By Marene Gustin
Houston’s top Realtors know a thing or two about up-and-coming neighborhoods, as well as the best places to take clients to eat in Houston. So whether you are in the market to buy or just looking for some great new dining spots, check out their tips—and their ideas about what their own dream homes would look like.
Jared Anthony | ichoosejared.com
Realtor Jared Anthony is co-host of REU-Radio.com’s Sunday-morning real-estate call-in show on KPRC 950AM and #iHeartRadio. He’s all about helping people find their dream home, but his own dreams aren’t too specific—just something that’s very modern with a simple design. He specializes in neighborhoods from Galveston to Montrose, but Anthony says right now it’s EaDo (East Downtown) that’s the hot spot. It’s a very happening ’hood on the cusp of becoming a booming real-estate market. Translation: buy now before the prices jump. As far as dining, “I like Eddie V’s—it’s always a favorite,” he says. This prime seafood eatery has two locations in Houston and is dedicated to fresh seafood flown in from around the globe—and live jazz nightly.
David Bowers | thehousecompany.com
David Bowers knows Galveston real estate like the back of his hand, so of course he’s got a tip for you if you’re looking for an island home: “The most underrated neighborhood in Galveston is between 25th and 45th, and Broadway and Avenue O,” Bowers says. “Lots of Victorian- and Craftsman-style gems!” He loves to take clients to dine at the Steak House at the San Luis Resort, Spa and Conference Center overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. “I tell John Paul, and he has everything ready.” Good to have a go-to guy at a hot restaurant. And Bowers actually lives in his dream home. “It’s an 1899 Victorian—“The Blue House.” It has the location, the floor plan for Mardi Gras drag shows, a wet bar upstairs, four balconies, 11-foot ceilings, and is only a 17-minute walk to the cruise ships.”
Angela Charity | janebyrd.com
Realtor Angela Charity’s dream home is ultra-modern. “I love straight lines and lots of glass and windows that bring in light and breezes,” she says. “The more stories the better, to allow for a rooftop view. And a small yard for flowers and a pool for those warm Houston days is a must!” Her favorite neighborhood right now is the Heights. “To me, it’s the most underrated neighborhood in Houston. The people who live there understand its great attraction, but for outsiders, it’s difficult to see the close-knit neighborhoods, cute parks, unique restaurants, and shops.” Although not in the Heights, Charity’s favorite place to take clients is Maine-ly Sandwiches on South Shepherd Drive. She says it’s quaint yet comfortable, and has great food and drinks. And those lobster rolls!
Karen Derr | karenderr.com
Karen Derr has been marketing homes online since 1995—one of the first Realtors to do so. Her pick for the best underrated neighborhood is one you might not be familiar with: Shepherd Park Plaza. “Shepherd Park Plaza has sidewalks, a large park, huge trees, and is just five minutes outside the loop,” says Derr. Her favorite restaurant? That would be Claire Smith’s charming Shade eatery in the Heights. And her favorite home would be almost anywhere that has lots of space. “I have so many dream homes,” she says. “I love many kinds of architecture, but one thing that’s always included is a serene pool and spa. I guess it’s because I’m an Aquarian, but I love water. I’m also a huge fan of urban farming, and a yard for chickens and vegetables in the city would be great.”
Jeremy Fain | greenwoodking.com
Jeremy Fain has a hot real-estate tip for you: “I think the most underrated neighborhood in Houston is East Downtown, better known as EaDo. It’s one of the last areas within the loop where you can get something for a reasonable price with huge potential for an increase in property value. There is a lot in the works behind the scenes in the area right now, and once people start to catch on, values will have already gone up.” But surprisingly, his dream home is a Southern colonial with stately columns and a porch swing—and a big kitchen with lots of room to entertain. “On the other hand, an ultra-contemporary penthouse would float my boat as well,” Fain says. He prefers to let clients pick the dining spot, but if pushed, he’ll choose Houston’s, Ambrosia, or Celsius 13 for a glass of wine.
Cody Grizzoffi | codygrizzoffi.com
Cody Grizzoffi has been in the mortgage business more than 13 years, specializing in helping builders, investors, and first-time buyers. He’s very hands-on with his clients. So what are his favorite places to take them? “Barnaby’s and Ruggles Green,” he says. “Both have a variety of food and a great atmosphere.” These Heights eateries have a neighborhood feel and offer everything from Tex-Mex to vegetarian dishes. The Heights is also where you’ll find his ideal home—at least one of them. “My personal dream-home would be an early 1900s Heights home with a wraparound porch,” says Grizzoffi. “Or one on a pretty beach,” he adds. Well, of course.
Wade Knight | wadeknight.com
Wade Knight has been a Realtor associate with Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty since 1999. He’s also a lifelong Houstonian with a vast knowledge of the city, so when he says his favorite hidden gem is Idylwood, you should listen. “It’s Houston’s historic East End,” Knight says. “A small community under 400 homes that I see only going up and up. It sides to a bayou, a convent, and a golf course—what’s not to love about this charming neighborhood?” He also loves Oporto Wine Cafe, the Upper Kirby and Midtown Portuguese palace of small plates and wine. “I live in a contemporary space,” he says, “but one day, a contemporary French-country home with some land and not a bunch of housing all around me would be ideal.”
