downtown >> hot companies | rottet's downtown inner sanctum spring 2010
connecting you to the center of houston
Shaping a new era for downtown retail page 12
the home issue Lofty Living
Three spaces Three lifestyles
Moving on up A diverse new wave of residents is energizing the neighborhood
plus: rabbits, babes, monsters, disco and more! p. 32
F U N + G A M E S
III Forks Steakhouse XXI Forever Andalucia Tapas Restaurant & Bar BCBGMAXAZRIA Books-A-Million Clique Salon Cork Wine Bar Foundation Room at House of Blues Guadalajara del Centro House of Blues Lucky Strike Lanes McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant Mia Bella Trattoria Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar Polk Street Pub Qatar Airways Unity National Bank Yao Restaurant & Bar
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downtown houston spring 2010
volume 2 number 3
Inside 12 Shop around?
2 publishers’ note 3 greenworks
The Shell Eco-marathon takes to the streets of downtown with some remarkably fuelefficient inventions.
Downtown continues to evolve as a residential neighborhood and our initiatives are a part of that change.
Yes, there are challenges. But a recent retail study indicates the city can definitely grow commerce in its urban core. by bill hensel
16 A new day dawning
Happily, living downtown is not what it used to be. With plenty of options and conveniences available to them, a new generation of residents is daring to choose the urban life. And they’re finding it surprisingly rejuvinating. by sandra cook
by barbara linkin mendel
4 hot companies
One of the hottest architectural interior design firms in the country, Rottet Studio calls Houston home-base.
22 At home
Meet three totally different households and see how they make the downtown lifestyle work. by sandra cook
by holly beretto
7 arts & culture
Shake off winter with zany comedies, classic dance, Broadway blockbusters and a Q+A with Alley director Gregory Boyd. by Heather Pray and andrew huang
Theater, concerts, sports, festivals & special events, tours and more.
Meet the Massas, downtown’s first family of seafood. Plus your ultimate restaurant guide.
We’ll get you where you’re going.
blazing paddles Questions or comments? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
canoe and kayak extravaganza races down the bayou
Managing Editor/Creative Director Angie Bertinot, Downtown District
Photography Katya Horner, Slight Clutter Photography
Arts and Culture Editor Heather Pray, Houston Downtown Alliance
Contributing Writers Holly Beretto, Sandra Cook, Bill Hensel, Andrew Huang, Barbara Linkin Mendel, Heather Pray. Mark Sullivan
Copy Editor Barbara Linkin Mendel, Mendel Creative Solutions Design ph Design Shop
Advertising Information Angie Bertinot, 713.650.3022/ email@example.com
Downtown magazine is published quarterly and is free of charge. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprinted or otherwise reproduced without written permission from the publisher. Downtown District, 909 Fannin, Suite 1650, Houston, Texas 77010. Published by:
Sunny days, milder temps – it’s spring and the city is in bloom. And that includes downtown. As more and more people choose to make a home here, they are discovering that we really do have a healthy, vibrant residential center. Restaurants, festivals, movies, theater, shopping – whether you’re an empty nester, a young professional or starting a family you can enjoy an urban lifestyle living downtown. But don’t take our word for it. Flip though the pages of this quarter’s issue to meet a variety of people who are doing just that (page 22). That’s not to suggest that we don’t have some hurdles to jump. A retail report we recently commissioned (see page 12) reminds us that issues such as parking, lighting, buildNo matter what ing design and signage are still obstayour financial cles for many would-be residents. But circumstances they are problems that we can solve, may be, it's always and as we move forward, many of our easy to enjoy initiatives at the Downtown District the very best of and Houston Downtown Alliance are downtown. directed to making downtown more livable. We are more than confident that the future will find downtown is the residential neighborhood so many of us envision. We see Downtown as a part of that change – keeping you informed about everything from dining and events to news and personalities. Keep your issue handy for whatever leisure activity you might be planning. And as always, please feel free to send comments and suggestions our way.
Houston Downtown Alliance
ON THE COVER Downtown resident Sebastion Ford loves living the urban lifestyle. His faves include playing in the fountains at Discovery Green, taking the rail to the Children's Museum and having breakfast with mom and dad at Don Diego's.
zoom zoom zoom!
Shell Eco-marathon takes fuel-efficiency to a whole new level. By Barbara Linkin Mendel
The next time someone starts bragging about the amazing mileage their new hybrid has been getting, consider one team of winners from last year’s Shell Eco-marathon contest, in which student teams compete to invent the most fuel-efficient vehicle. The team from Canada’s Laval University came out on top not with 100 miles per gallon, not with 500 miles per gallon, not even with 1,000 miles per gallon, but with a Shell Eco-marathon teams create their cars in two categories – whopping 2,757.1 miles per gallon in the Prototype category. Prototype, which focuses on streamlined vehicles that maximize their And this spring, plenty of youthful competitors will be trying to do fuel efficiency through innovative design elements like drag reduction them one better from (where else?) Houston. The Shell Eco-marathon, which has been held in Southern California and Urban Concept, which focuses on more roadworthy vehicles that seem closer in appearance to the high-mileage cars seen on since coming to America in 2007 is making a move to Houston and will roads today. be at Discovery Green March 26-28. For both categories, teams can use any conventionally available “We are excited to host the Shell Eco-marathon Americas in downenergy source – including fuels such as diesel, gasoline and liquid town Houston this year," said Mark Singer, global project manager for petroleum gas, as well as alternative fuels such as hydrogen, biomass the event. “There is nothing more fitting than for students – the brains and solar. of the future – to test their fuel-efficient vehicles The Shell EcoAccording to Shell, the event got its start in on the streets of what people consider to be the marathon is making 1939 at a research lab. A friendly wager between energy capital of the world.” a move to Houston scientists to see who could get the most miles per He said moving the challenge to Shell's U.S. and will be at gallon from their vehicle evolved into the internahometown also offers an opportunity to demDiscovery Green tional event that takes place today. onstrate to employees and Houstonians alike March 26-28 . More than 500 students from 44 participating the energy company’s commitment to finding responsible, sustainable solutions that address the growing demand for teams from across North and South America took place in last year’s Eco-marathon and this year’s budding inventors are ready to take to the energy worldwide. The event challenges high school, university and college students to road. “These students have put a great deal of passion and hard work into the construction of their vehicles, and we hope Houstonians will design and build the most fuel-efficient vehicles possible. The Houston come out to support them,” Singer said. “We should all be concerned Shell Eco-marathon will be different from previous contests in that about our own energy footprint, and we hope seeing the commitment spectators will be able to view the competition on an actual street of these students will inspire everyone to take an active role in reducing course – a more realistic stage for the exciting student innovations and energy consumption and protecting the planet.” futuristic vehicles. houstondowntown.com
Downtown design firm finds Houston is the center of the world
ROTTET STUDIO By HOLLY BERETTO
Walking into Rottet Studio changes your perception of what a downtown business might look like – and how it might act. Forget the cookie cutter corporate cutouts of streetlevel banks and cozy cafes. This hotshot architectural interior design firm is modern, elegant and setting the world on fire. Dedicated to providing functional work spaces with stellar design for its clients, Rottet walks the walk when it comes to melding form with function. The space is white, marbled and accented with glass. It gives an impression that’s ethereal and other-worldly, a space where benches disappear through walls and reappear on the other side. The space seems to float around you, creating a feeling that is at once comfortable while simultaneously announcing, “brilliant things happen here.” “For some time I have been looking at design from a holistic perspective. That is, I have come to believe that the best possible approach to design combines architecture, craft, graphics, lighting and art into our environments,” said Lauren Rottet, founder of Rottet Studio, and one of the most renowned architects in the business. “Design is not just about the one-time image of a space or a building, it is about the daily exposure to an environment that delivers the necessary objects and services, and also brings pleasure and satisfaction to the inhabitants.” That’s what Rottet does best, as evidenced by the running roster of awards the firm has received, including Interior Design magazine’s 2009 Best of Year for Artis Capital Management in San Francisco. Upcoming projects on Rottet’s roster include the W Liberty Plaza in Mexico City’s Santa Fe District; the Rosewood Luxury Resort in Palm Desert, California; and the office designs for both Capstone Asset Management Company and Cameron International here in Houston. “We offers design services ranging from commercial and hospitality interiors to base building
The space seems to float around you...
architecture and expertise across the corporate real estate spectrum,” says Rottet Principal Kelie Mayfield. “The studio is a full-service firm providing construction documentation and administration services as well as design. We continue to expand our award-winning furniture and product design practice and offer branding, graphic design and art selection as well.” According to Rottet, "Our focus is on great design, which translates into creating efficient and inspiring architecture for small companies as well as for large high-profile clients. Our designers get excited about the opportunity, the challenge, whether the budget is small or large. As long as a client values design, we truly enjoy helping them realize and go beyond their imagination. That's what drives our firm.” Dedicated to downtown And if the driving force behind the firm is design, being downtown is certainly an essential part of the engine. The Rottet team watches the world go by and experiences the hustle and bustle of daily life from their offices on the street level of the historic Niels Esperson Building, one of downtown’s oldest remaining edifices on the northeast corner of Travis and Rusk.
ROTTET STUDIO’S favorite things about their DOWNTOWN neighborhood: BEAUTIFUL ARCHITECTURE • BUSINESS hub • PEDESTRIAN LIFE (UNDERGROUND AND ABOVE) • CONNECTIVITY • THEATER DISTRICT • METRO LIGHT RAIL • Sports Venues • Restaurants • Friendliness of People • Downtown Magazine!
Our designers get excited about the opportunity, the challenge, whether the budget is large or small.
“Being downtown is a major part of who we are as a firm and how we work,” says Gibson. “Downtown is energizing and inspiring. We are in the center of the world energy capital. So many things happen here, it helps to be in the middle of it.” And by being in the epicenter of Houston’s business world, Rottet is also helping bring the world of design concepts to Houston. Rottet is out to show that design influences and inspires people to connect with the space around them, and to use spaces as places to come together to create extraordinary work. This has always been the foundation of Rottet Studio, says Rottet, who knows there’s nowhere else she’d rather be doing business than right in the middle of downtown, in that historic building, where she’s created a space that pays homage to Houston’s history, all while connecting it with its dynamic future. “I believe it is the ideal location to serve as the firm’s home base.”
ROTTET STUDIO at a glance
“A street-level office in downtown is a unique business experience,” says Adam Gibson, Rottet’s business development director. “You feel more connected to the city because everything happens around you. You hear the noises, you actually experience the weather in a way you never would in a skyscraper.” Gibson admits it’s sometimes hard to get a real urban feel in Houston, especially in downtown, when so much of business takes place underground and up in the air. “From our vantage point, we are definitely closer to the urban vibe we so often miss,” he says. The location of Rottet’s offices has also been a huge business boon. Gibson notes the company has received many new contacts from people simply walking in, something he says wouldn’t happen in a high-rise. That, in turn, has allowed Rottet to handle a series of varied projects, from law firm offices to private residences, to hospitality clients. Following her graduation from the University of Texas at Austin’s architecture program, Rottet built her business over the last 25 years, working as an architect and designer around the country, with firms in San Francisco and Chicago. During her ten-
ure at Skidmore, Owens & Merrill in Chicago, the native Houstonian came back to Texas, where she not only oversaw the design process on high-rises, museums and project planning, but also took on the interior designs of corporate buildings. She launched a new interiors practice for SOM in Los Angeles, which then merged with Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Menderhall, where she was the principal-in-charge of the interiors practice called DMJM Rottet. In 2008, she built Rottet Studio and knew that its location had to be Houston. “Not only is the city incredibly supportive both of entrepreneurs and the arts, it is also an up-and-coming center in the design world,” said Rottet. “Many people don’t realize it, but Houston has spawned some of the most thoughtful, original thinking in interior design anywhere in the world.” “Houston is very much the center of our practice,” emphasizes Mayfield. “Despite a portfolio of projects around the world, some of our most celebrated projects are in Houston, including a global management consulting firm, BMC Software Headquarters campus and Royal Bank of Scotland’s offices.” Rottet Studio’s connection to Houston is evident by the excitement its designers and team members feel being here in the center of the Bayou City.
address: 808 Travis Street employees: 20 staffers and 50 firm-wide in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Scottsdale principals: Lauren Rottet (founder), Kelie Mayfield (principal of Houston and Scottsdale), Richard Riveire (heads West Coast and Asia), David Davis (heads East Coast and Hospitality) business: International architecture and design firm web site: www.rottetstudio.com
this SPRING by heather pray
Experience warmth, love, pleasure, laughter, joy and fear.
he chilly weather is just a memory and spring is in the air, especially in the Houston Theater District, where audiences can experience the warmth, joy and pleasure of some amazing live performances. Some may shake off the last of your winter blues. Alley Theatre concocts some hearty laughs when they mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel and add a dash of Monty Python. It’s Broadway’s longest-running comedy –Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, March 5-28. Expect 150 zany characters (played by a very talented cast of four), an on-stage plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers and some good, old-fashioned romance wrapped up in 1930s Britain. Next up, meet Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey. This Pulitzer Prize-winning
play originally written in 1944 comes to the stage April 9 through May 16. Elwood lives a quiet life with his social-climbing sister, her daughter … and his loyal and trustworthy friend, Harvey, who also happens to be a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit. Elwood and Harvey are a prescription for pandemonium when Elwood’s family tries to have him (or them) committed. Alley Theatre closes out their season (don’t forget about Summer Chills) with the world premiere of Intelligence-Slave, by Yale School of Drama grad Kenneth Lin. Lin’s new play tells the story of Curt Herzstark, a concentration camp prisoner who was kept alive by the Nazis because he was rumored to have invented the world’s first handheld, four-function calculator. Caught between the thrill of a technological discovery and the fear of rendering his
arts & culture
Houston Theater District flourishes with feeling
own life obsolete if he doesn’t produce a working device as a present for Hitler, Curt’s survival plan takes a turn when he meets a wunderkind member of the Hitler Youth with a soul that might be salvageable. This gripping, intriguing drama comes to the stage for the first time, May 21 through June 20. Speaking of world premieres, you have a few more days to catch the world premiere of Stanton Welch’s La Bayadère with Houston Ballet through March 7. English designer Peter Farmer combines traditional Indian costumes and dreamlike sets for a storybook experience. Watch for 24 female dancers in white tutus executing 38 synchronized arabesques in the famous Kingdom of Shades section. Jerome Robbins’ first ballet, Fancy Free marked the emergence of so many new American talents. Robbins created the choreography while on a coast-to-coast tour, working closely through correspondence with a young, unknown composer in New York, by the name of Leonard Bernstein. This classic joins George Balanchine’s Apollo (his oldest surviving ballet) and Christopher Bruce’s comic and moving Hush (set to YoYo Ma and Bobby McFerrin) as some of the seminal pieces of 20th century American ballet in American at Heart, March 11 through March 21. See Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy students, before they’re extremely famous, as they cap their studies with two performances tailor-made to show them at their best with the Academy Spring Showcase on April 16 and 17. For Pecos (May 27-June 6) catch Balanchine’s Ballo della Regina, a virtuoso set of variations, comparable to the bel canto style of opera and set to ballet music cut from the original production of Verdi’s Don Carlos. Stanton Welch’s vibrantly theatrical Pecos Bill is revived with its specially commissioned score by Matthew Pierce and tells of the romance between legendary Texas hero Pecos Bill and the gutsy tomboy Sluefoot Sue. And modern dance legend Mark Morris’ Sandpaper Ballet rounds out Pecos with his hallmark wit, humor and dazzlingly inventive movement as well as whimsical green and white costumes by Isaac Mizrahi. The season takes a bow and curtsy when folk dance and classical ballet
FAR left | George Balanchine’s Apollo, pictured: Connor Walsh. RIGHT | Esperanza Spalding visits with Da Camera. BOTTOM | Houston Grand Opera presents Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades April 16, 18, 24, 28 and May 1.
top: Johann Sauty; bottom: Johan Jacobs courtesy of La Monnaie
celebrate love and life in La Fille Mal Gardée (or The Wayward Daughter), June 10- June 20. On March 20, Brandon Lee and His Quintet return to his native Houston via Da Camera. The talented trumpeter and graduate of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts makes his Da Camera debut on the heels of the release of his debut album, From Within. Splitting his time between his performances there and touring, Lee is also the youngest faculty member in the jazz studies program at The Juilliard School. And to quote Wynton Marsalis, Lee is “one of the baddest *#$*% on trumpet out here.” Acclaimed worldwide as one of the leading cellists of our time, Steven Isserlis makes his Houston recital debut in Da Camera’s The Romantic Cello, a dramatic program evoking 100 years of romantic music on March 26.
A visual treat featuring imaginative puppets, mixed-period costumes and a Tchaikovsky tale
Isserlis plays most of his concerts on the De Munck Stradivarius of 1730. We transport back to Da Camera’s jazz series with the Da Camera debut of 24-year-old bass player and vocalist Esperanza Spalding on Saturday, April 24 at the Wortham. A musical prodigy, Spalding is also the youngest professor at Berklee College of Music. 8
On May 1, the Twilight of Romanticism marks the close of a very musical season for Da Camera. They will be bringing back the brilliant Orion String Quartet with an evening of works on the cusp between romantic and modern by Wagner, Schoenberg and Brahms.
A visual treat featuring imaginative puppets, mixedperiod costumes and a Tchaikovsky tale comes forth with Houston Grand Opera’s The Queen of Spades, April 16 through May 1. Carlo Rizzi, formerly music director of the Welsh National Opera, conducts Richard Jones’ unforgettable award-winning haunting tale of obsession, featuring Russian tenor Vladimir Galouzine (considered one of the world’s leading tenors) and Russian soprano Tatiana Monogarova (noted as one to watch). One of Handel’s most popular operas, Xerxes, features a star-studded cast of the world’s most accomplished Handelians and is a feast for the eyes and ears April 30 through May
Yes, this is symphony!
