downtown winter 2013-14
connecting you to the center of houston
marathon men keeping Htown's signature race on track
Neighborhood Resurgence The historic district inspires a new generation of Restaurant and Bar Owners
#dthtx the pixies live!
q 46 /
q 32 /
that elf + winter theater picks
EXPERIENCE GREENSTREET Ring in the holidays and New Year with premier shopping, dining and entertainment. See whatâ€™s to come, and join us this spring for live music, games on the green and much more!
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WINTER 2013-14 VOL. 6, NO. 2
SCAN downtown 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, Sandra Cook, Melissa Seuffert, David Theis Advertising Information Angie Bertinot, 713.650.3022/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions or comments? Drop us a line at dtmagazine@ downtowndistrict.org
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.
Feature / p. 19
12 STAY THE COURSE
Putting together the Chevron Houston Marathon is no small order, but thanks to the hard work and visionary leadership of Brant Kotch, Steven Karpas and Wade Morehead, the race has grown from its fairly modest beginnings into a world-renowned sporting event. by sandra cook
19 …AND BACK AGAIN
The history of Market Square is one of up and down, boom and bust, buzz and buzz kill. So what makes the area’s recent resurgence different from previous incarnations? It starts with a sense of strategic commitment from those stakeholders most involved in Downtown’s recent upswing. They are taking the long view as to what’s best for business owners, residents and visitors alike. And that vision is starting to pay off in a big way. by DAVID THEIS
favorites, lavish premieres and a blockbuster or two. Plus, learn how the old guard are reaching out to new audiences with edgier programs and boundary-pushing performances.
In many ways, Market Square serves as the heart of Downtown so no one is happier than we are to see its 21st century resurgence.
When they started outgrowing their home base at the Port of Houston, Oiltanking North America knew it was time to look to Downtown. They found their new place at Three Allen Center, where they are settling in nicely.
BY MELISSA SEUFFERT
hot companies 30
And the Oscar goes to Sundance Cinemas for their deliciously fresh take on movie theater snacking.
backstage The Houston Theater District embraces the season with old
datebook Theater, concerts, tours, festivals, special events and much more.
by SANDRA COOK
destination downtown map
Staying our course
When we think of our vision for the future of Downtown
Houston we think of many things – a healthy businesses center, a cultural hub, a destination for visitors. But more than that, we think “neighborhood.” We imagine a community of Houstonians who can walk (or bike, or ride a train) to the office. We dream about Houstonians who grab coffee at the corner kiosk on their way to work in the morning and meet friends at the local pub on the way home. We dream about That’s why the continuing evolution of Market Square has been so exciting Houstonians who to watch and why David Theis’ Boom, grab coffee at the Bust & Back Again starting on page 19 is corner kiosk on such a fascinating read. Sure, Market Square has had its challenges and its their way to work skeptics, but it’s positioned as never in the morning and before to be a true Downtown meet friends at the community. Hines is set to begin construction on a 33-story residential local pub on the tower; the minds behind ventures like way home. OKRA Charity Saloon, The Pastry War and Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge are committed to the long-term viability of downtown; and of course Market Square Park remains the area’s heart. We think we may have at long last turned a corner, and for that we are thankful. Every January Downtown is also home to another kind of community – a community of runners who hail from around the world and converge on our city for the Chevron Houston Marathon. Playing host to an event of this magnitude is no small undertaking. Fortunately marathon men Steven Karpas, Brant Kotch and Wade Morehead are up to the challenge. Their year-round work, and the work of hundreds of volunteers and staff members, ensures that every detail of the weekend is covered – from securing major sponsors to handling logistics to promoting the event. Read all about it starting on page 12. As always, our datebook and plate listings, starting on page 30 can keep you informed as to the best things to do and places to eat. Be sure to visit us online at downtownhouston.org, where you’ll find plenty of info to help you make the most of living, working and playing downtown. And please, let us know what you think about downtown. We’re more than happy to take your comments and suggestions.
Houston Downtown Alliance
ON THE COVER Warren's has been a Historic District mainstay for more than three decades (known for the heaviest pour in town). They've weathered it all — still standing, still serving, Warren's is a Houston institution. Photo by Melissa Fitzgerald.
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d o w n to w n's m o v e r s a n d s h a k e r s
b y h o l ly b e r e t to
New kid on the block Oiltanking Moves to Downtown
hen Oiltanking North America moved its administrative
functions from Jacintoport Boulevard on the bustling Port of Houston to Downtown late this summer, it meant a tremendous change for a company engaged in the storage of crude oil, refined products, chemicals and liquefied petroleum gases. But it was a necessary move, designed to maximize all that Downtown has to offer and better position the organization to further grow its assets and offerings. Oiltanking isn’t a new player in the oil and gas industry. Its parent company, German-based Marquard & Bahls, has been in business for more than 65 years, offering services such as oil trading, tank-terminal storage, aviation fueling and renewable energies. Oiltanking GmbH owns and operates 75 terminals in 23 countries, with a total storage capacity of more than 143 million barrels, and is the second largest terminal company in the world. The company purchased the land for its campus at the Port of Houston in the 1970s. In the 40 years since, Oiltanking North America has grown and expanded. Oiltanking’s North America operations include four terminals located along the Gulf Coast in Texas (Houston, Beaumont, Texas City and Port Neches) and one Midwest terminal located along the Des Plaines River in Joliet, Illinois. The Gulf Coast terminals offer sophisticated infrastructure for storage and handling of liquids, as well as access to major crude oil, refined products and petrochemical pipeline systems.
Oiltanking’s subsidiary, United Bulk Terminals (UBT), along the Mississippi River south of New Orleans in Davant, Louisiana, is one of the largest dry-bulk terminals in the U.S. and the largest on the Gulf of Mexico. “Our office building, with a nicely landscaped campus on Jacintoport, was across from our storage terminal – but we were outgrowing our space,” says Oiltanking CEO Anne-Marie Ainsworth. “In recent years, it had become necessary for us to house a great deal of our employees in temporary trailers to help ease the office overcrowding. Taking into consideration many factors, such as where many of our employees live, we looked at several locations around Houston and we chose Downtown.” In its move Downtown, Oiltanking leased 48,000 square feet on the 24th and 25th floors of Three Allen Center and traded in its Port landscaping for near-panoramic views of Houston, a welcoming entry lobby with rich wood floors and walls, and a semi-open workspace for the 114 employees who make up the operation. As part of the relocation, Oiltanking was able to bring together personnel from both Oiltanking and UBT, as well as 30 employees from Bomin-Matrix, a sister company also owned by Marquard & Bahls. Having these employees all in one space has enhanced Oiltanking’s reputation as an organization that inspires a family atmosphere. Adds Ainsworth, ”We really strive to have a company culture that encourages and fosters a warm atmosphere.” Keeping in line with that company philosophy, Ainsworth says that prior to the move Downtown, the company did all it could to help employees make ready for the move. Oiltanking ran shuttle buses full of employees into the city center to see the then-under construction office
space, learn more about where things were Downtown and expose them to the various exciting offerings Downtown. “We did all we could to “We really strive make the move to have a company positive and less overwhelming culture that for our emencourages and ployees,” says Charlotte fosters a warm Winfrey, atmosphere.” Ainsworth’s executive assistant. who organized the pre-move activities. Adds Winfrey, “Many of our employees had never worked Downtown, so it was crucial that we familiarized them with the area ahead of the move.” Oiltanking personnel have embraced the changes. Several employees have formed groups that have attended concerts and plays. Many have taken trips to the City Hall Farmers Market for lunches and to shop. “People are excited about the growth of our company,” says Bo McCall, Oiltanking’s senior vice president of commercial and business development. “And, because so many of our customers are Downtown, this has been an added upside to our move.” Ainsworth agrees that having better proximity to customers is a tremendous asset. Being Downtown has simplified the ability of employees to meet with customers, allowing them to set up more convenient breakfasts and lunches. In addition to benefiting its customers, Oiltanking is also looking to help the Downtown area. Ed O’Neal, vice president of human Caption goes here.
4 winter 2013-14
resources, says the company is looking to establish partnerships with nonprofit groups in the city center, to be a part of the fabric of Downtown and show that they’re happy to be part of the Downtown community. “This is an exciting time for our company,” says Ainsworth. “We’ve been growing over the years, and we continue to look for other opportunities. Also, being in our new space, we have stronger collaboration with our sister companies.” Ainsworth points out that being in the center of everything is still new for the organization and its employees, but that everyone is settling in and discovering the benefits to being Downtown. She says as Oiltanking becomes more a part of its new neighborhood, she believes the company positive sentiment about its new home will grow – along with Oiltanking’s business. “We’re very excited for all Downtown has to offer.”
arts & entertainment
b a c k s ta g e .
photo courtesy of TUTS
by Melissa Seuffert
We Will Rock You
t. Charles erickson
The Company in Alley Theatre's A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas
nother year has come and gone, and as we usher in 2014, some of the most festive holiday shows and spectacular artists will make their way through Houston’s Theater District. Looking for something a little different? Head over to Theatre Under The Stars for 50 Shades! The Musical. Want to take the family out on the town to celebrate the holidays? Look no further than the Alley Theatre’s A Christmas Carol. Whatever your fancy, take a peek at our go-to guide below for a roundup of what’s happening. Make sure to check out the full listings over at houstontheaterdistrict.org.
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holiday elf. This hilarious take on the holiday season takes you behind the scenes of life as a department store elf. Join the Alley for The Santaland Diaries Nov. 29-Dec. 31. Over at Jones Hall, the Houston Symphony has a lineup of holiday concerts for everyone. Bring the kids to hear the tale of Dr. Seuss’ favorite villain on Dec. 14 during How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Principal Pops Conductor Michael Krajewski will get you in the holiday spirit during Very Merry Pops Dec. 13-15, featuring favorite tunes like
Jingle Bell Rock, and I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, and experience Handel’s powerful oratorio, Messiah, Dec. 19-22. If you’ve never heard the Symphony’s Chorus (made up entirely of volunteers) belt out the Hallelujah chorus, you haven’t experienced one of the most moving holiday performances in our city. Theatre Under The Stars brings Buddy the (very-muchhuman) Elf to Houston audiences during Elf – The Musical Dec. 6-22 at the Hobby Center. Take a trip with Buddy from the North Pole, through the Candy Cane Forest, and all the mark kitaoka
With Thanksgiving in our rearview mirrors, it’s time to look ahead to the rest of the holiday season. Time with family and friends wouldn’t be complete without a trip to see one (or more) of some of our favorite holiday performances. Here’s what’s on tap: The Alley Theatre brings back Mr. Scrooge himself during its annual run of A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas Nov. 15-Dec. 26. Follow Scrooge on his journey of self-realization as he finds the true meaning of the holidays. Also back by popular demand is David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries, featuring resident company actor Todd Waite as Crumpet – everyone’s favorite
joseph walsh | photo by amitava sarkar
Wortham Theater Center
Houston Ballet presents the North American premiere of David Bintley’s Aladdin, the story of a boy, his magic lamp, and the high jinks that ensue upon meeting the genie within it. Aladdin’s story originated as a tale in Arabian Nights, and the production, which features origiHouston Ballet's Aladdin nal compositions by Carl Davis and lavish costumes by Sue Blane, was touted as “elaborate and splendid” by the Japanese national press when it premiered in 2008. Aladdin runs Feb. 20-March 2. Ready for a night of belly-busting comedy that pokes fun at your favorite Broadway musicals? You’ll get just that when Tony Awardwinning Forbidden Broadway comes to Houston on Jan. 25, presented by Society for the Performing Arts. Just a week later from Jan. 31-Feb. 1, Mark Morris Dance Group will grace the Cullen Theater stage for an evening that features Festival Dance, a joyous and exhilarating dance set to the piano trio music of Johan Nepomuk Hummel. Jazz pianist Gerald Clayton brings his trio to Houston as part of Da Camera of Houston’s jazz series on Dec. 7. Clayton is a three-time Grammy nominee and has emerged as one of the most acclaimed young artists on today’s jazz scene. Houston Grand Opera presents the American premiere of Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s powerful Holocaust opera, be
way to the streets of New York City as he searches for his father and tries to make him see the importance of Christmas. The holidays would absolutely not be the holidays without charles-louis yoshiyama Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy photo by amitava sarkar and a troupe of dancing toys. Houston Ballet will undoubtedly delight audiences with its annual run of The Nutcracker Nov. 29-Dec. 29 at the Wortham Center. Visit houstontheaterdistrict.org for more information and to purchase tickets to any of the performances listed above.
The Passenger, Jan. 18-Feb. 2. The Passenger is based on a novel by Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz, and despite being recognized as a masterpiece when it was written, it was censored by the Soviet Union and never performed during Weinberg’s lifetime. Alongside The Passenger, HGO also will perform Verdi’s Rigoletto, the tale of a court jester seeking revenge on his employer, the Duke of Mantua, from Jan. 24-Feb. 9. Alley Theatre
Head over at the Alley Theatre between Jan. 10-Feb. 2 to catch Other Desert Cities, a dysfunctional family drama surrounding Brooke, a woman whose return home at Christmas threatens to make everyone relive one of the most painful times in the family’s history. Other Desert Cities has been lauded as the “best new play on Broadway” by The New York Times. During Freud’s Last Session, take a peek as to what it would have been like if psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and author C.S. Lewis had crossed paths when the world was on the brink of war. Freud’s Last Session runs from Jan. 23-Feb. 23.
Gerald Clayton winter 2013-14
ABBA The Concert anthony rathbun
Ghost the Musical Tour
The Earth – An HD Odyssey Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
Continuing its brand-spankin’-new TUTS Underground series, Theatre Under The Stars brings 50 Shades! The Musical to Zilkha Hall Dec. 17-22. This musical is the original parody inspired by E.L James’ novel, Fifty Shades of Grey. Leave the kids at home for this one – 50 Shades! The Musical is recommended for audiences 18 and up. Relive the genius that is Queen when We Will Rock You hits the Sarofim Hall stage Jan. 22-Feb. 2. Straight from London’s West End, We Will Rock You features all of your favorite Queen hits, from We Are The Champions to Bohemian Rhapsody. On Feb. 15, Da Camera of Houston presents the works of Debussy and Beethoven performed by the Brentano String Quartet. The organization also commissioned a new work by MacArthur “genius” grant winner Vijay Iyer, who will be premiering the piece along with his piano quintet. Gexa Energy Broadway at the Hobby Center is bringing Ghost The Musical to Houston Feb. 18-24. Ghost The Musical, which was adapted by the Oscar Award-winning film of the same name, tells the tale of a love between a young couple – Sam and Molly – that transcends mind and body.
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Get ready for not one, but two exciting tribute concerts presented by Society for the Performing Arts. On Dec. 6, ABBA The Concert relives the greatest hits, like Dancing Queen and Mamma Mia from the famed Swedish quartet. You’ll also be dancing in the aisles during a special two-night engagement Jan. 17-18, when SPA celebrates The King himself during Elvis Lives – The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Tour. This multi-media and musical journey through his life features four Elvises, each representing the singer through the different stages of his career. The Houston Symphony is continuing its centennial season celebration with a true legend on Dec. 5 when composer/conductor John Williams joins famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma for one night only. Yo-Yo Ma will perform Williams’ Cello Concerto, and the orchestra also will perform selections from his most famed film scores. Additionally, Houston Symphony Music Director Designate Andrés OrozcoEstrada will lead the orchestra for a presentation of The Planets and Earth – An HD Odyssey Jan. 24-26. The orchestra also welcomes America’s foremost composer, John Adams, to town Feb. 1-2. Feb. 13-16 marks the return of pianist Emanuel Ax.
arts & entertainment: p r o f i l e
Edgy options attract young, new patrons to Theater District
ver the past few years, Houston has been touted as THE place to be. Thanks to our thriving culinary and arts scenes and our strong economy, people across the nation are flocking to the Bayou City. A large number of those people choosing Houston are young professionals (25-40 years old), who are coming to town for not only job growth potential, but also to see if we are the “coolest city” in America (Forbes). For our local performing arts organizations, that presents an interesting challenge: how to move with the changing tide and keep the arts interesting for these younger Houstonians. Case in point: TUTS Underground, Theatre Under The Stars’ latest venture, which was launched this summer. Promising theatergoers no revivals, no dead authors, and no boundaries, TUTS Underground was developed out of a need to experiment with programming and to find new and exciting ways to engage audiences and keep them coming back for more. “I want to bring important theater to Houston – shows that make people think and view the world around them differently and from a new and exciting angle,” TUTS Artistic Director Bruce Lumpkin noted when the series was launched. “TUTS Underground will showcase just how dynamic musical theater can be.” A new and exciting angle is definitely what they’ve got. The first show in the four-part series, Lizzie, premiered Oct. 10 in the smaller, more intimate, Zilkha Hall at Hobby Center. This rock musical about the infamous accused ax-murderer Lizzie Borden was far from the more traditional offerings TUTS patrons are used to. Think minimal staging, powerful voices and raw emotion. Lizzie lived up to the hype, as, undoubtedly, will the others this season. “There’s a big buzz about TUTS Underground increasing the variety of theater in Houston, and people really enjoy the accessible ticket prices,” Lumpkin said. “We were happily surprised to find that a large faction of people who have come to the TUTS Underground shows have never been to Hobby Center before. We’re glad that we’re bringing people to the theater for the first time and showing them how much fun the-
chinh phan_catchlight photos courtesy of hgo o.n., hypa, hsyp and hbf.
ater is and how vital theater is to our city. It’s wonderful to know that we’re reaching not only our traditional market but that we’re also reaching completely new theatergoers with TUTS Underground.” TUTS isn’t the only group trying to take the theater experience to the next level. The Houston Symphony has been experimenting with an alternative to the traditional concert experience, most recently through its ACCESS concert series. Premiered in 2011, ACCESS concerts have an earlier concert start time, no intermission, and hosted commentary from NPR’s Miles Hoffman. Patrons get behind-the-music information on what they’re hearing and also have a chance to attend a post-concert Q&A with artists. Organizations like Da Camera of Houston and Society for the Performing Arts appeal to new audiences in a big way through programming. Da Camera consistently features up-and-coming artists in both of their chamber music and jazz concerts, and Society for the Performing Arts presents everything from contemporary dance that pushes the envelope, to reality TV stars like Anthony Bourdain to a bunch of Brits playing the ukuleles. “Our goal is to establish ourselves as the cool kids in town,” said Allison Lott, director of marketing for Society for the Performing Arts. “You can bet that if you go to a SPA show, it
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will have an element of sexy, cool, trendy and very right now.” Over the past decade, arts groups have been trying to appeal to this niche, younger demographic, although only in the last few years have programs been strictly geared toward them. In 2005, Houston Young People for the Arts (HYPA) surfaced to educate young professionals on the performing and visual arts. The group often partners with large and small organizations to make theater going affordable and an overall special experience. "HYPA gives people the opportunity to sample the many art forms in Houston without having to commit to one for a substantial price. This way you can try many for a reasonable amount and determine what you enjoy most," said Heather Pray, founder of Houston Young People for the Arts. At that point, people can then choose where to focus their support, whether it be the opera, ballet, or a museum of their choice, Pray said. Other groups in the Theater District and beyond have followed suit, forming their own young professionals groups in hopes of attracting new patrons. Most groups offer a subscription of performances at a lower-thannormal price point, which also includes special parties or mixers for guests to meet new people and in some circumstances – the artists
themselves. A few neat perks include a champagne toast onstage and access to a private rehearsal (Houston Ballet’s Ballet Barre), intermission mixers with complimentary hors d'oeuvres (Houston Grand Opera’s O.N. Opening Nights for Young Professionals), postperformance reception and talk backs with actors (Alley Theatre’s Scene) and all inclusive post-concert parties with musicians (Houston Symphony’s Young Professionals Backstage). Not only do these young professionals groups bring awareness to the arts, but they also help cultivate lifelong patrons. “Houston Grand Opera largely benefits from supporting (O.N.) in that it increases subscribership and introduces young, new audiences to opera,” said Rebecca Koterwas, manager of sales and audience development at Houston Grand Opera. “As this group of over 400 members grows, it is easy to see the continued success of HGO as a leading arts organization in Houston, as well as throughout the world.” Even if you aren’t familiar with the Theater District or are a little “stage shy” as to what you may see, take some time and head to TUTS, or the Symphony, or any of our resident groups, and explore what they have to offer. Most importantly, go with an open mind, because without even thinking about it, you may find exactly what you’re looking for.
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Running the marathon Three key people who fuel the remarkable success of the Chevron Houston Marathon
photos courtesy of houston marathon committee
o most, a marathon is 26.2 miles. To the dedicated team that organizes the Chevron Houston Marathon, itâ€™s an exciting race that never ends. Month after month, year after year, a staff of 11 and a team of 130 volunteers strive and stride to make the big race and its accompanying events successful. To this team, success doesnâ€™t mean dollars or huge numbers of participants. Success for the Houston Marathon Committee comes in the form of one simple assessment: an outstanding runnerâ€™s experience. That goal, however, consistently yields a yearly economic impact of more than $50 million.
Marathon pill ars Steven Karpas, Wade Morehead and Brant Kotch sweat the details year-round so that others can experience happy trails come race weekend.
Contagious Spirit With the Chevron Houston Marathon going on 41 years, it’s clear that the love of running combined with the momentum of the competitive spirit result in a special synergy. This boundless cycle has produced waves of fitness, friendship, collaboration and generosity within the community, as well as across the state and country. The genesis and first three decades of the Houston Marathon were fueled completely by the volunteer efforts of running enthusiasts – in fact, some 7,500 volunteers help pull off each race weekend. The Houston Marathon Committee’s current board president and race director, Brant Kotch, is one of those committed volunteers. The gregarious and, at times, giddy, 6-foot-3-inch attorney has been active on the committee since 1992. When asked about the number of years he’s been committed to the cause, his trademark mustache makes way for a huge grin
as he quips “Well, committed or committable?” Some might say that Kotch is insanely enthusiastic after more than 20 years of helping to develop and manage the marathon, but his energy and pure love of running and turning people on to running is contagious. “For me, it’s about the sport – I love the sport,” says Kotch. “We try to make more of an impact, so race participants become lifelong enthusiasts. It was more of a niche sport years ago, but more people are running now than ever.” Kotch describes himself as a cheerleader and spreader of passion for running. The Houston native, who was active in the Houston running community before he joined the Houston Marathon Committee, happily calls himself a running geek. After spending more than 90 minutes interviewing him, it was clear to this writer that the combination of Kotch’s stature, ‘stache and lively storytelling style are a powerful tool for promoting the marathon and motivating others to help out. While the man expends more energy than a racquetball,
Kotch the running geek takes matters of managing and improving the marathon very seriously. “There has been a very conscious effort to professionalize the organization over the last five to seven years, led by our board of directors,” says Kotch. “When I took over (as board president and race director) in 2002, there were two paid staffers and that has since climbed to 11. Before that, there was so much to do, and it all had to be done by volunteers.” The board members realized that the marathon could become stronger if more full-time staffers were able to plan, organize and execute these tasks throughout the year.
wrap my head around it.” The next year Karpas went to watch the woman, whom he dated for two years, run the New York Marathon and experienced a marathon first as a spectator. “I still remember the crowd’s energy on 1st Avenue in Manhattan and seeing her at the point we planned to meet and in that instant I was
need to do is look at some of the stories behind our Run for a Reason program. They will tug at your heart. There’s something inside each of us that ignites and pushes you to challenge yourself beyond the boundaries you otherwise have.” Karpas, who left a career in finance, is the marathon’s managing director
There’s something inside each of us that ignites and pushes you to challenge yourself beyond the boundaries you otherwise have.
Going Pro One of those first two paid staff members was Steven Karpas, hired in 2001 as the Houston Marathon Committee’s managing director. Karpas explains that as he signed on, he and a 17-year-old receptionist handled most everything. “And that 17-year-old receptionist was Carly Caulfield, who is now our director of operations.” Spend a few minutes talking to Karpas about marathon running and/ or the Chevron Houston Marathon and his businesslike demeanor turns poetic and inspirational. In contrast to Kotch’s kooky charisma, Karpas’ love of running and marathons takes a reverent tone as he describes how he first got into marathon running. “My story is well-known,” says Karpas. “Twenty years ago, I met a girl in a bar, who had just run the New York Marathon. And I couldn’t believe that this woman had just run 26.2 miles, because I was in great shape and could never have imagined myself running 26 miles. And this girl didn’t look any different – she was just a person having a beer. I couldn’t believe she had just run a marathon – never mind that she had actually run 15 marathons at that point. I couldn’t even
hooked. I thought, ‘I am doing this next year.’ I wanted to run down 1st Avenue and have hundreds of people cheering me on. And the next year I ran the New York Marathon with her.” Karpas’ face lights up as he explains how he loves to see people discover what it’s all about. “It’s great to be a part of that for so many people,” he says. “You can experience it firshand when you come out to watch the marathon. You may start to question ‘how is that person out there doing that?’ and pretty soon you are imagining yourself out there. All you
and focuses on business development and marketing for the organization. Since 2001, Karpas has helped turn a frequently rotating sponsor roster into one of the most stable and supportive marathon sponsor lineups in the country. “Without question, Houston receives more corporate support for the Houston Marathon than any other marathon in this country,” says Karpas. The 2014 marathon marks Chevron’s ninth year as title sponsor, and Chevron has extended its commitment through 2018. Aramco
Services has been the title sponsor of the half-marathon for the past 10 years and has signed on through 2017. ABB has sponsored the 5K since 2009. Additional repeat sponsors include Bank of Texas, H-E-B, Waste Management and Nissan. Skechers Performance Division also recently inked a multiyear sponsorship deal with the Houston Marathon Committee. “Doing this in the country’s fourth-largest city in an event that is so important to the city on so many different levels, from economic impact to charitable impact, to showcasing our city to the rest of the country is fantastic. You combine all of these elements and at the end of the event there is a deep satisfaction that I keep coming back for every single year.” Each year, the marathon’s Run for a Reason program fuels charitable donations for a wide spectrum of local causes. “When I started in 2001, we were thrilled to raise $200,000 for the charities in the program, says Karpas. “Now, we are raising in excess of $2 million on an annual basis.” In the program’s 18-year history, runners and donors have raised nearly $17 million. “We’ve hosted 12 national championships, as well as two Olympic Trials Marathons. We are always looking to improve year after year,” says Karpas. As of this writing, Houston was on the short list for hosting the 2016 Olympic Trials. (Look for the venue to be announced in early December.)
Big Picture In 2010, the marathon’s 38th year, the Houston Marathon Committee hired its first executive director. The committee had realized that after decades of growth in participants, charity giving, paid staff and volunteers, the remarkable race weekend – now hosting up to 30,000 runners – had become an enormously impactful event that held opportunities to refine and improve the execution and experience for all involved. At the time, the existing staff and army of volunteers were holding their own with the complex and broad-ranging logistics, day-today business and promotion of the high-profile marathon, but the committee proactively chose to bring in someone who was a successful director of largescale sporting events. The
Yearly to-do list HMC staff and its 130 volunteer committee members work on projects throughout the year to pull off the annual race weekend, thanks to their remarkable organizational structure. Build budgets Begin evaluating reports from previous year and discuss any new aspects of race Grassroots marketing and registration promotion Registration 130 HMC members begin breakout meetings within the 30 committees Recruit volunteers Promote Run for a Reason Collaborate with city officials Finalize event operations plans, logistics and warehousing Work with corporate partners and ABC13 to promote event Year-round social media promotion Communicate with participants and community year-round Race weekend promotion of event – tv/radio/print interviews Race day After-action reports and meetings Recognize/appreciation for various groups – volunteers, sponsors
HMC selected Wade Morehead to guide the marathon team toward more sophisticated goals, while remaining steadfast to the quality of each participant’s experience. Morehead came to Houston following three years as vice president of operations and support services for the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games. In the years prior, Morehead had held leadership positions with the WNBA, NBA, CBA and the Harlem Globetrotters. The 2014 race weekend marks Morehead’s third with the Houston Marathon, and he says he is very impressed with Houston as a venue and the cooperation of the city. “We know what everyone else around the nation is learning, that partnering with this city on major sporting events is the way to go,” says Morehead. “The hospitality, the generosity, the collaboration, the cooperation and the set-up of the city itself is so convenient for an event with the location of the hotels and the GRB, plus our sports venues, The Galleria and Memorial Park are all so close. I completely understand why the Final Four, the NCAA, the NFL, the NBA all of them continue to come back. It’s such a compliment to our city and the groups that make it possible.” Morehead cites the collaborative nature of the citizens and public officials of Houston. “Working with our public safety agencies is a joy – we are very, very fortunate,” says Morehead. “We put a lot of new committees and processes in place leading up to the Olympic Trials in 2012. “Our industry continues to evolve, along with our society. We’ve developed fantastic relationships with HPD Special Ops, HFD, Homeland Security and the Office of Emergency Management. We meet monthly and discuss various scenarios to address public safety.” Morehead is not a lifelong runner, as are his colleagues Kotch and Karpas, but he does have years of experience as a major sports event organizer that help him keep the entire Houston Marathon organization steps ahead of their tasks and challenges. Those who have met the 6-foot-9 Morehead know just how well he can literally oversee the efforts of the entire team – he’s the calm above the storm. “To be able to do the same event year after year and be able to improve upon it,” says Morehead. “It doesn’t get old. There’s always something different. Even doing the same event year after year, your challenges change: the course, local development, trying to host an Olympic Trials, shifting the 5K to Saturday to grow the Sunday events. There’s always something that can be tweaked or improved. It takes a year to evaluate the event, pay your bills and plan for the next year. We take a lot of pride in being a good community. Every decision made is made
in the interest of promoting Houston and this wonderful running community and providing them with a race that the community is proud of.” He goes on to highlight the years of continued sponsorship by Chevron, Aramco and ABB, Bank of Texas, H-E-B, with Waste Management, Nissan and Skechers more recently onboard. “They understand the value of tying their brand to us, because they know we take good care of their brand,” says Morehead. The focus of the marathon since its beginning has been to deliver a top-notch running experience to every single runner. The phrase “quality over quantity” is a common refrain among the staff. “We haven’t allowed numbers to grow too quickly,” says Morehead. Participants enjoy a climate-controlled warm-up and post-finish inside the George R. Brown Convention Center, complete with post-race breakfast. “The idea is to provide a VIP experience for everyone,” says Morehead. “We hope to see each participant become a promoter of this city and this event. Our goal is that runners arrive
R a c e D ay b y t h e n u m b e r s
13,000 Marathon runners 12,000 Half marathon runners 5,000 5K runners informed and that new runners discover our marathon is safe, healthy and fun – and worth their time and money to do.” The convenience of the city and the high-level participant experience are key factors for participants. “You can get a hotel within 500 yards or a mile of the start line, finish line and the expo, and you pre- and poststage inside the GRB,” says Morehead. “You have two airports within 30 minutes of the city with an easy shuttle to downtown – it’s so easy. It is the most non-stressful, convenient experience for a runner. They’re going to be fresh at the start line. That’s our selling point. And we have really, really nice people. The staff, volunteers, participants, the charity giving – it’s truly an inspirational day and makes you appreciate a great deal the things you may take for granted.
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THERE ARE NIGHTS WHEN IT’S HARD TO FIND A PLACE TO PARK AROUND THE REJUVENATED MARKET SQUARE. IN JUST THE PAST YEAR, NEW BARS AND RESTAURANTS HAVE ATTRACTED CROWDS THAT SOME FEARED WOULD NEVER RETURN TO THE NORTH END OF DOWNTOWN. A COOLISH FRIDAY NIGHT IN OCTOBER WAS A BIT OF AN EXCEPTION—THERE WAS ONE PARKING SPOT LEFT ON COMMERCE. It was already 9 p.m., so I’d missed the early-evening crush at the bars, but a number of Market Square hangouts were still doing a solid business. Walking along Travis, I passed Macondo, where the sounds of a live salsa band filled the small space. And Hearsay was almost full, as usual. La Carafe, the constantly morphing square’s beacon of stability, was quiet, the silence of its ghosts broken only by the typically profound conversation of the bar’s few habitués. Fusion Taco was bustling, while Barnaby’s looked a little sleepy. Then I cut diagonally through Market Square Park. The native grasses and various other plantings so assiduously tended by the Downtown District glistened in the lights and the aftermath of a light rain. Making the block up Travis, I saw that the Market Square Bar & Grill was home to its typical “Nighthawks at the Diner” scene, while Warren’s projected its “Nighthawks at Warren’s” vibe. The Char Bar, downtown’s only combination tailor shop and bar, had a little action. When I turned right on Congress, though, it felt like I was passing from a Hopper tableaux into an atmosphere that was more bright-lights, big-city. Batanga’s strings of festive lights and its new cool sign on the patio’s brick wall, brought life to the old intersection. The tapas restaurant’s exposed-brick interior, unusually big for downtown, was nearly full, with stylish
customers enjoying the space and each others’ company in the comfortable furniture stationed right in front of the floor-toceiling windows. But looking through that window I thought I saw the ghost of Market Square Booms Past sitting in the back of the room, lingering over its drink, probably a martini. I was thinking of Tosca, of course, itself a tapas restaurant that filled this same space during the heady days of the late 1990s. Its buzzy opening, relatively early in the nation-wide tapas movement, seemed to signal that Houston had reached a new level of sophistication, so its untimely demise really stung. A Japanese restaurant moved in not long after Tosca closed, but it never caught on. Now the tapas are back, and so is the urban, cosmopolitan excitement.
The fenced-in corral outside the OKRA Charity Bar was half-filled with smokers, just as the bar’s interior was half-filled, but lively, the drinkers making charitable contributions with every beer, cocktail and bag of beef jerky. On Main Street things were more or less hopping. The interior of Goro & Gun was full, and the street level door to the upstairs Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and Spirit Lodge opened continuously as I walked by, with people streaming in and out. A little further down, the unmarked entrance to The Pastry War, the Clumsy Butcher group’s wittily – and wonkishly (in a Mexican history kind of way) – named “mezcaleria” opened to reveal a relaxed crowd there to enjoy the fruits of the maguey. Notsuoh also was low-key, but
inside they were preparing for the night’s show: the Bayou City Kids and Golden Sombrero would soon be making noise. Despite the fact that the bars and restaurants were reasonably busy, there weren’t many people walking along Main. I was reminded of what Arturo Boada, co-owner and chef of the once-celebrated Solero, said to me recently as he lamented the death of both his restaurant and the downtown excitement of the pre-Super Bowl, pre-light rail construction era. “The streets used to be three deep,” he said. It’s far from a ghost town, but the streets weren’t buzzing like they did before Main Street got ripped up. And not nearly as many businesses are open today. Across Main I peered through the window of the Isis building, the old silent movie theater that was briefly home to the Mercantile brew pub, and to the once-lauded Mercury Room, a club that itself seemed to herald a new age of Downtown excitement. On Prairie, on the backside of the Post Rice Lofts, I looked through the window of Boada’s old place. On the door, like the fingerprints of a ghost, are faded stickers bearing the name Solero. In the late 90s this restaurant was the toast of Houston – and beyond. Houston’s current hot restaurants: Oxheart, Pass & Provisions, Underbelly, are not the first to excite national attention. In 1999, national restaurant writer John Mariani wrote of Solero, “[A]ssuming you
can push your way past the long line at the door, you’ll find the hottest restaurant in Houston now is also one of the most inventive...in America.” Why did Solero, Tosca, the Mercury Room, and so many other places fail so quickly after a quick burst of success? For most Houstonians, the answer is simple: Metro’s decision to build light rail along Main Street, coupled with other simultaneous and massive street overhauls, made Downtown almost impossible to navigate. “They destroyed every single street at the same time, and that was the end,” says Boada, who now owns Arturo Boada Cuisine on Del Monte. The accompanying utilities work also made life difficult. “The gas and the water would go off in the middle of service.” Some of the business owners back then were out for a quick buck, but you can’t help but feel bad for the operators, like Boada, who tried to restore Downtown’s long-ago luster. Old Market Square, as the area was once known, won national attention for its nightlife in the late ‘60s, when La Carafe, for example, served drinks to the likes of James Baldwin, Liberace and Johnny Mathis. But that all died in the early 1970s, when all the action moved outside the Loop and the peep shows and derelict bars moved in. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine that any section of the city has been subjected to the kinds
of wild swings that Market Square has both enjoyed and suffered. (See “Back to the Future,” downtown, fall 2010) So, is the current boomlet in restaurants and bars around Market Square doomed to the same eventual bust? Many
so, is the current boomlet in restaurants and bars around market square doomed to the same eventual bust? people say no, this time is different. Kenny Meyer, president of MC Management and Development, Inc., and, with his corporation a very longtime owner of several Market Square properties, says this time “feels completely different. The boom we’re having now is much different than the ‘mini-boom’ of the ‘90s.” The founders of Treebeards, and true Downtown-living pioneers Dan Tidwell and Jamie Mize, agree. In 1996, during the very first ripple of Downtown living, the couple moved into a loft in the historic Foley Building, and they’ve been living there ever since. So, boom, bust, they’ve seen it all. And just a few years ago they were feeling pretty jaundiced. “We feel jealous of Discovery Green,” Tidwell said in these pages in 2008. “We feel like we’ve been left behind.”
“you can walk to theater performances. You can walk to cleaners, banks and restaurants. You have the ability to live here with a small personal footprint.” Mark Cover, senior managing director and CEO for Hines Southwest Region
But that was then. Now Mize says, “I’m just happy it’s going to happen while I can still enjoy it.” What made the difference? The main reason for everyone’s optimism will apparently soon take shape over the surface parking lot that I’m facing now, just a few feet north of Frank’s Pizza – which itself seems kind of eternal. On this exasperatingly empty lot, whose central location makes it one of Downtown’s most glaring eyesores, Hines is preparing to build a 33-story residential tower with nine stories occupied by parking and retail located at street level. It will be the first new residential construction in the Historic District since it became a historic district.
FOR MANY observers,
residential has been the missing piece of the Market Square puzzle. The existing properties capable of being converted to
lofts have long since been made over, so new construction has been the only way to bring more people into what is geographically and demographically a very small neighborhood. But it always appeared that Downtown land was too expensive for residential construction. “Until recently, the viability of residential development downtown was an open question,” says Mark Cover, senior managing director and CEO for Hines Southwest Region. But that was before Marvy Finger gambled big, and won big, on One Park Place on the east side of Downtown. Finger’s project was “bold, new, and big,” says Cover, and its immediate success showed that people were willing to pay a premium to live Downtown. “Now we’re hearing from realtors and people with the Downtown District, and people who survey and follow Downtown, that there’s substantial pent-up demand.” Hines and other Downtown developers also have been encouraged by the city’s Downtown Living Initiative, which will
compensate them up to $15,000 for each residential unit they build. Cover says, “the incentive isn’t huge, and it’s paid out over time, but it closes the gap.” Cover acknowledges that One Park Place has been so successful in large part because of its proximity to Discovery Green, but feels that Market Square Park, despite being much smaller, plays a similar role. “Market Square Park is a huge success. It’s a gathering place, and it’s in the center of the north end of Downtown.” He adds, “From here you can walk to theater performances. You can walk to cleaners, banks and restaurants. You have the ability to live here with a small personal footprint.” Cover speaks from experience; he lives at Bayou Lofts on Franklin Street, and he’s watched the Market Square area develop from his own living room window. “I’m incredibly optimistic (about the long-term prospects of the Historic District). With the whole Inner Loop becoming very dense, and with traffic becoming an issue, it will be natural to have residential Downtown.” Cover also says that the Hines building will have “a lower price point” than One Park Place, so that it will be affordable to Downtown workers of all ages. When asked if they were concerned that a building on the scale of the proposed Hines tower would change the character of the neighborhood, residents Tidwell and Mize are both philosophical and excited. “If we hadn’t already lost so many old buildings, I’d object,” Tidwell says. “But I’d rather have a big building with a lot of people than a surface parking lot.” It helps that in the preliminary sketches, Hines appears to be taking pains to make the tower match the existing buildings as much as possible, especially at the street level. I had a final thought as I headed home: there’s no real reason to compare the street scene today with the party of 1999. The Historic District doesn’t want to be an entertainment district; it wants to be a neighborhood. “Less Bourbon Street, and more Georgetown,” says the Downtown District’s executive director Bob Eury.
The late-90s cycle
arrived in stages. First came the sophisticated restaurants. When street construction (and other issues, depending on each business) drove them out of business, they
were largely replaced with bar and club owners who hoped to cash in on the 2004 Super Bowl. The Toscas and Soleros were replaced by clubs. Suddenly an entirely different set of people filled the Downtown streets – people who were frisked for weapons before some clubs would let them in. In short, the Historic District became a bit dangerous. Early Hermann Lofts resident Barbara Friedman says, “I stopped feeling safe walking to the Opera.” Friedman’s adult children wanted her to leave Downtown, but she said, “Oh, no, I’m going to fight.” Downtown meant too much to her. Friedman and the other Historic District residents didn’t have to wait too long for the clubs to quiet down. By 2006 they had mostly gone dark. But so had the rest of the Historic District, except for its handful of deeply rooted perennials. The streets looked great, and the building infrastructure was up to grade. The district was all dressed up, but no one wanted to go. But if Market Square had hit bottom – again – the property owners, residents, and the Downtown District were determined not to let it stay there. Together they formed the Historic District Advisory Committee, and together they decided what kind of area they wanted it to be. The answer was simple; they wanted the district to finally be a neighborhood, a place where residents and visitors could feel safe, comfortable, and engaged in the life of the community.
As a first step, property owners agreed not to lease to clubs. To let their buildings sit empty until they could find “good operators,” a phrase you hear often when talking about the new wave of development around Market Square. Angie Bertinot, director of marketing and communications and retail development for the Downtown District, says “surprisingly, we didn’t hear many say ‘we can’t have an empty space.’ They saw the long-term value – it’ll behoove me to wait for the right operator.” While the owners waited, the Downtown District (along with the Downtown Redevelopment Authority (DRA) and City of Houston Parks & Recreation) began the redevelopment of Market Square Park. The smashing success of the park’s makeover has been well documented, but the essentials bear repeating: the previous incarnation of the park, with its sunken, intimidating passageways, “was dysfunctional,” says Bertinot, and few would disagree. But the $3.5 million reinvention converted the park into one of Houston’s most inviting spaces; the perfect place to build community. Area residents are impressed with the Downtown District’s commitment to maintaining the park. The District budgets $100,000 a year to care for the grass, plantings, and general appearance of the park. “The park has exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Jamie Mize says during a conversation at Treebeards, where he and Dan Tidwell still work as consultants. (Tidwell
To say that the charity bar has worked out is a tremendous understatement. Its immediate success showed that a lively, truly urban Historic District was still within reach. is finally retiring for good at the end of the year.) Tidwell adds, “It sounded too good to be true that they (the Downtown District) would keep it looking so good year after year, but they have.” The park is also programmed on an intimate scale. Besides crowd-pleasing movies and monthly concerts, the park features such low-key events as Blanket Bingo, a pastime that is just as homey as it sounds. “The bingo crowd is a cross between ‘empty nester’ and hipster,” Bertinot says. “It adds another layer (to the park’s core crowd).” But despite the like-new park, most area spaces remained empty. For the annual “A Night at Market Square” event after the
park opened, “we had to celebrate the existing spaces,” acknowledges Bertinot, because nothing new had come in. At one point it appeared that a brewpub might open in the area. When that proposal fizzled, Bertinot and Heather Swift, the Downtown District’s retail & residential programs manager, kept knocking on doors. They, and the property owners whom they consider to be their partners, were looking for “good operators.” It just so happened that those very operators were hanging out in Warren’s, knocking back drinks and sharing their love for Downtown.
OKRA is the acronym
for Organized Kollaborative on Restaurant Affairs, the organization that a group of youngish bar and restaurant owners created to lobby the City of Houston for more business-and urbanism-friendly ordinances. With Anvil’s Bobby Heugel as their leading spokesman, OKRA appeared frequently before City Council and won changes to the then-proposed parking ordinance. As Scott Repass, owner of Poison Girl bar and Black Hole and Antidote coffee houses, recalls, the idea for The Original OKRA Charity Saloon was born on one of these group trips to City Council. “After meetings we’d repair to Warren’s,” Repass says. “I said to Brad Moore (owner of the Big Star Bar in the Heights and Grand Prize Bar in Montrose), ‘I really love Downtown; I’d love to move here.’ Moore said, ‘I’ll do it if you do it.’ ”
Swift “organized tours” of vacant Downtown properties for OKRA members, including Repass and Moore, and after showing them the dazzling space of the old Red Cat Jazz Café on Congress, they decided to collaboratively open The Original OKRA Charity Saloon. “We figured if it didn’t work out it wouldn’t hurt much.” To say that the charity bar has worked out is a tremendous understatement. Its immediate success showed that a lively, truly urban Historic District was still within reach. Famously (OKRA has even been joked about on The Colbert Report), the bar donates all of its profits to an area nonprofit, voted on by their patrons. Every month a new set of nonprofits faces the voters, and the winner gets the bar’s next month’s profits. The first month’s winnings of $10,000 went to Corridor Rescue, a petplacement service. The most recent month saw $35,000 go to U.S. Vets Initiative, Houston Chapter. There’s some disagreement among OKRA members as to whether they opened the Charity Saloon to test the waters for their own, individual bars. Repass says that’s how he looked at it. “When we founded OKRA we were all looking for spaces for ourselves.” But Heugel says that he had no intention of opening another Historic District bar, and that he went along on Swift’s tour of available spaces “just to be polite.” “But I was really surprised by what I saw,” he says, and he soon began planning The Pastry War. However the little boom started,
OKRA members began working on their individual projects, but in their typically collaborative spirit. Heugel says, “We showed each other our plans. We didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.” The Pastry War, which Heugel opened with Alba Huerta, is the new bar most likely to attract national attention thanks to its ambitious mescal and tequila program and its brilliantly executed neo-cantina décor. Moore, along with Justin Burrow and Ryan Rouse, opened Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge, whose name is only a little longer than its 25-seat bar. The bar had scarcely opened before the Chronicle’s Alison Cook tweeted that it would become a Houston classic, and she seems to have been right, as usual. Josh Martinez opened his ramen/Japanese Goro & Gun, and Scott Repass’ Little Dipper Bar will have opened by the time this story is published. As the OKRA members hoped, the different bars and restaurants feed off each other’s clientele, and they’re all doing very well. Most impressively, you don’t have to be an OKRA insider to be part of the Kollaborative, as Brian and Hank Fastoff, the brothers who opened Batanga Tapas +
Drinks around the same time as OKRA’s debut, found out. Brian came here from Atlanta to open a restaurant because “the economy never got crushed here like everywhere else,” and because “there’s always something happening in the restaurant scene here.” Fastoff isn’t a stranger to Houston; his brother and co-owner is a lawyer here. Still, he found his Batanga location “on Google Earth – biggest patio in Downtown!” As an out-of-towner, Fastoff says, he could have been “the odd man out” with the closeknit members of OKRA. Instead, he says, “they’ve all been great, helping with the permitting and everything else.” Heugel says of the Batanga team, “they’ve become part of the group.” Heugel works all over the country as a consultant, but has never seen anything like the camaraderie that exists among the Historic District’s operators. “For us there are some things more important than making money,” he says. “We could probably work less and make more doing something else, but we love being part of the community.” That sounds great, but can the OKRA members really expect all – or any – future business owners to operate at such a
community-oriented level? Heugel thinks they can, and for this he credits the Downtown District. “They really try to get new players to be part of the team.” And the Downtown District is in a position to make the right thing – for the Historic District – happen.
