Downtown Winter 2011

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downtown o

h ot c o m pa n y: B G G r o u p m a k e s a n a m e f o r i t s e l f d o w n to w n connecting you to the center of houston

winter 2011 - 2012

Holiday ideas Trolley hopping Foodie fare Theater going


He's a Soul Man Celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez crafts a new menu Page 35 >

sundance cinemas


Keeping it REEL with independent films

Livable Centers Study looks to the future 22


come down to houston pavilions and count the snowballs

Make a guess and be entered into a drawing for a

in the sUV or go to and make a guess!

There are also special gift certificates and prizes in some of the snowballs, and on

chance to win a $10,000 cash prize!

December 23rd we are going to open the doors and have a Snowball Fight! Come down at Noon on December 23rd and see if you can grab a snowball with a prize!

If you come down to Houston Pavilions, you can enjoy snow in the City twice a day on weekdays and once on saturday! It’s snowing in downtown Houston, but it’s better than real snow…it’s bubbles. Weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. snow falls at roughly 15-minute intervals.

s h o p p i n G | D i n i n G | e n t e r ta i n M e n t

h o u s to n p av i l i o n s .co m

| 8 3 2 . 3 2 0.1 2 0 0 | F R E E W I - F I

Co R n E R o F Da l l as & M a I n st R E E ts | o P E n 7 DaYs a W E E K Va l e t p a r k i n g ava i l a b l e o n Fa n n i n , s a n J a c i n to a n d C a ro l i n e. at t a c h e d p a r k i n g g a ra g e o n C l ay b e t we e n M a i n & Fa n n i n .

downtown houston winter 2011 - 2012


volume 4 number 2


Inside 4 Mark your calendar

Downtown and EaDo’s recent Livable Centers Study is the roadmap we need to help us navigate the future.

3 must list

Tickets to the hottest game in town, a spectacle on ice, a long-awaited foodie favorite and much, much more.

8 backstage

Holiday favorites, Broadway blockbusters, dance sensations and the return of a Houston symphonic icon fill up the Theater District’s winter calendar. by HEATHER PRAY

14 hot companies

Energy powerhouse BG Group may call the United Kingdom home, but they rule the colonies from downtown Houston. by barbara henshaw


33 plate/sip

Crossroads at House of Blues feeds the soul with their new menu, courtesy of celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez. And find the perfect spot to chill with “sip.”


2 publishers’ note

We’ve put together some terrific itineraries to get you through the holiday season and well into 2012. by Lauren covington

16 Reel excitement

When the Angelika Film Center shuttered its doors, film lovers mourned its passing but held on to the hope that something better would find its way downtown. The opening of Sundance Cinemas Houston is proof that dreams really do come true. by holly beretto

22 Big plans

Bayou Place, Minute Maid Park, Toyota Center, Houston Pavilions, One Park Place, Discovery Green, light rail and a multitude of residential and retail options, simply didn’t exist prior to 1996. But downtown still has a long way to go if it’s to become a truly pedestrian friendly, urban neighborhood. And the recently released Downtown/EaDo Livable Centers Study gives downtown stakeholders a plan to follow. Question is, will they? by david theis

39 datebook

Theater, concerts, tours, festivals, special events and much more.

48 destination downtown map Scan to sign up for the weekly Downtown Happenings email

cool fitness

Questions or comments? Drop us a line at

Managing Editor/Creative Director Angie Bertinot, Downtown District Copy Editor Barbara Linkin Mendel, Mendel Creative Solutions Design ph Design Shop Photography Katya Horner, Slight Clutter Photography


Contributing Writers Holly Beretto, Lauren Covington, Barbara Henshaw, Barbara Linkin Mendel, Heather Pray, David Theis Advertising Information Angie Bertinot, 713.650.3022/

zumba on ice hits discovery green! join the fun every Wednesday in December.

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:

Publishers' Note


Looking ahead If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. We’ve all heard it. And while it’s trite, it’s also true. That’s why we spend so much of our resources making plans for an improved downtown – whether it’s more residential options, a better pedestrian experience or supporting retail development. We never stop thinking about what we need to do or where we want to be. We encourage you to read all about the Downtown/EaDo Livable Centers Study in David Theis’ comprehensive story starting on page 22. As the study makes clear, we’ve got our work cut out for us if we want to achieve a truly walkable, livable urban neighborhood, but we’ve also made tremendous progress over the last 10 years. Do we think it’s possible? Absolutely. In fact, we are well on our way and we believe this study gives us a realistic road map for the future. We hope you’ll come along for the ride! This quarter’s issue also introduces you to downtown’s highly-anticipated new tenant – Sundance Cinemas. With reserved seating, an exciting indie film lineup and beautiful interior, it will be best place to catch a flick any day of the week. Read all about it starting on page 16. Be sure you check out our extensive calendar listings starting on page 39, including our festive holiday happenings. We’ve also put together an itinerary of seasonal favorites. And don’t forget Plate, where you’ll discover details on the hot new menu at Crossroads at House of Blues along with one of the most comprehensive restaurant listings around. Just keep this issue handy for whatever leisure activity you might be planning. Or check us out online at And keep sending your comments and suggestions our way.

Realistic road map for the future

Bob Eury

Andrew Huang

Downtown District

Houston Downtown Alliance

ABOUT OUR COVER STORY The Houston community was distraught when the Angelika Film Center closed its doors in August 2010. But landlord Cordish and the City of Houston immediately got to work on finding a new cinema partner, setting their sights on Robert Redford's Sundance Cinemas. We could not be more thrilled that they have chosen Houston as their third location. They have raised the bar with an unrivaled movie-going experience. Enjoy the show! Photos by Kristina Loggia


winter 2011-2012





Must buy

2 GO

The completion of the Dynamo’s new downtown home is still months away, but you can ensure you are part of the action (and a hero to your favorite sports fan) by purchasing season tickets for 2012. Tickets are going fast, so go Orange today at If you’ve got a history buff on your gift list, we’ve got the perfect buy - Houston 175 – A Pictorial Celebration of Houston’s 175-Year History. This gorgeous coffee table book features hundreds of fascinating pictures of our city. And is solid proof that we’ve got a pretty amazing history after all. Get yours today at For the cutting-edge consumer, pop into The Tipping Point for the latest in urban fashions. Vans, PF Flyers, Puma and G Shock – The Tipping Point has them all and you can see them all at

New hot spots are sprouting up all over downtown, and we suggest you make some time to check out a few of our faves. > Start with Phoenicia Specialty Foods on the ground floor of One Park Place. In addition to their uber-fresh pita bread, premium meats and cheeses and boutique wines and beers, Phoenicia also is home to MKT Bar, where you can chill with friends while enjoying tasty bites in a relaxed atmosphere. > Next, put The Capitol at St. Germain on your Saturday night itinerary. Live music, cocktails

Zumba at Discovery Green is wildly popular. The Ice at Discovery Green is a seasonal treat. Of course it makes sense to put the two together for Zumba on Ice. Whether you decide to participate or just watch the spectacle unfold, we highly recommend you check it out every Wednesday in December.


and dining are all on the agenda at this majestic turnof-the-century venue restored to its original grandeur at the corner of Main and Capitol. > Don’t forget Sundance Cinemas, which has reinvigorated the movie-going experience in downtown Houston. With their reserved seating, independent film lineup and distinctive interior, Sundance Cinemas is the best place to catch a flick any day of the week.


The Chevron Houston Marathon is great fun but this year brings something extra special to the sporting weekend. On Jan. 14, Houston will host the men’s and women’s Olympic Trials Marathon to determine the three men and three women who will represent our country at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It’s an

unprecedented chance to see some of the United State’s elite athletes in fine form.

We never can say goodbye, and thanks to Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour we don’t have to. This dazzling fusion of visuals, dance, music and fantasy will immerse you in Jackson’s creative world Feb. 10-12 at Toyota Center.

Photo by OSA Images

MUST Sign Up


Looking for fun ideas for the weekend? Sports or theater? Where to go with friends after work? Our weekly eBlast will plug you in-- spotlighting this week’s events, new openings and special promotions downtown.


WINTER 2011-2012

Itineraries by Lauren Covington

GOOD TIMES! Want to make this season memorable but don’t know where to start? We’ve got all the answers. Whether you want to do the nightlife scene up big or just chill with friends and family, downtown is the place for a unique experience. Check out some top picks that will make your special day, well, special.

01. HOLIDAY CHEER Downtown’s Holiday Spectacular offers a magical experience with free trolley rides connecting you to great downtown holiday destinations. Shopping is a big part of this season; so while you’re hitting up Macy’s, Houston Pavilions and The Shops at Houston Center for your gifting needs, consider these holiday traditions to keep your spirits bright. Early risers should start at the Downtown Aquarium for a photo op and breakfast with Santa throughout December. Next head over to the St. Joseph Medical Center’s Ice at Discovery Green for an afternoon of skating in the park. This eco-friendly outdoor ice-rink offers a full schedule of events to keep skaters of all ages entertained as they bring live music, celebrity skaters and Zumba fitness to the ice. Once you’ve perfected your triple axel, make your way to The Four

Seasons for a toasty treat. On Thursdays in December, visit the fourth floor pool bar where you can sit by the fire, sip libations, nibble on appetizers and fire up s’mores any way you like ‘em. And the ultimate holiday tradition delights with more than 100 dazzling dancers on stage for The Nutcracker at Wortham Center. Houston Ballet’s breathtaking production is not to be missed. Just ask the one million people who have seen the show since its Houston premiere in 1987. Need something a little saucier? David Sedaris’s The Santaland Diaries, featuring Todd Waite at Alley Theatre, chronicles the comic encounters of Crumpet the Elf during the height of the holiday crunch. Leave the sugarplums at home; this show is recommended for mature audiences.

02. NEW YEAR’S EVE Whether 2011 was a year to remember or urgently bid adieu, the arrival of 2012 is a time to celebrate. Before you slip into your fancy evening garb, take your New Year’s fitness resolutions by the horns and visit Buffalo Bayou Park’s 10 miles of urban wilderness for a brisk workout in the park. Now it’s time to party! Houston’s annual countdown returns with New Year’s Eve Live at Discovery Green and the George R. Brown Convention Center. This free, family-friendly evening offers plenty of fun with good eats, a beer and bubble garden, illuminated parade, live performances, 3-D light show and spectacular fireworks to entertain guests throughout the night. Casual fun is key


winter 2011-2012


at this signature event. For a more low-key, luxe celebration, cozy up at The Alden Hotel. Their staycation package includes a romantic five-course tasting menu with wine pairings, deluxe king bed accommodations and in-room breakfast. The Egyptian cotton sheets alone will encourage guests to take advantage of the package’s late checkout. Those who want to celebrate in style can hit up Morton’s Steakhouse, Birraporetti’s or Vic & Anthony’s for a festive meal. Music lovers should snag tickets to Bach in Time at the Hobby Center, featuring a Bach suite, or stop by The Capitol at St. Germain for dinner, dancing and live big band music.


photo by jay lee




03. SUPER BOWL SUNDAY It’s game time. If you didn’t get tickets to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis, stake out your territory at one of downtown’s best watering holes. To catch the big game on the big screen, keep House of Blues and Lucky Strike Lanes on your radar. We can always count on them to put together a massive party for this season’s most anticipated sports event, while providing a feast of scrumptious food. The Flying Saucer is a spot where variety rules, with more than 240 beers and 100 different brewing styles available and a full menu for your tasting pleasure. If you want a seat, get there early as the Saucer fills up quickly. Historic District favorites include Shay McElroy’s, Molly’s Pub, CharBar and the Brewery Tap, where you can throw darts and shoot the bull with the regulars.

For an entire list (or just tips on how to make the most of your Saturday night) plus dining and hotel recommendations, check out our downtown Web portal at


winter 2011-2012





Roses are red, violets are blue. There are so many choices. What should you do? For a casual, intimate evening, reserve a table at Hearsay Gastro Lounge, where the food is delicious and the historic ambiance is unrivaled. Those with a sweet tooth will fall over their bananas foster bites and chocolate domino cake. Go ahead, order both. After dinner, grab some coffee at Niko Niko’s at Market Square to keep you warm on your walk to Sundance Cinemas at Bayou Place, where you can catch this season’s romantic flick. If sitting in a theater doesn’t fit your mojo, make your way to Phoenicia for a glass of wine or espresso at the MKT Bar or a delicious dessert for two. Culture lovers will enjoy an evening of music as they explore the themes of love in Jean-Philippe Rameau’s cantatas, Orphee and Les Amants Trahis with Mercury Baroque at Wortham Center. And just across the street you can find fine dining at Samba Grille, downtown’s coveted Brazilian steakhouse. Samba’s extensive wine list covers all the bases for a night of worldly wine tasting. Those aiming to impress will seek out Spindletop at the Hyatt – a classic spot with 360 degrees of breathtaking downtown views. Ring-bearing men beware: You may not be the only one proposing at this sky-high joint. If reservations are tight there, The Grove at Discovery Green, III Forks and McCormick and Schmicks at Houston Pavilions also will provide excellent meals and an atmosphere to match.

Laissez les bons temps rouler! Louisiana is our neighbor, but getting to New Orleans for Mardi Gras can be a challenge. No worries, we can honor the holiday right here at home the best way we know how – with food. Plenty of places offer up a taste of The Big Easy. Working or living downtown lets you take advantage of Treebeards’ amazing seafood gumbo, blackened catfish or red beans and rice for a midday Cajun treat. The proof is in the pudding with five locations dotting the downtown district. The name says it all, but familyowned Zydeco Louisiana Diner pulls no punches with its weekly lunch specials. Popular menu items include crawfish étouffée, chicken and sausage jambalaya, veggies and cornbread. Plus, the authentic Zydeco atmosphere is a rare gem in today’s world of carefully constructed restaurant decor. Over in the Theater District you’ll find BB’s Cafe, boasting award-winning sandwiches favored by the late-night crowd. The Bullet for the King is stuffed with cream cheese and jalapenos, wrapped in bacon and topped with bacon ranch and fresh tomatoes. You heard that right – there’s double bacon on the King. Keep your pulse on House of Blues’ musical schedule. If their Mardi Gras celebration is anything like last year’s, you might be calling the day after Fat Tuesday stay-home-from-work Wednesday.

Bruce Bennet

Backstage by heathe r pray

art s & cultur e

White Christmas


t wouldn’t be the holidays without Scrooge & Tiny Tim, Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy, Messiah and all the other unforgettable holiday classics that warm your heart. The seasonal classic and family favorite, A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas lights up the Theater District holiday season at Alley Theatre Nov. 18 through Dec. 27.


winter 2011-2012


Follow Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghostly spirits who visit him. Another must-see holiday favorite returns with Crumpet the Elf and his outlandish, and true, chronicles of working in Macy’s Santaland display in David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries at Alley Theatre from Nov. 25 through Dec. 31. Even though it’s still weeks before Christmas, the Houston Symphony

will help the whole family get into the spirit of the season on Dec. 3 with The Night Before Christmas. Clement Clarke Moore’s special musical telling of the annual Christmas Eve visit from jolly old St. Nick also includes an audience sing-along and visit from Santa. Santa visits again with the Houston Symphony when Michael Krajewski conducts holiday favorites with Very Merry Pops, Dec.

9-11. Broadway superstar Linda Eder sings with the Houston Symphony on Dec. 13 and will make the night unforgettable with beloved Christmas classics like Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy and O Holy Night. The following weekend, Dec. 16-18, rejoice greatly as Handel’s Messiah by Candlelight is performed with the Houston Symphony, chorus and soloists. Joyous singing and homecoming also ring true when Theatre Under The Stars brings White Christmas to Hobby Center, Dec. 6-18. Borrowing liberally from the movie everyone loves, and sprinkled with Irving Berlin’s best songs, this refreshed TUTS tradition will have you

dreaming of a white Christmas. Experience more snow by way of the 200 pounds delicately dropped onto the Brown Theater stage at Wortham Theater Center for The Nutcracker with Houston Ballet from Nov. 25 through Dec. 27. Get tickets for The Irish Tenors: Holiday Special on Dec. 7 courtesy of Society for the Performing Arts. And to conclude the festive holidays, Ars Lyrica offers a concert and New Year’s Eve celebration on Dec. 31 at the Hobby Center. A beloved Bach suite, plus vocal works by the great Baroque master on the subject of time and its multiple dimensions highlight this festive evening. For an additional ticket price,

guests will be a part of a special night complete with champagne, delectable hors d’oeuvres and musical entertainment.


