Friday, March 28, 2014

BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANTS IN HOUSTON

THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN HOUSTON ACCORDING TO KAT:

MEXICAN EDITION

 
Just about every client moving to Houston and every friend visiting Houston for work or leisure asks me "What's the best restaurant in Houston?" or "What's your favorite restaurant in Houston?"  As a woman who loves to eat and a working mother who rarely has time to cook, I partake of Houston's vast dining options on a daily basis.  I'll take consistently yummy and unpretentious fare over a trendy atmosphere any day, so you probably won't find my favorites on any hip "best of" list -but most of my favorites have been around a long, long time and are still family-owned establishments serving generation after generation of Houston's notoriously food-loving residents. 
 
***Click on the photos for links to each restaurant's website***
 

EL TIEMPO CANTINA

*Where the Legacy of "Mama" Ninfa Laurenzo, Houston's Best-Known Mexican Chef, Lives On* 
Several Locations: Navigation, Montrose, Washington Ave., Richmond Ave., Tomball area
BEST IN TOWN: Barbacoa (Brisket), Fresh Fish, Quail, Ribs, Queso Flameado

El Tiempo Cantina

CADILLAC BAR

1802 Shepherd Dr.
(713) 862-2020
BEST IN TOWN: Fajitas, Guacamole, Tortilla Soup, Sunday Brunch, Party Room
 
The Cadillac Bar
 

EL GALLO

2116 Gessner Rd.
(713) 467-9780
BEST IN TOWN: Cheese Enchiladas, Tamales, Carne Asada/Tacos al Carbon
 
Dining B
 
 ***El Gallo is a hole-in-the-wall in a tired strip center in an unpretentious part of Spring Branch, noteworthy for the large yellow and red rooster sign out front.  It looks today exactly like it did when I was a kid and it has no website.  Rumor had it back then that El Gallo was run by the parents of the proprietors behind Guadalajara (below) and Escalante's (an upscale, healthy version of Guadalajara), both of which are local chains now.
 

GUADALAJARA HACIENDA

Several Locations: Downtown, Medical Center, Memorial, & The Woodlands
BEST IN TOWN: Wide Variety of Excellent Tex-Mex Favorites in a Family-Friendly Setting
 
Guadalajara Hacienda
 
 

HUGO's

1600 Westheimer Rd.
(713) 524-7744
BEST IN TOWN: Gourmet Mexican, Refined Atmosphere, Exquisite Dining Experience
 
Hugo's Restaurant
 

LOS TIOS

Several Locations: Meyerland, Westchase, Energy Corridor, Sugar Land
BEST IN TOWN: Cheese Enchiladas with Chili Gravy, the Definitive Tex-Mex Dish
 
 
Los Tios Mexican Restaurant
 
 
 
 
 

BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANTS IN HOUSTON

THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN HOUSTON ACCORDING TO KAT:

ITALIAN EDITION

 
Just about every client moving to Houston and every friend visiting Houston for work or leisure asks me "What's the best restaurant in Houston?" or "What's your favorite restaurant in Houston?"  As a woman who loves to eat and a working mother who rarely has time to cook, I partake of Houston's vast dining options on a daily basis.  I'll take consistently yummy and unpretentious fare over a trendy atmosphere any day, so you probably won't find my favorites on any hip "best of" list -but most of my favorites have been around a long, long time and are still family-owned establishments serving generation after generation of Houston's notoriously food-loving residents. 
 
***Click on the photos for links to each restaurant's website***
 

 ANTONIO'S FLYING PIZZA

2920 Hillcroft St.
(713) 783-6080
BEST IN TOWN: Eggplant Parmesan, Lasagna, & Manicotti - Pizza is Great, too, naturally
 
Antonio's Flying Pizza
 
 

PATRENELLA'S

813 Jackson Hill
(713) 863-8223
BEST IN TOWN: Italian Seafood & Bocce Ball
 
Patrenella's Italian Ristorante

 

PIOLA

3201 Louisiana St.
(713) 524-8222
BEST IN TOWN: Authentic, Neapolitan-style PIZZA
 
Piola Pizza Houston
 
 

 And now for the Standard-Bearers Carrying on "Mama" Mandola's Legacy....

