Ah, River Oaks. Gorgeous million-dollar homes, rich history (of the rich) and…. a very confusing neighborhood to map. Seriously, it’s all so confusing. I used to classify the area as east of Willowick/Wesleyan, west of Montrose, but the River Oaks District, which is just inside the loop on Westheimer, expanded River Oaks westward. I put the north/south borders as follows: South of San Felipe and Kirby/Allen Parkway and north of West Alabama (some might argue Westheimer, but come at me, bro). YES, YES THIS IS A LARGE CHUNK OF HOUSTON!
Big part of Houston, but an equally huge part of Houston history. William and Michael Hogg (sons of Gov. Jim Hogg) founded the residential community of River Oaks in the 1920s and it quickly became a well-publicized and notable model for community planning. It was extra from the start and known for its oak trees and winding roads. When founded, it had a “gentlemen’s agreement” that excluded races, like blacks and jews. Not cool, River Oaks.
There’s a lot of literature on the historic area, but my favorite book I read that really captured the history of River Oaks in a fun fictional way (with great historical references) is The After Party. Such a great read that’ll make you look at the winding roads you drive through daily (no, just me?) a little differently.
Where you need to go
- Best Ice cream: Amorino
- Best Whiskey: Bosscat
- Best Juice: Bebidas
- Best Movie-going experience: iPic Theaters
- Best TBT movie-going experience: River Oaks Theater (old or hipster movies shown on the reg)
- Best Breakfast: Eloise Nichols
- Best Breakfast for a meeting: Le Peep
- Best Insta-worthy brunch: Tiny Boxwood’s
- Best Brunch for a wedding/baby shower: Ouisie’s Table
- Best Brunch for cheap mimosa pitchers: Piggy’s Kitchen
- Best Lunch: Local Foods
- Best appy hour: Chuy’s (free queso and half-price margs until 6:30)
- Best Fancy Dinner: Relish
- Best Dinner Period: State of Grace
- Best Seafood: Eddie V’s (live music and great happy hour!)
- Best Indian Food: Pondicheri
- Best Sushi: Ra Sushi (there’s a happy hour too!)
- Best Tacos: Torchy’s Tacos
- Best Croissant Sandwich: Epicure Cafe
- Best British Food: The Red Lion Pub
- Best Beyonce-worthy workout: Define River Oaks
- Best Spin: SoulCycle River Oaks or Ryde or Revolution Studio (seriously, so many options!)
- Best Yoga: Big Power Yoga
- Best Barre Workout: Pure Barre
- Best Spa: Milk and Honey
- Best Shopping center on a young adult’s budget: River Oaks Shopping Center — both on a girls’ day and for a fall photoshoot
- Best Shopping center on a baller’s budget: River Oaks District
- Best Shopping center on a your mom’s budget: Highland Village
- Best Menswear: Stag
- Best Salsa Dancing: Armando’s on Thursday nights
- Best Frose: East Hampton Sandwich Co.
- Best Daytime Drinks: Le Colonial
- Best Boutique: Saint Bernard
- Best Smoothie Bowl: Earthcraft Juicery
What you need to know
All the shopping districts are super confusing, and I mentioned them above, but let’s do a real break down:
- River Oaks Shopping Center: The OG for designer shopping. Now, it’s amazing for everything from fancy wedding gowns to cute Francesca’s rompers. ROSC also houses the historic River Oaks Theatre and tons of yum restaurants.
- River Oaks District: The new designer hub, you know, where it costs $1,000 to just look at bags. That type of expensive. It’s a great area to shop if you’re a billionaire, or eat and hang around if you’re a normal person.
- Highland Village: A little smaller than these other two shopping centers in terms of number of stores, but equally great selections and eateries. HEB’s Central Market is a cheaper Whole Foods that will spoil you rotten when you move away (trust me) bc there is only one in all of Houston/the US (I think?)
- West Ave: Swanky little center on the first and second floors of a Gables Apartment building. There are salons and shops and eateries galore.
Every year, River Oaks goes ALL OUT on its Christmas lights. While there’s no real event, any night in December makes for a great drive through.
Just can’t get enough? Here’s everything we’ve written about River Oaks.
P.S. This page is sponsored by our friends at the Urbane Society! The Urbane Society is a members-only club for young professionals aged 21-34 who are interested in experiencing affordable and approachable sophistication in dining. Members receive exclusive access to a number of benefits, events, and perks at Urbane’s partner restaurants such as 20% off the dining ticket and access to invitation-only events. Current partner restaurants include: B&B Butchers, Emmaline, The Grove, La Table, Le Colonial and Tony’s. Download the app and apply to become a member today!