It’s not all fairies and nutcrackers for Houston Ballet this season. Jubilee of Dance on Dec. 2 showcases the talent and artistry of the company dancers in a program of highenergy excerpts from signature works and beloved classics. The event also honors Houston Ballet’s managing director Cecil C. Conner’s 17 years of stellar administrative leadership. New music and dance come together in a collaborative concert with

A Ch ris tm as Ca ro l


AMITAva sarkar

Houston Ballet II, the second company of Houston Ballet and part of Houston Ballet Academy, as part of Free of the Ground at Hobby Center on Jan. 7. SPA is bringing the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s box office sensation Moulin Rouge - The Ballet to Jones Hall on Feb. 4. There’s always a reason to share the magic of Riverdance. The dance sensation is here as part of the Gexa Broadway Series, Feb. 10-12. More stunning dance appears on the Hobby Center Zilkha stage Feb. 9 through 12 with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, featuring a stunning gala version of 27’52” by Jiri Kylian, the Texas premiere of Walsh’s Nessuno, memorable duets from Walsh’s award-winning The Trilogy: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed by Domenico Luciano with newcomer Stefania Figliossi and exceptional Japanese ballerina Hana Sakai, and a cameo by one of Houston’s beloved ballerinas in Walsh’s dramatic The Dying Swan. SPA brings the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to Houston on March 2 and 3.



Rain is almost like being transported back in time and you only have two days to catch this laid-back, concert-like experience – Amy Fote and Simon Ball Nov. 18 and 19. Everyone’s favorite creepy, kooky TV family devilishly comes to life in the macabre new musical comedy The Addams Family with Gexa Energy Broadway Jan. 10-15. The Toxic Avenger will have you laughing out loud at the Alley Theatre Jan. 20 through Feb. 12. Text, song, dance and multimedia express the powerful vision of the world of Dulcinea Langfelder & Co. with Dulcinea’s Lament presented by SPA

on Jan. 14. Bring It On: The Musical visits Theatre Under The Stars at Hobby Center, Jan. 24 through Feb. 5. Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, an enduring masterpiece, returns by way of the Alley Theatre, Feb. 3 through March 4. Love, sacrifice and redemption are embodied by the dazzling heroine of Verdi’s La Traviata presented by Houston Grand Opera Jan. 27 through Feb. 12. More love and loss continue the season with the extraordinary new production of Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at the Wortham Center, Feb. 3-11. Benjamin Britten and Ronald Duncan wrote this opera in 1946 as an allegorical exploration of World War II’s devastation. SPA presents a mesmerizing night of Felliniesque mayhem when firefly eyes, hungry anteaters, hitchhiking rabbits and more invade Houston with IMAGO Theatre in ZooZoo. Enjoy comedy, illusion, physical finesse and original music with Imago’s wordless production on Feb.10. A hilarious battle of cons ensues at Hobby Center when Masquerade Theatre presents Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Feb. 17-26. Based on the popular 1988 film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels N u tc ra c k e r will keep you laughing, humming and guessing as you follow two men and a dame living on the French Riviera. The hits just keep coming when Gexa Energy Broadway presents Million Dollar Quartet at Hobby Center Feb. 28-March 4. It’s Dec. 4, 1956, and four young musicians gather at Sun Records in Memphis for what will be one of the greatest jam sessions ever. Inspired by the rock ‘n’ roll true story of the famed recording session that brought together icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first

M ou lin Ro ug e

Bruce Monk

Jeremy Daniel

Th e Ad da ms Fa mi ly


winter 2011-2012


December 6 - 18 HObby CeNter

tiCkets start at ONly $24!


Jan. 24 – Feb. 5, 2012 Make plans for the new year NOW!


Photo: Matt Hoyle

133A_hou_1112_combo_DntnMag_FNL_Layout 1 11/1/11 11:24 AM Page 1

JANUARY 10-15, 2012

FEBRUARY 10-12, 2012


To Order Call 800.952.6560 (Mon-Fri 10am-5pm) or Visit 1/2 page horiz. (7.75” x 4.875”), Houston 2011-12 Season Combo 3-show Ad for Downtown Magazine, Runs: Fall Issue (bertsDesign Job# 102.11.133A)

Ho ust on Gra nd Op era pre sen ts La Tra via ta.


Houston Symphony combines stunning visual and musical production with one of the most beloved musical works, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, on Nov. 26. Expect another monumental evening at Jones Hall with the return of Christoph Eschenbach as he leads the Houston Symphony in Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 on Dec. 6. Once you’re untied from strands of holiday garland, Houston Symphony kicks of the new Ravi Colt rane Qua rtet year with a three-week Rach-fest. Enjoy Piano Concerto No. 3 and Symphonic Dances by Rachmaninoff Jan. 5-8. Artist-in-residence Kirill Gerstein continues the romantic themes of Rachmaninoff (he’s actually playing all four piano concertos), Jan. 13-15, with the tribute to this most beloved Russian composer ending with Rach 2 and 3 on Jan. 19-22. He’s come a long way from plucking rubber bands wrapped onto his dresser drawers and on Jan. 20, SPA presents Joshua Bell and his Gibson ex Huberman Stradivarious for a dazzling evening on the Jones Hall stage. Another Houston fave, the Ravi Coltrane Quartet, begins the jazz series for Da Camera on Jan. 27. If the name sounds familiar, yes, he is the son of legendary saxophonist John Coltrane and pianist Alice Coltrane and his music proves that the genius of this musical family lives on. Enjoy epic music from Hollywood’s Dream Team, Jan. 27-29, with the Houston Symphony and The Best of Spielberg and Williams, including some of conductor Mike Krajewski’s favorite selections from Schindler’s List, Raiders of the Lost Ark and more. Step back into time with Vienna 1828: Schubert’s Invitation Concert with Da Camera on Feb. 4. Things get a bit folksier 12

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when Czech conductor Jakub Hruša presents a compelling mix of sublimely tuneful music, lively folk dances and a riveting musical story of a bloodthirsty warlord at Jones Hall, Feb.10-12. You won’t want to miss Houston Symphony’s out-of-this-world premiere, Feb. 17 and 18, of the second film of the HD Odyssey series. Orbit – An HD Odyssey focuses on planet Earth and will leave you gazing at striking images accompanied by Strauss’ epic tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra. Contrasts between breathless tenderness and the powerful, triumphal finale of Beethoven’s Fifth will fill Jones Hall Feb. 23, 25 and 26. Plus, meet Colin Currie, a star in the world of solo percussion, for whom Rautavaara composed the provocative concerto, Incantations. Another favorite composer visits by way of Russia’s Tchaikovsky Competition when SPA presents the winner, Daniil Tifonov, on Feb. 22. TAO: The Art of Drum hits the Wortham on Feb. 24 with their modern take on a traditional art form. Worldly scenes are a major theme of this season’s performances and Da Camera takes you on a whirlwind trip to Debussy’s Paris on March 3. Rediscover Debussy with Chausson’s passionately romantic Concerto and the younger Caplet’s Fantastic Tale, inspired by an Edgar Allen Poe story. With great holiday performances and a fantastic variety of art to fulfill at least one NewYear’s resolution (to see more art, of course!), Houston Theater District has all you need. So grab a seat and enjoy!

Chris Dawes

and only time, you won’t want to miss the chance to be a fly on this wall of fame.

C o li n C u rr ie

Welcome to a different kind of car culture.

New light rail lines. Under construction. Imagine being able to take the rail from your job downtown to a picnic in Hermann Park, an appointment in the Texas Medical Center, a game at the new Dynamo stadium, dinner at the original Doneraki or a show in the Theater District, all for just a few bucks and no parking headache. With the new rail lines currently under construction across Houston, that dream is becoming a reality.

For inFormation and construction updates Visit


hot companies



If you work or live downtown, you’re starting to see the BG Group name all over the place: on the stylish new 46-story building at 811 Main, on signage in the tunnels and soon on the side of seven new downtown buses. But what is BG Group? It explores, produces and markets natural gas and oil around the world. The Houston office is focused on exploration and production, liquefied natural gas shipping, energy marketing and technical support. “We have a very significant business in Houston, but unless you’re an industry insider, you may not be that familiar with us,” said Mike Mott, senior vice president and general manager of strategy and implementation. Houston is the energy capital of the world, and relocating recently from its Galleria offices to downtown puts BG Group adjacent to its industry peers in the Central Business District. “Houston is a place you need to be to do business in the energy industry,” Mott said. And since coming downtown, BG Group has been making itself known in the neighborhood. Its offices are in the building that bears its name, BG Group Place, and it is partnering with the Houston Downtown Management District and Houston First Corp. to bring a free bus service to downtown in May 2012. Called Greenlink, the eco-friendly buses run on compressed natural gas, making them a cleaner transportation alternative. “We are a world leader in natural gas with a growing presence in downtown Houston, which makes our partnership with the Downtown District and Houston First Corp. a perfect fit,” said David Keane, vice president of policy and corporate affairs. “One of the reasons we chose downtown for our new Houston office is that Metro and other transportation connections make commuting easier and more economic for our employees,” he said. “From our perspective, Greenlink makes a good downtown transportation infrastructure even better.”

Consideration for their employees’ needs is something that BG Group officials kept in mind when it relocated. The company moved its 600-person staff from the Galleria area into its new downtown building in August. Finding a place to suit the company and its work force, which had grown from just a handful of employees 10 years ago, was something BG Group’s leadership, under the direction of Martin Houston, took to heart. “We were bursting at the seams,” said Mott of the former facility. “We had to get a building that was representative of our size and business ventures.” BG Group leased 13 floors, or 350,000 square feet, of the property, building out nine floors and leaving room to grow into the other four, Mott said. “I like how open it is,” said Carli Smith, Health, Safety, Security and Environment coordinator, who acknowledged moving downtown has had some definite benefits: the variety of places for lunch, the tunnel system, the farmer’s market in front of City Hall on Wednesdays, Discovery Green, the Metro rail. And one of the perks of being in a skyscraper? “I love my view,” she said, looking out the window north onto Main Street from her desk on the 32nd floor. Mott agrees that the move has had a positive impact on employees. He said the responses

BG Group Place has been certified at the Platinum level under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Core & Shell rating system. Even more notable, BG Group Place is one of only three buildings in the world to be certified LEED Platinum for C&S out of 3,373 total buildings registered for C&S.


winter 2011-2012 downtown

room and a large-screen TV that shows visitors what BG Group is all about. Further into the work areas, the managers’ offices are in the center of the building, giving the outer perimeter – the desks with the panoramic city views – to the rest of the work force. And the employee lounge – too big and comfortable to be called a break room – has soft seating, great views and a

BG Group’s Americas and Global LNG business, headquartered in Houston and managed by Executive Director Martin Houston, includes some of the United Kingdom-based company’s key energy businesses, including lower 48 exploration and production, liquefied natural gas shipping and energy marketing. Houston also is a second hub of BG Advance, which provides strategic and technical support.

architect, and SpawMaxwell, the general contractor. “I can’t say enough about the professionalism of those two companies,” Mott said. The end result has a modern, open feel with eclectic touches – a Brazilian mask here, a ship model there, a cross-section of shiny pipe in an art niche. In the reception area are low-slung gray chairs, white marble with slate floors, floor-to-ceiling windows that allow natural light to wash into the

workout room. At the heart of it all are signs and reminders that underscore one of the company’s core values: safety. “Safety is a state of being,” Mott said. “It’s not something you turn off or turn on.” He said this message starts at the top of the company with Sir Frank Chapman, chief executive of BG Group, and is a cornerstone of how the company does business. When visitors come for meetings at BG

Group’s offices, they are shown where emergency exits are and what to expect if an emergency alarm is sounded. In conference rooms, a deck of cards with safety messages is on the table. Before a meeting begins, a card is drawn from the deck, and a safety reminder is shared with the group. “Our biggest desire is that you come to work and leave work safely,” Mott said.

»»»» bg group at a glance

they’ve received range from “My drive downtown wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be” to “There are so many places to eat and so much to do.” “I am seeing groups of individuals staying in town and doing things at night,” Mott said. Those kinds of after-work outings can only help build teamwork – forming a bond that will carry over into their work, he said. Real estate developer Hines worked with BG Group to ensure its new building was fitting for the growing company. Coincidentally, the common areas that Hines already had developed went very well with BG Group’s idea of clean, modern lines – and the color palate just happened to complement the energy company’s orange and gray scheme. “The Hines management is top shelf,” Mott said. Helping to turn the company’s workspace vision into reality were PDR, its interior

headquarters: United Kingdom known as: A world leader in natural gas worldwide employees: 6,000 employees in houston: 600 houston office: BG Group Place at 811 Main between Walker and Rusk Executive director: Martin Houston Regional managing principal: Jim Furr WEBSITE:


T S H G L I r a e m ca o n acti

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N ot so very long ago , ever y downtown in Ameri ca had a m o v i e

t h e a t e r. In ma ny places they were things of beauty, with ma r b l e i n t h e l o b by and gold leaf around the screen. I t wa s an age w h e n w o m e n w ore white gloves to go shopping, and men checked t h e i r h a t s a t r estaurant doors. Back then, going to the movies wa s a n ev e n t : S c arlett lost Rhett , Lawre nce stared out across vast Ar a b ia , a n d t h e h ills were alive with the sounds of music. “ M o v i e s are shadow, they’re light,” effuses fictional movie p rod u c e r B u ddy Fidler in the musical City of Angels. “ They’re face s 1 0 feet high.” I s i t a n y wonder, then, that we used to call cinemas movie pala c e s ?


winter 2011-2012



Left: Sundance executive Nancy Gribler visits Houston for a pre-opening media event. Below: Sundance showcases an easy-to-use automated ticket buying process.

T o d ay w e s e e m o v i e s a t the multiplex (or streamed instantly in the living room), and movie magic means special effects and epic sound. You can never bring back the nostalgia lost to an age gone by, but even as the way we watch the movies has changed, the experience of going to one can still be powerful. “I don’t think anything takes the place of the community feeling of going to the movies,” says Nancy Gribler, vice president of marketing for Sundance Cinemas, which this winter moves into the space formerly occupied by the Angelika Film Center. With the opening of the new cinema, Sundance is looking to recapture the idea that going to the movies is an experience like no other. The company – an arm of Robert Redford’s Sundance Group, which also owns the Sundance Institute, the Sundance Catalog, the Redford Center, cable’s Sundance Channel, the Sundance Resort and the renowned Sundance Film Festival – took over the Angelika space earlier this year. The expansion into Houston marks the third in the Sundance Cinemas chain (the first Sundance Cinema, Sundance Kabuki, opened in San Francisco, and there is another in Madison, Wis.) Gribler says Sundance completely renovated the space in Bayou Place, taking it down nearly to the studs. It now sports newer, plusher seats and brand-new equipment. The café space has been re-imagined. Sundance Cinemas Houston will still sport eight screens, just like the Angelika, but expect an entirely different movie-going experience than you’ve had before. 18

winter 2011-2012


“Every seat is reserved,” says Gribler, meaning your ticket won’t just say that you have a seat, but that you have a specific seat. Moviegoers can see seating charts and purchase tickets in advance on Sundance Cinemas Houston’s website, and may also buy tickets at the box office. Gribler stresses that this single change of having your seat waiting for you affects the entire experience of an evening or an

back in 2007. “An additional important part of the experience is being able to enjoy a beverage of your choice, alcoholic or not, plus non-fried food casual dining or grazing at your seat while you enjoy the movie. All dining and drinking offerings will be self serve so the movie-watching experience will not be disrupted by the talking of servers and the comings and goings while the film is on screen. Every other seat will have a

Sundance i s l o o k i n g t o r e c a p t u r e t h e i d e a t h at

going to the movies is an experience like no other. afternoon at the movies. Having reserved seats guarantees that you won’t have to fight to look for a place to sit, a not unimportant consideration if you’re thinking of seeing that new blockbuster everyone’s talking about or want to head to the movies on a busy night or weekend. It also ensures that your movie going is a more relaxed outing. “There is no need to rush and stand in line, and people can sit with their friends,” says Paul Richardson, president and CEO of Sundance Cinemas, which he started with Sundance Group president Robert Redford

small tablette between them so you and your partner will have a place for your drinks and food.” If that sounds sophisticated and grownup, that’s the idea. Gribler stresses the idea of this being a leisurely outing, and Richardson says that Sundance Cinemas deliberately set out to improve how we go to the movies – not just what we see. He says the company’s market research showed there was a sizable audience for grown-up Hollywood films, but that audience wasn’t necessarily interested in standing in line with throngs of

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teenagers on a Friday night. They were, however, interested in quality cinema and an elevated cinematic experience, which is what Sundance sets out to deliver. That should come as no surprise, given that the Sundance Film Festival is one of the most important in the world, and that Redford’s company has always made showcasing new and important works a priority. Expect the offerings at Sundance Cinemas Houston to be an eclectic combination of genres. “We call our film programming approach hybrid since it mixes quality Hollywood films, studio boutique films, and films from the micro distributors,” says Richardson. “And having eight screens of varying sizes at the new Sundance Cinemas Houston gives us the opportunity to play a wide variety of films.” Richardson knows a thing or two about offering diverse movie options to Houston’s diverse population. He attended the University of Houston for two years in the early 1970s, but said he never once ventured into downtown. After a 1976 visit to the Bayou City, he was impressed with the city’s emerging arts scene – so much so that he convinced his partner that they should take over the old River Oaks Theatre as the third cinema in their fledgling chain, Landmark Theatres. “The River Oaks was an instant hit playing nostalgia, foreign language and American independent films,” says Richardson, who during his decades with the company, saw Houston’s arts scene flourish and downtown come alive. Even after starting Sundance Cinemas four years ago, he says he never lost interest in Houston. “I always kept my eye on Houston and jumped at the opportunity to grab the former Angelika space when it became available,” he says. “I can’t wait for the theater to open for business on Nov. 23. I feel that I have come home.” Both Richardson and Gribler agree that Sundance Cinemas will be a perfect fit for Houston, given the way the city supports all forms of arts and culture. “My goodness, does Houston embrace the arts,” says Gribler. That cultural connection makes it pos-

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sible for Sundance Cinemas Houston to feel confident that its choice of programming will work well here. In addition to the types of films listed above, Richardson says the cinema obviously plans to support films that play at the Sundance Film Festival.

able setting. She also says that movie lovers should mark Jan. 26, 2012 on their calendars. For the third year in a row, Sundance Cinemas will fly a filmmaker and his or her film to nine U.S. cities, including Houston.

