Upcoming Events: Houston BestFest Live Music, Art, Awesome Food in Midtown

For the last 22 years, the Houston Press has been sharing with Houstonians all of the deets on places to eat, live music, the arts and more.  If you’re already familiar with Houston Press then you know about their  “Best of Houston” which is a list of what Houston Press readers say are their favorite things in Houston.  “Best of” categories range from best school principle to the best bloody mary and everything in between.  Naturally, there are plenty of “Best of” categories for food and drink as well as shopping and retail services.

The Tontons

The Tontons

So finally, we have an event to celebrate some of the best of Houston in one of the liveliest spots in town.  Join us for the first ever Best Fest, September 24-25 in Midtown.  This is the inaugural event with an expected turn out of 20,000.  Revelers will enjoy live music from 2 stages including Cake, Bun B, and my favorite the Tontons (think Mazzy Star with a more upbeat edge).  New acts are being added daily so be sure to check out the BestFest site for updates.  Be sure to come hungry too, as there will be several of Houston’s favorites at the event.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of Houston’s awesome food trucks show up as well, although none have been confirmed as of yet.


Houston BestFest will take place at the Midtown Superblock, 2800 Main.  The Superblock is between Travis and Main, and McGowen and Anita.  There will be street parking available.  Another great option to get to the event is to ride the MetroRAIL to the McGowen stop and walk across the street to BestFest.

Early bird tickets are on sale now at the BestFest website.  Full weekend passes are currently available for $25 (free for kids 10 and under).  Regular price is $40.  There will also be a VIP option including free appetizer buffet, non-alcoholic drinks, and VIP covered pavilion with lounge seating near the stage.  VIP 2 day passes are on sale now for $95 ($150 regular price).

Important to note:  this is NOT a dog-friendly event, so please leave Fido at home.


Houston Restaurant Weeks is BA-ACCCKK!

Since 2003 Houston Restaurant Week has grown in popularity, thus now becoming Houston Restaurant WeekS (don’t ask why they didn’t just rename it Houston Restaurant Month…it’s a long and snarky story).  In fact, last year it was so popular it got extended for a few extra weeks!

So, what is it exactly?  In short it’s a month-long food fest that benefits the Houston Food Bank and allows Houston diners to take advantage of some great deals. Diners get to enjoy  eating at some of Houston’s favorite restaurants (currently the list is over 125 participating restaurants) while supporting the Houston Food Bank.  Participating venues offer 3 (or sometimes 4) course dinner menus for only $35 (2 course lunch menu for $20 is also an option at some locations).  $5 from each reservation goes to the Houston Food Bank ($3 from the  lunch).  According to Brian Greene, CEO of the Houston Food Bank, each diner at one of the participating restaurants will provide 15 meals for a hungry child or adult in Southeast Texas.  Since the event’s inception, they have raised over $900,000 to help feed Houston’s hungry.

You can check out all of the participating restaurants and preset menus at the Houston Food Weeks website.  It can be a lot to read through so to give you some ideas, here are my top pics based on the menu and/or  the value (some of these restaurants are downright expensive on any normal day).  I’ve even linked each restaurants HRW menu to make it SUPER easy for you…

BTW, reservations are required!

RDG Bar Annie-they are offering for HRW lunch, dinner and brunch menus each with multiple options in each course.  Plus, the dinner menu is four courses AND represents a great value based on what you would normally pay.  Not to mention that they really do have great food.

Restaurant CINQ at La Columbe d’Or-On any other night, $35 wouldn’t get you an entree, let alone 3 courses.  Plus, I am intrigued by the Watermelon Gazpacho in course 1.  Again, they are offering multiple options per course so a little more variety.  Did I mention Strawberry Creme Brulee with aged balsamic???

Churrasco’s  I love Brazilian food because I am addicted to chimichurri sauce.  BUT, the thing I like most about their HRW menus are the add on options which allow you to do a little custom ordering (for a fee, of course) and they offer a trio of their dinner entrees as a course selection.

Haven is offering lunch, dinner and brunch menus with multiple course offerings including several vegetarian options.  I also think they have one of the more eclectic menus both for HRW as well as any other time.

Mark’s is another incredible value compared to what you would normally pay.  AND, the dinner main course has duck, steak, and seafood choices as well as a “Trio” entree that sounds amazing.  They are also offering a lunch menu for HRW.

