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Holiday 2016


THE ZATOPEK TWINS in Fashion Inspired by the

AMERICAN WEST “Persistence is the twin ... of excellence. One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time.” ­­

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Jeff Gremillion Editor-in-Chief

Managing Editor

Fashion Director

Evan W. Black

Kate Stukenberg

Art Director

Assistant Art Director

CJ Soukup for CKO Digital

Brian Murcia for CKO Digital

Contributing Editors

Stylists & Groomers

Todd Ramos and Meredith Xavier

René Garza, Tisha Hughes, Molly Jodeit and Tree Vaello


Dennis Abrams, Chris Becker, Allyson Bowers, Nick Winsome Cook, Holly Crawford, Steve Jansen, Chris Kelly, Caroline Starry LeBlanc, Edward Nawotka, Dan Oko, Mellanie Perez, Daniel Renfrow and Megha Tejpal


Alefiya Akbarally, Kennon Evett, Shannon O’Hara, Daniel Ortiz, Phoebe Rourke, Debora Smail, Julie Soefer, Todd Spoth and Steven Visneau Website Developer

Seth Bruce for CKO Digital

Design Support

Stuart Conway, Patrick Magee, Jessica Tsao and Lance Young


New Store



1801 Post Oak Blvd


N EW L OCATION coming November 2016!


4310 Westheimer Rd

Lisa Holthouse

Executive Publisher

Associate Publisher & Advertising Director

Operations Director

Eric Holden

M. Sonny Garza

Controller Technology Director

Jeff Bingham

Christopher J. Nodd

Distribution Specialist & Account Manager

Integrated Marketing Directors & Account Managers

Jared Jinkerson

Hannah Lonergan and Vali Monreal

Production Manager

Mishelle Echeverria for CKO Digital

Account Managers

Tressa Barzilla, Lisa F. Johnson, Dena Prasher, Carol Gambill Roberts and Eric Thompson



1801 Post Oak Blvd


N EW L OCATION coming November 2016!


4310 Westheimer Rd

Editor’s Letter

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ESP either. Sorry. But I do love and adore Shannon, and our kid brother Bradley, both of whom, like Lisa’s sister Gina, helped us celebrate our new magazine at the recent launch party, which we cover in this issue’s Party People section. The odds of being a twin in America today are between 3 and 100 and 3 in 1,000, depending on the type of twins, and so the odds of both the leaders of this new organization being twins is … well, never ask a journalist to do math. Let’s just say it’s a lot. And then the odds of one of our first covers featuring yet another set of twins? OK, smoke is coming out of my ears now. But you get the idea. Perhaps we’re a bit biased, but we’re thrilled to introduce Chris and Josh Zatopek as our cover models. Lifelong Houstonians, and still new to modeling, they are not just pretty faces. They are both kind-natured, charming guys who, like the old country song goes, “say grace and say ‘ma’am’” and were obviously raised well. I’m predicting big things on their horizon. We hope you’ll enjoy meeting them — in fashion inspired by Americana and cowboys and Indians. It’s a little bit plowboy and a little bit rockabilly, and I love it. Julie Soefer shot them for us at the beautiful Inn at Dos Brisas in Washington, Texas. Special thanks to the fabulous farmto-table luxury resort for having us. And thanks to you, dear reader, for picking up this sophomore issue of CityBook. I mean it from the bottom of my heart. In fact, I mean it times two!


photo by julie soefer, styling by todd ramos, clothing courtesy of m penner

WE HAVE A SEMI-REGULAR little item we do in the Feeder section of the magazine that we call “Trend of Two.” It’s a challenge to the notion we writers are taught in journalism school that you need at least three occurrences of a certain type of event or cultural happening before you can call it a trend. We don’t have a “Trend of Two” in this particular edition actually, but last issue we called out two restaurants combing doughnuts and ice cream in innovative desserts. In my world, you most certainly don’t have to wait for a third — can we all agree? — brilliant chef to weigh in for this to be considered a beloved trend. Perhaps our affinity here at CityBook for things that come in pairs is predicated on a simple, surprising fact: Both our executive publisher, Lisa Holthouse, and I are twins! Lisa’s twin sister Gina is the president of a management company, and my twin brother Shannon is, of all things, a judge. People often ask what it’s like to be a twin; I never know how to answer. I have no basis for comparison. It’s like asking me what it’s like to be a person who likes doughnuts and ice cream combined; it’s all I’ve ever known. Shannon and I — actually identical “mirror” twins — never really did the cool twin things you’re supposed to do, like switching places and fooling people. I guess we were boring. Unless … I’m really Shannon writing this right now! Muhahahaha … Okay, okay, it’s me. Like I said, kinda boring. And we don’t have

Dedicated to the extraordinary. The exceptional. The unique.

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Bridget Degan | 713.385.4212 Operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Real estate agents affiliated with Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. are independent contractor sales associates and are not employees of Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Publisher’s Letter

Executive Publisher

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photo by todd spoth; dress by dior, available at tootsies


WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? How did we arrive at the holidays when I haven’t even packed away my flip flops and bikinis? If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m absolutely not. I’m simply shocked at how, year after year, the time flies with such vigor. As we roll into this season, we gather in gratitude for our many life’s blessings during Thanksgiving. The days grow shorter. We eat heavy foods that warm our bodies. We create special moments with loved ones that warm our hearts. We make memories and carry on traditions. And just as we take that last bite of leftover turkey with football blaring in the background, thoughts and plans turn immediately to Christmas, “the most wonderful time of the year” as Andy so eloquently puts it. The traffic will be overwhelming. But rather than gripe about how long it takes to get from one place to the next, I plan to crank up the Christmas tunes that play non-stop on 99.1 as soon as the pumpkins are put away. I hope to remind myself daily to be present and enjoy the craziness rather than stress over it. And more than anything, the ultimate goal is to spend quality time with friends and family. Speaking of family, is there any one group in the context of human society more important than family? Certainly not in my

world. I invite you to join me with the intention of giving thanks for family in November and for celebrating family in December. I am fortunate to have a full list of healthy family members — parents, grandparents, children, husband, siblings. And as if siblings weren’t a blessing enough, I, too, am graced with a twin, like our cover models. I can’t help but notice that twins seem to be abound in my world right now. Who knew even Jeff Gremillion, my partner here at CityBook, shared my twin status! So allow me to leave you with some wondrous thoughts for the holidays. Make sure you overeat and overindulge here and there; now is the time when it’s expected. End your day with a gratitude journal; you will sleep much better at night. Sing Christmas carols out loud in the car; the endorphins will lift your spirits. Take a drive or a carriage ride and view the holiday lights; they are magical around Houston this time of year. Don’t take it all too seriously; it will be 2017 in the blink of an eye and we will be able to wash it all away with short-lived resolutions. I wish you peace, happiness, family time and fun.

A unique home is both a private retreat and a public statement.

Hollywood In Houston Scion of a Houston oil dynasty begun by his father, a co-founder of the Humble Oil Company, Walter W. Fondren, Jr. built a resort-style compound on 2.8 prime acres in River Oaks in 1958. One of its three swimming pools was the largest private swimming pool in the country, and designing architect Eugene Werlin called the place “a residential country club.” The Thief Who Came to Dinner, a spoof about the high-society adventures of a jewel thief, starring Ryan O’Neal, was filmed on the estate in 1973. The property offers an expansive, stucco and brick, two-story-plus main house; a guest house; an enormous, open-air party pavilion with full kitchen and bar; a tennis court with tiered brick bleachers; and, of course, those three fabulous swimming pools.

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Walter Bering | 713.851.9753 Operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Real estate agents affiliated with Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. are independent contractor sales associates and are not employees of Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Equal Housing Opportunity.


Contributing writer and native Houstonian Megha Tejpal emerged into the world of food writing with the launch of her social media blog, Hot Pink Houston, where she spotlights delicious finds

Originally from Detroit, contributing writer Ed Nawotka settled in the Heights a decade ago after finding Austin less weird than advertised. A widely published business journalist and culture critic, he’s written for dozens of publications at home and abroad, including

A native Houstonian, fashion and celebrity stylist and rising-star visual artist René Garza spent more than 15 years living and working in New York City. Garza’s work has been published in international editions of Vogue,





scene develop naturally without interference is how I like to work.” He has taught at the Dallas Center for Photography and has been featured as a speaker at the Dallas Museum of Art. In this issue, he photographed the portfolio of ballerinas in the light-filled Coffee Building in EaDo. Visneau has previously worked with the Dallas Ballet, but notes that “working with the Houston Ballet has always been on the top of my list. The dancers were stunning, talented and amazing people to collaborate with!”

at local restaurants. Tejpal pens Houston CityBook’s recurring column Latest Dish, reporting on the state of the H-Town food scene now. And in this issue, she ventured to wine country, discovering festive ways to ring in the holiday season in Fredericksburg. “Fredericksburg has everything you’d want for a weekend getaway,” she says. “Scenic views, good food — and lots of wine.”

The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Texas Monthly, and edited a few as well. Peripatetic by nature, his life goal is to see every country in the world, slowly, and in good company. In this issue, Nawotka reported on all the latest and greatest in EaDo. “I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early 2000s when it was still an artists enclave,” he explains, “and EaDo has that very same vibe of being on the verge.”

Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and others. His clients include Alicia Keys, Naomi Campbell, Sofia Vergara, John Legend and Jon Bon Jovi. After having shown his artwork at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Garza is basing his art studio in Houston. For this issue, he styled twin male models for one fashion story and Houston Ballet dancers for another. Of the latter he notes: “The movement of designer gowns on graceful dancers made the dresses come to life.”

Raised in Singapore and Houston, Daniel Renfrow earned a B.S. in anthropology in 2014 from the University of Houston, where he was editor-inchief of both The Daily

Steven Visneau, born and raised in upstate New York, is a lifestyle and fine art photographer now based in and inspired by Texas. “So much about photography to me is the spontaneous creation of an image,” he says. “Planning is essential but letting the

DANIEL RENFROW Cougar newspaper and The Houstonian yearbook. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with his teacup poodle, Nene Leakes, and traveling to far away places with his partner, Stetson. In this issue, Renfrow explored the thriving art and culture scene of Mexico City, and chatted with rocker chick Asli Omar and the members of electronic group MNYNMS.

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62 DESIGN Lustworthy lapis accessories make decadent additions to the home.


64 DESIGN Statement lamps and hand-painted ceramics make a splash!

37 NEWS Rocky Horror hits the main stage at TUTS as HGO gets its wings. 48 STYLE Designers serve up a festive extra dose of glitz and glam this season — think fur, glitter and gilt galore! 50 STYLE Tiffalie boutique bows on Dunlavy, offering curated collections for him and her. Plus, all the latest boutique buzz! 52 GIFTS Perfect presents in every neighborhood: your geographically astute H-Town holiday shopping guide.

62 DESIGN A newlywed couple breathes new life into a stately 1930s River Oaks home. 64 MUSIC MNYNMS emerges with a new album and a performance at Day for Night. Plus, the Tontons’ Asli Omar. Corrections In our last issue we neglected to credit photographer Daniel Ortiz for his portrait of the owners of Kissue boutique. We also misspelled radio personality Roula Christie’s name in our story on the Greek food culture. We regret the errors. On the Cover Julie Soefer photographed Houston-based twin models Chris and Josh Zatopek at the Inn at Dos Brisas.

74 ART Ambitious premieres, old-world art and hip new showplaces abound. Here’s the state of Houston arts now. 80 ART In rich oil paintings, Lindsay Peyton invites guests to step into her unique rooms with a point of view. 82 GIVING BACK Singer-songwriter and guitarist Aaron Kaufman uses music to heal, and to help at-risk kids find their voices. 84 BUSINESS Peopled by entrepreneurs, funky festival producers and earnest street artists, will EaDo be Houston’s answer to trendy Brooklyn districts? 92 BUSINESS Omar Afra’s scene-savvy Day for Night festival hits Downtown in December.

W W W. B A C C A R A T. C O M T H E G A L L E R I A • 5 0 8 5 W E ST H E I M E R R OA D, S U I T E 2 63 0 • H O U STO N • 7 1 3 . 572 . 4 0 01


94 Features 94 PORTRAIT OF A BALLERINA The joy of dance has never been more apparent than this season in Houston. Here, young members of the Houston Ballet shine bright holiday finery.

106 GOOD MORNING, AMERICA As dawn’s first light washes over the nearby ranch lands of Washington, Texas, Houston’s next top models — Josh and Chris Zatopek — channel their inner cowboys in Americana looks.

120 THE MOST WANTED From rising stars to revered legends, these are the five Houston artists who should be in your collection now.


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Book Reports 146 DINING How Houston restaurants are reinventing Chinese cuisine. Plus: Houston’s tastiest food news in small bites! 152 FOOD CULTURE Johnny Carrabba’s new tome tells of his family’s tasty traditions.

156 COOKING Houston chefs share recipes for Santasavvy sweets. 160 TRAVEL With quaint guesthouses and festive activities, Fredericksburg is a colorful Christmastime destination. 162 TRAVEL Glimpse the sights of ancient-meetstrendy Mexico City through the eyes of world-famous muralists.

166 WELLNESS With global gurus and a U.S. president among her converts, author Shushana Castle is changing the way the world views food and disease. 168 GUIDEBOOK Where to eat and who to know in Houston’s ever-evolving restaurant scene. 176 HOU IQ Test your knowledge of H-Town’s holiday traditions.

What if you put a twinkle in someone’s eye? VA N C L E E F & A R P E L S


Holiday 2016

hair/makeup by edward sanchez. alexandre wears clothing by valentino and alexander mcqueen, at saks fifth avenue, and balenciaga boots, at neiman marcus. butler wears versace jeans, at saks fifth avenue, and adidas tee, at urban outfitters.


Rock Out

Stage Fright Pierre Alexandre and Mason Butler — photographed at BeDesign — star as Frank and Rocky in TUTS' Rocky Horror Show. It’s the final show under the experimental, all-local TUTS Underground arm.

“YOU HAVE TO BE ready, as a person, for it,” laughs Haiti-born, Jersey-raised actor Pierre Alexandre of the racy cult classic Rocky Horror Show, at TUTS Nov. 8-20. Opposite Mason Butler as Rocky, Alexandre tackles the Dr. Frankenstein-inspired Frank-N-Furter. “It’s not an easy role. You have to be confident. But this show tells you to be who you are. Dream it. And be it.” –evan w. black, photo by phoebe rourke, styling by todd ramos


Stacked Up Kartell, now open in River Oaks, uses plastic in colorful ways.

11.16 Grouplove. 7pm. House of Blues, 888.402.5837, houseofblues. com/houston 11.17 Ottmar Liebert. 8pm. House of Blues, 888.402.5837, houseofblues. com/Houston

11.18-11.20 Winter Holiday Art Market. Winter Street Studios, 11.18-1.15 Zoo Lights. Houston Zoo,


Plastic Perfect 38 |

BRING ON THE COLOR! Kartell — the high-end Italian furniture brand known for its innovative use of plastic — has just opened its first Texas boutique. In addition to its entire new collection being on display, the River Oaks flagship will showcase the first sofa from architect/designer Piero Lissoni, and a funky furniture line for kids. 2013 W. Gray St., –meredith xavier

11.18-3.12 Holy Barbarians: Beat Culture on the West Coast. The Menil Collection, 713.525.9400,

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11.25 Cole Swindell. 8pm. House of Blues, 888.402.5837, houseofblues. com/Houston 11.25 Blue October. 8pm. Revention Music Center, 713.230.1600, 11.26 The 1975. 8pm. Revention Music Center, 713.230.1600,

Two Truths and a Lie

Myths and Fairytales LILY HOANG grew up in San Antonio but fell in love — hard — in Houston. “It was the first relationship I had after my divorce, and it lasted three years.” She writes about this, her abusive first marriage, the death of her sibling from a drug overdose, and other deeply personal experiences through the lens of myth and fairytales in her new book A Bestiary. “For me, Houston was where I fell in love, so there’s always a hyper romanticized idea of what Houston is — it is an imagined geography for me. But when I go there, I’m confronted with reality.” Hoang is the author of several other books and now bases in New Mexico. Can you spot the fake fact about her? –ed nawotka, photo by phoebe rourke

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1. S he was a long-time contributor to HTML Giant, the über-hip Houston-based online literary magazine that was published from 2008 to 2014. “I’m going to be one of the editors when it is relaunched later this year. We have a great lineup of contributors. It’s going to be better than ever,” she says. 2. She has perfect 20/20 vision and doesn’t need glasses. “I started wearing them in high school to appear smart and they became a kind of signature look,” she says, “and I have kept up the habit ever since.” 3. She has a BA from UTSA, an MFA from Notre Dame, pursued a PhD in geography at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, and teaches creative writing at New Mexico State University, but, she confesses, “until September, did not know Montana bordered Canada.”

11.25-12.27 The Nutcracker. Wortham Theater, 713.227.2787, houston 11.26 Houston Scotch and Cigar Festival. 7pm. 14149 Player St., htownscotch

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Gotta Catch ’Em All

12.17-12.18 Day for Night. 401 Franklin St., 1.7 In a Good Place. Opening reception Jan. 7, 5pm. Archway Gallery, archway 1.7 Red Hot Chili Peppers. 7pm. Toyota Center, 866.446.8849, houstontoyota

Got Game? Eric Okrassa’s vibrant, Pokemon-inspired ‘Wibble,’ left, and ‘Wobble’

SINCE THE ADVENT of the digital universe we live in today, more and more painters embrace computer design programs and digital culture as the vehicle and subject matter of new creations. In Austin native Eric Ockrassa’s new show at Zoya Tommy Gallery, the interplay between digital and analog is on full display. The 12 abstract, geometric paintings in the show — titled Ocular Resistance and up through early December — speak to what it means to create art in today’s post-analog culture. While working on his undergrad degree at Texas State, Ockrassa, now 27, struggled to reconcile his dream of becoming a painter and the desire to major in something more marketable. He double majored in painting and graphic design to give himself a fallback plan just in case his artistic dreams didn’t pan out. As Ockrassa attended grad school for painting at UH, where he found himself increasingly relying on his graphic design background as he developed his hard-edge, abstract style. “I wouldn’t be making the paintings I make now if I didn’t have my graphic design background.”

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Ockrassa’s paintings begin as sketches in Adobe Illustrator before finalized designs are printed out and turned into vinyl stickers used as stencils for his acrylic paintings. It’s an unforgiving method — a single mistake at one stage in the process means he has to start from scratch — but one that enables the painter to create complex, geometric pieces with painstaking precision. And true to post-analog sensibilities, the colors the artist used in his new show were inspired by his love for Pokemon Go. “I’m using bright, contrasting colors to create optical movement,” explains Ockrassa, an avid gamer. It’s a winning strategy from Ockrassa. The abstract, geometric shapes populating his pieces seem imbued with an almost electric energy as they pulsate colorfully from within their canvas prisons — not unlike a Pokemon trapped inside a Pokeball. In fact, Ockrassa’s show is one instance where a viewer can look at a painting and think, “Wow. That color really reminds me of a Bulbasaur’s bulb,” and not be all that far off from the artist’s original intent. –dr

1.12 Lukas Graham. 7pm. House of Blues, 888.402.5837, houseofblues. com/houston 1.14 Jerry Seinfeld. 7pm. Smart Financial Center, Sugar Land, 281.207.6278 11.18-1.15 The Surface of Things. Opening reception Nov. 18, 5:30pm. Houston Center for Photography, 713.529.4755,


Coming Up Rosie Fall looks by Rosie Assoulin, available at new Forty Five Ten, and, below, the boutique’s cofounder Brian Bolke

11.19-12.28 A Christmas Carol. Alley Theatre, 713.220.5700, 11.20 Houston BBQ Throwdown. 1pm. Saint Arnold Brewing Company,


Hot Number DALLAS-BASED LUXURY RETAILER Forty Five Ten has been contemplating a southward expansion “for probably a decade,” says store cofounder Brian Bolke, who finally settled on the River Oaks District for its second location. Now, the boutique — whose opening date, not unlike that of the River Oaks District itself, has been a moving target for months — plans to open its Houston doors just in time for holiday shopping. The 3,300-square-foot store, which carries a

well edited selection for men and women, boasts contemporary lines, organic materials and vintage furniture pieces purchased at Houston auctions. Its home décor offerings include Assouline coffee table books, and the Rare Beauty display proffers hard-tofind scents, such as those by Roades and Heretic. And while Dallasites look forward to a new fourstory flagship opening downtown in the spring, Bolke insists that the River Oaks District store will be perfectly suited to Houstonians. “For us, it’s not just about the exclusivity, because you can get everything online these days,” says Bolke. “It’s about the lens you put the fashion through. We’re creating something very specific to Houston.” –evan w. black



IF DIAMONDS ARE a girl’s best friend, so is this sconce by Jonathan Browning! Like a piece of fine jewelry, the fixture boasts exaggerated facets that are cut and polished by hand on a diamond wheel, then mounted on a brass frame. Weighing a mere 20 pounds, this is one significant work of art that refracts light in every brilliant direction. The Rochillion Sconce is available with an incandescent or LED bulb at the David Sutherland showroom. Decorative Center Houston, 5120 Woodway Dr., 713.961.7886 –mx

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11.20 The first female comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden, Amy Schumer, hits Houston. 7pm. Toyota Center, 866.446.8849, houstontoyota 11.22 Elite coed a cappella group Pentatonix. 8pm. Toyota Center, 866.446.8849, houstontoyota

Taking Fashion Further



2 8 1 -3 32- 8 4 3 3

2 8 1 -2 0 4 - 0 5 5 5


11.27 Barbara Streisand. 8pm. Toyota Center, 866.446.8849, houstontoyota

All Wrapped Up Birch & Goldberry handmade holiday wares include beautifully painted wrapping paper.


12.2 Jubilee of Dance. 7pm. Wortham Theater, 713.227.2787, houston

THE ‘GOLD’ RUSH AFTER GRADUATING FROM UH in 2013 with hand — has garnered the girls mentions by Vogue, degrees in painting, the young artistic trio behind Martha Stewart Living and Southern Living. And Birch & Goldberry — sisters Hilaree and Stephanie their candles and soaps are so well received that they Hamblin, and pal Elizabeth Meeks — decided to were commissioned to create a signature candle for create a business that would allow them to put their Austin’s Hotel San Jose. artistic skills to use. The company’s newest line is inspired by Dia de In their cozy studio space at Fifth Ward-area artist los Muertos: The candles have a smoky scent, while hub The Foundry, the trio expertly crafts handmade the paper features more gothic designs. soaps, candles and hand-painted wrapping paper that The girls will be hocking their goods at a are sold locally at Myth & Symbol in Rice Village, number of pop-ups and art fairs this holiday season, and nationally at 30 boutiques all over the country. including Fresh Arts’ Winter Holiday Art Market, Their vibrant wrapping paper — each piece Nov. 18-20, and Nov. 25-27 at Pop Shop Houston. takes nearly 20 minutes to delicately paint by –dr

HGO Gets Its Wings

THE HOLIDAY FILM CLASSIC It’s a Wonderful Life takes to the stage this season in a whole new way. The Houston Grand Opera presents the first-ever opera adaptation of the story in a production composed by Jake Heggie and, in a point of disinction from the film, told from the perspective of Clara the guardian angel. For the show, San Francisco-based Heggie — one of the most popular living opera composers in the world — once again collaborates with HGO artistic director Patrick Summers, who has now conducted six of the composer's world premieres. In 2000, Summers conducted the debut of Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, which will stage its 50th production at the Kennedy Center this February. It’s a Wonderful Life runs Dec. 2-17. –ewb It's a Draw Costume sketches for the all-new production of It's a Wonderful Life, this season at HGO

two truths and a lie answer: 2


12.3-12.23 Contemporary Texas Regionalism. Opening reception Dec. 3, 6pm. William Reaves and Sarah Foltz Fine Art, 2143 Westheimer Rd., 12.3 Mary J. Blige. 7pm. Toyota Center, 866.446.8849, houstontoyota 12.15 Band of Horses. 8pm. House of Blues, 888.402.5837, houseofblues. com/houston 

Photo credits: P1: Grouplove courtesy Atlantic Records; Ottmar Liebert by Greg Gorman. P3: Red Hot Chili Peppers by Steve Keros; Lukas Graham by Danny Clinch. P4: Pentatonix courtesy RCA Records. P5: Band of Horses by Christopher Wilson.


Christmas Ornament

The holidays always mean an extra dose of glitz and glam, when sparkly shoes and spectacular handbags are party-hopping musthaves. But this season, fashion designers took things over the top, offering accessories accented with everything from vividly colored fur, glitter, and oversized pearls to crystals and gilt. –kate stukenberg

Necklace $750, by Chanel Diorama bag $5,000, by Dior Fur coat, price upon request, by Fendi

Suede and mink booties, price upon request, by Salvatore Ferragamo Clock embroidered clutch, $2,995, by Alexander McQueen at Tootsies Velvet slippers with pearl embellishment, $750, by Miu Miu

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Boutique Buzz


Clothes Call New men’s and women’s Tiffalie boutique, designed by Nina Magon

New for Him and Her TIFFANY & ALPHONSE DARBY, the husband-and-wife team behind Tiffallie Fashion Boutique (1909 Dunlavy St., 832.413.3991), are forging their own path. And the name of their new Montrose boutique — an amalgamation of its owners’ names with the word “alley” — says just that. “We are creating our own alley, a path for the future,” Alphonse says. “Tiffany always wanted to own a boutique, and I wanted to create footwear.” New Orleans transplants who moved to Houston nine years ago with their daughters, now ages 15, 11 and 6, the couple’s shared fashion philosophy is: “Make a statement when you walk in a room.” They handpick each piece — from sexy jumpsuits and distressed denim to blazers and accessories like Ydarb&Tiffalie men’s shoes, designed

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by Alphonse — for the 1,200-square-foot space. “Before I buy something, I spend days online, looking at trends,” says Tiffany, who loves to pair a baseball jacket with skinny jeans and stilettos. “But I'm not even going to lie to you, my style is actually what you see in the store.” A swirl of gold and black in honor of their hometown Saints, the boutique was designed by Nina Magon of Contour Interior Design. The former house took two years to transform, but the team opted to preserve some of the traditional architectural elements. Tiffallie carries an array of other lines, like MinkPink Adore and P.Y.T. “The inventory is an eclectic mixture,” she says. “It’s small and perfect, and we are so happy and blessed.” –holly crawford

s The Galleria hits the halfway mark of its $250 million makeover, the shopping destination just announced a 2017 roster of new retailers, including Loro Piana, Ted Baker, Massimo Dutti, AG Adriano Goldschmied and Tadashi Shoji. Many will set up shop in the former Saks Fifth Avenue space — 110,000 transformed square feet dedicated to 35 unique, upscale stores. Several others — including St. John, Cole Haan, Tumi, Coach and Kate Spade New York — ­ will relocate to the new luxury wing. Bonus: Fine-dining options Nobu and Fig & Olive will be steps away. … Cali-cool boutique Brooke Feather (2020 W. Gray St., 713.520.0211) is the exclusive Houston stockist of Ampersand As Apostrophe leather bags and Apolis Houston City Bags, and the River Oaks shop just picked up new lines Artisan and Veda. … Accessories brand John Hardy (in River Oaks District, 713.622.7975) opened its first-ever boutique, with original art on the walls and easy-tonavigate, tactile displays, next door to iPic. The store honors the Balinese sunset with the dimming of its lighting at the appropriate Indonesian time. … Speaking of buzz, Abejas Boutique (2517 South Blvd., 713.522.3025) celebrates 10 years with a move into its new mid-century mod space — not far from its original Kirby digs — and added three mascots to the store’s new onsite chicken coop. … Australian stylist-turned-designer Alice McCall has a strong following that includes Katy Perry, and her eponymous line makes its Houston debut at Baanou (4444 Westheimer Rd., d135, 713.505.1347). … Meanwhile, à bientôt (2501 River Oaks Blvd., 713.523.3997,) marks a milestone with its 20th anny this season. A Houston staple for accessories, fun gifts and all things monogrammed, it’s Palm Beach meets the Hamptons meets the Lone Star State with labels like Annabel Ingall, Jack Rogers, Artemis Design Fur Real Leopard Co. and Love Sam. –hc coat at a bientot

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Merry & Bright Follow our ’hood-by-’hood holiday gift guide to spread comfort and joy to everyone on your list. By Holly Crawford Octagon rings, from $420, at Baccarat, in the Galleria Evidence men’s sunglasses, $760, at Louis Vuitton, in the Galleria Schlumberger elephant clip with diamonds, gemstones, and Pallioné enamel, $120,000, at Tiffany & Co., in the Galleria Embroidered guitar handbag strap, $1,125 at Valentino, in the Galleria

GALLERIA & UPTOWN PARK The ever-evolving Galleria area encompasses the internationally known 2.4-million-square-foot shopping destination with 400 stores including a stunning new Saks Fifth Avenue. But the mecca of a mall isn’t the only option: Adjacent streets don't disappoint with specialty stores and national chains alike.

Concrete and stainless steel cufflinks, $180, by Konzuk, at High Gloss NB x J.Crew women’s cross-trainers, $80, at J. Crew, in the Galleria

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See a selection of


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Bella Tangerine necklace, $395, by Fairchild Baldwin, at à bientôt

A lavish and longstanding inner-Loop ’hood known for prime real estate and memorable mansions is also the scene of some serious shopping, including the new River Oaks District — five blocks, 14 acres and 252,000 square feet of the highest-end designer boutiques in an outdoor setting.

Carnets d’Equateur porcelain collection featuring the work of Robert Dallet, from $330, at Hermès, in River Oaks District Waverly cowboy boots in turquoise royal calf with hand-tooled overlays, $2,295, at Lucchese

Golden pineapple cocktail shaker, $195, at Laurier Blanc Skincare and grooming gift set for him, $218, at Tom Ford, in River Oaks District

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KIRBY DRIVE From the edge of River Oaks all the way down to Rice Village, Kirby Drive is a stretch of hot shopping spots like West Ave and the iconic Tootsies, and home to KuhlLinscomb, an essential one-stop shop with five buildings and a never-ending maze of all things cool.

Italian hide 8-ounce flask, $49, at Stash Co, in West Ave Zed green, sapphire and champagne diamond earrings, $1,300, by Modern Mughal, at Sloan/Hall

Igor cross-body bag in noir pony calf skin, $825, by Jerome Dreyfuss, at Saint Cloud Vermont Evergreen glass tree, $215, by Simon Pearce, at Kuhl-Linscomb Cote D’Azur luminous hair and body oil, $72, by Oribe, at Tease salon

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IN HEART Setting the pace in cardiovascular care. Across Memorial Hermann, affiliated heart and vascular physicians performed more than 50,000 procedures last year alone. Break that down and you’ll find Memorial Hermann’s lifesaving expertise extends from heart rhythm disorders and heart attacks to treatment for advanced heart failure, including the most complex vascular surgery and heart transplant. Their groundbreaking work puts this program at the forefront of advancing heart health, and that means patients have a better chance of recovering faster and returning to the things they enjoy sooner. So for true strength in cardiovascular care, turn to Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute.

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MONTROSE & THE HEIGHTS A dynamic duo of artsy inner-Loop enclaves, Montrose and the Heights are the places for hip gifts, artisan objects and one-of-a-kind finds.

Naughty and Nice gold foil and canvas stockings, $20 each, at Silver Street Studios’ Pop Shop Holiday Market, Nov. 25-27, and

Archie’s Press Houston map print, from $22, at Space Montrose Jazz on 52nd Street silk twill scarf, $355, by Anne-Joëlle Galley, at the Printing Museum

Whiskey Blooded tee, $28, by Steed Goods, at Manready Mercantile Premium Collection No.1 Bourbon Whiskey, $70, at Yellow Rose Distilling Heritage boots, from $300, by Red Wing, at Reserve Supply Co.

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• When times change, change with them.

2016 has seen many changes in the market, in our neighborhoods and in the city as a whole. Where many may see uncertainty, we see opportunity. So that’s how we spent this year—looking for opportunity. Opportunity to grow, to strengthen, to get better. Everything does change because everything is cyclical. Draw from experience, but constantly be looking ahead. That is the definition of momentum: in moving forward, we are necessarily propelled by our past.

In this spirit, in early 2017 we will say goodbye to our magnificent Queen Anne-style office on Heights Boulevard and relocate to a larger, state-ofthe-art new office still in the Heights. I can’t wait to invite you to that space, and I will always cherish our memories made at 1545 Heights. Broker/Owner

7 1 3 . 8 6 2 .1 6 0 0 | yo u r b l vd .c o m H o u s t o n H e i g h t s . K i r by D r. i n R i c e Village . Historic Downtown Galveston


THE BEST OF THE ’BURBS Houston suburbs like The Woodlands surprise and deliver with homegrown designers and chefs crafting original pieces from their studios and kitchens, plus a generous helping of indie jewelers and boutiques — and all the usual suspects.

Hand-turned ROLR rolling pin, by Woodlands resident Mike Garman, $100, at Spice rubs, $13, at Killen’s BBQ Dinoplatz lip balm in Plum Puree, by Too Cool For School, $15, at Sephora

Hemlock and Heather, by West Design, for West Elm Local, at West Elm in CityCentre Rose-gold kunzite cuff with a diamond edge, $24,950, by Jorge Adeler, at Thomas Markle Exercise bike, price upon request, by TechnoGym, at Inner Grind in Stafford, and

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Lapis Lust

COVETED BY EVERYONE from the ancient Egyptians to Michelangelo to Yves Saint Laurent, lapis has made its way into the home this holiday season in truly decadent style. The deep, royal blue hue is bold on its own, and is even more lavish when paired with gold accents. –meredith xavier

L’Objet lapis candle, $135, at Kuhl-Linscomb

Ink print, $199, by the Art Capsule at West Elm Bel Air test tube vase, $248, at Jonathan Adler

Enchanted Garden Luxe cheese board with spreader, $850, by Michael Aram at Neiman Marcus Gregory console in deep blue, $1,799, at High Fashion Home Plum ice bucket, $290, by Tom Dixon at Saks Fifth Avenue

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GREENWOOD KING PROPERTIES a place to find your home


















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ART, ILLUMINATED BOLD STRIPES OF black and gold and a chicly contemporary silhouette make this lamp one sexy new addition to local artistdesigner Liz Marsh’s collection. Antique collector Marsh, a lover of modern art who travels frequently to Paris, hand-blows and handpaints each Art Deco-recalling lamp before fitting it with a woodturned base calibrated for each piece of glass. The process requires several layers of paint that result in one-of-a-kind works of art, customizable from the shade all the way down to the cord. Available at Longoria Collection, –meredith xavier

Light Fantastic The Ley Lines lamp in noir, price upon request, by Liz Marsh

Make a Splash HOUSTON CERAMICIST ABBIE PRESTON of Box Sparrow Studio has a knack for composition — even when composing an artistic splatter. Inspired by the markmaking techniques of Cy Twombly, these everyday cups and saucers are the latest from her Betty collection, named after her grandmother, who had an “eye for beauty and love for her morning cup of coffee.” Meanwhile, the lustrous gold handle is a reflection of Preston’s own personal style. A self-described “painter at heart,” she likes to mix textures and mediums to bring a “much-needed accent and warmness to each piece.” Her Downtown studio is open to the public the third Saturday of each month, from 5-9pm. 1707 Nance St., studio D, –mx Out of the Box Box Sparrow Studio offers artfully splattered teacups, $42 each, and saucers, $40 per pair, this season.

Pillow Talk FELIZ INTERIORS IS KICKING OFF the holiday season with the finest Italian cashmere from Rani Arabella. The Palermo collection of supersoft pillows — handmade with a luxurious suede accent — is available exclusively in Houston at the still-new Tanglewoodarea home-decor boutique. Colors range from warm and cool neutrals to bold hues of orange and yellow. Also find Rani Arabella’s edgier line of fox-fur-and-leather pillows, embellished with skulls. 1305 S. Voss Rd., 713.997.0010 –mx Cashmere Culture Rani Arabella cashmere pillows, $450, ßat Feliz Interiors

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History Class

With the help of interior design doyenne Marie Flanigan, a newlywed couple breathes new life into a stately 1930s River Oaks home. By Meredith Xavier, Photos by Julie Soefer


hen it came to finding a designer in Houston who could help create their dream home in which to start their life together, a newlywed couple started their search with a uniquely visual platform: Instagram. They soon landed on the feed of Montrose-based designer Marie Flanigan, renowned for blend of contemporary pieces and unique antique and vintage finds. “I just kept coming back to Marie’s work,” says the wife. “The homes she did all felt like places where we would love to live.” The couple, who both work in finance and who met at a football game at SMU, wed in late 2013. They had been living Downtown in a one-bedroom apartment while they looked for their first home; after a relentless search, they wound up putting in an offer on a home with history — that wasn’t even on the market yet! Built by architect Hermon Lloyd in 1930, the 3,400-square-foot River Oaks home had exactly what they wanted: lots of natural light and plenty of character. (Lloyd constructed 80 homes in the area in the early 20th century, in addition to designing the Rice Chapel and, famously,

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Pattern Play The wallpaper in the formal dining room was based on the pattern of the couple’s wedding china.



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VICKY FLEISHER | 281.770.2025 | $1,275,000


JANICE IRELAND | 281.620.8427 | $875,000

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TERRY STANFIELD | 713.582.6871 | $695,000

KATHY JONES | 713.825.2758 | $699,000


LINDA PULASKI | 713.504.0956 | $667,777


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Warm and Weloming From top: The light-filled breakfast area features rustic accents in a crisp, white-washed space; the dining room mixes traditional fixtures with pops of color; the simply serene bedroom. Below: The living room combines a masculine, tailored aesthetic with a French-traditional look.

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along with his firm, the Astrodome.) But of course, character comes with age — and headaches. Luckily, the previous owners completed a lot of the structural updates — the tall couple is thankful for the raised ceilings — allowing Flanigan to really focus on the interiors. And all parties involved felt that maintaining as much of the home’s original character as possible was imperative. Flanigan’s challenge was to blend the wife’s French-traditional style with her husband’s more masculine, tailored aesthetic, all while remaining mindful that they are starting a family and the home needed to be livable. Flanigan accomplished this through stain-resistant fabrics and rustic elements that would not show wear and tear over the years, in addition to incorporating ample storage space. Upon entering the home through its original front door, the space opens up to a formal dining room on the left, and a formal living room on the right. The palette is neutral and organic, allowing small pops of green and blue to bring the outdoors in. The living room was designed around the Paulette Tavormina photo of flowers above the sofa, which the homeowner discovered at the annual Theta Charity Antiques Show. She ended up not purchasing it, but told her husband about it over and over again. On their first anniversary, for which the traditional gift is “paper,” he surprised her with the print. It was one of only three ever made; one of the other two hangs in the American Embassy in Paris.

Across the room is a fireplace with a malachite surround that was also original to the home. “I didn’t love it,” admits the homeowner, “but it was original, so we wanted to keep it.” Flanigan commissioned Houston-based Segreto to create a custom work of art to hang over the fireplace to integrate the malachite design into the rest of the room. Once it was installed, the clients were thrilled with how perfectly the entire space tied together. The green hue of the custom artwork and fireplace is carried into the formal dining room through the commissioned Gracie Studio wallpaper whose design was based on the couple’s wedding china. While the motif is über-traditional, “the lime allowed us to bring something contemporary into the space,” explains Flanigan. The back of the home opens up into a combined breakfast and living room. “I loved the historic old stove at the end of the room, so we left it as-is,” Flanigan says. The large windows give the room a sense of indoor/outdoor living. “There are purple flowers on our pergola that I love looking at through the window,” the homeowner says. “This is my favorite room in the house.” Throughout the home are decorative objects and personal mementos that the couple has acquired from their travels; Flanigan effortlessly incorporated these into her design. “Marie was good at holding our hands when needed, and she never pushed us,” recalls the homeowner. “It was perfect.” 


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Electric Dreams

Defying easy categorization, fast-emerging electronic act MNYNMS has a new record, and a prized slot at Day for Night. By Daniel Renfrow, Photo by Todd Spoth


oody, electronic synths start dancing from the speakers. Vocalist Jessica Wahlquist — bewitching in a black lace mini dress with sheer sleeves that she’s wearing over black tights, and sporting pink eye makeup beneath her edgy, stark-white coif — starts singing in her ethereal voice and snaking her body to the dark soundscape her bandmates Lacey Youngblood and Jacob Childs are creating behind her on the keys and drums respectively. It’s a balmy Saturday night in August at Fitzgerald’s, and Houston’s favorite new electronic group MNYNMS

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(pronounced “many names”) has just started playing a set debuting tracks from their new 4-track EP Rite of Passage. With a new record, a new member and an enviable berth as one of the few local acts to be featured at December’s Day for Night festival, this group in on the rise, and the crowd here can feel it. As the band works through its set with musical precision and a cool-andcasual onstage persona, it becomes increasingly apparent that MNYNMS isn’t your run-of-the-mill electronic act. There’s something special about the way this pan-Texas trio — equal parts Houston, Dallas and Austin — melds its lyrics and synths to create the hip, atmospheric soundscapes. Big D native Wahlquist, who is in her early 20s, has been filling notebooks with lyrics since she was a kid, so she had a lot of material when she paired up with longtime music producer and ATX native Childs a little over a year ago to form MNYNMS. Their first, heavily experimental album, Projection Series, hit last fall, sans Youngblood, and features nine ominous tracks that resemble cryptic prayers or meditations. The vocalizations — often indecipherable and eerie — have been wrapped inside melancholic synths that move in and out of focus. It continues to defy attempts to be placed within a specific genre, but that hasn’t stopped entities like the Detroit Underground — the online magazine sells the album on its website, and rather humorously prompts people to add it to their shopping cart when they’re browsing the “health-goth” apparel — from trying. Shortly after releasing its first album, the duo had a chance encounter with Youngblood, 34, while she was playing a DJ set at Whateverforever, a now-defunct monthly gay dance party in Montrose. Youngblood had recently returned to her native Houston after a six-year stint in New York where she garnered a following as a DJ at underground parties and hip venues like Manhattan’s Webster Hall. “The next week I went over and I did Red Hot MNYNMS members Lacey a practice with them, and I felt Youngblood and Jessica Wahlquist


like we all meshed well,” recalls Youngblood, who joined the band onstage at Houston’s Whatever Fest shortly after becoming its third member. They’ve since played a select series of shows in Austin, New York and L.A. — where they opened for indie electronic group The New Division — and at hometown staples like Numbers. Currently unsigned, the trio records all of its music at Child’s home studio, and they even shot the music video for their most popular single, the dark, synth-heavy and ethereal “Oracle,” themselves, as well, with Childs taking on director and videographer duties. “We have a lot of music that we’re looking forward to releasing,” says Wahlquist. The band might provide a peek at some of their yet-to-be-released music at Day for Night this December as one of the few local acts on an

all-star roster that includes the likes of Bjork, Kaskade, Odesza and Aphex Twin. Like the festival itself, which refuses to draw a line between music and art, the band has a little trouble categorizing itself. And it’s become a running inside joke. “We’re Tejano deathmetal,” laughs Childs. “No, we’re synth, dance and dreamy,” counters Youngblood with a chuckle. “There’s definitely a dark element to some of it. We’re definitely not dark wave. Dream-synth?” “With a dark electro channel?” suggests Wahlquist. “No, not quite that,” corrects Childs. Outside the group, some have used “electropop,” but that’s a little ill-fitting, too. It seems that MNYNMS might just have to get comfortable being in a genre all by themselves. 

JOYFUL NOISE After a run of tough times, the Tontons and their frontwoman Asli Omar are back, with a new record on deck and a happy new perspective in mind. By Daniel Renfrow, Photo by Todd Spoth A couple of years ago, The Tontons’ stylish, freespirited lead singer Asli Omar, 27, was included in a Visit Houston campaign that featured the young singer alongside a cast of other H-Town trendsetters like rapper Bun B and fashion designer Chloe Dao. Ads for the campaign ended up running in publications like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and there’s still a massive poster from the campaign at Intercontinental that Omar sometimes finds herself staring up at when she travels. “Every time I fly American Airlines I see myself and it’s weird,” she laughs. It’s reminder of how hectic and high-energy her life was at the time, and how things have changed. At the time of the campaign, Omar and her bandmates Tom Nguyen and brothers Justin and Adam Martinez — guitarist Andrew Lee has since joined the group — were living most of their lives on the road as touring musicians and performing at venues all over the nation and at big-name festivals like SXSW. In one year alone, the indie-rock group pulled off 250 live shows. But last year, the sultry-voiced singer and her bandmates were forced to slow their pace

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when Omar experienced a serious health scare — the details of which she has decided to keep personal — that temporarily grounded the band and brought them all back home to Houston. “We were getting to the point where we were completely self-sustained,” she says, “and we were playing at better festivals and in better time slots. Then a lot of sh*t hit the fan all at once.” The artist took some downtime to heal and try some new things — she’s done a little touring with another act, Chicago’s brother-sister reggae-pop duo Wild Belle, with whom she performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon —and started recording the Tontons’ third full album, which is slated to drop in January. The band’s change of pace and subsequent change of perspective has had a profound impact on their new music. “It’s much more optimistic and hopeful,” says Omar, a former art student who still enjoys painting, as well as tooling around the Museum District on her bicycle. “Its lyrical content is much more aware and less selfinvolved. Going through everything I did last year has changed the way I see the world in such a drastic way that it couldn’t help but be reflected in the new music that I’m making.” 


Tutu Perfect The grand opening of buzzy White Oak Music Hall earlier this year and, at left, the Sugar Plum Fairy costume for the Houston Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker

Ambitious debuts, classical-cool orgs and hip new showplaces for city artists. Here is the state of Houston arts now. By Evan W. Black & Mellanie Perez

Curtain Call For many Houstonians, ’tis not the season until the Houston Ballet begins its five-week run of The Nutcracker. This year, inspired by the 1816 story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman, artistic director Stanton Welch debuts an all-new production — new characters, props and 282 opulently redesigned costumes. Designed by Tim Goodchild of Britain, every costume was handmade by artisans in Chicago, Houston, New York and London. He also designed the five sets for the show, which involves 116 Houston Ballet students, 95 musicians, 60 members of the Houston Girls Chorus, and 450 square feet of synthetic rat hair (for costumes, of course). The process to bring Goodchild’s sketches to life took two years — but Welch has dreamt of this moment for a lifetime. Catch The Nutcracker this holiday season, Nov. 25-Dec. 27.

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LIVE IT UP Houston’s journey to becoming a major live-music city continues, with the 2017 reopening of Rockefeller’s on Washington and the resounding success of sixmonth-old White Oak Music Hall. The latter, which has already hosted acts like the Flaming Lips, Jai Wolf and Chvrches, recently received official permission to erect a permanent outdoor stage — a conclusion to the months-long neighborhood drama in which

residents protested the music venue’s noisy outdoor concerts. In recent months, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion was named by Pollstar as the most popular outdoor amphitheater in the world for the second year running. And the city’s festival scene is hotter than ever, with the arrival of Day for Night Dec. 17-18 and the continued popularity of Free Press Summer Fest, whose ninth iteration hits in May.

houston ballet photo by phoebe rourke; white oak music hall photo by julian bajsel

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Paint the Town Clockwise from top left: Discovery Green blooms; the Symphony goes to Mars; Angel Otero’s “oil skin” painting; and Cécile McLorin Salvant, who plays Da Camera Dec. 3.