 VINCENT'S & NINO'S

2701 W. Dallas St.
(713) 528-4313
BEST IN TOWN: Chicken Vincent, Gelato Bar, Italian Village Ambiance
 
Mandola Gift Card
 

THE ORIGINAL CARRABBA'S

Two Locations: Woodway @ Voss and Kirby @ West Alabama
BEST IN TOWN: Homemade Pastas, Fresh Fish, Steaks
 
Nino's Vincent's
 

TONY MANDOLA'S

1212 Waugh Dr.
(713) 528-3474
BEST IN TOWN: Italian Seafood, Ciopinno (Fish Stew), Sunday Brunch
 
 Tony Mandola's
 
 
* Tony's reception area pays tribute to Mama Ninfa Laurenzo & Mama Mandola *
 

DAMIAN'S CUCINA ITALIANA

3011 Smith St.
(713) 522-0439
BEST IN TOWN: Italian Steak & Seafood, Pre-Theatre Meal (Shuttle Service), Special Events
 
Damian's Cucina Italiana 
 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Houston's Sunday Streets HTX Street Festivals this Spring

As part of the Go Healthy Houston initiative, City officials are shutting Houston down the next three first-Sundays-of-the-month to make way for planned street festivals of sorts. What's the occasion?  There is none really.  Just an effort to bring neighbors together for a wholesome, leisurely Sunday stroll (or bike or skate, if you prefer) - a luxury far too seldom enjoyed these days.  Personally, I'm thrilled because the first festival - Sunday, April 6th - will pass directly in front of my house AND right past my clients Sanctuary Builders' stunning homes under construction at White Oak and Oxford on the hike-and-bike trail! Check out the Heights Spring Home and Garden Tour, too!   April 4-6.  Hope to see y'all there!!!

Check out Houston's Sunday Streets HTX the following dates 11 AM - 3 PM:

    APRIL  6                                                         MAY 4                                                 JUNE 1
White Oak Dr.                                              Westheimer Rd.                                Washington Ave.  



Sunday, 4/6/14 - White Oak Dr. & Quitman (Heights Blvd. to Fulton)

A colorful view along White Oak Drive of Victorian-style townhomes on Stude Park overlooking downtown Houston.



 Sunday, 5/4/14 - Westheimer (Hazard to Yoakum/Waugh in Montrose)

Looking east down Westheimer Road in vibrant Montrose district.

Sunday, 6/1/14 - Washington Avenue (Milam at Market Square to Studemont)

Market Square Reopens
Quiet time at Market Square, the downtown start/end point of the Washington Avenue HTX street festival.
 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What makes the Houston Heights so fun!?

In perusing the latest issue of Bayou City magazine, I was pleasantly surprised to see several of my favorite things to do in their 2-page spread on the Heights.  So, apologies to Bayou City for the overlap (and kudos to y'all for knowing the cool places to chill!) and apologies to my readers for the Heights focus of this list, but the Heights is a great place to hang out whether you live here or not!  

When you're looking for some excitement and the typical museums, bars, and entertainment venues aren't going to cut it, try these on for size...


 OPERA IN THE HEIGHTS   I LOVE this place - gifted performers up-close-and-personal!  Their 2013-2014 season is almost over, but there's still time to catch the final act March 28-April 6 - Lucia di Lammermoor - "Donizetti's heroine shows that a family feud can drive a girl crazy!" - hmmm... sounds familiar... I'm there!


2013-2014 Season Art, Illustrations by Robin Kachantones
OPERA IN THE HEIGHTS: UNPLUGGED, UNPRETENTIOUS, UNBELIEVABLE!
Illustrations by Robin Kachantones


1ST SATURDAY ARTS MARKET   The name says it all...   1st Saturdays every month.  Art in the streets.  Deals from local shops.  Live entertainment.  Food trucks.  19th Street in the Heights.


http://firstsaturdayartsmarket.com/


BINGO at the Czech SPJST Lodge 88   Every Thursday night, droves of barely-legals, yuppies, and old folks descend upon the old Czech cultural center on the west side of the Heights to grab their bingo sheets and cheap pitchers of Shiner, anticipating a night of good-ole-fashioned fun for charity.  For the more adventurous, check out their big band, polka, and C&W dances Saturday nights!

Bingo game sheets and purple dopper at Bingo in the Heights.Photo by Megan Daic, as published by examiner.com