2017 Super Bowl Guide to Houston
Our 2017 Super Bowl Guide to Houston has everything you need to keep you busy when you're not watching the game. And even if you aren't going to the big event (we should be so lucky!), these are the places to check out on your first visit to the city.
EAT AND DRINK
All chef Hugo Ortega has done over the past few years is earn five James Beard Award finalist nods, continue to wow with his stalwart eponymous restaurant (Hugo’s), open one of the city’s best seafood restaurants (Caracol), and prep his forthcoming ode to Oaxaca (Xochi). Stuff handmade tortillas with gamy lamb barbacoa roasted in agave leaves and savor chargrilled octopus for an authentic taste of Ortega’s native Mexico. If the weather cooperates, take the city’s best margarita to the brick-walled outdoor patio. It’s the perfect spot to pregame before the 2017 Super Bowl.
Chef Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly has been a five-year celebration of the myriad and diverse cultural influences on Houston’s culinary scene. Building on the success of the restaurant that earned him a James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest, Shepherd turns his attention to One Fifth, a restaurant that plans to change concept every five years. First up, one that should be familiar to all Houstonians and visitors: a classic steakhouse. Shepherd will grill and sear beef in cast iron, following his guiding ethos of utilizing all parts of the animal, and wood-roast seafood. The restaurant, which is co-owned by Houston Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus and slated to open 10 days before the Super Bowl, is set in a church built in 1927 that was the longtime home of Houston fine dining favorite Marks.
Native Houstonian Justin Yu is the most recently minted of Houston’s James Beard Award winners. His impressive resume includes time at Ubuntu, the first vegetarian restaurant in America to earn a Michelin star, and he elevates vegetables to an art at this intimate downtown restaurant. Ringside seats of the open kitchen give a close-up look at the team that transforms simple beets into rich, beautiful flowers and uses savory items like nutty sunchokes for imaginative desserts. Oxheart serves both a six-course vegetable tasting menu and a six-course meal with fish and meat (think snapper and guinea hen) for $79, and additional wine pairings are always exquisite.
Co-founder and godfather of the Houston craft cocktail scene Bobby Heugel takes great pride in cultivating relationships with distillers of spirits around the globe, so it should be no surprise that this colorful temple of tequila and mezcal features a treatise on the wall calling out big distilleries that use diffusers to produce manipulated versions of tequila. The entrance to the bar, named after the Franco-Mexican Pastry War of 1838, is draped in strings of twinkle lights that extend over old tin tables topped with Mexican beer logos, while inside is all exposed brick and warm wood that gives the four year-old bar the feel of a space 100 years older. Get an education with a tasting of several mezcals served with orange slices and Oaxacan worm salt or let the creative bartenders thrill you with a tequila cocktail made with apple brandy and housemade ginger soda.
You can feel like old money while still hanging out in one of the defining spaces of the new breed of Houston’s downtown bar scene. Originally home to the Cotton Exchange, this building was finished in 1884. The ornate arches and pendant lights now adorn a classy bar that has one of the best wine lists in the city, a bar snacks menu designed by award-winning restaurant Oxheart and a massive whiskey list that hops from Tennessee to Japan, with stops in Ireland, Scotland, Spain and India.
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Restrained elegance and exceptional customer service that seems to anticipate your every desire are the hallmarks of this downtown classic. Lounge by the resort-style pool or find some inner peace with a yoga class before being whisked around town in a Tesla or Escalade provided by the hotel.
A mannequin dressed in a NASA space suit, an exposed brick bedroom that resembles a SoHo loft, West Indies-themed decor… these are just a few of the aesthetic touches you’ll find in the themed suites at this Museum District favorite. And, even if you’re staying in one of the standard guest rooms, with its flashy pool and bar scenes and thumping music, the Zaza does its best to make you feel like you’re one of the debauched Hollywood elite that’s framed on the hotel’s walls.
In-room kitchens and walk-in closets will make you feel like you’re in your home-away-from-home at this palatial hotel located near the popular shopping destination, The Galleria. The hotel’s Ristorante Cavour, with its menu or Northern Italian specialties and chandelier-lit dining room, recalls European sophistication, and daily tea service allows for a much needed mid-day repose.
This is a hotel and campus suited for a king, or at least a former United States president (George H. W. Bush once called it home). Located near the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center and Memorial Park, the sprawling hotel has 289 rooms with wood-paneled walls, garden tubs and plush four-poster beds; there’s also a world-class fitness facility and Trellis Spa. JS tip: Make sure to book a treatment in advance.
See + D0
Take a mission to Mars, discover the challenges and wonders of living in space, trace America’s exciting history of space exploration and more at Houston’s Space Center. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017, the complex is the only Smithsonian Affiliate in the greater Houston area.
Located in the Museum District near downtown, this 15-acre site features a mound with a concentric pathway leading to the top of a waterfall, a lush rose garden, woodland garden and interactive family garden. The collection of gardens at the city’s century-old Hermann Park is free and open to the public daily.
This unassuming museum in a residential neighborhood celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2017. Current exhibits include works of Beat generation artists like John Altoon, Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner and Edward Kienholz, and 400+- piece series of reproductions of a lost 1885 painting of 4th-century Roman Saint Fabiola,while the permanent collection features an education cross-section of work from Africa and the Americas.
There is no better place in Houston to find quiet than this building near the Menil Collection. The nondenominational chapel, is home to a collection of challenging and transcendent paintings from the Russian-born painter Mark Rothko. Opened in 1971, the chapel is one of the gems of the Houston art world and a draw for all faiths.
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