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Written by Texas Highways

WildflowerVu55Nothing says spring in Texas like bluebonnets, paintbrushes, and other familiar wildflowers. Some years these blooms merely whisper the season’s arrival, their voices muted by drought or unseasonal temperatures, but other times they trumpet the news with great swaths of vivid color as far as the eye can see.

Dallas BBQ Renaissance

Dallas is well known as the home of innovative chefs like Stephan Pyles and Dean Fearing, landmark restaurants like the Mansion, and a culinary climate of innovation that goes back to the days of the famed Helen Corbitt at Neiman Marcus’ Zodiac Room. In recent years, a proliferation of creative chefs has enhanced Dallas’ reputation as both proving ground and dining destination for everything from contemporary Italian cuisine to ramen and imaginative chocolates.

But Texas barbecue? Not as much.

KLEPPER-LLANO-RIVER-south-llano-river-sp-2

Shades of an urban beat have finally arrived in Llano, a Hill Country community along the Llano River and the default capital of the Llano Uplift, the ancient dome of characteristic pink granite poking out of the Edwards Plateau.

Paramount Theatre, Austin

In its 100 years, Austin’s Paramount Theatre has hosted everyone from Harry Houdini in 1916, to the world premiere of Batman in 1966, to President Barack Obama in 2014. The Paramount is celebrating its centennial throughout 2015, including a free April 1 screening of the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera, the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival April 22-25, a Centennial Gala featuring Lyle Lovett and Patty Griffin on May 9, and in October, the installation of a 47-foot-tall electric sign to replace the long-gone original.

American Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse is prized for its versatility, from ranch work to its speed on the quarter-mile track—the inspiration for its name. And for 75 years, breeders of the popular horse have registered their foals with the Amarillo-based American Quarter Horse Association. To celebrate the association’s diamond anniversary, the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum is honoring the 16 ranches and individuals—10 from Texas—who have registered an American Quarter Horse every year since 1940. See historic photos, biographies, saddles, awards, and equipment from the breeders’ private collections. Through July 25.

Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge

The Booming N Blooming Festival at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge in Eagle Lake offers the chance to observe the unusual courtship ritual of Attwater’s prairie chickens in their native coastal prairie habitat. Held April 11-12, the event includes viewing tours to see the endangered ground-dwelling birds on their “booming grounds,” where the males inflate their bright yellow air sacs, hold their tails erect, stomp their feet, and charge at competitors. Birding tours, native plant tours, biologist presentations, and a children’s art contest round out the weekend.

Selena

Luminaries of Latin and Tejano music will take the stage April 17-18 in Corpus Christi for Fiesta de la Flor, a tribute to the late hometown star Selena Quintanilla Perez. Twenty years after Selena died tragically in the prime of her career, the festival will celebrate the life and legacy of the “Queen of Tejano” at North Bayfront Park. The lineup of about 12 bands includes A.B. Quintanilla y Los Kumbia King All Starz, Los Lobos, Clarissa Serna, and Little Joe y La Familia. The event will also feature a screening of the biopic Selena, food trucks, children’s activities, and a fireworks finale. Tickets cost $5. For more information check out Matt Joyce's recent in-depth blog post covering Fiesta de la Flor.

Sign-Run-By

Texas is synonymous with big, partly because of its land mass, but also because of its big personalities. And through the ages, few have been bigger than Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States.

Lyle Lovett JF P1000386A spotlight pierces the darkened theater as an acoustic guitarist fingerpicks the opening notes of a tune. Tonight’s star, nattily clad in a dark teal suit, white shirt, and silver necktie, stands center stage. He begins to articulate the lyrics with wry precision as the lighting gradually expands to reveal his supporting players, each attired in a black suit, white shirt, and tie. Despite the ensemble’s snazzy look, this singer-songwriter’s material evokes imagery of pick-up trucks, cowboys, enchiladas, and other down-home delights. That’s right—he is from Texas.

SaladoSitting in the light-washed front room of his Salado gallery, artist Ronnie Wells shapes a small clay sculpture of two men carving a duck decoy, a model for a future bronze. In an adjacent room, his wife motions her hand as if to say, “It’s okay. Go on in.”

Dun Huang Plaza is at 9889 Bellaire Blvd., on the south side of Bellaire less than a block east of Beltway 8 (also known as the Sam Houston Tollway). Restaurant hours vary widely. Here are additional addresses.

six-ping-thumb-560x420It takes a sense of adventure, as well as an adventurous palate, to explore ethnic dining areas as vast and sprawling as Houston’s Chinatown. Unlike Chinatowns in New York or San Francisco, which span several, walkable blocks, Houston’s Chinatown—which migrated from cramped and expensive midtown and downtown locations in the mid-1980s—now encompasses an eight-mile stretch along Bellaire Boulevard on the southwest side of Houston.

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