Young at Art The beat of the Houston arts scene gets even livelier as five of the city’s ensemble and chamber music organizations chime in to create Circle of Fifths, a snazzy subscription series introducing young professionals to the world of musical artistry in H-Town. Members receive tickets to performances by Ars Lyrica, the Houston Chamber Choir, the River Oaks Chamber Choir, Da Camera and Mercury the Orchestra. “The subscription is designed to cover a wide range of genres and programming,” says Houston Chamber Choir’s Paige Myrick. “We’d like to think of this as a musical passport to Houston.” Meanwhile, Da Camera, which just received a $1.64 million donation in honor of James K. Schooler — the largest in the organization’s 29-year history — presents the inaugural James K. Schooler Memorial Concert. Internationally renowned violinist Christian Tetzlaff and pianist Lars Vogt make their recital debut at the February 16 event.

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LIGHT IT UP Discovery Green shines bright this holiday season! Christopher Schardt’s Firmament, a 52-foot-wide canopy of 21,600 LED lights, suspended from a 42-foot tower, takes up residence Nov. 22-Jan. 17. “Discovery Green will be its first installation in an urban setting,” says Schardt, whose work has hung at Burning Man. Also lighting up Nov. 22 is Enchanted Promenade, by French design studio Tilt. The towering peonies, brought to life by colorchanging LED bulbs, are up through mid-February.

Audio Visual It’s been three years since superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma set foot in H-Town for the Houston Symphony’s centennial season, and on Super Bowl weekend, he returns to join conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada for Dvorák’s Cello Concerto, a powerful masterpiece written during the time Dvorák spent in America. Also this season, the Symphony presents the semi-staged performance of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio. And the popular, wildly beautiful National Geographic Live productions — the Symphony’s first-ever speaker series — continue with Coral Kingdoms and Empires of Ice, Exploring Mars: The Next Generation, and Climbing Dreams on the stage of Jones Hall. This exhibition features fascinating explorers, scientists, and adventurers who “share awe-inspiring behind-the-scenes stories from the front lines of exploration,” says the Symphony’s popular programming director Leslie Sabol. “Stunning imagery and gripping footage.”

MOD BOD One of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s most anticipated shows this year, the first body-of-work survey by Angel Otero opens Dec. 9. This 10-year exploration features his lauded “oil skin” paintings, which he creates by pouring paint into glass, peeling it off in sheets after it dries, and then grafting it onto his canvas. Puerto Rico native Otero’s work is characterized by Baroque painterly traditions and questions of Latino history and identity. “Very dynamic,” says curator Valerie Cassel Oliver.

Butchers & Restaurant



FORMER HEAVYWEIG HT WORLD CHAMP LOU SAVARESE 1814 Washington Ave • Houston TX 77007 • 713.862.1814 • BBBUTCHERS.COM Photo: Felix Sanchez | Make up & hair: Chuck Brown & Melissa McKinney


COLLECTION NOTICE Houstonian couple Frank and Michelle Hevrdejs share their private art collection with the MFAH. Two Centuries of American Still Life Paintings, on display Jan. 17-April 9, showcases paintings by 60 American artists ranging from the 18th century to present day — including works by celebrated figures such as Georgia O’Keefe and Max Weber, many never before seen by the public. The range of pieces

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included in the Hevrdjs collection will “expand our visitors’ overall understanding of still life,” says Kaylin Weber, assistant curator of American painting and sculpture. Additionally, the MFAH greets the most significant exhibition of Cuban art in 70 years with Adiós Utopia, exploring how 50 Cuban artists confronted the social and political changes brought on by the Cuban Revolution.

Studio 40


In 2017, the Houston Grand Opera Studio celebrates 40 years of catapulting young artists into stardom. (Did you know world-famous mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato graduated from the program in 1998?) This season, HGO also revives Nixon in China, the stirring performance about President Nixon’s historic visit to communist China in 1972, which changed the course of opera in America when it made its debut in Houston in 1987. Starring as one of Nixon’s secretaries is beautiful Megan Samarin, an HGO Studio mezzo-soprano who has also played Second Lady in The Magic Flute and Joanna in Sweeney Todd. “These are examples of the kinds of opportunities that HGO artists get,” says Samarin. “It’s rare for artists so young to be singing on a world-class stage with world-class singers. It’s a great opportunity to learn very quickly.”

As the Menil Collection approaches its 30th anniversary in 2017 with a forward-looking plan — a new director, Rebecca Rabinow, and a new neighborhood park on its way — the Houston Grand Opera debuts a production about the Menil that’s distinctly grounded in the past. The world premiere chamber opera, called Some Light Emerges, homages the history of the Menil’s iconic Rothko Chapel,

which opened in 1971. Dominique de Menil commissioned artist Mark Rothko to paint a series of works for the space, which she intended to be a welcoming spiritual place for all people. The show — written by by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed under the HGOco new-works intiative — follows de Menil in her pursuit to bring her vision to life, as well as five visitors who visit the chapel over the span of four decades. 

houston grand opera photo by daniel ortiz

Pen Pals “The Writer’s Table – A Precarious Moment,” from the Frank and Michelle Hevrdejs Collection. Top right: HGO Studio artist Megan Samarin. Bottom right: Dominique de Menil at the grand opening of the Menil Collection in 1987


Room to Create ‘What a Planet We Live on that Allows Us to Love,’ by painter Lindsay Peyton, below

Come Into My Parlor In rich oil paintings, Lindsay Peyton invites guests to step into her unique, large-scale interior spaces, rooms with a point of view. By Holly Crawford, Photo by Todd Spoth


Renaissance woman, it seems there’s nothing artist Lindsay Peyton can’t do. She’s been a writer, photographer, a teacher. And on the heels of an artist residency in Seattle, Peyton returns home to Houston to unveil her Unconscious Conscious exhibition of oil paintings at the Jung Center. On display through Nov. 28, her collection has been a year in the making. “It took at least one month, and layer upon layer of paint, to complete each piece,” says Peyton, 34. Some of the 5-foot-3 artist’s work, mostly semi-literal depictions of empty interior spaces, measures as much as 60 feet wide. “I was really inspired by how energy can affect things, and my paintings show rooms where it feels like people just left,” she says. “I feel like you can walk into them. I want to open the door for you.” A Woodlands native with a photojournalism degree from UT, Peyton knew painting was her passion from an early age, but thought it was more “practical” to study photography. “It helps you develop your eyes and get composition down, so it helped me as

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an artist,” she says, adding that Picasso practiced photography. But she never gave up on painting. “Like when you fall in love with ‘the one,’ I’d cut classes to clean my brushes. That’s when you know.” Peyton has exhibited in a number of galleries, and her art has prime real estate in some impressive personal collections, including that of Jon Deal, owner of Winter Street Studios. “My wife and I have three of her pieces hanging in our house,” Deal says. “I

think we are drawn to her use of color.” Peyton also taught art at Kinkaid for three years, and still teaches community art classes for kids. Her desire to help others be creative is what drove her to apply for the solo show at the Jung Center — and what led to her being selected for the exhibit. “What we loved most about Lindsay’s work was that her use of color and perspective gives the works such energy,” says Jung’s Jennifer Wilkins. “Each space has a feeling and stirs the unconscious. I’m reminded of van Gogh’s ‘The Bedroom.’ It’s far more than a depiction of a room. To me, it connotes something about the psychology of van Gogh, something more personal. Lindsay’s paintings do this as well.” For her part, Peyton cites van Gogh, Cézanne and Matisse as inspirations. “I had artists as teachers... and I’ve been going to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Menil since I was a kid,” she says. “I feel lucky.” Her pieces range from $200 to $9,500. “I’ve always made a point to have affordable pieces,” says Peyton. “I’m not a fan of elitism. Art is for the people, and I want people to be able to buy art.” 


Heart Strings

Singer-songwriter and guitarist Aaron Kaufman uses music to heal — and to help at-risk kids find their voices. By Holly Crawford, Photo by Tana Helene


espite being the son of two artists and the winner of a NPR songwriting award and a BMI John Lennon scholarship, singer-songwriter Aaron Kaufman worked briefly as an analyst for Target in Minnesota after graduating from Carleton College. And at another point he was “determined” to find a teaching job in China, but a Houston nonprofit had other plans for the self-taught guitarist, whose voice has been compared to Justin Timberlake’s and who cites influences from Bon Iver to ’90s R&B. “My mom read a New York Times article about a nonprofit down here called Purple Songs Can Fly,” he remembers. The Connecticut native applied for an internship and ventured southward in 2008 to take the unpaid summer gig, which involved writing and recording songs with young patients

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(and their siblings) at Texas Children’s and sending them home with a CD at the end of their hospital visit. When he returned to Minnesota, he missed the work. Serendipitously, Purple Songs Can Fly asked Kaufman back to Houston. One thing led to another, and he connected with Music Doing Good, a nonprofit that provides music education outside of school settings. The 6-year-old org named him media producer in 2012. Kaufman wears a lot of hats, from working with the marketing team to audio-visual work. “Nonprofit wasn’t necessarily what I thought I’d be doing, but it’s very powerful and rewarding to bring music opportunities to at-risk students in Houston schools,” he says. In addition to doling out funds — 74 scholarships last year alone — and placing instruments in the hands of students who need them, Music Doing Good conducts ongoing outreach. One such effort is a year-long program

in which kids from underserved neighborhoods study one genre of music and put on a musical at year’s end. “They help write the show and work with musicians, then they perform at the Hobby Center,” says Kaufman. “Kids who have no choir in school are standing on a premiere stage, and they pack the house!” Kaufman himself works in the studio, helping kids record songs and preparing for a bi-annual benefit concert to raise funds for the program. And it’s not just about preparing kids for possible music careers, as many won’t choose that path. It goes deeper, and impacts all students. “Music education is essential to their thinking,” he says. When he’s not collaborating with co-workers and students, the yogi is writing and pitching songs in Nashville, Los Angeles and New York. “I’m finishing up songs and mastering them at Sugar Hill Studios,” he says. He plays about 40 shows a year, including private house concerts and the occasional yoga class. “My music has a flow to it that fits very well with yoga,” he says. “Intimate shows — just me and my acoustic guitar — are my favorite thing, like playing in patients’ hospital rooms. I don’t play an 8-year-old’s favorite music, but it helps develop a sense of intimacy and quiet.” 


Last Exit to EaDo

Peopled by collaborative young entrepreneurs, funky festival promoters and earnest street artists, EaDo may just become Houston’s answer to trendy Brooklyn districts. But it will have to survive its own good fortune first. By Edward Nawotka, Photos by Shannon O’Hara


mong armchair futurists, East Downtown, or EaDo as it was dubbed after a naming contest in 2008, is Houston’s most talked-about neighborhood. It is a blank slate that could become the city’s coolest enclave. That, or its rising property values and fast track to gentrification could make it more the province of bankers and emptynesters than young urban pioneers. For now, it’s catering to both constituencies, as rival forces contest exactly how the ’hood will be transformed, and who will live and work there. The historically industrial district that once encapsulated Chinatown is a triangle-shaped 213-acre neighborhood bordered by the Eastex Freeway, Gulf Freeway and the Union Pacific rail

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line that runs from Commerce to Cullen. For years it served as Downtown’s warehouse district, with dozens of disused buildings ripe for revival. (It is also home to a large part of the city’s homeless population.) But today, it is changing. It’s becoming a magnet for innovators, a land of opportunity for developers and redevelopers, and a bona fide arts and entertainment hub. The start may have been when the Houston Dynamo opted to build their new stadium in the district in 2012. The inclusion of the eye-catching, world-class, BBVA Compass-branded sports venue literally put EaDo on the map. What’s even more remarkable, is that the stadium was built, according to the architecture firm Populous, for about a third of the typical cost of a soccer stadium in the United States. The neighborhood is now home to several of the most energetic co-working spaces in the city: There’s SPARK, which serves as home to the EaDo Management District and has given birth to a number of successful startups, such as digital developer ChaiOne; there’s Houston MakerSpace, which includes a wood shop, welding shop and 3D printers; and TX/RX, which offers classes in hands-on fabrication in metal and Pumped Up Crossfit EaDo founder more, and touts access to a plasma Shahin Naghavi, above, says his is the cutter, of all things. largest crossfit box in the U.S. and, at left, a neighborhood construction. Even more co-working spaces are

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Cycle of Life Clockwise from top left: A cyclist enjoys and spin passed one of EaDo’s many signature warehouses; Natasha Azizi, whose family is renovating lofts; area street artist Alex “Zú” Arzú; Azizi’s latest project.

on the way. One of EaDo’s cornerstone venues is Tout Suite, the warehouse-y restaurant that has become a go-to lunch and brunch spot for anyone craving a cool, industry-meets-caffeine vibe. Anne Le and Sandy Tran opened the restaurant in 2014, and it has attracted UH students, commuters craving a sugar fix and health nuts who go out of their way for a $4 shot of liquid algae. Now, these entrepreneurs have partnered with the crowd-funding visionaries of NextSeed (profiled in Houston CityBook’s premier issue) to raise $230,000 to create Co-Op HTX, a 10,000-squarefoot co-working space next door to the restaurant. The space will also offer some sorely needed retail outlets for the neighborhood, though these will be curated and changed on a rotating basis. “You might use the space for a month or two to launch a product or do some testing,” said Le, during a preview of the bare space in September.

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There’s also plenty to do for the after-hours crowd. Among the most popular spots is 8th Wonder Brewery. It has its own taproom and offers beer flights, which will allow you to indulge in a variety of seasonal offerings and pick your favorite Houston homage brews — like the Dream Shake stout or Brewston, a pale ale. And 8th Wonder isn’t the only option in EaDo for locally made microbrews: In September, Sigma Brewery opened its doors and, in addition to serving up suds, is offering “cult movie nights” and live performances from kitschy Doomsday Wrestling. Entertainment options are proliferating throughout the district. Neighborhood veteran Warehouse Live hosts nationally touring bands regularly. And now there are several alternative venues, such as The Secret Group, which offers comedy shows, and the forthcoming EaDo Playhouse is expected to add even more new space for performances. A number of festivals are also

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taking place in the neighborhood — including the Yes, Indeed! Music Festival and Whatever Fest. It’s a big change from the past. “I grew up in nearby Magnolia Park, in the East End,” says Erik Ibarra, CEO of medical software company Calamine, who’s looking for office space in EaDo. “When my grandfather moved into the neighborhood in 1947, he was one of the first Latino people to live in the neighborhood. Then you saw the greater East End go predominantly Hispanic. It was originally white, then brown, and now it’s going to be white again. As for EaDo, I used to ride my bike through the neighborhood on the way to my job Downtown as a courier, and there was nothing there. Just warehouses.” Ibarra continues to live on the edge of the neighborhood in a converted warehouse. “I’d like to bring jobs to the neighborhood — some tech in particular. I think setting up some coding schools for the kids would be great.” Some 5,000 people work in the district now. EaDo did get a big shot of confidence — and jobs — when People’s Trust Federal Credit Union opted to move its headquarters from Downtown to a building near BBVA Compass Stadium. Still, business development, entertainment, even a sports stadium does not make a neighborhood. For that, you need a community — you need people to actually live there. And as of now, just 6,000 people live in the confines of EaDo. There are efforts afoot to add housing, which could in turn attract more permanent residents. The most buzzed-about project of the past few years is the Ivy Lofts, an upscale condominium and hotel that will

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open sometime in 2018. Initially, when the project was announced, the Ivy was going to offer 550 micro-condos to young, single buyers, who were willing to live in 350 square feet. But, it was quickly discovered, these itty-bitty spaces didn’t appeal to Texans, and the concept was re-conceived to add a hotel and offer bigger floorplans spread across fewer units.

“I think there’s an opportunity for Houston to do something entirely new and different: create a walkable, cultured and cool neighborhood. And we aim to be a part of that.” A hotel is also on the mind of David Denenburg, who purchased EaDo’s historic Cheek Neel Coffee Building and is considering a variety of options for the building, including a hotel, as well as tech offices or another co-working space. “It would be really great if we could do something hip and cool, like the Ace Hotels, where people use the lobby as their own workspace.” Denenburg went out of

his way to preserve the retro vibe of the building, going so far as creating his own technique to preserve the metal framing around the windows. (For a glimpse into the mid-renovation historic Coffee Building, see the “Portrait of a Ballerina” fashion story in this issue, which was photographed on the premises.) Other warehouses are seeing upgrades as well. The old Waddell Furniture warehouse has been rebranded by Caspian Enterprises as the Sampson Lofts. Caspian, run by Mir Azizi, has owned numerous properties over the years and was among the first to seize the opportunity to work in the neighborhood, renovating Herren Lofts in 2007. More recently, noting the youthful vibe, he brought in his daughter Natasha to help manage the firm. Natasha, who was a basketball star at Southwestern University, had been working in Cambodia for 17 Triggers, a socially conscious marketing company. “Houston — and EaDo in particular — has a lot of great potential,” she offers. “I think there’s an opportunity for Houston to do something entirely new and different: create a walkable, cultured and cool neighborhood. And we aim to be a part of that.” Natasha herself settled in EaDo, where she also works part-time as an instructor at nearby YogaEaDo, an offshoot of the CrossFit EaDo, a genuine phenom. “CrossFit EaDo is the biggest crossfit gym in the country,” says founder Shahin Naghavi. “It’s 30,000 square feet, and Beer Me! 8th Wonder Brewery — owners Aaron Corsi and Ryan Soroka are pictured below — is a popular EaDo attraction, with its own taproom and beer flights on offer. In September, Sigma Brewery also opened in the neighbhorhood, suggesting the area might be destined to become the city’s micorbrew hub.

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What’s the Big Idea? Clockwise from bottom left: A model for the Ivy Lofts, whose initial tiny-house concept proved to be too novel and was later adjusted to include more typical-size condos, as well as an on-site hotel; Dynamo game day at BBVA Compass Stadium, whose 2012 opening created buzz for EaDo; ’hood haunt Tout Suite.

we have more than 600 members, most of whom are — oddly — commuters who come to work out after work and wait out traffic.” The gym has also spawned Texas Strength, a world-class Olympic weightlifting facility. Naghavi is also developing a co-working space for EaDo, this one dubbed Office Worx. Along with the co-working enthusiasts, redevelopers and hardcore gym jocks, artists are setting up shop in the ’hood. Betirri Bengtson moved to Houston from Puebla, Mexico, and after returning from the World Cup in Germany, he started producing paintings of bodiless soccer players mid-action. Though he was a trained architect from UH, the 2008 recession left him without work. He returned to school for another degree in art and, eventually, got his first professional commission from Reebok Brazil for a professional team in Porto Alegre. But he’s never given up his dream of working in architecture, and in EaDo, where he’s settled, he’s sensed an opportunity to combine his two passions. “In January 2015 I started working on an idea that became an initiative for the City of Houston: I called it Goal Park,” says Bengtson. “This is a proposal to enhance the green area at the end point of the Columbia Tap Rail-Trail, one block away from the Houston Dynamo stadium, as a park inspired by sports and arts. I see all the facades of the buildings around it full of art, sculptures in the middle, an area to rent a bike. Goal, naturally, has a double meaning, both as a reference to soccer and to personal aspirations.” He isn’t the only one who wants to paint EaDo in a new light. Graffiti and tattoo artist Alex “Zú” Arzú has a studio on Commerce Street near to Tout Suite. Born in Germany to Afro-Honduran parents, Arzú also converted from being an architect to an artist,

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and has since done work for clients ranging from Coca-Cola to Willie Nelson and basketball star Brittany Griner. “But it’s really King Keraun, the Instagram comedian, who gave me my start,” Arzú says. “I did a Malcom X tattoo for him on his forearm. He did a shout-out for me on Instagram, and I was booked solid for months. It’s been like that ever since.” Arzú is just one of a larger collective of street artists who have set up in EaDo, where the scene took off with the establishment of Aerosol Warfare, a graffiti art collective, and The Graffiti & Street Art Museum of Texas, located on Jefferson St. Both institutions were founded by GONZO247, the notable street artist responsible for the “Houston is…” murals around town and at that greet visitors at the airport. While the authentic, artistic and industrial appeals to the scrappy and entrepreneurial, it may not be for everyone — especially the financiers who will need to loan many developers the money to modernize the warehouses and artify the green spaces. Be funky and inspiring if you like, they say, but be able to pay. “We don’t want too many no-credit creative types moving into the neighborhood,” said a tall, pinstriped banker who asked not to be named, chatting at a September event on the future of EaDo hosted by commercial real estate website Bisnow. “The ideal tenant is a dual-income couple with no children, that work in either the Medical Center or Downtown.” And while the millennials may be making due in the handful of industrial warehouses that have been converted to living spaces, expect more development — a lot more — as prices for single family homes in EaDo, the East End and surrounding area have jumped 61 percent over the past three years. According to CONTINUED ON PAGE 175

Photo by Karen Sachar

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Brand New ‘Day’ Downtown’s Barbara Jordan Post Office shuttered last year. But when the highly anticipated second iteration of Omar Afra’s Day for Night festival hits there Dec. 17 and 18, the site will once again be — ahem — pushing envelopes. By Daniel Renfrow, Photo by Laurie Perez MOST MUSIC FESTIVALS follow a simple formula that has changed little since the days of Woodstock: Wrangle some big-name acts, throw up some stages in a big empty field, provide booze, and release as many

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concertgoers as you can into the space. It’s a strategy that has worked for years, and with the music industry as calcified as it is, it’s often hard for festival producers to make even small changes to that template without

facing incredulity from the industry’s “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” crowd. But Free Press Houston’s Omar Afra, 38, isn’t a member of that crowd. After he and his partners sold Free Press Summer Fest to Austin’s C3 Presents — who produce Austin City Limits and Lollapolooza — in December 2014, he put 100 percent of his portion of the sell toward the creation of Day for Night, a hybrid music and arts festival that pushed the envelope at its debut last December. It expertly used its cast of top-tier musicians and cutting-edge light artists to create a seamless, visually interactive festival experience that felt as much Art Basel as it did music festival. A partnership between monthly artsand music-focused newspaper Free Press Houston and Afra’s childhood friend Kiffer Keegan’s New York-based creative firm Work-Order — who rebranded Comedy Central and helped Apple launch the iPhone 6 — the inaugural festival attracted a mostly local crowd. Big-name musical headliners like New Order and Kendrick Lamar played in the midst of trend-setting visual artists like the Paris/Tokyo duo Nonotak, who’s trippy, industrial light installation filled an entire warehouse. The killer lineup for this year’s festival dropped in late September — Icelandic earth goddess Bjork, British electronic music savant Aphex Twin — and so far people from outside Houston have scooped up 75 percent of the tickets, with many concertgoers coming from as far away as Europe and Asia. It’s clear that Afra and his team are onto something with the festival, which is expected to draw in a crowd of between 30,000 to 40,000 people. Afra’s journey from what he describes as being just “a neighborhood knucklehead” to one of the most innovative producers in the industry has been storied and laden with risks, but it’s also helped shape his unique perspective on the festival scene. Afra began his relationship with Houston in 1980 when he and his family moved to the city from Iraq as refugees of war. “One of the beautiful things about Houston is that we feel like we embraced the city and it embraced us,” he recalls. After attending college for a bit at Arizona State, the political science major returned to Houston where he taught music lessons — voice, piano, bass — for years, up until the store at which he taught unexpectedly closed. “My wife and I had tossed the idea around of CONTINUED ON PAGE 175 starting a newspaper,





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The joy and grace of dance has never been more celebrated than this season in Houston — as the MFA’s Degas show, with the master’s impressions of the art form, draws grateful crowds — and the Houston Ballet opens its new ‘Nutcracker.’ Here, a loving ode, with young members of the city company in holiday finery.

