Category Archives: Montrose

Chocolate Paradise: The Chocolate Bar by Mark Hurtado

The Chocolate Bar
1835West Alabama
Houston TX

November 2010. From the time you breeze in till the time you walk slowly out with your belly full of goodies. Your senses will be engulfed in a huge variety of color, smell, taste, and sound. The smell of homemade chocolate is overwhelming, and the taste is so rich it explodes you’re taste buds and leaves you craving for more and more. Visually exciting, The Chocolate Bar tempts your taste buds with colors through a display of numerous chocolate shapes. From the blending of milkshakes to the grinding of espressos you’ll always hear upbeat sounds, music, laughter, and conversation among customers. My favorite part of visiting the Chocolate Bar is the first few seconds when I walk through the double doors and see all the different assortments of chocolates and dessert and taking a deep breath in of the sweet smell that overcomes you. It is my favorite place among many other Houstonians to go when you have a sweet tooth. They offer everything from truffles to chocolate-dipped fresh fruit, cheesecake, homemade ice cream and even chocolate novelties, which also make great gifts. You can also find unusual items covered in chocolate like Pringles, Twinkies and Lucky Charms cereal to name a few. But what really caught my eye were these massive four layer chocolate cakes on display. One of the unique things about this store is it has something for everyone including your dog. With a small choice of carob and peanut butter covered bones with elaborate edible designs for your pet. In short words it’s a chocolate lovers dream! Located in the Montrose area, the Chocolate Bar offers a great location. It’s location in one of Houston’s most cultural rich neighborhoods offers visitors both local and from out of town the chance to see one of this city’s many treasures.

I first moved to Houston when I was nineteen in the Sugarland area, the city was so vast I couldn’t contemplate ever knowing my way around it. There were few places I visited which were only the typical local restaurants, malls, and stores in my general area. It wasn’t until one summer afternoon my family and I had to go into the city to run some errands and we happened to come across The Chocolate Bar. Out of plain curiosity we stopped and we have been hooked ever since. Shortly after that I joined the Air Force, and left Houston for four years. During my four years away from home I would come home to visit my family here. The Chocolate Bar was a must stop visit for me at least once every visit. I was stationed at Laughlin Air Force Base right outside of Del Rio, TX a small border town in west Texas. There wasn’t anything comparable in that town to Houston. So with that, this was an awesome place I loved to visit when I came home to visit my family and friends. If offered something out of the norm that I wasn’t used to seeing back in Del Rio. It offered delicious sights and smells and above all a friendly place where everyone has a smile on. You are always greeted with a sweet smell of chocolate as you walk in along with a friendly hello or welcome from a staff member behind the counter covered in chocolate cover fruits and nuts. Walking in and taking a look around is my favorite part of the experience, it allows you to walk around and look at the many variety of chocolate moldings. There are chocolate pizzas to dog treats, and bells to dollar bills. Then I like to make it over to the ice cream area where they have roughly twenty flavors, all with a chocolate theme to it. When you sit down with your dessert of choice after debating over and over what flavor of this or that should I get, you get a feeling of warmth and excitement as if you were a little kid again trying a delicious desert for the first time.

My most memorable experience there was for my twenty third birthday back in February. I went there after enjoying a nice dinner with my family and close friends. It was the first time that I was going to trying one of their amazing chocolate cakes. They have many different styles of cake and all have their own names to them. I got a huge slice of Aunt Etta’s which is four layers of extremely moist dark chocolate cake with toffee and bittersweet chocolate bits between each layer. This slice of heaven will cost you around $10, not exactly cheap, but worth it. They’re also conscious of the diabetic population offering the best sugar free chocolate treats in town. It was a dark evening which usually means there’s some playing soft live music. One side of the shop actually does sort of resemble a bar. In fact, on Tuesday evenings, you can enjoy listening to a live band while indulging in your favorite chocolate treat.

A creative man by the name of Gilbert Johnson had a childhood passion for making chocolate. He dreamed of a shop serving all ages with smiles and sweet treats, where chocolate could become a complete entertainment experience. To make his dream reality, Gilbert enlisted Eric Shamban and Tino Ramirez as founding fathers and on October 10, 2000, The Chocolate Bar was born. Today, Gilbert’s dream is thriving in two locations thanks to loyal customers and exceptional service from enthusiastic and friendly employees.