Throughout the winter, moviegoers can look for a variety of activities designed to showcase the full depth of Sundance Cinemas’ commitment to the movies. While decisions are still being made about which films will be shown for the new theater’s opening, Houstonians can expect to see flicks that demonstrate why Sundance is synonymous with cinema. “We play the best of what’s available,” says Gribler, who explains that Sundance Cinemas sends representatives to multiple film festivals – not just the Sundance Film Festival – in search of great stories and movies sure to appeal to Sundance Cinemas audiences. She says that the theater will be showing performances of the National Theatre of London’s productions of A Comedy of Errors and The Collaborators, offering an opportunity for audience members to see world-class theater in Sundance’s comfort-

There will be a showing of the film, after which audience members can ask questions of the filmmaker. This happens right in the middle of the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s an opportunity for moviegoers to see a film that’s been entered into it and hear what it took to get the story to the screen directly from the filmmaker. It’s experiences like this, coupled with the relaxing setting and bistro fare, that Richardson and Gribler say make Sundance Cinemas different. It’s more than seeing another art film, or the latest from a hip new director. The company’s commitment to the movies and the people who love them means that audience members feel they are part of something unique. “I feel confidence that people want that experience,” says Gribler. “It brings back the idea that going to the movies is special.”


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Livable Centers study provides downtown with urban roadmap

by Dav id The i s



or the would-be urbanite, it was easy to get excited by Morris Architects’ presentation of their Downtown/EaDo Livable Centers Study in downtown’s Incarnate Word Academy last August. Speaking in the venerable school’s auditorium before a large gathering of stakeholders and interested citizens, Morris Architects’ Christof Spieler unveiled the results of his team’s work. Spieler’s PowerPoint images showed photographs and drawings of what the east side of downtown proper could be if more of the empty blocks near Discovery Green were converted to housing and hotels, and if the area’s amenities and institutions could be connected to each other more tangibly than they are now. Other images showed Dallas Street lined with retail from the Hilton Americas to Main Street, and the ground floors in every business were shown as lively and inviting. In the images, the sidewalks were filled with pedestrians. Then the presentation shifted its emphasis to EaDo, the neighborhood that is developing on the east side of Highway 59. EaDo is home to the rapidly rising Dynamo Stadium, and it already has a handful of restaurants, a concise scene of bars and clubs, and rows of townhouses scattered along Dowling, Bastrop and Hutchins streets. It also has lots of old warehouses and empty buildings, streets that run for a couple of blocks and then abruptly halt, and 300 or so acres of empty lots. But in its images, Morris Architects turned those empty lots into an urban, but not-too

dense neighborhood of four-story apartment buildings, and wide sidewalks lined with shops and cafes. Most exciting of all, Spieler showed images of the proposed Bastrop Promenade (also known as the Sister Cities Promenade), a paved and landscaped stretch running from the new stadium six blocks toward I-45. Finally, Morris showed drawings of proposed bike paths, some of them dedicated lanes separated by a barrier from automobile traffic. People would be able to bike into EaDo and downtown from all over the East Side and Third Ward without fearing for their lives. It all looked beautifully plausible. These images and projections made much more sense than does the present day reality, in which land that should be productive and highly valuable sits fallow, and businesses and attractions on both sides of the freeway feel uncomfortably disconnected from each other. Sister Lauren Beck, president of Incarnate Word, was certainly impressed by the presentation. Even flanked by surface parking lots, Incarnate Word is a very successful school by any measure, but she longs for the underused neighborhood around her to become a lively destination, like some of the urban neighborhoods she enjoys visiting on her travels around the country. The Livable Centers Study struck her as “mind blowing” but also “realistic.” She thinks that if actual development mirrors the plan, greater downtown Houston will be “a go-to area as opposed to a drive-through area.” EaDo resident Herschel Donny was intrigued by the presentation

Renderings courtesy of downtown/Eado livable Centers study and downtown retail core master plan


other images showed dall as street lined with retail from hilton americas to main street, and the ground floors in every business were shown as lively and inviting.

as well. Donny moved into the Stanford Lofts when they opened 8 1/2 years ago because he wanted to be in on the excitement of the downtown boom. He says that he attended the various Livable Centers planning meetings “because I wanted to confirm that I’d made the right decision in moving to east downtown.” Seeing the Morris plan, he felt that confirmation. “I’m optimistic,” he says. “We’re headed in the right direction.” I agree with all that very much and get excited over the presentation’s images and ideas myself. At the same time, however, I’ve been to enough of these gatherings to know that the word “plan” is a bit misleading. Plan implies that ideas have been agreed to by the decision makers and that action is imminent. But that’s not accurate, of course. Plans come and go and none of them are ever implemented exactly as written. In a later conversation, architects Spieler, Mandi Chapa and Doug Childers describe the plan as a “roadmap.” But even this image is not literal. A roadmap tells you exactly where to turn and how far you’ll have to drive to reach your destination. This plan, and others like it, shows the city both its desired destination – urban living – but gives suggestions, rather than instructions, on how to get there. The Houston-Galveston Area Council commissioned the plan, which was largely paid for with federal transportation funds (the Downtown District paid 20 percent of the cost). H-GAC’s goal is to promote pedestrian-friendly development throughout the region. To date, H-GAC has commissioned 16 Livable Centers studies in the region (Livable Center being defined as “walkable, mixed-use places that provide multimodal transportation options, improve environmental quality, and promote economic development”), ranging from tiny but forward- thinking Waller, which anticipates a population boom in the coming decades, to Galveston. The new Downtown/ EaDo plan is one of the most exciting of all H-GAC’s efforts, simply because of greater downtown’s enormous



potential for urbanism. Jeff Taebel, H-GAC director of community and environmental planning, says of the new downtown plan, “Adjacent to our region’s largest job center and including many of its major public venues, we know that this area has the potential to be not only a great neighborhood to live, work and play, but also to showcase Houston-style walkable urbanism to visitors from all over the region, and indeed the world.” But because the city has no zoning regulations, getting the downtown plan implemented will be a challenge requiring time, coordinated efforts and economic support by many. Taebel along with the Downtown District’s executive director Bob Eury and their director of planning, design & development Lonnie Hoogeboom, are quick to point out that zoning has its own bureaucratic downsides. Houston, for example, has responded unusually quickly to the market for townhouses because there are few bureaucratic hoops for developers to jump through. And Houston is not devoid of development tools; the city is able to offer developers powerful incentives. For example 380 Agreements allow developers to receive tax incentives for doing specified infrastructure projects, that promote real urbanism. Still, if a developer wants to build a suburban-style project with its parking in front, no one can stop them from doing so, no matter how much harm that project might do to the urban fabric that other builders are trying to create. Just ask Post Properties, whose lively, two-block-long urban development at West Gray and Bagby has a suburban-style CVS for a neighbor. This corner is pure Houston, and not in a good way. The two projects, one urban and the other suburban, simply shouldn’t be neighbors. You take your two-block promenade on a wide, inviting sidewalk, passing retail and restaurants, enjoying city life, and then you metaphorically bang your head on the CVS. As of now, there is nothing to prevent developers from marring the

Morris Architects

Project management Architectural design and planning

CDS Spillette


Omega Engineers

Clark Condon Associates, Inc.


Kimley-Horn and Associates

Public engagement

Planning and public realm design

Traffic and transportation

The Lentz Group



urban design, especially in EaDo, if they calculate that it’s in their best economic interest to do so. If all this is true than what is the purpose of creating such urban plans for Houston? We’ll only end up frustrated in the end, as Ringo said in A Hard Day’s Night. Taebel has an answer for that. It’s not as if this question only arises in Houston; other cities are developer-friendly as well. Taebel says, “We plan first, then we get the tools (in Houston’s case, the available incentives). First you need the vision to inspire people.” “The key to realizing the kind of place envisioned in this study will be achieving some consistency in urban form over more than just a block or two,” he says. “If all the stakeholders in this area get behind that vision, I’m confident the right mechanism can be found to get it done.” The plan is, in fact, awfully inspirational. It shows an urban center in which many Houstonians would like to live. In Rice sociology professor Steven Klineberg’s most recent Kinder Houston Area Survey, he found that more than 40 percent of all Harris County residents want to live a more urban, walkable life. If only achieving that were as simple as combining that number with the Livable Centers Plan and snapping our collective fingers. Then we’d have a 40 percent urban city.


took a walk around the convention center and through EaDo not long after talking to Taebel. I wanted to see the Livable Centers Study area up PAGE close and personal by walking it and comparing the envisioned bustling neighborhood of the future with what’s there now. Of all the various pieces to the Livable Centers puzzle, the Bastrop Promenade is perhaps the most alluring. The Promenade, named for the EaDo street it runs along, is also known as the Sister Cities Promenade. Sister Cities of Houston is the champion of the strip’s proposed redevelopment, in which Houston’s 17 Sister Cities will contribute cultural and educational displays. The Promenade is very exciting in and of itself. If all goes well it will comprise a six-block stretch between Walker Street at the south side of the new Dynamo Stadium and Bell Street towards I-45. The project has generated a wide variety of speculative images, one more exciting than the next. Even the most prosaic of those images show a beautifully paved walkway lined by gardens and other greenery. But while the Promenade itself is very attractive, it’s the Discovery Green-inspired promise of related development that is most exciting. It’s hard to remember now that Discovery Green (disclosure: my wife works for Discovery Green) opened to some skepticism. Many people doubted that anyone would even go downtown to enjoy a park, much less that a park could generate development. But generate it has, to the tune of a half billion-plus dollars, including One Park Place, downtown’s first new highrise residential building in decades, Embassy Suites Hotel and Hess Tower. Planners hope – and expect – that the Promenade will be the impetus for a wave of EaDo development, mostly residential. “The Promenade can be the core of residential,” Spieler told me in an


interview. And the parallel street of St. Emanuel (Hutchins runs between the two streets) is expected to form the neighborhood’s retail and entertainment spine. So my plan is to walk south on the future Promenade, then cut over to St. Emanuel and head back to the soccer stadium. The first half of my walk takes me through the urban jumble of mismatched parts that exists today. There’s a line of warehouses, some of them empty, some of them owned by the Helmsley Corporation. But there’s also more than one line of townhouses. On the proposed Promenade itself, I walk across broken – make that shattered – pavement and see odd mounds of dirt covered in parched looking grass. They look a little like sand dunes and give me the odd sensation of being at the beach in the middle of town. As I cross Polk Street I encounter more of these little man-made



while the [BASTROP] Promenade itself is very attractive, it’s the Discovery Green-inspired promise of rel ated development that is most exciting.

hills. I see industrial remnants, like a thick pipe jutting out of the ground, looking very lost indeed, as does the unusually tall slab ahead of me. It’s all that remains of what must have been a loading dock for trucks. I cross more streets, the drought-dried grass crunching beneath my feet, all the way to Bell, and then turn to look back at the Dynamo Stadium. I knew that it was six blocks away but walking the blocks and now turning to look, I feel very satisfied with the Promenade’s length. It really could make for a superb urban walk if it’s done right. And the pavement wouldn’t turn to hay. From there I cut west toward St. Emanuel but stop for lunch at one of my favorite area restaurants, District 7 Grill on Hutchins. It’s only open for weekday lunch, so I don’t get by here as often as I’d like. The food is good and fairly adventurous, as far as lunch goes. But what I mostly love is the large deck, built around a sturdy but parched oak tree. It’s one of the city’s best decks and whenever I see it devoid of people, which it always is except for those few hours of lunch, it looks like a waste of a beautiful space. I imagine that if the Livable Centers Study comes to fruition, that PAGE deck will be open and filled with diners every night of the week. From the restaurant I turn onto St. Emanuel and head north. I look at the old Meridian club, now shuttered, and try to imagine the shopping area to come. There already is a little slice of retail here, the Dang Kyong Modeling Studio – either a survivor or a souvenir of the area’s slightly seedy past. I can’t be sure. I also pass auto repair shops and empty lots with knee-high grass. The George R. Brown Convention Center looms one block away. I’ve been told that Houston First Corp., the quasi-governmental entity that oversees such city-owned buildings as the GRBCC, says that a key element in convention center success is that the surrounding area feel like a neighborhood. Obviously, these empty lots don’t fit the bill. I also pass the rather mysterious looking Malloy’s Cash Register, a large, hulking building with a long, blank wall. I can’t imagine what goes on inside these featureless walls and am reminded that one of the Livable Centers goals is to have lively, active ground floors that don’t leave a pedestrian feeling as all alone as I do here. But at least there’s a decent sidewalk,


it’s easy to envision the new hotels, and perhaps apartment buildings, that will fill the parking lots all the way to texas.

though not one that meets the Livable Centers goal of a 10-foot-width minimum on St. Emanuel. The plan also calls for metered parallel parking, but says structured parking will be necessary as well once EaDo development takes off. Anthony Wegman, owner of Lucky’s Pub, Cork Soakers Wine Bar, and Epicurean Market at St. Emanuel and Rusk, says that parking has already become an issue. The Dynamo Stadium is going up on land that his customers used to park on, Wegman says, and customers are already telling him that parking is too much of a hassle to come to his bar. This is a reminder that in Houston development simply can’t outstrip parking, even if we wish it were otherwise. Speaking of Lucky’s, I’m now in EaDo’s busy little core: St. Emanuel between Walker and Rusk. Besides Wegman’s establishments, the area includes the very popular music club Warehouse Live and an attractive branch of the Little Woodrow’s chain of bars. Its deck is wedged up against the street in true urban fashion, and for a few steps here I feel like I’m really in a city. A few more blocks like this would be great. So that’s my EaDo tour. But two of the Livable Centers plan’s three focus areas are in downtown proper – the Capitol/ Rusk Corridor, which will link Discovery Green to Minute Maid Park, and which should become home to a new convention center hotel and perhaps an expansion of the GRBCC, and the Dallas Corridor, which promises a lively mix of retail and restaurants. Connectivity is a key goal of the study. That is, each focus area should feel intimately linked to the other areas. In some places, this will be a challenge. One would-be developer sighs that even though Discovery Green is only a few blocks from his property, it feels like it’s five miles away because the space in between consists of surface lots and narrow sidewalks. It’s not hard to imagine wider sidewalks and new construction, especially now that so much construction has already taken place. But making EaDo feel connected to downtown – by foot – is more daunting. The walk from Lucky’s to Discovery Green only takes me five or so minutes, but it’s not exactly a stroll in the park. First I have to cross Chartres, which feels more like a highway with stoplights than a street, then walk under elevated Highway 59, with traffic roaring above my head, then