On Madison: Top, $3,985, by Braden Maxwell at Saks Fifth Avenue; skirt and earrings, vintage. Opposite page, on Madison: Gown, by Chloe at Saks Fifth Avenue; double-stud rose de France earrings, $1,675, by Casato at Lesley Ann Jewels.

Photos by Steven Visneau Modeling by Houston Ballet’s Nina Fernandez, Thays Golz, Michael Ryan and Madison Young Produced by Kate Stukenberg Styling by René Garza Styling assistance by Molly Jodeit Grooming by Tree Vaello SHOT ON LOCATION AT THE CHEEK NEEL COFFEE BUILDING IN EADO

On Madison: Pink lurex fringe dress, $5,845, by Dolce & Gabbana; ballerina flats, $795, by Valentino.

On Thays: Dress, $4,490, by Oscar de la Renta at Neiman Marcus; baguette chocker in white gold, $17,000, at IW Marks. Opposite page, on Madison: Embroidered gown, price upon request, by Roberto Cavalli; black pearl drop earrings, $19,250, at Deutsch & Deutsch.

On Michael: Bodysuit, by Valentino. Opposite page, on Thays: Peplum dress, $2,975, by Brunello Cucinelli at Neiman Marcus; jeweled belt, $4,545, by Dolce & Gabbana.

On Thays: Flared sleeve dress, $4,830, by Alaia at Neiman Marcus. Opposite page, on Madison: Silk tulle dress, $18,000, leather brooches, from $450, and ballet flats, $795, all by Chanel; grosgrain choker with diamonds, $2,500, at Lesley Ann Jewels; pearl earrings, $26,250, by Mikimoto at Deutsch & Deutsch.

On Nina: Dress, $6,990, by Carolina Herrera at Neiman Marcus; morganite earrings, $3,400, at Deutsch & Deutsch; choker, worn as headband, $2,395, by Dolce & Gabbana. Opposite page, on Michael: White gold and diamond lariat necklace, $16,075, by Casato at Lesley Ann Jewels.

As dawn’s first light washes over the nearby ranch lands of Washington, Texas, Houston’s next top models — twins Josh and Chris Zatopek — find their inner cowboys, in fashion inspired by Americana and the rugged spirit of the frontier.

GOOD MORNING, AMERICA Photos by Julie Soefer | Produced by Kate Stukenberg | Styling by René Garza

Styling assistance by Molly Jodeit | Photo assistance by Claudia Casbarian and Harry Dearing III Grooming by Tisha Hughes for Neal Hamil SHOT ON LOCATION AT THE INN AT DOS BRISAS

On Chris: Copper-tip woven shirt, $960, by Givenchy at Neiman Marcus; poncho, $1,298, by Ralph Lauren at Saks Fifth Avenue; heirloom turquoise bolo and heirloom jewelry, at Feliz Interiors. Opposite page, on Josh: Hat, at Manready Mercantile; Rammy plaid shirt, $235 by Theory at Neiman Marcus; Satapara blanket blouson, $5,200, by Louis Vuitton; Starlight jeans, $325, at Burberry and Saks Fifth Avenue; shoes, by Prada. Opposite page, on Chris: Hat, at Manready Mercantile; Sylvain plaid shirt, $225, by Theory at Neiman Marcus; Anapurna winter trench, $7,750, by Louis Vuitton; jeans, $620, by Givenchy at Neiman Marcus; studded boots, by Coach. Previous spread, on Josh: Necklace, $800, at Feliz Interiors.

On Josh: Prairie-natural jacquard oval coat with patch details and mink piping $3,780, by Gucci; jeans, $755, by Maison Margiela at the Webster and Saks Fifth Avenue. Opposite page, on Chris: Denim shirt, $595, by Maison Margiela at the Webster and Saks Fifth Avenue; tooth necklace, $75, by Skout at Richly Clad; jeans, $795, by Dolce & Gabbana at Saks Fifth Avenue; horse hair tassle, at Richly Clad; bracelet, by Andi Alyse at Feliz Interiors. Opposite page, on Josh: Denim shirt, $595, by Maison Margiela at the Webster and Saks Fifth Avenue; arrowhead necklace, $1,850, at Richly Clad; jeans, $755, by Maison Margiela at the Webster and Saks Fifth Avenue; horse hair tassle, at Richly Clad; various rings, at Manready Mercantile.

On Chris: Camo jacket, worn as shirt, $1,550, by Valentino at the Webster; camo bomber, $645, by Helmet Lang at Neiman Marcus; black jeans, $178, by Levi’s at Stag Provisions. On Josh: Camo shirt, $995, by Valentino at the Webster; furry bomber, price upon request, at Louis Vuitton; pants, $495, by Neil Bartlett at the Webster. Opposite page, on Chris: Plaid shirt, $420, by Maison Margiela at the Webster; neckerchief, $50, by Universal Works at Stag Provisions; black velvet corduroy jacket with button embroidery, $7,580, by Gucci.

On Josh: Button down, $265, by Saturday’s New York City at Stag Provisions; pants with velvet tuxedo stripe, $1,170, at Prada. On Chris: Button down, $265, by Saturday’s New York City at Stag Provisions; handkerchief, at Manready Mercantile; piped black pants, $1,195, by Dolce & Gabbana.

On Josh: Gray patch pocket shirt, price upon request, at Louis Vuitton; cape with shearling hood, $5,610, at Prada. Opposite page, on Chris: Plaid shirt, $420, by Maison Margiela at Saks Fifth Avenue; gun-printed jacket, price upon request, at Dolce & Gabbana; tooth necklace, $140, by Gypset Honey at Richly Clad; houndstooth coat, price upon request, at Burberry; piped black pants, $1,195, by Dolce & Gabbana. Opposite page, on Josh: Heritage plaid shirt, $295, by Helmut Lang at Neiman Marcus; turquoise bolo, at Feliz Interiors; coat, price upon request, at Burberry; gun-printed pants, price upon request, by Dolce & Gabbana.

On Chris: Waffle-knit Henley, $115, by Alex Mill at Stag Provisions; shearling jacket, $2,600, at Coach; pants, $750, by Valentino at the Webster; rope necklace, at Richly Clad; boots his own. On Josh: Waffle-knit Henley, $115, by Alex Mill at Stag Provisions; shearling coat, $2,600, at Coach; Chinos, $600, by Gucci at the Webster; rope necklace, at Richly Clad; boots his own. Opposite page, on Josh: Leather bomber, $595, by Polo Ralph Lauren at Saks Fifth Avenue; yellow gator hat, $725, by Nick Foquet at the Webster.

Embellished mini dress, $4,385, by Balmain at The Webster; select pieces at Tootsies. David Webb yellow gold and diamond earrings, Henry Dunay yellow gold ring, and Cartier yellow gold oversized curblink bracelet, all price upon request, at Tenenbaum Classic Jewelers.


Most Wanted From rising stars to revered legends, these are the five Houston artists who should be in your collection now. What are you waiting for? By Chris Becker, Portraits by Julie Soefer

Opposite page: ‘Mount Pavlov,’ $4,100, by Debra Barrera


andy-colored balloons strung to the dismembered door of a vintage Porsche. A fish tank filled with hair gel. A motorcycle helmet held fast to the wall by a gold necklace. For the adventurous collector, the work of Debra Barrera offers a refreshing, but no-less rigorous alternative to overly intellectual conceptual and multimedia art. Barrera earned her MFA in painting at UH, where she came to the attention of esteemed gallery owner Betty Moody, who gave the then 28-year-old Barrera her first solo show in 2012. Just two years later, at the invite of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Barrera presented Avalon, a stunning series of drawings, sculptures and

readymades, all radiating an alchemic power that would have made Morgan le Fay proud. Though well known for her hyper-realistic graphite drawings — Barrera’s father, a gravestone maker, drew as well — her sleek, yet quirky three-dimensional works are just as intriguing and collectible. Barrera and her husband Jonathan Hopson have recently turned the first two rooms of their 1918 Montrose bungalow into a gallery for emerging artists, while Barrera continues to explore new methods for making her own art, most recently as a student of ballet. (Live dancers will be part of her next solo show, April 8-May 13, 2017, at Betty Moody Gallery.) “This is my work,” says Barrera of her willingness to don a leotard and pointe shoes. “It’s just a different version of it.”


f anyone is capable of making metal appear weightless, it’s sculptor Ed Wilson, whose “Soaring in the Clouds” commission, recently installed in the new Grand Lobby of the George R. Brown Convention Center, is a majestically lit, multi-tiered array of stainless steel clouds and birds, suspended within 180 square feet of space. It’s a triumph of public art, and a triumph for Wilson, especially given the controversy surrounding his commission — which the Houston Arts Alliance initially awarded, then rescinded, then, after much public outcry, re-awarded. Those new to collecting sculpture should check out Wilson’s delightful, sometimes politically provocative small-to-mediumsize sculptures of cast iron, steel and

‘Child’s Play,’ by Ed Wilson

aluminum, with patina finishes in a painterly range of colors and shades. Born in 1953 in Arcadia, La., Wilson discovered his true calling when he took a beginning sculpture class at LSU. He came to Houston to study at UH with world-renowned Texas sculptor James Surls, and over time, enjoyed increasing critical and popular acclaim for his art. For fun, the down-to-earth Wilson plays guitar in a band made up of visual artists, with no goal other than sharing the joy of making music. (“If you f*** up,” says Wilson of the group, “nobody’s gonna say, ‘You f***ed up, dude!’”) No doubt Wilson will keep his feet on the ground, even as hundreds of thousands of conventioneers experience his transcendent vision of Houston’s steel-blue skies.


orn in 1980 in San Jose, Cali., and raised in Silicon Valley, artist Bret Shirley says he did “a lot of tinkering as a kid.” (His parents worked for Atari before relocating to Houston.) That youthful curiosity and willingness to experiment has carried over into how Shirley creates his unique paintings and sculptures. His studio is a handyman’s paradise — albeit one where crystals, born of combinations of chrome alum and water, grow onto canvases, or from the inside out of beer cans lit from within by LED lights. While the easygoing, tattooed Shirley,

Opposite page: ‘Pastures into Plantations,’ $6,000, by Bret Shirley

who played guitar Houston psychedelic punk band Black Congress, is definitely a guy you wouldn’t mind sharing a few beers with. His fearlessly abstract and occasionally humorously titled paintings (“Exhibitions Are Frightful”) are those of a serious artist with an old soul. His 2014 show at Cardoza Fine Art, Valu+ Judgment, piqued the interest of collectors and curators, and Shirley’s upcoming Cardoza show Dec. 9 will no doubt bring even more attention to his work. “I feel very fortunate,” says Shirley. “Art is never going to save the world, but it can help some people get to where they need to be, including myself.”


hotographer Marti Corn describes herself as a portrait artist telling the stories of the marginalized. “I am trying to remind people we are responsible for one another,” says the soft-spoken Corn, a Buddhist with the grit of a war correspondent. Her body of work includes photographs of the proud residents and rural landscapes of Tamina, a freedmen’s town founded in 1971 just north of Houston; Out of Darkness, a haunting collection of portraits of Houston refugees; and photos taken in Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya. Corn, who moved here in 1996, and previously studied

photojournalism and newswriting at West Virginia University, returned to photography just nine years ago, after an extended period working as a graphic designer. She quickly established herself as an artist with a gift for capturing the emotional core of her subjects. Corn’s photographs, many of which are available for purchase as limited-edition prints, have made their way into the collections of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, MFA Houston and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Out of Darkness will show Dec. 8-11 at PhotoNola, a New Orleans photo fest, and in 2017, Corn will teach a fourweek photo and journaling course at The Jung Center of Houston.

Opposite page: ‘Caretaker,’ $900, by Marti Corn

Opposite page: ‘Hamlet on Bourbon,’ price upon request at Texas Gallery, by David McGee

Previous page: Jay wears Coach 1941 Workman shirt, $195; Wool Jean Jacket, $595; straight leg trousers, $350, all at the Coach boutique. TKTKTKTK watch $TK, at TK. Michael wears Coach 1941 Mariner’s Coat, $895, at the CoaAch boutique. PRPS Goods & Co. shirt, $325, at Saks Fifth Avenue. Raw selvedge jeans by Ace Rivington, $220, at Manready Mercantile. TKTKTK watch $TK, at TK. This page: Jay wears Michael Kors Melton FurTrimmed Anorak Peacoat $995, cashmere pullover $395, and flannel hiking pant $295, all at the Michael Kors boutique, The Galleria and Memorial City. TKTKTKT watch $TK, at TK.


s a master of both figurative and abstract painting, David McGee creates art that’s visually stunning, deeply personal and pointedly provocative, filled with clashing but carefully considered historical and cultural references. His portfolio of watercolors, Ready Made Africans, which showed in 2010 in the surrealism galleries of the Menil Collection, combines portraits modeled after hip-hop stars with capitalized names of Dadaists, other European artists and modernist writers. In McGee’s 2013 painting “Mondrian and the Fall of Big Money,” a speared and bleeding bull rears up, balls and all, behind a crowned dwarf (a recurring character named “Mofo”) against a bullet-riddled background of Mondrian-like crosses. His studio, a

former Vietnamese beauty shop turned sacred space, may have a soundtrack of Charlie Parker one day, and Philip Glass the next, reflecting the range of McGee’s obsessions. Born in Lockhart, La., and raised in Detroit, McGee had his first solo exhibition in 1986 at Houston’s legendary Barnes-Blackman Galleries. He is now represented by Texas Gallery, one of Houston’s true blue-chip galleries, and his work is priced accordingly. “The art community here is simply amazing,” says McGee of H-Town, which he has called home for 34 years. “From the theaters to the museums to the artists themselves, I love the high quality of the scene.” Next year, McGee will unveil a new series of abstract paintings at Texas Gallery, and the Houston Museum of African American Culture will exhibit a survey of his works on paper.

Open Sesame! Frank and Michelle Hevrdejs at HGO

Divya and Chris Brown at HGO

Christina and Mark Hanson at Symphony

Brian and Candace Thomas at Symphony

The social season kicked off with the season-opening celebrations for both the Houston Symphony and the Houston Grand Opera. Nearly 600 culture vultures flocked to Jones Hall for a Symphony performance of classical sets by Gioachino Rossini and Richard Strauss, directed by Andres Orozco-Estrada. Following the concert, everyone headed to The Corinthian for dinner — complete with a “symphony trio” of desserts — and dancing. ... Meanwhile, opera lovers also toasted a new season at the Wortham, where a performance of Elixir of Love was followed by a lavish dinner in a tent erected on the Wortham Fish Plaza. Bravo!

Kevin Kushner and Brittany Sakowitz Kushner at Symphony

Jo and Jim Furr at Symphony

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Daniel Slater, Dimitri Pittas, Nicole Heaston, Michael Sumuel and Alicia Gianni at HGO

symphony photos by jenny antill, wilson parish and jacob power; hgo photos by priscilla dickson and jacob power

Party People

Explore the MFA Shop this holiday season and find unique gifts for everyone on your list!

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Party People

‘Book.’ Marked!

The premier issue of Houston CityBook was the most talked-about publication of the year, and we were honored to throw a buzzy party to match! Executive Publisher Lisa Holthouse and her husband, Michael, opened up their Memorial manse for the cocktail soiree, coordinated by the Sullivan Group. Guests entered the property via a winding, candlelit driveway, grabbing champagne out of an airstream trailer, decked out in the magazine logo by Air Space Creative. Bubbly in hand, partygoers continued back to the sprawling backyard, outfitted with sleek lounge furniture by BeDesign. Swift + Co.’s spread included tender lamb lollipops, which paired nicely with Yellow Rose cocktails and tunes by Unique Style Productions’ DJ Cesar Gil. But the most showstopping moment occurred when musician William Close played his “Earth harp,” an instrument with strings that reached from the roof all the way down to the ground.

Bradley and Joanna Marks

Weezy and Bobby Dees, and Carolyn Farb

Karen DeGeurin and Peter Remington

Cigar rolling by Reno Bayó

Lynn Wyatt and Lisa Holthouse

Lindsey Brown, Julie Soefer and Chris Vanderwater

photos by daniel ortiz

William Close and his Earth harp

Kendall Hanno and Tamar Mendelssohn

The crowd gathers underneath the strings of the Earth harp.

Mike Mahlstedt and Kyle Dutton

Gina Erwin, Lisa Holthouse, Jeff Gremillion and Shannon Gremillion

Diane Lokey Farb and Isabel David

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Party People A Chloe Dao look at Fashion X Gunnar Deatherage at Fashion X

Photobooth fun at Fashion X

Adam Elara, Brian Albiter and Ralph Macabitas at Fashion X Andrew Taghi and Kendra Lumbi at Fashion X

Lucinda and Javier Loya at Fashion X

fashion x photos by todd white, leah wilson and treva wygle

Alexandra Ocho and Bria Wall at Fashion X

Fall fashion was in full swing! One hot ticket was the multiday Fashion X affair, which set up shop in Silver Street Studios. Seasonal looks by local favorites like Chloe Dao, along with rising-star national designers, took to the catwalk in a series of runway shows. And a marketplace offered guests the chance to purchase ready-to-wear items and accessories — chunky statement necklaces by Houston-based Jessie Dugan Designs were a favorite. ... Vivian Wise hosted an intimate cocktail party at her home, where she announced the 2017 plan for her Heart of Fashion fundraising fash bash. Wise also presented generous checks to other organziations associated with Heart of Fashion: the Lupus Foundation, the Birthday Party Project, Star of Hope Mission and Recipe for Success. ... The Celebration of Champions lunch, benefiting the Texas Children’s Cancer Center, featured pediatric cancer survivors modeling fall looks alongside supportive community members.

heart of fashion photos by daniel ortiz; celebration of champions photos by john r. lewis;

Fashion Flashes

Bob Cavnar, Vivian Wise and Bill Wise at Heart of Fashion

Elsie Eckert, Sidney Faust, Judi McGee and Scott Basinger at Celebration of Champions

Maya Fasthoff and Jaquel Andrews at Heart of Fashion

Beth Muecke, Melissa Holton, Sharon Schwarts and Donna Grehn at Heart of Fashion

Models in Shalon B at Fashion X Dancie Ware, Ellie Fetner and Jim Ware at Celebration of Champions

Jane Dipaolo and Mary Alice Parmet at Celebration of Champions

Party People Amir Taghdisi and Heidi Kashani

Morgan Allen and Wilson Griffith

Truett and Elva Akin, and Monica and Greg Meeks

Tip of the Hat Molly and Matt LaFauci

Always a colorful time, the Children’s Museum gala this year adopted a fun, fantastical Alice in Wonderland theme. At the Mad Hatters ball, hundreds of guests — many of whom donned over-the-top headware, per the theme — stepped into an otherworldly tea party created by Bergner & Johnson inside The Corinthian. While admiring the décor, such as floating playing cards and a wild black-and-white spiral that covered an entire wall, gala-goers bid on items during the silent and live auctions, including a trip to Rome. The total till reached nearly $1 million. What a wonder, indeed!

Décor at The Corinthian

photos by alexander rogers

Tiffany and Rick Smith

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Party People

DJ Little Martin at HGO

Cassie Croft, Kristin Alverado and Justin Croft at HGO

Andy and Ashlee Veit at Alley Molly Reilly and Kelli Bednarz at HGO

Emilie Cooksey, Will Matthews and Leslie Kendall at Alley

Brandon Weinbrenner, and Elizabeth and Benjamin Smith at Alley

b&b photos by daniel ortiz GUTTER

Young supporters of the Alley Theatre and the Houston Grand Opera partied arty! Scene, the young professionals group at the Alley, toasted the 70th season of the theater, where DJ Senega played funky jams in honor of the groovy ’70s theme. The disco-glam bash, chaired by Elizabeth and Benjamin Smith, raised money for the theater’s community engagement efforts. ... And young opera patrons gathered at B&B Butchers to mark HGO’s new season. Vino flowed as DJ Little Martin spun beats on the rooftop patio, and guests chatted about the upcoming seasonopening performance of Elixir of Love.

Sarah and Greg Nordin at Alley 138 |

alley photos by daniel ortiz; hgo photos by nikki rosenbger

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Merele Yarborough and Shawntell McWilliams at Tootsies

Ami Parikh and Karen Lix at BeDesign

Joanne King Herring and Susan Sarofim at Tootsies

Karl Jun and Deanna Bosan Leong at Internum

As the social season geared up, kickoff soirees and launch events filled Houstonians’ calendars. The Women of Distinction announcement party at Tootsies toasted the 10 honorees of the 2017 Winter Ball, which takes place in January. ... Meanwhile, ahead of the November Sing for Hope gala, Bering Omega patrons gathered at home-dÊcor showroom BeDesign. ... And at Internum, another hip furniture store, Sudhoff Companies unveiled plans to partner with Italian furniture maker Giorgetti on a new luxury condo project. Dolce & Gabbana dressed the model-pretty staff for the event.

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JP and Ember Hull

Adriana Villasenor at Internum

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Fernando and Sarah Aramburo at BeDesign

Will Stoltz, Jerry Hooker, Jacob Sudhoff and Giovanni del Vecchio at Internum

Party People Ronnie Killen at State of Grace Kathy Ruiz and Mike Frietsch at Brenner’s

Oyster bar at State of Grace

Ford Fry and Bobby Matos at State of Grace

A trio of H-Town businesses celebrated milestone anniversaries in delicious style. Fine-dining destination Brenner’s Steakhouse toasted 80 years with a cocktail bash. A mixologist was on-site handcrafting cocktails, and the restaurant did not skimp on food: oysters, crab claws and more were all displayed beautifully. ... To celebrate its one-year anniversary, River Oaks restaurant State of Grace invited pitmaster Ronnie Killen to man the hearth. His brisket and pork belly complemented State of Grace chef Bobby Matos’ enchiladas and seafood bar. ... And the Hotel Granduca’s 10th anniversary reception included an Italian feast of flatbreads, risotto, desserts — and, of course, wine. Cheers!

