April 7th, 2010

H-Town Showdown: Agora vs. Brasil

We argue about many things around The Loop Scoop offices. Last week it was McElroy’s or Kenneally’s. Which represents all that we as Loopsters look for in an Irish pub? We at the office haven’t come to a resolution. However, you, dear readers, overwhelmingly chose Kenneally’s. This week, we bring you a Showdown of Greek mythological proportions in Montrose, pitting Agora against Brasil.


Contender #1: Agora
Just off the North corner of Westheimer and Dunlavy, shielded from the main strip by large, if not overgrown, greenery, sits the Greek cafe. A small, outdoor space, cramped with tables bolted down to the cement and chairs everywhere, angles around the exterior fitting far too many people than what it seems it can hold. Indoors you’ll find the same sight in Cafe Agora. Laptops light up the faces of those hovering over their keyboards. The wine selection bends around counter, begging to be ordered.  There are a dozen or so pastry types including some delicious baklava protected behind plexiglass, but pretty much everything else (excluding the wine) is self serve. A steep set of stairs leads to a second floor which looks out upon the main room. It’s a voyeur’s delight. Hoping to take it over the top in this contest, Cafe Agora offers up belly dancing specialists Belladonna on Wednesday nights. Girls love to imitate them. Guys love to ogle them. It’s a win-win.


Contender #2: Brasil
Practically across the street from Contender #1, Cafe Brasil’s dark brick exterior rises up, formidable and strong.  Some remember the old days of this institution when things didn’t look quite so modern and space was at more of a premium. As you walk in the entrance on the Dunlavy side of the building, Brasil stretches out in front of you, though the counter’s just as it always was. They have a large-enough menu of sandwiches, salads, and, if the mood hits, adventurous pizzas. There aren’t quite as many studiers as at Agora, but the socializers are always out in force. You can set up shop on the fenced patio creeping up to the corner of Westheimer and Dunlavy or retreat to the back outdoor oasis that connects to Domy books. The house blend coffee has just a hint of cinnamon which does the impossible task of making the dark brew that much more comforting. Live music on any given night is possible and even better check out the indie flicks shown by the movie club on Monday nights.

The Final Jabs
-Agora has a jukebox filled with classics and some new stuff. You know when you just have to listen to Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good” for the fifteenth time this week. Brasil has your latest unknown, indie hopefuls playing from an iPod. Good luck trying to get them to change it.
- Check out the Good Shepherd playing the xylophones on Tuesday night at Brasil. He’s been there as long as I can remember.
- Brasil gets points for having food. Muffins and Toblerone can only fill you so much at Agora.
- Before the smoking ban, Agora used to be a haven for tobacco lovers. They still flock to the Greek cafe. If you feel like a cigarette and don’t want to get bugged about it go there. I can’t say the same for Brasil. They won’t let you smoke on the front patio. Nihilists!
- The TVs at Agora are regularly showing soccer futbol matches. Brasil, no TVs, no problem.
- Signature drink at Agora: Frappe. Signature drink at Brasil: House coffee?

Vote It Out

— Paul


ashley — Wednesday, April 7, 2010 9:00 pm

Agora has brown sugar cubes, leather chairs, the most amazing jukebox that exists in the inner loop with a fine selection of imported beers if you decide to make it a long night. I don’t even think this is a real question! ♥

Rachelle — Thursday, April 8, 2010 9:51 am

I agree, no contest. Who are all these crazy people voting for Brazil?!

cassi — Friday, April 9, 2010 8:52 am

Agora. Enough said.

Richard — Friday, April 9, 2010 8:15 pm

How is Brasil still winning?

Jean-Marc Buytaert — Monday, May 31, 2010 12:09 pm

You gotta give Brazil creedit for their incredible pizzas. But that’s pretty much the only thing. Agora is a lot more laid back, and they have free wifi, which is good for anyone wanting to bum around or work on their laptops.

T-Rav — Thursday, September 2, 2010 11:07 am

I’ve spent the last 9 months in NYC trying to find a coffee shop that rivals Agora. After seeing somewhere over 30 places dubbed “best coffee shop in the world!!!”, I’m still searching (but have put Agora on my to-do list for my next trip to Houston.)

Agora, hands down.

Justin — Sunday, February 13, 2011 9:45 pm

I really like them both, but Brasil has a special place in my heart having watched it grow from 1993 to present. Back then I could smoke cigars on the front porch… but then you could smoke cigarettes in most restaurants too. They were only a coffee shop and hadn’t added beer, wine and a menu.

Chris has been working there since day 1, so it gives me a sense of continuity to go to Brasil. Unlike almost everything else in the area, I can see some of the same people coming in 18 years. (I don’t think Chris ages.. Might have to check his a mirror for his reflection next time. :-) )

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