Walking the Brazos Neighborhood

Article by annalia

At Brazos, we often busy ourselves with books and authors from around the country, but we are, at our core, a neighborhood bookstore, here to serve the people who live and work within walking distance. We’re a place for family events (like Saturday morning story time) as well as a place for neighborhood residents to browse books and gift items for all ages.

Usually we dedicate our web features to new releases, upcoming events, and great people in publishing--but this week, we want to turn the focus away from us and, instead, highlight some local businesses that help to make our neighborhood what it is.

Take, for instance, FUNdamentally Toys, a business we’ve partnered with before (most recently for this past summer’s Where’s Waldo scavenger hunt). Owner Debbie Scholl describes FUNdamentally Toys as “a neighborhood toy store,” and she’s not kidding. It’s a one-stop shop for all things kids: toys, costumes, even family events such as story time and face painting. With a focus on toys that “blend creative development with entertainment value,” shoppers know their selections will be fun for all ages. Scholl loves Rice Village because of its variety of local businesses and its walkability. Indeed, our shared neighborhood is one of the best places in Houston to ditch the car for a day and hoof it, New York- or Boston-style.

We love FUNdamentally Toys, but we love many, many other neighborhood businesses too. Here’s a mere sampling of some others that you should visit the next time you’re walking around.

Benjy's/Local Foods
Neighborhood foodies love Benjy’s and its new sister restaurant, Local Foods. The two spots share a philosophy of fresh, farm-to-table, seasonal fare. Local Foods is a bustling spot at lunchtime; Benjy’s turns into a upscale restaurant with a full bar come nightfall. The older of the two spots, Benjy’s features small plates such as a bone marrow puff pastry and the chef's signature pan-seared East Coast flounder. It’s decadent enough to make you feel like you're dining downtown without the hassle of leaving the neighborhood.

Mercantile is an oasis among the slew of coffee shops clogged with laptop cord spaghetti. It has a central counter with a modest clipboard menu, a few homemade baked goods, a handful of wooden tables, and a specialty grocery. With premium beans from Amaya Roasting Company and the rare “flat white,” Mercantile is a place for coffee lovers. Many patrons enjoy people-watching from the bar that faces Morningside, or sitting outside at one of the outdoor tables. An elegant experience compared to the usual Starbucks hubbub.

Dromgoole's Fine Writing and Stationery
Callinebephiles look no further: Dromgoole’s Fine Writing and Stationery has you covered. In addition to nearly thirty different brands of quality writing instruments, inks, journals, and stationery, Dromgoole’s has leather accessories, knives, and a resident “pen doctor.” Dr. Stephen Pustilnik works in the store on Saturdays to help you customize your pen, whether it’s custom nibs, adjusting ink flow, repairs, pen appraisals, or modifications for left-handed writers. Dromgoole’s also happily creates custom wedding invitations and hosts in-store events, including events for Oktoberfest and Valentine’s Eve.

Under the Volcano
Under the Volcano is the perfect neighbor--after all, what makes more sense than a bar named for Malcolm Lowry’s masterpiece situated right next door to a bookstore? Owner Pete Mitchell and his staff offer us a spot for special events, including a recent after-party for poet Tony Hoagland’s August reading. But even if Under the Volcano weren’t our neighbor, it’d still be worth visiting. Thirsty? Grab its popular frozen screwdriver or a tasty “Mexican Martini” (made with orange juice). Hungry? Swing by for Monday steak night. Under the Volcano draws a crowd so eclectic that, over the course of any given night, the bar feels as though it’s growing, garden-like. Remember the question Lowry famously poses (in Spanish) throughout his novel: “Do you like this garden of yours?” When it’s Under the Volcano, our perfect literary neighbor, we sure do.

Article Type Terms: