5.ATE Cafe

5.ATE Cafe is located inside the Inspire Rock indoor rock climbing facility, but membership is not required to eat at the cafe. The restaurant seats 30 and is located by the entrance to the facility.

5.ATE Cafe is located inside the Inspire Rock indoor rock climbing facility, but membership is not required to eat at the cafe. The restaurant seats 30 and is located by the entrance to the facility.

Paul Short wanted to offer climbers at his indoor rock climbing facility, Inspire Rock, something more satisfying than concession stand fare after a long workout. He partnered with his brother-in-law, Charlie Williams, to create 5.ATE Cafe on the premises. The small restaurant has become a draw both for climbers and for foodies with no intention of scaling the walls.

The cafe has garnered some rave reviews, receiving a nod in a May article on the National Geographic website highlighting the ten best hamburgers in America based on customer ratings on the website Yelp. The 5.ATE Cafe came in seventh in the country on the list, Short said.

The name of the cafe is a play on rock climbing terminology. The Yosemite Decimal System rates rope-assisted climbing on a scale of 5.1 to 5.15 to indicate difficulty.

“We took out the number eight and inserted the verb,” Short said.

Short’s love of climbing began in college and led to a stint as a mountain guide in Colorado, but he began looking into building an indoor rock climbing facility in 1999.

Short approached Williams, a self-taught chef, with the idea of opening a cafe on-site when he finally opened Inspire Rock in 2013.

“Of course he said ‘No.’ But 20 minutes later he said, ‘Tell me what you’re thinking about again,’” Short said.

Williams had spent time living in Italy, where he developed a special love for making pizza, but burgers soon gained equal space on the menu.

“It’s not just a simple burger,” Short said. “Nothing he does is simple; he’s going to find the hardest way to do something.”

The burger buns are served on homemade sourdough English muffins from the same dough the pizza crusts are made from.

“It has the texture of a fry bread,” Williams said. “It holds up really well to a lot of sauce and juiciness. These are 12- or 13-napkin burgers.”

The most popular burger is the Farmhouse burger ($10), which features roasted pork belly with a fried egg, cheddar cheese and Thousand Island dressing, Williams said.

Burgers can be served on buns, with corn tortillas, or on a bed of french fries or baby mixed greens.

The Shar-warma burger ($10) taps into the flavors of a gyro, with tzatziki sauce, garlic-chili sauce, banana peppers, tomato and lettuce.

Many menu options can be made vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free. Gluten-free dough requires advance notice to prepare and includes cauliflower, cheese and eggs, Williams said.

The cafe also serves several wrap sandwiches and salads.

The owners said they hope to eventually increase occupancy to accommodate the growing customer base.

“People enjoy that feeling of having secret little place,” Short said. “This is that secret little place, and word is getting out fast.”

Owner recommendations:

The Farmhouse—A pressed patty is served with cheddar cheese, roasted pork belly, a sunny-side-up egg, sauce and pickles ($13).

Garlic Butter and Kale—A patty is served with roasted kale, garlic and porcini-flavored garlic butter ($11).

Italian pizza—Provolone cheese, tomato sauce, pepperoni, ham, salami, red onion and parsley top a sourdough crust ($10 regular, $14 large).

Ultra-Veg pizza—This pizza features kale, mushrooms, onions, tomato and eggplant ($10 regular/$14 large).

By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


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