January 1, 2020

2nd Hand Stores - My Favorite 2nd Hand Stores in Houston

The Google Map (Click on any of these in the sidebar to get full address)

Favorite 2nd Hand Stores in Houston

Screenshot of the map:

Cuban in Houston - The Cuban Flavor in Nassau Bay

Friend Andrew Bennett came across a terrific Cuban cafe in a convenience store of all places!

Here is Andrew's review of The Cuban Flavor in Nassau Bay at 1419 East NASA Parkway.

Photos follow the review:

" The Cuban Flavor - Cuban - Nassau Bay - 4.75 Stars
Usually restaurants disguised as gas stations serve Mexican breakfast tacos, so you can get gas while you get gas. 

But in Houston, exceptions range from a Mobil serving natto (soybeans as stinky as gas itself) to now, the first Cuban food in Clear Lake or environs, so I don't have to buy too much gas. Its two tables are two more than the norm and the interior approaches the cleanliness of Super H Mart's Korean food court, with better prices and a lean and mean menu ready to "fill you up" with not-so-lean protein- and carb-heavy Cuban specialties that'll last you an entire tank of gas - of course, until you come back next time.
My maternal family member/dining companion walked in at about the same time and quickly took stock of the tightly focused menu, based around Cuban sandwiches, fried delights like croquettes, sweet pastries, and a rotating daily special which happily is Ropa Vieja on Tuesdays. It fit snugly into the corner of the humble station mart next to the lottery tickets and overlooked it like a high-rise balcony, giving it as much presence as my belly was about to lay claim to after looking at every single thing behind the window and saying "Yo quiero." But my Spanish, still recovering from 15 months of confusion with French, was only capable of ordering the Ropa Vieja with Moros y Cristianos and fried plantains, and deciding that when it saw boiled yucca relaxing in a pool of oil like una mujer bonita en la playa, to not wait for a trip to El Paso to say "¿Por qué no los dos?" If it was anything like the fried yucca with mojo sauce in the sadly defunct Doris in middle-of-nowhere Carrollton, Georgia, it would be worth $3 - but en verdad, the extra side cost merely $1. When bolstered by a Cuban coffee and tamale, the entire meal set us back $15 and proved a cheaper way to get gas.
And certainly much tastier.
The fear with any steam-table establishment, as can happen in many BBQ and Southern restaurants or Chinese buffets, is that food turns to mush from hours of sitting on hot plates. Fortunately, Ropa Vieja seems invulnerable to this pitfall, remaining very juicy and in between soup and stew, its bell pepper strips melting into the sauce but retaining enough fresh vegetable crispness to cut the heaviness of the shredded flank steak that looks so unkempt its name literally means “Old Clothes.”
The black-and-white rice and beans were just dry enough to be dressed with a not-quite-Armani suit, but wet enough to be edible alone. The couple of bites of Cuban tamale I tried were filled with bigger chunks of corn and faintly perfumed with banana leaf, unlike a Mexican tamale, but are not as spicy or bold. The plantains were a perfect mixture between firm, tender, sweet and starchy, certainly beyond my flour-drenched and somewhat mushy attempts. I felt rather disappointed that the yucca came out au naturel instead of being fried into Latin America’s answer to French fries, especially with deep-fryers as prolific as Havana cigars in the White House and enough oil dripping off it that Halliburton would appropriate it, but it was well-cooked and the bland nutty-mashed-potato flavor was offset slightly by subtle hints of flavors in the oil, perhaps garlic. As far as vegetables in Cuban dishes go, you’re not going to find too many other options. 
Desserts are dominated by crispy pies and tarts like the pastelitos also common in Venezuelan joints, the guava clearly most prized, and would have paired beautifully with the stupendous house-ground Cuban coffee that’s quite likely the best coffee I’ve had in any food-oriented restaurant to date – and maybe even any establishment to date. It’s like a bold and oaky Napa Cab compared to a straightforward red blend, the added cream almost like a decanter in the way it allows the roasting and coffee bean flavors to meld into it and become more distinct and milder rather than an overwhelmingly potent surge of caffeine. However, I’d had more than enough to eat for the day and decided to hit the brakes for the moment and get back to my accelerator.
You need not buy, nor get gas here.
But you will find the best Cuban food in perhaps the entire Houston area at unbelievably bargain prices.
And the server at the front understood with a steadily growing smile as I made favorable comparisons to Doris, still my gold standard for all Cuban food, that she had done something special by opening up this tiny monument to Havana Manna.

