Three Days in Black-Owned Houston: Retracing the Past, Stepping Into the Future
Houston feels like home. I noticed it before I even had the chance to visit it properly. Perhaps it was my ancestors welcoming me — ancestors who built a safe-haven for the formerly enslaved, which would become known as Freedmen’s Town, over 150 years ago.
I spent three days retracing the steps of the past, supporting Black-owned businesses, and learning about the amazing things to come in the future for the Black people of Houston. There’s an endless list of things to see and do in Black-owned Houston; however, if you only have three days in the city, here’s the perfect itinerary that weaves in the past, present, and future of this great Texas city.
breakfast at Mo’ Better Brews
Start your day at Mo’ Better Brews, Houston’s first Black-owned vegan coffee shop. This spot is all about coffee, vegan food, and vinyls. Browse through the record collection while waiting for your order of fried oyster mushrooms tossed in spiced agave and served over a creamy bed of grits — sweet and savory decadence at its finest. Sip on a cup of Bleek & Indigo coffee, a reference to the characters in the movie Mo’ Better Blues. The Ethiopian and Columbian blend was created specially by local Black-owned roasters, Three Keys Coffee for Mo’ Better Brews.
Note that the vibes don’t have to end at breakfast. You can also come back in the evenings and enjoy open mic, live music, and poetry nights.
Where: 1201 Southmore Blvd, Houston, TX 77004, USA
Spend the rest of the morning museum hopping
One thing you will find in abundance in Houston are museums — there are over 150 museums and cultural institutions in the Greater Houston area. 19 of those museums are located in Houston’s Museum District, a cultural and arts destination that garners over seven million annual visits. 11 of the museums in the Museum District are free, so take advantage of it. Start at the Buffalo Soldier Museum and learn about the history and contributions of the African Americans who served in every great American war. This is the only museum in the United States dedicated to the Black soldiers that serve in the armed forces, so it is absolutely worth the visit.
Where: 3816 Caroline St. Houston, TX 77004, USA
Take a four-minute walk (or two-minute drive) down the street to the Community Artists’ Collective. The Collective provides a platform for local Black artists. This gallery offers free admission but accepts donations.
Where: 4101 San Jacinto St, Suite 116, Houston, TX 77004, USA
Take another 10-minute stroll to the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) and wander through the small, yet powerful exhibitions that explore the culture of those across the African Diaspora in Texas, specifically Houston, and the southwest. Make sure to check out the two and three-dimensional works of art in the permanent exhibition A Black Perspective.
Where: 4807 Caroline St, Houston, TX 77004
Lunch at Taste Bar + Kitchen
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Black-owned restaurant Taste Bar + Kitchen. Chicken and waffles are a staple in Houston, and this restaurant’s spin on this classic, sweet and savory dish will leave you craving seconds and thirds. We recommend the Cajun chicken paired with a peach cobbler waffle; the General Tso’s chicken with a Red Velvet waffle; and the vegan chicken and waffle option. For an extra side of deliciousness, order the bacon and lobster smoked gouda mac and cheese. And if you want to drink your dessert, try the Key Lime Pie or Cotton Candy cocktail. They will certainly satisfy your sweet tooth.
The playlist at Taste Bar + Kitchen will make it hard to tear yourself away from your seat to leave. The 80s and 90s classics belting out from the speakers will tempt you to whip out your invisible microphone and have a concert of your own. However, there’s more to see and do in Black-owned Houston, so wrap it up and let’s head to our next stop.
Where: 3015 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77006, USA
Make your own Houston souvenir
After lunch, pop over to Love & Make and create your own personalized Houston souvenir. Love & Make is a fun Black-owned candle-making workshop with over 60 different scents that you can choose from to make your own candles, soaps, and bath bombs. The staff will teach you all about the ingredients, the differences between the types of oils and fragrance mixing so that your keepsake will be something you can enjoy long after your visit.
Where: 2516 Times Blvd, Houston, TX 77005, USA
Drinks at Lost & Found
It’s time to wind down your first day in Black-owned Houston, and there’s no better way to do just that than with good eats and good vibes at Lost & Found. This Fourth Ward Black-owned bar and restaurant serves up drinks that are just as fun as the bold decor. Try one of the signature cocktails like the DGK, a Sour Patch Kids-infused vodka with lime, cranberry, and a sugar rim. Hang out on the pet-friendly patio and watch your favorite sports team on a big screen, or dine indoors to the sound of their epic playlist. The cajun pasta with chicken and shrimp is a must-try.
