The writers who contribute to Texas Highways exemplify a few traits in common: They’re experienced travelers guided by curiosity, adventure, culture, and hard-earned wisdom.
The landscape, culture, and political turbulence of the United States-Mexico border region take center stage in La Frontera, an exhibition of art jewelry at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
A few years ago, I had the good fortune to attend one of the inaugural “Where the Chefs Eat” culinary tours of Houston (www.houstonculinarytours.com) , which introduced participants to a bevy of eateries that aren’t on the radar of most visitors. We ate cabrito accompanied by live mariachi at El Hidalguense, an unassuming restaurant on Long Point Road; compared barbecue at three sites known for their different styles; explored the foods of Thailand and India until we thought we might burst; then wrapped up with an exploration of the vast ethnic-food aisles at 99 Ranch Market—all accompanied by such nationally regarded chefs as Monica Pope, Hugo Ortega, Randy Evans, and Chris Shepherd, who observed, “I think a lot of people are afraid to get out of their comfort zones. When they do, though, it becomes more than just going out to eat; it becomes an education into another culture.”
On a sunny day last May, the bustle of traffic along Houston’s Allen Parkway momentarily slowed to a crawl comprised of fancifully decorated cars, costumed unicyclists, and lawn mower-driving artists.
On Fridays, shuttle to Space Center Houston for a planetary power lunch—“Lunch With an Astronaut.”
I’ll confess that I have never been a big zoo fan—until recently, that is. I blame the small, sad zoos that I visited as a kid, where skinny, world-weary animals paced in tight quarters. Thankfully, matters have changed dramatically since then, as I discovered during a recent trip to Houston.
Last fall, we asked Texas Highways readers to share their favorite places in the state for our Texas Top-40 Travel Destinations. And share you did—by phone, email, Facebook, and through many amazingly detailed letters. Thousands of TH readers helped to shape the final list, which we will divulge throughout 2014, Texas Highways’ 40th-anniversary year
A longtime hub for innovation in energy and medicine, Houston has come into its own as a vacation destination in recent years.
I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Hugo’s, the decade-old restaurant in the heart of Houston’s hip Montrose district that has helped awaken palates raised on Tex-Mex to the complexities of interior Mexican fare. Hugo’s is where I first encountered Oaxacan-style, pan-sautéed grasshoppers (served with avocado, tomatillo salsa, and mini corn tortillas), and where I discovered the smoky allure of artisan mescal. Over the years and in the course of many visits, I’ve enjoyed the restaurant’s braised pork shoulder with mashed plantain bananas ($22), its amazing lentil cakes with strips of fire-roasted chiles ($8), and its roasted red snapper a la Veracruzana ($22), the latter a tangy fish dish prepared with tomatoes, olives, and capers. I like the historic yet somehow modern feel of the restaurant itself, too: Designed in 1925 by Austrian architect Joseph Finger (who also designed Houston’s Art Deco City Hall and many other structures throughout the city), the building is now blanketed in decades of ivy. Inside, exposed rose-colored brick, butter-colored walls displaying vintage matador paintings, and a polished-concrete bar stocked with spirits and wines from throughout the world make Hugo’s a topnotch spot for a meal or $5 margaritas during happy hour.
Houston suffers from no shortage of museums, but I’ve always thought of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as the grande dame of them all. It was here that I first marveled at the splendor of European masters. As a mother, I’ve found that my appreciation for art is magnified when I experience it through the eyes of my children. So on a recent sunny day, I set out with my three young children for an afternoon at the MFAH and its companion sculpture garden to see what this Houston art institution has to offer for a family visit.
The Houston Astros got things on the right track back at the turn of this century, when the ball club abandoned the Astrodome’s unnatural indoor confinement for the refreshing outdoor playing field
at Minute Maid Park. Swapping synthetic turf that can make balls bounce funny and players’ knees balk for real grass was maybe the smartest trade the baseball club has ever made.
How do you spend a single day exploring one of the largest cities in the United States? Simple, you pick one part and stick to it. I decided to spend my day exploring “Bay Area Houston,” part of the southeast Houston area nestled against the waters of Galveston Bay.