For the past two decades, Austin’s Sixth Street has carried a nationwide reputation as “The Capitol of Live Music.” Thanks to a savvy real-estate developer and a long-time musician turned nightclub manager, a formerly dilapidated area of Houston has become the centerpiece of a musical and cultural renaissance known as Mid Main Houston.
In 1999, Houston real estate developer Robert Schultz purchased properties on the 3600 and 3700 block of Main Street. Schultz and his business partner, veteran musician/club co-owner Pete Gordon, would transform the seedy neighborhood into the home of the Continental Club, a Houston take on the long-time Austin live music venue.
Today, the Continental Club hosts musical acts from across the country, as well as providing residencies for numerous local tribute acts, such as Beetle (Beatles), Von Hindenburg (Led Zeppelin) and Picture Book (British Invasion). The block is also home to Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge, a more intimate live music venue that hosts local and national acts.
For concert-goers who want to enjoy their favorite music on a full stomach, the Mid Main area also offers down-home cooking at Natachee’s Supper ‘N’ Punch. Traditional favorites like meatloaf, chicken fried steak and pork chops smothered in brown mushroom gravy have satisfied diners for nearly a decade.
For post-concert grub, Tacos-A-Go-Go stays open late on Friday and Saturday nights. Tacos, burritos and quesadillas are all available as soon as diners step through the door, which is placed conveniently under the giant head of Carmen Miranda.
Mid Main Houston is also home to some of the most fun and funky retail outlets in the city. Couples can get their do’s done at the neighboring Big Kat’s Barber Shop and Kat’s Meow Salon. Vinyl lovers can pick up classic albums at Sig’s Lagoon. A narrow door next to Continental opens onto a narrow staircase, which leads to The Shops Upstairs, a collection of vintage clothing stores and antique oddities.
While Austin faces continuing struggles to keep itself “weird” among its growing corporate culture, Houston has built its own “island of weirdness” in the shadow of the biggest corporations on the planet at Mid Main.