Perry’s Steakhouse is one of my pics because I believe that their famous pork chop is probably the best form of pig I’ve ever eaten, and considering you would normally pay $30 just for the pork chop on any other day makes this a GREAT time to finally check out the chop for yourself!  And just another note on that chop:  I can eat a LOT, and the Perry’s pork chop can easily cover 2-3 meals for me. Another added plus are the multiple locations.

The Oceanaire from the looks of it has the most selections per course so a lot of variety if you’re dining in a larger group.

Please, please, please….if you visit any of the event restaurants,  share with us your experience!  I wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s event gets extended.

Houston Hidden Gems: Simone on Sunset Wine Bar and Bistro

We love to share on our blog places that are some of Houston’s best kept secrets, and Simone on Sunset is just one of those places.  Let me start by saying that I am completely obsessed with their truffle/parmesan popcorn (although the blue cheese popcorn is equally fabulous).

Simone on Sunset is the kind of neighborhood gathering for spirits, wine and bites in the Rice Village area that we’ve been waiting for.  Inviting and friendly, urban-cozy Simone on Sunset is a place where you can exhale, visit with friends and meet new faces.  As far as attire, you’d be equally comfortable coming in gym clothes as you would be in black tie.  It’s one of those places that you could go by yourself and have no problem striking up an interesting conversation with someone else.

Nestled in one of the charming brick bungalows along Sunset Boulevard in Rice Village (between Morningside and Kelvin), Simone on Sunset features great ambience both inside and on their patio, served up with an array of boutique wines and specialty beers, with the list changing regularly.  I find the handcrafted light fixtures made from early period light bulbs and the changing art collection to be particularly charming.  It can be tricky to find as there is not a sign on the street, which only adds to its “only the cool people know about it” feel.  Also, because it is essentially on a residential street parking can be tricky, so be sure to pay attention to signage.  The patio is super dog friendly with water bowls and dog treats for their furry patrons.   It also has a beautiful water feature created by the owner, Kristen Powell along with an herb garden.

Things get changed up through out the week:  Monday is Burger Night (only $8 for a 1/2 # burger), Thursday is night steak night which is very popular so get there early, Happy Hour is Monday through Saturday from 4 to 8 with $5 selected whites and reds, $3 well cocktails, and $1 off beer.  Sundays features $5 mimosas.  They have an awesome signature drink, The Dingo which is along the lines of a frozen mimosa made with Prosecco topped off with sparking Shiraz and a sprig of mint.  The Pimm’s Cup (my favorite) and the Basillica are also great summertime cocktail  choices.

A Houston Heights Tradition: White Linen Night August 6, 2011

The Heights, one of Houston’s oldest neighborhoods, is known for its tree-lined streets and beautiful period homes, awesome shopping and dining, super family friendly parks and esplanades, great schools, rocking trick or treating and their annual events.  One of these great events is just around the corner…White Linen Night 2011 will be on August 6 from 6 to 10 PM.  Of course, all the locals attend as well as Houston residents from all over (lasts year’s attendance reached 40,000).  The festivities occur throughout the Heights area, with the two major locations being 19th Street and White Oak (6th Street).

What is White Linen Night?  Well, it’s one big street festival that takes over the whole “town.”  Many of the businesses, shops, art galleries, and restaurants feature complimentary receptions (yes…free food and drinks).  Touted as a celebration of art, culture and “citified” bohemia, there are also fashion shows, street performers, games, live music, and an just an awesome vibe.  And, as the name implies and the Houston August weather dictates, white linen fashion is in abundance although not a prerequisite to attend.  This year, be sure to also throw in a little pink to your ensemble as the Heights has partnered with The Rose of Houston to raise breast cancer awareness.

We are working on trying to get more information on parking and transportation during the event.  As soon as we have it we will update this post!  For other updates and details, check out the event website at http://whitelinennightheights.com/.

Upcoming Events: Houston Jazz Festival 2011

Rachelle Farrell

Yet another shining star for the arts in Houston, the 2011 Houston Jazz Festival is just around the corner.  This will be the fourth year for the event hosted by Jazz Education Inc., a 501 C3 non-profit whose mission is to educate and instill a passion for jazz to Houston youth.

