don’t live there anymore, but I rent it out). When I’d park, I’d move up as far as possible but the end of my car would still stick out slightly.
    I never got a ticket, and those stupid white prius ticket cars drive around my block constantly.

  • Cody,

    You are parking on the sidewalk. And you haven’t been ticketed, yet.

  • Mel: Maybe I *was* parking on the sidewalk, but I’m not anymore (I moved a few blocks away and now my driveway is super long).
    There are 5 townhomes in a row and if you ever drive down the street (Garrott) you’ll see most normally have cars in their driveway with the butt sticking out a bit. I’ve never once driven by and thought “omg, that guy is on the sidewalk”. IMO it’s their own driveway

  • Sticking out is different than blocking. But, in fact, you’re breaking the law if you block the sidewalk, and it’s a sensible law.

  • I’m sorry to say that Jenni’s Noodle House food is so BLAND. It was better when the Mom was around.

  • Cody, I don’t think you can picture what we are saying. The front of the truck is nearly touching the fence, the rear bumper is actually hanging a few inches into Studewood. The walkway runs into the drivers door. Its not parking on the sidewalk, its parking OVER the sidewalk. The only way around the truck is to walk through the grass, into Studewood and around it, back through the grass and back to the sidewalk. This guy does this because he can’t get his truck into his yard for whatever reason. Other slightly longer driveways do the same thing by parking 2 cars in tandem, so close together you can’t go between them. Hanging a bumper over the sidewalk is annoying but I can deal with it, forcing me to board on studewood makes me angry. This is ironically one of the few places in the heights people actually use the sidewalk instead of walking in the street.

  • I’m from San Antonio, where we just park on the lawn.

  • happy fatz on white oak has a full coffee bar, 1/4 all beef hotdogs with some crazy fun toppings. the desserts look great and are all made in house! WOW

  • excited about ruggles green – 11th street went down hill :0( used to love their omlets

  • While residential sidewalks exist on city easements, they are not laid down or maintained by the city. It’s up to the owner or neighborhood developer to put them down and maintain them. Pedestrians don’t have any “right” to use them. They’re really more of a courtesy. I have an iron fence around the front of my property here in the Heights and guests will park on the driveway blocking the sidewalk. If that’s an inconvenience to skateboarders or bicyclists, then tough. There is no municipal requirement for that sidewalk to be there in the first place.

  • I want to add: There are a lot of neighborhoods in Houston without any sidewalks at all. I don’t think the city can cite me for taking a sledgehammer to the sidewalk in front of my house and replacing it with sod. The sidewalk is not city property – only the easement.

  • Seabird, you may want to check that out. Folks in my little inside the loop ‘hood have been ticketed for parking in their own driveway while extending over and blocking the sidewalk. It’s like Caneco says.

    It’ll probably take some looking, but it’s probably in the “rules” somewhere, an ordinance or something.

    Why do you think sidewalks have ramps now at intersections? I believe that was a Lanier effort several years ago.

    And, if you think it’s OK to force folks in motorized chairs to get out on the street, well, maybe you’re missing something.

  • Seabird, if you break up the sidewalk without a permit, you will get a ticket. If you block the sidewalk, you get a ticket. Pedestrians have the absolute right to use the sidewalk. In fact, if a sidewalk is present, pedestrians get a ticket for walking in the street.

  • Well, I have dug around a bit and yes, it turns out I was incorrect. I assumed that since the city doesn’t mandate a sidewalk in the first place, and leaves it to the property owner to install and maintain one in front of their property, then they couldn’t rightfully enforce blocking a driveway.

    I wonder if it’s a matter of semantics; it’s not the sidewalk so much as merely the easement being a public right of way. That makes more sense – to me anyway.

    The accusation that I think it’s okay for folks in motorized chairs to go into the streets is a bit specious. Where did I say that? Honestly, the way the roots of some of the older trees have torn up the sidewalks around here, I doubt they could get by anyway. My kids can’t even get their bikes over some of the buckled pavement here.