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Festive dessert display at Brenner’s

Light bites at State of Grace

Cathy and Giorgio Borlenghi at Granduca

granduca photos by roswitha vogler; state of grace photos by caroline fontenot; brenner’s photos courtesy landry’s

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Hot Pink

A neon artisan cocktail paried with Peking duck bao? Yes, please. At Ginger and Fork, the Dragon Fire — with gin, ancho chile liqueur and muddled dragon fruit — colorfully illustrates a mod, personalized new take on Chinese restaurants now.

photo by julie soefer

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Stomach This Flavorful fried pig intestines at Cooking Girl

Chinese Revolution Combining devotion to age-old culinary style with fun new ideas — how about an artisan cocktail with your spicy crispy tofu? — several new Chinese joints are scoring in Montrose and the Heights. By Dennis Abrams, Photos by Julie Soefer


No less a purveyor of the country’s style and culture than The Wall Street Journal just weeks ago referenced a major shift in national culinary tastes. “Chinese food is evolving in America, as China opens itself to the world and U.S. diners grow ever more obsessed with and knowledgeable about what we’re eating,” reported Jamie Felmar in October. “A bevy of new restaurants … present personal takes on Chinese food, revealing the depth and diversity of one of the world’s most complex cuisines.” The artfully assessed trend is very much at play in Houston, it seems, as two wickedly talented chef-entrepreneurs have opened hip, authentic restaurants foodies are going gaga over. The still-new Montrose smash Cooking Girl (315 Fairview St., 832.649.7175) and the even newer Heights-area Ginger and Fork (4705 Inker St., 713.861.8883) are both fun and accessible, but each has its own very unique identity and take on the cuisine. Of course, all this follows the triumphant expansion of Mala Sichuan Bistro from Bellaire’s Asian district to Montrose, which the Journal actually called out as part of the new wave

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of Chinese restaurants in America. Ginger and Fork is the brainchild of Mary Yi, who, with more than 20 years of experience behind the bar at Tony Mandola’s, earned a reputation as one of Houston’s most innovative bartenders. But her culinary experience goes well beyond mastery of the cocktail. Yi grew up in restaurants, working both sides of the house, and she uses that experience to bring the food she grew up on in Hong Kong, as well as her taste for exotic cocktails, to crowds of appreciative Houstonians. Located in the former home of La Fisheria, off I-10 near the Heights, Ginger and Fork — named by Yi’s daughter to reflect the restaurant’s “East meets West” sensibility — has the feel of dining in someone’s home — specifically, the home of someone with comfortable yet refined tastes. Which seems all too appropriate, given the sense of comfortable refinement found in the restaurant’s menu. And given that craft cocktails get equal billing with the food, what better way to begin a meal than with one of Yi’s

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Stick It! Cooking Girl’s skillet-baked, pull-apart dumplings

signature drinks, appropriately served in antique cocktail glasses reminiscent of Chicago speakeasies. Start with Yi’s favorite, the ginger margarita, made with El Tesoro Platinum Tequila, Cointreau, Canton Ginger Liqueur, fresh lime juice, and — this is what kicks way over the top — fresh ginger juice, which Yi makes daily. Or, if not that, why not sample the Dragon Fire, a tempting mix of Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, ancho-chili liqueur, Bad Dog Fire & Damnation bitters, fresh lemon juice, and freshly muddled dragon fruit. Can’t decide? Yi will be happy to serve your drinks in half-size glasses, so you can taste a few. Unsurprisingly, the food pairs beautifully with any of her signature drinks as well as her well thorough list of wines. For appetizers, you can’t go wrong with the spicy crispy tofu cubes, tossed with salt and chilis, and either (or both) the Char Siu pork sliders — luscious Cantonese barbecue pork with hoisin — or the Peking duck bao. And, to

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refresh your palate before the main event, maybe the cold, crispy chile cabbage? Entrees include the house specials of stir-fried lobster with ginger and onion, and, a dish one doesn’t often see around town, the bone brittle flounder: delicately stir-fried whole flounder, flesh removed from the bones. It’s served heaped on the fish’s frame, the fine bones crispy and delicate. And unlike many other restaurants offering an authentic Chinatown experience, the desserts are well worth your while, especially the ginger parfait, which takes full advantage of that housemade ginger juice. Ginger and Fork features Cantonese cuisine, known for its subtlety and use of fresh ingredients. Meanwhile, Cooking Girl, owned and operated by sisters Lily Luo and Yunan Yang, touts a menu bursting with the not-so-subtle Sichuan flavors of the sisters’ hometown of Chongqing. The restaurant itself has a comfortable Chinatown-meets-Montrose feel, housed in a quaint building on Fairview and Taft. No cocktails here — it’s BYOB, which the buzzing crowd of neighborhood cool kids seems to love. But looking around the restaurant and seeing the large numbers of Asians from near and far also dining here, one quickly realizes that at Cooking Girl, it’s all about the food. And truly excellent food it is. Bold and spicy without being overly “hot,” each bite of each dish is a revelatory demonstration of the wide range of favors that Sichuan cuisine is capable of, leaving your taste buds tired and happy — along with slightly numb thanks to the famous haunting residual heat of Sichuan peppers. What to have? The soft rich fattiness of the “TMD Soft Bacon” — thick, sweet, spicy slices of which sit on a bed of crispy pickled vegetables — is a perfect palate wake-up call. The “Super Cubic (Hot Hot Fried Beef Cubes)” is actually small cubes of beef tendon, slightly chewy and exploding with heat, the flavor of the wok and the tongue-numbing slightly menthol flavor of Sichuan peppercorns. It was a universal favorite, as was the “Pepper Twins” chicken, tender juicy chunks cooked with peppers and fres nine-leaf peppercorns, proof positive that great Sichuan cuisine offers diners more than one way of being spicy. Seafood lovers will very much enjoy the “Volcano:” perfectly steamed pieces of cod, red peppers, a broth that

LATEST DISH! HOUSTON’S BEST FOOD NEWS, IN SMALL BITES ... Heights hideaway Juice Girl brings its made-to-order, organic juice and smoothie bar to Montrose in the space that formerly housed Flow. The new location brings new options like non-dairy ice-cream, herbal lattes made with nut milk, and vegan meals. 214 Fairview St. Shake Shack has opened its first outpost in Houston to long lines of eager diners. The signature menu of flat-top dogs, crinkle-cut fries, and antibiotic-free Angus beef burgers is complimented by

craft beer, wine — and frozen custard. In the Galleria James Beardwinning chef Chris Shepherd has announced plans to open One Fifth, a groundbreaking new restaurant experience that will change its concept every year for five years. The short-term lease on the historic space that previously housed Mark’s will allow the innovative restaurateur the freedom to execute his whole-animal philosophy in a number of ways. One Fifth Steak, the first concept under Shepherd’s five-year plan, is scheduled to open January 2017. 1658 Westheimer Rd. Ronnie Killen now offers Killen’s BBQ game-day grub to Texans fans. At an outpost located inside the stadium, guests tackle overstuffed BBQ sandwiches on jalapeno cheese buns during the game. And Killen finally makes his move inside the Loop with Killen’s STQ — a combo abbreviation for steak and BBQ — which opens this month in the space that was formerly Bramble. NRG Park, 1 NRG Pkwy.; 2231 S. Voss Rd.

Fresh Fare From top: The Old Confusion II cocktail and New York strip steak frites at Bayou & Bottle; a fresh fruit and quinoa bowl at Juice Girl.

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strikes just the right notes of salt and spice, all atop of rice noodles. If your tongue needs a respite from the flavor explosion offered by so many of the dishes, the cold salad of beef slices and ox tongue (yes, ox tongue), known as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” is refreshing, although, admittedly, still fairly spicy — it is a Sichuan restaurant after all. The eager crowds at both restaurants are evidence that the desire of foodies to experience true Chinese food is real. So real, in fact, that both are expanding: Ginger and Fork now offers Sunday dim sum brunch, while the cooking girls have opened a second restaurant, Pepper Twins (1915 W. Gray St., 346.204.5644), offering diners all-organic produce and meat, in what they describe as “country-style organic Chinese.” Great Cantonese food. Great Sichuan food. As Chinese cuisine becomes mainstream, diners who were once satisfied with the standard egg rolls and lo mein are now demanding authenticity. And they’re eating and enjoying the real thing — all right here in Houston. 

Quack at It Peking duck bao at Ginger and Fork

Bowled Over From left: Seasonal soup at Riel, and the Chick’n Shack sandwich at Shake Shack

Forthcoming Heights concept 60 Pioneers, from the owners of Southern Goods, gets the axe as partners Charles Bishop and Lyle Bento go their separate ways after a bitter legal dispute. Instead, Bishop has teamed up with Pax Americana executive chef Adam Dorris to move forward with a new concept at that location, renaming it Presidio and rebranding it as a family-friendly neighborhood destination with a food-forward menu. 911 W. 11th St. Recently shuttered East Side restaurant Kitchen 713 is set to reopen soon on Washington with a new bar program in addition to its menu of Southern comfort classics. 4601 Washington Ave., Ste. 130 Also opening on Wash Ave: the first H-Town location of ATX favorite Tacodeli. The casual-cool hangout will have big taco shells to fill, competing with nearby favorites Velvet Taco and Tacos A Go Go, but its fans are eagerly awaiting its arrival with the attitude of, “Too many tacos? No such thing.” 1902 Washington Ave. The crepe cart that garnered a cult following from its days on the corner of Westheimer and Taft finds a brick-and-mortar home in the Heights. “Buffalo”

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Sean Carroll plans to open Melange Creperie at the Heights Mercantile in early 2017, with all of the streetcart classics like the Jian Bing and the gooey Nutella and strawberry. 703 Heights Blvd., 832.724.9464 Former Underbelly and Reef sous chef Ryan Lachaine steps up to executive chef and co-owner of Riel, opening soon in Montrose. The 65-seat modern American restaurant boasts a small, market-driven menu uniquely inspired by the Texas Gulf Coast, classic Ukrainian dishes, and FrenchCanadian fare — a nod to Lachaine’s birthplace of Winnipeg, Manitoba. 1927 Fairview St. Coming soon: Bayou & Bottle, a swanky new bar-and-bites concept inside the Four Seasons hotel. Opening in time for the Super Bowl, the sceney cocktail lounge will be another hip Downtown destination for locals and visitors alike, with a menu by celeb chef Richard Sandoval. 1300 Lamar St. Mike Tran, mastermind behind Houston favorites Tiger Den and Mein, joins forces with Rikesh Patel — former chef-owner of Ambrosia — to bring a curry house concept to Chinatown. The simple but

enticing menu at Night Market will feature slowsimmering curries and grilled meats, fusing the flavors of different Asian cuisines. Expect out-of-the-box, fiery curry concoctions — the usual MO for Patel, who is known to up the spice factor. A husband-and-wife team has breathed new life into the charming space previously housed by Brasserie Max & Julie. At Café Azur, chef-owner Sidney Degaine offers his take on an inspired FrenchMediterranean menu, with dishes like the Perfect Egg, served in a spherical glass bowl, and traditional bouillabaisse. Bringing the Côte d’Azur to Montrose, Degaine offers a lovely escape at this oasis within the city. 4315 Montrose Blvd., 713.524.0070 Newport Beach import Bosscat Kitchen & Libations is set to open in the mixed-use development at Mid Lane and Westheimer. The industrial-chic space boasts whiskey “lockers” for personal storage, and a mini-rickhouse where guests can mix and store barrelaged cocktails. On the menu? Hearty comfort-food eats like the 12-hour-braised beef shortrib and the BBQ porchetta sandwich made with slow-roasted pork belly are feastworthy. 4310 Westheimer Rd. 

Holiday Shopping? Memorial Park Conservancy has it in the bag! Let us make your list a little shorter. Friends of Memorial Park memberships make great gifts, and are a tax-deductible way for you to show your support for Houston’s largest urban greenspace.


Give a little green to someone you care about, and help them find their Memorial Park within our 1,500 acres. They’ll receive a beautiful holiday card notifying them of your gift in their honor.

Let John Evatz show you the magic of the holidays. Contact for more information.

Call today for your private appointment. | 713-726-6878 |

Food Culture

The Godfather

In a beautiful new memoir/cookbook, one of the city’s standard-bearers of Italian cuisine — and family tradition — tells all. By Johnny Carrabba, Photos by Debora Smail A descendant of Sicilians and a member of the city’s largest and most storied intermingling of food families, restaurateur Johnny Carrabba’s culinary journey began in Corleone — yes, that Corleone — and wound its way through his famous uncles’ kitchens and to the heights of Houston’s food scene. His empire grew to more than 250 eateries worldwide, before he came “back home” to his two original Carrabba’s Italian restaurants on Kirby and Voss, plus Grace’s and Mia’s Table, named after his grandmother and daughter respectively — and Common Bond Café and Bakery, which he co-owns. Now, with help from editors Roni Atnipp and Doug Williams, he’s sharing his best stories and recipes in a new book, With Gratitude, Johnny Carrabba, hitting shelves now. The following is an excerpt.


Mine is a story of immigrants, and fate, and coming home. In Italy, around the turn of the 20th century, small farmers like my family faced considerable economic pressure. There wasn’t much land to work, and what little there was there was increasingly unproductive. It was tough to make an honest profit. So they did what many Europeans of that generation did: They looked west, to America, the land of opportunity. My grandpa Tony Mandola’s parents left Sicily and came through Galveston before settling in the Dickinson area, where

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they were strawberry farmers. My grandmother Grace Testa Mandola’s family was also from Sicily and arrived in Houston by way of New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana. On the Carrabba side of my family, both my great-grandmother and great-grandfather came from a little Sicilian town called Corleone. (Yes, it was the same one immortalized — and fictionalized — in The Godfather movies.) They entered the country in Galveston and found their way to the Brazos River Bottom in Bryan, Texas, where they farmed cotton. The hardships they all faced getting here are still unimaginable to me. They probably left Italy with three or four dollars in their pockets. They didn’t sail across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary; they were in the lower decks of cargo ships. Disease was rampant. Loved ones were left behind. Eventually, however, everyone ended up in Houston. My grandpa John Carrabba got tired of picking cotton — he once told my grandmother, “Don’t ever buy me a cotton shirt again.” So he got out of the fields and onto the roads, delivering soda water on a truck. Over time, he saved up some money and opened a grocery store in Houston’s Fifth Ward in 1940. True to his Sicilian heritage, he worked hard to make his little business a success, and he did, eventually selling it and starting another one: Carrabba’s Friendly Grocery.

Food and Family From left: Storied Houston restaurateur Johnny Carrabba’s well used dining table, a lifetime of photgraphs and memories, quiet moments between crowds at the original Carrabba’s on Kirby.

For their part, sadly, the Mandolas were no strangers to misfortune. My grandmother’s father, like my grandpa Tony, was a really good businessman who owned a profitable company in Alexandria, La., Testa Cola Bottling. But a bad fire swept through the plant one day in 1926, and he lost everything. Grandpa Tony was also very successful, the owner of a meatpacking house in Houston, Grade A Packing. He was just doing fantastic until he was in a bad car wreck in 1948. It put him in a coma for a long time, and he lost his business, too. But being who we were, good people who had faced challenges and heartbreak without letting them get the best of us, we all continued to pursue the dreams that had originally brought my family to America. My mother and grandmother pretty much ran the grocery stores for the men — another lesson learned is that strong women are key to the success of a small family business — and I worked there after school and on weekends myself. Meanwhile, my uncle Tony Mandola was working for the Rio Grande Tortilla Co., which was owned by Ninfa Rodriguez Laurenzo — known affectionately as Mama Ninfa — and her husband. As it happened, Uncle Tony was also dating the Laurenzos’ daughter, Phyllis, whom he later married. After Ninfa’s husband died unexpectedly, leaving her a widow with five children, she decided a restaurant would be easier to manage than a tortilla factory; she opened the original Ninfa’s on Navigation in 1973, and Uncle Tony went to work with her. That put a whole lot of wheels in motion. Inspired by Uncle Tony, my Uncle Damian opened a restaurant in Huntsville. Uncle Tony left Ninfa’s and started Nino’s with my Uncle Vincent, and eventually went out on his own to open Tony Mandola’s Blue Oyster Bar on the Gulf Freeway. Damian opened a second Damian’s, this one in downtown Houston. Everybody,

it seemed, was getting into the business — everybody except me. I was going to college at the time and wasn’t much of a student. To make ends meet, I coached part-time at my old high school, St. Thomas, and picked up odd jobs from my uncles. Vincent would call from Nino’s saying his bartender had just quit and ask me to fill in. Or Uncle Tony would say he needed a waiter at Blue Oyster. One Friday while I was waiting tables for Uncle Tony, he came in and said he’d just signed a lease for a second location on Shepherd Drive. I was happy for him, even though I had no idea what signing a lease meant. Then he dropped a bombshell: “Johnny, I want you to be my general manager. I need family over there.” Well, I agreed and started operating the place as if it was my own. I didn’t have the experience or knowledge that my uncles had, so I just kind of fell back on instinct and ran the restaurant in much the same way my parents ran their grocery store. I liked it, too — the hard work, the long hours, the feeling of responsibility. After a less-than-successful college career, it felt like I’d found my place in the world. And the world was about to get bigger. One night during the oil crash of the mid-1980s, Uncle Damian stopped by the Blue Oyster Bar to have dinner with me. Nothing fancy, just a quiet meal before he went home to his family. He had just returned from New York and told me all about the city’s casual, wood-burning pizza joints. “Would you want to do something like that with me?” I was blown away and really flattered. I gave it some thought, and decided I was with him. We didn’t waste much time moving forward. Or trying to. We applied for a loan from the same banker my family had done business with for year. It felt like a sure thing. We gave him our pitch — we were confident, maybe even cocky — and waited for him to give us a check. But instead he gave us some pretty harsh advice.

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Food Culture

“Johnny,” he said, “I’ve known you since you were born, but I can’t let you do
this. It’s the worst economy in the city’s history, and you want to open a restaurant? Don’t do it.” I have to tell you, Italian boys can’t handle rejection very well. I got a little testy and walked out, thinking that he wasn’t the only bank in town. Eventually, 10 banks turned us down. Luckily, he 11th said yes, provided that we come up with $100,000 in collateral. Damian suggested I talk to my dad. In the tradition of all great Sicilian deals, we met him at his family’s house, at the dining room table, on Christmas Day 1986. We laid out the idea to him, and all he said was, “Yep, I can do that for you.” Carrabba’s opened the next day, on Kirby near River Oaks, in a building that once housed an adult bookstore. The most expensive thing on the menu was a $9.95 T-bone steak. The priciest glass of wine was $2.25. It was like lightning in a bottle. Pasta in bowls, good portions at moderate prices. Plus, a lot of people had never seen a woodburning pizza oven, and the open kitchen made them feel like they were at home. Other menu items included Grandma Carrabba’s

30 and Counting Carrabba opened his first Houston restaurant three decades ago this Christmas and, below, wood-oven pizza, which he’s often credited for having introduced to the city.

Calm and Cool From left: The grounds of Cal-a-Vie; dishes are specially prepared with clients’ food needs and calorie count in mind; yoga is one of many fitness classes available at

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artichokes stuffed with breadcrumbs, grilled Cornish hen salad, and pancetta-wrapped quail Marsala served over grilled polenta. We were suddenly the hot spot. Even the beautiful people started coming. I’d never seen leather pants until then. One day, about a year after we opened, Damian called me with a plan. “Johnny, I think this Carrabba’s thing really has legs. It can travel.” As in open another location? I was already sleep-deprived, working 18-hour days, seven days a week. I was the only guy with keys to the restaurant. And he’s talking about expansion? People of Sicilian lineage tend to imagine they’re going to run one little business — a shoe shop, a grocery store, a butcher shop, a produce stand — and give it all they’ve got. That’s the way we’re raised. I figured Carrabba’s on Kirby was going to be my shop for the rest of my life, and when the time came to retire, I’d just hand it off to my kids, which, I didn’t even have yet. But Damian being Damian, he persuaded me to call a realtor, and I reluctantly reached out to Ed Wulfe, who’s a pretty big player in that business. I told him Damian wanted me to look for a second location. He said to give him two weeks to find the perfect spot. An hour later, he called me back. “I have the perfect location for you — the corner of Voss and Woodway.” Five restaurants had gone broke there in 13 years. But Ed had a good feeling about it. “If you look at the neighborhood, and you run it the way you run Carrabba’s, it’ll be a slam dunk.” So we started making plans. I called my mother, Rosie. She and Dad had just retired from the grocery store, and they were both still pretty young. I told her about the new location. “If you don’t mind,” I said, “I really could use you there a couple of hours a week to greet people, kiss babies, that kind of thing.” That was nearly 30 years ago, and Mom is there seven days a week, loving every minute of it. After the Carrabba’s at Voss took off, the phone calls started coming in. People looked at what we’d done at Kirby, then with the second location, and, boy, did they see an opportunity. For my part, I was perfectly happy to stay small, and I told everyone so. Then one day Tim Gannon, a founder of Outback Steakhouse, called. He said he and his partner were interested in Carrabba’s. I still wasn’t having it, but that’s when fate stepped in again. Tim had once lived in a garage apartment on Sunset Boulevard, not far from Carrabba’s on Kirby, and often came to the restaurant. He liked the food, the energy, the people, and the culture, and the experience had stayed with him. I couldn’t deny the sense that his interest in my restaurants was no accident. We entered into a joint venture in less than 24 hours. For a couple of kids who got rejected by 10 banks, it was a pretty huge thing for Uncle Damian and me. Eventually, Damian and I retained ownership of the two original restaurants, and a separate president ran the chain restaurants while we stayed involved in the franchise business. After a while, I left the corporate world altogether. As good as Outback was to us, I’m not really built for the corporate environment. I still see myself as the operator of a small business, running a familyowned restaurant. It’s where I belong. It’s what I was meant to do. Don’t get me wrong; I’m really proud that a Carrabba’s grew to 250 locations. But I wanted to come back home. I found my way, too. And I couldn’t be happier that I did.  With Gratitude, Johnny Carrabba can be purchased for $50 at any of Carrabba’s five restaurants, and online at carrabbascookbook. com and Copies are also for sale at Bering’s locations, Events, Back Row Home and bookstores.

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Cookie Swap!

To help celebrate the season, we asked some of the city’s most intriguing and diverse chefs to give us their versions of the perfect holiday treat. Here’s how their cookies crumble. By Megha Tejpal, Photos by Julie Soefer

Annie Tyler’s S nowball Cook ies

GRANNY KNOWS BEST Winner of Food Network’s Chopped and owner of the Craft Burger truck, SHANNEN TUNE can no doubt whip up tasty treats on a whim. But when it comes to holiday baking, the family man relies on his grandmother’s recipe for snowball cookies as his prime pick for the festive season. “They are my favorite Christmas cookie,” Tune describes, recalling childhood memories. “They would be piled high, covered in powdered sugar cascading down like a snow-covered mountain.” Best paired with hot chocolate, Tune suggests Annie Tyler’s Snowball Cookies are just as enticing out of the refrigerator as they are out of the oven. Taste for yourself.

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2 1/4 cups flo ur 1 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup powd ered sugar 1 teaspoon va nilla extract




1 teaspoon da rk rum extract 1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup finely chopped pe cans Powdered su gar for rolling

1. Preheat ov en to 375 de grees. 2. Mix butter, powdered su gar, rum and mixer until flu vanilla with an ffy. electric 3. Add flour and salt, and m ix until the doug Stir in the nu h comes toge ts. If dough is ther. too soft, chill it easily with it until you ca your hands. n work 4. Line two co okie sheets wi th parchmen tablespoon-s t paper. Scoo ized balls of p dough and pl cookie sheet. ace on prepar ed 5. Bake cook ies for 7-8 m inu te s until bottom brown. Rem s are just sligh ove from oven tly and cool for 6. Fill a small 2 minutes. bowl with po wd er ed sugar and cookie in the roll each warm sugar until co ated. 7. Place on a rack to cool. On ce cookies are co optionally re-ro oled, ll them in mor e powdered Makes abou sugar. t 30 cookies .

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PB&J Cookies

YOU HAD US AT BACON Veteran Houston chef DANNY TRACE of Brennan’s combined his family’s holiday cookie baking tradition with his tendency to repurpose unused foodstuffs to create his one-ofa-kind Bacon & Serrano Oatmeal Cookies. “As a chef, utilizing leftovers is second nature,” Trace admits. “One Christmas Day, we had some bacon and serranos left over from breakfast, and we were baking holiday cookies later that evening, so I thought why not add them in! They were a hit, and these cookies are now my new holiday tradition with my family.”

Cookies l a e m t a Serrano O Bacon &


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wder, rees. aking po 375 deg e flour, b oven to e th e th t in a b e com 1. Preh a. g bowl, king sod all mixin gar, lt and ba sa 2. In a sm , brown su g e e th tm r ing e n, nu time, mix at togeth e a b t cinnamo a l, e w n o o b s g g in g ix e m d d y. rge er. A until fluff 3. In a la and butt e mixture d sugar paddle th d granulate n a a ill n d the va mix well. well. Ad Mix until ients and d raisins. ry ingred d e th a o d , ts an rs e p 4. Ad p e p , ie e bacon ed cook paper-lin 5. Add th rchmentorated. n a e rp p o ld a c o g in to n o are just f dough cookies rounds o until the t 48 ke abou 6. Place minutes, a 5 M 1 . r ft fo so g ake in B in a t. e m e sh enters re ith the c brown w cookies.