Granel Spice Market - Airline Drive

Granel, I am told means "bulk" in Spanish. This latest, wonderful venture from the Flores Spices family is located directly across from El Bolillo Bakery on Airline Drive. It is impressive and is my default, go-to location for all of my spice needs. Especially cinnamon. The cinnamon we know of as Mexican cinnamon is actually from Sri Lanka. It is a milder cinnamon that is much loved in Mexico for flavoring pastries, coffee, chocolate, etc. Here follow photos of the Granel Spice Market.

Bagels - Golden Bagels and Coffee

Golden Bagels and Coffee is a new venue, having opened in January of 2018 on White Oak Boulevard in the Heights. The bagels are excellent and are highly recommended. Living near the Heights it has already become one of my favorite destinations, when the urge for a freshly made bagel hits me.

Bagels are an interesting creature. There is a bit of complexity to them in that you are going to be creating a bread dough, then shaping the bread into the standard bagel shape, dipping it in a solution of baking soda or lye (similar to what one does for a pretzel), BOILING the dough, and then proceeding with the baking process. That boiling phase does some interesting things to the yeast risen dough, changing the internal structure to a dense, chewy bread.

Here is a link to an article on bagels:
Slate Magazine : A Short History on the Bagel

Old Houston and Galveston Restaurants - A list by Greg Buchold

Old Houston and Galveston Restaurants

1908 Original Mexican Café (Galveston)
1911 Gaido’s (Galveston)
1917 Christie’s Seafood Restaurant
1923 James Coney Island
1923 Yale St. Grill
1927 West Alabama Ice House
1930 Moeller’s Bakery
1932 Prince’s Hamburgers
1935 Pizzitola’s Bar-B-Que
1936 Brenner’s
1938 Avalon Diner
1938 Guy’s Meat Market (CLOSED)
1939 Lankford Grocery
1939 Donnelly's (Baytown)
1940 Telwink Grill
1941 Cleburne Cafeteria (RE-OPENED)
1941 Molina’s
1942 Triple A (CLOSED)
1944 Massa's Oyster House
1944 Sonny’s Place
1946 Barbecue Inn
1946 Cream Burger
1948 Harry's Restaurant
1949 The Last Concert Cafe
1949 Three Brothers Bakery
1950 Goodson's Cafe
1952 City Cafe
1952 Nielsen’s Delicatessen
1953 Leon's Lounge
1953 Spanish Village
1954 Doyle’s
1954 Dinner Bell Cafeteria
1954 Frank's Grill
1955 Someburger
1956 Loma Linda (CLOSED)
1956 The Original Kolache Shoppe
1958 La Carafe
1959 This is It
1961 Stanton's City Bites
1962 Antone’s
1963 Champ Burger
1963 Poppa Burger
1964 Demeris BBQ
1964 El Patio
1964 La Plaza
1965 Tony’s
1965 House of Pies
1967 Brennan’s
1967 Dot Coffee Shop
1967 Flying Saucer Pie Company
1967 Mytiburger
1968 Burger Park
1969 China Garden

1969 Frenchy's

Coffee in Houston - Bed, Bath, and Beyond Creates a Coffee Store Within a Store With an Excellent Selection of Coffeemakers and Accessories

The Katy, Texas store and the Willowbrook store, I am told, are two of only ten current Bed, Bath and Beyonds to feature an extensive coffee section. They also house a World Market food section, as both stores are owned by the same parent company. Here are some photos of some of the coffee options including Melitta, Hario, Chemex, Breville, Keurig, and more.

Until now, your options were Sur La Table, Williams Sonoma, several of the artisanal coffee shops, and online, to name a few. True, you aren't going to find, say, a Rancilio Silva or a Rancilio Rocky or a Baratza Maestra here, but Bed, Bath has really done a great job with this section in my opinion.

Click on any photos to enlarge it for a better view.

An extra bonus: Now, I consider Keurig to be one of the worst things to happen to craft coffee. I am a Chemex and Technivorm kind of person. But, the store has two Keurig pro units and you can brew up a coffee sample in the store, have a coffee while shopping. And it isn't just one or two options. Just about every coffee made for the Keurig, which they sell, is available for tasting.

And don't forget: 20% off coupons on a regular basis in the newspaper.

Espresso Machine Review
(a review of espresso machines in 3 price ranges)

Recently, a friend asked me about burr grinders. I thought I might capture my response here, since I mentioned Bed, Bath and Beyond to her in my response:

First off, don't consider anything but a burr grinder. Now, if you do have an espresso machine and want to grind fine enough for espresso (somewhere between white flour and sand) you are going to have to spend some money to get a good one. 