Patrick Lee | dreamscometruerealty.com
Patrick Lee is based in Sugar Land with Dreams Come True Realty, but he knows a thing or two about the Houston market. He believes that Riverside Terrace is the place to buy right now. (If you’re in the market, you best look here quickly before everyone has read this.) He’s also a fan of Aka Sushi in Upper Kirby—a great place to take clients, he says. As for his dream home: “A light, bright, open floor plan with modern finishes and clean lines.” Sounds dreamy
Lynette Lew | lynettelew.com
Commercial and residential Realtor Lynette Lew is a professional with a slew of awards for her work. She points to an old neighborhood that’s clearly on the move: “Spring Branch, voted by Redfin as the hottest Houston neighborhood to watch in 2017,” Lew says, “is approximately 20 minutes to downtown and the Texas Medical Center, and 15 minutes to the Energy Corridor. With CityCentre, a new Hotel Zaza, and ample retail and other amenities close by, Spring Branch is conveniently located between the two airports and bordered by 290, Beltway 8, I-10, and 610 for easy commuting options.” Her go-to eatery is the family-owned and -operated Alicia’s Mexican Grille, for their Angus fajitas and great ambience. As for her dream home, she already has it. “Light and bright, with large open spaces for entertaining family and friends,” she says. “We just built our dream home last year—now we just need to unpack.”
Ricky Molnar | theapartmentguru.com
Richard Molnar is a licensed Realtor and longtime Houston resident specializing in free apartment locating. His listings include Katy as well as several neighborhoods in Houston’s inner loop, but his current advice is to look to the Medical Center as an area that has a lot to offer. And as for dining, he heads to the Heights, either alone or with clients and friends. “Onion Creek,” he says, “is such a friendly restaurant with an amazing menu and great vibe.” As for his dream home, he wants “nothing big, just a nice one-story house with an open floor plan and lots of floor-to-ceiling windows.”
Noel Phillips | chicagotitlehouston.com
An experienced escrow officer, Noel Phillips thinks downtown Houston is now the hot place for real estate—and it’s about to become even better. But when it comes to wining and dining, he heads for the River Oaks District and the trendy Toulouse Cafe and Bar. “The patio is a wonderful place to people-watch,” Phillips says. And whether it’s the Galleria area or downtown, he likes the trend in high-rise living. “I like the views, the security, and the convenience of a high-rise.” With the recent building boom in luxury high-rises, he has plenty to choose from in Houston.
Tim Surratt | greenwoodking.com
Chalk up another vote for the EaDo neighborhood. Tim Surratt says, “I wouldn’t say it’s underrated, but the East End around the Dynamo Stadium is very well located, close to the rail, and still affordable.” And while there are more and more great restaurants in that area, Surratt likes El Tiempo 1803 Cantina on Montrose Boulevard. A family-owned and -operated Tex-Mex treasure known for its margaritas, the restaurant has a very comfortable and relaxed vibe. “As for my dream home,” he says, “it would have a lot of windows, Louisiana style, and overlook Lake Livingston.”
V. J. Tramonte | tramonterealty.com
V. J. Tramonte is a longtime broker/owner at the family-run Tramonte Realty, Inc., in Galveston. As an island fixture, he has a hard time naming a favorite restaurant there. “I have too many Galveston restaurant owners as friends to select a favorite,” Tramonte exclaims. “They are all great!” His tip for hot homes is in Galveston’s Palm Gardens area. “I love this little area called the Palm Gardens that has houses from the 1940s and ’50s for sale.” That may be because his dream home would have a mid-century open-concept look found in Palm Gardens.
Andy Weber | johndaugherty.com
Andy Weber is an energetic and outgoing sales associate with John Daugherty Realtors who is consistently a top performer—and so busy that we could barely get any answers out of him. He says the Sixth Ward area is likely the most underrated Houston neighborhood, and that his favorite place to take clients is Jack in the Box. (We’re not sure about that last response, but given his schedule, he’s probably a serious connoisseur of drive-thru windows.) As for his dream home, “A ’50s modern with lots of light and no walls!”
Christopher Williams | heritagetexas.com
A Realtor associate at Heritage Texas Properties, Christopher Williams knows Houston, and he knows value. He says Riverside Terrace is the hot place right now. “It’s an excellent location and has beautiful homes with historical significance.” The close-in neighborhood dates back to the 1930s when it was a wealthy, mostly Jewish community. Over the years it’s waxed and waned, but is coming back now as many are buying up the old mansions and restoring them. And when it’s time to wine and dine clients, Williams turns to the River Oaks District’s Vietnamese hotspot Le Colonial. Not only does the food there get good reviews, but it’s also a see-and-be-seen spot. As for his dream home, this Texas farm boy wants country comfort. “A mid-century ranch,” he says, “on a large wooded lot with a pool and a cabana.”
Marene Gustin is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.