Where to eat, what to do and how to look the part – all the best the Bayou City has to offer.
Best old favorite – Da Marco
Consistently indulgent for years, this chic Italian eatery regularly attracts the see-and-be-seen crowd while serving up the best fare in town.
Best cheap eats – Teotihuacan
This is breakfast taco heaven.
Best bistro – Gravitas
On the site of the completely rehabbed original Antone’s Import Co., Chefs Scott Tycer and Jason Gould’s Gravitas has been wowing foodies for nearly a year.
Best patio – El Pueblito Place
Full of exotic plants, frozen drinks and friendly patrons, the patio at El Pueblito Place offers the perfect respite from any day.
Best party scene – El Patio
Now with two locations (Midtown and the original), patrons are able to get a double shot of “Club No Minor.”
Best cafeteria – Cleburne Cafeteria
Family-owned, family-operated and family-frequented, Cleburne Cafeteria offers freshly made sides, breads, desserts and down-home favorites.
Best breakfast – Breakfast Klub
The line out the door (and around the building) has to tell you that this place is worth the wait. Besides, who’s going to pass up waffles and wings?
Best brunch – Brennan’s
Southern charm and decadence has met its match at Brennan’s. Brunch here will whisk you away to New Orleans.
Best spot for ladies who lunch – Hungry’s
With heart-healthy options and some of the best chicken salad in town, Hungry’s in the village has been attracting mommy groups, book clubs and exhausted shoppers for more than 30 years.
Best spot for business lunch – tony’s
Whether you choose the preset three-course meal or one of the many wonderful salads from the menu, lunch at tony’s is always a good business decision.
Most romantic – Wine Room at the Remington
If you really want to wow her, you have to reserve the Wine Room at the Remington. Combine the perfection of Chef Toby Joseph’s cuisine with the romance of this intimate room, and you’ve got amoré.
Best spot for late-night dining – Se’ Vauge
Serving a splendid New Orleans brunch late at night, Se’ Vauge is the perfect place to go when you don’t want to go home yet.
Best Mexican – La Mexicana
Great for breakfast or dinner, with friends or the family, La Mexicana dishes up traditional Mexican food in the middle of Montrose.
Best barbecue – Goode Co.
Austin-baked beans, jalapeño bread, turkey, brisket and picnic tables – Goode Co. has perfected Texas barbecue.
Best Italian – Spaghetti Western
Combining home-style comfort with fresh and delicious pastas, Spaghetti Western makes it Texan to long for Italian.
Best sushi – RA
Making regulars out of first-timers, RA has transformed sushi into stylish. Fusing a night-life atmosphere with a creative and fresh assortment of fishies, this new hot spot has one of the best sushi specials around, too. (Go on a Sunday night, you’ll thank us later!)
Best seafood – Segari’s
Segari’s has made fine dining relaxed in this little home-turned-restaurant on Shepherd Drive. The best gumbo in town is paired here with exceptional fish and shrimp dishes, as well as outstanding wines and liquors, and top-notch service.
Best Greek – Niko Niko’s
A Houston institution on Montrose, Niko Niko’s offers traditional gyros, yummy potatoes and crisp Greek salads in a happening and comfortable atmosphere.
Best Indian – Indika
Put a little spice in your life at Indika – the city’s most innovative and creative Indian eatery.
Best chips – Sabor
This new restaurant is building regulars already. Maybe it’s the exceptional service and outstanding south-of-the-border fare? Maybe it’s the blood-red mojitos? It’s that and the best chips in town.
Best coffee – Katz Coffee
Located right in the middle of town, Katz Coffee has become the brew of choice for many local restaurants and fans, alike. With 60-plus flavors (not counting decaffeinated), as well as teas and torani, this local company is keeping bean heads on their toes.
Best burger – Langford Grocery
Quaint and homey, this little grocery serves up mouth-watering burgers that are sure to fit the bill.
Best pizza – Star Pizza
Whether you get it delivered or dine in (we suggest the weekday buffet), pizzas from Star somehow make the everyday extraordinary.
Best sandwich – Hobbit Café
They’re just so good!
