It really doesn’t feel like Houston has a ton of protected historic landmarks, so when I discover I live down the street from one, I get a little excited. Heights Waterworks at 19th and Nicholson St. in the Heights has been recently developed and is now one of my favorite places for food and fun.
I’m always in awe of the history of the Houston Heights. At first it was all about the houses — from historic bungalows to the grandiose mansions that looked like the set of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I have this Images of America book on The Heights that sits on my coffee table — obsessed!
The Heights Waterworks building goes back to the neighborhood’s founding in 1892. The Heights was one of the first planned communities in Houston, and the 19th and Nicholson location was picked for its vicinity to the merchants on 19th street and surrounding houses.
The structures protected by the National Register of Historical Places include a 1928 brick clad concrete Water Reservoir that had the capacity to hold 750,000 gallons of water. There’s also a 1939 art deco pump building and another 1949 pump building — the most recently constructed building. These have been renovated to include some incredible restaurants!
The water reservoir hasn’t yet been renovated, but according to the developer’s website, that looks like that’s in the (water)works!
Ok, but these restaurants are why we’re really talking, right?! Verdine (amazing vegan and vegetarian eats), Jinya (best ramen ever), Common Bond (coffee, wine, sweets, and more), and Hopdoddy all share the restored space.
It’s worth noting that Common Bond has an incredible patio and I think is the largest restaurant in the center.
There’s also a turf and play space (picnic space for busy restaurant times?) right in between Common Bond and Jinya. This is also where you can see some of the exposed pipes from the Waterworks days.
The Bike Trail
So, the Heights Bike Trail is how I’ve discovered my new fave historic dining center! I live right off it a bit south of Waterworks, and on a random bike ride just after moving in, I was attracted to the brightness of Verdine’s produce heart and the colorful pipes that were painted on the side of Floyd’s Barbershop.
The bike trail, which runs north to south on Nicholson Street, hits Heights Waterworks on its west side. (Here’s a helpful map of the trail and how it connects to others!) Highly recommend biking if you can because construction closes Nicholson Street around there and parking around the restaurants can be a bit tough on busy times!