PRIORITY RE COMMENDATIONS Th e To p Te n L i s t Increase residential development near Downtown

I m p r o v e p e d e s t r i a n c r o s s i n g s at C h a r t r e s a n d u n d e r US -5 9

Identify l and for hotels near the George R. Brown Convention Center

I m p l e m e n t o n-s t r e e t b i k e l a n e p i l o t project

Require active ground floors in the focus areas

C o n n e c t C o l u m b i a ta p a n d U n i o n S tat i o n h i k e & b i k e t r a i l t o B u f fa l o B ay o u

Support development of Bastrop P r o m e n a d e a s p u b l i c s pa c e

M o d i f y b u s r o u t e s t o c r e at e m o r e convenient service

I m p r o v e p e d e s t r i a n r e a l m o n S t. E m a n u e l

R e c o n f i g u r e k e y s t r e e t s f o r t w o -way traffic

Th e

PL A N trudge along the north wall of the GRBCC, a featureless slab if ever there was one. I turn toward Discovery Green on Avenida de las Americas with some relief; it feels like I’m back in civilization, and I wish again that there were a back door to the GRBCC so that I could just walk through it. Not at all feasible, I know. The planners hope that by putting up lighting and other improvements, this crossing under 59 will be less imposing. But it can only be made so inviting, and pedestrians will have to be a little brave – or at least motivated. Now that I’m here, in front of the GRBCC, it’s easy to envision the new hotels, and perhaps the new apartment buildings, that will fill the surface parking lots all the way to Texas. This part of the plan will almost certainly be realized. Houston First Corp. has released its own George R. Brown 2025 Plan, which looks for ways to make conventioneers want to come to Houston. Not surprisingly, their plan dovetails with the Downtown/ EaDo Livable Centers Study, according to Ullrich. Both emphasize bringing the streets around the convention center to life and making the area feel more like a neighborhood. Dawn Ullrich, president of Houston First, talks in particular about the burning need for more hotel space. “Our architects tell us we need 1,000 more rooms yesterday, 1,000 more rooms today, and 1,000 more rooms the day after that.” Ullrich is optimistic about both plans going forward. “We’re going to work with the Downtown District and put our shoulders to the wheel. We intend to see this happen.” It’s a little more puzzling to see how the Dallas Corridor will come into being. Ironically, the fact that the Capitol/ Rusk Corridor is so empty now means that the area is more of a blank slate, subject to radical, if extremely expensive,

This pl an, and others like it, shows the cit y both its desired destination – urban living – but gives suggestions, rather than instructions, on how to get there. F o r m o r e i n f o r m at i o n o n t h e D o w n t o w n / E a D o Li va b l e C e n t e r s S t u d y, v i s i t d o w n t o w n h o u s t o n .o r g / r e s o u r c e s / d e v e l o p m e n t

transformation. But between the Hilton Americas and Main Street, Dallas is pretty well filled in, except for a few blocks near Discovery Green. Again, a primary goal of the study is to have active ground floors – unlike the ground floor of the otherwise impressive Hilton Americas, whose recessed entrance is rather cave-like and uninviting. Luckily you do have projects such as One Park Place that built street-level retail into their plans, including a space for a small chefdriven restaurant facing Discovery Green and Austin Street, the highly anticipated Phoenicia Specialty Foods. Embassy Suites also plans on opening a street-level restaurant in the near future. Unfortunately, the Houston Pavilions, which occupies three blocks along the south side of Dallas, directs most of its foot traffic to its interior passageway, so that the street entrances generate little pedestrian traffic. The good news is that they are working on a plan to enliven the Dallas sidewalk bordering their property. Sidewalk cafes, innovative lighting and better signage will do wonders to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment and draw people toward Main Street. Of course, the real key to having the area around the convention center feel like a neighborhood is for it to be a neighborhood. That is, for many more people to live there. That is a particular challenge on the downtown side of 59.

The high cost of land won’t really allow for midrise, middle-class housing. It’s high-end high-rise or nothing. However there is some thought that residential can be included as part of a development package. In other words, if a developer wants to build a convention hotel they would have to include residential. But this is only a possibility. EaDo looks more promising in terms of residential, though land values are rising there rapidly as well. “It’s hard to predict what the market is going to do,” Bob Eury said in a recent interview. “Certainly a focus of our organization and others will be to figure out how we increase residential product in both downtown and EaDo. It has to happen for us to be truly successful.” So yes, there are maybes and might-be’s going forward. But it’s useful to remember how far downtown has come in the last decade or so. You can look from Toyota Center to the Hilton Americas to Discovery Green to Minute Maid Park – it’s all opened since 2000. And all these developments are the result of plans, even if, as Christof Spieler told me, “you can’t always tell which plans they came from.” No doubt that’s what we’ll be saying about the Livable Centers Study 10 years from now. We may not remember the plan’s name, but we’ll know that somebody had a good idea.




plate WINTER


The Guide to eating downtown

Edited by

Angie Bertinot & Lauren Covington

Crossroads Cool folk art merges with celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez's hot new menu at Crossroads at House of Blues.


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. Alden Hotel, 1117 Prairie, 832.200.8800. L by reservation only; D Daily. $$$$ L Andalucia Restaurant & Bar Tapas/Spanish Dim lighting, large wooden tables and heavy iron accents provide for a cozy, rustic atmosphere. The menu features large dishes, such as paella for up to 16 people, and tapas that range from the traditional such as gambas al ajillo (shrimp cooked in olive oil and garlic) and empanadas, to veal tongue and oxtail. Houston Pavilions, 1201 San Jacinto, 832.319.1200. L Mon-Fri, D Mon-Sat. $$ 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. 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). $$$ Atrium Lobby Lounge Contemporary Located inside the Doubletree Hotel overlooking Allen Center courtyard. Relax after a busy day and enjoy your favorite beverage or a bite to eat while you catch up on the day’s news on the wide screen TV. Doubletree Hotel, 400 Dallas, 713.759.0202. L, D & LN Daily. $$ L Azuma Sushi & Robata Bar Japanese/Sushi Voted “Best sushi in Houston” by, 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. 909 Texas, 713.223.0909. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sun; LN Fri & Sat. $$ L BB’s Café Cajun A relaxed café atmosphere with a menu of “Tex-Orleans” fusion food, which includes nearly two dozen overstuffed signature po’ boys, mouth-watering Mexico City-style tacos, homemade gumbo and more. 509 Louisiana, 713.236.8269. L, D Daily. $ Ballpark Café American Enjoy the all-American cuisine and a nostalgic atmosphere for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just across the street from Minute Maid Park, Ballpark Café is a great place to have a pre/postgame meal. Inn at the Ballpark, 1520 Texas, 713.228.1520. B & L Daily. $ L Benihana of Tokyo Japanese While some restaurants allow their guests to view the kitchen, this Japanese grill brings the kitchen to you. Benihana chefs set up shop right in front of your table. The meal is made from scratch, and you can witness the entire show. 1318 Louisiana, 713.659.8231. L & D Daily. $$$ Birraporetti’s Italian This Italian restaurant/Irish 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. 500 Louisiana, 713.224.9494. L, D & LN Daily. $$ L Bistro Lancaster New American Located in the historic Lancaster Hotel, this cozy getaway is a great place to dine before catching a show in the Theater District. You’ll find hearty soups, sizzling steaks and savory seafood. Lancaster Hotel, 701 Texas, 713.228.9502. B, L & D Daily. $$$$ new! Blue Fish Sushi Japanese Not your typical Japanese restaurant. Don’t expect small, minimal décor. Be prepared for innovative sushi in a high-energy atmosphere at Bayou Place. 550 Texas, 713.225.3474. D Mon-Sat; L Mon - Fri. $$ L 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. 914 Main, 713.654.4444. L Mon-Fri, D Mon- Sat. $


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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. 609 Clay, 713.652.5999. L Mon-Fri. $ Brazos Restaurant American Upscale seafood and casual American fare come together in a Texas-chic 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. $$$ Brown Bag Deli Fast Casual Located in the Houston Club building, Brown Bag Deli serves up tasty, fresh sandwiches “just like you like it.” Known for its fluffy, soft bread you won’t be disappointed and neither will your wallet. 810 Capitol, 713.224.7000. L Mon-Fri. $ B.U.S. Sports Grill and Bar American The ultimate hangout spot before or after a ballgame. Come and enjoy your favorite cold beverage or bite to eat while cheering the home team to victory. B.U.S. is also a great place to catch the latest sporting event on the big screen! Two locations. Before/after Rockets games, 1410 Bell. Before/after Astros games, 1800 Texas. $ Cabo Mexican The “Mix-Mex” grill is a spicy blend of South and Central American flavors. A fun downtown spot with the ultimate outdoor balcony for dining overlooking the historic streets of downtown. 419 Travis, 713.225.2060. L & D Mon-Sun; LN Mon-Sat. $$ 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. $$ L Cafe Express Fast Casual Need to grab a quick lunch? Cafe Express is an informal yet sophisticated choice. One of the originals in the fast casual restaurant category, you can always find a variety of delicious entrees, salads and sandwiches. cafe-express. com. 650 Main, 713.237.9222. B & L Mon-Sat. $ new! Cafe Luz Bakery A bakery café named after the hand-crafted copper lighting that illuminates the historical space near Market Square Park. Diners will find seasonal dishes and pastries from various Houston chefs. Beverages are not to be missed, with locally roasted coffee, shakes, malts and artisan sodas with flavors like lavender and vanilla mint. 907 Franklin, 281.912.3589. B Mon-Fri; L Daily. $$ new! The Capitol at St. Germain New American Executive Chef Kevin Bryant puts forward an impressive dinner menu of seafood and steaks at this renovated turn-of-the-century space. Lunch offers gourmet sandwiches, salads and shared bites. More than just food, The Capitol also serves as a backdrop for live music and special events. 705 Main at Capitol, 713.492.2454. L, D Daily. $$$ China Garden Chinese A popular Chinese restaurant, China Garden has been serving downtown for more than 30 years. Their egg rolls and lemon chicken have become favorites. 1602 Leeland, 713.652.0745. L MonFri; D Daily. $ Chipotle Mexican Known for its large portions, this Mexican fast casual spot offers a variety of wholesome menu items. 909 Texas, 713.225.6633. L & Early D Mon-Fri. $ new! Chutney's Indian Made with fresh ingredients to reflect both southern and northern dishes of India. Stop in for the incredible lunch buffet and vast vegetarian menu. 1010 Lamar, 713.571.2010. L & D Mon-Sat. $$ L Convey Sushi A very cool new sushi spot located at Market Square. The same owner as next door neighbor, Les Givral’s Kahve, Convey is affordable sushi. A conveyer belt, thus the name, runs down the center of the bar or you also can get table service. Lots of natural light and a modern aesthetic make this a feel-good neighborhood restaurant. 803 Congress, 713.518.7219. L & D daily. $$

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. 1000 Main, 713.651.0673. B & L Mon-Fri. $ Domino’s Pizza 804 Main, 713.227.3030. $ 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. 500 Dallas, One Allen Center.B, L & D Mon-Fri. $$ L The Downtown Aquarium Seafood The menu features a huge variety and offers something for everyone. While dining, guests are surrounded by a 150,000-gallon aquarium. Enjoy the sights and a great meal at this family-friendly spot. 410 Bagby, 713.223.3474. L & D Daily. $$ 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 Mediterranean 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. $ Eats Mesquite Grill Classic American Craving a burger downtown? Popular for its juicy burgers and greattasting 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 Einstein’s Bagels Deli Known as great place to grab freshly-baked bagels and coffee for breakfast, they also serve up delectable lunch choices that include paninis, melts and pizza bagels. Be an office hero and use the catering service to treat your work pals. 1200 Louisiana. Mon-Sun B & L. $ L El Rey Taqueria Cuban/Mexican This fast casual Cuban and Mexican eatery is home to tasty plantains and juicy roasted chicken. 233 Main, 713.225.1895. B & L Mon-Fri. $ 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. $ L Flying Saucer Pub Fare Offering more than 200 beers, almost half on draft, Flying Saucer is a beer

} 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 and click on Dining.


eat up

Crossroads at House of Blues 1204 Caroline Street 888.402.5837


New restaurant concept feeds the soul By Barbara Linkin Mendel


hen celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez set about creating a menu for the new Crossroads at House of Blues he made sure he

incorporated global flavors into classic American dishes while holding on to previous HOB dining favorites such as jambalaya. The idea was to somehow use food as a way to touch the soul in much the same way that art does – whether it’s a beautiful watercolor or a classic rock song that takes you back in time. His interpretation of comfort food is classically bold with a contemporary twist. And it should come as no surprise that he has succeeded. With items such as luscious pulled pork sandwiches, crunchy buttermilk fried chicken, tender braised short ribs, and hand-stretched and grilled flatbreads; you’ll find Crossroad’s menu is sure to satisfy everyone at the table. “House of Blues is all about music, love, art and spirituality,” says Sanchez. “In many ways, those are the same ingredients for great food, and that’s exactly

what I’ve tried to capture in the new menu for the Crossroads restaurants.” An award-winning chef and author, Sanchez is known to millions of foodies for his appearances on numerous Food Network shows, including Chopped, The Best Thing I Ever Ate and Heat Seekers. The new House of Blues restaurant concept debuted in several cities this fall and was rolled out in Houston in September. The response has been enthusiastic. Surrounded by walls filled with unique folk art, Crossroads at House of Blues is a downtown Houston hot spot where food, music and art intersect. Ron Bension, House of Blues Entertainment chief executive officer, says House of Blues has always been about great music and great food. Bringing in Sanchez to revamp the menu made perfect sense. “Food and music are one and the same – they evolve to match the public’s changing taste – literally and figuratively,” he says. “Like a great band, a great chef understands this and constantly updates his repertoire. That’s what we’ve done. In addition to a tasty new menu, Crossroads at House of Blues has a great new look as well. The walls are peppered with a combination of antique road signs and U.S. roadmaps. The rusted vintage road signs come from all over the world, reinforcing the new multicultural backdrop to the juke joint/roadhouse textures for which the House of Blues has become known. Beyond the cool vibe and delicious new menu is, of course, the music for which House of Blues has become known. Crossroads makes for the perfect start for a night out. Chow down on some soulful specialties before you fill yourself up with the latest sounds. Crossroads at House of Blues is open Sunday through Friday for lunch. and daily for dinner.


drinker’s paradise. Excellent staff and tasty eats give the place an identity all its own. 705 Main, 713.228.7468. L, D & LN Daily. $ L Frank’s Pizza Pizza 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. 417 Travis, 713.225.5656. L & D Daily; LN Fri & Sat. $ new! Gelato Blu Gelato/Coffeehouse Brought to you by the masterminds behind Bombay, this Italian-style shop serves up gelato, sorbetto and caffe Italiano that will satisfy your sweet cravings with any of its delicious flavors. 914 Main, Ste. 115, 713.655.1400. Daily. $ L The Grove American Rustic 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. Discovery Green, 1611 Lamar, 713.337.7321. L & D Daily. $$$ L Guadalajara del Centro Mexican This family-owned restaurant consistently serves up tasty food in a new, very cool environment. It’s the perfect place to bring the family or a large group of co-workers or friends. Great happy hour specials. Houston Pavilions, 1201 San Jacinto, 713.650.0101. L & D Daily. $$ Hard Rock Café Classic American What do you get when you mix a music-themed diner with an allAmerican menu? Hard Rock is a great family-friendly spot serving up items such as burgers, nachos and chicken varieties. Bayou Place, 570 Texas, 713.227.1392. L, D & LN Daily. $$ L Hearsay Gastro Lounge New American Located in a beautifully refurbished historic building, this upscale restaurant and lounge serves up delicious sandwiches, salads and entrees. They feature an extensive wine list, numerous beers on draft and bottle and premium liquors with a focus on Scotch whisky. 218 Travis, 713.225.8079. L Daily; D Mon-Sat; LN Fri–Sat. $$ 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. 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 the 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. 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 house specialty. 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 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, homecooked Mexican cuisine is served for breakfast and lunch on weekdays. 22 North Chenevert,