Best salad – Kojak’s
The trio salad (chicken, green and pasta) is the perfect light and fresh option for those who are trying to fill their veggie quota.
Best steak – Pappa’s
Everyone in the know knows that the best steaks come from Pappa’s – that’s why they all have corporate accounts here.
Best bar – A+
This hotel bar attracts not only the business crowd, but the hipsters, as well. It serves up chic while providing a comfortable sanctuary. Pouring the best wines and liquors in the city in an exceptionally posh atmosphere, the service here is second to none.
Best club – Sammy’s
The hot spots in Midtown just keep on coming. The new place to shake your groove thang, Sammy’s sets the roof on fire with a live band playing Motown favorites.
Best ice house – Jimmie’s
The perfect place to hang with your friends (or to make new ones), Jimmie’s serves up the coldest beers, from St. Arnold’s to Lone Star. Bring your pup and plop down for a game of dominoes, have an entertaining conversation with the bartender, or catch a game on one of the TVs.
Best dive bar – Leon’s
This historic building has it all – pool, shuffleboard, a piano and great character.
Best wine bar – La Carafe
The jukebox here is impressive, and the conversations abound as beer and wine are enjoyed. The oldest business building in Houston isn’t that big, though; so, expect to sit close to your neighbor (It’s the perfect way to make friends!).
Best happy hour – Flying Saucer
With 85 beers on draft and 130 in a bottle, “beer knurds” have found heaven at the Flying Saucer.
Best signature drink – Maria Selma’s
All hail to the best sangria in town! The perfect addition to any meal – or happy hour – Maria Selma’s version of this fruity beverage is so refreshing you’ll find yourself craving it.
media and personalities
Best radio station – 90.1 KPFT
Pacifica radio reigns in Houston. With a diverse lineup of programs including “BBC World Service,” “Lonestar Jukebox” and “The Prison Show,” there’s something for just about everyone in town.
Best kids’ show – “Cool Rules”
Houstonians Travis and Kristin Evans took their disappointment with children’s videos into their own hands by creating a cartoon series encouraging kids to follow the rules. Using local talent, “Cool Rules” shows that hard work pays off.
Best astro – Lance Berkman
The Astros’ only All-Star this year is hitting ’em out of the park in more ways than one. A former Rice baseball player and the 1997 National College Player of the Year, first baseman Lance Berkman founded Berkman’s Bunch for underprivileged children and volunteers for the Houston Livestock Show &Rodeo.
Best rocket – Dikembe Mutombo
Named the 2000-01 Defensive Player of the Year, Rockets’ center Dikembe Mutombo uses his superstar status to champion charities. When not on the court, he spends time raising money for the $29 million Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in Kinshasha, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Best comet – Sheryl Swoopes
The first female athlete to have a Nike shoe named after her, Sheryl Swoopes is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time WNBA MVP and three-time Defensive Player of the Year. This Comets’ forward is an inspirational speaker and a children’s book author, in addition to being the founder of the Sheryl Swoopes Foundation for Youth.
Best salon – Cut Loose
A good haircut doesn’t have to be a stuffy experience. Cut Loose infuses the best cuts, colors and styles in town with Montrose quirkiness. Stylists are fun, funky and daring – don’t be surprised if you see Mohawks, pink hair and lots of tats.
Best spa – Trellis
Tourists and locals alike flock to this haven in the Houstonian Hotel for a bit of R&R.
Best tan – Tanning Spot
For that sun-kissed look, whether it’s in a bed or by spray, the Tanning Spot will give you all-over color.
Best gym – Houstonian Lite
With the most state-of-the-art equipment and coolest classes, Houstonian Lite caters to the downtown business person, especially with lunchtime classes.
Best apartments – The Bel Air
The Allen Park Inn is no more (sniffle, sniffle), but it’s been replaced with an unbelievable apartment building. Just a hop, skip and a jump from downtown, The Bel Air’s façade, complete with a waterfall, takes apartment living to the next step.
