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The art and food scene in Houston got a shot of new blood with the soft opening of the artisan grocery store, Railway Heights Market, located just north of Interstate 10 in the Timbergrove area. 

The new market is a must-see for anyone who’d like to stretch their legs in a space filled with cool local art while trying out a wide array of good food.

Railway Heights is the latest in the food hall trend that began back in 2016 when the Company of Nomads brought us downtown’s Conservatory. It was the first in Houston and helped kick off a new desire to build an innovative community around locally sourced food.

Railway Heights offers a new experience to Houston foodies and art enthusiasts by offering a space that holds a wide variety of artisan vendors and entertainment along with its hyper-local food.

Despite the opening date being pushed back repeatedly, thanks to the pandemic, Railway Heights was happy to quietly open up its doors to customers at the beginning of August.

One of the vending artists, Monika Melgar, said that vendors were relieved to finally get into the space and have a few weeks to adjust.

“It’s been tough but we’re all glad to be here,” said Railway Heights vendor Monika Melgar. “Right now we’re just working weekends, but I believe the plan is to officially open up in either September or October. I’m really excited to sell my stuff here and see how this place looks in a few weeks when we can be here full time instead of just weekends. I hope people will see this place as a community space.”

Soft opening or not, Railway Height’s variety of food and art is no joke. While the food hall on the bottom floor is still in the works, The Artist’s Curio located on the second level has everything from spicy Brazilian cuisine to decadent Pho noodles. A key aspect of the restaurant vendors is that they utilize eco-friendly and compostable packaging materials in addition to active recycling and composting programs. 

The stalls include Pierogi Queen, a mouthwatering go-to for potato-stuffed dumplings, Sandos, which offers Japanese sandwiches and the spicy seafood boil purveyor Heads & Tails. A fan favorite is a cute little stall called Drunken Pho, which offers an array of Vietnamese food.

The Curio floor also has an awesome selection of art to view while you eat. Between the colorful butterflies kept in shadow boxes, recycled sword earrings and a plant nursery, there is something for everyone.

Venders like Melgar are excited to see Railway Heights’ reach its full potential. While the second floor is already filled with artisans and food venders, the 25,000-square-foot hall on the bottom floor is going to become packed with over 50 food, drink and retail vendors selling together as one massive local market grocer once the soft opening phase ends. 

“I’ve heard it’s going to be a big deal,” Melgar said. “We’re going to sell a lot of local products from farmers and ranchers like one big grocery store. I’m hoping to start stocking up from people like that instead of going to Wholefoods.”

Railway Heights will be a great place to visit while spending time with the family. The market is currently working on opening a dog park along with a beer garden, which will open about the same time as the grocery store. They have already completed constructing the family park outside the building, creating a great space for kids to play on swings, along with cornhole and other yard games. 

A pro tip for visiting while they’re still in the soft opening phase is to come during off hours. The parking lot is small and shares the space with other organizations in the same building – including a church on the ground floor. Parking gets filled up quickly, especially on Sundays, so be sure to get there early if you don’t want to spend time circling the lot or paying the valet attendants.

Photo via Railway Heights Market

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