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713.222.0767. B & L Mon-Fri; D Thu-Sat. $$ L Irma’s New Southwest Grill Mexican Irma’s second location is a hip spot to satisfy a Mexican food craving. Enjoy tasty foods and great drinks for lunch or dinner. Only a few short blocks from Minute Maid Park. 1314 Texas, 713.247.9651. B & L Mon-Fri. Open on Astros baseball game days and nights three hours before first pitch. $$ Jason’s Deli Deli Order to please, Jason’s will make your sandwich or salad exactly how you like it. 901 McKinney, 713.650.1500. B & L Mon-Fri. $ Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches Deli 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. 820 Main, 713.222.9995. L Mon-Sat. $ L Korma Sutra Indian The name comes from the chef’s love affair with fine Indian cuisine. The fine Indian establishment takes a menu-less approach where every dish can be custom ordered to your liking. Wait staff will let you know the daily specials, but if your palate is set on chicken masala or lamb curry, they will happily oblige. We also recommend trying the cilantro-mint limeade! 706 Main, 832.721.9977. L & 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. 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. $ Lacey’s Deli Deli The sandwiches are fresh, tasty, and affordable. We recommend the Italian Stallion which has homemade meatballs and marinara with sliced beef and sausage. 1403 Nance, 713.226.8563. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sun; LN Fri-Sat; Bar & live music Tue-Sat. $ 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. 1403 Nance, 713.226.8563. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sun; LN Fri-Sat; Bar & live music Tue-Sat. $ L Les 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. 801 Congress, 713.547.0444. B Mon-Fri; L Mon-Sat; D Fri & Sat. $

floor-to-ceiling video screens that flash movie clips and music videos as DJs deliver danceable grooves. Delectable munchies are available lane-side and in the lounge. Houston Pavilions, 1201 San Jacinto, Level 3, 713.343.3300. L, D & LN Daily. $$ L Macondo Latin Bistro Latin The menu is a tasty fusion of Latin dishes with a strong influence of Colombian cuisine. Try the migas on an English muffin for breakfast. Macondo also has a full coffee bar, featuring delicious Colombian coffee, a juice bar and a great selection of affordable wines and beers. 509 Main, 713.229.8323. B &L Daily; D Fri & Sat. $ Mandarin Hunan Restaurant Chinese This upscale eatery gives its guests an engaging experience in Chinese cuisine. Located in the Skyline District, Mandarin’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows provide a great view of the streetscape. 777 Walker, 713.224.1212. L & D Mon-Fri. $ L Market Square Bar & Grill American This Chicagostyle neighborhood hangout is a local favorite. Boasting a handful of “fire-powered” burgers, Market Square offers plenty of reasons to stop by for a meal or drink. The backyard patio, friendly staff and full bar add flavor. 311 Travis, 713.224.6133. L, D & LN Mon-Sat. $ L Massa’s Restaurant Seafood An upscale and elegant restaurant offering a fine selection of American and seafood cuisine. Superior service and a great dining atmosphere allow guests to enjoy a memorable experience. 1160 Smith, 713.650.0837. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat. $$ 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 prime spot for lunch and dinner. The Shops at Houston Center, 1331 Lamar, 713.655.9100. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat. $$ L McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood The extensive menu changes daily depending on each day’s fresh seafood deliveries. With more than 80 preparations on the menu each day, every guest is sure to find something to satisfy their palate. Houston Pavilions, 1201 Fannin. 713.658.8100. L & D Daily. $$$ McDonald’s Fast Food 808 Dallas @ Milam, 713.651.9449. B & L Daily; D Mon-Fri. $ L Mia Bella Italian 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. Houston Pavilions, 1201 San Jacinto, 832.319.6675. 320 Main, 713.237.0505 L & D Daily; LN Fri & Sat. $$

L Latin Bites Café Latin American This place puts a new twist on Latin food from Chef Roberto Castre, whose influences come from Japanese, Chinese and French styles. Find fresh flavors such as Peruvian-style cebiche or Sashimi tiraditio. Tue-Sat; L Tue-Sun. 1302 Nance, 713.229.8369 $$

L Minuti Coffee Coffehouse The coffee is created by a roast master in Italy, before making its way into the hands of talented baristas. This is the perfect place to bring the laptop and take advantage of Minuti’s free Wi-Fi. They also have beer and wine, which makes it a great pre/post theater spot. Be sure to sample some of the fresh-baked pastries and smoothies, too. 909 Texas, 281.265.3344. B, L, D, LN Sun–Sat. $

Little Napoli Italian Offering southern Italian items in a casual setting, you can opt for indoor seating or take a spot on the large patio right on Main Street. The healthy options, such as whole wheat pizza crust and low-fat cheeses, are a nice touch. 1001 Texas, 713.225.3900. L, D & LN Daily. $$

new! MKT Bar Mediterranean Part of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, it's the perfect place to stop when you need a chill moment. The bar offers coffee, pastries, wine, beer, gourmet pizza and other yummy nibbles for which Phoenicia is known. 1001 Austin, 832.360.2222. B, L, D, 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. 1301 Fannin, 13th Floor, 713.759.9954. B & L Mon–Fri. $

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. 509 Main, 713.222.1033. L, D & LN Daily. $

L Lucky Strike Lanes & Lounge American Bowlers and patrons relax on sleek leather couches and enjoy

L Morton’s The Steakhouse Steak House This award-winning steakhouse offers an outstanding menu. The downtown location features its new bar concept, Bar 12•21, which includes an impressive


wine and martini menu along with its specially priced “bar bites.” 1001 McKinney, 713.659.3700. D Mon-Sun. $$$$ Murphy’s Deli Deli Indulge in a variety of sandwiches and salads. Hot or cold, Murphy’s specializes in creating your sandwich any way it’s ordered. 601 Jefferson, 713.652.4939. 1021 Main, 713.275.1912. 440 Louisiana, 713.247.9122. B & L Mon-Fri all locations. $ New Orleans Cajun Po-Boy Fast Food A great place to grab a fried shrimp or crawfish po-boy. 648 Polk, 713.750.0007. L Mon-Fri. $ L Niko Niko’s Greek & American Houston icon Dimitri Fetokakis opened his cafe last fall at Market Square Park. Favorties such as the gyro and kebob are on the menu along with new items such as the breakfast pita. Specialty coffee drinks, beer and wine also available. Market Square Park, 301 Milam. B, L, D daily. $ L Pappas BBQ Barbecue Voted one of Houston’s best year after year, this barbecue joint offers an excellent selection with Texas-sized portions. Traditional favorites such as brisket, ribs, sausage and ham are served with Pappas’ flare. Delivery and take-out are available. 1217 Pierce, 713.659.1245. L & D Daily. 1100 Smith, 713.759.0018. L & D Mon-Fri. $ Paul’s Snack Shop Deli Sandwiches, salads and snacks to-go.1213 Prairie, 713.224.4701. B & L Mon-Fri. $ L Perbacco Italian An adorable little spot located at street level of one of Houston’s skyscrapers, Perbacco serves up Italian cuisine in a modern and fresh atmosphere. Catering to downtown workers and the theater crowd, you always get quick and friendly service and tasty food. 700 Milam, 713.224.2422. L Mon-Fri; D Thu-Sat. $ Popeye’s Fast Food 1116 Travis, 713.571.8600. L & D Mon-Sat. $ L Quattro Contemporary Italian Vivid colors, creative lighting and a unique design create a sophisticated and inviting ambience for guests. Located in the Four Seasons Hotel, Quattro is one of downtown’s best restaurants. Four Seasons Hotel, 1300 Lamar, 713.652.6250. B, L & D Daily. $$$ 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. $ The Sam Bar American Casual The Alden Hotel's 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 the happy hour and cocktail offerings. Alden Hotel, 1117 Prairie, 832.200.8800. B, L & D Daily. $$ L Samba Grille South American Samba Grille offers a vast lunch selection of appetizers, homemade soups, fresh salads and choice meats and seafood. At dinner service, gauchos weave their way through the dining room to bring the most exquisite churrascaria service, from their meat-loaded rotisserie spears, directly to the plate. 530 Texas at Bayou Place, 713.343.1180. L Mon-Fri & Sun; D daily. $$-$$$ L Sambuca New American A hip, trendy and upscale restaurant right in the mix of Main Street. The menu includes a wide variety of favorites and combined with the live music, Sambuca is Houston’s ultimate supper club. 909 Texas, 713.224.5299. L Mon-Fri; D & LN Daily. $$$ 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. $ Shay McElroy’s Pub Fare This authentic Irish pub offers up a menu of appetizers, sandwiches, salads and soups. 909 Texas, 713.223.2444. L Mon–Fri. $

The Shops at Houston Center Food Court Au Bon Pain, Captain D's, Chick-Fil-A, Chicken Kitchen, d’lish, Doozo Dumpling & Noodles, Droubi Bros. Grill, Freshii, Great American Cookies, Mediterranean Grill, Murphy’s Deli, Ninfa’s, Otto’s Barbeque, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Quizno’s, Robek’s Juice, Roman Delight, Salata, Simon’s Homestyle Café, Starbucks, Subway, Teppanyaki, Treebeards, Wall Street Deli, Wok & Roll. 1200 McKinney, 713.759.1442. Mon-Sat, hours vary. $

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 perfectly cooked vegetables. Seafood items include Chilean sea bass, Ahi tuna, salmon, halibut, scallops and lobster tails, which are flown in daily. Houston Pavilions, 1201 San Jacinto, Level 1, 713.658.9457. L Tue–Fri; D Mon–Sat. $$$$

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. Hyatt Regency Hotel, 1200 Louisiana, 713.375.4777. B, L & D Daily. $$$

L Treebeards Southern 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 the famous butter bar. 315 Travis, 713.228.2622. Cloisters at Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas, 713.229.8248. L Mon-Fri. $

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. $$ L Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops Steak House An ideal location to enjoy a great steak, Spencer’s offers top-quality beef and boasts an extensive wine list. The atmosphere is light, engaging and conducive to conversation. Hilton Americas, 1600 Lamar, 713.577.8325. L & D Daily. $$$$ L Spindletop Seafood A favorite Houston seafood restaurant and fine dining experience ideal for birthday parties, family reunions, anniversaries and engagements. Perched on the 34th floor of Hyatt Regency Downtown, this glass-walled restaurant makes one revolution every 45 minutes, ensuring you'll enjoy 360-degree views of the city and all of its famous landmarks. Hyatt Regency, 1200 Louisiana, 713.375.4775. D Tue-Sat. $$$ The 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. 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. The Shops at Houston Center, 1200 McKinney, 713.659.6000. L Mon-Fri; D Daily; LN Fri & Sat. $$$$ Subway Fast Food 405 Main, 713.227.4700. 805 Dallas, 713.651.1331. Daily. $ L Table 7 Bistro American Table 7 Bistro is a combination of an upscale, yet casual atmosphere. The bistro serves a selection of artistically and generously presented cuisine. Happy hour weekdays offer $4 well drinks and $2 domestic beers, and its happy hour all weekend with $2 mimosas all day on Saturdays and Sundays. 720 Fannin @ The Club Quarters, 713.227.4800. B, L & D Daily. $ new! Tejas Grill & Sports Bar American Downtown's newest spot for sports fans with large appetites and an arsenal of high fives. Located at The Shops at Houston Center, Tejas offers the perfect tailgate menu and full-service bar. 1201 Lamar at The Shops at Houston Center, 713.739.8352. L Mon-Fri, D Mon-Sat. $$ 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. $

Trofi Restaurant Continental Trofi’s menu is described as Continental with a Mediterranean and Latin flair and the ambience is simple, yet sophisticated. Lunch buffets are available Monday through Friday. 400 Dallas, Doubletree Hotel, 713.759.0202. B, L & D Daily. $$ L Vic & Anthony’s Steak House This world-class steak house is one of the most elegant dining locations in Houston. It boasts rich mahogany woodwork and one-of-a-kind hospitality. Located in the heart of the Ballpark District and across from Minute Maid Park, Vic & Anthony’s is the ideal spot for entertaining business clients, a special celebration or a pre/post-game dinner. 1510 Texas, 713.228.1111. L Fri; D Daily. $$$$ L Voice Restaurant & Lounge Modern American An award-winning dining experience located in the historic lobby of Hotel Icon’s landmark bank building. The intimate dining room is extravagant, and the exquisite dishes from the Gulf Coast and South Texas emphasize fresh ingredients. A contemporary lounge with a modern setting for cocktails and an elegant after-work meeting place. Hotel Icon, 220 Main, 832.667.4470. B Daily; D Mon-Sat. $$$ Warren’s Inn Fast Casual Let 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. $ Yao Restaurant and Bar 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. 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. 809 Dallas, 713.650.3333. 1110 Lamar, 713.655.7722. 507 Dallas, 713.739.9955. B & L Mon-Fri. $ L Ziggy's Bar & Grill American Ziggy’s offers healthy comfort food in their new Main Street 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 & Sun 9-3. 702 Main, 713.527.8588. B, L & D Daily. $ L 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. $

L III Forks American Upscale, warm atmosphere and impeccable service sets the stage for this sophisticated


sip. The Brewery Tap | 717 Franklin

Sit at one of the long wooden picnic tables (think biergarten) and chill with one of the 35 beers on tap. Laid-back and friendly, a great place to catch a soccer game and play some darts. Mon-Thu 4-10 pm; Fri & Sat 4 pm-1 am; Sun 4-11 p.m.

The Capitol at St. Germain | 705 B Main St. The Capitol brings a new dimension to live music, dining and cocktails to the heart of the city. From touring acts to local favorites, there's something for everyone in a majestic, turn-of-the-century venue. Mon 11 am-9 pm, Tue-Thu 11 am-midnight, Fri 11 am-2 am, Sat 5 pm-2 am.

WINTER 2011-2012

Looking for a spot to go after a long day or for a fun night out with friends? Check out some of our favorites—from the quintessential dive to swanky lounges, you’re sure to find something that will quench your thirst!

of the best touring shows in the country come through on a weekly basis. The members-only Foundation Room is available for VIPs. Show times and events vary nightly.

La Carafe | 813 Congress The oldest building in Houston, this dark and cozy hideaway boasts a great jukebox, moody atmosphere and an extensive beer and wine selection. Sit on the outside patio or balcony and look up in awe at the amazing downtown skyline. Cash only. Mon-Fri noon-2 am, Sat & Sun 1 pm-2 am

Last Concert Café | 403 Nance

PBR Houston | 534 Texas @ Live! at Bayou Place Cowboy cool meets urban chic in this country bar in the city. Grab a cold beer, hard drinks and try your hand at a little bull riding. This is the place when you want to two-step, hang low, or just meet a pretty little lady or urban cowboy. Great balcony seating for scenic views of downtown and people watching. Wed, Fri & Sat 9 pm–2 am.

Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar | 1201 Fannin @ Houston Pavilions Two dueling pianos and a sing-along, clap-along, drinkalong, have-one-helluva-good-time-along bar! Wed-Sat, 7 pm-2 am Wed-Sat 7 pm-2 am, showtime @ 8 pm.

Chapel Spirits is a sophisticated bar, ideal for happy hour, an engagement party, a bachelor party or late nite VIP experience. Great balcony seating for scenic views of downtown and people watching. Fri & Sat 10 pm-2 am

One of Houston’s best kept secret treasures! You have to knock three times on the red door to gain entry to the unmarked house in the Warehouse District (well, not anymore). With a backyard stage and sandpit, hoolahooping and tiki bar, Last Concert has live music most nights. Tue-Fri 11 am-2 am, Sat 5 pm-2 am, Sun 3-9 pm.

Char Bar | 305 Travis

Lone Star Saloon | 1900 Travis

Sambuca | 909 Texas @ Post Rice Lofts

The Lone Star Saloon is a true classic Texas dive bar that seems misplaced in its urban setting. The crowd, half aging townies and half world-weary road dogs, are always willing to share have-been-to-hell-and-back stories. Daily noon-2 am

Guests can enjoy live music most nights of the week in this upscale and eclectic environment. The plush interior and elegant design make for an amazing location. Enjoy your favorite drink inside or hang outside on the patio with the locals. Sun-Wed 11 am-midnight, Thu 11 am-1 am, Fri 11 am-2 am, Sat 4:30 pm-2 am.