Where: 160 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019, USA
Fuel up at Throughgood Coffee
If you don’t mind a 15-minute drive outside the city center, head over to Throughgood Coffee, Not only does Throughgood Coffee has a rustic-chic decor that would make Chip and Joanna Gaines proud, it delivers delicious coffee and locally sourced baked goods while providing resources and housing for previously homeless people in Houston. There’s an outdoor seating area perfect for easing into your day, and a taco truck in the parking lot so you can grab a quick savory bite. Fun fact: The owner of both Throughgood Coffee and Soul Taco food truck is Beyoncé’s former pastor, so a visit here basically means you know Beyoncé, right?
Where: 732 W 27th Houston, Texas 77008
Dive into Midtown’s art scene
Midtown Houston is a popular, walkable neighborhood with a great cultural scene. Take a stroll in the parks before paying a visit to The Ensemble Theatre — the oldest and largest African-American professional theatre company in the US that owns and operates its own facility and produces plays in-house. Check out the schedule to see what shows are playing during your visit.
Where: 3535 Main Street, Houston, TX 77002, USA
While in Midtown, take a self-guided tour of Houston’s street art. These vibrant paintings make for the perfect Instagram backdrop. Here are some must-see murals:
- “Black Cassidy of Houston Mural” at 2800 Fannin St. Houston, TX, 77004, USA
- “Gorilla Mural” at 3701 Main St. Houston, TX, 77002, USA
- “Preservons La Creation Mural” at 2860 Fannin St. Houston, TX, 77002, USA
- The many Mini murals sprinkled around Midtown
For even more street art beauty, take a quick five-minute drive over to the Houston Graffiti Building, and the surrounding area, where you’ll discover a rotating display of murals.
Where: 1503 Chartres St, Houston, TX 77003, USA
Lunch at Lucille’s
Lucille’s is a Black-owned restaurant inside a 1920s Mission-style home, right in the heart of Houston’s Museum District. Downstairs, the atmosphere is one of a regular restaurant, but upstairs feels like Sunday dinner at grandma’s house — everything from the floral wallpaper, the worn wooden floors, and the decorative plates hung on the walls is a homely throwback.
Lucille’s attracts a diverse, family-oriented crowd in its cozy interior. Tunes ranging from Teddy Pendergrass to Usher fill the space, while you’re being served Southern favorites like shrimp and grits, yardbird, and stewed okra and tomatoes.
Where: 5512 La Branch St., Houston, Texas 77004, USA
Hang out at one of Houston’s iconic landmarks
Trying to pack the best of Black-owned Houston into three days is nearly impossible, and will leave you exhausted, so give yourself permission to slow down and take a beat. One of the best places to do this in the city is Houston’s Water Wall in Uptown. Not only is it free, but the three-acre park features a 64-foot, cascading water feature and is one of Houston’s most iconic landmarks. It’s not Black-owned; however, there are still ways to support local Black-owned businesses while having a quiet time in the park. Grab some sweet treats from Crumbville, the butter pecan crunch cookie and red velvet cupcakes are my favorites (they also have vegan and gluten-free options).
Where: 2800 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056, USA
Dinner and drinks at Trez Art & Wine Bar
Enjoy some art with your drinks at Trez Art & Wine Bar. Trez is the only Black woman-owned wine bar in Houston, offering a selection from boutique wineries, as well as female winemakers like Aslina Wines (created by Ntsiki Biyela, the first South African woman winemaker), and African American winemakers, such as Pur Noire. Trez is all about supporting local artists and minority businesses. Most nights of the week, you’ll find a live DJ; however, on the first and third Saturdays of the month you can vibe out to a live band. You won’t be disappointed by the menu items or the drinks. Ask for bartender Keewee to whip you up a “Naked by KG”. This Old-Fashion with a twist is a secret drink you won’t find on the menu that was created for Houston’s very own, Khaliah O. Guillory — owner of the Black-owned rest sanctuary, Nap Bar.