Sitting in the Downtown District’s conference room, Swift and Bertinot explain what it takes for a bar or restaurant owner to succeed in Market Square. “It takes the right kind of business,” Swift says. “People need brand equity to draw people from the surrounding neighborhoods. The buildings are historic and beautiful, but that’s not enough. You need a strong concept and the ability to drive traffic to your business.” They work with the property owners to help them find the right “operators.” Swift uses the space that now houses Fusion Taco as an example. At the owner’s invitation, she met with the property owner and the broker to vet the candidates. A chain sandwich shop wanted in, as did a highend restaurant. Neither hit that sweet spot 27
between casual and excellent that Fusion Taco lives in. What’s more, co-owners David Grossman and Julia Sharaby committed to serving lunch and dinner, six days a week, so the space would stay busy. “We didn’t have the final say,” but Fusion Taco got the space. The Downtown District also dangles a very tasty carrot in the form of their Streetscape and Catalytic Retail grants. Fusion Taco used the former to create its sidewalk dining area. Batanga, which had 9,000 square feet to bring to life, including a totally inadequate kitchen, got the more substantial Catalytic Retail grant. Many, if not most, of the Historic District venues have gotten one grant or another, which gives the District a good deal of influence. Finally, the Historic District revolves around Market Square, operated and programmed by the Downtown District. “The park isn’t a stand-alone destination,” Bertinot says. “It’s the heart of the neighborhood.” Heugel puts the park’s contribution to the neighborhood in a typically thoughtful light. “The park gives the area a sense
of organization. I think that before things seemed disorganized and unfocused, even when everyone was busy.” So, has the Historic District finally moved past the perpetual boom-and-bust cycle? It now has great infrastructure, but while bad infrastructure can kill a neighborhood, good infrastructure alone probably can’t create one. Simply put, a neighborhood needs residents, which people have been saying about Downtown for years. And according to Hines, and other developers that can’t yet be named, the residents are coming. Bob Fretz, of Fretz Construction, owns and lives in the Byrd Building at Texas and Prairie, and he recently bought and restored the Wilson Building at the corner of Prairie and Fannin. He’s deeply rooted in Downtown, and his commitment to the area is passionate, but not blind – he’s concerned about the increasing numbers of homeless. He speaks for many when he says, “The Hines project will end the cyclical nature of Downtown. Residential leads to improvements. The neighborhood is going nowhere but up.”
Simply put, a neighborhood needs residents, which people have been saying about Downtown for years.
Edited by Angie Bertinot & L auren Covington
chuck cook photography
Forget about stale popcorn and flat diet soda. Sundance Cinemas takes movie snacking to a whole new level with hand-crafted pizzas, fresh salads, signature cocktails and much more.
30 winter 2013-14
the guide to eating downtown
L 17 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. thesamhoustonhotel.com. The Sam Houston Hotel, 1117 Prairie, 832.200.8800. L by reservation only; D Daily. $$$$ L Andalucia Restaurant & Bar Tapas/Spanish Dim lighting, large wooden tables and heavy iron accents provide for a cozy, rustic atmosphere. The menu features large dishes, such as paella for up to 16 people, and tapas that range from the traditional such as gambas al ajillo (shrimp cooked in olive oil and garlic) and empanadas, to veal tongue and oxtail. andaluciatapas.com. GreenStreet, 1201 San Jacinto, 832.319.6675. L Mon-Fri, D Mon-Sat. $$ 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. cordua.com. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby, 713.278.4782. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat (Open for L & D on Sun only if a theater performance is scheduled). $$$ Atrium Lobby Lounge Contemporary Located inside the Doubletree Hotel overlooking the Allen Center courtyard. Relax after a busy day and enjoy your favorite beverage or a bite to eat while you catch up on the day’s news on the wide screen TV. Doubletree Hotel, 400 Dallas, 713.759.0202. L, D & LN Daily. $$ L Azuma Sushi & Robata Bar Japanese/Sushi Voted “Best Sushi in Houston” by Citysearch. com, this new-age Japanese restaurant is anything but typical. The ambience is terrific, the sushi is innovative and fresh and the outside seating area provides great people watching. azumajapanese.com. 909 Texas, 713.223.0909. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sun; LN Fri & Sat. $$
new! Batanga Tapas + Drinks Latin This tapas joint whips up delicious dishes inspired from Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Chile – anywhere that sangria is served. The spacious patio is as good as it gets when it comes to outdoor dining – festive twinkle lights, great music and stellar views of the historic district and Market Square Park. batangahouston.com. 908 Congress, 713.224.9500. L & D Daily. BR Sat & Sun. $$ 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. benihana.com. 1318 Louisiana, 713.659.8231. L & D Daily. $$$ Birraporetti’s Italian This Italian restaurant/Irish bar is a Theater District staple. Their delicious pizzas continue to hit the spot, while items such as the chicken picatta and La Dolce Vita have become standouts. Enjoy a signature dessert to finish the meal. birrarestaurant.com. 500 Louisiana, 713.224.9494. L, D & LN Daily. $$ The Bistro American The Bistro 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 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. thelancaster.com. Lancaster Hotel, 701 Texas, 713.228.9502. B, L & D Daily. $$$$ Blue Fish Sushi Japanese Not your typical Japanese restaurant. Don’t expect small, minimal décor. Be prepared for innovative sushi in a high-energy atmosphere at Bayou Place. thebluefishsushi.com. 550 Texas, 713.225.3474. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat. $$
Ballpark Café American Enjoy the all-American cuisine and a nostalgic atmosphere for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just across the street from Minute Maid Park, Ballpark Café is a great place to have a pre/post-game meal. innattheballpark.com. Inn at the Ballpark, 1520 Texas, 713.228.1520. B & L Daily. $
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. bombaypizzaco.com. 914 Main, 713.654.4444. L Mon-Fri, D Mon- Sat. $
Bangkok Chef Thai A casual Thai joint that keeps booths packed with hungry downtowners looking for eclectic dishes to satisfy their spice cravings. And there’s a pretty tempting happy hour for drinks and nibbles under $5. bkchef.com. Inn at the Ballpark, 914 Main Street, #125, 713.659.1600. L & D Mon-Sat. $$
Bon Jour Café Deli Offering soups, sandwiches and salads. 945 Capitol, 713.237.0419. B & L Mon-Fri. $
L Barnaby’s at Market Square American A local favorite, Barnaby’s serves up oversized sandwiches, salads and burgers, putting a Southwest spin on traditional deli dishes. Colorful murals are splashed on the walls that aren’t graced with large windows for perfect park views. barnabyscafe.com. 801 Congress, 713.226.8787. L Mon-Sat, D Fri-Sat. $
Bouray’s Burrito Bar Fast Food A burrito bar with tons of ingredients and sides that allow you to create the burrito of your dreams. bourays.com. 609 Clay, 713.652.5999. L Mon-Fri. $ Brazos Restaurant American Upscale seafood and casual American fare come together in a Texaschic atmosphere. Newly refurbished, black booths and white tablecloths offer elegance and décor not typically found in hotel restaurants. Crowne Plaza Hotel, 1700 Smith, 713.495.7854. B, L & D Daily. $$$
L 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. thebrownbagdeli.net. 702 Main, 713.224.7000. L Mon-Fri. $ new! Buzz Barista Coffee House This full-service espresso bar offers much more than caffeinated beverages for a morning fix. People on the go can grab fresh-baked pastries, Naked juices, yogurt parfaits and fruit cups along with their brewed delights. B & L Mon-Fri. 811 Main, 713.228.3033. $ 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. $$ L Cafe Express Fast Casual Need to grab a quick lunch? Cafe Express is an informal yet sophisticated choice. You can always find a variety of delicious entrees, salads and sandwiches. cafe-express.com. 650 Main, 713.237.9222. B & L Mon-Sat. $ China Garden Chinese A popular Chinese restaurant, China Garden has been serving downtown for more than 30 years. Their egg rolls and lemon chicken have become favorites. 1602 Leeland, 713.652.0745. L Mon-Fri; D Daily. $
key to symbols These listings are not reviews but are a guide to downtown dining spots. "Recommended" restaurants are selected by Downtown Magazine editors and are based on food quality, menu selection, service, ambiance and value.
L recommended new! just opened average price of an entrée $ - $10 or less $$ - $11-$19 $$$ - $20-$29 $$$$ - $30+ B: Breakfast BR: Brunch L: Lunch D: Dinner LN: Late Night
For a searchable database of downtown Houston restaurants by cuisine, location and price, visit downtownhouston.org and click on Guide.
FAB FOOD & FLICKS S u n d a n c e m a k e s a n i g h t at t h e m o v i e s eas y , b r ee z y a n d t o ta l ly tas t y
By L auren Covington Robert Redford is not known for being ordinary. And when it comes to
orchestrating America’s quintessential date night, his Sundance Cinemas theater elevates dinner and a movie in every way – from validated parking to cushy, reserved seats and killer eats. The theater, anchoring the corner of Bayou Place, offers a full menu of fresh foods to enjoy before or during your movie, without compromising the integrity of a good meal. Everything is ordered before the show, and theatergoers have the option of taking their food into the movie using handy trays that conveniently lock into personal cup holders. The food selection aims to please, touting quesadillas, sandwiches, fresh salads and an array of thin-crust pizzas – anything that can be consumed easily in a dark theater. Food and beverages manager, Thomas Reyna, believes in preserving the overall dining experience by keeping the menu fresh and injecting local flavors into each dish. Breads are sourced from Slow Dough Bread Co., cheese plates are adorned with creations from Houston Dairymaids and icy treats are supplied by Cloud 10 Creamery and boast sophisticated flavors like milk chocolate black sesame and poached pear sorbet. Reyna tracks the food trends of movie genres and re-works his supply to accommodate the crowds. For the rom-com crew, favorites lean toward the pear gorgonzola pizza, a light, olive oil-based pizza topped with pear slices, arugula, red onion and blue cheese crumbles, paired with a Dr. Loosen Riesling. The action flick
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flock gravitates to heartier dishes like the Italian sausage pizza or the Philly cheese steak with Lagunitas Lucky 13 amber to wash it down. All that special attention isn’t just focused on the food. Justin Vann of PSA Wines and most notably, Oxheart’s former sommelier, consulted with Sundance to provide a unique and affordable wine selection, bringing in a wide range of wines that fall under 30 bucks per bottle. The signature cocktails are thoughtful concoctions that pay homage to Hollywood classics and box-office blockbusters. The Major Tom, emboldened by this year’s Oscar favorite, Gravity, is designed to chill your nerves for the film’s gorgeously terrifying space scenes. It’s a cucumber, basil and lemoninfused gin-based cocktail mixed with fresh lemongrass syrup and Buffalo Bayou’s Chamomile Wit, poured over rocks and garnished with fresh basil and lemon zest. And the Dr. Jones is a pecan-infused bourbon mixed with spicy gingersnap liqueur, St. Arnold, Aztec chocolate bitters and a splash of Dr. Pepper - a treat that just might keep you from getting sleepy in the cozy theaters. “We like spicy drinks here,” says Reyna of the Indiana Jones-inspired elixir, “It’s a potent sipper that will last throughout a good movie.”
Chipotle Mexican Known for its large portions, this Mexican fast casual spot offers a variety of wholesome menu items. chipotle.com. 909 Texas, 713.225.6633. L & Early D Mon-Fri. $ L Corner Bakery Fast Casual A bakery cafe, offering fresh breads, salads, sandwiches, soups and sweets in a casual atmosphere. Located right on Main Street Square, you can’t beat the people watching or just relax and watch the rail line and Main Street Square’s jumping fountains. cornerbakery.com. 1000 Main, 713.651.0673. B & L Mon-Fri. $ Domino’s Pizza 975 McKinney, 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. donpatron.com. 500 Dallas, One Allen Center. B, L & D Mon-Fri. $$ L The Downtown Aquarium Seafood The menu features a huge variety and offers something for everyone. While dining, guests are surrounded by a 150,000-gallon aquarium. Enjoy the sights and a great meal at this family-friendly spot. aquariumrestaurants.com. 410 Bagby, 713.223.3474. L & D Daily. $$ L Droubi Bro. Mediterranean Grill Mediterranean This authentic Mediterranean grill offers up a quick and satisfying spot for lunch. Pita sandwiches are popular. 507 Dallas, 713.652.0058. L Mon-Fri. $ Eats Mesquite Grill Classic American Craving a burger downtown? Popular for its juicy burgers and great-tasting fries, Eats makes for a great lunchtime stop. Guests can make their burgers exactly how they like them. 804 Milam, 713.223.3287. L Mon-Fri. $ L Einstein’s Bagels Deli Known as great place to grab freshly-baked bagels and coffee for breakfast, they also serve up delectable lunch choices that include paninis, melts and pizza bagels. Be an office hero and use the catering service to treat your work pals. einsteinbros.com. 1200 Louisiana, 713.375.4775. Mon-Sun B, L & LN. $ new! El Big Bad Mexican Brought to you by the El Gran Malo crew, this casual Tex-Mex restaurant brings hand-crafted tequila infusions, specialty margaritas and craft beers to the table. The gastrocantina-inspired menu is chock full of tasty tacos with fresh toppings like promegranate salsa, charred scallions, pumpkin seeds and more. elbigbad.com 419 Travis, 713.229.8181. L & D daily, LN Fri & Sat $ Falafel Frenzy Mediterranean This quaint spot serves up all your Mediterranean favorites, including beef and chicken kabobs, hummus and, of course, falafel. 914 Prairie, 713.237.8987. L Mon-Fri. $
L Flying Saucer Pub Fare Offering more than 200 beers, almost half on draft, Flying Saucer is a beer drinker’s paradise. Excellent staff and tasty eats give the place an identity all its own. beerknurd.com. 705 Main, 713.228.7468. L, D & LN Daily. $
upscale restaurant and lounge serves up delicious sandwiches, salads and entrees. They feature an extensive wine list, numerous beers on draft and bottle and premium liquors with a focus on Scotch whisky. hearsayhouston.com. 218 Travis, 713.225.8079. L Daily; D Mon-Sat; LN Fri–Sat. $$
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. frankspizza.com. 417 Travis, 713.225.5656. L & D Daily; LN Fri & Sat. $
Home Plate Bar & Grill Classic American A great hangout spot before or after an Astros ballgame. Enjoy American food with all menu items (except for sampler platters) less than $10. homeplategrill.com. 1800 Texas, 713.222.1993. L & D Daily (may close earlier during off-season so call first). $ � L House of Blues Southern Classic HOB serves Southern-inspired signature classic dishes such as voodoo shrimp, Tennessee baby back ribs and the Cajun classic, Creole jambalaya. Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits, you can’t miss House of Blues’ famous Sunday Gospel Brunch. hob.com. GreenStreet, 1204 Caroline, 888.402.5837. L & D Daily. $$
new Fusion Taco Latin/Japanese Taking the best from Asian and Latin cuisine, Fusion Taco comes up with creations like jerk chicken tacos, chickentikka masala quesadillas and Asian pulled pork flautas. An extensive beer and wine selection rounds out the menu. fusiontaco.com. 801 Congress, 713.422.2882. L & D Mon-Sat. $ L Georgia’s Market Downtown American The market is stocked with fresh organic produce, grass-fed meats, prepared foods and snacks and home basics while the cafe offers breakfast, lunch and dinner from its organic buffet and a bistro menu. Don’t miss the underground cellar – the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine or craft beer with friends. georgiasdowntown.com. 420 Main at Prairie, 713.225.0990. B, L & D Daily. $ new! Goro & Gun Asian This Historic District haunt is a gathering place for all things cool. Chow down homemade ramen and Asian-inspired comfort food like fried chicken and 72-hour tempura short ribs. Their creative cocktails can’t be beat, so happy hour is a must! twitter.com/gorongun. 306 Main. 832.708.6195. L & D Mon-Sat. $$ L The Grove American Rustic This two-story, ultra-urban restaurant is found at Discovery Green. The menu features rustic American cuisine such as Gulf Coast seafood, steaks and signature rotisserie dishes. grovehouston.com. Discovery Green, 1611 Lamar, 713.337.7321. L & D Daily. $$$ L Guadalajara del Centro Mexican This familyowned restaurant consistently serves up tasty food in a new, very cool environment. It’s the perfect place to bring the family or a large group of co-workers or friends. Great happy hour specials. guadalajarahacienda.com. GreenStreet, 1201 San Jacinto, 713.650.0101. L & D Daily. $$ Hard Rock Café Classic American What do you get when you mix a music-themed diner with an all-American menu? Hard Rock is a great familyfriendly spot serving up items such as burgers, nachos and chicken varieties. hardrock.com. Bayou Place, 570 Texas, 713.227.1392. L, D & LN Daily. $$ L Hearsay Gastro Lounge New American Located in a beautifully refurbished historic building, this
