Friday, March 18, 2011

Houston Favorites

I got a suggestion from a reader to do a post on our favorite places in Houston, and I thought it was a great idea! Jeff and I grew up way out in the suburbs, and there isn't a lot of interesting stuff out there, but now that we've moved into town where the fun stuff is we've developed quite a list!

Restaurants & Food:

If there's one thing Houston does right, it's food. Houston consistently gets ranked up with the big cities like NYC and Chicago on restaurants and cuisine. There are some amazing fancy (i.e. expensive) restaurants, but these are our tried-and-true, affordable favorites:

This is a relatively new discovery of ours. When we first found it, we went for dinner two days in a row. It's owned by the same people as America's (an expensive South American upscale delicious restaurant), and it's the same sort of food with a casual, order-at-the-counter style. Recommended: the all-you-can-eat plantain chips with the green salsa, the "Amazon," the "Pirana."

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A Houston favorite. They've been here for FOREVER, and they serve breakfast all day! House of Pies has a huge menu full of breakfast, lunch, and dinner food. Plus, they have like fifty kinds of pie for sale by the slice or by the whole pie! Recommended: corned beef hash, biscuits, german chocolate cream pie, turtle cheesecake.

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A great little quirky place in the Heights. Their menu consists of 20 or so types of gourmet mac n' cheese, and they are so yummy! Your food comes in a cute little cast iron skillet. I blogged about it here. Recommended: buffalo chicken mac n' cheese, "popeye" mac n' cheese.


This place has everything. From French toast to quesadillas to catfish, you'll find something you love at Buffalo Grille! Recommended: French toast with strawberries, pecan crusted chicken, acapulco catfish.


I discovered Stephanie Leigh's one summer when I was interning downtown. Stephanie Leigh's is a bakery/coffee/pastry place (think Starbucks, but better!) with the most delicious muffins ever! Recommended: lemon poppyseed muffins.

It's actually underneath this building in the tunnel systems. Houston has tunnels underground throughout downtown with restaurants, business services, haircut places, etc. They're accessible by escalators in the lobbies of the big buildings. Pretty cool, huh?
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This is SUCH a cute place! They have chocolate everything... cakes, cheesecakes, ice cream, hot chocolate. Yum, yum, and yum. Bring an empty stomach and a friend to help out - their cake slices are huge! We went here as part of my bachelorette party. Recommended: Night & Day cake, Creamy Dreamy Truffle ice cream.


This is our first-choice Mexican restaurant in town (my favorite is out in the suburbs). Wonderful margaritas (half price every day until 7:00!), wonderful fajitas, wonderful enchiladas. We went here as part of my bachelorette party too. Recommended: margaritas, fish tacos, sour cream chicken enchiladas.


Yes, this is a fast food chain. But if you're visiting the South, you've GOT to make a stop at Whataburger. I blogged about it here. Recommended: whatever the "limited time only" sandwich is, milkshakes, chicken strips, honey butter chicken biscuits.


This is probably my favorite Italian place. They have a few locations, and delicious food! Recommended: lasagna alla pescatore, linguini al funghi.

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Jeff's a big fan of Greek food, and he's never found a place that even comes close to the authenticity and deliciousness of Niko Niko's. Go on a nice day and sit outside on the patio, or go on a hot summer day - they have misting fans! Recommended: opa chicken, spanakopita, gyros.

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We go here every Friday. It's a bullrito place where you get a paper bag printed with the options, and you check off what you want (none of that awkward super-fast counter ordering like Chipotle). On weekends you can get a $1 margarita with your burrito, and they're yummy 16oz margaritas! The burritos are delicious... they toast them a little and they have the best cilantro lime rice! Recommended: burritos? haha.

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Favorite Mexican place in Houston. It's out in Cypress (suburb in NW Houston), so it's probably out of your way if you're in town, but seriously... the atmosphere and the food and the weekend mariachi band just make this place the all-around best Mexican food there is. Recommended: chicken quesadillas.

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You can't come to Texas without getting some barbecue. This is my current favorite (although there are SO many good ones that you can't go wrong with... Goode Co. or Harris County Smokehouse come to mind). Recommended: fried okra, rolls, ALL of the meats. :o)

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Places to See:

Some of these are traditional 'tourist' spots, others are just pretty places in Houston, and a couple are places you could spend an entire day!