Where: 920 Studemont St #150, Houston, TX 77007, USA
Breakfast at The Breakfast Klub
You can’t come to Houston and not have breakfast at The Breakfast Klub. Even my Uber driver, an older white guy, couldn’t stop raving about the place. The thing to order at The Breakfast Klub is chicken and waffles because this is arguably the best in town (the chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside and seasoned and juicy on the inside.) But if you’ve had enough chicken and waffles on this trip, there’s an extensive menu with delicious items, including a selection of breakfast sandwiches and omelettes. Just note that you need to get there early. I arrived around 6:50 AM and there was already a line down the block with people waiting for the doors to open at 7 AM.
Where: 3711 Travis at Alabama, Houston, TX 77002, USA
Dedicate your afternoon to Freedmen’s Town
Houston is a thriving city filled with people of all backgrounds. It’s also a city with a deep-rooted history tucked behind the shadows of the new and shiny highrises. Freedmen’s Town, located in the Fourth Ward neighborhood, is the city’s most historically important African-American community. It was founded in 1866 when newly emancipated African Americans purchased land and turned the area into a vibrant and safe haven for Blacks. Spend the afternoon on a self-guided walking tour, learning all about the history that helped shape what Houston has become today. Here are some stops to make along the way:
- Bethel Baptist Church: Historic church in Houston that now serves as a community park
Where: 25 Tidwell Rd. Houston, TX 77022
- Gregory School: Now housing the city’s first African-American Library
Where: 500 McKinney St. Houston, TX 77002
- Emancipation Park: $1000 was raised by the community to purchase this 10-acre piece of land to host Juneteenth celebrations
Where: 3018 Emancipation Ave. Houston, TX 77004
- The Rutherford B.H. Yates House: Formerly a publishing house for newspapers for the Black community
Where: Andrews St & Wilson St. Houston, TX 77019
- Project Row Houses: Row houses in Houston’s Third Ward that have been restored and turned into artist studios and homes for single mothers
Where: 2521 Holman St Houston, TX, 77004, United States
- Freedmen’s Town Farmer’s Market: Visit on Saturdays and purchase goods from local Black and Hispanic vendors
Where: 1108 Victor St, Houston, TX 77019
- Antioch Baptist Church: The first African American Baptist Church in Houston organized by former slaves
Where: 500 Clay St, Houston, TX 77002
Houston’s Freedmen’s Town Conservancy is working to preserve the legacy, stories, and heritage of Freedmen’s Town. One way the Conservancy has achieved this goal is by gaining UNESCO recognition for seven sites, as a part of the Slave Route Project. The Conservancy is currently developing a Community Center where visitors will be able to learn more about the area, as well as an app that will allow tourists to journey through Freedmen’s Town on an immersive walking tour.
Then, there’s the proposed Emancipation Trail, the 51-mile route from Gavelston to Houston that would highlight historic landmarks along the route that enslaved people took after they were informed of their freedom on June 19, 1865. It would be only the second trail in the US to commemorate the history of African Americans.
Lunch at Houston Grub Park
Grab lunch at Houston’s Black-owned food truck park, Houston Grub Park. You will be spoilt for choice with at least 30 options to pick from. Everything from Asian-inspired Southern food to finger-licking-good Low-Country Boils is on the menu. The food truck park is only open from Thursdays to Sundays and is near the NFL stadium and light rail, making it easy to get to other Houston activities, like festivals, concerts, and Astros games.
Where: 1615 S Loop W, Houston, TX 77054, USA
3rd Ward Bicycle Tours
A curated bike tour with 3rd Ward Tours will be the highlight of your trip in Black-owned Houston. You’ll find different themes with every tour such as Afrobeats night, R&B night, 90s night, etc. I went on a Fantastic Voyage-themed ride that took my group around the city while following a truck blaring out the sounds of DJ Elevated and DJ Anarchy. If you haven’t ridden a bike in a while, don’t worry. These rides cater to exactly those who haven’t. They are slow and have guides to help you along the way. Touring the town on bikes fitted with LED lights is the perfect to a three-day trip in Black-owned Houston.
Where: 3409 Emancipation Ave, Houston, TX 77004