2. Set in an English pleasure garden, this classic 18th-century production is a mad entanglement of love stories with the tyrannical and flamboyant Xerxes on a quest for Romilda,
whom is also beloved by his own brother. This elaborate lovers’ chase is a perfect and exciting ending for Houston Grand Opera’s fantastic season of 31 performances of six operas. The Houston Symphony goes pop(!) with Michael Krajewski as the yearlong celebration of his 10th season with the organization winds down. The Gershwin Songbook with John Pizzarelli (April 1-3) pairs one of the greatest American songwriters with the cool jazz of a guitarist, bandleader and vocalist. Krajewski pairs his warmth and wit with exhilarating entertainment when Cirque du Symphony revisits May 28-30 along with five new acrobatic performers. Hear Hans Graf, an exquisite Mozart interpreter and a former music director of the Mozarteum Orchester in Salzburg, guide the symphony in the composer’s possibly most profound statement, Mozart’s Requiem, March 5-7, and Mozart’s last, crowning symphony in
Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony on May 13, 15 and 16. Christoph Eschenbach and Lang Lang, two incandescent musicians, appear April 14. Hannu Lintu conducts Sibelius 2 and electrifies Houston audiences with poetic soundscapes, relentless drumbeats and volcanic climaxes, March 18, 20 and 21. On April 8, 10 and 11 hear the theme of
what Shostakovich wrote as “the making of a man,” in his Fifth Symphony. When it premiered in 1937, it received an ovation of at least 40 minutes, according to Russian cellist and conductor, Mstislav Rostropovich. Earthy folk songs, hornpipes and country dances charm your ear and mind with Handel’s Water Music (May 7, 8 and 9) and the Rite of Spring and “Rach 3” will plunge you into an exciting musical experience with pulsing, ritualistic repetition, May 21-23. Society for the Performing Arts continues to expose Houston audiences to some of the world’s best musicians and dancers. Brilliant Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton has burst on the scene with “works that are quirky, deep, cheeky, and poignant,” says The Globe. She comes to Houston on Friday, April 23 with her own company of consummate, dazzling dancers. Her latest work, Busk, is set to Russian
left | Cirque du Symphony marries symphonic music to artistry, balance and strength with Houston Symphony on May 28, 29 and 30. right | Christoph Eschenbach returns after eight years to Houston Symphony with Lang Lang on March 14.
composer Ljova’s gypsy-inspired score, and Blue Soup is a collage of highlights from recent works. What better way to experience Brazilian culture than from its former minister of culture himself? Gilberto Gil brings his unique sound, which incorporates an eclectic range of influences from reggae, samba and forró to rock and African music, on Friday, March 26. The Tropicalist genre he introduced, alongside Caetano Veloso, has secured his fame internationally as well as at home in Brazil. Arriving direct from South Africa, the 26-member Soweto Gospel Choir is an awe-inspiring vocal ensemble, performing in six different languages, in a stunning program of tribal, traditional and popular African gospel music as well as other inspiring songs. These earthy rhythms and rich harmonies arrive in Houston on Friday, April 9. From Broadway to Hollywood: Marvin Hamlisch & Joel Grey in Concert brings you back home with some glitz and glam on Saturday, March 27. Interpreti Veneziani made their world debut in 1987 and bring nine members full of youthful exuberance and allItalian brio to town to sprinkle their Venetian magic on Sunday, April 11. Their Houston debut includes Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Handel’s Concerto Grosso, and more. To close out an amazing season, SPA brings David Sedaris back by popular demand on Wednesday, April 28. One of America’s pre-eminent humor writers, Sedaris always sells out! Theatre Under The Stars’ season continues to bring our favorites to the stage. Up next is Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific, March 9-21. Based on James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific and hailed by the New York Post as “simply
Eschenbach and Lang Lang, two incandescent musicians
& QA with
Taking a break from the director’s chair with Alley Theatre’s by andrew huang Gregory Boyd
When you are not at the Alley, what do you do for fun in Houston? Favorite places to eat? I live near Memorial Park, so I’m often there, and I love the refulgence of downtown that’s happened since I’ve been in Houston. It’s an exciting place to be. I love many restaurants in Houston, but Textile and T’Afia and Indika are special places. I’m also eagerly waiting for Brennan’s to reopen.
Having lived in Houston for 20 years now, what do you see as the city’s strengths and weaknesses? I love Houston. I still love my native San Francisco, but Houston is home now in so many ways, not least of which is in my love of the fantastic audience we have. I do plays all over the country, and I always enjoy seeing new audiences in new places. The Houston audience has the others beat. They are engaged and adventurous and diverse in all sorts of ways – very vital – like the city itself.
Those who know you, know that you’re a huge music fan. What’s on your iPod right now? Gregory Boyd became the artistic director of the Alley Theatre in 1989 and during his tenure, the Alley has risen in national and international prominence, winning the Special Tony Award and experiencing record growth with Houston audiences. Boyd’s addition of artistic associates such as Edward Albee, Robert Wilson, Frank Wildhorn and Vanessa and Corin Redgrave has enhanced the Alley’s visibility and reputation worldwide; while his commitment to maintaining a resident company of actors has made the Alley unique among American theater companies. Downtown took a quick moment to sit down with him before the world premiere of Wonderland in January.
You just celebrated your 20th year as artistic director of the Alley Theatre. Looking back, is there one project or moment that stands out as a pinnacle of your time in Houston? The most thrilling moments in the theater for me have been the development of new pieces – the premieres of Tennessee Williams’ Not About Nightingales, Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries this season, Jekyll & Hyde and this year’s Wonderland are among the highlights. The work of the resident actors has been a constant inspiration, as has the work of guest artists Trevor Nunn, Vanessa Redgrave, Edward Albee. All of these are high points for me. 10
Nellie McKay, Wilco, Mountain Goats, The New Mos Def, Dirty Projectors, Lily Allen, and the greatest release of 2009, the Beatles Mono, mixes re-mastered.
wonderful! Beguiling theatrical magic” this lavish Lincoln Center Theater production features a cast of 34 and a full orchestra of 26 members – the largest orchestra of any touring Broadway production. If Tuesday, March 9 isn’t soon enough to take you to this tropical island, you can catch the original 35 mm version on the silver screen at the Angelika Film Center on Wednesday, March 3 – just in time to prepare you to sing along to songs like Some Enchanted Evening, I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair, and many others. We go from a small island during WWII to the open-spaced majesty of the 19th-century West with Little House on the Prairie, April 28-May 9. Join the family adventure made famous by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s popular book series. Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura for 10 years in the much-loved television series, continues her legacy by starring as Ma. On Wednesday, April 28, introduce the next generation to musical theater with Kids’ Night on Broadway. Any adult who purchases a full-price ticket can bring a child under 18 for free. Speaking of musical theater’s next generation – high schoolers, fans, families and more congregate on Saturday, April 10 for the annual Tommy Tune Awards recognizing
excellence in a variety of categories. These 45 high schools are the ones to watch. The evening features excerpts from the honored high schools’ productions, as well as distinguished artists and producers to present them. Straight from the enchanting theaters of Broadway to Houston, Gexa Broadway Across America brings more spectacular entertainment downtown. In The Heights takes place in the vibrant community of Manhattan’s Washington Heights and explores three days in this DominicanAmerican neighborhood to the tune of hip-hop, salsa, meringue and soul music, April 6- 8. It’s alive! Mad genius Mel Brooks brings his classic film to the stage with Young Frankenstein May 25-June 6. This parody of the horror film genre features a dancing, singing laboratory experiment in the largest tuxedo you have ever seen. Roger Bart (Frankenstein, that’s “Fronkensteen”) and Shuler Hensley (The Monster) reprise their original Broadway roles. Nothing is scarier than a visit from the Wicked Witch of the West when Wicked returns to Houston June 30-July 25. Long before that girl from Kansas arrived in Munchkinland, two girls met in the land of Oz. One, born with emerald green skin, was smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other was beautiful, ambitious and very popular. How these two grew to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch makes for “the most completely satisfying new musical in a long time” (USA Today). For more information on these performances and what is happening in the Houston Theater District, visit houstontheaterdistrict.org.
top: Paul Kolnik; middle: Liz Laser; bottom: carol Rosegg
TOP | Young Frankenstein original Broadway cast. MIDDLE | Aszure Barton and Company dance their way onto Wortham’s Cullen Theater stage with SPA on Friday, April 23. BOTTOM | Melissa Gilbert stars as Ma in Theatre Under the Stars’ Little House on the Prairie.
The Downtown District wanted an independent thirdparty analysis of urban characteristics and city policies and their impact on the Commercial Business District. Gibbs Planning Group was hired to identify the challenges and opportunities for increasing Downtown’s commerce – without compromising quality of life.
By Bill Hensel
ince opening his funky retro collectible sneaker store at the corner of Polk and Main Streets more than two years ago, businessman Thomas Nauls has seen some positive changes come to downtown Houston, and he hopes they continue. For one thing, traffic at The Tipping Point, his small retail outlet where artwork by local artists adorns the walls, has included not just customers from throughout Houston, but also a significant amount of convention and tourist traffic. He admits he wasn’t really expecting the latter. “People love having these old (nostalgic) shoes,” he notes of the style of shoes he gets from major manufacturers like Nike and others. “They can’t get them in the malls and that’s why they come here.” Nauls’ store, which is along the light rail line downtown, has the
distinct urban feel that he wanted. But traffic was light on one recent weekday, and he mused that hopefully, downtown will continue to attract more shoppers. “I think downtown is starting to get a reputation for shopping,” he says. Downtown Houston had a significant reputation for shopping many years ago when people came from all parts of the city to shop at stores like Foley’s – now Macy’s – and others that have shuttered, but that was before the growth of Houston outward and the advent of suburban malls. And while the number of retail outlets in downtown Houston has increased in recent years as more residential developments have opened in or near downtown, the area could support considerably more retail, restaurants, department stores and even warehouse clubs, a new study concludes.
To reach that end, however, changes are needed in local policies governing parking, lighting, signage and building design standards, the report by independent consultant Gibbs Planning Group determined. Additionally, changes in business recruitment initiatives and the city’s panhandling ordinances are needed to make downtown a more competitive and lively shopping district like it was years ago, the study finds. Such changes are needed because commerce in the Central Business District is being suppressed, Gibbs found. That’s due in part to a lack of consumer appeal, including the view that shopping downtown is not as accessible as some other areas. “Downtown Houston has the necessary elements to support a wide spectrum of retail categories,” Bob Gibbs wrote in a summary presented to the Downtown
District, which commissioned the study. Those elements include 140,000 workers employed in the district alone, 31.4 million tourists annually from conventions and local attractions, a vibrant cultural district, and a dense population base. “We are finding there is a strong and really underserved retail market in downtown,” Gibbs says. “You do have to capture it, but it is still underserved and a significant opportunity.” As part of the study, the Gibbs firm walked the district, talking to patrons and visiting businesses multiple times, at different times of the day. Interviews also were conducted with business owners, taxi drivers, property owners, developers and others. Discussions were held with local, state and national shopping center developers and retailers about the performance of their Houston businesses, including future Houston plans. Some of the problems the study cites are directly tied to current policies. For example, the parking meters don’t extend past 6 p.m., so the waitstaff at restaurants downtown tend to snap up all those spots at that time, Gibbs says. That means there aren’t any convenient spaces for paying customers, so they either go somewhere else or don’t come at all. Among the key recommendations of the study are the implementation of consumer-friendly parking policies , including modifying on-street parking hours, a simpler parking fee plan for public garages including first hour free and a coordinated marketing and signage campaign for downtown parking. Other problems, such as lighting, that were highlighted are fairly easy fixes that can be addressed in the short term by using twinkling lights along certain corridors, Gibbs says. But the firm specifically said lighting should be improved across the Central Business District, with special emphasis along Main, Dallas and Texas Streets and around Market Square. Other recommendations – concentrate policy, design and physical enhancements along one or two selected shopping zones to get the quickest effect; put policies in place to reduce the aggressive panhandling along primary
Some of the existing big retailers downtown, like Macy’s, report that they already are seeing an increase in customers, including new ones.
commercial areas like Main, Dallas, Prairie and Texas; employ a qualified commercial broker team to recruit tenants; launch a marketing effort to encourage employees downtown to do more shopping; implement building design standards that require street level commercial frontage; and seek temporary pop-up stores in key locations or vacant storefronts. Some of the existing big retailers downtown, like Macy’s, report that they already are seeing an increase in customers, including new ones. General Manager Brendan Halford notes that while the store has been anchored downtown since 1947 when it didn’t have much competition, now there are plenty of options. He says there were some tough years when downtown went through a slump, it has emerged to become a thriving business district. Notably, Macy’s has seen an increase in “urban living” customers the past year and a half, he says, with an increased trend toward furniture and home furnishings. “We now offer a selection of loft-friendly furniture that is working for us,” Halford says.
ut Houston’s downtown district is so large that the potential for adding even more business is huge if changes are made to make it more appealing to potential businesses and customers, the Gibbs study found. Downtown has the potential to absorb 401,000 square feet of additional retail and restaurant space and 332,600 square feet of new department stores and warehouse clubs this year, the study concludes. That could produce up to $119 million in increased annual sales for 2010, with the estimate jumping to $230 million by 2014. “This new revenue could be spread across existing businesses and the development of
75 to 100 new apparel stores, two to three department stories, pharmacies, electronics stores, shoes stores and sporting goods stores,” Gibbs said. There are some big issues to overcome. Bob Eury, director of the Downtown District, said one of the biggest issues has been that so much retail is underground in the tunnel system, or tucked away above ground. He said one thing that still needs to be done more is to bring retail back to the street level. But that’s already happened on a big scale with the opening of Houston Pavilions, a four-city-block, mixed-use development bounded by Dallas, Polk, Main and Caroline Streets. The center sports 360,000 square feet of retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space and a 480,000square-foot parking garage. Major anchors include the House of Blues, Lucky Strike Lanes, Books-A-Million and XXI Forever with others such as BCBGMAXAZRIA, Guadalajara del Centro, Clique Salon in the center. Yao Restaurant and Bar and III Forks steak house are the latest restaurants to open. “Bringing retailing back to the street level has been a long time coming,” Eury said. But timing-wise it proved to be a difficult struggle with the development of the Pavilions, owner and developer Bill Denton acknowledges. That’s because a hurricane coincided with the grand opening, followed by the nation’s worst economic recession since the Great Depression. “Still to this day, we are opening tenants that should have been opened in October of 2008,” Denton said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this in my 30 years in retail.” Additionally, the developers were well aware in the fall of 2007 that the apparel industry was going through a difficult period, virtually shutting down any expansion that might have been planned. So attracting retail to downtown Houston has been difficult, though
Denton said some recent meetings with key industry players in New York City are most encouraging. “I think you will see a number of tenants coming to the Pavilions this year,” he said. “We may have a grand reopening in September” with new apparel tenants on hand. The developer, who in the early 1980s developed Deerbrook and Willowbrook Malls and expanded Baybrook Mall, lauded the city and county for helping with development downtown, citing the placement of sports stadiums and the light rail system. And despite the recession, he notes Houston wasn’t hit as hard as some other parts of the
There are a lot of people who live down here and walk to work, but when they want to get something to eat they have to get in their car for that. We are trying to keep people out of their cars.”
country. “Houston is on a terrific track,” he says. “The irony is if you had told me 10 years ago we would have invested $170 million in downtown, I would have said you are nuts.”
ouston Pavilions was the beneficiary of a grant program that the Downtown District has in place to support new retailers coming into downtown. The grant monies for the major mixed-use project went toward ensuring retail was anchoring the project on Main Street. Other grant monies were used to help some smaller projects, including Nauls’ business and Byrd's Market & Cafe, which opened in December at Main and Prairie. The grant program may change as a result of the report, with a focus on façade and storefront grants for new and existing businesses. Additionally, grants will be used to support building conversion and
the recruitment of national tenants. Byrd’s owner Rusty Powers is sure downtown Houston’s best days are ahead, noting that he opened the unique gourmet grocery store and restaurant to fill what he saw as a void. “If you live in downtown, you want to have that urban lifestyle and don’t want to have to get in the car,” Powers said. “There are a lot of people who live down here and walk to work, but when they want to get something to eat they have to get in their car for that. We are trying to keep people out of their cars.” The 20-year restaurant veteran, who formerly owned the Franklin Street Café downtown, said while he brought the European feel of that café to Byrd's, he also is doing some things differently this time. For example, he’s got the retail component, which allows him to do things like sell a bottle of wine for what it cost for a glass of wine elsewhere – and the customer can take the rest of the bottle with them when they leave. The restaurant features breakfast, lunch and dinner, with some standard fare and some not-so- standard. Customers can get eggs Benedict, for example, or can opt for something like chilaquiles, corn chips simmered in red or green salsa topped with two eggs or shredded chicken with onions and sour cream. Customers also can get hamburgers or choose another type of sandwich, including meatloaf. For entrée’s, no selection is more than $15, and the choices range from chicken with penne to grilled salmon. All are made under the watchful eye of Chef Marlies Westerval. “It is very approachable food, nonpretentious and affordable,” Powers says. “We want to provide somebody a chef-driven meal at a good price. I am real proud of our menu.” In the grocery, Byrd’s stocks staples that include peanut butter and almond butter, fruit, broth, cannelloni beans, cleaning supplies, dog food and cat litter. Powers says he is letting the customers help him decide what to stock. “The last three orders put on shelves have been all requests,” he said during a recent interview. The businessman also firmly believes that an infrastructure finally has been established downtown that will better support businesses. “What is happening is sustainable,” he says. “We have turned the corner.”
Downtown HOME TOUR
EXPERIENCE DOWNTOWN LIVING ON A TOUR OF PRIVATE RESIDENCES Properties include: Commerce Towers, Four Seasons Residences, Hogg Palace, One Park Place, Post Rice Lofts and more!
SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 2010 12 NOON TO 5 PM
DOWNTOWN HOME TOUR HEADQUARTERS Post Rice Lofts, 909 Texas Avenue TICKETS:
$15 HDA members $20 non-members Purchase at downtownhouston.org or 713.658.8938. Tickets will also be available at Tour Headquarters on day of event. Event benefits the Houston Downtown Improvement a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and participating in a vital and vibrant downtown Houston and Houston Theater District.
Daring to LiVE
Downtown Plenty of people are choosing a life downtown and their reasons are as varied as their personalities
decade ago the concept of living in downtown Houston was exactly that to many observers, a concept, rather than a viable option. Skeptics scoffed, rattling off reasons to dismiss downtown living. Moans about crime and parking were followed by gripes about green space and grocery shopping. Fast forward to 2010. Developers have spent more than $4 billion in the last decade to transform downtown into a vital city center, bringing a vast spectrum of assets and amenities to downtown. Just ask Terry Stanfield, downtown real estate agent extraordinaire. “Sales were brisk for 2009. We saw a lot of interest in living downtown,” says Stanfield, who estimates he sold 60 units downtown for the year, with nearly half of those serving as second homes to locals who prefer to maintain a bigger place in the country or suburbs. Stanfield is a complete convert himself, moving to downtown from the Galleria area eight years ago. “I love that everything is downtown – my office, fitness center, restaurants, entertainment,
By Sandra Cook
i l l u s t r at i o n M i k e G u i l l o r y
you name it,” says Stanfield. “I put very few miles on my car for a Realtor. I love to walk clients around to the various properties to show them just how livable the area is.” The enthusiastic downtown resident admits he spends more time educating clients about the downtown lifestyle than he does showing lofts and apartments.
residential demand on the rise
Discovery Green, opened last spring. This 37-story, 346-unit, luxury high-rise apartment tower is the first residential high-rise apartment building built downtown in more than 40 years. With space for a gourmet grocer and restaurant at street level, One Park Place offers renters over-the-top amenities. If the eighth-floor pool terrace doesn’t knock your socks off (seriously, you may want to treat your toes to a splash), than
Terry Stanfield and colleague Kelly Pachar, both with Heritage Texas Properties, run downtown’s It’s not safe. only real estate office specializing in the residential market. As the The Houston Police Department is loca ted in downtown area’s residential options and Houston, so new residents are often pleasantly surprised neighborhood amenities continue by the police presence. HPD has a Lock -it, Hide-it or Lose-it to increase, Stanfield and Pachar campaign in place to bring attention to vehicular breakare optimistic that the demand for ins, but overall violent crime downtown downtown domiciles will continue is much lower than othe r Houston neighborhoods. to climb. Downtown Houston is considered to be among the fastest growing urban residential areas in the the on-site storage facility for your extra country – that’s one reason Marvy Finger, stuff, parking garage and separate bicycle esteemed developer and president of garage, quarter-mile walking track, valet the Houston-based Finger Companies, and concierge services certainly will. is optimistic as well. One Park Place, “For the exterior, I wanted to make it his marquee residential tower facing a masonry building and chose to add the
Propaganda Buster #1
crown on the roof,” says Finger. “It was a big investment, but I had looked at older style buildings that had stood the test of time in Chicago and New York and wanted that feel. The resulting design is a blend of the residential buildings that face Central Park in New York. Of the 34 high rise projects I have developed, this one truly stands out.”
Beyond relocating, it’s rejuvenating
“Lots of people are moving out of the suburbs to downtown Houston,” says Monica Duarte, property manager for Post Rice Lofts. “We have a great location with the rail line right
there and easy walks to Minute Maid Park and the Theater District.” The historic Rice Lofts opened in 1998 as the first loft conversion of a historic building. The former hotel now boasts 40 different
commute is a tremendous time savings.” Duarte reports that a good number of current residents moved into the building when it opened in 1998, and turnover is fairly low. “When people do move out, it’s usually to a home they’ve purchased inside the loop,” says Duarte, who raves about the ease of living downtown. “It’s definitely not a hassle. You can get your groceries via the rail or by car; Randall’s is just one mile away.” “Most residents just park their car in the garage and walk almost everywhere, so they almost never deal with traffic,” says Duarte. “When you move here you discover that everything is here and you never have to find or pay for parking. If you don’t want to walk, you can always take a cab for $6 within downtown. “There’s the perception that it’s just young people living downtown,” says Terry Stanfield. “But I know couples with young children, retired couples, empty nesters who have shed the responsibilities of a big house with a yard – the demographics are really across the board.”
“Young children, retired couples, empty nesters who have shed the responsibilities of a big house with a yard – the demographics are really across the board.”
Propaganda Buster #2 Downtown traffic is a pain.
With the traffic lights’ timing optimized, you can ride the green wave when you drive the speed limit. (Thanks, Mayor White.] There’s also a dozen ways to get in and out of downtown. And remember, if you live in downtown you don't have to worry about the rush hour traffic.
floor plans ranging from 500-square-foot studios to three-bedrooms upwards of 2000 square feet. “New residents are often amazed at the convenience of living in a metropolitan hub,” she says. “You have access to every major freeway and it's equal distance to both airports. If you work downtown, then eliminating your
Welcome to the neighborhood Market Square Park Located in the heart of the Historic District, this square is undergoing a major redesign. When it opens this summer there will be plenty of pretty outdoor green space, a dog run, a small restaurant, a plaza area with chairs and tables, free Wi-Fi and more. Late summer 2010 Byrd’s Market & Café This long-awaited gourmet grocery at 420 Main at Prairie serves as both a casual restaurant and gourmet market. Whether you’re hungering for a satisfying breakfast or just need a roll of paper towels, Byrd’s can save the day. December 2009
Saint Arnold Brewing Company Houston’s own craft brewery, has moved to their new home on the northern edge of downtown at 2000 Lyons in a former HISD warehouse. With their weekday and Saturday tours and tastings, Saint Arnold’s is introducing downtowners to the art of brewing beer. October 2009
One Park Place Downtown’s first residential high-rise in more than 40 years is complete. New residents will enjoy luxury amenities that range from valet and concierge services to a spectacular pool. March 2009
Houston Pavilions This mixed-use development has brought the House of Blues, McCormick & Schmick’s, Books-A-Million, Clique Salon, Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge and much more to downtown’s retail scene since their opening little more than a year ago. October 2008
features nearly 12 acres of engaging green space, two restaurants, a children’s play area and year-round free concerts, movies, exercise classes, events and happenings. March 2008
Central Library One of downtown’s biggest treasures, the downtown branch of the Houston Public Library system reopened almost two years ago with dramatically updated facilities and programs for all ages. May 2008
Beaconsfield Condos, 1700 Main
Discovery Green Known as “downtown’s backyard,” Discovery Green
Franklin Lofts, 201 Main Hermann Lofts, 204 Travis Hogg Palace, 401 Louisiana Houston House Apartments, 1617 Fannin Humble Tower Apartments, 1212 Main Keystone Lofts, 1120 Texas
Kirby Lofts, 917 Main
Bayou Lofts, 915 Franklin
Lofts at the Ballpark, 609 St. Emanuel
Byrd’s Lofts, 919 Prairie
One Park Place, 1400 McKinney
Capitol Lofts, 711 Main
Plaza & Peacock Apartments, 1414 & 1416 Austin
Club Quarters, 720 Fannin
Post Rice Lofts, 909 Texas
Commerce Towers, 914 Main
Sabine Street Lofts, 106 Sabine
Dakota Lofts, 711 William
San Jacinto Lofts, 915 N. San Jacinto
Eller Wagon Works, 101 Four Seasons Private Residences, 1300 Lamar
St. Germain Lofts & Condos, 705 Main
Monthly rents and mortgage payments don’t have to be high dollar. Yes, you can pay a lot, but you don’t have to. Renters can find desirable loft apartments at noted historic conversions such as the Post Rice Lofts and Hogg Palace. Monthly rates at the Post Rice Lofts span from studios (about 500 square feet), starting at $820, to two-bedrooms, which range in size from 1200 to 2000 square feet and rent for $1,560 to $2,065. Hogg Palace rates start at
Monthly rents and mortgage payments don’t have to be high dollar. Yes, you can pay a lot, but you don’t have to. Renters can find desirable loft apartments at noted historic conversions such as the Post Rice Lofts and Hogg palace. $1,000 for a 680-square-foot loft to a twobedroom, two-bath for $2,000. Of course, One Park Place offers crème de la crème accommodations in the rental market. There, one-bedrooms start at about 800 square feet for $2,300, while the
Propaganda Buster #4 Groceries aren’t convenient. Randall’s and Spec’s are less than half a mile from Beaconsfield Condos (one of the closest residences), and 1.5 miles from Bayou Lofts (one of the farthest). How many miles to do you drive to the grocery store now? The average American drives more than two miles. Byrd’s Market & Café, Prairie at Main, just opened this past December and carries a small offering of grocery essentials. Handy when you need a gallon of milk, coffee or even dog food.
grandest two- bedroom + study comes in at 3200 square feet for $12,000/month. Those interested in buying would likely pay a bit more, but not much. Future downtowners can still find a few onebedroom units for less than $100,000, with the majority priced between $150,000 and $250,000. To finance $150,000 for 30 years with an interest rate of 6.5 percent yields payments of $948/month. Those looking for two-bedroom units will find the market starts at about $120,000, with the majority priced between $169,000 and $300,000. To finance $250,000 for 30 years with an interest rate of 6.5 percent yields payments of $1,580/month. Although if your budget is more Texas-sized you can find larger and
Propaganda Buster #3
There aren’t any amenities.
Where else in Houston can you conv eniently and easily walk from your home to a movie thea ter, bookstore, convenience store, restaurant, worl d-class entertainment, ballgame and much, much more. And with the addition of the amazing Discovery Green, you’ ve got free exercise classes, movies in the park, concerts and tons of other free events going on almost every day of the week.
more lavish units priced around $500,000 to more than $1 million.
Raves of residents
Downtowners since June 2009, Robert Rodriguez and Jim Monteil already owned a home in Baytown when they found the Kirby Lofts apartment they thought would allow them a town-and-country existence, seeking to cut down the frequency of their 45-minute commutes to downtown jobs. The pair discovered that they soon preferred their downtown apartment, which is located just blocks from work and everything else. “Now we hardly ever go to the house in Baytown,” Jim admits. “I work from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and actually have an evening. It has revolutionized my life. I’m so much more energized, not spent at the end of the workday, because I don’t have to endure that commute. Now I either work out at the gym in our building or hop on the train to go to my other gym.” These days, Robert and Jim live and work downtown, so their commutes are typically on-foot through the tunnel system. They find that they usually drive one of their cars about once a week. houstondowntown.com
“It’s really allowed us to de-stress, because we don’t have to deal with traffic, says Jim. The guys take advantage of the free fitness activities at Discovery Green, such as the yoga and Zumba classes. “You really feel connected to your city when you are doing Zumba with 50 people in the park,” Jim says with huge grin. “I’ve really learned to appreciate the amount of character that downtown has,” says Robert. “It’s a good mix of people. There’s so much diversity – you can really meet every kind of person.”
residents that I pass on the street.
“We’ve gained back about Downtown is home to a diverse mix of people and, to me, offers a rich human experience.” 10 hours a week just “I’m an Astros junkie and like to ride my bike along the from the commutes,” says bayou,” says Tony, who enjoys many of 15 parks and Leslie. “Now that we live plazas anddowntown’s is thrilled about the downtown, we have time to renovation of Market Square Park. yet amplify go to festivals and spend Simplify, John and Toni Bowen have downtown homeowners time at Discovery Green...” been for three years, but maintain a
Propaganda Buste. r #5 No place to walk my dog
backyard While you don’t have the traditional of green bit a quite for the dog, downtown has social side, the On h. space for you and your pooc Rover to run for runs dogDiscovery Green has two Historic the in Park re and play and Market Squa when run dogcool District will also have a very s are a park dog ed gnat it reopens in August. Desi but dogs r othe with le great place to mix and ming s. hbor neig your know to also a social outlet to get
Get to know your neighbors
& Wine Bar. Keith moved downtown with his wife in 2007. The sense of community is a big plus for the Cranes, who lived in the Briar Forest area for years. The couple enjoys going to the Alley, Houston Grand Opera and Houston Symphony frequently. Keith says he also relishes being able to catch the train to all sorts of destinations. “Downtown Houston offers a very affordable urban lifestyle compared to other major cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco – even Dallas,” Keith explains. “Houston is unbelievably affordable.” Another Diego’s Coffee drinker is Tony Hooks. Tony’s first job out of college was downtown, after which he transferred to work in Europe for a few years. When he returned to Houston he knew he wanted to live downtown because it was a walkable neighborhood. “I grew up on my family’s farm near
Leigh and Jerry Van Horn are native Houstonians who have lived downtown more than a year. “Downtown was always the place we wanted to come to have fun,” says Leigh, who Parking is a hassle. teaches at University of HoustonDowntown. “For years we lived in Yes, parking can be made easier and more Clear Lake, because Jerry works at convenient in downtown (we’re work ing on it, NASA. On our 30th anniversary he promise) but it’s not as onerous as you think. Onsaid it was time we moved close to street parking is free Monday throu gh Saturday where I worked.” after 6 p.m. and all day Sunday. You may not find a “It’s not a bad reverse spot right in front of your destination, but if you’re commute,” says Jerry, who now willing to walk a few blocks you are sure to find a drives from downtown to NASA space. There are also some convenie nt parking each morning. “The move has been garages and lots that won’t break the bank – such very energizing for our lives.” as Market Square Garage which char ges a flat rate “We lived in the suburbs for of $5 in the evenings. And when’s the last time 29 years, but never know our you tried parking in New York or Bost on? neighbors like we do here,” says Leigh. “We go to Don Deigo’s for coffee almost every morning. the Houston area in a town of about It’s like a breakfast club or a family 5,000 people,” says Tony. “The closeof regulars. knit community of downtown residents “It’s very much a local neighborhood is much like the small town I grew up in. that’s very connected,” says Keith Crane, I know many of the business people and one of those regulars at Don Deigo’s Coffee
Propaganda Buster #6
second home in the Woodlands. “We spend about two to three days a week at the downtown place,” says John, who works at University of Houston and enjoys being closer to work. “I like having less house to keep clean,” glows Toni. “I can take a bus to join John for the evening. It’s great for going to games and the theater. We love to try new restaurants, experience the social atmosphere and be near the action. Now we have alternative to that long drive.” The Bowens feel that people are friendlier and more social downtown than in the suburbs. “We find the lifestyle easier, simpler with more time for fun, says Toni. “It’s just more relaxing – there are no chores to think about when I look outside or sit on the balcony.”
ean Jump and Leslie Herbst have lived in the Bayou Lofts for 1½ years after owning a home in Atascocita. “It’s so enchanting to live in the historic district,” says Leslie. “We are very close to Market Square, where early Houstonians used to trade with the Native Americans. We are learning so much history about this great city compared to when we lived in the suburbs.” “We’ve gained back about 10 hours a week just from the commutes,” says Leslie. “Now that we live downtown, we have time to go to festivals and spend time at Discovery Green, because we have easy access to things that people have to plan a half day outing when driving in.” “It’s not just about dollars per square foot,” says Stanfield. “Deciding to live downtown is definitely a lifestyle choice. If you’re in a typical Houston-size house and considering the move, it takes some effort to pare things down and decide what’s essential for your life, but that kind of downsizing is good and really worth the journey.”
At home. Three very different households
find that the downtown lifestyle is like nothing they expected. With plenty to see and do, its waaay better. By Sandra Cook 22
A LOF T A BS O V E Alma Del Toro & Clint Ford
[Young Family] ebastian loves downtown,” says Alma Del Toro of her 18-month old son. “All the stimulation is great for him.” She and husband Clint Ford moved from the Galleria area to their downtown loft to enjoy the entertainment and nightlife, thinking it would be fun to enjoy the urban lifestyle before they had kids. “I wanted to experience a different side of Houston than I did growing up and saw downtown as that opportunity,” says Clint. “We live in Franklin Lofts, originally built in 1905 as the First National Bank Building – the original bank vault is still intact in the building’s basement,” Clint says proudly of the historic significance of the stately structure. Alma was raised in Mexico and moved to the U.S. more than 10 years ago, living in Chicago and New York before finding her home in Houston. “We had only been downtown for a few weeks before finding out we were pregnant, so we didn’t really know what to expect,” says Clint. “Initially, the big concerns were around safety, having room for Sebastian to run and play, and closet space. Knowing what we know now, I’d argue that safety and room to run and play are just as good, if not better, than the suburb life.” houstondowntown.com
“We were worried at first, but we decided to stay downtown and wanted to see how it worked,” says Alma, who is now expecting their second child. “It’s so easy to hop on the train – you don’t have to mess with a car seat – and go to Hermann Park, the Zoo, Museum of Natural Science, Children’s Museum. And we love going to Discovery Green, too.” Before moving downtown, Alma and Clint were season-ticket holders for the Opera and occasionally visited the Angelika Film Center to see independent films. “We do still sneak away to the theater when a big production comes to
town or grab some last-minute concert tickets when a band we enjoy is coming to one of the concert venues scattered throughout downtown,” says Clint. “But what’s surprising to most of our friends is the thing we tend to do most downtown is get out and enjoy nature.” “Our son Sebastian is just over 18-months-old and with his energy he is happiest outside, exploring downtown,” Clint glows. “Whether it’s on the walking trails at Buffalo Bayou, chasing ducks at the ponds in Sam Houston Park, enjoying the beautiful fountains in Tranquillity Park, or running through
the fountains at Discovery Green Park, we spend the majority of our weekends enjoying the city outside of the buildings that most people associate with downtown.” Several young couples with small children live in the building and have nannies, who often coordinate outings together. The parents in the building even are considering organizing an on-site day care. “We thought we would have a party life downtown, but it turned into a great place to raise kids,” del Toro raves.