4 cups butte r, softened 4 cups granula ted sugar 4 cups brow n sugar 1 tablespoon salt 9 eggs 4 cups pean ut butter




6 cups highgluten flour 1 tablespoon  baking soda 1 tablespoon  baking powd er 1 3/4 cups dr y roasted pe anuts, rough choppe d 1 1/4 cups be rry jam or pres erves

1. Preheat ov en to 350 de grees. 2. Cream bu tter, both suga rs and salt un 3. Add eggs til light and flu slowly, scrapi ffy. ng down the bo between mixi wl, and padd ng. le in 4. Sift and wh isk together all th e dr y ingredients, once. Mix ha and add all at lfway. 5. Add the nu ts and finish mixing until jus 6. Bake for 12 t incorporate minutes, until d. the edges ar firm but the ce e golden brow nter is still so n and ft. 7. Garnish wi th the jam or preserves. M akes about 24 cookies.

IN A JAM! Venezuela-born OMAR PERENEY, executive chef at Peska Seafood Culture, demonstrates an honest style of cooking with expert technique, and prefers the same when it comes to holiday baking. “When I was 12 years old, I learned pastrymaking in a fine-dining restaurant in Caracas,” he recalls. “The chef at the time, Wendoly Lopez, made this dessert based around peanut butter and jelly, and taught me how important simplicity is when you aim for perfection.” Pereney believes that a simple PB&J cookie can provide nourishment, comfort and joy during the holidays, making it his personal favorite — and one that is offered this season at Peska.

On the Bake From left: Bacon and Serrano Oatmeal cookies, PB&J cookies, Chai Spiced Holiday cookies and Spiced Almond Molasses cookies

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s Cookies e s s la o M ond Spiced Alm INGRED


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t oil ted coconu 1/4 cup mel s se as ol m s 2 tablespoon nonsweetened un s on po es 2 tabl dairy milk le syrup organic map 1 tablespoon d butter on m smooth al 1 tablespoon ct tra ex vanilla 1 teaspoon ct almond extra 1/4 teaspoon l) na io pt ers (o Almond sliv


degrees. spices, oven to 350 cane sugar, 1. Preheat to mond flour, al , ur flo an t l, d whisk the oa mixing bow 2. Combine in a medium da so ng ki salt and ba the melted ell. combine w wl, combine p, almond l mixing bo al sm te ap ra , m le syru 3. In a sepa n-dairy milk no s, se as l. mol mbine wel coconut oil, hisking to co ir to extracts, w ixture and st m y dr butter, and e th to utes. d mixture in r for 30 min ui to liq ra e ge th fri d re e th 4. Ad in h at ug lp si , ell. Chill do t paper or a combine w ith parchmen w 6 ed lin 14 y r ie tra ke fo -1 5. On a cook of dough. Ba t still a little tablespoon bu e e, on id t ts ou e ou portion e firm on th s. til cookies ar t 24 cookie minutes un ou ab es ak iddle. M soft in the m

SPICE IS NICE Known as much for the elegant tea service she offers at Kiran’s as her exotic menu of Indian delicacies, it is no surprise that owner and Executive Chef KIRAN VERMA prefers to bake Chai-Spiced Holiday Cookies during the holiday season. “The idea for this recipe came from my style of cooking,” she says simply, “as these are the primary spices I use in a lot of my desserts.” Light and airy, Verma’s chai-spiced cookies naturally pair well with hot chai, a tasty alternative to eggnog or hot chocolate. For Verma, the cookies inspire her this season. “This is my favorite recipe because I enjoy chai so much, and having these cookies with the perfect cup of chai gets me in the holiday spirit of baking even more desserts!”

Chai-Spic ed Holida y INGRED

VEGAN ... AND DELICIOUS STEPHANIE HOBAN, owner and operator of Ripe Cuisine, Houston’s only vegan restaurant-on-wheels, favors her Spiced Almond Molasses Cookies as a healthier alternative to the usual holiday indulgences. “They have a chewy center, thanks to the almond butter and molasses,” Hoban explains. “And by using a combination of almond meal and oat flour, they are gluten-free and provide more protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals than you would typically find in a holiday treat.” But like many of Hoban’s sensibly prepared concoctions, she warns, “Don’t be fooled by the wholesome ingredients. These cookies are sure to be a favorite at any cookie swap!” 


2 cups un salted butte r (recommen d Plugrá) 2 cups gran ulated suga r





2 organic whole eggs 2 cups high gluten flour 3 tablespo ons chai sp ice

1. Cream the butter and sugar 2. Add eg until light gs slowly, and fluffy. scraping do 3. Add flo wn the bo ur and chai wl. sp ic e. 3. Remove Beat for 3 and refrig m in utes. erate for m 4. Spoon inimum fo the prefer ur hours. red size an with parch d shape on ment pape to baking sheet r. 5. Bake at 350 degree s fo r 15 minutes 50 cookie . Makes ab s. out



F R E D E R I C K S B U R G B OA S T S COLORFUL CULTURAL EVENTS THROUGHOUT THE SEASON. Grape Escape Experience the state’s wine region during the Texas Hill Country Christmas Wine Affair with access to 41 Hill Country wineries. The $40 ticket ($70 for couples) includes tastings at up to four wineries per day, a holiday ornament and 15 percent off the purchase of bottles. Guests can take the self-guided tour Dec. 2-18, when the participating businesses are decorated with holiday lights.

Presents of Mind

Star Bright

Surrounded by the picturesque Hill Country, the Starry’s Studio guesthouse in Fredericksburg is a colorful Christmastime destination. By Megha Tejpal


An escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Fredericksburg has all the components of a great weekend getaway: scenic views, good eats and lots of wine. Located in the heart of the Hill Country, the German town has also long been known for its quaint accommodations and festive holiday events. And nestled among quaint Fredericksburg residences in what was once known as the city’s Garden District sits a chic bungalow that boasts “Bed. Not Breakfast.” on the welcome sign. Starry’s Studio, a home transformed into a sophisticated rental space by Houstonian owners Melissa and Ron Starry, is the ideal home away from home on a Hill Country holiday. With a Scandinavian-style, artistic space that defies the city’s shabby-chic reputation, Starry’s Studio is everything that is new and hip about Fredericksburg. The location two blocks from Main Street gives guests convenient access to shopping and dining, while the residential street offers a serene departure from the action. At almost 1,000 square feet, the studiostyle apartment sleeps two and includes a

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kitchen with a full-size fridge, a spacious back deck overlooking Barons Creek, and a private outdoor shower. And while breakfast is indeed not included, there’s no shortage of fun, elegant touches like fresh cut flowers by the door, artisan chocolates on the nightstand, and snacks in the kitchen from local vendors such as the Fredericksburg Pecan Company. Bonus: Most of the décor and art inside the bungalow is produced by local artisans and is available for purchase. Two blocks from the tranquility of Starry’s Studio, packs of people stroll in and out of the holiday shops, wine bars and restaurants dotting Main Street. The Light the Night Christmas parade, an annual production put on by the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 2 draws in the crowds, most notably at newcomer Vaudeville, a restaurant and art gallery with a second-floor balcony for viewing. See “Holiday Willkommen,” at right, for more details, and other fun ways to ring in the holiday season in the Hill Country. Prost! 

Shop ’til you drop at Fredericksburg Trade Days. On the third weekend of every month, Sunday Farms brings in 350-plus vendors spread out over seven acres. Peruse antiques and jewelry, then kick back in the biergarten, where live music draws crowds. Five bucks for a weekend pass, and a portion of proceeds benefits local charities. Sunday Farms, Nov. 25-27 and Dec. 16-18,

Festive Fare Peruse the furniture showroom and art gallery before dining at Vaudeville, a new-American restaurant housed in a historic, multi-level building on Main Street. Purchase tickets for the Christmas Parade viewing party on Dec. 2, and score balcony access, a holiday buffet and seasonal spirits. 230 E. Main St.,

Hard Candy Christmas Load up on nostalgic stocking stuffers at Lone Star Candy Bar. Roam aisles of vintage candy and sodas, or opt for an item out of the chocolate-filled cases — the store is known for its housemade fudge and chocolate-dipped bacon. 254 E. Main St., Down on Main Street Holiday décor in Fredericksburg

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Mexico City, Wall to Wall

Glimpse the sights of one of the Americas’ oldest — and trendiest — cities, through the eyes of world-famous muralists. By Daniel Renfrow


The bell towers of the Metropolitan Cathedral loom over the Plaza de la Constitucion (El Zócalo) — the main square of Mexico City — and on the hour, their 25 bells sound and send a cacophony of metallic music echoing through the cobblestone streets of Centro Histórico, the city’s oldest neighborhood. Although construction of the cathedral — the largest in the Americas — began in 1573, it cycled through three architecture styles before reaching its current form in 1813. And beneath the stone floor lie remains of Templo Mayor, an Aztec temple. Actually, much of Mexico City as it is known today was built during colonial times, atop the ruins of the pre-Colombian Aztec city of Tenochtitlán, and the Mexican people have often struggled to find a symbiosis between their resulting dual Spanish and indigenous heritage. In almost every neighborhood, murals by artists like José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Sigueiros — collectively referred to as los tres grandes — can be found in architecturally significant buildings like Centro Histórico’s Palacio de Bella Artes. They’re a cool way for tourists to explore the dynamic dance between these identities, often serving as a point of entry for discovering what else a particular area has to offer. And these days, with hip boutique hotels and experiential restaurants appearing alongside historical art, Mexico City indeed has much to tout. Also in Centro Histórico is Palacio Nacional, which houses the offices of the president of Mexico and the federal reserve. Here, find Diego Rivera’s “The History of the Mexican People,” a 4,800-square-foot mural depicting a glorified history of the Mexican people, from the time before their first contact with Cortez to 1930. It’s a crucial stop before leaving in pursuit of culture in the surrounding neighborhoods. Southwest of Centro Histórico, in the neighborhood of Colonia Doctores, sits Arena México — the “cathedral” of lucha libre, Mexico’s iconic form of professional wrestling. On the nights of matches, the streets surrounding the arena turn into a frenetic bazaar as vendors, selling colorful masks designed in the likeness of the ones worn by popular luchadores, call out the prices of their wares and haggle with their prospective customers. Above the main entrance to the arena is a 30-meter-long mural that young artist Miguel Valverde painted in 2013. In it he uses depictions of famous luchadores to illustrate scenes from Mexican history, like the struggle of Mexico’s indigenous population against their Spanish conquerors — a scene that is not that different from those that unfold inside the arena, where luchadores compete in bawdy, acrobatic matches that are as much theater as they are sport. The Colonia Doctores neighborhood is also home to Hidden

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Old Meets New Clockwise from top left: A familystyle feast at Hidden Kitchen; the Museo Soumaya; inside the Palacio de Bellas Artes; making new friends at Hidden Kitchen; a guest room in the La Valie Hotel; Diego River’s “The History of the Mexican People” inside the Palacio Nacional; Mexico City’s Monumento Revolucion Noche.

Calm and Cool From left: The grounds of Cal-a-Vie; dishes are specially prepared with clients’ food needs and calorie count in mind; yoga is one of many fitness classes available at the resort.

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Kitchen. Helmed by the handsome tattooed chef Gerardo Aguilar (who begins each meal with a toast), Hidden Kitchen hosts a twice-weekly multi-course chef’s table experience for groups of up to 10. The restaurant adopts a stripped-down aesthetic — a chandelier of string lights dangles casually — and lets the food speak for itself. For $32 a person, feast on courses that include dishes like grilled red snapper on quinoa salad and a corn cake topped with torito foam and caramelized popcorn. Venturing directly west from Colonia Doctores will take you to Colonia Roma, the epicenter of Mexico City’s bourgeoning hipster culture. It’s teaming with cool restaurants and shops, like Sangre de mi Sangre — a jewelry shop whose pieces have been called out in Vogue — that deliver a high-end experience without sacrificing the neighborhood’s bohemian aesthetic. One of the hippest stays in Colonia Roma is globetrotting entrepreneur Yves Naman’s La Valise Hotel, a luxurious, micro-boutique hotel housed inside a charming, early-20th-century French-style building. There are three spacious concept suites, each decorated by Emmanuel Picault. One suite has a patio space with a leather swing and an artisanal Yucatecan hammock. Decidedly more grungy than La Valise is Pulquería de los Insurgentes, a pulqué bar in the neighborhood that also functions as a music venue and a gallery for gritty, contemporary art. Pulqué is a traditional beverage, similar to kombucha in taste, that has been made in Mexico for centuries by fermenting liquid extracted from the heart of the maguey plant. On a wall here hangs a 2012 piece by controversial Mexican artist Daniel Lezama. Titled “Pillahuana,” the mural depicts a surrealist scene of children and adults getting drunk on pulqué during the Aztec leap year, when the drink — usually reserved for leaders and religious figures — became available to everyone. The neighborhood is also rapidly evolving into a foodie destination, and a stop by Fonda Fina for dinner will illustrate why. Popular with locals and tourists alike, Fonda Fina has a reputation as one of the primo places utilizing traditional Mexican cooking methods and ingredients. The pork belly, for example, is cooked for 12 hours in a tamarind sweet-and-sour sauce before being served atop black bean pasoté and garnished with pico de gallo made from prickly pear, watercress and red onion. After dinner, sip on a glass of the cinnamon-and-cocoainfused coffee beverage café de olla. Garlands of tiny, decorated clay mugs — traditional vessels for café de olla — adorn the walls and help add flair to the inviting space. In nearby La Condesa, a hip neighborhood that many artists call home, find a mural by contemporary Mexican artist Andrik Noble. Noble is a member of Street Art Chilango, a cooperative of graffiti artists and graphic designers who apply a contemporary street-art spin to mural painting. The artist has produced several Star Wars-themed murals, including a 60-footlong one depicting storm troopers that graces a wall at the Mercado Michoacan, a traditional market. A chic hotel here is Hotel Condesa DF, housed in a historic French neoclassical building erected in 1928, and later refurbished and reimagined by Mexico City architect Javier Sánchez. The colorful interior is decorated by Parisian designer India Mahdavi, and a rooftop bar draws a posh crowd at dusk. And no trip to Mexico City would be complete without a stop in the city’s upscale, tree-lined neighborhood of Polanco. Hip concept store Common People occupies a 1940s Colonial-style mansion that offers an eclectic mix of carefully curated vintage pieces and high-end brands like Comme des Garcons and Vivienne Westwood. Also find large, woven ponchos with bright

colors and mod-ish geometric designs by local line Pays. Nearby is a boutique by designer Francisco Cancino, who reinterprets traditional Mexican garb like beautiful embroidered blouses through a sleek design aesthetic. Standouts in her most recent collection include a voluminous gray goucho pant with a pleated front, and a delicate black shirt dress with strategic sheer — and sexy — inserts perfect for a Polanco cocktail party. Polanco is also home to Museo Soumaya, a warped, futuristiclooking circular shaped building covered in metallic tiles. The museum houses more than 66,000 pieces of Hispanic and European art that span 30 centuries and are collectively worth an estimated $700 million. One of the most captivating scenes here is on the top floor, where a sloped, circular walkway leads into a forest of sculptures by artists like Rodin and Salvador Dalí. South of Polanco is Chapultepec Park. The largest city park in the Western Hemisphere, it’s nearly double the size of New York’s Central Park. Here, find Fuente de Tlaloc, a fountain that holds Diego Rivera’s 1950s-era mosaic of Tlaloc, the Aztec rain god. And directly behind the fountain is a pump house. Inside is Rivera’s final mural “Water, Origin of Life on Earth,” painted inside a deep pool that initially held water, but was drained soon after the painting was completed because it started washing away much of the artist’s paint. Cellular structures populate the bottom of the pool, and human forms scale the walls. As you stare into the pool, it’s not hard to see the structures as analogous to the divergent identities from which contemporary Mexican Culture sprang. 

Fight Right Mexican luchadores in action at Arena Mexico, above, and the Palacio de Bellas Artes

Franelle Rogers, Chairman Margaret Alkek Williams, Honorary Chairman

cordially invite you to Save the Date 3 0 TH A N N I V E R S A R Y

Winter Ball Saturday, February 11, 2017 Hilton Americas-Houston Honoring ABC-13’s Women of Distinction, Presented by Mercedes-Benz Dealers of Greater Houston Ambassador Judi McGee Jo Furr • Dr. Sippi Khurana Alissa Maples • Shawntell McWilliams Cyndy Garza Roberts • Jessica Rossman Susan Sarofim • Kim Tutcher Kelli Weinzierl • Vivian Wise For more information, please contact Laura Stein at (713) 572-2232 or

All proceeds go to fund research to find a cure, and to patient and professional services in South Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

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8/29/16 10:59 AM


The Write Stuff Castle, a foodie, “loves to cook with everything that grows from the sun.”

Food for Thought Shushana Castle is changing the way we look at food and disease, and counting presidents and global gurus among her converts. By Holly Crawford, Photo by Todd Spoth


Shushana Castle grew up in Houston, eating healthy meals prepared by her mother and studying The Wall Street Journal with her stock-analyst father. Those early experiences laid the foundation for her future as a top bond trader — and, more recently, as an expert in how to eat for longevity. She’s made an impact in popular thinking about physical and spiritual health, counting Deepak Chopra among her fans. The writer-researcher sees a link between body and soul; eating better food, without Big Agriculture setting the world’s diet, means a healthier planet — and a people harmonizing with their environment. Author of books on the chemistry of food — Rethink Food and The Meaty Truth — Castle, 56, explains that after years on Wall Street, her career “pivoted, because I wanted to make a direct difference in the world.” Castle went on to earn a masters in environmental

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management and water, and got involved with global environmental groups. After interviewing experts galore, the consensus was that all diseases start with inflammation, and healthy living can be as easy as avoiding inflammatory foods like meat and dairy. Physicians reaffirmed the need for her books. “I began to create a resource describing the how and why of food and diseases,” says Castle. First came Rethink Food, with insights from docs and athletes on how to eat for the prevention and reversal of diseases. Her second book, also co-written with Amy-Lee Goodman, The Meaty Truth, was born from Castle’s views on climate change caused by agricultural practices. Think growth hormones and factory farming. “Traveling the world and getting to know people in many countries, I discovered... one underlying solution for cures for cancer, diabetes and other diseases,” says Castle, a vegan. “I saw so much suffering with diseases, which I know are mostly preventable through our food choices.” The mother of three grown sons gleaned that the American Medical Association and the American Pediatric Association approve of a diet with zero meat and dairy for excellent health. “I learned from doctors at Harvard and Cornell that the food pyramid was designed by the meat and dairy industries,” she says. Castle receives tons of emails from grateful readers. “I receive endless letters from people describing how they took out inflammatory and acidic foods, and their diseases went into remission.” She’s heard from cancer survivors who went into remission without medical treatment. Her work has also gotten notice from President Bill Clinton, who invited her to round-tables with Bill Gates, Queen Noor and other leaders to discuss water remediation and food scarcity. But perhaps most validating is Deepak Chopra’s recent endorsement. “He posted a 14-minute recommendation of both books,” she says. “He [said] they are extremely beneficial to excellent health and peak performance.” Not one to sit still — except for a daily meditation — Castle, an avid hiker, is penning another book and producing documentaries, working with Oscar winners dedicated to helping protect the global environment. “I thrive while multitasking,” she says. “And I have a wild passion for making a real difference.” 

Guidebook Artisans

but encouraged.) 2630 Westheimer Rd., 713.520.1738, armandos

51fifteen Restaurant Located inside the posh new Saks Fifth Avenue in the Galleria, this twostory restaurant is a design dream, with an oversized spiral staircase joining the first-floor coffeeand-wine bar to the second-floor dining room. Serving lunch and dinner, the restaurant’s dishes are as pretty as the designer wares and perfectly suited for a day of retail therapy. 5175 Westheimer Rd., 713.623.6100,

fajitas wood-grilled over Texas oak, Anejo promises an upscale Tex-Mex dining experience from start to finish. The lively restaurant boasts a sprawling covered patio with scenic views of Uptown Park, and a vibrant bar scene where margaritas are crafted tableside. 1180-1 Uptown Park Blvd., 713.963.9032,

Arnaldo Richards’ Picos Arnaldo Richards’ popular River Oaks restaurant draws influence from the seven regions of Mexico for its cuisine. In addition to staples like chicken quesadillas and beef enchiladas, expect chef specialties such as the red snapper Veracruz. 3601 Kirby Dr., 832.831.9940,

Armandos This Upper Kirby hangout is famed not only for its elevated Tex-Mex menu — but also for its lively Thursday nights, when guests are invited to dance the night away in the main dining room. (Tequila is optional,

Artisans With its intensely romantic dining space and rustic French décor, this posh Midtown restaurant is the ideal backdrop for special occasions. Elegant French classics include escargot and foie gras, and

Adair Kitchen This Tanglewood neighborhood gem is popular for its cold-pressed juices, big breakfasts and giant salads. Counter

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service (except at dinner) keeps the healthful homestyle meals casual and quick, but regulars are known to settle in with a bottle of wine and stay awhile. 5161 San Felipe St., 390 713.623.6100, Aladdin’s Mediterranean Cuisine Bringing the true, authentic flavors of Mediterranean cuisine to Montrose, Aladdin serves up such savory delights as caramelized-onion hummus, baba ganoush, and lamb kabob sandwiches — and is a hub for off-duty chefs from nearby Uchi and Underbelly. 912 Westheimer