Best condos – The Royalton
Is that a helicopter landing pad or a gigantic fruit bowl on the top of this Allen Parkway high rise? All we know is the Rockets seem to like living here, and the concierge is amazingly helpful (especially to lost editors!).
Best new neighborhood development – South Fork
Celebrating easy Texas living, South Fork near Pearland has attracted so many new residents, it’s impossible not to mention.
Best urban developer – Urban Living
Urban Living town homes are popping up all over town. It’s as if this real estate/mortgage company has its wallet on the pulse of the city and can pick out exactly the next hot spot set for gentrification.
Best suburban developer – The Woodlands
You can’t talk suburbs without mentioning the granddaddy of them all: The Woodlands.
Best builder – Meritage: All-Star Miracle Home
Meritage Homes is not only an amazing builder in the area, but it has also committed to raise $2 million for the Children’s Miracle Network of Greater Houston and the Houston Rockets’ Clutch City Foundation through the All-Star Miracle Home.
Best home accessories – Kuhl Linscomb
Packed to the gills with the finest home accessories, Kuhl Linscomb carries the best brands in five different buildings – and it’s not a chain!
Best women’s fashions – Abejas
Fashions from Abejas make you want to frolic on the beach somewhere. No longer on Westheimer, this Rice Village favorite dresses the city’s Junior Leaguers with stylish everyday wear.
Best men’s fashions – Norton Ditto
True gentlemen shop at Norton Ditto. With some of the best names in classic men’s apparel, this upscale boutique has been dressing Houston’s elite since 1908.
Best kid’s fashions – Chocolate Soup
Decades of Houston’s best-dressed kids have shopped at Chocolate Soup for dressy ensembles and fun play clothes.
Best gifts – Jubilee
With hysterical greeting cards, handmade soaps, wonderfully scented candles and kitschy knick-knacks, as well as home furnishings, women and men’s fashions, and some of the most unique jewelry around, Jubilee makes shopping for gifts a breeze.
Best toys – Fundamentally Toys
Whoever knew learning was fun? Apparently the people at Fundamentally Toys did – and it’s even fun to shop here.
Best bookstore – Kaboom Books
New in the Heights, Kaboom Books says “See ya!” to those A-personality, corporately owned book stores.
Best music store – Soundwaves
Surfing and music? Yep.
Best park – Pumpkin Park
The play pumpkin carriage at the front of the park has helped visitors lovingly refer to this fun space as “Pumpkin Park.” With tennis and basketball, shade and picnic tables, swings and more, this park on Westheimer at Edloe has something for kids of all ages.
Best swimming pool – Colonial Park Pool
West U is home to the best (and cleanest!) public pool in the city. With a tree-shaded deck, baby pool, diving board and lap lanes, you’re sure to revel in this treasure.
Best kids’ classes – ArtMix Creative Learning Center
With creative classes for kids age 2-12 and four Pop-In Studios available to students any time the center is open, ArtMix Creative Learning Center is like nothing else in Houston.
Best kids’ theater – Main Street Youth Theater
Exciting and interesting for the little guys, Main Street Youth Theater makes culture fun for all ages.
arts and culture
Best art gallery – Poissant Gallery
Located in a converted 19th century church, Poissant Gallery exhibits contemporary art in multiple mediums. With a sculpture garden outside and two galleries within the indoor space, Meg Poissant has created a sanctuary for up-and-coming and established artists alike.
Best museum – HMNS
With an IMAX, dinosaurs, the Cockrell Butterfly Center, gems and minerals, energy and Texas wildlife, the Houston Museum of Natural Science has you covered.
Best year-round exhibit – Holocaust Museum
Although the special exhibits are amazing, the permanent installation at the Holocaust Museum, “Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers,” documents the atrocities of the Holocaust to ensure it never happens again.
Best theater – TUTS
This nonprofit theater company not only presents amazing shows, but also strives to make outstanding musical theater available to everyone.
Best band – ZZ Top
They might be bad, and they are definitely nationwide, but they are also Houstonians. (See page 32.)
Best live music venue – Warehouse Live
It’s small enough to feel personal but large enough to book some big acts – Warehouse Live makes concerts feel real again.