Agora will forever stand as proof that I can live somewhere for more than five years and be oblivious to the fact that arguably the city’s best coffeehouse and winebar is less than a half mile from my house. Houston, I thought I knew thee; Agora proved me wrong.
Not that I was completely ignorant of Agora’s presence. I had driven past it, oh, roughly thousands of times on my way to Half Price Books, Kroger, and other restaurants. As loyal Montrose resident, I was dismayed to hear that it was damaged during a neighborhood fire and happy to learn it was up and running again (even though I hadn’t yet and didn’t plan to visit it). I had heard good things about Agora but was simply too lazy to pop by for myself, and pathetically, it took strong pressure from a H-Town newbie for this food critic to finally go. Eager to explore the city’s coffee landscape, my friend Amanda, Houston resident for under one year, suggested we meet up at Agora for a work date. “Eh,” I said. “Come on,” she said. We went.
I’ll try not to focus on all the glorious weekend mornings, Tuesday afternoons, and Friday evenings I could have spent during the last half decade enjoying Agora’s whimsical tiered dining room, creative beverages, and terrific desserts. Instead, I’m going to try to make up for lost time and go there every day for the next year. Just kidding. Not really.
Agora embodies the perfect balance between legitimate coffeehouse and casual wine bar by offering a range of quality, individually prepared soft beverages such as cold-brewed iced coffee, smoothies, cappuccinos, Americanos, and espressos as well as a diverse selection of red, white, and bubbly wines from California, Italy, Spain, Argentina, France, and, naturally, Greece. This is why on any given day around 5 p.m (you know, that witching hour when you must decide whether to imbibe more caffeine or switch to alcohol) you’ll find visitors at Agora looking to kick off happy hour or settle in for a quiet evening of reading and web surfing.
The café’s many architectural charms lend themselves to diverse activities: a relaxing leafy patio is great for people-watching on Westheimer, the first-floor sipping and chatting space replete with mismatched tables and wooden counters (which in nice weather are open air) is good for chattier pairs and large groups, and the second-floor balcony seating area appropriate for solo study sessions and clandestine conversations.
My preferred libations so far at Agora (as I plan on discovering many “favorites”) include the papaya mint tea and chai latte on cold days; during warm weather, I’m all about the iced coffee and Italian sodas. Regardless of temperature, I’m always in the mood for a glass of the Gascon Argentinian malbec, Glen Carlou South African chardonnay, or even Agora’s house-made sangria. If I want to extend my indulgence to food, I’m partial to the baklava and peanut butter cookies.
I’m still testing the waters, but so far Agora seems to be the ideal candidate for that “home away from home” coffeehouse where you feel as relaxed as you do on your own couch. With, of course, the added bonus of not having to make your own coffee.
1712 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX. 77098