Rd., 713.942.2321, Américas This upscale eatery with locations in River Oaks and The Woodlands serves pan-Latin American cuisine. Highlights include South American sea bass, three different types of ceviche, and the signature Churrasco steak. During the daily happy hour, a list of cocktails and small plates are $5 or less. 2040 W. Gray St., 832.200.1492; 21 Waterway Ave., 281.367.1492, americas Anejo With a menu that ranges from spicy tequila lobster tail to

there’s a well-curated global wine list. Reservations are highly recommended. 3201 Louisiana St., 713.529.9111, artisans Arthur Ave. A Heights newbie pays tribute to classic red-sauce recipes with a menu of traditional ItalianAmerican dishes. The progressive cocktail program also focuses on Italian spirits and old-world flavors, while the space designed by veteran restaurant designer Erin Hicks offers a laid-back but chic vibe for lunch and dinner. 1111 Studewood St., Ste. B, 832.582.7146, Backstreet Café A cozy River Oaks restaurant inside a two-story 1930s-era home, Backstreet Café

photo by debora smail

Here’s where to dine, what to order, and who to know now in the most deliciously diverse city in America. –megha tejpal


became a staple on the Houston dining scene more than 30 years ago by James Beard-nominated chef Hugo Ortega. Expect savory seasonal American cuisine and an expansive separate menu that caters to vegetarians. 1103 S. Shepherd Dr., 713.521.2239, BB’s Cafe Get your Cajun-food fix at BB’s — from Maw Maw’s gumbo to the platter of fried shrimp and catfish, find the best of New Orleans-style cooking with a Texas twist. Multiple locations, B&B Butchers & Restaurant Enjoy a casual meal in the butcher shop or a more formal affair in the main dining room at this boutique steakhouse on Washington Ave. The rooftop terrace with sweeping views of Downtown is the ideal backdrop for weekend brunch. 1814 Washington Ave., 713.862.1814, BCN Taste & Tradition Named after Barcelona’s airport code and nestled behind the Carriage Car Wash in Montrose, BCN offers authentic Spanish cuisine in a whitetablecloth setting. The gin and tonic is a must-have, as is the Spanish Iberico ham. 4210 Roseland St., 832.834.3411, Beaver’s Guests love the Texas-sized portions, cool cocktails and “dam good vibes” at

this neighborhood icehouse steps away from Washington Avenue. With overthe-top plates like the Frito pie mac and juicy barbecue sandwiches, it is no surprise that Beaver’s will open a second location near the Galleria soon. 2310 Decatur St., 713.864.2328, Benjy’s One of the pioneers of farm-to-table dining in Houston, Benjy’s consistently wows diners with an everchanging menu of fresh, contemporary American fare for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike. Both locations of the trendy restaurant are bustling during the ultra-popular happy hour, when apps and cocktails are discounted to $6 and less. 2424 Dunstan Rd., Ste. 125, 713.522.7602; 5922 Washington Ave., 713.868.1131, Bernadine’s A Gulf Coast-inspired dining concept from the Treadsack group, Bernadine’s serves up a menu of bold selections from the sea and the South. Guests love the hip, laid-back vibe at this Heights spot, where wining while dining is highly recommended. Go for the affectionately named I-10 platter, a shareable selection of oysters, crab claws, smoked fish dip, and more. 1801-B N. Shepherd Dr., 713.864.2565, bernadines Bistro Menil Tucked quietly in

a corner of Menil Park, this light-filled restaurant plates contemporary European-inspired fare along with a thoughtfully curated wine list. Afternoon tea service is offered Wednesdays – Saturdays by reservation, with the park serving as an ideal backdrop. 1513 W. Alabama St., 713.904.3537, Brasil This Montrose mainstay is part coffee shop, part wine bar, part bistro and part art gallery. Customers with pups are welcome to post up on the front patio overlooking bustling Westheimer, while the shaded back patio is often packed well into the night. 2604 Dunlavy St., 713.528.1993, brasilcafe Brasserie 19 Wine with lunch and bubbles with brunch is the norm at this sceney River Oaks spot. Situated in the center of a busy shopping strip, Brasserie 19 is reminiscent of a Parisian sidewalk café, with its front patio spilling into the parking lot and its inspired French cuisine. Try the steak frites with red wine-shallot butter, or the oven-roasted duck — and add bone marrow or foie gras to any dish for an even more flavorful meal. 1962 W. Gray St., 713.524.1919, The Breakfast Klub Hungry Houstonians drive from all over the city to enjoy a

feast of home-style classics — wings and waffles, catfish and grits — at this diner in Midtown. The line starts forming bright and early, but being part of the “klub” is worth the wait. 3711 Travis St., 713.528.8561, Brennan’s of Houston You can count on this decades-old Houston staple for an exquisite dining experience full of Southern-Creole flavors. The posh restaurant offers seating across two levels and houses a courtyard bar where live music is enjoyed during Sunday brunch. Grab a praline on your way out! Whether for a business or a special occasion, reservations are highly recommended. 3300 Smith St., 713.522.9711, Brenner’s on the Bayou Enjoy dinner with a view at this upscale steakhouse nestled on the lush banks of Buffalo Bayou. Classic steaks, sides and decadent desserts are all good bets, and the restaurant’s hip Blue Bar offers a less formal — yet still sophisticated — vibe with a menu of craft cocktails and bar bites. One Birdsall St., 713.868.4444, brennersonthe The Burger Joint Find burgers, dogs and boozy milkshakes at this Montrose patio bar. Latenight craving? The restaurant serves its full menu — including the flavorful kimchi burger

— until midnight on weekdays and 4am on weekends. 1003 California St., 281.974.2889, Café Annie James Beard-winning chef Robert Del Grande continues to entice diners at his upscale restaurant on Post Oak Blvd. Inspired by the city itself, dishes like the rabbit enchilada and branzino with grits combine finedining with the best of Southwestern cuisine. In BLVD Place, 713.840.1111, cafeannie Cane Rosso With a cult following from its original location in Dallas, this Neapolitan-style pizzeria opened its first Houston location in the Heights with a second outpost opening soon in Montrose. Pizzas are cooked in wood-fired ovens in under 90 seconds, and desserts like the made-to-order zeppole or supersized s’mores calzone are hard to resist. 1835 N. Shepherd Dr., 713.868.0071, Canopy Sister restaurant to Shade in the Heights, Canopy offers a seasonally rotating menu of food and drink along with an unbeatable list of desserts (think coconut cream pie in a hazelnut tart shell). Check out the attached Woodbar next door for gourmet coffee, wine, small bites — and free Wi-Fi. 3939 Montrose Blvd., 713.528.6848,

Caracol Hugo Ortega’s seafood-savvy concept serves Mexican coastal cuisine in a swanky, mod space on Post Oak. Order the grouper tamales or coal-roasted peppered tuna, and spring for the signature El Coco dessert — guests use a wooden mallet to crack open its chocolate shell. 2200 Post Oak Blvd., 713.622.9996, Carrabba’s One of two locations which are still familyowned by Houston’s famed Carrabba family, the original Carrabba’s on Kirby offers a menu of made-from-scratch dishes prepared in-house daily. The open-air kitchen allows diners to enjoy the sights and smells of authentic Italian cuisine – from pizzas fresh out of the woodfired oven to housemade cheeses and pastas. 3115 Kirby Dr., 713.522.3131, carrabbasoriginal. com Ciao Bello A more casual outpost from celebrated restaurateur Tony Vallone, Ciao Bello still serves robust and authentic flavors of Italy. Housemade pastas are saucy and rich, while pizzas are prepared Roman-style with a thin, flaky crust. 5161 San Felipe St., 713.960.0333, Cinq at La Colombe d’Or Located within boutique hotel La Colombe d’Or, Cinq offers a touch of

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understated elegance with a number of hidden-gem dining spaces and a menu of contemporary European cuisine. Opt for high tea on the terrace or a bottle of rose with Petrossian Ossetra caviar in the library. 3410 Montrose Blvd., 713.524.7999, Coltivare This Heights hot spot gives new meaning to the phrase “farm-totable.” With its strict “no-reservation” policy, the restaurant’s onsite garden — where many of the herbs and produce for the Italian dishes are grown — doubles as a charming waiting area. Find a seat at the bar and enjoy one of the dynamic craft cocktails by beverage director Morgan Weber. 3320 White Oak Dr., 713.637.4095,

in the crowds for its authentic Szechuan menu of fiery-hot dishes and cool drinks. Try the pepper twins chicken with nine-leaf peppercorn, but don’t forget to wash it down with fresh corn’s milk or a wild snow chrysanthemum tea. You’ll need it. 315 Fairview St., 832.649.7175, Coppa Osteria All of the Neapolitanstyle pizzas and handmade pastas are popular at this Italian outpost in Rice Village. While the restaurant and wrap-around patio are often bustling with activity, it is the walk-up window that serves pizzas by the slice that is truly a hit in the largely pedestrianfriendly area. 5210 Morningside Dr., 713.522.3535, coppaosteriahouston. com

Conservatory Steps below the busy streets of Downtown, this multi-vendor food hall and beer garden is popular with the powerlunch crowd by day and Main Street partygoers by night. Be it a savory crepe crafted by Buffalo Sean of Melange Creperie, or a craft beer paired with spicy ramen from Samurai Noodle, this basement-style dining space is a watering hole for foodies with varying taste buds. 1010 Prairie St., 832.919.8382,

Cuchara Not quite the traditional Tex-Mex fare Houstonians are used to, Cuchara brings the flavors of Mexico City to the popular corner of Fairview and Taft. With a menu of dishes like the Veracruzstyle red snapper and a beverage program curated by Chris Frankel, guests can kick back and savor the adventurous flavors of true Mexican food. 214 Fairview St., 713.942.0000, cuchararestaurant. com

Cooking Girl The new kid on the block at Fairview and Taft in Montrose, this casual café draws

Da Marco High-end Da Marco puts a luxurious spin on Tuscan cuisine with dishes like

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spaghetti-and-seaurchin, and sweetcorn ravioli with lobster. The elegant space serves as a beautiful backdrop for formal dining and is one often considered for special occasions. 1520 Westheimer Rd., 713.807.8857, Damian’s Cucina Italiana A trusted part of the Houston dining scene for over 30 years, this charming bistro owned and operated by the Mandola family spotlights Italian faves like Veal Marsala and Eggplant Parmigiana with a classic wine list to match. With its proximity to Downtown, weekday diners can take advantage of the twocourse express lunch for $25, while dinner is reserved for relaxed dining. 3011 Smith St., 713.522.0439, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse Don your fancy pants when dining at this posh steakhouse spread out over two levels in the Galleria. The menu favors traditional steakhouse fare like jumbo lump crab cakes, oysters on the half shell, lobster bisque and much more. Hungry? Go for the 32 oz. Wagyu Tomahawk chop. In the Galleria, 713.355.2600, Del Frisco’s Grille This lively West Ave restaurant is known for its sceney crowd and vibrant atmosphere. Enjoy a complete meal — that is, ahi tacos and a Ketel One martini

— at the bar or on the front patio. In West Ave, 832.623.6168, Dish Society Open all day, this family-friendly farm-to-table spot is known for fostering strong relationships with local purveyors, ensuring the highest quality produce used every day. From fresh-squeezed juices and elixirs to the customizable farmer’s plate, guests love the ever-changing menu of clean eats. 5740 San Felipe St., 832.538.1060, Dolce Vita With an imported, custom wood-burning oven, Dolce Vita serves up authentic Neapolitan pizzas alongside hearty Italian classics like gnocchi al ragu. Located inside a two-story Montrose house, it’s a cozy space for wining and dining. Primo private party room, too! 500 Westheimer Rd., 713.520.8222, Down House Come ready to indulge at this hip Heights go-to, where hearty dishes are served all day. Opt for a kimchi burger for dinner, or buttermilk fried chicken and whole grain waffles for brunch. 1801 Yale St., 713.864.3696, downhouse The Dunlavy A charming, chandelier-bedecked space overlooking scenic Buffalo Bayou Park, the Dunlavy offers diners gorgeous views at every turn.

The main dining room is packed with guests enjoying the So-Cal-inspired menu during breakfast, lunch and happy hour. Keep an ear out for the Dunlavy’s pop-up happy hours. Great space for special events! 3422 Allen Pkwy., 713.360.6477, Eight Row Flint This open-air patio bar was formerly an early-1900s gas station. It focuses on three things Houstonians can’t live without: whisky, beer and tacos. A food truck keeps the menu simple with beef, chicken, pork, and veggie tacos — but selecting a beverage from the bar can prove to be more complicated. 1039 Yale St., 832.767.4002, El Real Tex-Mex For a no-fuss Tex-Mex feast, head to El Real, housed in a former theater on Westheimer. The usual suspects — cheese enchiladas, beef fajitas, shrimp tacos — are perfectly simple, plus locals can dine in on Montrose Mondays for half-off. 1201 Westheimer Rd., 713.524.1201, El Tiempo Cantina Houston is known for nothing if not sensational Tex Mex, and El Tiempo delivers just that in a big way — with mouthwatering platters like the ancho-glazed grilled quail with cheese enchiladas and spicy shrimp chalupas. Pair with a melon or peach margarita.

5602 Washington Ave., 713.681.3645; 1308 Montrose Blvd., 713.807.8996; and other locations, Empire Café Find much more than coffee and pastries at this relaxed Montrose café: breakfast offerings include fluffy frittatas, lunch brings a delicious stacked club sandwich, and dinner may be savory pan-seared salmon. Stop in on Mondays and score one of Empire’s famous oversized layer cakes at half-price. 1732 Westheimer Rd., 713.528.5282, Etoile Cuisine Et Bar Enjoy a touch of French elegance at this quaint hideaway in Uptown Park. Highlights of the menu include coq au vin and sole meuniere. Chef Philippe Verpiand plans to open a second French spot Downtown, just in time for the Super Bowl. 1101-11 Uptown Park Blvd., 832.668.5808, Fat Bao Score steamed buns loaded with fried soft shell crab or braised pork belly at this casual café. The fat-fries topped with fried chicken and sweet buns filled with Nutella are hard to resist. 3419 Kirby Dr., 713.677.0341, Fleming’s Originally out of Newport Beach, this elegant steakhouse offers a traditional menu and first-class service. Expect staples like French


onion soup, Alaskan king crab legs, and Chilean sea bass. Get the 21-day-aged Wagyu and add on the Fleming’s potatoes with jalapenos and cheddar. 788 W. Sam Houston Pkwy., 713.827.1120; 2405 W. Alabama St., 713.520.5959; 1201 Lake Woodlands Dr., The Woodlands, 281.362.0103, flemings Foreign Correspondents Chef PJ Stoops delivers the spicy flavors of Northern Thai cuisine to this whimsical Heights spot by the Treadsack group. An adventurous menu of family-style dishes more commonly found in the Northern region of Thailand — like khao soi and fried shrimp laap — impresses. 4721 N. Main St., 713.864.8424, foreigncorrespondents Ginger & Fork For modern Chinese cuisine, check out new Heights concept Ginger & Fork. The regular menu lists dishes like Cantonese curry chicken, but for a solid sampling, try the eight-course dim sum brunch on Sundays. 4705 Inker St., 713.861.8883, gingerandfork Goode Co. Barbeque Family-owned for more than 35 years, Goode Co. boasts a very loyal clientele. Guests are welcome to dine in and order a la carte, or place bulk orders by the pound. The Brazos Bottom pecan pie, a highly sought-after

holiday dish, is a hot commodity during the fall season. 5109 Kirby Dr., 713.522.2530; 8911 Katy Fwy., 713.464.1901; 20102 Northwest Fwy., 832.678.3562, Grace’s Named after Johnny Carabba’s grandmother, Grace’s infuses Italian dishes with flavors of the Gulf coast — think South Texas fried quail and oxtail ravioli. If you happen to save room for dessert, the bread pudding with brandysoaked cranberries is a must. 3111 Kirby Dr., 713.728.6410, Grotto Ristorante This vibrant Uptown restaurant offers sophisticated takes on Italian classics like Shrimp Scampi and Veal San Pietro. Dine in during Grotto’s festive Sunday brunch and enjoy Italianstyle French toast with Grand Marnier butter paired with a frozen peach Bellini. 4715 Westheimer Rd., 713.622.3663; 9595 Six Pines, in the Woodlands, 281.419.4252, La Guadalupana Café & Bakery Satisfy your cravings at this tiny Montrose cafe proffering authentic Mexican fare: breakfast tortas, enchiladas de mole, and a case full of tempting sweets like fresh-baked churros filled with dulce de leche. 2109 Dunlavy St., 713.522.2301 The Halal Guys What began as a food cart pushing

chicken and rice in New York has since expanded to Houston with a brick-andmortar location and a still-simple menu of gyro sandwiches and chicken and rice bowls. Don’t skip the secret white sauce — and proceed with caution when adding the oh-sospicy red sauce. Open late! 3821 Farnham St., 713.681.5465, Helen Greek Food & Wine Tucked away among boutiques and bars in Rice Village, Helen Greek Food & Wine is proof that good things come in small packages. The quaint cafe serves up an impressive all-Greek wine list with dishes that combine Grecian flavors with locally sourced ingredients. Reservations recommended. 2429 Rice Blvd., 832.831.7133, helengreekfood Himalaya Located in an unassuming retail plaza in the Mahatma Gandhi district, this ultra-casual cafe is BYOB and serves up spicy Indo-Pak classics like chicken tikka masala and lamb biryani. If you’ve been-thereeaten-that, try the smoked-brisket masala or the topsecret fried chicken. 6652 Southwest Fwy., 713.532.2837, himalayarestaurant Holley’s Start with a glass of bubbly in the oyster bar before settling in for a feast of bold Southern dishes at Mark

Holley’s swanky Midtown restaurant. Highlights include crispy redfish with sweet corn succotash, and the Down South coconut cake with salted-caramel sauce. 3201 Louisiana St., 713.491.2222, The Honeymoon Situated on the corner of Main Street in Downtown, The Honeymoon welcomes guests to pick their poison: coffee, cocktails or wine. The food menu packs a punch of Creole flavor, and desserts like lemon icebox pie and snickerdoodle ice-cream sandwich are excellent too. 300 Main St., 281.846.6995, thehoneymoon Hopdoddy This wildly obsessedover burger and beer bar originated in Austin and recently opened its doors in the River Oaks District to a line wrapped around the building. Guests wait hours for a taste of the juicy burgers piled high with toppings like seared poblanos, apple-smoked bacon and truffle aioli. Save room for a milkshake! In River Oaks District, 713.227.2337, H.S. Green Fast food meets clean eats at this cafeteriastyle restaurant near the Galleria. Wash down a wrap with a cold-pressed juice, or opt for the perfectly paired pizza special: a full pizza and bottle of vino for only $22. 5092 Richmond Ave., 713.904.3547,

hsgreen Hugo’s Chef Hugo Ortega’s namesake restaurant is a Houston staple, serving up authentic Mexican cuisine with margaritas to match. Guests love the festive weekend brunch buffet where indulging in seconds — even thirds! — is a must. 1600 Westheimer Rd., 713.524.7744, Hunky Dory Chef Richard Knight’s British-American elevated-pub-fare includes shepherd’s pie, fish and chips and chicken tikka masala in addition to exciting sides like oxtail poutine and snapper tartare. 1801 N. Shepherd Dr., 713.864.2450, Ibiza Don’t be fooled by the sceney vibe at this Midtown hot spot by Clark Cooper Concepts. The whitetablecloth restaurant, open for both lunch and dinner, offers a diverse menu of European-inspired cuisine, tapas, and cocktails. Customers love the 22-monthaged Jamon Iberico pork shoulder and Portuguese octopus a la plancha. And the boozy chocolate martini is a perfect precursor to a night on the town. 2450 Louisiana St., 713.524.0004, ibizafoodand Indika The enticing aroma of authentic Indian cuisine greets you at this serene patio restaurant and bar

in Montrose. The menu features an array of colorful options including red-beet soup with saffron yogurt, and duck Rangoon with coconut-andlentil curry. For adventurous diners looking for a little extra spice, the Masala Mary packs a punch with ghost pepper infused vodka, tomato juice, cumin and mint. 516 Westheimer Rd., 713.524.2170, Izakaya This Japanese gastropub located on the busy corner of Gray and Bagby in Midtown boasts a menu of fast-casual food and drinks. Guests love the house-made gyoza and spicy tonkatsu ramen, along with the latest addition of Hawaiian poke to the restaurant’s very popular raw bar. 318 Gray St. 713.527.8988 Just Dinner Started by a husband and wife who wanted a place to cook and serve their friends dinner, this cozy Montrose restaurant has evolved into a go-to spot for the whole neighborhood. While the place may provide “just dinner,” guests are welcome to bring their own bottles of wine. 1915 Dunlavy St., 713.807.0077, justdinner Ka Sushi The first sushi concept to hit the Heights, Ka features an extensive menu of hot and cold dishes, classic and signature

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rolls, and a seasonal selection of mochi. Putting a creative spin on seafood selections with dishes like the lobster ramen and chocolate shrimp, Ka holds its own among other Heights newbies. 1901 N. Shepherd Dr., Ste. 1, 832.879.2118, Kata Robata This trendy sushi bar situated in an Upper Kirby retail center serves up fresh, innovative Japanese dishes daily. Dine in during the day and score chef Manabu Horiuchi’s famous ramen — available only at lunch, and only until it runs out. 3600 Kirby Dr., 713.526.8858, Kenny & Ziggy’s Save a trip to the Big Apple and dine in at this famed local deli where specialties include the skyhigh, triple-smoked pastrami sandwich and the Lox, Stock, and Bagel with fish flown in daily from New York. Breakfast is served all day, so feel free to spend more than a New York minute here. 2327 Post Oak Blvd., 713.871.8883, L’Olivier Quietly nestled amidst other Montrose hot spots, this quaint bistro features a tasty menu of contemporary French cuisine. Executive Chef Olivier Ciesielski, formerly of Tony’s, puts a modern spin on classics like steak frites and duck leg confit. Don’t know your French food? Leave it to Chef Olivier and

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go with the three-, five- or eight-course tastings menus. 240 Westheimer Rd., 713.360.6313, La Grange You’ll thank god for the holy queso at this lively Montrose restaurant and bar. The open-air space is bustling with activity on weekdays and weekends alike when groups gather for margaritas and Mexican food. 2517 Ralph St., 832.962.4745, La Griglia From caprese salad to wild mushroom lasagna, the menu at La Griglia is simple with an understated elegance. When Houston weather permits, enjoy the restaurant’s patio seating complete with fire pits and scenic River Oaks views. 2002 W. Gray St., 713.526.4700, lagrigliarestaurant. com La Table Enjoy attractive French plates during lunch and dinner, but make time to visit the pastry and coffee counter on the first floor at La Table. Reminiscent of boulangeries in France, the cases are stocked with cakes, tarts, and hand painted macarons. In BLVD Place, 1800 Post Oak Blvd. 713.439.1000 Le Mistral A West Houston gem, Le Mistral embodies the spirit and essence of fine French cuisine. Foie gras with panseared pears is the perfect precursor

to veal osso bucco, and save room for the Grand Marnier dessert soufflé with spicy orange sauce. 1400 Eldridge Pkwy., 832.379.8322, Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar Needless to say, the oyster bar is the main attraction at this casual-chic seafood kitchen where you can score selections from the East Coast and Gulf Coast — raw, fried or grilled with butter. The remainder of the menu reads like a seafood bible. 1050 Studewood Dr., 713.802.0533; 4224 San Felipe St., 713.622.1010; and other locations, libertykitchen Little Bigs Expect a simple menu of little burgers — sliders, that is — with big flavor. The menu at Little Bigs offers up trios of patties with add-ons like sweet potato fries, milkshakes, margaritas, and local craft beer. 4621 Montrose Blvd., 713.521.2447, Local Foods It’s local all the way at this fast-casual diner with counter service and a largely guilt-free menu. Sandwiches, salads, soups and house sides are made fresh daily using locally sourced ingredients. The sprawling patio lined with palm trees and a full bar at the Upper Kirby location make it a hip dinner destination. 2424 Dunstan Rd., 713.521.7800; 2555 Kirby Dr.,

713.255.4440; 5740 San Felipe St., 713.789.0642; houstonlocal Mala Sichuan Longtime Chinatown favorite is equally popular inside the Loop, where its corner location in a Montrose shopping strip is reminiscent of a trendy New York resto. Not for the faint of heart, Mala’s menu packs a punch with dishes like the dry-pot beef and three-pepper duck. The restaurant’s beer-and-wine-only policy keeps the focus on the food. 1201 Westheimer Rd., 832.767.0911 Mascalzone Chef Albert Baffoni and the all-Italian staff at Mascalzone make dining at either location of this relaxed Italian joint an authentic experience. Mr. Ray, the pizza chef from Naples, has perfected the margherita pizza — and is known to put on a show by hand-tossing pizzas in the air before dressing them with cheese and fresh basil. 1500 Shepherd Dr., 713.862.9700; 12126 Westheimer Rd., 832.328.5151, Masraff’s For decades, Masraff’s has ranked as one of Houston’s leading dining destinations for its dreamy ambiance, top-notch service and unsurpassed menu. The sommelier guides guests through the extensive wine list. Caviar and chicken-fried quail are ideal starters. 1753 Post Oak