Chapel Spirits | 534 Texas @ Live! at Bayou Place

Char Bar offers stiff drinks alongside custom suits. Drenched in nostalgia, Char Bar is proud of its history, as reflected in the old photos of family members who have worked in the space since the 1930s. Enjoy the second floor balcony or chat it up with Weldon Renfro, who has a permanent shoe shine booth at the entrance. Mon-Wed 10 am–midnight, Thu-Sat 10 am-2 am

Dean’s | 316 Main Much of the original building was preserved when the 30s department store was converted into a bar. If you’re lucky, you can snag the table in Houston’s first electric elevator tucked away in the corner. Listen to live music by local artists, buy the local art on the walls, and drink frozen cosmos while taking in the ever-changing downtown scene. Sun-Wed 8 pm-2 am, Thu-Sat 5 pm-2 am

The Dirt | 1209 Caroline The non-venue rock 'n' roll lounge is a popular pre- and post-show destination spot that has become famous for its performer patronage. Drawing crowds and artists from every venue in the city has allowed The Dirt to host hundreds of memorable after-show events, including Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters and Kings of Leon. Daily 6 pm-2 am

1820 Bar | 1820 Franklin Located just one block north of Minute Maid Park. Small flat-screen TVs dot the bar, allowing patrons to keep tabs on games while not being the center of attention. On the first and last Friday of every month Joystix Classic Games and Pinball next door is open, and $15 gets you all night to practice your Ms. Pac-Man skills. Daily 4 pm-2 am

Flying Saucer | 705 Main Offering more than 200 beers, with nearly half on draft, Flying Saucer is a great place to hang out and enjoy a cold one. A cool and relaxed atmosphere along with a hip crowd gives downtown visitors a great place to enjoy the night. Check out the website for information on beer tastings, trivia night and specials. Mon-Wed, 11 am-1 am, Thu & Fri 11 am-2 am, Sat noon-2 am, Sun noon-midnight.

House of Blues | 1204 Caroline Street @ Houston Pavilions A well-known national franchise with a lively, fun atmosphere. A 1,500-person concert venue is onsite and some



winter 2011-2012


Lucie’s Liquors | 534 Texas @ Live! at Bayou Place

The Sam Bar | 1117 Prairie Street @ Alden Hotel Located in the Alden Hotel. This upscale bar is furnished with dark leather banquettes and a menu of 30 cocktails, both classic and new mixologist creations. Sun-Thu 11 ammidnight, Fri & Sat 11 am-1 am.

Go to Lucie’s for taste of vintage Vegas, quality drinks and a night to remember. The attitude at this place recalls a time when the Rat Pack was at the top and the ladies called the shots. Great balcony seating for scenic views of downtown and people watching! Tue & Thu 8 pm–2 am. Fri & Sat 9 pm–2 am.

Shark Bar | 534 Texas @ Live! at Bayou Place

Lucky Strike Lanes & Lounge | 1201 San Jacinto @ Houston Pavilions

Shay McElroy’s Pub | 909 Texas @ Post Rice Lofts

Swanky 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. Great lunchtime and Sunday brunch bowling specials. Sun-Thu 11 am-midnight, Fri & Sat 11 am-2 am.

MKT Bar | 1001 Austin Phoenicia’s MKT bar, located at the first floor of One Park Place, is the perfect place to stop when you need a chill moment. The bar offers coffee, pastries, wine, beer, gourmet pizza and other yummy nibbles for which Phoenicia is known. Mon -Wed 7 am-9 pm, Thu 7 am-2 am, Fri-Sat 9 am-2 am, Sun 9 am-8 pm.

Molly’s Pub | 509 Main

No need to drive to Galveston to get to the beach. This surf bar is an endless party with pail punch, pina coladas and retro dance music that will take you to the North Shore. Great balcony seating for scenic views of downtown and people watching. Fri & Sat 9 pm-2 am.

Dublin native and owner John McElroy created this space around a richly detailed, 19th-century bar he had shipped from Ireland. The crowd is an inviting collection of young professionals and not-so-young merrymakers who enjoy colorful dialogue and witty conversation. Mon-Fri 11 am-2 am, Sat & Sun 1 pm-2 am.

State Bar | 909 Texas @ Post Rice Lofts Located on the second floor of the Post Rice Lofts, this upscale bar presents a classic richness all its own. Much of the furniture and memorabilia are from the old Rice Hotel’s Capitol Club. Leather couches make for great seating and conversation, while a grand veranda overlooks the city outside. Mon-Fri 3 pm-2 am, Sat 6 pm-2 am.

Sunny’s Bar | 901 Capitol @ Main

This classic Irish pub offers a variety of Irish whiskeys and international beers. Tables and coves lead you to the back, where pool and darts can be found and a second-floor balcony provides excellent views of Main Street and downtown. Daily 11 am-2 am.

Laid-back place with a friendly atmosphere and great prices that keep the regulars coming back. Sunny will likely be behind the bar serving up the beer and cocktails and great conversation. Foosball, darts and shuffleboard are in the back of the house to keep you entertained. Mon-Sat 2 pm-2 am.

Notsuoh | 314 Main

Warren’s Inn | 307 Travis

The name is Houston spelled backwards. A bar full of random weirdness: Think grunge lounge and artsy. You’ll find people playing chess, and drinking beer, live music, lots of crazy, weird artwork and maybe walk in on a night of punk-rock karaoke. Live bands on weekends. Daily 8 pm-2 am.

This tavern is long known for its top-notch jukebox full of American classics, strong mixed drinks and its diverse crowd of customers. Mon-Fri 11 am-2 am, Sat noon-2 pm, Sun 2 pm-2 am.

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Edited by


Angie Bertinot


datebook Theater 40 : Festivals & Special Events 42 : Market Square Park 44 : Discovery Green 46

and more

Dec 2 Mayor Parker will host the official holiday celebration at City Hall’s Hermann Square. The event includes the mayor’s tree lighting ceremony, a fireworks extravaganza and music from Ruben Studdard and Diane Schurr and more. Free. City Hall, 901 Bagby. 6 pm.


datebook composer, bandleader and performer. Brown’s soulful melodies and infectious personality are a dynamic package that uniquely marries traditional be-bop to hip-hop. Tickets $33-$60. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.524.5050.



Win t e r Ca l e n da r

Through Jan 1 Hop on one of Macy’s Downtown Holiday Trolleys to get to all of downtown’s holiday destinations. The best part, you can park FREE at Macy’s garage during trolley hours. Pick up a complimentary Holiday Passport on any trolley and get it stamped at participating stores to receive discounts and win fabulous prizes for shopping sprees, dining dollars and tickets to the hottest shows.

Snow in the City Through Dec 24 Houston Pavilions celebrates the season with Snow in the City in its center court twice a day at lunch and at happy hour. It’s snow … but better. It’s not wet, cold or messy. It’s actually tiny bubbles that look just like the real thing. 1201 Fannin. 11 am-1 pm, 5-7 pm. 832.320.1200.


daniel demarais

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: DRALION Through Dec 4 Fusing the 3,000 year-old tradition of Chinese acrobatic arts with the multidisciplinary approach of Cirque du Soleil, Dralion draws its inspiration from Eastern philosophy and its neverending quest for harmony between humans and nature. The show’s name is derived from its two emblematic creatures – the dragon, symbolizing the east, and the lion, symbolizing the west. Tickets $40-$150. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 866.446.8849.

The Shops At Houston Center Throughout Dec Power shopping has never been easier thanks to The Shops at Houston Center. While you’re at it, grab some lunch at the best food court in town. Live entertainment daily during lunch. 1200 McKinney.

Astros Clubhouse Extravaganza Dec 9-10 The Astros Team Store is moving down to the Astros Clubhouse for two days. Enjoy the holiday shopping experience with access to the Astros clubhouse and dugout, photos on the field with Junction Jack and $1 hot dogs and sodas. Tickets $10. Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford. Fri noon-5 pm, Sat 10 am-4 pm.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL – A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS Through Dec 27 A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas returns this year with a retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic story. Follow Ebenezer Scrooge on his journeys with the three ghostly spirits who visit him on Christmas Eve. Tickets $25-$100. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700. THE NUTCRACKER Through Dec 27 Featuring glorious scenery and costumes by Tony Award-winning designer Desmond Heeley, Ben Stevenson’s breathtaking production of The Nutcracker is, in the words of the Houston Chronicle, “the crown jewel of holiday entertainment.” Set in 19th-century Germany, the ballet opens at a charming Christmas party where the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeyer gives his little niece Clara a magical toy that takes her on an unforgettable journey. Tickets $19-$100. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.ARTS. THE SANTALAND DIARIES Through Dec 31 Company Actor Todd Waite will reprise his role as Crumpet the Elf in the outlandish and true chronicles of David Sedaris’ experience as a worker in Macy’s SantaLand display. This compact, one-character comedy is a hilarious cult classic, featuring comic encounters during the height of the holiday crunch. Recommended for mature audiences. Tickets $25-$100. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700.

THE MAURICE BROWN EFFECT Dec 3 With the release of his album, The Cycle of Love, trumpet virtuoso Maurice Brown took another giant step forward as an internationally acclaimed musician,

WINTER 2011-2012


CHRISTOPH ESCHENBACH RETURNS Dec 6 Former music director Christoph Eschenbach returns to the stage to lead the Houston Symphony in Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 5. Tickets $35$139. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 7:30 pm. 713.224.7575. WHITE CHRISTMAS Dec 6-18 Theatre Under The Stars proudly produces the classic holiday story White Christmas. This holiday musical features two wartime buddies turned showmen in a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge. Tickets start at $24. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.745.3000.

8th ANNUAL JUBILEE OF DANCE Dec 2 Looking back and looking forward, the annual Jubilee of Dance celebrates the best of Houston Ballet. Featuring highlights of company and audience favorites, previews of upcoming productions, and specially created, this is a one-night-only event. Tickets $45-$160. 7:30 pm. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.ARTS.


VIRTUOSI OF HOUSTON Dec 3 Virtuosi of Houston celebrates its 16th season of excellence in chamber music education and performance. The musicians, ages 11 to 18, are from the greater Houston area and are selected from annual auditions. Tickets $35. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 7:30 pm. 713.315.2525.

A LITTLE DAY MUSIC Dec 7, Jan 4, Feb 1 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. Tickets free. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. Noon. 713.524.5050. THE IRISH TENORS HOLIDAY SPECIAL Dec 7 Since they first joined voices in 1998, The Irish Tenors have made countless traditional musical treasures breathe with new life. Performing with a full orchestra, Anthony Kearns, Finbar Wright and Ronan Tynan come together for one evening of festive music just in time for the holidays. Tickets $30-$75. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 8 pm. 713.227.4SPA. SING-ALONG MESSIAH Dec 9 All are welcome to experience the power of singing in a mass choir of hundreds of fellow audience members. Bring your own music or buy scores at the concert for $10. Seating will be general admission and arranged by voice type although there will be seating sections for those who want to sit together. Tickets $25. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.533.0080.

Jann Whaley

Downtown Holiday Passport & Macy’s Downtown Holiday Trolleys

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS Dec 3 Celebrate the holidays with a special musical telling of Clement Clarke Moore’s magical tale of the annual Christmas Eve visit from jolly old St. Nick. Bring family and friends for a fun and engaging holiday celebration, including an audience sing-along and a visit from Santa. Tickets $16-$25. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 10 am, 11:30 am. 713.224.7575.

VERY MERRY POPS Dec 9-11 Back again is this much-loved holiday tradition featuring Mike Krajewski, the Houston Symphony and Chorus. This year, Very Merry Pops promises to be the highlight of your holiday. Bring the whole family to celebrate the season. Tickets $25-$130. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575.

COMPLETE MESSIAH Dec 10 After its first performance in Dublin in 1742, Handel frequently revised his oratorio, Messiah. Today, most ensembles only perform portions of the piece. Enjoy the rare opportunity to hear Handel’s holiday masterpiece in its complete and glorious entirety. Tickets $22-$55. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.533.0080. 8 pm. A LINDA EDER CHRISTMAS Dec 13 Superstar Linda Eder returns for an unforgettable holiday concert. Eder’s heavenly voice, joined by the sounds of your orchestra, are the perfect match for a divine evening of beloved Christmas classics like Silent

HANDEL’S MESSIAH IN CANDLELIGHT Dec 16-18 Every year this holiday favorite is refreshed by the interpretation of a new guest conductor. You’ll hear your favorite arias and choruses from For Unto Us a Child is Born to the majestic Hallelujah Chorus. Enhanced lighting creates an ambiance invoking the candlelit style of Handel’s 1700s. Tickets $20-$109. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7464. HOUSTON HOLIDAY HOEDOWN Dec 20 Celebrating the largest rodeo in the country, join Bayou City Chorale with special guests the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Western Heritage Community Choir for an evening of holiday classics with a country twist. Tickets $30-$50. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 7:30 pm. 713.521.7464. SHEN YUN Dec 21-27 Shen Yun Performing Arts is the world’s premier Chinese music company, bringing to life classical Chinese dance and music in a gloriously colorful and exhilarating show. Its masterful choreography and graceful routines range from grand classical processions to ethnic and folk dances, with gorgeously costumed dancers moving in stunning synchronized patterns. Tickets $78.75-$230. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 800.745.3000. TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA Dec 23 The famous rock orchestra known for elaborate concerts and pyrotechnics is back in Houston for two holiday shows. The group includes an orchestral string section, full rock band, multiple vocalists, extensive pyrotechnics, laser and light show, and a stunning snowfall. Tickets $61.50-$41.50. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 866.446.8849. DISNEY’S PHINEAS & FERB Dec 30 Phineas, Ferb and the whole tri-state area gang embark on a bold escape jumping out from behind your TV and onto the stage in a live action adventure. Before you can wonder, “Hey, where’s Perry?” the beloved pet platypus shifts to his secret double life as Agent P to foil another one of Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s evil plans. Musical madness abounds in an escapade so awesome that even Candace can’t help but join the hilarious high jinks. Tickets $15-$65. Toyota Cener, 1510 Polk. 866.446.8849. BACH AND TIME Dec 31 A beloved Bach suite, plus vocal works by the great Baroque master on the subject of time in its multiple dimensions. Ars Lyrica’s annual New Year’s Eve Gala follows in the Hobby Center Founders Club, with champagne, delectable hors d’oeuvres and special musical entertainment you won’t want to miss. Tickets $31.25-$41.25. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 9 pm. 713.315.2525.

THE TOXIC AVENGER Jan 13 -Feb 12 The Toxic Avenger is a charming love story and laugh-out-loud musical that has it all – an unlikely hero, his beautiful girlfriend, a corrupt New Jersey mayor, an onstage band, and two guys who play ... well, everyone else ... bullies, mobsters, old ladies, and stiletto-wearing back-up singers. The Toxic Avenger features music from David Bryan and book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, the Tony Award winning team of Memphis. Tickets start at $25. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700. DULCINEA’S LAMENT Jan 14 Established in 1985, Dulcinea Langfelder & Co. creates audacious, intelligent and highly accessible multidisciplinary works. Langfelder’s creations fuse theater, dance, song, puppetry and multimedia. Inspired by Don Quixote’s muse, Dulcinea del Toboso, Dulcinea Langfelder and Company set out to take on Cervantes’ absent heroine, using her namesake to express her vision of the world and its history. Tickets $30-$50. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.227.4SPA. ZOE | JUNIPER: A CRACK IN EVERYTHING Jan 19-Feb 25 Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey will create an immersive environment of video, dance, photography and installation that extends and expands upon their touring dance work A Crack in Everything. The installation allows viewers to experience the performance from different perspectives simultaneously, providing unusual insight into the physical and emotive realities of the performers. Opening reception Jan. 19, 6-9 pm. Free. DiverseWorks ArtSpace, 1117 East Freeway. 713.223.8346. JOSHUA BELL, VIOLIN Jan 20 For more than two decades, Joshua Bell has been captivating audiences worldwide with his poetic musicality. He came to national attention at the age of 14 in a highly acclaimed orchestral debut with Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Today he is equally at home as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra leader. Tickets $30-$65. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 8 pm. 713.227.4SPA. FAREWELL HAYDN, HELLO MOZART Jan 21 The Farewell Symphony is famous for its unusual ending in which musicians depart the stage one by one, leaving two muted violins to finish the symphony.