Ruth & Jack Elvig
e sold our house in the west Memorial area after 39 and a half years, but kept our farm in Round Top,” says Ruth Elvig, who moved to the Bayou Lofts with husband Jack about two years ago. Ruth and Jack have been married 55 years, and have been Houstonians 51 of those years. “We wanted to be close to city life, such as the arts and museums,” says Ruth. “We spend as much time as we can in town because of all the city amenities.” “We wanted to be where the action was,” says Jack. “We love being able to take our grandkids to arts experiences like The Nutcracker and Garrison Keillor.” houstondowntown.com
Treating their grandchildren to interesting experiences keeps the Elvigs quite busy, as they have some 11 grandkids ranging in age from 11 to 22. “We have a lot of friends in town, too,” says Ruth. “And it’s great to catch up on shopping, visiting with friends and enjoying the entertainment. And we love to walk to downtown restaurants, like Mia Bella and Cava Bistro, plus Hong Kong Diner is in our building so it’s great to just call down for dinner. We also enjoy Spaghetti Warehouse and Jack loves to take the train to Breakfast Klub.” “I walked to the new brewery on the other day,” says Jack, referring to the recently opened Saint Arnold Brewing Company on the north side of downtown. “We like the variety of activity at our
doorstep. There’s always something different to do. It’s just exciting. We have a small dog and love to go for a walk along the bayou, I especially like the lighted walkways from behind Spaghetti Warehouse all the way to San Jacinto Street.” “I always say I would be sorrier if I hadn’t moved to downtown,” says Ruth, reflecting on the decision to give up their suburban house. “We had our farm in Round Top, but we wanted to stay in touch, to have that anchor in town. It’s just really great to be downtown. We’ve loved it so much. We are truly country mice, city mice.”
osh Morton, a true young urban professional, is an attorney who lives and works downtown and has experienced life in and around several urban environments. The Texas native was raised in Dallas, moved to Long Island, NY for high school, went to college in New Orleans, attended law school in Boston and took his first job at a law firm in San Antonio. Josh was transferred to the firm’s downtown Houston office about two years later and moved to the Post Rice Lofts. “I was surprised downtown Houston was so cosmopolitan, after living in Boston,” says Josh, who explains that he lived on Commonwealth Avenue in the center of Boston while attending law school at Boston University. “Living in downtown Houston, I really, truly walk to the theater, the cinema, the park all the time and I only take a cab when the weather is poor. I’d say my life is easier, not to mention richer, because I live downtown.” When asked what he enjoys about living downtown, Josh’s short answer is “everything.” “I can sum it up with one word – access,” he says. “There is a lot going on. I like going to the Hobby Center, Alley, Angelika, restaurants like Azuma Sushi & Robata Bar (right on the lobby level of my building), Morton’s Steakhouse, Mia Bella, 17 over at the Alden Hotel and Byrd’s Market, which just opened up. For sports you’ve got Minute Maid Park (that just speaks for itself) and Toyota Center for the Rockets. These are all within easy walking distance, and if I need to I just take a $6 cab ride.” houstondowntown.com
As a resident of the Post Rice Lofts for more than three years, Josh raves that downtown Houston has greatly improved the residential quality of life, enhancing the sense of community. “Discovery Green is great,” he says. “They have a cool film series, which is perfect for a picnic on a date. And the Grove is phenomenal, of course. Oh, and I have to mention shopping at Houston Pavilions and going to Lucky Strike and House of Blues, especially their Foundation Room.”
For exercise Josh is a member of the new 24Hour Fitness in Midtown. “I also like to run at Eleanor Tinsley Park or on the new Buffalo Bayou trails, which are also nice for a date.” “I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this,” Josh says earnestly, turning to the topic of security. “Contrary to popular belief, downtown is very, very safe. It’s a misconception that it’s a risky or violent place to be. That’s not at all the case. I have never encountered any issues and I have walked to and from work for years, morning and night – even at 1 or 2 a.m. For non-downtowners, it’s worthy of correction.”
datebook Theater 33 : Concerts 37 : Festivals & Special Events 38 : Tours 40
For schedule info and tickets, call or check the Web site. Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford. 877.927.8767. astros.com
CIRQUE DREAMS ILLUMINATION Feb 23-Mar 7 Audiences of all ages will marvel at and experience a journey in which city dwellers reinvent everyday objects, balance beyond belief, delicately dangle from wires, leap tall buildings and redefine the risks of flight in an array of astounding occurrences that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Tickets $24-$73. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.754.3000. broadwayacrossamerica.com
wives have been raving about, Jerry hits on an idea to make money and win back a little pride. If the ladies are so thrilled by a fantasy like Keno the dancer, won’t they go nuts over "real men" like Jerry and Dave strutting their stuff as members of amateur strip act Hot Metal? Tickets $36.25-$66.25. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 713.315.2525.
THE QUEEN OF SPADES Apr 16-May 1 One man’s obsession with a lucky card
trick turns the fates of three in Tchaikovsky’s vibrant melodrama. Russian tenor Vladimir Galouzine returns to HGO as the tormented Hermann, internationally renowned soprano Tatiana Monogarova makes her HGO debut as his beloved Lisa, and Vasily Ladyuk is the dashing Prince Yeletsky. Canadian mezzo-soprano Judith Forst is the keeper of the fated secret. This award-winning production is a visual treat with imaginative puppets and mixed-period costumes. Italian maestro Carlo Rizzi conducts. Tickets $23-$200. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.228.6737. houstongrandopera.org
SOUTH PACIFIC Mar 9-21 South Pacific swept the 2008 Tony Awards,
HARVEY Apr 16-May 9 Affable Elwood P. Dowd has a kind
ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S THE 39 STEPS Mar 5-28 Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have The 39 Steps, a fast-paced whodunit for anyone who loves the magic of theater. This two-time Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning treat is packed with nonstop laughs, over 150 eccentric characters – played by a prodigiously talented cast of four – an onstage plane crash, handcuffs, missing fingers and some good old-fashioned romance. Tickets $21-$70. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700.
winning seven honors including best musical revival and best director. This lavish new production features a cast of 34 and a full orchestra of 26 members - the largest orchestra of any touring Broadway production. Set on a tropical island during World War II, the musical tells the sweeping romantic story of two couples and how their happiness is threatened by the realities of war and their own prejudices. The beloved score's songs include Some Enchanted Evening, I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair, This Nearly Was Mine and There is Nothin' Like a Dame. Tickets start at $24. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 713.558.8887. tuts.com
IN THE HEIGHTS Apr 6-18 In The Heights, winner of four 2008 Tony Awards including best musical, is an exhilarating journey into a vibrant Manhattan community – a place where the coffee is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. A sensational new show about chasing your dreams and finding your true home. Tickets $26-$75. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.745.3000.
THE FULL MONTY Apr 9-18 In this adaptation of the 1997 film, blue-collar single father Jerry Lukowski and his hopelessly overweight best friend Dave Bukatinsky have been laid off along with dozens of other mill workers, leaving them without jobs, without hope and without confidence. After a chance encounter with the Chippendales-style dancer that their
word for everyone he meets. He lives a quiet life with his social-climbing sister and her daughter and is devoted to his loyal and trustworthy friend and constant companion, Harvey. The fact that Harvey happens to be a six-foot-tall invisible rabbit doesn’t seem to bother Elwood but is an ongoing embarrassment to his family members, who decide to have him committed. In this Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy, the medical establishment is turned topsy-turvy as Elwood and Harvey cause pandemonium. Tickets $21-$70. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700. alleytheatre.org
LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE Apr 28-May 9 Little House on the Prairie has remained one of the most popular and beloved celebrations of early Americana since the appearance of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s popular classic book series 70 years ago. Now the inspirational stories take on a brand new frontier in an uplifting new musical. Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura for 10 years in the much-loved television series, continues her legacy by starring as Ma. Families will fall in love with these life-affirming stories about the Ingalls’ struggles and triumphs and the celebration of the pioneering spirit and the core values on which this country was founded. Tickets start at $24. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 713.558.8887.
XERXES Apr 30-May 2 One of Handel’s most popular operas, Xerxes is a feast for the ears and the eyes in this classic 18th-century production. A mad entangle-
ment of love stories, the opera follows the tyrannical and flamboyant Xerxes (Susan Graham) in his quest for Romilda (Laura Claycomb), who is beloved by his very own brother Arsamene, sung by David Daniels. Contralto Sonia Prina, soprano Heidi Stober and baritone Philip Cutlip round out the all-star cast. The award-winning production is set in an English pleasure garden – the perfect place for an elaborate lovers’ chase. Tickets $23-$200. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.228.6737. houstongrandopera.org
JANE EYRE May 14-23 Enjoy the timeless story of plain Jane Eyre's growth from orphaned student at the Lowood School to governess for the ward of the enigmatic and passionate Edward Fairfax Rochester, and the all-consuming love that grows like a fire between the two. An all-new script and score by Paul Gordon (Emma, The Front) and John Caird (Children of Eden, Les Misérables) featuring new dialogue and songs as well as retaining favorites like Sweet Liberty, My Secret Soul, The Finer Things and Brave Enough For Love will stir your senses and lift your heart to the very highest heights. Tickets $36.25-$66.25. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 713.315.2525.
INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE May 21-Jun 20 Kenneth Lin’s new play, IntelligenceSlave, tells the story of Curt Herzstark, a concentration camp prisoner who was kept alive by the Nazis because he was rumored to have invented the world's first hand-held, four-function calculator – a great prize if it could be re-created. Caught between the thrill of technological discovery and the fear of rendering himself obsolete if he produces a working device, Curt's survival plan takes a turn when the Nazis introduce him to a wunderkind member of the Hitler Youth with a soul that might be salvageable. Recommended for mature audiences due to subject matter. Tickets $40-$55. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700. alleytheatre.org
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN May 25-Jun 6 You'll have a monstrously good time at this spectacular new production, winner of the 2008 Outer Critics Circle Award. The sensational cast delivers all your favorite moments from the classic film, plus brand-new, show-stopping numbers for the stage, including Transylvania Mania, He Vas My Boyfriend and Puttin' on the Ritz. This wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Frankenstein legend follows bright young Dr. Frankenstein (that's Fronkensteen) as he attempts to create a monster – but not without scary and hilarious complications. The brains behind the laughter is mad genius and three- time Tony Award winner Mel Brooks himself-- who wrote the music and lyrics and co-wrote the book along with his record-breaking team from The Producers. Tickets $26-$75. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.745.3000.
broadwayacrossamerica.com PERFORMING ARTS
LA BAYADÈRE (“THE TEMPLE DANCER”) Feb 25-Mar 7 The high point of Houston Ballet’s 40th-anniversary season will be a spectacular new production of one of the great classical works of the 19th-century repertoire, featuring choreography by Stanton Welch and lavish scenery and costumes by the celebrated English designer Peter Farmer. Set in the Royal India of the past, La Bayadère is a story of eternal love, mystery, fate, vengeance and justice. Tickets $35-$160. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.ARTS. houstonballet.org
datebook from all over the world with an emphasis on percussion and rhythmic beat – and dancing. Bayou City Chorale and special guests will even stomp by to help rev things up. From George Gershwin and The Glenn Miller Band to Hairspray and beyond, we’ll have you on your feet dancing and feeling the beat. Tickets $22-$55. 7:30. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.521.7464.
GILBERTO GIL Mar 26 Brazil’s internationally acclaimed guitarist, vocalist and former minister of culture, Gilberto Gil brings his unique sound, incorporating an eclectic range of influences, from reggae, samba and forró to rock and African music, to Houston for one night only. Gilberto Gil has developed one of the most relevant and renowned careers as a singer, composer and guitar-player in both world and pop music. Tickets $22-$57. 8. Jones Hall,. 615 Louisiana. 713.227.4SPA. spahouston.org
THE ROMANTIC CELLO Mar 26 Acclaimed worldwide as one of the leading A LITTLE DAY MUSIC Mar 3 A Little Day Music concerts fulfill an important aspect of Da Camera's mission to develop the audience for chamber music and jazz by making it accessible to everyone and part of everyday life. Bring your lunch and enjoy the wide variety of artists and ensembles presented this season. The March concert features the University of Houston Saxophone Quartet. Free. Noon. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.524.5050. dacamera.com
MOZART’S REQUIEM Mar 5-7 Hans Graf served as music director of the Mozarteum Orchester in Salzburg for a decade. Hear this exquisite Mozart interpreter conduct Mozart's final, and possibly most profound, statement. Tickets $29-$116. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org
CELEBRATION OF VISION Mar 7 Vision is vital to creating and nurturing this collection of musicians devoted to high standards of performance as well as local medicinal charities. Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite best symbolizes vision: the Grand Canyon is so inspiring that its vastness can only be captured through breadth of vision. With this concert, Texas Medical Center Orchestra celebrates the vision required to express the improbable and infinite. Tickets $10-$20. 5. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. tmcorchestra.org
AMERICAN AT HEART Mar 11-21 Set to a rousing score by Leonard Bernstein, Fancy Free depicts the adventures of three sailors on shore leave who meet two girls on a hot summer night in New York City in the 1940s. A seminal piece in the history of 20th-century ballet, George Balanchine’s Apollo traces the birth of the god of music, poetry and prophecy – and his education through (and flirtation with) the three muses Terpsichore, Calliope, and Polyhymnia. Christopher Bruce’s comic and moving Hush chronicles the adventures of a family of performers, and is set to a musical celebration of life – from youth to old age – by Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin. Tickets $35-$160. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.ARTS. houstonballet.org
SHREYA GHOSHAL Mar 13 A Bollywood extravaganza. Tickets $17 - $92. 8. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 281.648.0422.
HANNU LINTU CONDUCTS SIBELIUS 2 Mar 18-21 Lintu electrified Houston audiences in May 2008. Experience the poetic soundscapes, relentless drumbeat and volcanic climaxes of his fellow Scandinavian’s music. Tickets $29-$116. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575.
OUR LATE NIGHT Mar 18-Apr 3 The Catastrophic Theatre presents Wallace Shawn's play about a cocktail party at which no subject is taboo. Tickets pay-what-youcan. Wed through Sat DiverseWorks ArtSpace, 1117 E. Freeway. 713.522.2723. catastrophictheatre.com
THE BEACH BOYS Mar 19 Surf’s up! The sun-soaked harmonies of The Beach Boys meet the Houston Symphony for an evening of classic songs like Barbara Ann, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Surfin’ U.S.A., California Girls and Kokomo. Tickets $36-$130. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org
BRANDON LEE QUINTET Mar 20 The talented trumpeter and graduate of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts makes his Da Camera debut on the heels of the release of his debut album, From Within. The youngest faculty member in the jazz studies program at The Juilliard School, Brandon Lee has performed with Benny Golson, Clark Terry, Wynton Marsalis, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Wycliffe Gordon, Hank Jones, Ray Brown, Eddie Henderson and Lewis Nash. Tickets $30-$50. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.524.5050. dacamera.com
SPRINGTIME IN PARIS Mar 20 The earthiness of a Baroque oboe and the sweetness of the Baroque violin evoke the soft breezes and fragrant blossoms of a French garden in spring. Transport yourself to Paris with this concert of French Baroque chamber works for voices and instruments. Virtuoso oboist Kathryn Montoya returns to perform with the ensemble, joined by two internationally renowned stars of the early music scene: violinist Marc Destrube and mezzo-soprano Jennifer Lane. Tickets $31.25-$41.25. 8. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 713.315.2525.
WE CAN’T STOP THE BEAT Mar 23 This high-energy concert will feature music
cellists of his time, Steven Isserlis makes his Houston recital debut in a dramatic program evoking 100 years of romantic music. From 19th-century Romantics Chopin and Schumann – whose bicentennials Da Camera celebrates this season — to the 20th-century American composer Samuel Barber, born 100 years ago, we hear the passionate Romantic spirit masterfully expressed within the classical sonata form. Tickets $25-$45. 8. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 713.524.5050.
L’ESTRO ARMONICO: THE GENIUS OF HARMONY Mar 27 Mercury Baroque’s core strings – the heart of the ensemble – perform six of the 12 concertos from Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico. The concertos feature one, two, or four solo violins and despite the possibly unfamiliar name, most of the pieces are highly recognizable as some of Vivaldi’s finest and most popular compositions. Tickets $20-$47. 8. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.533.0080.
MARVIN HAMLISCH & JOEL GREY IN CONCERT Mar 27 Legendary Broadway and film artists and former child performers composer Marvin Hamlisch (The Way We Were and A Chorus Line) and actor Joel Grey (Cabaret) team up for this one-of-a-kind concert experience. Academy and Tony Awardwinner Joel Grey takes the audience on a virtual tour of his career – singing, dancing and story-telling about shows like Cabaret, George M!, and Chicago, tells autobiographical tales regarding his father, the legendary Yiddish comedian Mickey Katz, and sings songs by Kander & Ebb, Rodgers and Hart, Billy Joel, and more. It’s a natural for Joel Grey and Marvin Hamlisch to share the same stage, as their friendship goes back many years to when they worked together on the very first Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey tour in 1973. Join them for one special evening! Tickets 22-$72. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.227.4SPA. spahouston.org
THE GERSHWIN SONGBOOK Apr 1-3 I Got Rhythm, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Our Love Is Here To Stay – remember dancing to your favorite Gershwin tunes with guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli. Tickets $29-$122. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org
DANCE SALAD FESTIVAL Apr 1-3 The much-anticipated annual Dance Salad Festival returns. Each curated performance presents
a roster of outstanding dancers and choreography from around the world. Among those coming to Houston exclusively for the festival are The Royal Ballet of Flanders, Antwerp, Belgium; Norwegian National Ballet, Oslo, Norway; Ballet de Lorraine, France; Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genéve, Switzerland; Hungarian National Ballet, Hungary; Compañia Nacional de Danza, Mexico; Jacoby & Pronk, New York/Amsterdam and others. Tickets $19-$47. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 877.772.45425.
IMAGINARY SCENES Apr 3 The Houston Ballet Academy and Musiqa present an enchanting evening of music and dance, with works by Al-Sand and Smith and Stanton Welch’s ballet Fingerprints, with score by Hamza El Din. Tickets $16-$32. 7:30. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 713.315.2525. musiqahouston.org
A LITTLE DAY MUSIC Apr 7 A Little Day Music concerts fulfill an important aspect of Da Camera's mission to develop the audience for chamber music and jazz by making it accessible to everyone and part of everyday life. Bring your lunch and enjoy the wide variety of artists and ensembles presented this season. The April concert is a jazz and poetry program featuring pianist Jose Miguel Yamal. Free. Noon. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.524.5050. dacamera.com
SHOSTAKOVICH’S FIFTH Apr 8-11 Shostakovich wrote, “The theme of my Fifth Symphony is the making of a man. I saw man with all his experiences in the center of the composition …In the finale the tragically tense impulses of the earlier movements are resolved in optimism and joy of living.” Tickets $29-$116. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575.
SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR Apr 9 Direct from South Africa, the 26-member Soweto Gospel Choir is an awe-inspiring vocal ensemble, performing in six different languages in a stunning program of tribal, traditional and popular African gospel music as well as other inspiring songs. Earthy rhythms, rich harmonies, a cappella and charismatic performances combine to uplift the soul and express South Africa's great hopes for the future. Tickets $22-$52. 8. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.227.4SPA. spahouston.org
two performances of a program featuring works tailor-made to show them at their best. Tickets $38-$48. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.ARTS.
FRANCK’S SYMPHONY IN D MINOR Apr 16-18 In Franck’s greatest creation, you’ll hear achingly beautiful melody with luxuriant harmony, repeatedly transformed into one emotion after another. Tickets $29-$116. 8. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org
BACH IN THE SADDLE AGAIN: AN EVENING WITH P.D.Q. BACH Apr 20 Since 1965 the tireless Professor Peter Schickele has kept audiences in stitches with the music of P.D.Q. Bach, the most dangerous musician since Nero. The Professor has appeared with over 50 orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra. On this occasion he joins the Houston Chamber Choir for performances including the Knock, Knock Cantata, The Ground Round and the Liebeslieder Polkas. Tickets $25-$55. 7:30. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.225.5566.
HECTOR BERLIOZ’ SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE Apr 22-25 Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique, an Episode in the Life of an Artist, careens from despair through passion to a psychedelic vision. Tickets $29-$116. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575.
ASZURE BARTON & ARTISTS Apr 23 Brilliant Canadian choreographer Aszure Barton has burst on the scene with “works that are quirky, deep, cheeky, and poignant,” says The Globe and Mail. Now she brings her own company of consummate, dazzling dancers to Houston in her latest work Busk, set to Russian composer Ljova’s gypsy-inspired score, and Blue Soup, a collage of highlights from recent works, including A Traveling Show, Mais Oui, and Come In. Tickets: $22-$47. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.4SPA.
ESPERANZA SPALDING Apr 24 If esperanza is the Spanish word for hope, then bassist, vocalist and composer Esperanza
Spalding could not have been given a more fitting name at birth. The 23-year-old prodigy is blessed with uncanny instrumental chops, a multi-lingual voice that is part angel and part siren, and a natural beauty that borders on the hypnotic. Tickets: $30 $50. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.524.5050.
PINK MARTINI Apr 30-May 2 Pink Martini returns to delight you with their refreshing blend of classical, jazz, Latin and Parisian cabaret music. Always fun and fresh, Pink Martini will perform a new set of songs you’re sure to love. Tickets $29-$122. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org
CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS May 1 The Houston Symphony celebrates the underdog of the animal kingdom: the chicken! From Mussorgsky’s Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks to the Funky Chicken Dance, children will learn new respect for our fine feathered friend. Other creatures join the party in Saint-Saën's classic Carnival of the Animals. Tickets $12-$19. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org
THE TWILIGHT OF ROMANTICISM May 1 Da Camera welcomes back the brilliant Orion String Quartet and proudly presents soprano Kelley Nassief in her Da Camera debut for an evening of works on the cusp between romantic and modern. The seminal compositions of Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahms, viewed as musical opposites in their own time, each provided irreplaceable inspiration for the young Arnold Schoenberg. Both influences are heard in the passionate and fiery Chamber Symphony, for which pianist Sarah Rothenberg joins the quartet. Tickets $25-$45. 8. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.524.5050.
A LITTLE DAY MUSIC May 5 A Little Day Music concerts fulfill an important aspect of Da Camera's mission to develop the audience for chamber music and jazz by making it accessible to everyone and part of everyday life. Bring your lunch and enjoy the wide variety of artists and ensembles presented this season. The May concert features the Da Camera of Houston Young Artists. Free. Noon. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.524.5050. dacamera.com
INTERPRETI VENEZIANI Apr 11 Sitting in a semicircle and playing music in a lively conversation, this nine-member string ensemble performs more than 350 concerts a year in Venice at the San Vidal Church, where Vivaldi used to play. Now the group sprinkles Venetian magic wherever they tour. Their Houston debut program features Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Paganini’s La Campanella, Handel’s Concerto Grosso, and Preludio e Allegro by Pugnani/Kreisler. Tickets. $22-$47. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.4SPA.
ESCHENBACH AND LANG LANG Apr 14 When two incandescent musicians combine, the result is electrifying. Christoph Eschenbach returns to Houston for the first time in eight years. Tickets $40-$145. 8. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org
ACADEMY SPRING SHOWCASE Apr 16-17 The gifted young artists of Houston Ballet's Ben Stevenson Academy, the company's professional training wing, cap their studies with
datebook INFILTRATING CAPITALISM with THE YES MEN Considered among the most important political artists of this decade, The Yes Men are culture-jamming activists who practice what they call "identity correction." By posing as spokespersons for prominent organizations and powerful entities, The Yes Men create spoof Web sites and appear in conference and TV shows to highlight how corporations and governmental organizations often act in dehumanizing ways toward the public. Keep it Slick: Infiltrating Capitalism with The Yes Men exhibits The Yes Men's practice through costumes, PowerPoint presentations, posters and props, scripts, research materials and selected publications and ephemera from their personal collections.
free Admission Apr 30-Jun 5 | Wed- Sat. Noon-6 DiverseWorks 1117 East Freeway, 713.223.0346 diverseworks.org
+ HOW TO BE A YES MEN
note} May 1 Come and develop your own strategies for political intervention, and learn how to get into trouble, Yes Men style. Free. 11- 1, DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. 713.223.0346. diverseworks.org MIXED REP May 6-8 This spring mixed repertoire program offers an escape to Europe without leaving the city limits. We bring the choreography of Czech artist Vaclav Kunes to Houston for the first time with the U.S. premiere of his Small Hour, along with revivals of Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti’s provocative Pression and Dominic Walsh’s mysterious, yet whimsical I Napoletani, which will leave you smiling and craving pizza. Tickets $24.25-$51.25. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 713.315.2525. dwdt.org
Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.533.0080.
CELEBRATION OF UNITY May 16 The season finale celebrates 10 years of unity in Texas Medical Center Orchestra. Carmina Burana demands the orchestra merge with a multi generation, interdisciplinary synergy of souls from the adult and children’s choirs to dueling pianos and vocal soloists, bringing together four generations of musicians in a celebration of unity in music making. Tickets $10-$20. Wortham Center, 501 Texas.
HANDEL’S WATER MUSIC May 7-9 Handel overlaid earthy folk songs,
hornpipes and country dances with a delectably sophisticated style that charms the ear and mind. Tickets $29-$116. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org
RITE OF SPRING AND “RACH 3” May 21-23 Stravinsky
MOZART’S JUPITER SYMPHONY May 13-16 Hans Graf has recorded all the Mozart symphonies. In the Jupiter, you’ll hear him conduct Mozart’s last, crowning symphony with its glorious fugal finale. Tickets $29-$116. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org
VAULT & 6°: BLAU & BAPTISM May 13-15, 20-22 Two amazing Houston dance companies in one night! Amy Ell/ Vault's Blau and Toni Valle/6°'s Baptism come together to create one unforgettable night of dance. Many saw the promise at the works-in-progress showings at last year's Big Range Dance Festival, and now you have the chance to catch the full-production—flying bodies, water, trapeze and incredible dance. Tickets $15-10. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. 713.223.0346.
CLASSICAL IN THE RAW May 15 For the season finale, Mercury Baroque broadens into the classical repertoire with a refreshing take on Mozart’s 40th Symphony and Beethoven’s 1st Symphony. These symphonies represent the peak of an era – the finale of Mozart’s career and the brilliant beginning of Beethoven’s. Hear the symphonies as they were meant to be performed, with period-correct instruments and with the crispness and energy that they were intended to have. Tickets $20-$47.
plunges you into an exciting musical experience through pulsing, ritualistic repetition. Tickets $29-$116. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575.
houstonsymphony.org PECOS May 27-Jun 6 Set to a specially commissioned score
by Matthew Pierce, Stanton Welch’s vibrantly theatrical Pecos Bill dramatizes the poignant romance between the legendary Texas hero Pecos Bill and the gutsy tomboy Sluefoot Sue. Modern dance legend Mark Morris’s Sandpaper Ballet contains the hallmarks of his work: wit, humor, and dazzlingly inventive movement, along with whimsical green and white costumes by noted fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi. Tickets $35-$160. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.ARTS.
CIRQUE DU SYMPHONY May 28-30 Bigger and better than ever. Experience this exhilarating marriage of symphonic music to artistry, balance and strength. The Houston Symphony breathes musical life into every move of world-famous performers. Listen while you see soaring aerial artists, unbelievable strongmen, a hand balancer – and the Spanish Web! Tickets
$29-$122. Jones Hall., 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575.
EXHIBITS & VISUAL ARTS
RAIN OR SHINE: HOW HOUSTON DEVELOPED SPACE CITY BASEBALL Through Apr 4 The Heritage Society is teaming up with the Houston Astros and the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame to present Rain or Shine: How Houston Developed Space City Baseball. The exhibit provides an inspiring perspective on the history of baseball in Houston, featuring treasures from the Astros, TBHOF and many other generous lenders. Free. Tue-Sat 10-4, Sun 1-4. The Heritage Society, 1100 Bagby Street. 713.655.1912. heritagesociety.org
ALLISON HUNTER: ZOOSPHERE Mar 12-Apr 17 Zoosphere is a transcendent, site-specific installation investigating humankind's relationship to the natural world. Drawing on the experience of a visit to the zoo, audiences will travel through a subdivided series of exhibition galleries filled with life-sized projections of zoo animals devoid of any natural context. Using Audio Spotlight technology, Allison Hunter will activate the space with high-definition audio recordings of natural animal sounds. Against the backdrop of a rapidly shifting ecological landscape in which species across the globe are threatened with extinction, Zoosphere reconnects humanity with the beauty and wonder of the animal kingdom and forces us to examine our relationship with and responsibility to it. Free. Wed- Sat Noon-6, DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. 713.223.0346.
FLICKERLOUNGE: TWILIGHT AVENGER Mar 12-Apr 17 Equal parts sci-fi myth and forest fable, dreamy nocturne and dazzling special effect, Kelly Richardson's Twilight Avenger is the featured film in this installment of flickerlounge. Beginning with a fairytaleworthy image of a misty, moonlit forest clearing, it is inhabited by a majestic stag that emanates a luminous green vapor. The protagonist quietly grazes amidst the ambient chatter of other forest dwellers and occasionally rears his head, shifting his gaze towards us. Free. Wed- Sat Noon-6, DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. 713.223.0346. diverseworks.org
A TEJANO SON OF TEXAS Apr 12-Jun 27 The A Tejano Son of Texas traveling exhibit tells the life story of legendary Texas Tejano Jose Policarpio "Polly" Rodriguez. Free. Tue-Sat 10-4, Sun 1-4. The Heritage Society, 1100 Bagby Street. 713.655.1912. heritagesociety.org
JOHN BANVILLE AND ABRAHAM VERGHESE Mar 1 Irish Booker Prize winner John Banville (who also writes under the pen name, Benjamin Black) will read from his new novel The Infinities, along with the acclaimed South Asian writer and physician Abraham Verghese, reading from his novel Cutting for Stone, as part of the 2009/2010 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. Tickets $5. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 713.521.2026. inprinthouston.org
TRACY KIDDER READING Mar 22 National Book Award and Pulitzer Prizewinning author of The Soul of A New Machine, Tracy
Kidder will read from his best-selling book Strength In What Remains, as part of the 2009/2010 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. Tickets $5. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Avenue. 713.521.2026.
DORIANNE LAUX AND PATRICIA SMITH READING Apr 12 Dorianne Laux, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for her poetry collection Facts About the Moon, and Patricia Smith, four-time National Poetry Slam winner and author of the acclaimed poetry collection Blood Dazzler, will read from their works as part of the 2009/2010 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. Tickets $5. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Avenue. 713.521.2026.
THE UNCOMPROMISING DIARY OF SALLIE MCNEILL BY RASKA AND MARY LYNNE HILL MARCH Apr 12-Jun 27 Tickets $5. Noon-1. The Heritage Society, 1100 Bagby Street. 713.655.1912.
DAVID SEDARIS Apr 28 With sardonic wit and incisive social critiques, David Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Sedaris is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today. Adult content. Tickets $22-$57. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.227.4SPA. spahouston.org
OSCAR CASARES AND GWENDOLYN ZEPEDA READING May 3 Oscar Casares, author of the popular Brownsville: Stories and the new novel Amigoland, and Gwendolyn Zepeda, author of the novel Houston, We Have a Problema, and her latest Lone Star Legend, will give a reading to close out the 2009/2010 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. Tickets $5. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Avenue. 713.521.2026.
VERIZON WIRELESS THEATER Mar 11 David Gray Mar 13 Mariachi Invitational Apr 16 Owl City Apr 23 Chelsea Handler May 7 Straight No Chaser Verizon’s concert calendar is continuously being updated. Check online for more info and to purchase tickets. Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas. 713.230.1600.
TOYOTA CENTER Mar 6 John Mayer Mar 18 MUSE Apr 30 Celtic Woman May 25 & 26 Taylor Swift Toyota Center’s concert calendar is continuously being updated. Check online for more info and to purchase tickets. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 713.4HOU.TIX. toyotacentertix.com
HOUSE OF BLUES Every Sunday Gospel Brunch Mar 2 Manchester Orchestra Mar 4 Dark Star Orchestra Mar 5 Tyrone Wells in Bronze Peacock Room Mar 5 Kevin Smith Mar 7 Great Big Sea Mar 9 90.1 KPFT’s Lonestar Jukebox presents Troubadour Tuesdays Mar 11 George Thorogood & The Destroyers
Mar 11 Sleepstar in Bronze Peacock Room Mar 13 Citizen Cope Mar 17 St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Mar 20 Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Mar 26 El Chapo de Sinaloa Apr 9 Yeasayer Apr 13 90.1 KPFT’s Lonestar Jukebox presents Troubadour Tuesdays Apr 13 Thunder from Down Under Apr 21 Porcupine Tree May 11 90.1 KPFT’s Lonestar Jukebox presents Troubadour Tuesdays Jun 8 90.1 KPFT’s Lonestar Jukebox presents Troubadour Tuesdays HOB’s concert calendar is continuously being updated. Check online for more info and to purchase tickets. House of Blues, Houston Pavilions, 1204 Caroline. 888.402.5837. hob.com
FIRST THURSDAYS AT DEAN’S Mar 4, Apr 1 & May 6 Every first Thursday of the month you can check out the screening of award-winning, Texas-made short film entries from the Houston Film Commission’s Texas Filmmakers Showcase or from other film festivals. Free. 8:30. Dean’s Credit Clothing, 316 Main. 713.437.5249.
ANGELIKA FILM CENTER Ongoing Stylish cinema playing an eclectic mix of art films and commercial movies from major studios. Tickets $9 adults, $7 matinee, $6.25 kids, $6.5 seniors (note: if you park in the Theater District garage, they will deduct from your ticket price but you must bring parking ticket with you). Call or go online for list of films and show times. Bayou Place, 510 Texas. 713.225.1470. angelikafilmcenter.com
EVERY WEEK AT DISCOVERY GREEN
RECYCLING SATURDAYS Saturdays Bring your glass, paper, plastic and
aluminum to a recycling station at Discovery Green. On the first Saturday of every month, enjoy coffee and a newspaper at Hilton Americas Hotel. Free. 10-2. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
YOUNG WRITERS WORKSHOPS Saturdays beginning Mar 13 Writers in the Schools, HPL Express and Discovery Green team up to offer Houston's only free open writing workshop for kids. Made possible by a grant from David Mendez. Free. 10:30-11:30. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
CHILDREN'S DISCOVERY SERIES PRESENTED BY KBR Saturdays beginning Mar 13 A wonderful weekly excursion in art, culture and fun. Check online for Discovery Series updates. Free. Noon-1. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336.
FITNESS IN THE PARK PRESENTED BY ACADEMY SPORT AND OUTDOORS: Free. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com - HIP'N FIT CLUB Saturdays beginning Mar 13. 11:30-Noon - YOGA IN THE PARK WITH TUTS Saturdays beginning Mar 13. 9:30-10:30 - FAMILY YOGA WITH TUTS Tuesdays beginning Mar 16. 10:30-11:30 - PILATES IN THE PARK WITH TUTS Tuesdays beginning Mar 16. 6:30-7:30 - ZUMBA! Wednesdays beginning Mar 17. 6:30-7:30
datebook FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS REDESIGNING DOWNTOWN: A STYLE COMPETITION AT ONE PARK PLACE Through May 2 Three of
DOWNTOWN GREEN MARKET Sundays Central City Co-Op Downtown Green Market features local vendors showcasing their organically grown produce, fruits, clothing, specialty items and regional specialties from area farms and craftsmen. Free. Noon-4. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336.
SUNDAYS IN THE PARK PRESENTED BY THE FOUR SEASON HOTEL Sundays beginning Mar 14 Enjoy a Sunday in the park with great live music from Houston's best bands. Free. 3-5. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
BURGERS AND BLUES Wednesdays Mar 17 through Apr 28 Enjoy Houston's best in blues music with a lunchtime concert. Co-sponsored by KTSU-FM. Free. Noon-1:30. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
THURSDAYS ROCK AT DISCOVERY GREEN PRESENTED BY CAPITAL ONE BANK IMAGE May 6 CJ Chenier – red hot Zydeco master kicks off the spring 2010 season May 13 SKYROCKET! The Band singing the solid gold hits from the ‘70s & ‘80s May 20 Infectious Austin funksters Soulhat May 27 Buxton and The Small Sounds take over the hill with Americana Folk Rock. Free. 6:30-8. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336.