L Hubcap Grill American Classic Small but packs a punch. One of the best burger joints in town. 1111 Prairie, 713.223.5885. L Mon-Sat. $ L Irma’s Mexican Irma Galvan has been crowned Houston’s Tex-Mex goddess. This authentic spot is a longtime favorite among Houston politicos and downtown business people. Traditional, homecooked Mexican cuisine is served for breakfast and lunch on weekdays. 22 North Chenevert, 713.222.0767. B & L Mon-Fri; D Thu-Sat. $$ 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. irmassouthwest.com. 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. jasonsdeli.com. 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 seven-grain bread or try the low-carb lettuce wrap: all the regular sandwich ingredients without the bread. jimmyjohns.com. 820 Main, 713.222.9995. L Mon-Sat. $ Kobecue Korean Fusion Kobecue specializes in freshly cooked, quick and healthy dishes. The menu focuses on serving Korean BBQ , sizzling platters, rice bowls, fusion tacos, salads and bibimaps using fine authentic spices and high-quality ingredients. kobecuedowntown.com. 1001 Texas (@ Main), 832.447.2900. 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
plate. some live music from the nearby amphitheater stage. thelakehousehouston.com. Discovery Green, 1611 Lamar. Tue-Wed 11-3; Thu-Sun 11-8. $ L La Palapa Fast Food A Courthouse District favorite, there’s always a line at this free-standing pink concession stand for breakfast tacos and hamburgers. 1110 Preston, 713.228.9620. B & L Mon-Fri. $ 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. laceysdeli.com. 416 Caroline, 713.237.0000. L Mon-Fri. $ L Last Concert Cafe Mexican Tucked away in the Warehouse District, this Tex-Mex cafe was born in 1949 and still supplies tasty food and local music today. Spend some time on the leafy back patio and you’ll swear you’re in your neighbor’s backyard throwing back a cold one. lastconcert.com. 1403 Nance, 713.226.8563. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sun; LN Fri-Sat; Bar & live music Tue-Sat. $ L Line & Lariat 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. hotelicon.com. Hotel Icon, 220 Main, 832.667.4470. B Daily; D Mon-Sat. $$$ Little Napoli Italian Theater and moviegoers can now enjoy these southern Italian dishes before the big show! The healthy options, such as whole wheat pizza crust and low-fat cheeses, are a nice touch. littlenapoli.net. 540 Texas, 713.225.3900. $$ Luby’s, etc. American Enjoy an incredible view of downtown along with 10 food stations offering a wide variety of goodies: a build-your-own salad bar, made-to-order grill, pizza by-the-slice, delightful deli, global café and traditional Luby’s cafeteria line with all the classic dishes. lubysetc.com. 1301 Fannin, 13th Floor, 713.759.9954. B & L Mon–Fri. $ L Lucky Strike Lanes & Lounge American Bowlers and patrons relax on sleek leather couches and enjoy floor-to-ceiling video screens that flash movie clips and music videos as DJs deliver danceable grooves. Delectable munchies are available lane-side and in the lounge. bowlluckystrike.com. GreenStreet, 1201 San Jacinto, Level 3, 713.343.3300. L, D & LN Daily. $$ 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 has a full coffee bar and juice bar, featuring delicious Colombian coffee. BYOB! 208 Travis, 713.229.8323. B & L Mon-Sun, D Fri-Sat. $
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Mandarin Hunan Restaurant Chinese This upscale eatery gives its guests an engaging experience in Chinese cuisine. Located in the Skyline District, Mandarin’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows provide a great view of the streetscape. 777 Walker, 713.224.1212. L & D Mon-Fri. $ L Market Square Bar & Grill American This Chicago-style neighborhood hangout is a local favorite. Boasting a handful of “fire-powered” burgers, Market Square offers plenty of reasons to stop by for a meal or drink. The backyard patio, friendly staff and full bar add flavor. marketsquarehouston.com. 311 Travis, 713.224.6133. L, D & LN Mon-Sat. $ L Massa’s Restaurant Seafood An upscale and elegant restaurant offering a fine selection of American and seafood cuisine. Superior service and a great dining atmosphere allow guests to enjoy a memorable experience. massas.com. 1160 Smith, 713.650.0837. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat. $$ L Massa’s Seafood Grill Seafood Like its sister restaurant, you can count on superior service and a great dining atmosphere. Conveniently located close to the convention center and Toyota Center, it’s a prime spot for lunch and dinner. massas.com. The Shops at Houston Center, 1331 Lamar, 713.655.9100. L Mon-Fri; D Mon-Sat. $$
phoeniciafoods.com. 1001 Austin, 832.360.2222. B, L, D, Daily. $ Molly’s Pub Pub Fare A good ol’ Irish bar with tasty food to soak up the beer. Your standard pub fare – sandwiches, dogs and pretty much anything that’s not good for you. mollyspubs.com. 509 Main, 713.222.1033. L, D & LN Daily. $ L Morton’s Steakhouse 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.” mortons.com. 1001 McKinney, 713.659.3700. D Mon-Sun. $$$$ Murphy’s Deli Deli Indulge in a variety of sandwiches and salads. Hot or cold, Murphy’s specializes in creating your sandwich any way it’s ordered. murphysdeli.com 601 Jefferson, 713.652.4939. 1021 Main, 713.275.1912. 440 Louisiana, 713.247.9122. B & L Mon-Fri all locations. $ L Niko Niko’s Greek & American Houston icon Dimitri Fetokakis opened his cafe in 2010 at Market Square Park. Favorties such as the gyro and kebob are on the menu along with new items such as the breakfast pita. Specialty coffee drinks, beer and wine also available. nikonikos.com. Market Square Park, 301 Milam. B, L, D Daily. $
L McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood The extensive menu changes daily depending on each day’s fresh seafood deliveries. With more than 80 preparations on the menu each day, every guest is sure to find something to satisfy their palate. mccormickandschmicks.com. GreenStreet, 1201 Fannin. 713.658.8100. L & D Daily. $$$
Nit Noi Cafe Thai Head Chef Mama Alice has a secret sauce that has made this Thai gem successful for more than 20 years. Diners can go light with fresh cucumber salads or fill up on classic noodle dishes with a choice of beef, chicken, pork, tofu or shrimp. nitnoithai.com. 301 Main, 713.225.1069. L Mon-Fri. $$
McDonald’s Fast Food 808 Dallas @ Milam, 713.651.9449. B & L Daily; D Mon-Fri. $
L Pappas BBQ Barbecue Voted one of Houston’s best year after year, this barbecue joint offers an excellent selection with Texas-sized portions. Traditional favorites such as brisket, ribs, sausage and ham are served with Pappas’ flare. Delivery and take-out are available. pappasbbq.com. 1217 Pierce, 713.659.1245. L & D Daily. 1100 Smith, 713.759.0018. L & D Mon-Fri. $
L Mia Bella Italian You’ll enjoy an eclectic variety of Italian cuisine blended with a Mediterranean feel. A longtime favorite, this intimate little bistro’s simple, yet appealing décor, makes it a downtown standout. bellarestaurants.com. GreenStreet, 1201 San Jacinto, 832.319.6675. 320 Main, 713.237.0505 L & D Daily; LN Fri & Sat. $$ L Minuti Coffee Coffee House 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. minuticoffee.com. 909 Texas, 281.265.3344. B, L, D & LN Daily. $ L 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.
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. $ 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. $$$ Quizno’s Fast Food 811 Rusk, 713.227.7702. L & D Mon-Fri. 1119 Commerce, 713.228.9000. L & D Mon-Sun. $ Rachel’s Sandwich Shop Deli A good little sandwich shop. 421 San Jacinto, 713.223.3913. B & L Mon-Fri. $ new! Roma’s Pizza Italian Located just across from the Preston Station on the MetroRAIL, Roma's Pizza offers New York-style pizza by the slice or pie, as well as a variety of salads, lasagnas, ravioli, and chicken dishes. 223 Main, 713.222.1184. L & D Daily. $
L Spaghetti Warehouse Italian Making its home in an old warehouse, this Italian-American eatery offers up large portions for lunch and dinner. Traditional menu items such as spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and pizza allow the Spaghetti Warehouse to cater to all ages and appetites. meatballs.com 901 Commerce, 713.229.0009. L & D Daily. $$ 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. houstonregency.hyatt.com. Hyatt Regency, 1200 Louisiana, 713.375.4775. D Tue-Sat. $$$
The Sam Bar American Casual The Sam Houston Hotel's relaxed dining option where you'll find a breakfast buffet and a great bar menu with tasty appetizers, salads, burgers and sandwiches every day of the week. A good spot for a fast lunch or a bite before the ballgame, you'll also love the happy hour and cocktail offerings. thesamhoustonhotel.com. The Sam Houston Hotel, 1117 Prairie, 832.200.8800. B, L & D Daily. $$
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. thestatebar.com. 909 Texas, Suite 2A, 713.229.8888. Mon-Sat. $
L Sambuca New American A hip, trendy and upscale restaurant right in the mix of Main Street. The menu includes a wide variety of favorites and combined with the live music, Sambuca is Houston’s ultimate supper club. sambucarestaurant.com. 909 Texas, 713.224.5299. L Mon-Fri; D & LN Daily. $$$
L Table 7 Bistro American Table 7 Bistro is a combination of an upscale, yet casual atmosphere. The bistro serves a selection of artistically and generously presented cuisine. Happy hour weekdays offer $4 well drinks and $2 domestic beers, and it's happy hour all weekend with $2 mimosas all day on Saturdays and Sundays. district7grill.com. 720 Fannin @ The Club Quarters, 713.227.4800. B, L & D Daily. $
Shay McElroy’s Pub Fare This authentic Irish pub offers up a menu of appetizers, sandwiches, salads and soups. mcelroyspub.com. 909 Texas, 713.223.2444. L Mon–Fri. $ The Shops at Houston Center Food Court Au Bon Pain, Captain D's, Chick-Fil-A, Chicken Kitchen, d’lish, Doozo Dumpling & Noodles, Droubi Bros. Grill, Freshii, Great American Cookies, Mediterranean Grill, Murphy’s Deli, Ninfa’s, Otto’s Barbeque, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Quizno’s, Robek’s Juice, Roman Delight, Salata, Simon’s Homestyle Café, Starbucks, Subway, Teppanyaki, Treebeards, Wall Street Deli, Wok & Roll. shopsathc.com. 1200 McKinney, 713.759.1442. Mon-Sat, hours vary. $ L Shula’s Steakhouse Dark wood, sports memorabilia and menus hand painted on official NFL game footballs makes Pro Hall-of-Famer Don Shula’s Steak House stand out from the rest. Become a member of the 48oz Club by finishing a 48-ounce Shula Cut. donshula.com. Hyatt Regency Hotel, 1200 Louisiana, 713.375.4777. B, L & D Daily. $$$ Skyline Deli Deli With their freshly baked bread, Skyline makes a great deli sandwich. 717 Texas, 713.571.0509. B & L Mon-Fri. $ new! Sol Cafe Mejicano Mexican A family-owned cafe offering traditional Tex-Mex breakfast and lunch dishes made from fresh ingredients. 1205 Travis, 713.651.0049. B & L, Mon-Fri. $
Subway Fast Food 405 Main, 713.227.4700. 805 Dallas, 713.651.1331. Daily. $
Tejas Grill & Sports Bar American Located at The Shops at Houston Center, Tejas offers the perfect tailgate menu and full-service bar. tejasgrillandsportsbar.com. 1201 Lamar at The Shops at Houston Center, 713.739.8352. L Mon-Fri, D Mon-Sat. $$ Thepthidaa Thai Thai A traditional Thai restaurant located at the ground level of the loft residence Hogg Palace. The warm and cozy atmosphere offers a great setting for a dinner escape and is a local favorite. 401 Louisiana, 713.225.4900. D Daily. $ L III Forks American Upscale, warm atmosphere and impeccable service sets the stage for this sophisticated steakhouse. New York strip and filet mignon, bone-in ribeye, porterhouse, young rack of lamb and veal chop are served with duchess potatoes, off-the-cob cream corn, and perfectly cooked vegetables. Seafood items include Chilean sea bass, Ahi tuna, salmon, halibut, scallops and lobster tails, which are flown in daily. iiiforks.com. GreenStreet, 1201 San Jacinto, Level 1, 713.658.9457. L Tue–Fri; D Mon–Sat. $$$$ new! Tony’s Barbecue & Steakhouse Barbecue Get world-class hickory-smoked pork ribs and brisket, the rib eye and T-bone steaks, chicken-fried steak and even quail. Don’t leave without trying the delicious homemade cobblers and pies. tonys-bbq. com. 1225 Travis, 713.655.0028. L & D Mon-Fri. $$
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. treebeards.com. 315 Travis, 713.228.2622. Cloisters at Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas, 713.229.8248. L Mon-Fri. $ Trofi Restaurant Continental Trofi’s menu is described as Continental with a Mediterranean and Latin flair and the ambience is simple, yet sophisticated. Lunch buffets are available Monday through Friday. 400 Dallas, Doubletree Hotel, 713.759.0202. B, L & D Daily. $$ L Vic & Anthony’s Steak House This world-class steak house is one of the most elegant dining locations in Houston. It boasts rich mahogany woodwork and one-of-a-kind hospitality. Located in the heart of the Ballpark District and across from Minute Maid Park, Vic & Anthony’s is the ideal spot for entertaining business clients, a special celebration or a pre/post-game dinner. vicandanthonys.com. 1510 Texas, 713.228.1111. L Fri, D Daily. $$$$ 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. $ new! Which Wich Deli A fast and easy build-yourown-sandwich joint where doodling is encouraged and the possibilities are endless! Which ‘wich will you make? B & L Mon-Fri. L Sat. 811 Main, 713.227.0860. $ 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. $ Zero’s Sandwich Shop Deli A great little spot for a freshly made deli sandwich. zerossandwichshop.com. 809 Dallas, 713.650.3333. 1110 Lamar, 713.655.7722. 507 Dallas, 713.739.9955. B & L Mon-Fri. $ L Zydeco Louisiana Diner Cajun This cafeteriastyle 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. $
For a searchable database of downtown Houston restaurants by cuisine, location and price, visit downtownhouston.org and click on GUIDE.
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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. Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge | 308 Main A fun and quirky bar that doesn’t take itself too seriously (hence the name), but the cocktails are seriously good. Patrons enjoy the speakeasy vibe and the patio terrace for prime people watching. Mon-Sun 4 pm-2 am. twitter.com/badnewsbar The Cellar at Georgia’s Market | 420 Main @ Prairie Georgia’s underground cellar offers a wide selection of organic and biodynamic wines and local brews. The newly renovated space mixes modern and vintage for a cozy place to spend happy hour or host your next event. Mon-Fri noon9 pm, Sun 9 am-5 pm. georgiasdowntown.com/cellar Chapel Spirits | 534 Texas @ Live! at Bayou Place Chapel Spirits is a sophisticated bar, ideal for happy hour, an engagement party, a bachelor party or late night VIP experience. Great balcony seating for scenic views of downtown and people watching. Fri & Sat 10 pm-2 am. chapelspirits.com Char Bar | 305 Travis 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. Clutch City Squire | 410 Main Somewhere between a dive bar and a swanky lounge, this Main Street drinking hole is always spinning good tunes on vinyl. MonSat 3 pm-2 am. Sun noon-midnight. twitter.com/clutchcityhtx
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!
The members-only Foundation Room is available for VIPs. Show times and events vary nightly. hob.com 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 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, hoola-hooping 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. lastconcert.com Little Dipper | 304 Main This spot is a cool, blue neighborhood bar with pinball machines, cheap bourbon and a bad-ass jukebox. Daily 4 pm-2 am. twitter.com/littledipper Lone Star Saloon | 1900 Travis 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. Lucie’s Liquors | 534 Texas @ Live! at Bayou Place 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. luciesliquors.com
Dean’s | 316 Main Under new ownership and with a new look and feel, Dean’s adds to the cool vibe found on the 300 block of Main. Great attention from the bartenders and the trendy crowd make it a unique place to socialize. Mon-Thu 8 pm-2 am, Fri-Sat 5 pm-2 am.