One of my favorite times to go is when I have my six year old niece Isabella with me, it’s nice to see her young eyes open when we walk into the store and have her ask me “ Uncle Mark, can I have anything I want?” With such excitement in her voice it only leaves me with one answer every time, “Yes of course!” We always end up choosing their ice cream which again has any flavor to please any chocolate lovers taste. My dessert of choice I a rich chocolate ice cream with nuts and small pieces of brownies. Although on the prices side this place is truly worth every penny of it. So if you’re looking for a nice atmosphere, good people, and conversation, and above all a delicious variety of dessert then The Chocolate Bar is the place for you

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LINKS
The Chocolate Bar
Houston Dining/Desserts
Montrose

Author Bio

Mark Hurtado is a first year student at the University of Houston Downtown, who is thinking of majoring in Political Science. He grew up in Corpus Christi, TX where he graduated from Richard King High School in 2005. After high school he went on to serve in the United States Air Force for four years, at Laughlin AFB, TX.

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Spending A Day On Montrose Boulevard by Bianca Diaz

Montrose Blvd
Houston, Tx 77006
(713) 965 3597

November 2010- Her hair was short, stringy, full of color and lots of layer to flaunt what seemed to be a perfect bone structure with pale glowing skin. She wore a revealing low-cut top to compliment her busty features, along with short H & M shorts that showed off her slender long legs that went on for days, and topped it off with what looked like an old vintage fedora. She strutted in thick black pumps with another inch of platform on the bottom that added height to a girl that was already seemingly 5’7 and wore midnight black eyeliner to draw attention to her olive green eyes. She smelled of cigarettes and herbal incents, carrying around with her a purse, a book, and a Nikon DSLR snapping photographs of everything around her that somehow caught her attention, which was pretty much almost everything. As I watched this girl, I not only noticed her unique appearance, but took a high interest in what she was doing and where she was. As I sat in Café Brazil on the corner of Montrose and Westeimer, I just couldn’t help but notice her flamboyant features and high enthusiasm for her surroundings. I guess you could find a person like her in a random coffee shop, at an art gallery, or maybe even at your nearest Barnes & Noble, but it seems like this street in particular brings her to life. I myself know exactly how she feels.

Growing up in downtown Houston I’ve always been in love with the inner city. My all time favorite place in all of Houston is Montrose! Everything from the grungy music, to the different restaurants, to the unique shopping, the exciting people, to the dirty tattoo parlors on every corner… it all makes up one of the most unique alive spots in Houston. Known for its negative reputation of homosexuality, drugs, sex, and alcohol, most people would be highly discouraged by the thought of going and spending a day there. But given a chance, one would find it to be a beautiful, lively place with full of depth and culture, you can’t experience elsewhere in Houston. Montrose is one of those places where no matter who you’re with or what you’re doing, you’ll learn something new and see something different every time you’re there.

When I was younger, I remember I spent my Sundays with my grandparents antique shopping on Montrose in all of those old boutiques with vintage furniture pieces, and I would always help them pick out something different that no one else had but them. We’d always find the coolest things, such as I faintly remember this one piece, it was an original record player that just looked like one of those things you saw in the movies in that specific time period that had been thrown into our modern era. My grandparents had many trinkets of that sort scattered all over their home, out for guests to see. One Sunday, we were out on a hot sunny day, walking, eating ice cream, and shopping for more antiques when all of a sudden we stopped at one particular store, Texas Junk Co., we noticed we had never been in before. I remember walking in searching for something different, and beautiful that I could find to show to them, when I saw it. This old, wooden, dusty, ancient children’s desk that I fit into perfectly… so perfect that my grandparents knew in an instant that, that desk was made just for me. So that day, they didn’t buy anything for themselves, they bought something for me. And to this day, I still have the desk! Even though, it doesn’t fit it means so much to me, and will always mean so much to me because it was one of the best gifts they ever gave me in that unique little antique shop that Sunday.