Enjoy this unique experience alongside Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, a concerto for violin and viola. Tickets $22$59. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.533.0080. RAVI COLTRANE QUARTET Jan 27 The son of legendary saxophonist John Coltrane and pianist Alice Coltrane, Ravi Coltrane is an acclaimed saxophonist, composer, bandleader and producer. His album In Flux was nominated for a Grammy Award. Tickets $33-$60.Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.524.5050. THE BEST OF SPIELBERG AND WILLIAMS Jan 27-29 Spend an evening enjoying epic music from Hollywood’s Dream Team, Steven Spielberg and John Williams. The orchestra plays conductor Michael Krajewski’s favorite selections from Schindler’s List, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Saving Private Ryan and more. Tickets $35-$139. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. LA TRAVIATA Jan 27-Feb 12 Love, sacrifice and redemption: La Traviata’s dazzling heroine embodies all three in one of opera’s most beloved stories. The story of Violetta Valéry – a Parisian courtesan who makes the fatal mistake of falling in love – has defined romantic tragedy since La dame aux Camélias, the Dumás novel that inspired Verdi, appeared in 1848. Verdi’s opera paints a picture of a glittering Second Empire Paris, the serenity of Violetta’s country estate and the heroine’s fate on a cold, preLenten morning. Tickets $38-$288. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.228.6737. CONCERT OF ARIAS Feb 2 In the heart of winter, the Concert of Arias – 24th Annual Eleanor McCollum Competition for Young Singers takes the stage. Watch and be entertained as some of the best emerging operatic talent compete head to head for top honors at this prestigious competition – and don’t forget to cast your vote for the coveted Audience Choice Award! Tickets start at $40. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 7 pm. 713.228.6737. THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA Feb 3-11 The story of Lucretia has inspired writers from Ovid in ancient Rome and Shakespeare to Thornton

Greg Mooney

Night, Little Drummer Boy and O Holy Night. Tickets $39$129. 7:30 pm. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575.

Performing Arts

RACHFEST 1 – RACH 3 Jan 5-8, Jan 13-15, Jan 19-22 Rachmaninoff has enchanted music lovers for generations with his incredibly romantic themes. Come experience a special threeweek festival paying tribute to this most beloved Russian composer. The festival features artist-in-residence Kirill Gerstein performing all four Rachmaninoff piano concertos. Tickets $25-$123. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. FREE OF THE GROUND Jan 7 New music and dance come together in a collaborative concert with the Houston Ballet II. Featured music includes works for voice and chamber ensembles. Tickets $20-$40. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 7:30 pm. 713.315.2525. THE ADDAMS FAMILY Jan 10-15 The weird and wonderful family comes to devilishly delightful life in The Addams Family. This is definitely not the same old song and dance. It’s every parent’s nightmare. Wednesday Addams has suddenly become a young woman, and what’s worse, has fallen deliriously in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. Tickets $40.95$96.55. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.745.3000.

BRING IT ON Jan 24-Feb 5 Bring it On is coming and the team behind it is an extraordinarily rare union of Broadway’s most acclaimed, award-winning young creators. The high-stakes world of competitive cheerleading meets the cutthroat rivalries of high school politics and romance in this bold and musical comedy. Tickets start at $24. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.745.3000.


datebook Wilder. The cruel tale is familiar in any century. Benjamin Britten and Ronald Duncan wrote this opera in 1946 as an allegorical exploration of World War II’s devastation; the intimate and supremely moving result is a plea, perhaps a prayer, for our redemption. Tickets $38-$288. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.228.6737. THE SEAGULL Feb 3-Mar 4 Chekhov created, in his 1895 play that describes the romantic entanglements of a group of actors, writers and artists gathered on a Russian estate, one of the enduring masterpieces of the world theater, and a modern classic that grows richer with time. Tickets start at $25. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700. CANADA’S ROYAL WINNIPEG BALLET: MOULIN ROUGE Feb 4 After a 26-year hiatus, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet will bring its box office sensation Moulin Rouge – The Ballet to Houston. Drawn to Paris by the city’s passion, a flame fueled by the hearts of lovers and the souls of poets, Matthew and Nathalie tempt fate as they seek love and destiny at the infamous cabaret – The Moulin Rouge. Tickets $30-$75. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 8 pm. 713.227.4SPA. VIENNA 1828: SCHUBERT’S INVITATION CONCERT Feb 4 It was not until the last year of Schubert’s life that a public concert in Vienna was devoted solely to this extraordinary composer’s works, a program at the Gesellschaft that presented vocal, choral and chamber works. Da Camera recreates this historic musical event on period instruments, including an 1820’s Viennesestyle fortepiano. Tickets $33-$60. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 8 pm. 713.524.5050. WINTER MIXED REP Feb 9-11 Features the stunning gala version of 27’52” by icon Jiří Kylián, the Texas premiere of Walsh’s Nessuno, memorable duets from Walsh’s award-winning The Trilogy: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed by Domenico Luciano with newcomer Stefania Figliossi and exceptional Japanese ballerina Hana Sakai, and a cameo by one of Houston’s beloved ballerinas in Walsh’s dramatic The Dying Swan. Tickets $25-$52. Hobby Center,

800 Bagby. 713.315.2525. IMAGO THEATRE - ZOOZOO Feb 10 They’ve taken their wildly imaginative theatrical productions to Broadway and toured around the globe. A menagerie like no other – firefly eyes, hungry anteaters, hitch-hiking rabbits, introverted frogs, cantankerous polar bears, insomniac hippos and tricky penguins fill the stage with wit, wonder and mesmerizing Felliniesque mayhem. Comedy, illusion, physical finesse and original music combine in Imago’s wordless productions hailed by critics and family audiences worldwide. Tickets $30-$45. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 7:30 pm. 713.227.4SPA. MICHAEL JACKSON THE IMMORTAL TOUR BY CIRQUE DU SOLEIL Feb 10-12 This is an electrifying production that unfolds inside the creative mind of Michael Jackson. A riveting fusion of visuals, dance, music and fantasy that immerses audiences in Michael’s creative world and literally turns his signature moves upside down, Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour unfolds Michael Jackson’s artistry before the eyes of the audience. Tickets $50-$175. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 866.446.8849. DVORAK & POLOVTSIAN DANCES Feb 10-12 Czech conductor Jakub Hruša has put together a compelling mix of sublimely tuneful music, lively folk dances and a riveting musical story of a bloodthirsty warlord. Tickets $25-$116. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. RIVERDANCE Feb 10-12 Now in its 17th phenomenal year, Riverdance the internationally acclaimed celebration of Irish music, song and dance that has touched the hearts of millions around the world, comes to the Hobby Center. Discover why nothing in the world compares to the original. Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, there is no better time to share the magic of Riverdance with your family. Tickets $35.85-$79.10. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.745.3000. A FRENCH VALENTINE Feb 14-17 Explore the themes of love in Jean-Philippe Rameau’s cantatas, Orphee and Les Amants Trahis. Rameau’s renowned, romantic cantatas are the perfect way to spend an evening with your beloved. Tickets $22-$59. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.533.0080. DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS Feb 17-26 Based on the popular 1988 film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels follows two men living on the French Riviera and, of course, a dame. A hilarious battle of cons ensues, keeping audiences laughing, humming and guessing to the end. Tickets $30-$60. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 713.315.2525. ORBIT – AN HD ODYSSEY Feb 18 Join us for the world premiere of the second film in our HD Odyssey series – this time focused on our planet. With striking images taken from NASA missions to Earth’s orbit and accompanied by Strauss’ epic tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra, this event is not to be missed. Tickets $29-$129. 7:30 pm. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 7:30 pm. 713.224.7575. TCHAIKOVSKY COMPETITION WINNER Feb 22 Every four years SPA presents the gold medalist of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Now, as part of their new Young Concert Artists Series, SPA will present the winner of Russia’s Tchaikovsky Competition. From its inception during the depths of the Cold War, the Tchaikovsky Competition cut across all barriers and conflicts and signaled international consensus on the highest values of classical music performance.


WINTER 2011-2012


Tickets $35-$135. 7:30 pm. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.4SPA. GHETTO KLOWN Feb 23-25 You know his movies - To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar; Ice Age; Moulin Rouge; and Summer of Sam. Now you can see John Leguizamo live on stage in his awardwinning comedy – Ghetto Klown. Tickets $34.50-$54.50. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.222.5400. BEETHOVEN’S FIFTH Feb 23-26 Experience the drama of Beethoven’s most famous work. You’ll hear the contrast between breathless tenderness and the powerful, triumphal finale. Meet Colin Currie, a star in the world of solo percussion, for whom Rautavaara composed the provocative concerto, Incantations. Tickets $25-$116. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. CINDERELLA Feb 23-Mar 4 The story has been a favorite for generations but make no mistake, this is not your childhood Cinderella. More tomboy than princess, Stanton Welch’s title character is a striking woman of substance, determination and spunk. She’s in control, fighting the oppression and will of her evil stepmother with wit and vigor. And when she finds true love she grabs it – and wisely holds on with both hands. Tickets $18-$175. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 7:30 pm. 713.227.ARTS. TAO: THE ART OF THE DRUM Feb 24 Athletic bodies and contemporary costumes meet explosive Taiko drumming and innovative choreography in this show that has critics raving about TAO’s extraordinary precision, energy and stamina. The performers reach the highest level of virtuosity only after years of intensive study, however they each bring nontraditional flair to the group by drawing on their diverse backgrounds: one as a hard rock musician, another as a gymnast and yet another as a composer. Tickets $30-$60. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.227.4SPA. LATIN FUSION Feb 26 To hear the Texas Medical Center Orchestra of Houston is to know that this group of health professionals is playing for the love of the music. Composed of physicians, dentists, nurses, medical students, social workers, and other allied health professionals, this orchestra plays with passion and reveals the surprisingly strong link between careers in the medical professions and musical talent. Tickets $20$40. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 5 pm. 713.222.5400. MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Feb 28-Mar 4 This is the smash hit Broadway musical, inspired by the true story of the famed recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. On Dec. 4, 1956, these four young musicians were gathered together by Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions of all time. Million Dollar Quartet brings that legendary night to life with an irresistible tale of broken promises, secrets, betrayal and celebrations featuring timeless hits. Tickets $34.80-$87.30. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.745.3000.

FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS > S’MORE FUN FOR THE HOLIDAYS Dec 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 Have some holiday fun at the hottest venue downtown this season. The Four Seasons’ fourth floor pool bar has the fire pit flaming, the chiminea smoking and the festive cocktails flowing. Take advantage of $5 holiday cocktails and appetizers while you make s’mores and take in the incredible skyline views. And the sweetest part? Receive two complimentary s’mores ready to roast to your liking. Four Seasons, 1300 Lamar. 5-8 pm.



POETRY READING Dec 3 The Houston Public Library has partnered with Public Poetry to showcase a free poetry reading event featuring local and visiting poets including Dr. John Gorman, Carol Louise Munn, Evangelina Vigil-Pinon and Kevin Prufer. 2 pm. CLASSIC LITERATURE BOOK CLUB Dec 13, Jan 10, Feb 14 Join the book club for selected book discussions the second Tuesday of each month. Noon. SEASON’S READING at HPL Dec 17 Celebrate the winter season with family friendly, literary inspired programs. Houston Public Library’s Season’s Reading series of programs kicks off with New York Times best-selling author Eric Litwin. Litwin is the author of the much loved Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes and the sequel Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes. He will bring his books to life with a special musical story time. 1:30 pm. ORNAMENT CRAFT TABLE Dec 20-22 Help decorate

the Central Library Christmas tree. Make your own ornament. Supplies provided. All day. LEGOS @ THE LIBRARY Dec 20 & 28 Go to the library’s Lego block party and show your creations. For children ages 7 and up. 2 pm. AN EVENING WITH AUTHOR STEVEN FENBERG Feb 8 Steven Fenberg is the author of Unprecedented Power a biography of Jesse Holman Jones. Now writer and producer of the Emmy Award-winning documentary film, Brother, Can You Spare a Billion? The Story of Jesse H. Jones, Fenberg, tells the story of Jones for the first time. As the public and media continue to draw comparisons between actions taken by President Obama and those of the FDR administration, Unprecedented Power offers a timely perspective on government use of economic stimulus. 6 pm. STRESS RELIEF & RELAXATION SERIES Mondays in Dec, Jan and Feb Unwind at this yoga series and learn how it can benefit your body and mind. A trained instructor will demonstrate and help everyone to learn the basic yoga poses. All are welcome to attend and yoga mats will be provided. Wear comfortable clothes that allow easy movement. Noon. STRESS-BUSTER WITH SHARON HUGHES Tuesdays in Dec, Jan and Feb Join Sharon Hughes as she presents ways to de-stress and relieve muscle strain through breathing exercises, yoga postures, and other techniques you can do at

your desk and at home. Wear comfortable clothes that allow easy movement and bring a mat or a large towel. 1 pm. REGGIE’S WORKOUT Tuesdays and Saturdays in Dec, Jan and Feb Whether your fitness goals involve weight management, muscle toning, stress relief or just total health, there is something for you in one of Reggie’s classes. A modern form of total body exercise, which can be adapted to any fitness level, is set to fantastic music to keep beginners and veterans coming back for more. 5:30 pm Tuesdays, 10:30 am Saturdays. LAUGHTER YOGA WITH LAINIE DIAMOND Wednesdays in Dec, Jan and Feb Laugh your way to health and joy with this fun and life-changing laughter yoga (Hasyayoga) exercise group. Lainie Diamond will lead everyone in playful, value and yogic breathingbased laughter yoga exercises. No mats or exercise clothing needed, just bring yourself. 5:30 pm. BABYTIME Mondays in Dec, Jan and Feb An interactive story time featuring books, songs and finger plays with playtime afterward. Ages 6-18 months. 10:30 am. TODDLER TIME Mondays in Dec, Jan and Feb Stories, songs, crafts, and playtime for toddlers 18 to 36 months, and their caregivers. 11:30 am. PAJAMA TIME Thursdays Dec, Jan and Feb Kids are invited to bring their teddy bear and pajamas to a bedtime story time of snuggly stories and songs. 7 pm. All events free and open to the public. Central Library, 500 McKinney. 832.393.1313.

MARINE BIOLOGIST FOR A DAY Dec 3 See if you have what it takes to become a marine biologist. Experience close encounters with exotic species. You’ll even get to dissect a squid. Program includes guided tour, biologist dive show, animal feedings, T-shirts and lunch. $49.95 per person, ages 6-12. Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby. 9 am-3 pm. 713.223.3474. 49TH ANNUAL CANDLELIGHT TOUR Dec 9-10 Share in the excitement as costumed re-enactors participate in scenes taken from the pages of Houston’s history and crafters demonstrate long-forgotten skills. Visit Santa’s Workshop to create holiday crafts and have your photo taken with St. Nick. Experience the thrill of an unexpected downtown snowfall. Tickets $10 adults ages 19-64, $5 seniors, $5 students 6-18, and children ages 5 and younger are free. 6:30-9:30 pm. Sam Houston Park, 1100 Bagby. HEB FEAST OF SHARING Dec 11 Join the festivities and experience the joy at the 21st annual H-E-B Feast of Sharing. In addition to a holiday meal, participants can enjoy music, arts and crafts, and kids activities – even an appearance by Santa himself. Free. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas.

MAYOR’S HOLIDAY CELEBRATION & TREE LIGHTING Dec 2 Mayor Parker will host the official holiday celebration at City Hall’s Hermann Square. The event includes the mayor’s tree lighting ceremony, a fireworks extravaganza and music from Ruben Studdard and Diane Schurr and more. Free. City Hall, 901 Bagby. 6 pm. BREAKFAST WITH SANTA Dec 3-4, 10-11, 17-24 Mingle with Santa Claus and enjoy a delicious meal during Breakfast with Santa. The day includes multiple photo opportunities, a breakfast of pastries, omelets, waffles and other goodies, live music

and activities for the kids. Tickets $14.99 (adults), $7.99 (4-12 years). Reservations required. Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby. Seatings at 8-10:30 am. 713.223.3474. GINGERBREAD HOUSE WORKSHOP FOR KIDS Dec 3, 10 and 17 Chefs lead a gingerbread-building workshop for children with loads of specialty candies to decorate their personal gingerbread house to take home and enjoy. Parents get to relax with an elegant afternoon tea. Reservations required. $38 for children under 12. Quattro at Four Seasons, 1300 Lamar. 2-4 pm. 713.276.4700.

