The last instalment of my 3 part Texas city guides and where better to finish than the metropolis of Houston – the fourth-most populous city in the whole of the United States. So busy in fact, that during the week there is an underground tunnel network which all of the cities businesses use 8am-6pm to both hide from the intense heat but also the masses on the streets; think the London Underground, but air conditioned!
Houston is home to several sports teams (Astros MLB, Texans NFL, Rockets NBA), the NASA Space Centre, Kemah Boardwalk, a Theatre District and the large Buffalo Bayou Park. So whatever your reason for visiting, there is always something going on somewhere and that is what makes this city a great stop off.
WHERE WE STAYED
The Mariott Marquis was amazing, and it definitely catered to the business aspect of the city with all the amenities and the quality of the hotel. Nestled in the heart of Discovery Green this was a great base to explore downtown in a mere 10 minutes walk or the numerous events which took place on the Green or the Aevenida every day and night. Not to mention this hotel had a lazy river in the shape of The Lone State itself…
Also, claim to fame, but Arnold Schwarzenegger was staying in our hotel and my Husband got the pleasure of seeing him in the flesh and promptly being told by his staff to take the next elevator!
One more thing to add is that WiFi is not included with your room rate, even if you are paying $400 a night (not what you would expect), to get access it is an additional $12 a day or free access if you are part of the Rewards Programme which thankfully we were.
WHERE TO EAT
Houston isn’t known for being a revolutionary dining city, but the restaurants they do have live up to their spot respectively. Coffee is a major part of my day and wherever we go I always make sure to find the best in town, here was Honeymoon Cafe & Restaurant – a cute New Orleans inspired spot with a local speciality coffee, a great drip coffee and a fun, cheap brunch menu. I had a mountain of soft scrambled eggs on rye toast (great for my allergies) and my husband opted for the BLT. Both meals were big, tasty and perfect for fuelling a day of shopping.
For an obligatory trip to a sports bar, make sure you go to Biggios. It’s not your usual run of the mill bar, it is full to the Brim of TV’s showing every sport you can imagine but tastefully decorated so even if you aren’t into the sports you can relax in comfort. The Menu has all you would expect from Sharing Platters, Tacos, Sliders and Steaks – I went for the Nachos, that was a starter, yes, a plate that big was just a starter! I couldn’t finish it, but of the 3/4 I ate it was seriously good with the best Jalepenos I have ever had; fruity with a subtle kick. The staff were also really accommodating with my Dairy allergy and removed the sour cream and cheese for some guacamole- Win Win.
I went here on a Thursday night- Steak Night on the recommendation that it was one of the best places to go for a well cooked piece of Beef in Houston, and I am glad I went. My steak was a bargain at $14.99 which included a green salad to start and then the main event with home made chimichurri sauce and Za’atar spiced fries. Again, this was a big meal but then that’s what is a selling point for America, more bang for your buck? The atmosphere was buzzy and would be great for after work drinks too.
This was a long wait… 45 minutes long but softened by a seat outside and Margarita in tow. It was worth the wait, a real authentic Mexican right in the heart of the city; Ninfa’s has been around since 1973 and is the basis for the history of Tex-Mex in Houston. To avoid the queue book ahead and make sure this is on your agenda one evening!
JACKSON STREET BBQ
On our last night here we went to what is the Best BBQ in Houston, one last hurrah of brisket before departing the state which should be renamed ‘The Beef State’. I love Beef on any day, but by the time I was finished with Texas I was in love with Brisket, Smoked Jerky and everything in between.
WHAT TO DO
Just a handful of ideas but if you do one then go to the baseball at the minute maid park!
- Houston Astros MLB- March to September and if you want to capture the spirit of the game beforehand try out Houston Fan Tavern across the road from the stadium- this is where the locals go and beer is cheap.
Top Tip: Pay for tickets (appx. $20) on Torchy’s Party Deck, a new addition to the park. Complete with a Budwesider Bar, Taco Stands and a great atmosphere with the option to sit or move around freely (not reserved seating).
- Discovery Green- for a list of all events check here, would recommend one of their evening concerts on the lawn with a great backdrop of downtown lit up.
- Sam Houston Park- some respite from the downtown skyrises and a heritage site.
Next America trip in October- Boston, Maine and Nashville! Stay tuned.