Montrose isn’t just another street in Houston with stores, restaurants, and bars… it offers artistic value, musical influence, and creativity to our city that we don’t appreciate. You will never find yourself bored spending a day wondering down Montrose blvd because there’s always something going on. If it’s not a music festival, such as; Westeimer Block Party, Music Mayhem, or Indie Acoustics, then maybe there’s a new art exhibit that just opened, or an event at a local photography gallery! Montrose is also a great location for one to be involved in the Houston art scene, since Montrose isn’t all that far from our Museum District with plenty of inspiring eye opening exhibits and performances to show off creativity that so many of our locals are a part of. There’s always something and it’s just so awesome to be able to have that kind of access to so many different activities that keep people away from doing other negative things and staying productive.

Though Montrose has it’s darkness with all of the poverty, drugs, sex, and alcohol abuse, it shows how truly hard life can be and how ugly it can really get. I know every time I’m there, I’m reminded by the broken beer bottles on the sidewalks, smell of pot in the air, and the sounds of homeless begging for money. I see the same man on the same corner every afternoon when I go to pick my little sister up from school. He’s tall, shockingly thin, looks as though he hasn’t bathed in weeks, and always has the same outfit on as the day before. He has dark, kind eyes that when you look close enough, tell a story. Kind of makes you wonder, “What happened to him? Where’s his family? Did he have a choice?” It may not be beautiful, but its reality and some people don’t like seeing those things out in the open so instead of facing them, they choose to stay away from it and go places where they won’t see it. Montrose exposes a majority of homelessness and drug abuse probably more than most places in Houston, but also has drug and alcohol rehabitations near to help those in need of enlightenment and mental care. The community does what it can to help those in need and isn’t prejudice towards homosexuality. If you drive past the main street of Montrose on Westeimer, stop and take the time to notice that outside of most of the stores, coffee shops, restaurants, bars/clubs, and other places will have the gay peace flag hanging outside of their business or somewhere nearby. I admire the freeness and feeling of acceptance whenever I’m there, and I love seeing it out in the open of our big city of Houston Texas, because it breaks a southern conservative stereotype that we have along with other southern states in the US. Being different is a gift and separates people from others because if every one person was alike, there’d be no existence of art, music, dancing, or any creativity that you’ll see on Montrose that is most appreciated and flaunted.

Spending one Saturday night on Montrose is unlike any other place you’d find yourself in Houston because Saturday nights is when all the adult fun begins. Just walking up and down the block you see things, you wouldn’t find yourself seeing elsewhere. With loud music blaring out of coffee shops, streaming lights, people dressed up laughing and smoking their cigarettes, you get an idea of what the night’s going to be like. Even if it’s just dinner at Brazils or coffee at Katzy’z, you’ll find yourself having a good time. Montrose offers so many choices of cuisine, if you love Mediterranean there’s Aladins, if you love Greek there’s Niko Niko’s, and if u even like vegetarian there’s Mangos. Numbers nightclub has been around for years, way back when my father was in high school, and he just turned 48 years young this month in September, and even he says back then it was a fun lively place to be. Including a bar, live music some nights, different events on weekends, DJ’s who play dancing music from the 80’s, and an outdoor patio and more, who wouldn’t want to spend a Saturday night there hanging out with friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, or whoever?!?! In the end I guess one would say it’s all about having an open mind, and I strongly agree! But one should always have an open mind, with meeting new people, trying new foods, and visiting new places. Open your mind to Montrose and you’ll get a taste of what that feels like.

Montrose offers so much to our wonderful expanding city of Houston, & we don’t understand what it really does for us as people and a community. It’s a place to go have fun, wind down, drink wine, drink coffee, dance, listen to music, play music,… everything! The options are endless. It’s a place to be free, meet new people, and spend time with old friends. Take a day to explore the different art exhibits, restaurants, cafes, and book shops, and I guarantee it’ll be unlike any other street you’ve ever spent your time in Houston.

