23 August 2009

Coffee Shop Hop

This time last month I was in Brussels visiting my sister and her husband. My ten days in Europe are worth a separate post. Today I'm writing about coffee shops in Houston. In this post I'm not so much interested in the coffee as I am in its usefulness. When it comes to coffee shops, besides the obvious things, I only need two things: outlets, and free Wi-Fi. Agora and Antidote fit the bill.

Agora (1712 Westheimer Rd) is a Greek-owned shop as hidden as a building can be on busy Westheimer. The ground floor of this former house is furnished with large tables surrounded by director's chairs and a couple of couches. The upper level, accessible only by a set of seriously steep stairs, is packed with a motley assortment of small tables and chairs. There is outdoor seating both downstairs and upstairs – a haven for smokers. There's almost always something playing on the jukebox, and it is surprisingly good for the most part. Right now, Jeff Buckley. The clientele is mixed. All different types of people – possibly a decent cross section of Houston. Parking isn't great, but I live in walking distance, so. I personally avoid Wednesday nights like the plague; it is (or at least used to be) belly dancing night.

Antidote (729 Studewood St) is further north in the Heights. Parking is in front of the shop or on E 8th St. It is much smaller than Agora but I have generally found a place to sit, whether it's at one of the small lacquered wood tables, the colorful round tables outside, or on one of their vintage-looking couches. There's less world music here compared to Agora, so think The Rolling Stones, a classical track, followed by your favorite Belle and Sebastian song…you know, if you have one. Which brings us to the clientele. It's younger, hipper, and teeming with young parents and their newborns on weekend mornings. If you like Antidote too, you can vote for them here.

Both coffee shops serve beer and wine, and food that I rarely ever feel compelled to eat. What I love about both of these places is that you could sit there all day doing what it is you do on your laptop, and they won't bat an eye. Which is nice.


Quyen said...

Agora burned down over Halloween. True story: http://www.myfoxhouston.com/dpp/news/local/101031-agora-coffee-wine-shop-on-westheimer-burns. Even stranger, Richard wears his Charlie brown (yellow with black zig-zag) shirt every year for Halloween.

Anonymous said...

i'm not sure if you know this, but agora caught fire earlier this week. the antique store next door is no more, and the fire spread to the second floor of agora. it was one of the places i've been meaning to visit, but it looks like it may be no more. sorry to be the bearer of bad news. :(

i went to antidote last night and really enjoyed it. i did try a sandwich but wasn't impressed. the tea i had was great. the atmosphere was nice, and it's definitely somewhere i'd go again.

thanks for the reviews! - janice