But there are two options. First, forget about grinding coffee for espresso and buy the Lavazza espresso grind at Spec's on Smith Street or ask your friendly coffee vendor (Catalina, Southside, Boomtown or Greenway or other) to do an espresso grind, buy a smaller quantity and use it up before it goes stale from oxidation. Note: I am now a believer in freezing coffee.

Second, the Hario hand grinder is superb for espresso grind but not so great for medium grind. Max Gonzalez of Catalina said the ($50) Hario grinder can grind as finely as some very expensive electrical ones. I own one and used it every day in my office and on road trips. 

Now, on to burr grinder. I own a Baratza that I bought at Catalina. Baratza, on the low end pricing is about as good as you can get in the price range. But you don't have to spend that much. 

Capresso and Cuisinart make grinders that will suffice for your every day medium grind. If not shopping online, using the Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupon at their new coffee market venue out in Katy would be a good place to go shopping.

Shopping - Fun Places to Shop - A list by Greg Buchold

Cactus King 625 W Canino Rd, Houston, TX 77037– cacti and succulents  thecactusking.com

Wabash Feed Store 4537 N Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77018 – garden store, metal art, eggs, farm animals wabashfeed.com

Heights Antiques on Yale 2110 Yale St, Houston, TX 77008 – antiques, 18th-20th century items heightsantiques.com
Lovejoy’s Antiques & Collectables 2100 Yale St, Houston, TX 77008 - lovejoysantiques.com
R & F Antiques 8910 Teichman Rd, Galveston, TX 77554 – antiques, Catholic church items, outdoor metal
The Lift 365 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008 – gifts, books thelifton19th.com
Eclectic Home 345 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008  – tableware, home décor eclectichome.ws
Jubilee - 325 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008 tableware, home décor, clothing, socks, cards jubileeintheheights.com
Bliss on 19th 235 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008 - blisson19th.com
Casa Ramirez 241 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008 – Mexican art, offrendas, Mexican tiles, guyaberas, books, cookbooks, jewelry, Dia de las Muertos figures
Revival Market 550 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007 – deli, meat market, sauces/pickles, fresh vegetables, restaurants revivalmarket.com
Buchanan’s Native Plants 611 E 11th St, Houston, TX 77008 – plants, home décor, fountains, towels, cards, candles, clothing, jewelry, outdoor decorations buchanansplants.com
Kaboom Books 6736, 3116 Houston Ave, Houston, TX 77009 – great used book store kaboombooks.com

Corazon 2318 Waugh Dr, Houston, TX 77006 – guayaberas, Mexican art corazonfairtrade.com
The Guild Shop 2009 Dunlavy St, Houston, TX 77006 – high-quality second-hand store
Space Montrose 1706 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098 – cards, jewelry, spacemontrose.com
Texas Art Supply 2001 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006 – art supplies, activity books, books, etc. texasart.com
Sur La Table 1996 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019 – tableware, cookware, knives, small kitchen appliances, towels surlatable.com
Marshalls/HomeGoods 1450 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019 - marshallsonline.com
Events Gifts 2439 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098 – cards, napkins, glassware, jewelry, home décor, Christmas ornaments eventsgifts.com

MFAH Shop 5601 S Main St, Houston, TX 77005 - mfah.org
CAMH Shop 5216 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006 – interesting jewelry, toys, personal items, games, books camh.org
HMNS Museum Store 5555 Hermann Dr, Houston, TX 77004 – science museum gifts museumstore.hmns.org
Southern Importers 4825 San Jacinto St, Houston, TX 77004 – costume and party supplies southern-importers.com
Asia Society Texas Center - 1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston, TX 77004 asiasociety.org
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft 4848 S Main St, Houston, TX 77002 – jewelry and tableware crafthouston.org

Spec’s Downtown 2410 Smith St, Houston, TX 77006 – liquor store with extensive beer and wine offerings, unusual frozen and grocery items, deli, gifts specsonline.com
High Fashion Home 3100 Travis St, Houston, TX 77006 - highfashionhome.com

Urban Harvest Farmers Market 3000 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77098 - urbanharvest.org
Christmas Rocks 2931 Ferndale St, Houston, TX 77098 – Christmas ornaments and holiday décor christmasrocks.us
Whole Earth Provision Co. 2934 S Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77098 – camping supplies, outdoor clothing, games, books, home décor wholeearthprovision.com
Kuhl-Linscomb 2424 W Alabama St, Houston, TX 77098 – department store for the wealthy kuhl-linscomb.com
Antiques Pavilion 2311 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098 – more expensive antiques
Thompson and Hanson Stone House 3600 W Alabama St, Houston, TX 77027 – garden themed gifts, plants, and restaurant thompsonhanson.com
Brown 2940 Ferndale St, Houston, TX 77098 – antique lighting, home décor, and small gifts shopbybrown.com
Bering’s Hardware 3900 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005 - berings.com

