The Best of H Texas 2011
The editors of H Texas have scoured the city to find the best of the best. Some of our winners are Houston classics; some will surprise you.
Absolve Wine Lounge
A gem of a pure wine bar just off the Washington Corridor, Absolve is in the vicinity of the craziness, yet just out of reach. Whether you crave wine by the glass or bottle, you’ll be pleased with the wide selection. This narrow bar is nestled in a strip center. Dimly lit with dark walls and dark furniture, Absolve always seems to have the right size crowd; the comfortable seating is usually comfortably full. When you don’t want a full meal, the appetizers hit the spot (the meatballs are especially good.)
920 Studemont St., Ste. 150
BEST DIVE BAR
Alice’s Tall Texan Drive Inn
Cold beer. Need we say more? This no frills bar will take you back to the days when you drank on a budget.
4904 N. Main, 713-862-0141
BEST VIEW FROM A BAR • DOWNTOWN
Built amid the attractions of Discovery Green, The Grove has panoramic views of this picturesque park and downtown buildings. Stop by for a drink on your way to dinner or a night on the town, there are so many trees, you’ll forget you’re in Houston.
1611 Lamar, 713-337-7321
BEST VIEW FROM A BAR • MIDTOWN
Hefley’s on West Gray
Although Hefley’s pushes their bar-b-que, the burgers are so good we order them repeatedly. Located a hop, skip and a jump from downtown, the view from the second floor is second to none. Great place to catch a big game.
138 W. Gray, 713-527-8100
BEST JOINT FOR LIVE MUSIC
McGonigel’s Mucky Ducky
Hidden behind office buildings near Richmond and Kirby, this small venue offers great views from every seat as you intimately enjoy some of the finest live music in town. The supper club options features, well, dinner, in a communal seating arrangement. Folksy and cool.
2425 Norfolk, 713-528-5999
BEST BAR TO BECOME AN EXPERT
The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
Great place to meet up for a beer… or two. There are over 240 different beers with 100 different brewing styles. Belly up to a long bar or relax at a cozy table.
705 Main St., 713-228-9472
BEST HOTEL BAR
The Sam Bar
Close enough to the legal district for lawyers to swing by for a swig, this bar is usually bustling with thirsty happy hour types. Great any time of day.
BEST BAR TO PLAY AT
Zimm’s Little Deck
Home to Houston’s only Petanque court, games of this English lawn bowling erupt constantly on the outside deck along Richmond Ave. Thirsty? Many beers are on tap, but we recommend the wine: cheap, good or fancy (list varies based on supply).
601 Richmond Ave., 713-527-8328
BEST CONCERT VENUE
House of Blues
Thanks to the HOB, downtown Houston is awake again! Most evenings, you’ll find national acts such as Meatloaf or Robert Earl Keen performing in an intimate setting. Every seat upstairs has a great view and the standing room only crowd on the first level brings you close to the action.
1204 Caroline, 888-402-5837
BEST PATIO BAR
The giant patio practically takes up a city block. When the weather is good, arrive early if you want a seat. Sounds of the creek’s flowing water, birds chirping in the tall, old trees and laughter from happy patrons create a relaxing environment. Most revelers stay for hours.
1034 W. 20th St., 713-808-9623
BEST STORE FOR A TECHNOLOGY FANATIC
The Apple Store in the Galleria
The Apple Store is marketing genius, plain and simple. Case in point: the geek no one spoke to in high school is now the “genius” who speaks “by appointment only.” Even in the depths of a recession, there is a waiting list to shop at this iconic retail masterpiece.
5085 Westheimer, Ste. 3740
BEST TOY STORE
Toys to Love
When you are looking for more than just a toy store, the local owners of Toys to Love have got you covered. They search for gifts and toys devoted to the physical and social well-being of children. Shop by age or category on their newly re-vamped web site.
1517 Post Oak Blvd.
BEST STORE TO FIND DESIGNER DUDS
More Than You Can Imagine
This innovative store tops our list year after year. Offering re-sale at the highest level, this River Oaks gem seems to have more Chanel, Prada and Gucci each time we visit. Stop by to see what’s new. You’ll be surprised at the discounts available on high end, gently used clothing and accessories.
2817 Westheimer, 713-668-8811
BEST DOG PRODUCTS
Curb your pet’s allergies with healthy products from Natural Pawz. The owners research every product they sell, so you can be sure your pets only intake the best ingredients.
Multiple locations, www.naturalpawz.com
BEST UNIQUE JEWELRY
Fly High Little Bunny
This cute, eclectic shop specializes in custom sterling silver and white gold. We like the offerings because they don’t look like earrings and necklaces you find in most stores. The owner designs many of the custom pieces personally.
3120 S. Shepherd Dr., 713-520-9995
BEST VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE
Taxi Taxi Clothing
Lower Westheimer has always played host to off-beat fashion. At Taxi Taxi you can drop off your castoffs and purchase someone else’s castoffs for pennies on the dollar.
1653 Westheimer Rd., 713-528-5500
BEST DOG BOUTIQUE
A Dog’s Life
Pamper your pooch with awesome offerings from the tiny boutique in Sugar Land. Some of the treats are so tempting, you have to remind yourself they are for your four-legged friend.
16121 City Walk, Sugar Land
BEST FASHION AT A DISCOUNT
Saks Fifth Avenue carries most of the brands ladies love. The Off Fifth store has all the same brands, you just pay less for them. You don’t feel like you’re bargain shopping at all.
Katy Mills Mall & Stafford
BEST WHIMSICAL GIFT SHOP
The historic Heights area is full of many fun surprises, none so whimsical as Jubilee. Whether you are looking for one-of-a-kind gifts, unique jewelry, bedazzled tops or off-the-beaten-path shoes, you can find it all at this 19th Street gem. Make note of the great greeting card section.
321-A W. 19th St.
BEST MEN’S FASHION
BEST HAND CAR WASH
For years, Bubbles has pampered our cars with specialty, hand-washed treatment. There are many Houston locations to serve you. Look for improved technology for faster payment options.
BEST DOWNWARD DOG
From Sun Salutations to Downward Dogs, the benefits of yoga stay with you long after class is dismissed. Be one with healing energy at Yoga One.
3030 Travis, Ste. E, 713-443-6466
BEST WEIGHT LOSS MEAL PLAN
My Fit Foods
Staffers and friends of H Texas have tried the 21-day challenge at My Fit Foods and love the results. Losing weight, feeling great and eating high quality nutritious meals with today’s time pressed schedules can often be overwhelming. Stop by the many locations to pick up healthy, portion-controlled meals. My Fit Foods knows 80% of your health and fitness results are based on the type of fuel you put in your body. You’ll lose weight and feel great!
Locations citywide, www.myfitfoods.com
BEST EYEBROW SHAPING
If you travel the charity circuit, surely you know Edward. Not only does he support many charities, he does the make-up for most of the women chairing the events. He’ll make sure your arch isn’t too pointy and your brows aren’t too bushy.
BEST PET GROOMER
Bellaire Big Dogs
You can drop your furry friend off, or attend grooming lessons at this Bellaire groomery. Pick up and delivery services make it easy to keep Fido coiffed and clean.
BEST SPRAY TAN
A Tropical Haven
Don’t spend all of your time island hopping? You can look like you do. Located in historic downtown Rosenberg, you’ll enjoy the high quality equipment and finest ingredients.
911 B Third St., Rosenberg
BEST LOCATION FOR A WHOLESOME GOOD TIME
Perfect for bachelor parties, team building events and just some good, wholesome fun, let TXR Paintball host your next event. Boasting the largest paintball fields in Texas, your group will find an adrenaline-charged, one-of-a-kind, good time.
15550 Grant Road, 281-357-4300
BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY
The queen of the Gulf turns 100 this year. A century of history deserves a year long party. Birthday celebrations take place throughout the year – from vow renewal ceremonies to outdoor concerts and fireworks – the whole family can enjoy this island treasure.
2024 Seawall Blvd., Galveston
BEST WAY TO SNEAK A PEEK AT A HISTORIC HOME
The Houston Heights Home & Garden Tour
Twice per year, historic homes are open to the touring public. Known for maintaining its small-town feel as it sits just a few miles from the hustle and bustle of downtown Houston, homes in the Heights are eclectic and fun. Purchase tickets at the Heights Fire Station at Yale & 12th. The next tour is April 1-3.