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LINKS

Montrose Resteraunts

Montrose Counciling Center

Montrose Veterinary Clinic

Gay Bars Montrose Houston

713 Tattoo Parlor Montrose

 

Author’s Bio

Bianca Diaz is currently a full-time student at the University of Houston Downtown. She is planning on majoring in marketing & business, but still isn’t sure what field she’ll be focused on specifically. She recently graduated from the High School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice with hopes of becoming a family lawyer, but changed her mind along the way. Growing up in the inner city her whole life, Bianca has always loved Downtown Houston. Although she spent most of her life growing up in the city, she’s a country girl at heart. She loves spending most of her free time fishing, four-wheeling, and camping out in her family’s ranch in Waller County. Throughout her high school career, Bianca was involved in her school’s photography club & theatre department. After graduating, Bianca got hired as a sales associate for one of her favorite Boutiques in the Rice Village Shopping Center, Mint. Now currently unemployed, she’s chosen to make school her number one priority.

Bianca Diaz is a fun, loving, free spirit who loves living in the moment & is excited to continue her journey through life taking each day as it comes.



I am The Guru, Welcome to My World: La Tapatia Taqueria by Rameez Bullock

1749 Richmond
Houston, Texas
(713) 521-3144

January 2004–College, an experience that gives you the knowledge and awakens you to new views, so that you are better prepared for your life. Wherever you go to school, as long as you go, you will run into things that you prepared yourself for, either by warnings from your parents or by another wise and mysterious Yoda, and things that will shock, amaze, scare, and other weird emotions that you didn’t even know about, or can yet give a name to. I had the great luck to have a great guru as a mentor. I cannot give him a name, because the great guru would not have that, but we can at least say that he graduated a year before me, and went to a private school right off Montrose. We were very close throughout our secondary school, and when he went off to college, I visited and saw some amazing things, and was taught some amazing things. The first of the wonders was about Montrose and the surrounding area. Now that I am in college it is my right to pass on my knowledge, and to warn those that go into this area…. Beware… If you dont believe me, you will… I am now your guru, and will only be known as such.

The other night I had one of those 2:00am cravings for Mexican food but it was a certain type of Mexican food, on a certain Street. The Mexican food I desired was a tostadas and “The Street” was the ever-famous Montrose. Yes Montrose, you know the one; with the…lets say…”diverse” groups of people who just happen to be out at 2:00am. These people are not necessarily bad people, just different people, and it’s safe to walk down the street, if you are the right type (and by that I mean the right type for Montrose and the bad type for the rest of the world) of person. What is the right type of person? Well, I can say, while driving I saw a large black man walking by himself. Yes, I know… that’s not the quality he needs to walk on “The Street” yet. He needed an edge. He looked like the thugged-out, everyday black guy you might see in a bad rap video but that wasn’t the normal edge this guy was smoking. His edge is what he has in hand. A gun… NO….. you are so predictable, no weapons of the sort…well maybe. Drugs?…. HAHA!!…. this is Montrose, not some little ally in downtown Houston. Before I tell you what he has in his hand, I saw that there was a bigger tougher black man coming up “The Street” to him. And the most interesting part about him was that he had the same thing in his hand. It was their own penises. What were they doing? I could tell you but its best to leave things to the imagination. It doesn’t get any more edger than that, well maybe. Later that same night, on the same street, I saw three tall, blonde, and female figures standing next to each other just 2 close blocks down the street. My first thought was that they were just some female prostitutes (it’s rather common here) but when I drove closer and closer and yet closer still. I began to realize that they were not female at all. There stood three of the most feminine males I have ever seen. Their hair had a perm, their nail were done in newest styles and their make-up was done with the same artistry and skill as Vincent Van Gogh.

Montrose, the street where nearly everyone in Houston has been on, is not a terrible road to be on…if it’s during day. Montrose in the daytime is quite different, mostly because it becomes less hostile with most of the inhabitants fearful of the light. The University of St. Thomas is located on the street. It being a private university makes their main focus directed heavily on religion and morals. In the past, I would say that the university is losing the battle for the souls of Montrose, but with it’s brand new renovations, and it’s powerful looking Chapel of St. Basil, with it’s dome (which I can tell you is 24k gold), that can be seen for an amazing distance, St. Thomas might win (by the way, they only pay the janitors minimum wage with no benefits so that they could pay for that dome….what a easy sacrifice). This very second, students are going to the university and renewing their faith and learning. And because of all this, the daytime is filled with the cleansed souls of college students…well, that’s partially right…you will still see a cross-dresser or a little drug dealing happening behind a tattoo parlor. That’s why I say, “the streets can be like Montrose but only Montrose can be “”The Street”.”