It's Houston. OF COURSE the Space Center is on our list.

A nice little spot in downtown Houston. I took pictures here before my senior Prom, and we've been back many times since.


Notice anyone missing? Did I ever mention that Jeff's professor changed his mind about allowing him to take a final early and I had to find a new date three weeks before Prom? Yeah.

The water columns are pretty cool. :)

This one's a day trip, or a half-day trip maybe, to a Houston suburb on the bay. There are a ton of good restaurants (seafood!!), a boardwalk with carnival-style games, and some carnival-like rides as well. Don't be afraid to venture away from the touristy boardwalk and head over toward the lighthouse - the town is cute as well! We once went on a little ghost tour of Kemah that was just so rich with Kemah history and culture. It's just an all-around fun place!




I can't even describe to you what exactly this is because it's just so quirky and fun. The Art Car Museum hosts the annual Art Car Parade, but the museum is full of more than just art cars. Their exhibits are creative and varied, admission is free, and it's just such fun!

Car Couch!

Texas flag made of army men

Monster truck!


Houston actually has a really nice art museum. Complete with Monets, Pollocks, and more, it's a great place to go and stroll around looking at all the beautiful art. They have a lovely sculpture garden as well. Every once in a while Houston has "free museum days" and you don't have to pay anything to get in!

This is one of my favorite pieces in the modern art collection. It's a "droopy fan." Can you see it?

This was one of Jeff's favorite places as a kid, and it's equally entertaining for adults. My favorite is the huge exhibit of precious gemstones and jewelry. SO cool. They also have something called "Energy Hall" that explains the whole oil & gas industry... you can virtually go down into an oil well! There's a periodic table that's actually made of the elements themselves, and there's a big collection of mollusks that will take you back to the days of biology lab practicals. For kids (or for fun-loving grown-ups...), there's a fake TV weatherman set where you can read a teleprompter and see yourself on TV as a meteorologist!

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My dad pretending to be a weatherman. :)

Just another pretty place. Perfect for a picnic lunch or a fun photo spot.



This is a new development in Houston, and I just love it! So many fun sculptures, open grassy areas, and an ice skating rink in the winter!





We're music people, so we love this. Students get discounted tickets (either $12, or 50% off, depending on the program), and it makes you feel all classy and high-society to get dressed up and go to the symphony!

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LOVE this place. It's just a cute historic downtown area of the suburb of Spring, and it's filled with little shops (home decor, antiques, plants, clothing boutiques, etc) and cute architecture. There's also a little shop that sells the best fudge I have ever tasted. They have a crawfish festival once a year that's so much fun!

I hate losing money, but the horse races are fun even if you just bet a little bit! They do concerts after some of the races, and they have special events for holidays. If you've never been to a horse race, you've got to go at least once and experience the fun of everyone yelling for their horse. It's a blast.


That's it! Those are our favorite Houston places! If you live in Houston, or if you ever come to visit, you should check them out!

12 comments:

  1. Love this post - the similarities between us just keep on comin'...when you said your fave Mexican place was out in Cypress, I was thinking "hmmm I wonder if it's La Hacienda." Lo and behold, it WAS. Love your recommendations - the only place you forgot was our amazing ZOO!!! :)

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  2. Oh gosh, I LOVE Amazon Grill. The plantains...I may have to make a trip into town soon for those.

    My favorite barbecue is actually in Pearland though-- Central Texas Barbecue. Delish!

    I've been dying to try Jus Mac ever since you blogged about it a while back.

    Great suggestions!

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  3. Got to love Niko Niko's! Also, the dog track out by Santa Fe is a pretty good time.

    Don't forget all, Menu of Menu's is coming up April 12. A lot of Houston restaurants will be showcasing!

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  4. You should try Dessert Gallery (corner of Richmond and Kirby)...it is absolutely divine. I just took a friend there recently who said it was better than Chocolate Bar

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  5. This was a great post! Americas is my favorite restaurant in Houston, so I'm definitely going to try out Amazon Grill. Great suggestions on places to see, too!

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  6. This post totally made me homesick! I love so many of those restaurants, but my all-time fave is Pappasito's!!

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