Lucky Strike Lanes & Lounge | 1201 San Jacinto @ GreenStreet 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. bowlluckystrike.com
The Dirt Bar | 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. dirtbar.com
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. phoeniciafoods.com
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.
Molly’s Pub | 509 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. mollyspubs.com
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. beerknurd.com House of Blues | 1204 Caroline Street @ GreenStreet A well-known national franchise with a lively, fun atmosphere. A 1,500-person concert venue is onsite and some of the best touring shows in the country come through on a weekly basis.
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Notsuoh | 314 Main 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 punkrock karaoke. Live bands on weekends. Daily 8 pm-2 am. The Original OKRA Charity Saloon | 924 Congress Houston’s first charity bar is a true collaboration from Houston's finest, including owners from Anvil, Paulie's, Grand Prize and more. Expect classic cocktails and brews in a gorgeous historic building. Every drink purchase earns you a vote that can go toward select charities to win the bar’s monthly earnings. Daily 3 pm-2 am. friedokra.org
The Pastry War | 310 Main A Mezcaleria from Bobby Heugel and Alba Huerta that serves up agave spirits along with classic Mexican cocktails and beers in a festive and intimate environment. This specialty tequila joint not only accepts pesos, but is on a brave mission to serve the best margaritas in town. Salud! Tue-Sat 4 pm-2 am. 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. pbrhouston.com Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar | 1201 Fannin @ GreenStreet Two dueling pianos and a sing-along, clap-along, drink-along, have-one-helluva-good-time-along bar! Wed-Sat, 7 pm-2 am Wed-Sat 7 pm-2 am, showtime @ 8 pm. petesduelingpianobar.com Reserve 101 | 1201 Caroline A whiskey and martini bar touting more than 220 specialty liquors that will make any cocktail aficionados mouth water. Stop by on Tuesday for complimentary tastings of special selections. And now you can order up delicious bites from the new, chef-driven menu featuring tasty flatbreads, appetizers and sandwiches. Sun 5 pm - 2 am, Mon-Sat 2 pm - 2 am. reserve101.com The Sam Bar | 1117 Prairie Street @ The Sam Houston 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 am-midnight, Fri & Sat 11 am-1 am. thesamhoustonhotel.com Sambuca | 909 Texas @ Post Rice Lofts 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. sambucarestaurant.com Shark Bar | 534 Texas @ Live! at Bayou Place 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. sharkbartx.com Shay McElroy’s Pub | 909 Texas @ Post Rice Lofts 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. mcelroyspub.com 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. thestatebar.com Sunny’s Bar | 901 Capitol @ Main 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. Warren’s Inn | 307 Travis 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. The Wine Cellar | 540 Texas Unwind and relax with more than 400 varieties of wine and imported beers. Wine tastings Mon-Thu, 2-7 pm. Daily 11 am-midnight.
winter 2013-14 Performing Arts 38 Market Square Park 43 Discovery Green 44 Festivals & Special Events 45 and more
Edited by Angie Bertinot
Free Press Houston NYE Organizers of the super-successful Summer Fest bring the same fun, energy and great live music of Htown and beyond to this new New Yearâ€™s Eve bash.
PERFORMING ARTS A CHRISTMAS CAROL – A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS Through Dec 26 Houston’s seasonal favorite described by the Houston Press as being “spiced with the usual fog and an unusual twist on the ghosts past, present and future.” A Christmas Carol - A Ghost Story of Christmas returns this year with a re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic story, which follows Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey with the three ghostly spirits that visit him on Christmas Eve. A Christmas Carol instills a powerful message about redemption and the spirit of the holiday season. Tickets $25-$110. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700. alleytheatre.org THE NUTCRACKER Through Dec 29 This holiday, treat your lovelies to The Nutcracker, that shimmering, glittering spectacle of Christmas cheer. Follow Clara on her journey from the family party to the Land of the Sweets. You’ll see a Christmas tree that grows to magnificent heights, dancing dolls, flying cooks and lots and lots of beautiful snow. With music by Tchaikovsky and stunning sets by Desmond Heeley, Ben Stevenson’s production has something to delight every member of the family..
THE SANTALAND DIARIES Through Dec 31 Company Artist Todd Waite reprises his role as “Crumpet the Elf ” in the outlandish, and true, chronicles of David Sedaris’s experience as a worker in Macy’s SantaLand display. This one-character comedy is a hilarious cult classic, featuring comic encounters during the height of the holiday crunch. NPR humorist and best-selling author of Me Talk Pretty One Day and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers. Tickets $34-$50. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700. alleytheatre.org BEETHOVEN’S PASTORAL SYMPHONY Dec 1 Beethoven wrote to a friend, “no one can love the country as much as I do. For surely woods, trees and rocks produce the echo that man desires to hear.” The Pastoral brings you back to nature with its musical depiction of the countryside, punctuated with sweet birdsongs, the first drops of an unexpected storm, violent thunderclaps and the joyous return of the sun. Tickets $25$124. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org POTTED POTTER Dec 1 This parody by Dan and Jeff takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real life game of Quidditch) into 70 hilarious minutes. Even if you don’t know the difference between a horcrux and a Hufflepuff, Potted Potter will make you roar with laughter. Tickets $48$108. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 832.487.7041. brilliantlectures.org A LITTLE DAY MUSIC Dec 4, Feb 2 Don’t miss this holiday program featuring the acclaimed wind quintet WindSync. A winner of the 2012 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh International Competition, this fresh and energetic wind quintet is thrilling audiences nationwide with its unique approach to classical music. Free. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. Noon. 713.524.5050. dacamera.com
JOHN WILLIAMS & YO–YO MA Dec 5 Two music superstars and longtime friends join your Houston Symphony for an evening of John Williams music, composed for the concert hall and for some of Hollywood’s most beloved films. Williams and the legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma perform the composer’s lush and virtuosic cello concerto, followed by thrilling selections from some of his most popular film scores. Tickets $175-$450. 7:30 pm. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org
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LATIN CHRISTMAS Dec 5 The Houston Latin American Philharmonic celebrates the happiest season of the year with a concert filled with villancicos, aguinaldos, parrandas, gaitas and more. Ilan Chester will be the guest artist for this concert. The Latin Phil is a professional orchestra made up of excellent musicians from around the world with a mission to exclusively promote Latin American music. The orchestra is led by Ven-
Tickets $32-$125. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.ARTS. houstonballet.org
ezuelan maestro Glenn Garrido. Tickets $20-$35. 8 pm. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 832.487.7041. houstonlatinphil.org JUBILEE OF DANCE Dec 6 Looking back and looking forward, the ninth annual Jubilee of Dance celebrates the best of Houston Ballet in a one-night-only event. The high point of the evening will be a touching video tribute to principal dancer Mireille Hassenboehler, who retired from Houston Ballet in September 2013 after a brilliant 21-year career with the company. The program also will feature the company premiere of the dazzling Paquita, the Spanish-flavored classical showpiece originally choreographed in 1846. The Jubilee of Dance is a dance lover’s dream. Tickets $35$170. Wortham Center, 501 Texas.7:30 pm. 713.227. ARTS. houstonballet.org ABBA THE CONCERT Dec 6 Get ready for a live, two-hour musical extravaganza direct from Sweden when ABBA The Concert sweeps into Houston. Follow the quartet through songs from ABBA’s Eurovision beginnings in 1974 with such hits as Dancing Queen, S.O.S. and the many others that eventually inspired the phenomenally popular Broadway musical, Mamma Mia! Formed in 1996, ABBA The Concert will have an original member of the ABBA rhythm section! Tickets $23-$83. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 8 pm. 713.227.4SPA. spahouston.org ELF-THE MUSICAL Dec 6-22 Elf-The Musical is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Tickets start at $24. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.745.3000. tuts.com GERALD CLAYTON TRIO Dec 7 Pianist Gerald Clayton has emerged as one of the most acclaimed young artists in jazz. A three time Grammy nominee, Gerald Clayton won Rising Star – Pianist in the 2010 Down Beat Critics Poll. Tickets $35-$65. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.524.5050. dacamera.com
50 SHADES! THE MUSICAL
Dec 17-22 50 Shades! The Musical is the original Fifty Shades of Grey parody. Based on the bestselling novel by E.L. James, this musical tells a sexy, hilarious story brimming with wrestling singlets, handcuffs, and helicopters with silly names. Through the interpretation of the novel, by a ladies’ book club, the audience is led on an uproarious roller coaster ride filled with dance numbers and original songs delivered by an outrageous cast and onstage band. Tickets start at $33. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.745.3000. tutsunderground.com VERY MERRY POPS Dec 13-15 Very Merry Pops returns this centennial season with all the holiday music you love. Get in the holiday spirit with favorites like I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, Deck the Halls and Jingle Bell Rock, plus the return of a special piece, Glad Tidings. Tickets $29-$130. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org HOW THE GRINCH STOLE XMAS Dec 14 Music will tell the beloved Dr. Seuss tale of the grouchy creature with a heart “two sizes too small,” his loyal dog Max, and their encounters with the merry and warm-hearted Whos. A guest vocalist from the Houston Grand Opera Studio will join a local high school chorus and the musicians of the Houston Symphony to take you into the world of Whoville. Tickets $28. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 10 and 11:30 am. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org TE DEUM - A CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION Dec 14 A selection of festive French Baroque delights featuring Charpentier’s Christmas Mass in the spirit of the holiday season! Tickets $10-$65. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.533.0080. mercuryhouston.org HANDEL’S MESSIAH Dec 19-22 Delight in Houston’s premier performance of Handel’s transcendent and revered masterpiece – The Messiah – performed by the Houston Symphony, chorus and star soloists. Experience the powerful words and music of beloved choruses and
arias like Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted, O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion, and the timeless Hallelujah chorus. Tickets $29-$117. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org SHEN YUN PERFORMING ARTS Dec 23-Jan 1 Shen Yun brings to life 5,000 years of Chinese civilization through classical Chinese dance and music in an exhilarating performance you will never forget. Tickets $70-$200. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 800.380.8165. shenyunperformingarts.org VENETIAN CARNIVAL Dec 31 On New Year’s Eve, Ars Lyrica celebrates Venice and its carnival tradition with exotic music from the City of Masks. Sopranos Melissa Givens and Blair Doerge share the stage with violinist Yung-Hsiang Wang, Baroque flautist Colin St. Martin, and guitarist Richard Savino in a festive program of music from Monteverdi to Vivaldi. Our annual holiday gala follows in the Sarofim Hall Grand Lobby – carnival masks encouraged! Tickets starting at $35. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 9 pm. 800.745.3000. thehobbycenter.org MOZART’S JUPITER SYMPHONY Jan 3-5 Celebrate the New Year with two of classical music’s great superstars. First, Mozart, whose brilliance shines through in his sublime final symphony. In the Jupiter, drama, joy and energy are presented with the composer’s trademark elegance. The program opens by turning up the heat with the equally exciting Fire Symphony by Haydn.
Tickets $25-$124. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org THE PLANETS & THE EARTH Jan 9-12 In this unprecedented multimedia event, the Houston Symphony will perform a back-toback lineup of the first two installments in the HD Odyssey series – The Planets and The Earth (formerly Orbit). Tickets $25-$124. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org PILOBOLUS Jan 10 Founded in 1971, Pilobolus has built its giant and fervent international following by consistently proving the human body to be the most expressive, universal and downright magical of mediums. The company manages to maintain its own singular style while actively collaborating with the best and brightest minds, from all conceivable professions the world over. A 2013 premiere piece on the program is the result of collaboration with international masters of trickery, Penn & Teller. Tickets $23-$68. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 8 pm. 713.227.4SPA. spahouston.org OTHER DESERT CITIES Jan 10-Feb 2 A riveting new play by Pulitzer Prize nominee and creator of TV’s hit drama Brothers & Sisters, Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities was named the Outstanding Play by the Outer Critics Circle and called “the best new play on Broadway” by The New York Times. After a six-year absence, Brooke Wyeth returns home to Palm Springs to celebrate Christmas with her parents, brother and aunt. The warm desert air turns chilly when news
HOUSTON Winter PUBLIC Calendar LIBRARY All events free and open to the public. Central Library, 500 McKinney. Julia Ideson Library, 550 McKinney 832.393.1313. houstonlibrary.org WHEN CAMELOT CAME TO HOUSTON: JFK AND THE LEAGUE OF UNITED LATIN AMERICAN CITIZENS Through March Commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s visit with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) at the Rice Hotel. The Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC) presents various materials related to JFK’s visit to Houston on Nov. 21, 1963, including a significant photograph collection and the original correspondence between the White House and LULAC members urging the president to make an appearance at the Rice Hotel. While the exhibit centers on these items, additional materials on display will explain the status of LULAC and the Mexican American population as it was before Kennedy’s historic visit, as well as the aftermath of his assassination the following day. Julia Ideson Building. TUNES AT NOON Dec 4, 11, 18 Tunes at Noon is a music series designed to bring a diverse sampling of musicians working the Houston music scene to the Houston Public Library for lunchtime performances that are guaranteed to brighten your week. Noon. 3RD ANNUAL SEASONS READINGS Dec 14 Feel like taking a trip around the world? Then hop aboard a celluloid magic carpet to take a trip all the way from the Arctic to Mozambique, with stops along the way to see animated sights in Istanbul, Germany, France, Argentina, Germany and India! Kids of all ages will enjoy seeing the world in this selection of creative short animated films from the Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2013. Julia Ideson Building. 3 pm. A HISTORY OF THE ASIAN COMMUNITY IN HOUSTON Jan 28 Anne Chao, visiting professor, Chao Center at Rice University, and a member of the board of directors of the Houston Public Library Foundation, will be discussing the history and contributions of the Asian community in Houston. Julia Ideson Building. friendsofthetexasroom.org. 8 pm. COMMUNITY CINEMA Jan 29 Las Marthas by Cristina Ibarra. Dating from the aftermath of the Spanish-American
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War, the annual debutante ball in Laredo is unlike any other. Las Marthas follows two Mexican-American girls carrying this gilded tradition on their young shoulders during a time of economic uncertainty and political tension over immigration. 6 pm. Feb 26 The Trials of Muhammad Ali by Bill Siegel covers the famed boxer’s toughest bout of all: his battle to overturn the five-year prison sentence he received for refusing U.S. military service. It explores Ali’s exile years when he was banned from boxing and found himself in the crosshairs of conflicts concerning race, religion and wartime dissent. 6 pm.
FAMILY FUN Mondays Baby Time, 10:30 am. Toddler Time, 11:30 am. Pre-school Storytime, 1 pm. Tuesdays Toddler Yoga, 10:30 am. Toddler Playtime,11:30 am. Wednesdays Legos & Duplos, 3 pm. SUPERFUN SATURDAYS! Dec 14 Rise of the Guardians – Play games, listen to stories, and make crafts. 1-2:45 pm. Jan 11 Superheroes – Play games, listen to stories, and make crafts. 1-2:45 pm Feb 8 Fancy Nancy Party – Play games, listen to stories, and make craft. 1-2:45 pm MAKE A HOLIDAY ORNAMENT Dec 19, Dec 23 Make an ornament to decorate the library’s tree! Anytime throughout the day.