Houston's top interior designers – Renea Abbott, Chandos Dodson, and Michael Stribling – compete to win best design for a one-bedroom deluxe apartment at Houston's new landmark residential high-rise One Park Place. Tour the three uniquely designed units and vote for your favorite. Tickets $10 (proceeds benefit Discovery Green Conservancy). Wed-Fri Noon-2, Sat and Sun 1-5. One Park Place, 1400 McKinney. 713.868.5933. oneparkplacehouston.com
38TH ANNUAL BUFFALO BAYOU REGATTA Mar 13 Buffalo Bayou partnership sponsors Texas’ largest canoe and kayak race – a 15-mile paddling experience from San Felipe and Voss to downtown’s Sesquicentennial Park. Race begins at 9 and finish line festivities take place from 11-2 with live music, an awards ceremony, and food and drink for sale. $40 to enter race and free finish line festivities. 713.752.0314. buffalobayou.org
ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE Mar 13 Everyone is Irish for a day! Free. Noon. Start/ End at Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford. hsppc.org
TARGET PRESENTS STORYBOOK OPERA Mar 16 &18 An HGO artist reads aloud a musical story, engaging the audience with musical excerpts and questions. In English and Spanish. Free. Noon-1. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
HEB MOVIE NIGHT Mar 19 HEB presents Julie and Julia, featuring Meryl Streep's award-winning performance as Julia Child. Bonus: Robert Del Grande shows clips from his PBS interview with Julia Child. Free. 8. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
TARGET PRESENTS OPERA TO GO Mar 19 Glass slippers, pumpkins and magical transformations. Don't miss the allergy-prone fairy godmother and an unusual pair of evil stepsisters of Cinderella in Spain! In English and Spanish. Free. Noon-1. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
DOWNTOWN HOME TOUR Mar 20 Downtown is unlocking its doors and you have the key! The tour offers guests the rare opportunity to view multiple new and historic downtown properties and private residences in one afternoon. Move at your own pace and if walking isn’t your thing, catch a ride on our official Downtown Home Tour shuttle, The Washington Wave. Tickets $20 advance purchase, $25 day of. Sat Noon-5. Tour HQ: Post Rice Lofts, 909 Texas. 713.658.8938. downtownhouston.org
2ND ANNUAL BABES ON BOARDS Mar 20 A day at the skatepark just for the girls. Learn the basics or refine your tricks. Free. Sat 9-6. Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark, 103 Sabine Street. 713.222.5500.
BBVA COMPASS TOUR DE HOUSTON Mar 21 The Tour de Houston began as an idea from state Sen. Rodney Ellis who participated in a five boroughs ride in New York City. He enjoyed being able to see the historic areas of New York by bicycle and thought that Houston’s historic districts could offer bicycle enthusiasts a great experience as well. Join your fellow Houstonians for a wonderful civic bonding experience that also promotes clean air and a healthy lifestyle. Choose your level – 20-, 40- or 70-mile routes. Registration $25, $35 day of. 7. Hermann Square at City Hall, 901 Bagby.
SHELL ECO-MARATHON Mar 26-28 Celebrate invention, innovation and eco-efficiency as Discovery Green becomes a test course for tomorrow's vehicles. College and high school teams from around the world design, build and test vehicles of maximum fuel efficiency. Shell and the City of Houston bring this amazing eco-efficient event to Houston. The course will be on the streets of downtown, circling Discovery Green with the home base located at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Free. Fri 9-4, Sat 8-8 and Sun 8-5. George R. Brown Convention Center and Discovery Green, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. shell.com/ecomarathon or discoverygreen.com
EARTH DAY HOUSTON Apr 3 Earth Day kicks off with a 5K run and walk. Afterward, party for our planet at Discovery Green with family-friendly festivities that include a green expo, fun and educational event zones, farmers market, entertainment and much more. Free. 8-6. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. earthdayhouston.org or discoverygreen.com
DANCE HOUSTON PRESENTS HIGH INTENCITY Apr 9 An evening of dance featuring Houston's
MURALS UNDER THE STARS Apr 23 This big-screen, multimedia show brings the
favorite contemporary companies. This festival will delight all who love innovative dance. Free. 7. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336.
heroic murals of Diego Rivera and David Siequeros to life. Dr. Gregorio Luke of the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach "combines the scale of film, the excitement of theater, and the exhilaration of learning.” Presented in conjunction with Mexico 2010, with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Consul-General of Mexico. Free. 8. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336.
DISCO GREEN: ELECTRONIC MUSIC FESTIVAL Apr 10 Disco Green is a gathering of people who share a passion for dance music, community, art and our future. Internationally renowned house music DJs will draw crowds to share a message of going green and sustainability and in return create human energy that is free for all. This program will recycle all its waste, promote itself digitally and reduce any unnecessary waste to offset its carbon foot print. Free. 2-10. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
HOUSTON CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL Apr 10 &11 It’s a child’s dream world with a stellar entertainment lineup, family adventure zones, music and tons of fun. Tickets $8, kids under 3 free. 10:30-6:30. Hermann Square at City Hall and Tranquillity Park. houstonchildrensfestival.com
DISCOVERY GREEN BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION Apr 13 Like lots of 2-year-olds, Discovery Green wants to celebrate its birthday with cake, friends and fun. Please join us for a touring production of Alice in Wonderland featuring the giant, fabulous sculpted creations of Bits 'n Pieces Puppet Theater. Free. Noon-5. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
FOTOFEST AT DISCOVERY GREEN Apr 17 Throughout FotoFest 2010, Photo Trek has encouraged Houstonians to photograph the art community and visit the 100 Biennial exhibitions. Photo Trek concludes at Discovery Green with a screening of selected images, prizes, music and family activities. Free. 6-9. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
HOUSTON INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL (iFest) Apr 17-18 & 24-25 Spotlighting the Caribbean, there's something for everyone at iFest. Twelve music stages, six international arts markets, 50 food vendors offering cuisines from around the world, international artisan demonstrations, educational interactive exhibits, cooking demonstrations, fashion shows, street theater, kids activities plus so much more. Tickets $12 (advance purchase), $17 day of, $3 kids under 12 and Target Kids Free Sundays. Sat Noon-10, Sun Noon-8. Hermann Square at City Hall, Tranquillity Park and Sam Houston Park.
SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK Apr 24-25 UH School of Theater and Dance celebrates the Bard's birthday with performances of Taming of the Shrew and Henry V. Free. Sat 3 and 7, Sun 1 and 7. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
CINCO DE MAYO PARADE May 1 The 18th Annual LULAC Cinco de Mayo Parade celebrates the pride, history and folklore behind the Mexicans’ victory at the Battle of Puebla. A Houston tradition with more than 100 entries. Free. 10. Start: Hamilton and Texas, End: Preston and Crawford.
10TH ANNUAL HOUSTON DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL May 1 Competing for the revered Dragon Cup, 30 corporate and community teams will race on a 250-meter stretch of Buffalo Bayou at historic Allen’s Landing in downtown Houston. This signature event is co-sponsored by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership. The festival also features Asian cuisine, music, arts and crafts, and cultural performances for the whole family. Free. 8:30-4:30. Allen’s Landing, Commerce at Main.
YOUNG WRITERS READING May 2 Award-winning student writers from across Houston read their work to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience. Presented by Writers in the Schools. Free. 3-5. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
ART CAR PARADE SNEAK PEEK SPONSORED BY OPPORTUNITY HOUSTON May 7 Celebrate Houston’s Art Car Culture! Get your first look at the new cars for 2010 and see some old favorites from years past. Enjoy live music with illuminated Art Cars and entertainment throughout the park. Free. 6-10. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336.
ART CAR PARADE May 8 Houston’s event is the world’s oldest and largest Art Car Parade. Watch as more than 250 rolling works of art turn concrete into a mind-bending, colorful canvas that celebrates the artist in everyone. Free. 1-4. Route begins at Allen Parkway at Taft and loops around Sam Houston Park. 713.926.6368. orangeshow.org
MISSION POSSIBLE: HOUSTON NATURE CHALLENGE May 15 See Smokey the Bear and pick up your 2010
bayou animals and insects, numerous activities with over 20 Houston non-profit organization partners, wetland hikes and kayaking demos. Free. 10-2. Sabine Promenade. 713.752.0314. buffalobayou.org
35TH ANNUAL HOUSTON FISHING SHOW Mar 3-7 Explore the world of fishing at the largest consumer fishing show in the country. See fishing tackle and fishing boats, displays, clinics and movies. Tickets $8 adults, $2 kids (6-12). George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 281.350.2741. houstonfishingshow.com
HADA SPRING ANTIQUE SHOW Mar 5-7 Founded in 1964 by three local dealers, the first HADA antiques show was held at the iconic Shamrock Hilton Hotel. The show now consists of 150 dealers from across the country and around the world displaying virtually every type of antique. Tickets $10 valid for all three days. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 713.869.5661. hadaantiques.com
32ND ANNUAL CORVETTE/CHEVY EXPO 2010 Mar 20-21 See the best of the best show cars at the largest indoor Corvette and Chevy event in the Lone Star State. Tickets $15 per day, $25 two-day pass. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 386.267.3150.
HIGH CALIBER GUN & KNIFE SHOW Mar 27-28 See hundreds of displays of new and old guns, ammo, gun parts, books, knives, knifes, sharpening tools, coins, camouflage and related items at discount prices. Tickets $8. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 281.331.5969. highcalibergunshow.com
HOUSTON HOME SHOW Apr 9-11 See the latest in home décor, outdoor living, pool and spas, home remodeling, green living and learn at how-to workshops. Tickets $9, $7 seniors. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 281.529.1616.
32ND ANNUAL BARGAIN BOOK SALE Apr 23-25 More than 80,000 books for sale, benefiting Houston Public Library. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 832.393.1387
HIGH CALIBER GUN & KNIFE SHOW Apr 24-25 See hundreds of displays of new and old guns, ammo, gun parts, books, knives, knifes, sharpening tools, coins, camouflage and related items at discount prices. Tickets $8. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 281.331.5969. highcalibergunshow.com
MALICJEWELS GEM & MINERAL SHOW May 7-9 A true gem, jewelry and gift show, this event features exhibitors from around the globe offering virtually every type of jewelry imaginable. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 480.458.7600.
Mission Possible passport to 30 different outdoor, nature-focused activities for families to enjoy together. Free. 1-4. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 713.400.7336. discoverygreen.com
KBR KIDS DAY ON BUFFALO BAYOU Jun 5 Presented by Buffalo Bayou Partnership, a
HOUSTON BLACK EXPO May 15-16 The largest African-American tradeshow
fun-filled day with hands-on educational activities, music, food, park performers and boat rides on the bayou. Activity stations will include a showcase of
in the state. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 832.200.0540.
DISCOVER HOUSTON TOURS
HOUSTON AEROS For schedule info and tickets, call or check the Web site. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 713.974.7825.
Ghost tours, tunnel walk and rail tours, architecture tours and more are available. Tour guide Sandra Lord is the resident expert and has been conducting downtown and Houston tours since 1988. Ticket prices vary. 713.222.9255.
For schedule info and tickets, call or check the Web site. Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford. 877.927.8767.
note}Opening Day is Apr 5 vs. San Francisco
EXPERIENCE HOUSTON WALKING TOURS
Giants – Celebrate with the ‘Stros at the Opening Day Street Festival on Crawford Street from 11-4; free and open to the public. Game time 6:05.
HOUSTON DYNAMO For schedule info and tickets, call or check the Web site. University of Houston Robertson Stadium, 4800 Calhoun. 713.276.7500. houstondynamo.com
HOUSTON ROCKETS For schedule info and tickets, call or check the Web site. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 866.4HOU.TIX.
BUFFALO BAYOU WALKING TOURS Mar 6, Apr 3 & May 1 Architecture Center Houston, with the cooperation of Buffalo Bayou Partnership ArCH docents, will lead you on this two-hour architectural stroll along Buffalo Bayou Parkway for an overview of downtown Houston’s history and architecture from its beginnings in 1836 to the efforts to revitalize the central city today. $15 per person ($10 for AIA, ArCHiTypes, and Bayou Buddies members). 10-Noon. Meet at the AIA office, 315 Capitol, Suite 120. 713.752.0314.
SECOND SATURDAY BUFFALO BAYOU BOAT RIDES Mar 20, Apr 10 & May 8 These 30-minute pontoon boat cruises are a great way to spend the afternoon with your family and friends. First-come, first-serve, no reservations, 20 person max per trip. $7 adults, $5 for kids 4-12. 10-2. Sabine Promenade at Sabine St. 713.752.0314.
Downtown tours include the downtown tunnel system, historic places and panoramic views from the city's best observation spots. Ticket prices vary. Visitors Center at City Hall, 901 Bagby, 713.465.7415.
HERITAGE SOCIETY HISTORIC HOMES TOUR
Houston Dragon Boat Festival May 1
Nestled among 19 acres in the heart of downtown Houston, the Heritage Society boasts eight historic structures dating from 1823 to 1905. Each historic structure is authentically restored to reflect its original magnificence. $6 adults, $4 seniors and free for kids under 18. Tue-Sat 10, 11:30, 1, 2:30 and Sun 1, 2:30. 1100 Bagby. 713.655.1912.
MINUTE MAID PARK TOUR Get a behind-the-scenes look at Minute Maid Park, including the historic Union Station, broadcasting booth or press boxes, Astros' or visitors' dugout, luxury suites and much more. $9 adults, $7 seniors and $5 for kids 3-14. Mon-Sat 10, noon, 2. Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford. 713.259.8687.
TOYOTA CENTER’S BACKSTAGE TOUR
LOOKING BACK: HISTORY TOURS WITH LOUIS AULBACH Mar 21, Apr 3 & May 2 Learn about Houston’s rich
The one-hour backstage tour will take you behind the scenes of Houston’s premier destination for sports and entertainment. $7 adults, $5 for kids 12 and under and seniors. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 713.758.7715.
history from local historian Louis Aulbach while cruising down the bayou.Reservations required. $40. 10-Noon and 1-3. Allen’s Landing, Commerce at Main. 713.752.0314. buffalobayou.org
BATS ON THE BAYOU BOAT TOURS Mar 12 & 26, Apr 9 & 23, May 14 & 28 You’ll enjoy an amazing view of the bats’ dusk emergence and learn more about these magnificent flying mammals that share the city with us. Reservations required, cancellations must take place 48 hours prior to the tour. $35 adults, $20 for kids 4-12. Depart at dusk. Sabine Promenade at Sabine St. 713.752.0314. buffalobayou.org
KAYAK TOURS Apr 17 & May 15 Join the Buffalo Bayou Partnership for a kayak adventure through Houston’s stunning urban wilderness. All equipment is provided, including a tandem sit-on-top kayak. Reservations required, cancellations must take place 48 hours prior to the tour. $60 per person, ages 14 +. 9-Noon. Meet at 5000 Memorial (just west of Shepherd). 713.752.0314. buffalobayou.org
COMPETING for the revered Dragon Cup, 30 corporate and community teams will race on a 250-meter stretch of Buffalo Bayou at historic Allen’s Landing in downtown Houston. This signature event is co-sponsored by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership. The festival also features Asian cuisine, music, arts and crafts, and cultural performances for the whole family.
Free. 8:30-4:30. Allen’s Landing, Commerce at Main. texasdragonboat.com
SAINT ARNOLD BREWING COMPANY TOURS Come visit Texas' oldest craft brewery in their new location. Every Saturday, the doors open at 11 and groups will rotate in and out of the facility in an open house format until the final group is allowed in at 2. If Saturdays don't work for you, check out their weekday open house at 3. After the tour, guests are welcome to stay for a free tasting. $7, no reservations required. All minors under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. 2000 Lyons at I-10. saintarnold.com
FREE SELF-GUIDED AUDIO WALKING TOURS Put on your headphones, hit play and let local insiders, captivating voices and an original soundtrack envelop you in stories of Houston’s past and present. No need to worry about which way to go or what to look for, we’ll point out everything along the way. Three tours are available: The Ultimate Downtown Tour, Museum District Walk & Roll and A Walk in the Park: Discovery Green Walking Tour. Tours are free and available to download to your iPod or MP3 player at houstondowntown.com or as a podcast on iTunes. Be sure to also download the accompanying map for reference.