  • You didn’t specifically say it. But, you were dismissive of skateboarders and bicyclists (even when your own kids ride bikes).

    My mom uses a motorized chair and I immediately thought of her trying to get around the cars parked over the sidewalk in front of your house. Nah, she doesn’t even live in Houston but you get the idea.

    The fact that you took exception to that scenario but didn’t mind the inconvenience to others, even casual walkers, probably indicates that yes, you do get it. But no, you don’t care much.

  • On Studewood that argument wouldn’t apply anyway Seabird. The City put the sidewalk in all the way down both sides at great expense including wheelchair ramps. Besides, at the 11th St Cafe they don’t just park perpendicularly over the sidewalk, they continue parallel parking all the way out to the street as if the sidewalk was just an extension of the parking lot. It didn’t help that the owners also concreted part of the easement to encourage the practice.

  • It’s impossible to defend against a negative. In this case, your disrespectful judgement of my personality based on nothing but a couple of internet posts. Would it be fair for me to judge you as having a chip on your shoulder with regard to mobility rights for the disabled? Hypersensitive perhaps? See how it works.

    I was merely trying to make the point that providing a right of way for skateboarders isn’t necessarily the responsibility of home owners. Not hindering them is a responsibility and I can acknowledge that.

    But the reality of the situation is that many neighborhoods here don’t have sidewalks at all, and of those that do, many are in disrepair due to a combination of extreme heat, trees with roots that buckle the slabs, etc…

    But please, do go on about me. What’s my favorite color? Or food? How tall am I? Do I dress to the right or the left. You’re so sure that you know me, you must have all of the answers, right?

  • It’s impossible to defend against a negative. In this case, your disrespectful judgement of my personality based on nothing but a couple of internet posts. Would it be fair for me to judge you as having a chip on your shoulder with regard to mobility rights for the disabled? Irrationally hypersensitive perhaps? See how it works?

    I was merely trying to make the point that providing a right of way for skateboarders isn’t necessarily the responsibility of home owners. Not hindering them is a responsibility and I can acknowledge that.

    But the reality of the situation is that many neighborhoods here don’t have sidewalks at all, and of those that do, many are in disrepair due to a combination of extreme heat, trees with roots that buckle the slabs, etc… Should home owners be cited for those things?

  • Seabird, my last comment to you didn’t make it out of moderation.

    You made the comment “If that’s an inconvenience to skateboarders or bicyclists, then tough.” I hope you don’t live on my street. It’s called a community or neighborhood for a reason.

  • Tough??? They are breaking the laws and putting me (skateboarder) in danger. This is a major thoroughfare through the heights. To say “tough” just shows your character. You don’t own the section of your driveway between the sidewalk and the road, but if I parked my car there blocking you from leaving your driveway you would be upset. As a Heights Homeowner and Skateboarder, I gotta say you don’t sound like the best type of neighbor.

  • This is an awesome thread, weaving cuisine requests with sidewalk assaults!
    Keeps the brain nimble.
    I feel sidewalks are a wonderful, friendly civic thing – lagniappe, if you will: An invitation to stroll and perhaps to visit.
    Where I grew up, sidewalks were made from 48″ squares of natural slate, which would be lifted by tree roots (mostly chestnut, in my town) and flake into shards seasonally.

  • interested in the construction… taking quite a long time at liberty kitchen!

  • I like the new sign- EAT! Oh, I plan to!

  • Well, at least 11th Street was consistant in being underwhelming and sucky. Hopefully, Ruggles will give it some new life, better food and service.

  • The name “RUGGLES” was removed from all signage this morning. It seems the place is operating under “11st Cafe” again……. I hear the Ruggles brand is on hard times..

  • Ruh-Roh, Reorge.

  • Jon: Really? I love the Ruggles on Westheimer (and its always busy). And Ruggles Green is packed every time I go.