I have this weird obsession with 19th Street in the Heights. Despite being just a few miles from Downtown Houston, the Heights are such an oasis for me from the bustling big city. I love the huge overgrown trees, running trails that wind through bungalows dating back to the turn of the century, and the eclectic collection of art that decorates the neighborhood. Whenever I stop by 19th Street, I feel like I’m taking a step back in time. The iconic Heights Theatre sign creates such a unique ambiance as it looms over the small road lined with boutiques and antique shops.
I find the area very grounding and peaceful. I find myself making excuses to go back there whenever I’m stressed to do relieve myself with window-shopping retail therapy. I rarely ever buy anything, but I always feel like I’m on a treasure hunt in the resale shops looking to rediscover someone’s life and history that lived in Houston decades ago. The vibe is really quite attractive.
Attached to one of the antique shops is a delightful café that is as unique as the rest of the street, Maryam’s Café. Boasting an organic, all-natural, vegan friendly brunch menu, I was more than interested in checking it out. Walking in, I immediately recognized it as a place that I tried to use the restroom during White Linen Nights (lol). It’s hard to forget because the décor makes literally no sense. It has some cutesy coffee shop signs on one wall, some impressionist painting on another, and a giant rainbow sno cone hanging from the ceiling (they don’t serve sno cones to my knowledge). Half the chairs are simple wooden seats or benches while the other half are massive, gaudy throne like structures. The brick walls, high ceilings, and refurbished porch give evidence to the fact that the occupied building is old and probably gone through many renovations over its lifespan.
As we waited in line to place our orders, I couldn’t help but admire the expansive dessert display on the counter (and the excessive amount of air freshener stacked on the fridge–but seriously there was like 40 bottles #buyinbulk). Although I wasn’t planning on eating dessert for breakfast (I don’t have much of a sweet tooth anyways), I couldn’t help but appreciate the rainbow colored cupcakes in every flavor, hefty servings of freshly baked cake, massive peanut butter brownies and cookies on display.
Other menus that I didn’t order from but appreciated included the latte menu (seriously, they have like 40+ options, yes I counted) and the doggy menu (just because you have a tail doesn’t mean you can’t get served!). I ultimate ended up ordering a juice (“the Alaska”) and a hummus panini. The juice and smoothie menu is quite expansive and is served as decadently as the gaudy chairs. Despite trying to be healthy in my brunch selection, my mango pineapple juice was served in a massive glass (not unlike the plastic margarita glasses you get at the rodeo) and rimmed with blue sugar #allnatural. My panini was simple but tasty and served with a ridiculous amount of chips–half tortilla, half regular, half stale (sadface) and a miniscule salad. TBH I was pretty full from drinking that entire juice, so when my food arrived I didn’t have much room left to enjoy it.
Overall the food was pretty mediocre and I’m a little confused as their claim to being all organic and all-natural. The prices are cheap and ingredients are pretty basic. Everything is made with love for sure, but I’d categorize the menu as humble diner-esque food. For example, Maryam’s Brunch Plate was just some eggs, a croissant, black beans and some fruit. I’ve definitely made more complex things at my house.
I don’t think I’ll return for the food, but I’ll happily come back to enjoy some more of the juice, try out one of the crazy latte flavors (maybe Butter Rum Mocha?!), or sit on the front patio and treat my boyfriend’s dog to a skippy treat.