The Guide to eating downtown
A nautical approach Delicious seafood and a healthy serving of Sicilian pride. Massaâ€™s, 1160 Smith and 1331 Lamar. >> houstondowntown.com
plate L17 Restaurant New American
Found in the lobby of the luxurious Alden Hotel, this lush and lavish destination oozes elegance. Detailed American cuisine and smart service make this a restaurant of note. aldenhotels.com. Alden Hotel, 1117 Prairie, 832.200.8800. L by reservation only; D Daily. $$$$
a+ bar and grille American Casual The Alden Hotel's
Benihana of Tokyo Japanese While some restaurants allow their guests to view the kitchen, this Japanese grill brings the kitchen to you. Benihana chefs set up shop right in front of your table. The meal is made from scratch, and you can witness the entire show. benihana.com. 1318 Louisiana, 713.659.8231. L & D Daily. $$$
relaxed dining option where you'll find a breakfast buffet and a great bar menu with tasty appetizers, salads, burgers and sandwiches every day of the week. A good spot for a fast lunch or a bite before the ballgame, you'll also love their happy hour and cocktail offerings. aldenhotels.com. Alden Hotel, 1117 Prairie, 832.200.8800. B, L & D Daily. $$
Birraporetti’s Italian This Italian restaurant/Irish
new! Andalucia Restaurant & Bar Tapas/Spanish
L Bistro Lancaster New American
Dim lighting, large wooden tables and heavy iron accents provide for a cozy, rustic atmosphere. The menu features large dishes, such as paella for up to 16 people, and tapas that range from the traditional such as gambas al ajillo (shrimp cooked in olive oil and garlic) and empanadas, to veal tongue and oxtail. andaluciatapas.com. Houston Pavilions, 1201 San Jacinto, 832.319.1200. L Mon-Fri, D Mon-Sat. $$
Angelo’s Italian Drafthouse With a menu inspired by traditional Southern Italian cuisine, the specialty of the house is their hand-tossed pizzas baked in the brick oven located behind the 50-foot bar. From the pasta to the sauce to the bread, everything is made fresh to order. angeloshouston.com. 711 Main, 713.225.3500. D & LN Daily. $$
L Artista American
Artista offers inspirational contemporary American cuisine and theatrical ambiance with high ceilings, glass walls and sweeping views of the Houston downtown skyline. cordua.com. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby, 713.278.4782. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat (Open for L & D on Sunday only if a theater performance is scheduled). $$$
Atrium Lobby Lounge Contemporary Located in-
bar is a Theater District staple. Their delicious pizzas continue to hit the spot, while items such as the chicken picatta and La Dolce Vita have become standouts. Enjoy a signature dessert to finish the meal. birrarestaurant.com. 500 Louisiana, 713.224.9494. L, D & LN Daily. $$ Located in the historic Lancaster Hotel, this cozy getaway is a great place to dine before catching a show in the Theater District. Their new seasonal menu continues Bistro Lancaster’s commitment to local, fresh ingredients of the highest quality. You’ll find hearty soups, sizzling steaks and savory seafood. thelancaster.com. Lancaster Hotel, 701 Texas Ave, 713.228.9502. B, L & D Daily. $$$$
new! Bombay Pizza Co. Indian Fusion Fusing the
cuisines of India with pizza, innovative creations are served on a homemade, dense, thin and crispy crust. Try the Saag Paneer, which is topped with fresh spinach and four cheeses or the Gateway to India topped with cilantro, tandoori chicken, garlic, and artichoke hearts. The restaurant is BYOB and also offers delivery. bombaypizzaco.com. 914 Main, 713.654.4444. L Mon-Fri, D Mon- Sat. $
Bon Jour Café Deli Offering soups, sandwiches and salads. 945 Capitol , 713.237.0419. B & L Mon-Fri. $ Bouray’s Burrito Bar Fast Food A burrito bar with tons of ingredients and sides that allow you to create the burrito of your dreams. bourays.com. 609 Clay, 713.652.5999. L Mon-Fri. $
side the Doubletree Hotel overlooking Allen Center courtyard. Relax after a busy day and enjoy your favorite beverage or a bite to eat while you catch up on the day’s news on the wide screen TV. Doubletree Hotel, 400 Dallas, 713.759.0202. L, D & LN Daily. $$
Brazos Restaurant American Upscale seafood and casual American fare come together in a Texaschic atmosphere. Newly refurbished, black booths and white tablecloths offer elegance and décor not typically found in hotel restaurants. Crowne Plaza Hotel, 1700 Smith, 713.495.7854. B, L & D Daily. $$$
L Azuma Sushi & Robata Bar Japanese/Sushi
L Brown Bag Deli Fast Casual
Voted “Best sushi in Houston” by Citysearch.com, this new-age Japanese restaurant is anything but typical. The ambience is terrific, the sushi is innovative and fresh and the outside seating area provides great people watching. azumajapanese.com. 909 Texas, 713.223.0909. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sun; LN Fri & Sat. $$
Ballpark Café American Enjoy the all-American cuisine and a nostalgic atmosphere for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just across the street from Minute Maid Park, Ballpark Café is a great place to have a pre/post-game meal. innattheballpark.com. Inn at the Ballpark, 1520 Texas Avenue, 713.228.1520. B & L Daily. $
Banzai Sushi Japanese/Sushi Count on Banzai Sushi at Bayou Place for the freshest sushi, sashimi and specialty rolls. If sushi isn’t your thing, try their vegetable tempura, Chilean sea bass, Korean ribs or chicken teriyaki. Lunch combos start at just $8 and you can receive 10 percent off your bill with a theater ticket for that night. Bayou Place, 550 Texas, 713.225.1167. L & D Daily; LN Fri & Sat. $$
Located in the Houston Club building, Brown Bag Deli serves up tasty, fresh sandwiches “just like you like it.” Known for their fluffy, soft bread you won’t be disappointed and neither will your wallet. thebrownbagdeli.net. 810 Capitol, 713.224.7000. L Mon-Fri. $
Burger King Fast Food 810 Capitol, 713.223.4114. B & D Mon-Sat; L Daily. $ B.U.S. Sports Grill and Bar American The ultimate hangout spot before or after a ballgame. Come and enjoy your favorite cold beverage or bite to eat while cheering the home team to victory. B.U.S. is also a great place to catch the latest sporting event on the big screen! Two locations. Before/after Rockets games, 1410 Bell. Before/after Astros games, 1800 Texas. $
Byrd’s Market & Cafe American Byrd's features a chef- driven, casual dining restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also, a prepared food market where you can find freshly baked breads and pastries and a limited selection of wines, grocercy essentials and basic household necessitates. Grab a seat on the mezzanine level, over-
looking Main Street and enjoy a butternut squash roasted pork sandwich with sweet potato fries! byrdsmarket.com. 420 Main, 713.225.0100. B & L Daily; D Mon-Fri. $
Cabo Mexican The “Mix-Mex” grill is a spicy blend of South and Central American flavors. A fun downtown spot with the ultimate outdoor balcony for dining overlooking the streets of downtown. cabomixmex.com. 419 Travis, 713.225.2060. L & D Mon-Sun; LN Mon-Sat. $$ The Cafe American Located in the lobby of the Hilton Americas. An elaborate buffet is offered for breakfast, with a la carte selections from the menu available for lunch and dinner. Hilton Americas, 1600 Lamar, 713.739.8000. B, L, D & LN Daily. $$
L Cafe Express Fast Casual
Need to grab a quick lunch? Cafe Express is an informal yet sophisticated choice. One of the originals in the fast casual restaurant category, you can always find a variety of delicious entrees, salads and sandwiches. cafe-express.com. 650 Main, 713.237.9222. B & L Mon-Sat; D Mon–Fri. $
L Cava Bistro American Bistro Enjoy a diverse menu when dining at this rustic eatery situated on Main Street in downtown’s Historic District. Menu items include escargot, leek tart, ahi tuna, short ribs, gnocchi and whole red snapper. An impressive wine list, great service and affordable prices make this bistro unique. bellarestaurants.com. 300 Main, 713.229.9504. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat. $$ China Garden Chinese A popular Chinese restaurant, China Garden has been serving downtown for more than 30 years. Their egg rolls and lemon chicken have become favorites. 1602 Leeland, 713.652.0745. L Mon-Fri; D Daily. $ Chipotle Mexican Known for their large portions, this Mexican fast casual spot offers a variety of wholesome menu items. Chipotle is an affordable choice and with patio seating available, guests can enjoy their meal al fresco. chipotle.com. 909 Texas, 713.225.6633. L & Early D Mon-Fri. $
} key to symbols These listings are not reviews but are a guide to downtown dining spots. "Recommended" restaurants are selected by Downtown Magazine editors and are based on food quality, menu selection, service, ambiance and value.
L recommended new! just opened average price of an entrée $ - $10 or less $$ - $11-$19 $$$ - $20-$29 $$$$ - $30+ B: Breakfast L: Lunch D: Dinner LN: Late Night
>For a searchable database of downtown
Houston restaurants by cuisine, location and price, visit houstondowntown.com and click on Dining.
Four generations later, this downtown mainstay is still a family affair. By Mark Sullivan
HEN IT COMES TO STAYING POWER in downtown Houston, nobody has anything on the Massa family. Built on a duel foundation of a sturdy Sicilian work ethic and a love for great food, the Massa story is quintessentially American. Michael Angelo Massa, a Sicilian immigrant, built a successful oyster parlor in turnof-the-century Galveston, where he sold fresh seafood and wild game from the bottom floor of a quaint, two-story building on Market Street and lived on the second floor with his wife Josephine and their nine children. Their idyllic island life was shattered in 1920 when tragedy struck. Michael died unexpectedly of a sudden illness during a trip to his native Sicily. The family pulled together and endured the hardship, eventually relocating from Galveston Island to the growing Houston metropolis inland. Tony Massa, Michael and Josephine’s youngest, carried on the family business by opening the iconic Massa’s Oyster House in downtown Houston at Capital and Louisiana in 1944. He later moved the shop to 802 Rusk in the early 1960s with his brother Louis, who went on to open Rex Coney Island next to the old Majestic Theater followed by Massa’s Restaurant and Cafeteria. Louis’ sons, Michael and Joseph, took the reigns of the Massa family business and moved Massa’s to 604 Polk in 1981 and then to 1160 Smith in 1993, where it still operates today and remains a favorite among Houston’s power lunch crowd. In 1999, the brothers Massa opened a second restaurant, Massa’s Seafood Grill, at 1331 Lamar at The Shops at Houston Center near the George R. Brown Convention Center. The Massa family maintains strong generational ties to downtown and continues its
active role in the community. Michael remains particularly engaged in downtown commerce and politics, having served as president of the Houston Restaurant Association, as a Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau board member, Houston Downtown Alliance board member and a member of the Museum District Business Alliance. Although he underwent bypass at the age of 46, Michael is an avid cyclist and an admittedly terrible golfer. “I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none,” he says jokingly. Joseph is more behind the scenes, enjoying solitary extracurriculars such as hunting and fishing. “We wouldn’t be in the business without each other,” Joseph notes. “We complement each other perfectly.” houstondowntown.com
plate L Cielo Mexican This new upscale Mexican bistro offers patrons Latin American favorites in a sophisticated, urban setting. Cielo has a fantastic bar and happy hour menu for late nights, also a large patio for al fresco dining. Tequila and wine tasting dinners will be offered monthly. bellarestaurants.com. 300 Main, 713.229.9500. L & D Mon-Sat; LN Fri & Sat. $$ L Corner Bakery Fast Casual A bakery cafe, offering fresh breads, salads, sandwiches, soups and sweets in a casual atmosphere. Located right on Main Street Square, you can’t beat the people watching or just relax and watch the rail line and Main Street Square’s jumping fountains. cornerbakery.com. 1000 Main, 713.651.0673. B & L Mon-Fri. $ Craiganales Italian Deli Italian Deli A familyowned Italian-styled deli located close to Minute Maid Park and the Courthouse District. Craiganales features a tasty and affordable selection. craiganalesdeli.com. 415 Caroline, 713.237.0000 L Mon-Fri. $
Eats Mesquite Grill Classic American Craving a burger downtown? Popular for their juicy burgers and great-tasting fries, Eats makes for a great lunchtime stop. Guests can make their burgers exactly how they like them. 804 Milam, 713.223.3287. L Mon-Fri. $
L El Rey Taqueria Cuban/Mexican
This fast casual Cuban and Mexican eatery is home to tasty plantains and juicy roasted chicken. El Rey opens early for those craving breakfast tacos and is open late on weekend nights for night owls craving a Cuban sandwich. elreytaqueria.com. 233 Main, 713.225.1895. B & L Mon-Fri; D & LN Fri & Sat. $
Falafel Frenzy Mediterranean This quaint spot serves up all your Mediterranean favorites, including beef and chicken kabobs, hummus and of course falafel. 914 Prairie, 713.237.8987. L Mon-Fri. $
Flying Saucer Pub Fare Offering more than 200 beers, almost half on draft, Flying Saucer is a beerdrinker’s paradise. Excellent staff and tasty eats give the place an identity all its own. beerknurd.com. 705 Main, 713.228.7468. L, D & LN Daily. $
L Frank’s Pizza Pizza
Decafe Fast Casual Located in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency, visit this marketplace cafe anytime, day or night, when you are craving something delicious. Decafe offers brick oven pizza, deli sandwiches, salads, homemade pastries and, of course, an entire selection of your favorite coffee beverages. Hyatt Regency Hotel, 1200 Louisiana, 713.654.1234 x 4088. B, L, D & LN Daily. $
Home of the “late-night slice,” Frank’s Pizza has built a quality reputation for itself serving up delicious food in a great atmosphere. Not only can you grab a slice of pizza, Frank’s also serves up darn good hamburgers, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, Buffalo wings, lasagna and salads. frankspizza.com. 417 Travis, 713.225.5656. L & D Daily; LN Fri & Sat. $
Domino’s Pizza 804 Main, 713.227.3030. $
L The Grove American Rustic
LDon Diego Coffee House/Columbian/Wine Bar This quaint neighborhood spot features Columbian specials served with plantains and rice. They have 100 wines by the bottle- all under $20 and feature Katz’s coffee and a wide selection of desserts. Its cozy atmosphere and free WIFI make it the perfect hang-out spot. cafeyvinocompany.com 208 Travis, 713.228.3560, B & L Daily, D, LN Thu-Sat.$
Don Patron Bar & Grill Mexican Good Mexican food and margaritas, Don Patron is great for lunch and a good spot for an after-work happy hour. Available on weekends for private parties. donpatron.com. 500 Dallas, One Allen Center.B, L & D Mon-Fri. $$
L The Downtown Aquarium Seafood
The menu features a huge variety and offers something for everyone. While dining, guests are surrounded by a 150,000 gallon aquarium. Enjoy the sights and a great meal at this family-friendly spot. aquariumrestaurants.com. 410 Bagby, 713.223.3474. L & D Daily. $$
Downtown Donuts Bakery This little shop puts out a large assortment of breakfast goodies. Daily fresh baked choices include glazed, iced or filled donuts, bear claws, cinnamon rolls and turnovers and they also have kolaches—be sure to try the spicy boudin kolache. 1207 Prairie, 713.236.0500. B & L Mon-Fri. $ Downtown Hunan Café Chinese Fast casual spot offering all your Asian favorites. 613 Clay, 713.759.0515. L Mon-Fri. $
L Droubi Bro. Mediterranean Grill
This authentic Mediterranean grill offers up a quick and satisfying spot for lunch. Pita sandwiches are popular. 507 Dallas, 713.652.0058. L Mon-Fri. $
This two-story, ultra-urban restaurant is found at Discovery Green, downtown Houston’s newest park. The menu features rustic American cuisine such as Gulf Coast seafood, steaks and signature rotisserie dishes. The Tree House roof deck bar features casual bar snacks and a see-and-be-seen atmosphere for cocktails. grovehouston.com. Discovery Green, 1611 Lamar, 713.337.7321. L & D Daily. $$$
Grum Bar & Grill Classic American A casual dining and nightlife spot with a traditional bar and grill menu including pizzas, sandwiches, burgers and steaks. Comfortable atmosphere with walls featuring work by local artists, a wide selection of beers, good food and friendly staff make this a place you want to check out. 306 Main, 713.224.6448. L MonSat; D Thu-Sat. $
L Guadalajara del Centro Mexican
This familyowned restaurant consistently serves up tasty food in a new, very cool environment. It’s the perfect place to bring the family or a large group of co-workers or friends. Great happy hour specials. guadalajarahacienda.com. Houston Pavilions, 1201 San Jacinto, 713.650.0101. L & D Daily. $$
Hard Rock Café Classic American What do you get when you mix a music-themed diner with an All-American menu? Hard Rock is a great family-friendly spot serving up items such as burgers, nachos and chicken varieties. hardrock. com. Bayou Place, 570 Texas, 713.227.1392. L, D & LN Daily. $$
Hearsay Gastro Lounge New American
Located in a beautifully refurbished historic building, this upscale restaurant and lounge serves up delicious sandwiches, salads and entrees. They feature an extensive wine list, numerous beers on draft and bottle and premium liquors with a focus
on Scotch whisky. Open late night and serving up small and large appetizers, Hearsay is a great place for a late night cocktail and bites. hearsayhouston. com. 218 Travis, 713.225.8079. L Daily; D Mon-Sat; LN Fri–Sat. $$
Home Plate Bar & Grill Classic American A great hangout spot before or after an Astros ballgame. Enjoy American food with all menu items (except for sampler platters) less than $10. homeplategrill. com. 1800 Texas, 713.222.1993. L & D Daily (may close earlier during off-season so call first). $
Hong Kong Diner Chinese A favorite of downtown locals, Hong Kong Diner will not disappoint with its expansive menu and delicious chef’s specials. Be sure to try their dumplings. 909 Franklin, 713.236.1688. L & D Mon-Sat. $
L House of Blues Southern Classic
HOB serves Southern-inspired signature classic dishes such as voodoo shrimp, Tennessee baby back ribs and the Cajun classic, Creole jambalaya. Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits, you can’t miss House of Blues’ famous Sunday Gospel Brunch. hob.com. Houston Pavilions, 1204 Caroline, 888.402.5837. L & D Daily. $$
Houston Tamales Factory Mexican Family recipes made with fresh ingredients. Great breakfast tacos and of course the tamales are the specialty of the house. houstontamalesfactory.com. 1205 Travis. B & L Mon-Sat. $
L Hubcap Burger Grill American Classic Small but quaint burger joint. 1111 Prairie, 713.223.5885. L Mon-Sat. $
Humble Cafe American The Humble Cafe is a full-service restaurant serving up breakfast and dinner in a casual atmosphere. Courtyard by Marriott, 916 Dallas, 832.366.1600. B & D Daily. $