BEST SPA SURPRISE
La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa
The Northside lake resort, La Torretta, continues to improve and the addition of the freestanding, 17,000 square-foot spa is beyond enjoyable. It rivals spas we’ve seen in Phoenix and Hawaii. Escape your whirlwind life and enjoy the Haman (communal steam room) and luxurious relaxation areas before your massage, facial or specific body treatment. SpaTerre has something for everyone.
600 La Torretta Blvd.,
BEST HISTORICAL PRESERVATION
Located just off of downtown, the gated neighborhood called Courtlandt Place just turned 104. In a city famous for no zoning, it’s amazing to find the historically significant Courtlandt Place with homes completed circa 1910-1926. The finest architects of the period, including Alfred Finn and John Staub executed commissions in Courtlandt Place. All of the neighborhood’s original homes have been preserved and collectively offer a rare opportunity to glimpse life in Houston in the first years of the 20th century.
BEST DAY SPA
Trellis, the Spa
This is the perfect location for a facial and a lite lunch on the patio. Arrive early to enjoy the relaxation area – it’s the best in town.
111 N. Post Oak Ln.
BEST REASON FOR A QUICK ROAD TRIP
Royers Round Top Cafe
The secret is out! Washington County is home to awesome pie and the former Houstonians at Royers Round Top Café serve up flavors such as chewy chocolate-chip, pecan, butterscotch-chip, buttermilk, coconut lemon, apple, strawberry-rhubarb, peach and cherrie. The evening H Texas visited, dinner consisted of steak, pork tenderloin and rack of lamb; yet somehow we still had room for the chewy, chocolate pie.
105 Main Street,
Round Top, TX
BEST PLACE TO MEET FOR MARGARITAS • MONTROSE
The Berry Hill in Montrose has the kind of crowd where everyone knows your name. Avoid the line and order food from the bartender. We love the frozen, no salt margarita.
BEST PLACE TO MEET FOR MARGARITAS • SUGAR LAND
The bar is the perfect size. Easy to find your friends, large enough to meet a group. Frozen or on the rocks, the
margaritas have been satisfying Houstonians for many years.
15801 Southwest Fwy.
BEST SOUP ON THE PLANET
Yes, it’s that flavorful. Chicken, rice, cheese and avocados float in a broth flavored with rich Mexican peppers. A shot of their tomatillo paste gives an extra burst of deliciousness.
2701 Mangum Rd.
Funky decor makes this an inviting location for a birthday party. This is a great place to pick up a sandwich or soup, but the cupcakes steal the show.
16525 Lexington Blvd.,
BEST GOURMET PIZZA • THE WOODLANDS
The thin crust pie at this Northern eatery keeps the soccer moms of The Woodlands happy. The pepperoni pizza is consistently good, quality ingredients are appreciated, and the selection is vast: Pesto, Marinara or Alfredo? Ladies who need a quick dinner for the kiddos consistently turn to Grimaldi’s – great gourmet in the Woodlands.
20 Waterway Ave., 281-465-3500
FRESHEST INGREDIENTS ON A PIZZA – FULSHEAR
Looking for fresh pizza, you’ll find it at Pepperoni’s. Also available gluten free!
BEST RESTAURANT BAR
The Glass Wall
We love dining in the bar at The Glass Wall. The L shape perfectly promotes mingling among neighbors. The bar burger is one of the best around and the deviled egg BLT sliders put a new twist on the church picnic staples.
933 Studewood St.,
BEST RESTAURANT FOR DATE NIGHT• WOODLANDS
Celebrity chef Kent Rathbun offers gourmet comfort food right in the heart of Town Center. The patio is great, especially in the spring. We love the ribs and mac & cheese.
9595 Six Pines Dr.,
Nutty D’Angelo at Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille
Imagine an ice cream ball covered in toasted almonds and melted white chocolate frozen to the top like a mountain snow cap. Now picture caramel flowing over the ice-cream ball. Heaven on a plate.
BEST BRUNCH FOR UNDER $20
One of the pioneers in the Midtown area, Farrago is still going strong, especially on Sunday afternoons. Enjoy a brunch menu, mimosas, Bloody Mary’s and a gathering of scenesters.
318 Gray, 713-523-6404
BEST LOCATION FOR PRIVATE DINNER
Wine Room at Tony’s
When you are entertaining ten to htwenty, the wine room at Tony’s is the most exclusive environment in town. Whether you order from the menu, or offer a set menu, the quality and service are second to none. Be sure to preorder the souffles.
3755 Richmond Ave.