I’m sure at this point you will begin to wonder why I still went to see the guru. Well, I have a strong stomach but those to which this gift is not acquainted I can only say, too bad. With that in mind, if that story of the street bothered you in any way, walk away now, because the terror of that street has spread, not only into the businesses that are on the street, but has branched it’s way to many other’s causing a labyrinth of weird gooeyness all over the city of Houston. You would think that going down another street just off Montrose, keeping a good speed of about 120 mph, aiming for all unlucky, and mysterious looking pedestrians, who might also be from that strange and wonderful street, would be enough to get away from it all, well maybe, but….Montrose is stronger still. Those same doubts have claimed the lives of others, I am here, as your guru, to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you.

With the pangs of hunger we finally arrived at the great restaurant to which the great name of La Tapatia was given. We ourselves only stumbled upon it, but it’s greatness knows no bounds. We all have to keep in mind that college costs money. When your in college you have to watch what you buy and what you do, because you never have any money. So, when you are hungry or want to go hang out, you just about know, that you can’t. That’s why college kids always find the cheapest and best food that there is. The easiest to find is Mexican food. It’s greasy, it’s cheap, and the places that have good cheap food usually look as cheap as the food is…as a matter of fact, I think we saw some refried beans holding up wallpaper (only joking). I still love it though, and will defend it with my life…actually, if it came to that, I would just find another one, because they are a dime a dozen around the Houston area.

To give a better description of La Tapatia itself you have to remember every creepy and putrid place you’ve ever been in…ok, it’s not that bad. It’s just a typical low maintenance restaurant, with a awful paint job, that you wouldn’t bring anybody in your family, except maybe the younger siblings to scare them by telling them your going to leave them there. You see, the worst part about the place isn’t the place itself but everything around it. There is an old and shady abandoned building right next to it, with a really peculiar low rent apartment building on the other side. It’s right down the road from the infamous Montrose. Those who do not keep a wary eye on Montrose will soon find themselves next to exquisite people of unknown sex and background and with all this in mind, you have to tell yourself, it’s an adventure. Food and an adventure, can you beat it with all the money in the world? Well, when you go there, you’ll have more than if you had gone else where…who needs good service anyway? This place has very nice looking young women in very tight spandex pants. Don’t you just love womanizers and our male dominant in society? Now that I bring up the waitresses there, this place like I said is right next to Montrose, and most of the guys that go there…. are with other guys…so why do the owners insist on getting curvaceous waitresses… I don’t know, but I really don’t mind. It brings me back at least every week, and as I said before, the food is always good. To have good food, and have it cheap, you would pay any price, right? Well, maybe not, but I always love adventure, and at that price you just can’t beat it. Remember, it’s right off Montrose, next to an abandoned building and an old low rent apartment complex, with a very ghetto look, and a sign that says always open.

You have learned all there is to a day in Montrose, so when you visit; keep your head up, your mind open and your car filled up with gas. This is your guru saying, “move fast and have fun.”

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Sitting in Peace: The Chapel of St. Basil by Griselda L. Landin

3800 Montrose Blvd
Houston, TX 77006

January 2004–I was amazed the first time I saw The Chapel of St. Basil at the University of St. Thomas; the building was awesome and very different from any other church that I had ever seen, very modern. It is a white building with a gold dome on the roof that has a golden cross on top of it. What caught my eye was that the outside of it looks like there is a black wall running right through the middle of it like if it was cutting the whole building in half. That wall looks like it is made of black marble bricks that shine with the sun light. On the left side of it there is a block cut out with three big bells that strike every hour and once every half-hour. Under the bells are six blocks cut out that give the wall a window like appearance. Connected to both sides of the chapel are buildings, the Welder Hall and the Jones Hall. All the buildings have small flowerbeds going all around them, filled with bright colored flowers that light up the place. What I thought was most interesting about the building itself was that you don’t enter through a door, you enter through an opening. The front side of the building is like if the wall was a sheet of paper just hanging down from it giving entrance to who ever was in need of worship.