L Hunan Downtown Chinese You’ll be impressed by the elegant décor, and their Chinese cuisine is as impeccable as the restaurant itself. Guests can indulge in traditional favorites or try new creations. 812 Capitol, 713.227.8999. L & D Mon-Sat. $$ L Irma’s Mexican Irma Galvan has been crowned Houston’s Tex-Mex goddess. This authentic spot is a longtime favorite among Houston politicos and downtown business people. Traditional, home-cooked Mexican cuisine is served for breakfast and lunch on weekdays. 22 North Chenevert, 713.222.0767. B & L Mon-Fri. $$ L Irma’s New Southwest Grill Mexican
Irma’s second location is a hip spot to satisfy a Mexican food craving. Enjoy tasty foods and great drinks for lunch or dinner. Only a few short blocks from Minute Maid Park. irmassouthwest.com. 1314 Texas, 713.247.9651. B & L Mon-Fri. Open on Astros baseball game days and nights three hours before first pitch. $$ James Coney Island Fast Food This local favorite has been serving delicious hot dogs to downtown Houston patrons since 1923. The chili recipe has stayed the same, but new menu additions include Polish sausage, a Chicago-style dog and a New York-style dog. jamesconeyisland.com. 815 Dallas, 713.652.3819. B, L & D Mon-Sat. $
Jason’s Deli Deli Order to please, Jason’s will make your sandwich or salad exactly how you like it. jasonsdeli.com. 901 McKinney, 713.650.1500. B & L Mon-Fri. $ Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches Deli Try the tasty 8-inch subs starting at $3.50 or $7.75 for the J.J. Gargantuan, which has five different meats. All subs are served on your choice of fresh-baked French bread or thick-sliced 7-grain bread or try the low carb lettuce wrap: all the regular sandwich ingredients without the bread. jimmyjohns.com. 820 Main, 713.222.9995. L Mon-Sat. $
Josephine’s Ristorante Italian Enjoy traditional favorites made from scratch at this family-owned eatery. Great service and a cozy, casual atmosphere make you feel right at home. josephinesitalian.com. 1209 Caroline, 713.759.9323. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat. $$
The Lake House Fast Casual The Lake House offers family-friendly food, featuring burgers, Kobe beef hot dogs, salads, shakes, wine and beer. Located on Kinder Lake, there is a large patio where you can watch model boats race across the water or listen to some live music from the nearby amphitheater stage. thelakehousehouston.com. Discovery Green, 1611 Lamar. Tue-Wed 11-3; Thu-Sun 11-8. $
L La Palapa Fast Food
A Courthouse District favorite, there’s always a line at this free-standing pink concession stand for breakfast tacos and hamburgers. 1110 Preston, 713.228.9620. B & L Mon-Fri. $
L Last Concert Cafe Mexican Tucked away in the Warehouse District, this Tex-Mex cafe was born in 1949 and still supplies tasty food and local music today. Spend some time on the leafy back patio and you’ll swear you’re in your neighbor’s backyard throwing back a cold one. Insiders know that to get in you have to knock on the red door. lastconcert.com. 1403 Nance, 713.226.8563. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sun; LN Fri-Sat; Bar & Live Music Tue-Sat. $ LLes Givral’s Kahve Vietnamese
Winner of the 2006 “City’s Best” award for Vietnamese restaurants in Houston, Les Givral’s offers up a delicious menu and great service. Located in downtown’s historic Market Square. lesgivrals.com. 801 Congress, 713.547.0444. B Mon-Fri; L Mon-Sat; D Fri & Sat. $
Little Napoli Italian Offering southern Italian items in a casual setting, you can opt for indoor seating or take a spot on their large patio right on Main Street. Their healthy options, such as whole wheat pizza crust and low-fat cheeses, are a nice touch. littlenapoli.net. 1001 Texas, 713.225.3900. L, D & LN Daily. $$
Luby’s, etc. American Enjoy an incredible view of downtown along with 10 food stations offering a wide variety of goodies: a build-your-own salad bar, made-to-order grill, pizza by-the-slice, delightful deli, global café and traditional Luby’s cafeteria line with all the classic dishes. lubysetc.com. 1301 Fannin, 13th Floor, 713.759.9954. B & L Mon–Fri. $
Lucky Strike Lanes & Lounge American
Upscale bowling alley with a separate restaurant/ lounge area. Bowlers and patrons relax on sleek leather couches and enjoy floor-to-ceiling video
screens that flash movie clips and music videos as DJs deliver danceable grooves. Delectable munchies, including tomato and cheese s'mores and mac-andcheese bites, are available lane-side and in the lounge. bowlluckystrike.com. Houston Pavilions, 1201 San Jacinto Street, Level 3, 713.343.3300. L, D & LN Daily. $$
Mandarin Hunan Restaurant Chinese This upscale eatery gives its guests an engaging experience in Chinese cuisine. Located in the Skyline District, Mandarin’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows provide a great view of the streetscape. 777 Walker, 713.224.1212. L & D Mon-Fri. $
L Market Square Bar & Grill American
This Chicago-style neighborhood hangout is a local favorite. Boasting a handful of “fire-powered” burgers, Market Square offers plenty of reasons to stop by for a meal or drink. The backyard patio, friendly staff and full bar add flavor. marketsquarehouston.com. 311 Travis, 713.224.6133. L, D & LN Mon-Sat. $
L Massa’s Restaurant Seafood An upscale and elegant restaurant offering a fine selection of American and seafood cuisine. Superior service and a great dining atmosphere allow guests to enjoy a memorable experience. massas.com. 1160 Smith, 713.6500.0837. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat. $$ L Massa’s Seafood Grill Seafood
Like its sister restaurant, you can count on superior service and a great dining atmosphere. Conveniently located close to the convention center and Toyota Center, it’s a great spot for lunch and dinner. massas.com. The Shops at Houston Center, 1331 Lamar, 713.655.9100. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat. $$
L McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood
The extensive menu changes daily depending on each day’s fresh seafood deliveries. With more than 80 preparations on the menu each day, every guest is sure to find something to satisfy their palate. mccormickandschmicks.com. Houston Pavilions, 1201 Fannin. 713.658.8100. L & D Daily. $$$
McDonald’s Fast Food 808 Dallas @ Milam, 713.651.9449. B & L Daily; D Mon-Fri. $
L Mia Bella Italian
Located in the heart of the Historic District, you’ll enjoy an eclectic variety of Italian cuisine blended with a Mediterranean feel. A longtime favorite, this intimate little bistro’s simple, yet appealing décor, makes it a downtown standout. bellarestaurants.com. Houston Pavilions, 1201 San Jacinto, 832.319.6675. 320 Main, 713.237.0505 L & D Daily; LN Fri & Sat. $$
Mingalone Italian Bar & Grill Italian A dedication to authentic Italian cuisine makes Mingalone a special place. Just seconds away from all the major theaters, Mingalone is the perfect spot to enjoy dinner before or after a show. mingalone.com. Bayou Place, 540 Texas, 713.223.0088. L & D Mon-Sun. $$ Molly’s Pub Pub Fare A good ol’ Irish bar with tasty food to soak up the beer. Your standard pub fare— sandwiches, dogs and pretty much anything that’s not good for you. mollyspubs.com. 509 Main, 713.222.1033. L, D & LN Daily. $
L Morton’s The Steakhouse Steak House
This award-winning steakhouse offers an outstanding menu. The downtown location features their new
bar concept, Bar 12•21, which includes an impressive wine and martini menu along with their specially priced “bar bites.” mortons.com. 1001 McKinney, 713.659.3700. D Mon-Sun. $$$$
Murphy’s Deli Deli Indulge in a variety of sandwiches and salads. Hot or cold, Murphy’s specializes in creating your sandwich any way it’s ordered. 601 Jefferson, 713.652.4939. 1021 Main, 713.275.1912. 440 Louisiana, 713.247.9122. B & L Mon-Fri all locations. $
New Orleans Cajun Po-Boy Fast Food A great place to grab a fried shrimp or crawfish po-boy. 648 Polk, 713.750.0007. L Mon-Fri. $
L New York Pizzeria Pizza
604 Polk, 713.759.9800.
L Mon-Fri; D Tue-Fri. $
L Pappas BBQ Barbecue Voted one of Houston’s best year after year, this barbecue joint offers an excellent selection with Texas-sized portions. Traditional favorites such as brisket, ribs, sausage and ham are served with Pappas’ flare. Delivery and take-out are available. pappasbbq.com. 1217 Pierce, 713.659.1245. L & D Daily. 1100 Smith, 713.759.0018. L & D Mon-Fri. $ Paul’s Snack Shop Deli Sandwiches, salads and snacks to-go.1213 Prairie, 713.224.4701. B & L Mon-Fri. $
L Perbacco Italian
An adorable little spot located at street level of one of Houston’s skyscrapers, Perbacco serves up Italian cuisine in a modern and fresh atmosphere. Catering to downtown workers and the theater crowd, you always get quick and friendly service and tasty food. 700 Milam, 713.224.2422. L Mon-Fri; D Thu-Sat. $
Picazo Bar & Grill International Picazo’s very diverse menu features everything from pizza and salad to prime steaks and signature martinis. Picazo offers free downtown delivery and full-service catering. picazodowntown.com. 1421 Preston, 713.236.1300. B & L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat. $$
Plaza Bistro Fast Casual Kick back at Jones Plaza and enjoy a quick bite to eat. Plaza Bistro also serves up treats during scheduled Jones Plaza events. 600 Louisiana, Jones Plaza, 713.236.8850. L Mon-Fri. Also open for plaza events. $
Ponte Vecchio Ristorante Italiano Italian Don’t let the cafeteria-style service at Ponte Vecchio fool you, everything is prepared from scratch. You’ll find many delicious, healthy selections on the menu at this luncheon eatery, all at a reasonable price. alpontevecchio.com. 507 Dallas, 713.659.9400. L Mon-Fri. $
Popeye’s Fast Food 1116 Travis, 713.571.8600. L & D Mon-Sat. $
L Quattro Contemporary Italian
Vivid colors, creative lighting and a unique design create a sophisticated and inviting ambience for guests. Located in the Four Seasons Hotel, Quattro is one of downtown’s best restaurants. Four Seasons Hotel, 1300 Lamar, 713.652.6250. B, L & D Daily. $$$
Quizno’s Fast Food 811 Rusk, 713.227.7702. L & D Mon-Fri. 1119 Commerce, 713.228.9000. L & D Mon-Sun. $
Rachel’s Sandwich Shop Deli A good little sandwich shop. 421 San Jacinto, 713.223.3913. B & L Mon-Fri. $
Ray’s Franks American Ray's serves up hotdogs and burgers in an environment that is full of b-horror movie nostalgia. Menu items include The Leatherface bacon cheeseburger and the Freddy Krueger, which is a deep-fried hot dog served with fried jalapeños and onions on top. Vegetarians aren't left out, as Ray's serves a black bean Blacula burger and a Clockwork Orange veggie dog. raysfranks.com. 1302 Nance, 713.224.6441. L & D Mon–Sat. $
Red & White Bistro International A Chef’s Table buffet features a variety of world cuisines and an assortment of delectable desserts. Compliment your meal with a selection from Red & White’s two 1,500 bottle wine towers. houstontoyotacenter.com. 1510 Polk, 713.758.7534. Open 90 minutes prior to the start of Toyota Center events; call ahead for reservations. $$$
Red Cat Jazz Café Cajun Cajun style blends with Houston flavor at the Red Cat. Indulge in the distinct ambiance, cuisine and sounds offered at this laid-back spot. Live music nightly. redcatjazzcafe.com. 924 Congress, 713.226.7870. D & LN Daily. $$
L Sambuca New American A hip, trendy and upscale restaurant right in the mix of Main Street. The menu includes a wide variety of favorites and combined with the live music, Sambuca is Houston’s ultimate supper club. sambucarestaurant.com. 909 Texas, 713.224.5299. L Mon-Fri ; D & LN Daily. $$$ SG’s Express Vietnamese Vietnamese You’ll find all your Vietnamese favorites here: vermicelli bowl, the sandwich, egg drop soup, egg rolls and many different smoothie flavors. 1225 Travis, 713.659.0200. L Mon-Fri. $
Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops Steak House An ideal location to enjoy a great steak, Spencer’s offers top-quality beef and boasts an extensive wine list. The atmosphere is light, engaging and conducive to conversation. Hilton Americas, 1600 Lamar, 713.577.8325. L & D Daily. $$$$
State Bar Pub Fare Located on the second floor of Post Rice Lofts with a beautiful balcony overlooking Texas Ave., this upscale lounge also serves appetizers and hearty sandwiches with your martinis and margaritas. thestatebar.com. 909 Texas, Suite 2A, 713.229.8888. Mon-Sat. $
L Strip House Steak House
Only minutes from the convention center and Toyota Center, Strip House’s mouth-watering steaks are accompanied by a seductive ambiance. Red walls and carpet give this steak palace a unique interior. An international collection of wines puts the finishing touches on the restaurant. striphouse.net. The Shops at Houston Center, 1200 McKinney, 713.659.6000. L Mon-Fri; D Daily; LN Fri & Sat. $$$$
Subway Fast Food 405 Main, 713.227.4700. 805 Dallas, 713.651.1331. Daily. $
L Table 7 Bistro American Open seven days a week , Table 7 Bistro is a combination of an upscale, yet casual atmosphere. The bistro serves a selection of artistically and generously presented cuisine. Guests can enjoy the warm, comfortable scenery while viewing the floor to ceiling windows and the colorful array of art. Happy hour weekdays offer $4 well drinks and $2 domestic beers, and its happy hour all weekend with $2 mimosas all day on Saturdays and Sundays. district7grill.com. 720 Fannin @ The Club Quarters, 713-227-4800. B, L & D Daily. $
Shay McElroy’s Pub Fare This authentic Irish pub offers up a menu of appetizers, sandwiches, salads and soups. mcelroyspub.com. 909 Texas, 713.223.2444. L Mon–Fri. $
Thepthidaa Thai Thai A traditional Thai restaurant located at the ground level of the loft residence Hogg Palace. The warm and cozy atmosphere offers a great setting for a dinner escape and is a local favorite. 401 Louisiana, 713.225.4900. D Daily. $
The Shops at Houston Center Food Court
Au Bon Pain, Chick-Fil-A, Chicken Kitchen, Doozo Dumpling & Noodles, Droubi Bros. Grill, Great American Cookies, Longhorn Uptown Café, Mediterranean Grill, Murphy’s Deli, Ninfa’s, Otto’s Barbeque, Planet Smoothie, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Quizno’s, Roman Delight, Salata, Simon’s Homestyle Café, Starbucks, Subway, Teppanyaki, Wall Street Deli, Wok & Roll. shopsathc.com. 1200 McKinney, 713.759.1442. Mon-Sat, hours vary. $
L Shula’s American Steak House Steak House Dark wood, sports memorabilia and menus hand-painted on official NFL game footballs makes Pro Hall of Famer Don Shula’s Steak House stand out from the rest. Become a member of the 48oz Club by finishing a 48-ounce Shula Cut. donshula.com. Hyatt Regency Hotel, 1200 Louisiana, 713.375.4777. B, L & D Daily. $$$
Skyline Deli Deli With their freshly baked bread, Skyline makes a great deli sandwich. 717 Texas, 713.571.0509. B & L Mon-Fri. $
L Spaghetti Warehouse Italian
Making its home in an old warehouse, this Italian-American eatery offers up large portions for lunch and dinner. Traditional menu items such as spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and pizza allow the Spaghetti Warehouse to cater to all ages and appetites. 901 Commerce, 713.229.0009. L & D Daily. $$
III Forks American Upscale, warm atmosphere and impeccable service sets the stage for this well-known steakhouse. New York strip and filet mignon, bone-in ribeye, porterhouse, young rack of lamb and veal chop are served with duchess potatoes, off-the-cob cream corn, and perfectlycooked vegetables. Seafood items include Chilean sea bass, Ahi tuna, salmon, halibut, scallops and lobster tails, which are flown in daily. iiiforks.com. Houston Pavilions, 1201 San Jacinto Street, Level 1, 713.658.9457. L Tue–Fri; D Mon–Sat. $$$$
Travis Chinese Restaurant Chinese All your favorites at affordable prices. 1122 Travis, 713.655.8787. L Daily. $
L Treebeards Cajun Homestyle
A downtown institution for more than 30 years, Treebeards offers tasty Cajun dishes that are sure to satisfy. Favorite menu items include the chicken and shrimp gumbo, red beans and rice and étouffée. For dessert, try their famous butter bar. treebeards.com. 315 Travis, 713.228.2622. Cloisters at Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas, 713.229.8248. L Mon-Fri. $
Trofi Restaurant Continental Trofi’s menu is described as Continental with a Mediterranean and Latin flair and the ambience is casual simple yet sophisticated. Lunch buffets are available Monday through Friday. 400 Dallas, Doubletree Hotel, 713.759.0202. B, L & D Daily. $$
L Vic & Anthony’s Steak House This world-class steak house is one of the most elegant dinning locations in Houston. It boasts rich mahogany woodwork and one-of-a-kind hospitality. Located in the heart of the Ballpark District and across from Minute Maid Park, Vic & Anthony’s is the ideal spot for entertaining business clients, a special celebration or for a pre/post-game dinner. vicandanthonys.com. 1510 Texas, 713.228.1111. L Fri; D Daily. $$$$ L Voice Restaurant & Lounge Modern American A fine-dining experience located in the historic lobby of Hotel Icon’s landmark bank building. The intimate dining room is extravagant, and the exquisite dishes from the Gulf Coast and South Texas emphasize fresh ingredients. A contemporary lounge with a modern setting for cocktails and an elegant after-work meeting place. hotelicon.com. Hotel Icon, 220 Main, 832.667.4470. B Daily; D Mon-Sat. $$$$
Warren’s Inn Fast Casual The good times roll with a killer jukebox, excellent drinks, and a fun, bohemian environment. Quick sandwiches and other items are served during the day; you can order in from nearby restaurants at night if you have the munchies. 307 Travis, 713.247.9207. L Mon-Fri; LN Daily. $ Wimpy’s Hamburgers Fast Food Wimpy’s serves up a pretty good burger but they also have many other down-home favorites. 632 Polk, 713.652.0123. B & L Mon-Fri. $
new! Yao's Restaurant Asian The menu at Yao’s is a mix of standard American Chinese fare, like sesame chicken and kung pao chicken, along with more exotic dishes like braised abalone. Sushi rolls include the Yao Roll, with snow crab and black caviar topped with lobster. The swank, comfortable lounge area is the perfect place for happy hour and features appetizers starting at $2.95. yaorestaurant.com. Houston Pavilions, 1201 Main, 713.739.9267. L Mon-Fri, D Mon – Sat. $$ Zero’s Sandwich Shop Deli A great little spot for a freshly made deli sandwich. zerossandwichshop.com. 809 Dallas, 713.650.3333. 1110 Lamar, 713.655.7722. 507 Dallas, 713.739.9955. B & L Mon-Fri. $
new! Ziggy's Bar & Grill American Ziggy’s offers healthy comfort food in their new Main St. location. Counter service is offered during the day and table service at night. Happy hour specials include pomegranate martinis and Ziggyritas made with fresh citrus juice. The location is conveniently located along the light rail line and just a few short blocks from the Theater District. Brunch Sat and Sun 9-3. ziggysbarandgrill.com. 702 Main, 713.527.8588. B, L & D Daily. $ Zula New American This eclectic restaurant is memorable with its 25-foot ceilings, mirrors and elaborate color scheme. The menu offers traditional favorites along with new, innovative items. zulahouston.com. 705 Main, 713.227.7052. D Mon-Sat. $$$ Zydeco Louisiana Diner Cajun This cafeteria-style Cajun joint brings Louisiana dishes to the Hospital District of downtown Houston. Traditional Cajun items such as po-boys, jambalaya and gumbo make Zydeco a great lunch stop. A casual atmosphere adds to the enjoyment. 1119 Pease, 713.759.2001. L Mon-Fri. $
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