21st Annual Houston International Jazz Festival

Friday, August 5, 2011
House of Blues – 1204 Caroline
8:00 pm Kick-off Party
Featuring: Kyle Turner w/ Joe Carmouche
Advance Tickets $20/Door $25Saturday, August 6, 2011
Discovery Green Park – 1500 McKinney
4:00 pm Gate Open
5:00 pm SJW
6:45 pm Texas Brass Band w/ Frank Lacy
8:30 pm Four PlaySunday, August 7, 2011
Wortham Theater – 610 Preston
11:00 am – Kroger Mayor’s Scholarship Jazz Brunch
Featuring: The Summer Jazz Workshop All-Stars w/Special Guest

Discovery Green Park – 1500 McKinney
4:00 pm Gate Open
5:00 pm Theresa Grayson
6:45 pm Mindy Abair
8:30 pm Will Downing

Discovery Green Advance Tickets:
General Admission $25.00/Reserved Seating $35.00

Discovery Green Gate Tickets:
General Admission $30.00/Reserved Seating $40.00

New Installation at Buffalo Bayou Art Park

If you’ve driven down Studemont near Allen Parkway recently, you have probably noticed a stunning collection of serene beings perched along the edge of Buffalo Bayou.  This is the newest installation to the public outdoor art space located near downtown.  The Buffalo Bayou Art Park has officially been in existence since 1997, although it traces its history back to a grass roots start in 1987.  The BBAP operates as a non-profit 501 (c)(3) and is working to expand its installations throughout the greater Houston area.

So more about the newest addition…

Representing cultural tolerance and harmony, seven stainless steel figures (representing each of the seven continents) emote a tranquil aura.  The construction of each continental figure contains the alphabets of nine languages.  It is intended to convey that despite our cultural differences, we are all human and we need to embrace all that we have in common.  The inspiration behind this newest installation is tragic. Channel 13 reported the story of David Ritcheson, who at the age of 16 endured a brutal and violent attack that was determined to be a hate crime.  David was unable to live with his trauma and sadly ended his life a year later.

Because of its diverse cultural population, Houston has the opportunity to demonstrate to other cities and countries how to successfully blend a community that actively embraces its diversity.  It seems to me this is the most important message of the new artwork.  In any case, it is a beautiful piece of art and kudos must be given to philanthropist Mica Mosbacher for raising the money for this project.

Houston Fourth of July 2011 Fireworks and Festivities UPDATED June 28

****PLEASE NOTE*****Due to the dry weather and recent burn bans, the City is considering cancellation of some of the fireworks events scheduled around the city.  I have included links to each event website, so please check these event websites for any updates/cancellations.

Houston knows how to celebrate the Fourth of July, with fireworks shows and festivities all around the City.  In fact, from some vantage points in the city, you can catch fireworks displays occurring all around town.  We wanted to give you the scoop on some of the biggest shows going on.

Mayor Annise Parker’s Freedom Over Texas Celebration will occur at Eleanor Tinsley Park along Buffalo Bayou near downtown and midtown.  Gates open at 4 and admission is free with a donation of a canned good to benefit the Houston Food Bank.  Attendees will also enjoy some good ol’ country music from Jack Ingram, Chris Young, and Rodney Atkins.  There will also be a Kid’s Zone featuring activities, education, games and more.  Fireworks are set to go off around 9:35.

Or , if you’d rather have your 4th of July soundtrack be a little more traditional, plan on attending the Exxon-Mobile Star-Spangled Salute with the Houston Symphony performing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture at Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park.  Free tickets (up to four per person over the age of 16) in the seated area of the theater will be available the day of the show from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM.  But, there is still plenty of room on the hill to spread your blanket and enjoy the show.

Prefer to watch the fireworks on the water?  Tickets for the Kemah Boardwalk Fireworks Cruise and BBQ are selling out fast.  Unlike the other shows, you pay for this one but it’s well worth it!  The 3 hour cruise includes a BBQ dinner and non-alcoholic beverages, plus cash bar and DJ to kick up your heels.  Ticket prices start at $49 for kids, $79 for adults.

Nothing pulls at the patriotic heart strings quite like the singing of the National Anthem followed by a military fly over.  Head out to Pearland to catch their Celebration of Freedom.  Gates open at 6PM at the Pearland High School football stadium and admission is free.

THE WOODLANDS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED  Boasting one of the Houston areas largest fireworks displays, and wrapping up their 3 days of national pride celebrations, The Woodlands celebrates the holiday with their Red, Hot, and Blue Fireworks and Festival Extravaganza (I guess they thought that having the biggest name denotes the biggest celebration).  Events include a free concert from the Buck Yeager Band at Northshore Park, then on to Town Green Park for hot dog and watermelon eating contests and fireworks starting at dusk.  Check out their website for all of the details including best spots to watch the show.