As you walk in to the opening, you go into a waiting area like a little lobby. There are three oak wood benches on both sides that have lights under them lighting from the ground up. Over the benches are two big glass slides; one of them has the University of St. Thomas’ founders printed on it and the other has the Chapels of St. Basil’s “Special Gifts” and “In Memory of” printed on it.

The entrance to the inside of the chapel has three glass doors and in between them is a big board that is full of pictures of events that have occurred throughout the university. Once you open the doors and go in to the chapel, you see the altar because it is right in front of you, but the left wall catches your eye instantly. There is a huge crucifix cut in to the wall kind of slanted that serves as a window letting natural light fill the room. Next to it is a confession room that sits in the back corner of the chapel. The Stations of the Cross are carved into the white wall. Every church has the Stations of the Cross on its walls, usually with pictures or small statues, but the ones in here are actually carved into the white sheet rock wall. If you do not know what they are, let me explain; The Stations of the Cross are reflections of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. You walk by them praying and contemplating His death and your own life and faith. Each station contains three elements: a short verse, a brief meditation, and a prayer. These prayers and meditations can be done a lone or with a group. The stations are as followed:

1. Jesus is condemned to die (Responding to misjudgment).

2. Jesus is forced to carry the instrument of his own death (Bearing burdens).

3. Jesus falls for the first time (Falling and failing).

4. Jesus meets his mother (Faith in each other).

5. Simon carries Jesus’ cross (Helping friends).

6. Veronica wipes Jesus’ face (Helping strangers).

7. Jesus falls again (Continuing with confidence).

8. The women of Jerusalem mourn for Jesus (Sharing faith).

9. Jesus falls a third time (Remembering Jesus).

10. Jesus is stripped of his garments (Being a fool for Jesus).

11. Jesus is nailed to the cross (Accepting the gift of life).

12. Jesus dies on the cross (Giving our lives to Jesus).

13. Jesus is taken down form the cross (Having courage).

14. Jesus is laid in the tomb (Changing out lives)

Next to the altar there is a square that comes out of the wall with a small box inside of it; this box holds the body and blood of Jesus. It is made of some copper looking metal and has the figures of angels molded on the outside of it as if they where guarding it. Beside it is a candle that is always burning, this means that the presence of God is within. There are benches next to it for personal prayer and worship. These benches aren’t usually used during regular Sunday service, the main purpose of them is for people to use when they are praying alone.

On the altar, there is a table made of gray marble stone with two white candles and a white tablecloth. The table on the altar must always have a white table cloth on it because it represents purity. In front of it are two glass vases with bright, pink, star lilies, red roses, yellow tulips and white baby’s breath. Behind the table are six tall, gray candleholders with white candles on them. On the wall behind it is a cross carved into the wall with a wooden image of Jesus floating in front of it (its not actually floating but the invisible strings give it that appearance).

Next to the altar is a small, covered section for the choir, it has the piano and chairs for them to sit in. They play music during mass; they sing the opening prayer, the psalms, the Our Father, the alleluia before the sermon, and the closing prayer. This section is covered with a short wooden wall that only lets you see them from the neck up when they are sitting down.

On the right wall there is one big shelf built into it with a dome popped out over it with light coming down from it. Inside of it there is a metal statue of the Shrine of Our Lady holding baby Jesus in her lap. It looks very antique and kind of doesn’t go with the modern style of the chapel. It has a small glass vase next to it with a single yellow rose in it. The dome that is on the roof of the chapel has a window that lets sun light come down from it lighting up the entire chapel. The pews are made of dark brown wood and they are lined evenly throughout the white marble floor.

As a strong believer of God, I truly recommend you go visit this place if you are in need of prayer and worship or if you just feel like being a little more on the spiritual side. It is a quiet and extremely spiritual place to be when talking to God. Being in a chapel and knowing that God is right there with you is just the most amazing feeling one can have. Any person of any religion is more than welcome to go in to the Chapel of St. Basil. You should just sit there for an hour or two and think about yourself, your family, your friends, your neighbors, school, or anything that pops up in your mind. Whatever problem you may be having, I almost guarantee that by the time you leave you will be so relieved of your mind and soul like if you have just taken a sack of rocks off your back. God is with you wherever you are but you truly feel his presence when you are in His place the Chapel of St. Basil!

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