HOLIDAY STORYTIME Dec 21 Listen to holiday stories, songs, make a craft and have some gingerbread! 2 pm FUN WITH SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS Dec 21, Jan 4, Feb 1 Do a science experiment with us! For school-age children. ART THING! Dec 27, Jan 18, Feb 22 Learn about art and artists and make your own creation to take home. 3 pm. NINJAGO TIME Dec 28, Jan 18, Feb 15 Crafts and games based on Ninjago. Make your own creation to take home. 3 pm. AMERICAN GIRLS CLUB Jan 25 Explore the world of American Girl dolls with games and activities related to each time of the historical American Girl chapter books.. 2 pm.. SUPERFUN SATURDAYS! Dec 14 Rise of the Guardians – Play games, listen to stories, and make crafts. 1-2:45 pm. Jan 11 Superheroes – Play games, listen to stories, and make crafts. 1-2:45 pm Feb 8 Fancy Nancy Party – Play games, listen to stories, and make craft. 1-2:45 pm
How Deep Is Your Love, Kiss and You Give Love A Bad Name. Tickets $29-$125. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org FREUD’S LAST SESSION Jan 24-Feb 23 Freud’s Last Session centers on legendary psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud who invites a little-known professor C.S. Lewis, to his home in London. Lewis, expecting to be called on the carpet for satirizing Freud in a recent book, soon realizes Freud has a much more significant agenda. On the day England enters World War II, Freud and Lewis clash on the existence of God, love, sex, and the meaning of life. Tickets $26-$65. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700. alleytheatre.org
of her upcoming memoir threatens to revive the most painful chapter of the family’s history. Tickets $16-$80. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700. alleytheatre.org TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE Jan 11 Mercury presents Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings – one of the Romantic era’s most beautiful and definitive compositions. Tickets $10-$65. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.533.0080. mercuryhouston.org DAVID GARRETT Jan 15 Part maverick, part genius, total virtuoso, David Garrett has been surprising people with his musical talent since before he was 4 years old. David is constantly introducing young people to the classics and kindling enthusiasm for reputedly serious music by combining classical elements with those of pop and rock as well as rhythm and blues. His incredibly electrifying spirit pervades lofty philharmonic halls and open-air arenas. Tickets $36-$49. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 832.487.7041. 8 pm. worthamcenter.org ELVIS LIVES – THE ULTIMATE ELVIS TRIBUTE ARTIST TOUR Jan 17-18 Elvis Lives, The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Event, is an unforgettable multimedia and live musical journey across Elvis’ life. His iconic style, embraced by many of today’s artists, continues to entertain audiences of all generations. This concert features four Elvises, each representing the great singer during different stages of his career, along with a live band, back-up singers, dancers, and an Ann-Margret performer, as well as iconic imagery available from the Graceland archives. Tickets $23$83. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 8 pm. 713.227.4SPA. spahouston.org THE PASSENGER Jan 18-Feb 2 En route to a new post with her husband, a German diplomat, Lisa is unnerved by the sight of a woman – another passenger – who eerily resembles Martha, one of the inmates Lisa tormented when she was an SS overseer at Auschwitz. The action of the drama takes us from the stylish gentility of a luxury liner’s deck to the
squalor of a death camp, where cruelty, despair and unspeakable courage are evident in equal measure. This American premiere will be one of the most important musical events of the year. Tickets $20$290. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.228.6737. houstongrandopera.org WE WILL ROCK YOU Jan 22-Feb 2 Now in its 11th year in London and seen by a staggering 15 million people worldwide, this hilarious, multi-award-winning and recordbreaking phenomenon boasts a fantastic score of killer Queen tunes that you just can’t resist, such as Another One Bites The Dust, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and, of course, We Will Rock You. Tickets start at $24. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.745.3000. tuts.com PAQUITO D’RIVERA WITH THE BRASIL GUITAR DUO Jan 24 Latin jazz legend, composer and ninetime Grammy Award-winning clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera teams up with guitar sensations João Luiz and Douglas Lora for a night of virtuosic displays and Latin American synergies. The Brasil Guitar Duo won the 2006 Concert Artists Guild International Competition and has perfected a sublime synchronicity and effortless performance style. Tickets $35-$65. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.524.5050. dacamera.com. RIGOLETTO Jan 24-Feb 9 Rigoletto, jester to the Duke of Mantua, is both reviled and respected for his razor-sharp, bitter wit. His only joy is his daughter, Gilda, whom he has hidden from his amoral employer’s court. But Rigoletto cannot protect her from falling in love. When the Duke poses as a young student and adds Gilda to his long list of conquests, the jester swears revenge. Passion drives him to plot the Duke’s murder but, naïve and blinded by love, Gilda spoils her father’s scheme with heart-wrenching results. Tickets $20-$290. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.228.6737. houstongrandopera.org THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES Jan 24-26 Described by the New York Times as “two parts young Sinatra to one part Billy Joel, meshed seamlessly,” singer/pianist Tony DeSare premieres a new orchestra program featuring his fresh and honest approach to today’s standards, including
WILD, WILD WEST! Jan 25 Enjoy a program that explores the sights and the sounds of the rodeo. Head out to the range with music from Hoedown and Billy the Kid. Dive into what makes Texas, Texas, when a rodeo cowboy and performers from Theater Under The Stars help us explore our Western heritage through song. Tickets $26. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 10 am & 11:30 am. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org FORBIDDEN BROADWAY Jan 25 In this off-Broadway hit musical revue, Broadway’s greatest musical legends meet Broadway’s greatest satirist in this hilarious, loving and endlessly entertaining tribute to some of theater’s greatest stars and songwriters. Hailed as “hilarious and brilliantly wicked” by The New York Times, you do not have to be a Broadway musical fan to enjoy this immensely entertaining show. Tickets $23-$58. 8 pm. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.4SPA. spahouston.org MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUP Jan 30-Feb 1 SPA welcomes the world-renowned Mark Morris Dance Group back to Houston with a program that will include A Wooden Tree, The Argument and Festival Dance. Christened “one of the greatest living choreographers” by the The New Yorker, Mark Morris is celebrated for his enthralling dance that combines wit and grace, and his unparalleled commitment to the use of live music. Formed in 1980, Mark Morris Dance Group gave its first concert that year in New York City. Tickets $23$83. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.4SPA. spahouston.org ADAMS CONDUCTS ADAMS Jan 31-Feb 2 America’s foremost composer – John Adams – will take you on a musical adventure through shadowy urban streets and blazing hot nightclubs in his own City Noir. The incomparable Gil Shaham will then join for a performance of Korngold’s Violin Concerto, which features musical quotations from the composer’s own Hollywood film scores of the 1930s. Tickets $25-$124. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org THE COOKERS Feb 7 This jazz super group has been called “colossal” by National Public Radio. Their credentials are impeccable. Houston native Billy Harper was a member of groups led by Lee Morgan and Max Roach and served a two-year stint with Art Blakey’s
datebook. Jazz Messengers. Trumpeter Eddie Henderson and drummer Billy Hart were both part of Herbie Hancock’s electric Mwandishi ensemble. Pianist George Cables played alongside Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper. And bassist Cecil McBee anchored Charles Lloyd’s famed 1960’s quartet with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette. Tickets $35-$65. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 8 pm. 713.524.5050. dacamera.com
EMANUEL AX PLAYS BACH Feb 13-16 Marvel at the genius of J.S. Bach as beloved pianist Emanual Ax illuminates the Piano Concerto in D minor with his keen intelligence and musical poetry. On the second half of this program, hear the most delightful romp in Richard Strauss’ Suite from Der Rosenkavalier. Tickets $25$119. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org COMPLETE BRANDENBURG FEATURING RICHARD EGARR Feb 14 Join Richard Egarr in the Complete Brandenburg Concertos as the versatile harpsichordist and conductor brings these Baroque classics to life. Tickets $10-$65. 8 pm. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.533.0080. mercuryhouston.org Christian Steiner
PEKING ACROBATS Feb 7 This troupe of China’s most gifted performers, complemented by live musicians playing traditional Chinese instruments, returns to Houston for one night only! The Peking Acrobats have redefined audience perceptions of Chinese acrobatics. For more than 50 years they have held audiences of all ages spellbound with vibrant presentations of their ancient folk art. Tickets $23-$83. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 7:30 pm. 713.227.4SPA. spahouston.org
Lyrica’s recording of this beautiful work, not heard since the early 18th century, will be released in fall 2014 on the Sono Luminus label. Tickets starting at $35. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 8 pm. 800.745.3000. thehobbycenter.org
LINDA EDER’S VALENTINE Feb 14 Houston favorite and acclaimed vocalist Linda Eder will return to the Houston Symphony for a special Valentine’s Day performance featuring her best-known hits and favorite love songs. Eder, whose repertoire ranges from show tunes and classic jazz standards to popular song, is the golden-voiced singer who made her Broadway debut as Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde, winning a prestigious Drama Desk nomination. Tickets $25-$119. 7:30 pm. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org BRENTANO STRING QUARTET Feb 14 Featured in the recent film A Late Quartet, with their performance described as “heaven sent” by Rolling Stone and “ravishing” by The New York Times, the Brentano Quartet has come to the attention of a new audience. But their brilliance is already well known to Da Camera audiences. The Brentano returns with a program of masterpieces by Debussy and Beethoven and a world premiere by rising star composer Vijay Iyer. Tickets $35-$65. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 8 pm.713.524.5050. dacamera.com
LA SPOSA DEI CANTICI Feb 8 The modern world première of a 1703 oratorio by Alessandro Scarlatti, featuring Canadian soprano Meghan Lindsay in her Ars Lyrica début and three of the world’s leading countertenors: John Holiday, Jay Carter, and Ryland Angel. Ars
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AMERICAN HISTORY & CELEBRATION OF GOSPEL Feb 16 The Texas Medical Center Orchestra presents American History & Celebration of Gospel. The concert features works by American composers, including Mississippi Suite by Ferde Grofé, A Lincoln Portrait by Aaron Copland and music for gospel choir and orchestra. U.S. Rep. Al Green is scheduled to serve as narrator and The Brentwood Music Ministry will join the orchestra
for an evening celebrating gospel. Tickets $20-$40. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 5 pm. 832.487.7041. tmcorchestra.org GHOST THE MUSICAL Feb 18-23 Relive the iconic and magical moments from the Oscar-winning movie Ghost in a brandnew Broadway musical. Adapted from the hit film by its Academy Award-winning screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, Ghost The Musical follows Sam and Molly, a young couple whose connection takes a shocking turn after Sam’s untimely death. Trapped between two worlds, Sam refuses to leave Molly when he learns she is in grave danger. Desperate to communicate with her, he turns to a storefront psychic who helps him protect Molly and avenge his death. Tickets start at $45. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 800.745.3000. thehobbycenter.org ALADDIN Feb 20-Mar 2 A run-in with the palace guards leads the young and reckless Aladdin into a whirlwind of adventure and romance in this colorful ballet based on the legendary Arabian Nights tale of Aladdin and the wonderful lamp. With unbelievable riches, love at first sight, treachery, a flying carpet and, of course, a magical genie, David Bintley’s Aladdin is ideal entertainment for the whole family. Tickets $19-$190. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. 713.227.ARTS. houstonballet.org MUSIC OF THE MAD MEN ERA Feb 21-23 Snap your fingers and tap your toes to the cool, swinging tunes of the ‘50s and ‘60s: a time when Bossa Nova was new, the lounges of Las Vegas were hip, and catchy dance music spun on every hi-fi. You’ll hear, It’s Not Unusual, Bésame Mucho, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore and The Best is Yet to Come. Tickets $29-$125. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org FOOL Feb 21-Mar 16 In Theresa Rebeck’s new comedy, Fool, two kings get together and place a wager on their fools – a jester competition, and the funniest one gets to keep his head. Two evil minions have a lot to say about this, but not as much as the kitchen wench. And what’s the queen been up to all night? A dramatical, comical, farcical, tragical play about power, love, laughter and death, set in a medieval kitchen. Tickets $26-$80. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. 713.220.5700. alleytheatre.org RACHMANINOFF’S RHAPSODY Feb 28-Mar 2 Young Tchaikovsky Piano Competition winner Daniil Trifonov recreates the fiery flourishes, intriguing romance and devilish finale of Rachmaninoff ’s Rhapsody. The excitement will continue when conductor James Gaffigan leads the orchestra in the symphony that earned Shostakovich a 40-minute ovation at its premiere. Its final relentless crescendo will have you on your feet with its pounding timpani and majestic final chords. Tickets $25-$124. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. 713.224.7575. houstonsymphony.org
MARKET Winter SQUARE Calendar PARK SPECIAL EVENTS MISTLETOE ON THE GO! Dec 2–18 Pucker-up, Texas’ biggest mistletoe ball is coming to Downtown this holiday season as the newest addition to the Downtown District’s annual Downtown Holiday Spectacular. Mistletoe on the Go! will be traveling festive Downtown destinations for a tour of holiday cheer. The 150-inch ball of kiss-inducing greenery hanging from a 15-foot giant candy cane will travel to Market Square Park and Discovery Green. Share your smooches using #XOmistletoe. downtownhouston.org.
DESIGNCRAFT MARKET Dec 7 Formerly known as Ctrl+Art+Create, DesignCraft is AIGA Houston’s fourth annual outdoor market featuring the work of
local artists, crafters, creatives and more. The one-day event allows Houstonians to discover local, well-designed and crafted goods in their city, and gives vendors an opportunity to sell their work. Featuring demonstrations by local artisans and live music by Mikey & the Drags
and the Caldwell. Free. Market Square Park, 301 Milam. 10 am-6 pm. houston.aiga.org BLANKET BINGO: TACKY SWEATER EDITION Dec 12 Wear your tackiest holiday sweater and play some charity bingo benefiting Buffalo
Bayou Partnership. Bring your blanket, lawn chairs or snag one of the tables at the park for a night of music, great prizes and a chance to kiss under Texas’ largest mistletoe. $10 admission includes one bingo packet (approx. 10 games). Additional games and daubers can be purchased for $1 each. 6-9 pm. Bring your camera for pictures under the mistletoe! Bingo begins at 7.
MOVIES THE GRINCH Dec 14 Sing along with your favorite holiday
hits during the XMAS Pops Sing–along. After, enjoy a free movie on the lawn as Dr. Seuss’ holiday classic comes to life in The Grinch. And don’t miss the chance to give back by bringing unwrapped toys to the park, benefiting Houston’s The Marine Toys For Tots Foundation. Sing–along begins at 6:30 pm and movie begins at 7:30 pm.
RECREATION BAYOU BIKERS Dec 1, Jan 5, Feb 2 Bayou Bikers meet at Market Square for 25to 40-mile bike rides exploring the bayous of Houston. These rides are open to all. Mountain bikes or bikes with fat tires are neces-
sary. This is an informal group whose purpose is to show Houstonians and visitors the beauty of Houston’s waterways. 8 am CRITICAL MASS Dec 27 Critical mass is an informal bike group that meets the last month of every Friday, to ride around the city as an act to raise awareness and advocate a bicycle-friendly urban environment. All bikes are welcome. 7:15 pm. Be sure to visit Market Square Park’s Facebook page for info on special deals and happenings at the neighborhood’s eclectic dining and bar scene.
DISCOVERY Winter GREEN
The events listed are confirmed at the time of printing. For a full listing of Discovery Green winter 2013–2014 events, please visit the calendar at discoverygreen.com.
THE ICE PRESENTED BY XFINITY Through Feb 2 Ice skating returns to Downtown Houston this holiday season. Lace up your skates and get ready for a memorable winter experience on the largest outdoor ice skating rink in the Southwest. Admission is $12 and includes skate rental and tax. discoverygreen.com.
WEEKLY EVENTS AT THE ICE Mondays, Dec 2, 9, 16; Jan 6, 13, 27 4-10 pm. Cheap Skate Nights presented by Houston on the Cheap. Skate for just $5. Tuesdays through Jan 28 7-9 pm. Jazz on Ice.
Wednesdays through Jan 29 6-10 pm. Latin Nights on Ice Thursdays through Jan. 30 7-10 pm. Hot Nights on Ice. Fridays through Jan. 31 6:30 pm. Night Flicks At the Ice. Saturdays through Dec 21 4-5 pm. Skate with Santa presented by BB&T
ART IN THE PARK LENS - PLURALISM – BUBBLES These glowing ornaments, now handpainted by the artist David Graeve, float in the live oak trees on the Brown Promenade and are a Discovery Green holiday tradition.
ANDY MANN’S VIDEO TREE REVIVED Stacked televisions stream video through multiple effects in the shape of a Christmas tree, thanks to the Houston Arts Alliance and Thomas Pascal Will Robinson in honor of Ann and James Harithas.
