Houston is a huge and super under-rated city. When forced to move to Houston for a job, I immediately thought to myself that I would be stuck in a cowboy-filled city eating beef brisket and listening to Brad Paisley while line dancing at the local watering hole. Wow, was I wrong! Houston actually is speckled with hidden gems, art, amazing culinary creations and insanely hip young adults. Again, the city is gigantic and sprawling. Because of this, there are large districts within the city limits. If you are ever in the city, be sure to stop by some of my favorite spots to try some killer food and well crafted drinks.
Downtown Houston can be quite deceiving at first. Throughout the week during work hours Downtown is full of hustle and bustle. There is not much other than City Hall, horse cops, and towering corporate buildings. As soon as everyone in their starchy suits and pencil skirts go home for the day, this district turns in to ghost town. In the past couple years, Main Street and the surrounding blocks have been blossoming into super hip areas to hang out in the center of the city.
Batanga - a Latin American Tapas Restauraunt
While at Batangas, you have to order a Finn's Revenge cocktail made with coconut milk and a paella to share with your table. The best part is that you have the option to dine under the city lights while listening to live Latin music! Perfection!
When you are through with a long meal, head around the corner to OKRA - a charity saloon. All monthly profits go to a charity of the customers choice. I wish there were more bars like this. Make sure you vote for your favorite charity while you are there. The architecture and views out of the skylight windows are to die for!
While in the area also stop by Notsuoh (that's Houston spelled backwards) for some underground music, Lone Star's and a super secret late night spot upstairs.
This district is blossoming with young families. The area always has been a residential area featuring a small main street and very few tall buildings. The Heights now is a place for folks to buy run down property, demolish it, and build anew. The wooded streets, parks, and community feeling is what brought me to fall in love with it. I lived here for the majority of my time in Houston. Here are a couple of my favorite places to hang out
Downhouse was my place to treat myself to a perfectly crafted cocktail and an equally as perfect meal. The menu rotates quite a bit and the food is always impeccable. I mean, to the point where every bit of every meal seemed to be so well thought out- I was always very impressed. The theme of this place is Darwin inspired. There are periodic tables on the wall and your bill comes in an old novel, bringing out the nerd in all of us.
While in South Texas, I definitely recommend you get a taste of Tequila and Tacos. The coolest spot with the most reasonable prices in The Heights is El Gran Malo. The first time I drove by this place I had to do a double-take. It is on the corner of a super quiet street in a little lime green building and has no other businesses around it. That's the fun part about Houston - there are no zoning laws so you can pretty much set up your Tequila infusing operation wherever you want. That is exactly what El Gran Malo must have done. I recommend shooting infused Tequila to get the full effect. They have everything from vanilla habenero pepper to bacon infused tequila!
Washington Blvd. runs south of The Heights. It is lined with lounges, bars, cafes, apartment complexes and boutiques. One of the hottest spots to bar crawl at night, also holds some tasty and unique places to stop for a bite and a drink.
Benjy's always was my go-to brunch spot- which is saying a lot considering how brunch is a staple to anyone living in Houston. At first, it was the cool modern retro decor that had me falling in love. Then, I had a taste of their spicy bloody's on a Saturday morning and the Baby Kale Salad. I have never, ever had a better salad in my life. You know a place has amazing food when even the Kale Salad is made to perfection. Other highlights on the brunch menu includes the omelettes and the shrimp and grits. Bam! Everything has such amazing flavor, it will make you want to come back for dinner in the same day.
Another fun place to stop by while on Washington is Max's Wine Dive. This place specializes in Southern fried chicken and Wine. It sounds weird, but I promise, it is an amazing combination. The atmosphere is much more laid back than other wine bars and the staff is super friendly and knowledgeable. I recommend a reservation as this spot is quite small and popular. Max's has grown to now have 9 locations across the country.
Right off of Highway 10 stands a large industrial brick building. This brewery is not only a landmark but the beer is an essential in Houston. It is the oldest craft brewery in Texas. While in Houston, I recommend you wake up early on Saturday, pick up your favorite board game and, head to the brewery for a couple of hours. Less than $20 gets you a glass you get to keep and a hefty taste of all the St. Arnold beers while hanging out in their large beer hall with other beer loving Houstonians. My favorite beer is the Santo! Saint Arnolds also open for lunch some days. Check their website for events and hours.
This guide only skims the must-see's in HTX. There are so many places to hang out and stuff your face full of amazing drinks and culinary masterpieces in Houston! I may have to do a Houston Food and Drink Guide : Part two one day soon. Do you have a spot to add? What is your favorite place to eat or drink in Houston? Please let me know in the comments below.