2011 TOTAL JINGLE BELL RUN AND WALK Dec 11 Get in shape and support a great cause during the 2011 Total Jingle Bell Run and Walk. The event, which includes more than 5,000 participants of all ages, benefits the Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA Partners Campaign. Participants in the event are encouraged to wear holiday costumes as they make their way through the city streets. A kids’ fun run for children 13 and under, a 3-mile family walk and a 5-mile adult run will be offered. The Tellepsen Family YMCA, 808 Pease. MOMMY & ME Dec 14 Toddlers, bring your moms and make yourself comfy on giant pillows while listening to a story. You’ll also play games and have craft time. $12.99 per



datebook MARKET SQUARE PARK Winter Calendar

BAYOU BIKERS Dec 3, Jan 7 and Feb 4 The first Sunday of every month, Bayou Bikers meet at Market Square for 25- to 40-mile bike rides to explore the bayous of Houston. These rides are open to anyone. Mountain bikes or bikes with fat tires are necessary. This is an informal group whose purpose is to show Houstonians and visitors the beauty of Houston’s waterways. Free. 8 am. ArCH’S 3rd ANNUAL GINGERBREAD BUILD-OFF Dec 10 Supplied with gingerbread, icing, gumdrops, candy canes and other holiday treats, watch teams of artistically and architecturally talented individuals compete for the ultimate prize – best in show! Free. 10 am-4 pm.

participant pair (adult and child) $2 each additional participant, ages 2-5. Add-on lunch and all-day passes available. Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby. 10 am-11 am. 713.223.3474. ZOOLOGIST FOR A DAY Dec 17 Examine impressive species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and white tigers. Interact with live animals, build animal enrichment toys, talk with tiger and bird keepers. Your ticket includes a T-shirt and lunch. $49.95 per person, ages 6-12. Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby. 9 am-3 pm. 713.223.3474.

SHARKEY’S NEW YEARS EVE KIDS PARTY Dec 31 Watch the ball drop and help usher in 2012 with Sharkey and his friends in the Nautilus Ballroom. Guests of all ages will delight in tasty New Year’s treats from the buffet, while the small fries enjoy their favorite tunes played by a festive, kid-friendly DJ. A balloon drop, contests, giveaways and discounted passes are also available. Tickets $15.99 (adults), $9.99 (4-12 years). Reservations required. Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby.2-5 pm. 713.223.3474.

vie for spots on the U.S. Olympic Team in Houston on January 14. See the races and participate in activities at Discovery Green, where the race begins and ends. On January 15, it is the historic 40th anniversary Houston Marathon.;

SPEAKER SERIES > MY LIFE AS A DOLL PANEL Dec 3 A panel discussion of current social, cultural, and artistic issues raised by My Life as a Doll. Panelists include Kimberly Davenport, director and chief curator, Rice Gallery, Dr. Elizabeth Gregory, professor and director of women’s studies, University of Houston, and Dr. Nels P. Highberg, associate professor and chair, Department of Rhetoric, University of Hartford. Free. DiverseWorks ArtSpace, 1117 East Freeway. 2 pm. 713.223.8346.

FINGER LECTURE: BUILDING MODERN HOUSTON Jan 19 Anna Mod presents Building Modern Houston, a look at how Houston’s early 20th century economic shift from agriculture to oil fueled a building boom in commercial, residential, and civic architecture that redefined the city and its skyline. Members free, $5 for nonmembers. The Heritage Society Tea Room, 1100 Bagby Street. Noon-1 pm. 713.655.1912.

Jan 14-15 The best marathon runners in America will

WINTER 2011-2012

Metered on-street parking is available Mon-Sat and is free after 6 pm and all day Sun. $5 parking is available daily at Market Square Garage. Market Square Park, 301 Milam.

TALK AND TOUR Dec 13 Come by for a talk and tour with Tara Conley and Tria Wood as they walk visitors through their installation My Life as a Doll and answer questions. Free. DiverseWorks ArtSpace, 1117 East Freeway. 7 pm. 713.223.8346.



Blankets, lawn chairs and picnics are welcome. Food and beverages (including beer and wine) are sold at Niko Niko’s (open Mon-Fri from 7 am to 8 pm and Sat-Sun 9 am to 9 pm, extended hours during events). Alcohol is not allowed to be brought into the park; it can only be bought at the café.

Jay L ee

NEW YEAR’S EVE LIVE Dec 31 New Year’s Eve Live returns for an illuminated, power-packed night that will light up your world. Broadcast live on television, this event offers a free, familyfriendly community celebration. The night’s activities will include an illuminated parade, live performances and a one-of-a-kind 3D light show and fireworks display. Free. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney and George R. Brown, 1001 Avenida las Americas. 7 pm-midnight.

ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE PRESENTS: IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE Dec 11 Recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow brings It’s a Wonderful Life to the big screen. Snuggle up and enjoy this holiday classic. Free. 6 pm.


FINGER LECTURE: SLEEPING PORCHES OF THE EARLY 1900S Feb 16 Margaret Culbertson will discuss how sleeping porches gained popularity at the turn of the 20th

century, particularly in the warm climates of the south. Members free, $5 for non-members. The Heritage Society Tea Room, 1100 Bagby Street. Noon-1 pm. 713.655.1912. INPRINT RAE ARMANTROUT & CHRISTIAN WIMAN READING Feb 27 Rae Armantrout, the author of 11 poetry collections and winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, along with Christian Wiman, award-winning poet and editor of Poetry magazine, will read from and talk about their work as part of the 2011-2012 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, followed by a book sale and signing. Tickets $5. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Avenue. 7:30 pm. 713.521.2026.

EXHIBITS & VISUAL ARTS > TARA CONLEY AND TRIA WOOD: MY LIFE AS A DOLL Through Dec 17 My Life as a Doll is an immersive art exhibition combining rhyme, candy-colored environments, and fantastical sculptural elements to establish a life-sized residence where each room is defined by a pair of pages from a gigantic book. Seductive aspects of this fantasy world slowly give way to reveal the perils of a woman living her life as a doll. Free. DiverseWorks ArtSpace, 1117 East Freeway. 713.223.8346. GRANDALISM FEATURING EPISODE Through Dec 17 Grandalism is a season-long series of street art commissions presented in partnership with GONZO247, founder of Aerosol Warfare. Throughout the season, the DiverseWorks dock will be the backdrop for a series of rotating, large-scale works that features accomplished street artists. Free. DiverseWorks ArtSpace, 1117 East Freeway. 713.223.8346. FLICKERLOUNGE: A SENSE OF PLACE AND HOME: MUSIC VIDEOS AND SHORTS FROM BRADEN KING Through Dec 17 Aurora Picture Show has curated a series of short films and music videos by filmmaker Braden King. Playing off personal narratives, landscape and a sense of place and time, Braden King’s work creates a nostalgic feeling of home. Videos include: Sparklehorse’s Morning Hollow, Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s Horses, [Postcards From] Here and Home Movie. Free. DiverseWorks ArtSpace, 1117 East Freeway. 713.223.8346. GAME NIGHT Through Feb 12 This holiday exhibit will feature late 19th- to mid 20th-century games including board games, blocks, puzzles and card games from The Heritage Society permanent collection and private lenders. Free. The Heritage Society Museum, 1100 Bagby. Tue-Sat 10 am-4 pm; Sun 1-4 pm. 713.655.1912.

VERIZON WIRELESS THEATER Dec 1 Joe Bonamassa Dec 2 Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! It’s Time to Dance! Dec 8 My Morning Jacket Dec 17 Randy Rogers Band Dec 23 Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly Verizon’s concert calendar is regularly updated. Check online for more info and to purchase tickets. Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas. 713.230.1600. TOYOTA CENTER Dec 1-4 Cirque du Soleil: Dralion Dec 5 The Throne: JAY-Z and Kanye West Dec 23 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Dec 30 Phineas & Ferb: The Best Live Tour Ever! Jan 28-29 Harlem Globe Trotters Feb 10-12 Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour by Cirque Du Soleil Toyota Center’s concert calendar is regularly updated. Check online for more info and to purchase tickets. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 713.4HOUTIX. HOUSE OF BLUES Dec 1 Jerrod Niemann Dec 4 Dir En Grey Dec 11 Christmas with Aaron Neville Dec 28 Robert Earl Keen Dec 29 Better Than Ezra Dec 30 Hayes Carll

Jan 12 Wu Tang Clan Jan 13 Reckless Kelly & Reverend Horton Heat Jan 20 Bill Burr Jan 21 Led Zeppelin 2 Jan 25 August Burns Red Jan 26 Mute Math Jan 28 Badfish Feb 3 The Adicts HOB’s concert calendar is regularly updated. Check online for more info and to purchase tickets. House of Blues, Houston Pavilions, 1204 Caroline. 888.402.5837.

EXPOS > THE MONEY SHOW OF THE SOUTHWEST Dec 1-3 Find out what your old coins and paper money are worth. Meet more than 400 dealers, specializing in U.S., world and ancient coins and paper money, medals, tokens, stamps, gems and jewelry from across the globe. Tickets $2, 13 and under free. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 281.586.9727. HIGH CALIBER GUN & KNIFE SHOW Dec 3-4, Feb 11-12 See hundreds of displays of new and old guns, ammo, gun parts, books, knives, 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.

Speaker Series

Jim Allen


CHEER AMERICA HOUSTON PLATINUM CHAMPIONSHIP Dec 4 Cheer America’s Small and Large Gym Platinum Championship is Houston’s premiere cheerleading event. You don’t want to miss this fun and exciting extravaganza. There are spectacular prizes and fun for everyone. Tickets $10, children age 5 and under free. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. CHEERSPORT GRAND CHAMPIONSHIP Dec 12 Game on! Get fired up at this major cheer competition. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 888.732.3965. BRIDAL EXTRAVAGANZA Jan 7-8 The Bridal Extravaganza is a one-stop shop for brides, grooms and their families. All of Houston’s top wedding vendors come together in one location for this two-day extravaganza. Tickets $12 George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. Sat 10-5, Sun 11-5. 2012 IRONMAN SPORTS MEDICINE INSTITUTE AT MEMORIAL HERMANN EXPO Jan 14-15 More than 55,000 runners and fitness lovers will see the latest in fitness products. Vendors from across the nation will be showcasing everything from nutrition bars to running shoes. All Chevron Houston Marathon, Aramco Houston Half Marathon and El Paso Corporation 5K participants can pick up their race packets at the EXPO. Free. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. CORVETTE EXPO 2012 Feb 11-12 For two days, the GRBCC will be brimming with nothing but Chevy and Corvette excitement. Car enthusiasts will love the seminars, public viewing of show cars, and parts sales. Tickets $15 per day or a twoday pass for $25. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas.

TOURS > LOOKING BACK HISTORY TOURS WITH LOUIS AULBACH Dec 3 Learn about Houston’s rich past from local historian Louis Aulbach while cruising down the bayou. Tickets $40, reservations required. 10 am-noon. 713.752.0314. KAYAK TOURS Dec 3 Celebrate Houston in a whole new way and join the Buffalo Bayou Partnership for a kayak adventure through Houston’s stunning urban wilderness. All equipment is supplied for you, including the tandem sit-on top kayaks. $60 per person, reservations required. Start: I-610 and Woodway Drive End: Allen’s Landing. 9 amnoon. 713.752.0314 ext. 3. BUFFALO BAYOU CHRISTMAS CRUISES Dec 3, 9, 15, 16 & 17 Join Buffalo Bayou Partnership in celebrating the holiday season with 30-minute pontoon boat rides along Buffalo Bayou served up with plenty of decorations, music and cheer. Capacity is 21 per ride. $7 adults, $5 children 4-12. Cash only. Meet at Allen’s Landing, next to Spaghetti Warehouse at Commerce and Main Streets. 5-8 pm. 713.752.0314 ext.

INPRINT MARGARET ATWOOD READING Jan 22 Internationally celebrated author of more than 40 books, including the Booker Prize winning The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood will read from and talk about her work as part of the 2011-2012 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series, followed by a book sale and signing. Tickets $5. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 7:30 pm. 713.521.2026.

SECOND SATURDAY BUFFALO BAYOU BOAT RIDES Dec 10 These 30-minute pontoon boat cruises are a great way to spend the afternoon with your family and friends.


datebook First come, first served. No reservations, 21-person max per trip. $7 adults, $5 children 4-12; Sabine Promenade along Buffalo Bayou. 10 am-2 pm. 713.752.0314. DISCOVER HOUSTON TOURS Ghost tours, tunnel walks 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. HERITAGE SOCIETY HISTORIC HOMES TOUR Nestled among 19 acres in the heart of downtown, the Heritage Society boasts eight historic structures dating from 1823 to 1905. Each historic structure is authentically restored to reflect its original magnificence. $10 adults, $8 seniors and free for kids under 18. Tue-Sat 10 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm, 2:30 pm; Sun 1 pm, 2:30 pm. Heritage Society, 1100 Bagby. 713.655.1912. MINUTE MAID PARK TOUR Get a behind-the-scenes look at Minute Maid Park, including 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 am, noon, 2 pm. Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford. 713.259.8687. TOYOTA CENTER’S BACKSTAGE TOUR The one-hour backstage tour will take you behind the scenes of Houston’s premier destination for sports and entertainment. $7 adults and $5 for seniors and kids under 12. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 713.758.7715. SAINT ARNOLD BREWING COMPANY TOURS Visit Texas’ oldest craft brewery. Every Saturday, the doors open at 11 am and groups rotate in and out of the facility in an open-house format until the final group is allowed in at 2 pm. If Saturdays don’t work for you, check out their weekday open house at 3 pm. After the tour, guests are welcome to stay for a free tasting. $7 adults, all minors under the age of 21 must be

accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. 2000 Lyons at I-10. FREE SELF-GUIDED SMARTPHONE TOURS 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 at

SPORTS > HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS Jan 28-29 The Harlem Globetrotters are celebrating their 86th consecutive year, continuing a world-famous tradition of ball handling wizardry, basketball artistry and one-of-a-kind family entertainment for fans of all ages. Tickets $22-$152. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 866.446.8849. HOUSTON AEROS For schedule info and tickets, call or check the website. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 713.947.7821. HOUSTON ROCKETS For schedule info and tickets, call or check the website. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 866.4HOUTIX.


Winter Calendar

PUBLIC POETRY IN THE PARK Dec 3 In partnership with Houston Public Library. Noon6 pm. DIRTY DOZEN: ICE SCULPTING COMPETITION Jan 7 The fourth annual ice sculpting competition features one dozen acclaimed ice artists from around the country using chainsaws and blow torches to transform ice into masterpieces. Thousands will watch the carvers battle for the grand prize. Music throughout the day provided by DJ Caps One. Reverend Butter of DLG Ice Factory faces off with a master carver at the end to the live music of Downfall 2012. 10 am-5:30 pm.

ST. JOSEPH MEDICAL CENTER’S ICE AT DISCOVERY GREEN Through Jan 12 From Thanksgiving Day to MLK Day, St. Joseph Medical Center’s ICE at Discovery Green presented by the Houston Chronicle and Momentum Luxury Auto Group offers the chance to go ice skating outdoors downtown no matter what the temperature. Maintaining a chilly 22 degrees using recycled water and powered by renewable energy, the 7,200-square-foot ice skating rink gives friends and families the chance to experience a holiday tradition while being eco-friendly. Admission is $10 with tax, and includes skate rental.


WINTER 2011-2012


Special skate nights include: Mondays at 6 pm - Skating Stars on Ice Tuesdays 7-9 pm - Jazz on Ice Wednesdays at 6:30 pm - Zumba on Ice Thursdays at 6:30 pm - IKEA Houston’s Silver Screen at Discovery Green Fridays 6-8 pm - Cool Tunes on Ice Saturdays through Dec 18 at 5 pm - Momentum Luxury Auto Group Skating with Santa Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For skating hours, please visit

DISCOVERY GREEN FLEA Dec 17, Jan 21 Held the third Saturday of every month, the December flea comes just in time for holiday shopping. Check out vintage, collectible, recycled, renewed and refreshed objects and jam to The Invincible Czars Dance-Along Nutcracker presented by Houston Public Radio. Plus there’s always tasty treats, a local band showcase on Transier Bandstand and a monthly scavenger hunt. Noon – 6 pm. Blankets, lawn chairs and picnics are welcome; food, beer and wine are available for purchase at The Lake House. No glass containers or outside alcoholic beverages, please. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney, 713.400.7336.