Other Events at the park YOUNG WRITERS WORKSHOP Saturdays through Feb 1 Writers in the Schools, Discovery Green and HPL Express offer the only free writing workshop in Houston for kids. 10:30 - 11:30 am
RECYCLING SATURDAYS Saturdays through Feb 1 Bring your glass, paper, plastic and aluminum to a recycling station at Discovery Green. 10 am – 2 pm MISTLETOE ON THE GO! Dec 19 - Jan 2 Get your kiss under Texas’ biggest traveling mistletoe
ball while it makes a stop at Discovery Green. downtownhouston.org DISCOVERY GREEN FLEA Dec 21 & Jan 11 Vendors selling vintage clothing, antiques, jewelry and more, plus kid’s activities and a bicycle repair workshop. 11 am-5 pm. FRIENDS FOR LIFE Dec 21 - Jan 18 A state-of-the art adoption center on wheels brings pets to the people in style. Noon- 4 pm. nokill1.org WE ARE HOUSTON RUNFEST Jan 18-19 The official Marathon weekend post-race celebration for runners, family, friends and spectators! Check website for times. chevronhouston marathon.com
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TET FESTIVAL Jan 25 A Vietnamese Lunar New Year Celebration. 9 am-7 pm. Free. tetfesthouston.org HOUSTON CREOLE HERITAGE FESTIVAL Feb 1 A festival to preserve and celebrate Creole history. Free. 9 am -10 pm.
Blankets, lawn chairs and picnics are welcome; food, beer and wine are available for purchase at Niko Niko’s Market Square. No glass containers or outside alcoholic beverages are allowed, please. Metered on-street parking is available and free after 6 pm. $5 parking is available across the street at Market Square Garage. 301 Milam. marketsquarepark.com Be sure to visit Market Square Park’s Facebook page for info on special deals and happenings at the neighborhood’s eclectic dining and bar scene.
FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS CITY HALL FARMERS MARKET Wednesdays through Dec 18 The market hosts more than 40 vendors around the City Hall Reflection Pool and features an array of locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as a variety of prepared lunch items made from local ingredients. Free. City Hall, 901 Bagby.11 am-1:30 pm. 832.393.1010. greenhoustontx.org S’MORE FUN FOR THE WINTER HAPPY HOUR Fridays through Feb 28 Enjoy the hottest venue downtown this holiday season. Every Friday evening the Four Seasons’ pool bar has the fire pit flamin’, the chiminea smokin’ and the festive cocktails flowin’. And the sweetest part? Receive two complimentary s’mores ready to roast to your liking. Warm up with your favorite tottie and take in the stunning view. If it’s warm outside, you can break out the frozen hot chocolate. Fourth Floor Pool Bar at Four Seasons, 1300 Lamar. Fridays, 4-7 pm. MAYOR’S HOLIDAY CELEBRATION AND TREE LIGHTING PRESENTED BY RELIANT Dec 6 This spectacular event is a holiday tradition of music, fireworks and family fun. Special guest Danielle Bradbery, winner of The Voice 2013, will enchant crowds along with performances by the Winter Wonderettes and the KIPP SHARP Singers. Immediately following the performance, Mayor Annise Parker and Reliant President, Elizabeth Killinger, along with Santa Claus and
Houston Ballet’s Sugar Plum Fairies will use their magic to light the Official Holiday Tree and ignite a spectacular fireworks finale perfectly timed to the Hallelujah Chorus, featuring the award- winning Ernest Walker Band and a 100-voice choir. Free. 6-8 pm. Hermann Square at City Hall, 901 Bagby. houstontx.gov SANTA’S PLAY HOUR Dec 6 GreenStreet will host Santa’s Play Hour – a special event benefitting Playworks, a national nonprofit that reduces playground bullying and improves school climates through fun, healthy, inclusive games and physical activity at recess. Watch Santa rappel off the multi-story shopping and entertainment destination. With live music, Santa’s oversized bag of goodies and much, much more! GreenStreet, 1201 Fannin. Noon. 832.320.1201. greenstreetdowntown.com BUFFALO BAYOU CHRISTMAS CRUISES Dec 6, 7, 13, 14 & 21 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! $7 adults, $5 children 4-12. Cash only. Meet at Allen’s Landing, next to Spaghetti Warehouse at Commerce and Main Streets. 5-7:30 pm. 713.752.0314, ext. 4. buffalobayou.org ADULT GINGERBREAD HOUSE COMPETITION Dec 6 Let the games begin! Compete against your friends while sipping bottomless holiday mimosas, indulging in aperitivo and decorating your dream home with gum drops and pretzels. Guest judges will choose the best gingerbread house and award the winner with a weekend’s stay in the hotel, to be used in 2014. $55, includes gingerbread house, aperitivo, bottomless mimosas. 5-7 pm. Quattro at Four Seasons, 1300 Lamar. 713.276.4700, reservations required. BREAKFAST WITH SANTA Dec 7, 8, 14, 15, 19-24 Have a delicious breakfast buffet with Santa and Sharkey! Don’t miss out – you may see Santa and his elves swimming with the fish! Photo opps also available. Reservations required. Downtown Aquarium, 410 Bagby. 713.223.3474. downtownaquarium.com CHILDREN’S GINGERBREAD HOUSE WORKSHOP Dec 7, 14 & 21 Everyone’s favorite family tradition is back. Bring the family to Quattro at Four Seasons during the holidays for a festive twist on traditional tea time. Parents can relax with an elegant afternoon tea as the Four Seasons team leads a gingerbread building workshop for children. $48, includes workshop, gingerbread house and children’s food and beverages. 2-4 pm. Quattro at Four Seasons, 1300 Lamar. 713.276.4700. quattrorestauranthouston.com HERITAGE SOCIETY HOLIDAY TEA Dec 8 Treat yourself, your mom, daughter or your best girlfriend to a special afternoon at The Heritage Society’s Holiday Tea. Relax and enjoy tea, savories and sweets while you listen to festive holiday music, learn of tea service in the 19th century, and chat with friends and family. Holiday attire hats and gloves optional! Tickets $35-$50. The Heritage Society Tea Room, 1100 Bagby Street. Two seat-
ings: 11 am-1:30 pm and 3-4:30 pm. 713.655.1912. heritagesociety.org 5TH ANNUAL GINGERBREAD BUILD-OFF Dec 14 Architecture Center Houston presents the 5th Annual Gingerbread Build-Off at City Hall’s Hermann Square. More than 20 competing teams will create their masterpieces using 100 percent edible materials. More than 3,000 spectators are expected to attend and cheer on the teams, play in the kids’ construction zone and see Santa. Free. Hermann Square, 900 Smith.10 am-5 pm. aiahouston.org
51ST ANNUAL CANDLELIGHT TOUR Dec 14 -15 This year’s Candlelight Tour will have decorated buildings, historic characters relating stories of the past, carolers, Houston Boychoir in St. John Church, Santa Claus and his Workshop, HGOco, family entertainment and holiday fare at the Candlelight Café. Adults $10, seniors (65+) $8, students (ages 6-18) $5, children 5 and under are free. The Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park, 1100 Bagby Street. Times vary. 713.655.1912. heritagesociety.org
datebook. 30TH ANNUAL TOTAL JINGLE BELL RUN & WALK Dec 15 Get in shape and support a great cause during the 2013 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, a 5-mile adult run will be offered. The Tellepsen Family YMCA, 808 Pease. 11 am. ymcahouston.org NEW YEAR’S EVE HOUSTON Dec 31 The City of Houston is transforming Discovery Green on New Year’s Eve with a free family-friendly, community celebration complete with an illuminated art car parade, kids confetti countdown, bubble garden, music entertainment and a fireworks finale. Free. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. 7 pm-midnight. newyearsevelive.com
EL C AN
FREE PRESS HOUSTON NYE Dec 31 Free Press Houston and Pegstar.net Presents brings you FPH NYE 2013. A Mega Super Deluxe Mega ringing in of NYE with veteran FPSF headliner Girl Talk, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, along with Big Freedia, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Lance Herbstrong, Drrrty Poonjabi, Grandfather Child, The Beans, Depressed Mode, Josiah Gabriel, DJ Fredster, and G. Wizz. Enjoy local food and an interactive light and projection show. Tickets start at $40. 18+ only. 4 pm-midnight. Sam Houston Park, 1100 Bagby. fpnye.com
HERITAGE FAMILY DAY Feb 23 Find out how Houstonians lived after they began to build a city and create homes of their own. Enjoy demonstrations of candle making, butter churning, flint knapping and much more. Co-sponsored by Houston Society of Archaeological Institute of America. 1-4 pm. Free. 1100 Bagby Street. 713.655.1912. heritagesociety.org
SPEAKER SERIES INPRINT GEORGE SAUNDERS READING Jan 27 George Saunders, named among Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” will read from his New York Times bestselling story collection Tenth of December as part of the 2013-14 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. The reading will be followed by an on-stage interview, book sale and signing. Tickets $5. Hubbard Stage, Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. Mon 7:30 pm. 713.521.2026. inprinthouston.org CECILE RICHARDS Jan 27 A frequent commentator on women’s rights, reproductive health, and sex education, Richards is the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a contributor to The Huffington Post and on the board of the Ford Foundation. Tickets $19 - $79. Wortham Center, 501 Texas Ave, 832.251.0706. progressiveforumhouston.org. BARBARA COOMBS LEE Feb 12 The president of the oldest and largest organization dedicated to aid in dying, Compassion and Choices, comes to the Wortham. Tickets $19 - $79. Wortham Center, 501 Texas Ave, 832.251.0706. progressiveforumhouston.org. INPRINT ELIZABETH STROUT READING Feb 24 Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge, will read from her novel The Burgess Boys as part of the 2013-2014 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. The reading will be followed by an on-stage interview, book sale and signing. Tickets $5. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. Mon 7:30 pm. 713.521.2026. inprinthouston.org
2013 CHEVRON HOUSTON MARATHON & ARAMCO HALF MARATHON Jan 19 Watch the excitement at Discovery Green, where the races begin and end, or stake out a place along the route to cheer on the participants. chevronhoustonmarathon.com
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EXHIBITS & VISUAL ARTS WOMEN AT WORK FOR YOUR COMMUNITY: THE HOUSTON JUNIOR FORUM Through Jan 18 This exhibit features a historic profile of HJF service and assembles 30 of the former HJF presidents’ skirts created over the past six decades. Admission to the gallery is free. 1100 Bagby Street. 713.655.1912. heritagesociety.org
5TH ANNUAL GINGERBREAD BUILD-OFF EXHIBITION Dec 16-20 Creations from the Gingerbread Build-Off will be on display for all to see. Free, AIA Houston, 315 Capitol, Suite 120. Mon-Thu 9 am-5 pm, Fri 9 am-3pm. 713.520.0155. aiahouston.org LOBBY URBANISM EXHIBITION Jan 15-Feb 28 An exhibit featuring drawings and models of the overall network of tunnels and lobbies of One Allen Center, Reliant Energy Plaza, Wells Fargo Plaza and the Hyatt Regency Hotel, as well as drawings of proposed design interventions by Los Angeles designer Byrony Roberts. Opening reception Jan. 15 from 5:30-7:30 pm. Free, AIA Houston, 315 Capitol, Suite 120. Mon-Thu 9 am-5 pm, Fri 9 am-3 pm. 713.520.0155. aiahouston.org FIT NATION EXHIBITION Jan 15-Feb 28 FitNation is an exhibition that presents projects, located nationwide, that demonstrate architectural means, policy-driven and grassroots action, conceptual frameworks, and simple improvements which contribute to a healthier lifestyle for individuals and communities. FitNation is organized by AIA New York in collaboration with the Center for Architecture Foundation. Curator Abruzzo Bodziak Architects. Opening reception Jan. 15, from 5:30- 7:30 pm. Free. AIA Houston, 315 Capitol, Suite 120. Mon-Thu 9 am-5 pm, Fri 9 am-3 pm. 713.520.0155. aiahouston.org JERRY & MARVY FINGER LECTURE SERIESTEXAS OILFIELD PHOTOGRAPHERS Jan 16 Enjoy Jeff Spencer’s many photographs documenting the rapid growth of the Texas petroleum industry from Corsicana in the 1890s through the next several decades of oil booms around the state. Noon-1 pm. Members are free, non-members $5. 1100 Bagby. 713.655.1912. heritagesociety.org.
CONCERTS BAYOU MUSIC CENTER Dec 8 A Very Awesome Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! Holiday Show Dec 12 Megadeth Dec 18 Backstreet Boys Feb 27 Pixies Bayou Music Center concert calendar is regularly updated. Check online for more info and to purchase tickets. Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas. 713.230.1600. bayoumusiccenter.com TOYOTA CENTER Dec 5 Justin Timberlake Dec 7 Kanye West Dec 10 Beyonce Dec 19 Jay-Z Dec 27 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Dec 19 Demi Lovato Toyota Center’s concert calendar is regularly updated. Check online for more info and to purchase tickets. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 713.4HOUTIX. toyotacentertix.com
HOUSE OF BLUES Dec 13 NOFX plus special guests Dec 15 Corb Lund Dec 21 Josh Abbott Band Dec 23 Jake Miller Dec 27 Robert Earl Keen Dec 31 Hayes Carll Jan 11 Who’s Bad Jan 18 Corey Smith Jan 23 Matt Wertz Jan 26 Mason Jennings Jan 29 Jake Bugg Feb 11 Panic! at the Disco Feb 21 Martin Sexton HOB’s concert calendar is regularly updated. Check online for more info and to purchase tickets. House of Blues, GreenStreet, 1204 Caroline. 888.402.5837. hob.com
porary architecture, the bayou, and adjacent parkland. Meets at Market Square Park, 301 Milam. Market Square parking garage recommended. 713.520.0155. $10 for non-members; $5 for ArCH and AIA Houston members and Bayou Buddies members. Saturday. 10 am-noon. bit.ly/AIAHwalkingtours 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. discoverhoustontours.com
TOURS TOWERS AND TREES DOWNTOWN WALKING TOUR Dec 14 This walking tour explores the magnificent architecture between Hermann Square and Discovery Green as well as the changing dynamics of our downtown. Meets at City Hall at the base of the reflecting pool in Hermann Square, 900 Bagby Street.713.520.0155. $10 for non-members; $5 for ArCH and AIA Houston members. Saturday. 10 am-noon. bit.ly/AIAHwalkingtours BUFFALO BAYOU WALKING TOUR Dec 28 The tour showcases the innovative bayou reclamation efforts of the City of Houston, Harris County and Buffalo Bayou Partnership, while topically discussing history and preservation, contem-
HERITAGE SOCIETY HISTORIC HOMES TOUR Nestled among 19 acres in the heart of downtown Houston, the Heritage Society boasts 10 historic structures dating from 1823 to 1905. Each historic structure is authentically restored to reflect its original magnificence. Tickets $15 adults, $12 seniors, $6 for children and free for kids under 5. Sam Houston Park, 1100 Bagby. Times vary. 713.655.1912. heritagesociety.org 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. Tickets $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. astros.com SAINT ARNOLD BREWING COMPANY TOURS Come visit Texas’ oldest craft brewery in their new location. Every Saturday, the doors open at 11 am
and groups will rotate in and out of the facility in an open-house format until 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. Tickets $7, no reservations required. All minors under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. 2000 Lyons at I-10. saintarnold.com HOUSTON CITY TOURS Houston City Tours offers the ultimate birds-eye view experience with its double-decker bus from London hitting up the town at six key spots. This hop-on, hop-off bus is perfect for anyone who likes to tour at his or her own pace. Tickets $20-30. Daily. 9 am-3 pm. 832.388.8434. houstoncitytours.us
HIGH CALIBER GUN & KNIFE SHOW Dec 28-29 See hundreds of displays of new and old guns, ammo, gun parts, books, knives, knife-sharpening tools, coins, camouflage and related items at discount prices. Tickets $8. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. 281.331.5969. highcalibergunshow.com
HOUSTON DYNAMO For schedule info and tickets, call or check the website. University of Houston Robertson Stadium, 4800 Calhoun. 713.276.7500. houstondynamo.com Dec 13 Brian Ching Testimonial Match HOUSTON ROCKETS For schedule info and tickets, call or check the website. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. 866.4HOUTIX. rockets.com Dec 8 Kid’s Night Rockets vs. Orland Magic Dec 31 New Year’s Eve Rockets vs. Sacramento Kings
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This issue's feature is on Downtown's Historic District. The history of Market Square has been up and down, boom and bust, buzz and buzz kil...
Published on Nov 27, 2013
This issue's feature is on Downtown's Historic District. The history of Market Square has been up and down, boom and bust, buzz and buzz kil...