Surroundings 1708 Sunset Blvd, Houston, TX 77005 - surroundingshouston.com
Zapotec Art A Southwest Gallery 1728 Sunset Blvd, Houston, TX 77005 – Native American art, zuni fetishes, pottery, Navajo rugs, drums zapotecartgallery.com
British Isles 2366 Rice Boulevard, Houston, TX 77005 – British food, jams, chocolate, tea pots, britishislesonline.com
Olivine 2405 Rice Boulevard, Houston, TX 77005 – Le Cadeau, French linens, clothing, gifts
La Taste 2417 Rice Boulevard, Houston, TX 77005 - French soap, baskets, tableware, scents latasteboutique.com
Meli-Melo 5617 Morningside Dr, Houston, TX 77005 – French gifts
The Blue Hand 2323 University Blvd, Houston, TX 77005 – unusual home décor, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, clothing, African art
Blue Leaf 2303 South Blvd, Houston, TX 77098 - blueleafhouston.com

Memorial Antiques and Interiors 7026 Old Katy Rd, 166, Houston, TX 77024 – high-end antiques

Craftex Wholesale 7215 Ashcroft Dr, Houston, TX 77081 - craftexwholesale.com
Russian General Store 9629 Hillcroft St, Houston, TX 77096 - russiangeneralstore.com

T & P Gifts 9188 Bellaire Blvd # M, Houston, TX 77036 -
Winseng Books & Gifts 9112 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036 - winseng.com
Moshi Moshi E, 9108 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036 – Japanese plush toys,
Fit JP Store 9889 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036 – Japanese gifts, ceramic cats, plateware, storage items, personal grooming fitjpstore.com

Antiques & More 1801 S Dairy Ashford Rd #106, Houston, TX 77077 – high-end antiques
Japan House 1801 S Dairy Ashford Rd #121, Houston, TX 77077 – Japanese gifts usjapanhouse.com
Cornelius Nursery 2233 S Voss Rd, Houston, TX 77057 – plants, home décor, fake flowers, wreath supplies, Christmas ornaments, outdoor decorations calloways.com

Bering’s Hardware 6102 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77057 - berings.com

Food Tours of Houston

(Food Tours of Houston Links Here):

The Food Tours of Houston Website

Will Springfield - Houston Chef Leads Exciting Food Tours of Houston

Food Tours of Houston - Will Springfield on Facebook

Phone: 281-513-1833
Email: wspringfield@sbcglobal.net

Will Springfield has been exploring the Houston food scene for years now and brings a wealth of knowledge to share with you. From taco trucks on Long Point to places where only Chinese dine on Bellaire Boulevard, he has covered this city from east to west and north to south in search of amazing places to dine.

These food tours are spectacular. Whether Will is leading it, or, if he brings in local culinary experts such as Michael Shum or John Nechman, or me, Jay Francis, to reveal their/our favorite, "secret", discoveries.

Houston is my home. I grew up in Glenbrook Valley near Hobby Airport and went to Milby High School. I remember when dining out in Houston meant a Sunday lunch at Weldon's Cafeteria, and an evening out meant steak, salad and potato, or once in a while, the big splurge at Kaphan's Seafood or The San Jacinto Inn. 

In the 80's the Houston food scene started getting REALLY interesting. With immigrants arriving from Mexico and Central America and Asia, ethnic restaurants exploded here. I've often joked that if one waits long enough, every kind of food will make its way to Houston. I even know a place that makes the giant tamal of the Totonac region of Mexico (zacahuil). And now, we even have several Uyghur restaurants. And a lifetime's worth of exploration of the Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants along Bellaire Boulevard for anyone up to the challenge!

Now, my expertise is probably Mexican, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern (including Turkey and Iran, though). Will is a professional chef who brings a chef's knowledge and sensibility. Between the two of us, we KNOW where the great places are to eat. Barbecue,  Indian, Iranian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean...we have it covered!

Here are a few photos from some recent tours that Will organized. Traveling around Houston with Will is so much fun. We hope you will join Will for his next tour!

May 2018 - A great outing with terrific food

And, the food!

August 26, 2018. John Nechman and Will Springfield lead a very special tour of the East End where John grew up. And finish with visits with chefs Chris Shepherd and also Kaiser Lashkari at their respective restaurants.