Harwin may not be the most scenic area in Houston, but it does have its charm. Known for its killer bargains and discounted prices, it’s an area of town every college student should be familiar with.
On the outskirts of Chinatown, between Beltway 8 and 59, you will find a plethora of strip malls offering incredibly discounted items in the area known as Harwin. These stores are tightly packed, each one claiming to give you the best deal. You can find designer bags and accessories at a fraction of the price. Some of the items might be knock-offs, but at the price you pay, it’s hard to expect the real thing.
If it is your first time going to the Harwin area and you’re not quite sure where to start, take a day trip to Harwin Central Mart. A compact version of all that Harwin has to offer, Harwin Central Mart is a one-stop-shop for just about anything you might be looking for.
With two stories full of bargain deals and wholesale prices, it’s hard to imagine they will not have what you need.
While it’s easy to get overwhelmed by so many things in a relatively small space, it is well worth the trip, but make sure to give yourself enough time to properly look around.
Pro Tip: make sure to wear comfortable shoes because this place might as well be a maze and you will be doing a lot of walking. If you have a friend that knows how to haggle, bring them too — you can usually get the stores to lower their prices.
Harwin is not only great for shoppers, but it’s also a crafter’s paradise. If you like to craft or make just about anything, Harwin has everything you need. Their whole sale prices are phenomenal, especially if you are buying in bulk. Beads, fabric, tools, appliqués — Harwin has them all, in great quantity and at great qualities.
Since the 1970s Houston has been a major hub for the Vietnamese community, many of whom came fleeing the Vietnam War. They settled in the city for its booming economy and warm climate, eventually making the city the third-largest in the country and becoming one of the most visible ethnic groups in the greater metropolitan area.
But the Vietnamese aren’t the only group of Asians to make a mark on the city, nestled in Southwest Houston is the city’s Chinatown. Bisected by Bellaire Boulevard, this section of Houston has become the go-to destination for shopping and high caliber Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Japanese dining.
Dun Huang Plaza, arguably one of the neighborhoods most popular locations, features restaurants, an escape the room, shopping, bakeries, karaoke halls and even a grocery store complete with a fish market — all of which draw Houstonians looking for products difficult to find elsewhere in the city.
Increasingly, Asian Houstonians are making visible marks to the city’s landscape as organizations such as EB-5 bring in Chinese investors for large building projects in exchange for immigration assistance. According to research by the Kinder institute Asians were the city’s fastest growing ethnic group in 2016 — contributing to the ever increasing diversity of the Greater Houston Area.
According to the Kinder Institute’s research most Asians in Houston live in the southwest outside the loop in Sugar Land and in Katy — possibly taking notice of this the international grocery chain Super H-Mart announced in July that they will be opening a massive 15.5 acre shopping center that some have dubbed “the Katy Chinatown.”
The supercenter is set to host a number of Asian restaurants and businesses with Super H-Mart at its center, bringing products that are difficult to find outside of the loop to customers.
Though no official opening date has been announced, Super H-Mart is planning a soft opening with some restaurants and other storefronts
Located between Beltway 8 and Westheimer Road, Hillcroft Avenue boasts a diverse community heavily influenced by Indian and South Asian culture.
In 2010, a stretch of Hillcroft Avenue was designated as Mahatma Gandhi Avenue and the surrounding area is often referred to as “Little India.” Hillcroft’s transition into a South Asian business hub that began in the 1980s when the Vyas’s moved their Indian-American grocery store to the area which was shortly followed by the opening of Raja Sweets, a Hillcroft staple. This led to Hillcroft becoming the go-to spot for South Asian immigrants looking to start their businesses and create a permanent home in Houston. Many of these businesses have flourished and helped create a community rich in culture and purpose.
Hillcroft shopping center, one of the main attractions on the eight-mile street, is full of boutiques and clothing stores offering an array of designs and specializing in traditional South Asian apparel. If you’re looking for a sari, kurta or more, this strip mall is a one-stop-shop. Given the amount of options, you are sure to find something you love. If you are looking for something ready-made, Rani Boutique offers both casual and bridal style options, a fair selection of jewelry and they do alterations in house so there’s no need to look for a seamstress elsewhere. If you are looking for something custom-made, Sari Sapne is a great place to visit. Beware, some of the stores in the area are closed on Tuesdays, so make sure to check their opening hours before you make the trip.
If you’re a fan of food and you have not made your way to Little India, you are doing yourself a great disservice.
Bismillah is a great first choice for those looking to try a blend of Indian and Pakistani cuisines. Apart from the restaurant, Bismillah also has a café — perfect for grabbing a quick and cheap bite.
If you’re looking for something more causal, there is Cafe Lili, a family owned Lebanese restaurant, which lies on the outskirts of Hillcroft, right off of Westheimer. The grape leaves and chicken kabob are some of their more popular dishes. Cafe Lili also has great coconut cookies, they don’t always have them, but trust me, it will be worth it if they do.