Sequestered away in Montrose, next to the madding crowd that gathers each night at doorstep of Bobby Heugel’s Anvil Bar & Refuge, lies the fresh face of Penny Quarter Cafe & Bar. Houston hospitality darlings Heugel (Anvil, Better Luck Tomorrow, The Pastry War), Justin Yu (Oxheart, Theodore Rex, Better Luck Tomorrow) and Steve Flippo (Better Luck Tomorrow, Squable) have created an all-day cafe and wine bar in the former home of ’80s stronghold Etro Nightclub.
Garrison Design Office has outfitted the two-story space with mid-century furnishings, polished brass fixtures and floating philodendrons, enveloped in restorative natural light.
Mornings at Penny Quarter are centered around an umami-driven breakfast menu with options ranging from protein-focused to vegetarian vegan, and gluten-free — overseen by Natasha Douglas, chef de cuisine of both Penny Quarter and Better Luck Tomorrow. Order at the counter, and coffee and tea service is brought to your table while food is prepared in a truck parked outside.
A table downstairs guarantees you’ll spend your morning visiting with friends and staff. Upstairs, one can be sequestered, to meditate over a jolt of caffeine. If something stronger is required, Irish coffees are a house specialty at Penny Quarter, served all day to those in need.
Don’t let cocktail-centric Heugel’s hand in this project fool you, though: The true luminary here is the wine program, designed and managed by partner Justin Vann. (Other partners are GM Tommy Ho and bar director Terry Williams.) The team has gone to great lengths to create a list of 100-plus bottles that encourages guests to explore institutionally beloved classics as well as dynamic, native-yeast-fermented natural wines.
Balancing such a list is no easy task, but Vann has found a way to speak to consumers at every level. For those wanting to try something new, by-the-glass options are half off all day Monday and every day during happy hour.
Instead of sitting on highly coveted and allocated bottles, Vann plans to periodically release them as by-the-glass specials — a reward for wine enthusiasts who are tuned in. Cocktails as a concept are left to Heugel’s savants next door, but a modest spirits list with simple mixers is available.
The evening menu starts at 3 pm, with Wednesdays dedicated to the Blue Plate Special, where Yu and Vann collaborate to pair simple, soulful dishes with their perfect boozy mates. Crispy grilled cheese with cheddar and manchego, tomato toast, the Penny Quarter Pounder blended burger and fries — what more could one wish for?
Penny Quarter Cafe & Bar, 1424 Westheimer Road.