Blvd., 713.355.1975, Max’s Wine Dive Here, keeping it classy means pairing fried chicken with a glass of champagne — and doing so is highly encouraged. With a serious wine list from around the globe, Max’s is hardly a dive at all. 214 Fairview St., 713.528.9200; 4720 Washington Ave., 713.880.8737, Mockingbird Bistro Escape to this River Oaks hideaway for French-bistro fare in a warm, cozy setting. Drop in during social hour and enjoy $5 wines by-the-glass with discounted small plates, like housemade pork sausage and beef meatballs. 1985 Welch St., 713.533.0200, mockingbird Niko Niko’s Often with a line out the door at the Montrose location, this casual Greek diner is famed for its fast-casual gyros, kebabs, tzatziki and hummus. The kiosk in Downtown’s Market Square serves the full menu and boasts a dog-friendly dining area. 2520 Montrose Blvd., 713.528.4976; 301 Milam St., 713.224.4976; 1040 W. Sam Houston Tollway, 832.981.4976, Ninfa’s On Navigation Despite the clutter and dust from recent renovations, Ninfa’s on Navigation hasn’t skipped a beat. The origin of Tex-Mex as we know it, Ninfa’s is always packed no

matter when you dine. Guests love the sizzling fajitas and loaded quesadillas made with housemade tortillas. 2704 Navigation Blvd., 713.228.1175, North Italia Pizza and pasta are the main attractions at this hip Italian restaurant in BLVD Place. Stop in for happy hour on weekday evenings and all day Sunday to enjoy the popular $20 bottle and board special: a choice of a pizza, bruschetta, or the meat-and-cheese board, paired with a bottle of wine. In BLVD Place, 281.605.4030, northitalia Oporto Fooding House With its romantic, low-lit dining room and lively bar scene, Oporto Fooding House is the exciting Midtown addition to its low-key counterpart at Greenway. The regular menu lists exotic options like the seafood pizette and spicy lamb vindaloo, but for a real treat, try a sampling of the chef’s specials which change nightly. 125 W. Gray St., 713.528.0115, Ouisie’s Table This charming River Oaks restaurant offers a stunning backdrop for special occasions. The restaurant’s spacious private room and scenic garden make it highly sought-after for events, and the menu of upscale, country fare is available to the public for breakfast,


lunch, and dinner. 3939 San Felipe St., 713.528.2264, Oxheart This unique culinary experience pairs local ingredients with the flavors of the season to provide guests with a six-course tasting menu — meaty and vegetarian options both available — with optional wine pairings. 1302 Nance St., 832.830.8592, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse With its expansive wine list and in-house dry-aging process, diners can expect nothing short of perfection when dining at the original Westheimer location of familyowned Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, or at its newest location Downtown. 5839 Westheimer Rd., 713.780.7352; 1200 McKinney St., 713.780.7352, The Pass and Provisions This dual-concept restaurant has, on the one side, Provisions: fast-paced and trendy with fresh pastas and pizzas. On the other, through a door hardly noticeable by most, The Pass is a multicourse tasting menu experience, featuring expertly prepared dishes paired with wines and cocktails. Significantly steeper in price than Provisions, The Pass is worth the extra loot. 807 Taft St., 713.628.9020, passand Paulie’s Choose from a

number of salads, panini and pastas at this Montrose neighborhood cafe. Die-hard Seinfeld fans will note “The Big Salad” as one of the house favorites, and leaving without a treat from the pastry case is a big mistake. 1834 Westheimer Rd., 713.807.7271,

menu of adventurous seafood-savvy dishes combining unusual ingredients with fresh fish flown in from around the globe. Leave it up to the chef during multi-course dinners on Thursdays, affectionately named “Omarkase.” In BLVD Place, 713.961.9229,

Pax Americana You can expect a top-notch meal at Montrose hot spot Pax Americana, where an inspired menu of contemporary American dishes are presented with careful attention. Consistently changing based on what produce and meats are available, the menu is divided in three: From the Garden, From the Field and From the Water. 4319 Montrose Blvd., 713.239.0228, paxamericana

Phoenicia Specialty Foods Peruse aisles of specialty foods from around the globe at this market with locations in West Houston and Downtown. Cases filled with fresh seafood, artisan breads and cheeses, and pastries will make your mouth water, so opt to dine in-store before or after your grocery shopping. 12141 Westheimer Rd., 281.558.8225; 1001 Austin St., 832.360.2222,

Peli Peli Take a break from shopping and give your taste buds a treat at this popular South African restaurant located inside the Galleria. The dining space, lit up and designed after the illuminated African sky, is as noteworthy as the extensive menu. Starting off with the bobotie is a must, and be sure to check out the inventive desserts. In the Galleria, 281.257.9500, Peska Seafood Culture Just barely old enough to drink the wine he pairs with his food, chef Omar Pereney consistently wows diners with a

Pizaro’s Score your pizza in a jiffy at this BYOB joint where authentic, Napoletana-style pizzas cook in an Italian brick oven in under 90 seconds. Go for the traditional margherita, or think outside the pizza box with the delicious potatoand-mushroom pie drizzled with truffle oil. 14028 Memorial Dr., 281.589.7277; 1000 W. Gray St., 832.742.5200; Pondicheri Enjoy inspired Indian cuisine at the restaurant, then explore the secondfloor Bake Lab, where relaxing with a cup of masala chai is highly recommended.

The sights and smells of Pondicheri are as vibrant as the dishes themselves, and pastries like the one-of-a-kind gulab jamun doughnut are worth every last calorie. In West Ave, 713.522.2022, Rainbow Lodge True to its name, Rainbow Lodge provides steakhouse and wild game fare in a rustic lodge setting. Don’t miss live music on the wine deck on Friday nights! 2011 Ella Blvd., 713.861.8666, Reef With a menu full of dishes like grilled yellowfish tuna with pickled shimeji mushrooms and Brussels sprouts, Bryan Caswell draws influence from Asian, Mediterranean and Gulf Coast cuisine. 2600 Travis St., 713.526.8282, Relish This Upper Kirby restaurant, run by a cute husband-andwife team, offer quick counter-service for lunch and brunch, while evenings offer a full-service dining experience with the addition of cocktails, wine, and beer. 2810 Westheimer Rd., 713.599.1960, Revival Market Part grocery store, part coffee shop, part sidewalk café, Revival Market is literally your one-stop shop for all things delicious. Stop in for a cup of coffee and a hot chicken honey butter biscuit, and stock up on meat and

charcuterie for the week. 550 Heights Blvd., 713.880.8463 Revolve Kitchen Freshly revamped and boasting a newly appointed executive chef, Revolve Kitchen at Hotel Derek pays a great deal of attention to local vendors, but the menu does not take itself too seriously. Expect brisket sandwiches and fried apples with homemade ice cream. 2525 W. Loop S., 713.850.9200, Ristorante Cavour When a European vacation is not in the immediate future, make a reservation at the Ristorante Cavour inside the rustic Hotel Granduca. Private and romantic, the restaurant offers an elegant menu of Northern Italian cuisine and a wine list for days. If you don’t want to leave, stay overnight in one of the hotel’s poolside villas. 1080 Uptown Park Blvd., 713.418.1104, granduca Ritual Situated on Studewood at White Oak — the most happening intersection in the Heights — Ritual serves dishes inspired by Texas. Tex-Mex, Gulf Coast influences, and farm-fresh Hill Country vibes are all on the menu, as in the smoked kielbasa red beans and rice with grilled carrots and cornbread. 602 Studewood St., 832.203.5180, Roost Chef Kevin Naderi

prepares the small plates that make up Roost’s menu with ingredients from local purveyors like Cloud 10 Creamery, 44 Farms, Slow Dough Bread and others. Gotta get the doughnut holes for dessert! 1972 Fairview St., 713.523.7667, SaltAir Seafood Kitchen The Clark-Cooper Group’s seafoodsavvy restaurant on Kirby can be a scene — but the scallop ceviche with coconut makes any wait worthwhile. 3029 Kirby Dr., 713.521.3333, Sammy’s Wild Game Grill For a locale in a nondescript shopping center on Washington, Sammy’s offers surprisingly adventurous eats: Sandwiches, tacos and burgers made with exotic meats like kangaroo, ostrich, boar and more. 3715 Washington Ave., ste. A, 713.868.1345, sammyswildgame Shade Located on busy West 19th, Shade is a neighborhood fave for its no-fuss focus on good food served in a bright, eclectic space. Open bright and early at 7am! 250 W. 19th St., 713.863.7500, Soma Sushi Expect solid sushi and great happy hour specials at this trendy spot on Washington by the Azuma Group. The bar is casual, and the upstairs private

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room is decidedly less casual. 4820 Washington Ave., Ste. A, 713.861.2726, Songkran Thai Kitchen At locations in Uptown Park and Sugar Land, chef Junnajet “Jett” Hurapan — a native of Bangkok — cooks storied family recipes with fresh, authentic ingredients. 1101-08 Uptown Park Blvd., 713.993.9096; 2258 Texas Dr., 281.670.8525, songkranthai Southern Goods The frequently changing menu here is an excuse to stop in often and check out their Southernfried plates like the Texas Hot Quail or Deviled Crab Soufflé. 623 W. 19th St., 346.980.8152, southerngoods The Springbok This laid-back South African restaurant, an L.A. import, spans two stories in the heart of Downtown, serving inventive fare like the wild boar sloppy joe sandwich, or the rabbit stew with potatoes. 711 Main St., 832.767.5574, springbok State Fare Lee Ellis brings his brand of comfort-food-chic to Memorial with family-friendly and fun State Fare. Definitely start with the dill pickle dip, served with housemade barbecue potato chips. 947 Gessner Rd., 832.831.0950,

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State of Grace The crowds of pretty people have been pouring in ever since Houston-reared, ATL-based celeb chef Ford Fry opened this restaurant across from his alma mater, Lamar High, last year. Grab a seat at the oyster bar! 3258 Westheimer Rd., 832.942.5080, Steak 48 A standout among the city’s already crowded steakhouse scene, Steak 48 delivers in its rich side dishes — the Hasselback potatoes are excellent — and desserts. In River Oaks District, 713.322.7448, Straits Asian Bistro Perch on the patio of this Singaporean restaurant with a cocktail — perhaps the boozy hibiscus lemonade? — and watch the passersby in the middle of stillbuzzy CityCentre. In CityCentre, 713.365.9922, Sweet Paris Creperie Sweet or savory? The choice is yours at Sweet Paris, where crepes are served crispy and stuffed with gooey goodness. Get a dessert crepe a la mode for $1.95. 2420 Rice Blvd., 713.360.6266; in CityCentre, 832.770.9086, The Tasting Room Famously serving a wine-only beverage menu for years, the Tasting Room’s recent addition of a full bar has upped its popularity factor across the board. All three locations of the

popular wine bar — now full bar — are currently offering vodka, rum, whiskey, and a menu of classic cocktails. Bottoms up. Multiple locations, tastingroomwines. com Taverna Nestled in the new River Oaks District, Taverna is a nice spot for a simple — but tasty — Italian feast. The cioppino is piping hot and oh-so-flavorful. In River Oaks District, 713.871.0902, tavernabylombardi. com Tiger Den Savory ramen — the broth sizzles for 20 hours! — and charcoal-grilled Japanese kabobs are on the menu at this Chinatown spot. For dinner only! 9889 Bellaire Blvd., Ste. D-230, 832.804.7755, Tiny Boxwood’s Expect a line at this very popular bistro where the chocolatechip cookies have earned as much of a reputation as the restaurant itself. Weekend brunch is busiest, with customers rushing in early for tables in the scenic garden. 3614 W. Alabama St., 713.622.4224; 3636 Rice Blvd., 713.664.0141, Tony’s A cherished part of the Houston dining scene, Tony Vallone’s namesake restaurant is an exquisite treat from start to finish. Get the center-cut filet Tony’s way, and be sure to order one of the fluffy dessert

soufflés at the start of your meal — good things take time. 3755 Richmond Ave., 713.622.6778, Torchy’s Expect a line out the door and around the corner at lunchtime. The perennial question, “Guac or queso?” is answered here: Order the guacamoletopped queso. Multiple locations, Toulouse Join the see-and-be scene in River Oaks District at this bistro proffering seasonal French fare in a stylishly casual setting. In River Oaks District, 713.871.0768, toulousecafe Tout Suite Stop by this allday-bakery for a macaron, or post up for a while at one of the community tables and enjoy brunch bites like avocado toast and fresh-squeezed juice. 2001 Commerce St., 713.227.8688,

promises all that and much more with its modernAmerican menu and dramatic Sanctuari Bar. Chef Ryan Hildebrand layers flavors in a unique way with plates like the watermelon and Mangalitsa ham and the corn risotto with scallop and pork belly. 2815 S. Shepherd Dr., 713.527.9090, Truluck’s The famous half-price happy hour is one reason to post up at Truluck’s in Uptown from 4pm-6pm on weekdays. 5350 Westheimer Rd., 713.783.7270, Uchi It’s hard to beat Uchi for fresh, interesting sushi and sashimi — and the Brussels sprouts are can’t-miss. Seasonal options may include the sasami yaki: coconut-marinated chicken with jasmine rice. 904 Westheimer Rd., 713.522.4808,

True Food Kitchen Known for nutritious food that is in line with Dr. Andrew Weil’s antiinflammatory diet, this casual-cool spot on Post Oak has delicious, healthy takes on salads, sandwiches and even cocktails. Order the edamame dumplings to start! In BLVD Place, 281.605.2505,

Underbelly On a mission to tell the “story of Houston food,” James Beardwinning chef Chris Shepherd created one of the buzziest and best restaurants in the nation. The bestselling Korean braised goat and dumplings has been on the menu for years, but other dishes come and go routinely. 1100 Westheimer Rd., 713.528.9800, underbellyhouston. com

Triniti Named for the trio of sweet, savory and spirits, Triniti

Urban Eats Part gourmet market and part bistro, this two-story spot

on Washington is known for its monkey bread (grab some to-go!) and extensive menu of sliders. 3414 Washington Ave., 832.834.4417, Vallone’s Restaurant veteran Tony Vallone’s modern steakhouse in Memorial is beautiful — nice date spot — and slightly more casual than his stalwart on Richmond. Tip: The Express menu is a great business-lunch option, with choices like a chopped chicken cobb salad and daily rotating specials. 947 Gessner Rd., 713.395.6100, Vieng Thai A true hole-in-thewall, this BYOB Thai restaurant serves heaping portions of curries, noodles and satays family-style. 6929 Long Point Rd., 713.688.9910 Vinoteca Poscol With dozens of small plates and expert servers on hand to help with wine pairings, this Italian joint is great for a date night or big family dinner alike. The baked cod mantecato is surprisingly savory. 1609 Westheimer Rd., 713.529.2797, Weights + Measures This industrial-chic bakery-by-day — by the same owners of 13 Celsius and Mongoose Versus Cobra — turns into a vivacious restaurant and bar at night. 2808 Caroline St., 713.654.1970,


stats from, the prices of single family homes have risen from $149,000 in 2013 to $240,000 this year — putting them well out of the grasp of most “no-credit creatives.” Condo and townhouse prices are even higher, having risen to $318,000 this year, from $286,000 – an 11 percent hike – over the previous three years. What’s more, condo sales this year are easily outpacing previous years, despite a slowdown elsewhere in the city. “EaDo offers an entry-point to inner-Loop living,” says Tim Surrett, a Greenwood King realtor. “Say you are a student at UH or Rice or at the Med Center, it’s perfect. We’re seeing a lot of out-of-town parents who are buying for their kids who are students in the city, finding them roommates to live with, and then either selling it or keeping it after their children graduate.” Who else is buying in? In part, it’s overseas buyers from Mexico, China and India looking to invest. Locally, EaDo has also become popular with empty-nesters. “These are couples who are often selfhating suburbanites, people downsizing from bigger homes, and, once the children are gone, like the idea of being able to walk to Downtown to see the Astros or visit Discovery Green,” says EaDo Management District’s Anton Sinkewich. Then again, the kids-have-gone-to-college crowd tend to like easy access to a grocery store, which EaDo currently cannot boast. And so the future of EaDo is, at present, a coin toss. It could become Houston’s hippest neighborhood, one that reflects the city’s diverse, creative, workingclass weirdness in a riot of renovated industrial chic that catalyzes more artists, entrepreneurs and thrill seekers to join the party. Or it could miss its calling and evolve quickly to gentrification and postsuburban urban-esque artifice. Either way, EaDo will become emblematic of what Houston wants to be, and will likely become, in the coming years. The success of the many co-working spaces, the Dynamo, Tout Suite, 8th Wonder and CrossFit Eado, in this previously neglected and ignored corner of the city, is a reflection of how Houston is changing. “Our tendency here is to tear things down and build new,” says developer Denenberg. “But I’m trying to show how old is cool, to show people how to appreciate things a little differently. I’d love to see EaDo become Houston’s Williamsburg. It’s going to take some imagination, some willpower, some money, and some time. But, I think it’s going to happen.” 


and when I lost my job, people looked at me and they went, ‘Well, you’ve been talking about it forever, now’s your chance.’” In 2003, as the Iraq war ramped up, Afra — who still has family in the war-torn country — felt that he and his friends had plenty they could talk about if they started a newspaper. Not knowing anything about publishing, he and some buddies started Free Press Houston and decided to figure it out as they went along. “I remember the week before we decided to go to print, we went out and bought Photoshop and tried to learn it,” he chuckles. “We didn’t realize Photoshop wasn’t a program you use for text, so we actually ended up printing out columns in Word and then scanning those into Photoshop for the first issue.” But Afra and his team figured it out fast and started to excel at what they were doing, eventually deciding to use their newfound publishing success as a way to segue into creating events. They started with smaller concerts at places like Numbers. But in 2005 they rolled out the first installment of the Westheimer Block Party, which they ended up doing twice a year for five years. “Everyone kind of cut their teeth on festival events and promotion with the Westheimer Block Party,” he says. “We feel like, internally … it was such a loving family that put it on.” But with limited city support for the event, it was difficult to get street closures and find spots for necessary things like portable potties. In 2009, Free Press Summer Fest was born when Afra and his team decided to partner up with Jagi Katial’s Houstonbased concert-promotion company Pegstar — they have since amicably parted ways— and move the event to Eleanor Tinsley Park where they could have better control over the event and could charge for admission. “FPSF was the natural next step,” he says. “We thought, ‘Cool. Let’s bring in bigger bands, and see how much of a stomach there is for this in Houston,’ and we were shocked by how many people wanted it.” The festival, which brought in around 18,000 people its first year, now regularly brings in crowds of 100,000. The festival’s yearly all-star rosters of artists have gotten longer and more impressive each year. But as much as he loved putting on FPSF, Afra says it was a struggle to get all the partners on the same page. “We found that a lot of people in the music business world and the festival world are really rigid about trying new things and really pushing the envelope to create new experiences,” he says. Day for Night is an attempt by Afra

to rewrite the rules. “To a certain degree in any medium — whether it’s music, art or business — oftentimes you want to learn as much as you can, then erase everything you’ve f***ing learned.” Critics may observe that the rosters of large festivals often appear disconnected, as organizers try to cover their bases by throwing together artists from divergent music genres in order to appeal to the masses. Afra, however, wanted Day for Night to be more of a laser-focused festival that would appeal to a specific group. “The thing about a curated festival like this is that the totality of the experience trumps each individual component,” he says. “And I think that’s what you get when there’s a connective tissue or an overarching narrative between all of your bookings.” In their new space Downtown, at what was formerly the Barbara Jordan Post Office campus — last year’s festivities went down at Silver Street Studios — Afra and his team have a vast indoor-outdoor space for letting imaginations run. “Like last year’s site put on steroids and LSD,” says Afra. A full 35,000 square feet in the fivestory building has been claimed by Bjork Digital, an exhibition of digital and video works created by the Icelandic artist. Bjork herself will be on site to DJ at a VIP preview party hosted by Killer Mike from Run the Jewels on Friday, ahead of her Saturday night festival performance. Local star Kam Franklin and Woodlands native and Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler (DJ Windows 98) will also perform sets at the VIP Friday fete. “It’s funny, because in NYC or L.A. there might be parties like this once a week where you have this convergence of amazing artists and celebrities,” says Omar. “But this is kind of a new thing for Houston.” The festival’s roster also features Odesza, Kaskade, Banks and more. And while Bjork Digital is likely to be the artistic pinnacle of the festival, the art side will also be fleshed out with installations by trend-setting artists like Golan Levin. One thing you can always expect from Afra and his team is that when they set out to do something big they always deliver. And based on the excitement that seems to be permeating through the Free Press office, their sophomore Day for Night might just be their biggest delivery to date. “Right now there’s this really great synergy in the team,” he says. “Everybody in the office walks in in a great frickin’ mood because we’re so excited about what we’re doing. We want to show that Houston can innovate, not just emulate.” 

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Ho-HoHouston! Houston’s holiday traditions and rituals — turduckens, anyone? — make the city special this time of year. By Caroline Starry LeBlanc  Pick the correct answer below. This season, per our report in

With busy rinks at both

this issue, the Houston Ballet

Downtown’s Discovery Green Park

and Artistic Director Stanton

and at The Galleria, ice skating is

Welch debut a new version of

popular in Houston. The latter, the

Ice skating at Discovery Green

 Match the area location to the holiday decoration: 1. Highland Village 2. Post Oak Boulevard 3. Discovery Green 4. Bank Of America Center 5. Gulf Greyhound Park 6. The Galleria 7. Houston City Hall 8. Clear Lake 9. The Woodlands 10. River Oaks Shopping Center

A. White-light-wrapped palm trees B. Alternating-colored up-lighting C. Fields of light D. 50-foot curtains of white lights E. Gigantic glowing dinosaurs F. A Christmas tree nearly 60 feet tall G. Bedazzled boats H. Brightly lit trees along waterways I. 80 illuminated trees J. Giant red bows atop buildings

The Nutcracker. How many

first ice rink in a mall in America,

 True or False?

people saw the beloved, previous

was suggested by developer

version that ran from 1987 to 2015,

Gerald Hines for what reason?

Zoo Lights at Houston Zoo uses more than 2 million light bulbs, and if you string them together and stretch them out they’d cover 15 miles.

choreographed by his predecessor,

A. To make it seem like Christmas

Ben Stevenson? A. 100,000 B. 25,000 C. 500,000 D. 1,000,000

year-round B. To encourage foot traffic in the Galleria’s first level C. To make use of the water well discovered beneath the foundation D. He just loves to ice skate

In Houston, where the average yuletide temperature is a balmy 62 degrees, Houston has only had a white Christmas once in its recorded history — well, Christmas Eve actually. When was it? A. 1929 B. 1977

 True or False? Hebert’s Fine Meats, which make nearly 6,000 “turduckens” — a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey — every year at the holidays. Popular far beyond Houston, Hebert’s has shipped to almost all 50 states; only Deleware and South Dakota are holding out.

C. 2004

 True or False?

D. 2011 Another significantly snowy

This is the 25th year of Houston’s

holiday hit in 1895, when about 20

Marine Corp Toys for Tots program

inches of snow hit over a two-day

and the 69th year of the program,

period. Some have speculated a

nation-wide. How many toys has

The menorah at Houston’s City Hall is the largest one west of the Mississippi.

baby boom occurred nine months

the org collected and gifted to

 True or False?

later. On what holiday did the

American kids, overall?

snowstorm start?

A. 3,860,000

The home tours of Bayou Bend, late arts patron and gubernatorial daughter Ima Hogg’s former residence, close during Christmas out of respect for Hogg, who infamously hated Christmas.

C. 386,000,000

C. St. Patrick’s Day

D. 3,860,000,000

D. Thanksgiving Day

all 50 states, houston city hall’s menorah is not even the biggest in houston, and

B. 38,600,000

B. Valentine’s Day

bayou bend’s 14 acres becomes a magical christmas wonderdland.

A. New Year’s Day

false answers: the zoo uses 15 miles of lights, hebert’s fine meats has shipped to galleria. matching answers: 1/j ,2/i

, 3/c, 4/d, 5/e, 6/f, 7/b, 8/g, 9/h, 10/a. true or

hines thought a skating rink would send more foot traffic to the first level of the day. toys for tots has donated more than 380,000 toys to kids everywhere. gerald nutcracker. 2004 was houston’s white christmas. the storm began on valentine’s mulitiple choice answers: more than 100,000 people saw ben stevenson’s

176 |

THE AIR-KING A tribute to the golden age of aviation in the 1930s, featuring a prominent minute scale for navigational time-readings. It doesn’t just tell time. It tells history.



oyster perpetual and air-king are



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Houston CityBook Holiday Issue  

Houston CityBook Holiday Issue