Houston’s going to be alive with Super Bowl-related activities. We love football, but it’s not the only game in town. Here, an unscientific sampling of some favorites.
It started here, and it’s cultural fusion of the best kind. Simply combine the heat and flavor of traditional Louisiana crawfish boil seasoning with Asian aromatics and serve with a melted butter garlic sauce, limes, nuoc mam pha, and an almost unimaginable variety of other condiments. Most places offer bibs and gloves, and they’re a good idea. Ice-cold beer is, too. Try LA Crawfish (two locations: 1005 Blalock Rd, inside Ranch 99 Market, and 3957 Richmond Ave, inside Loop 610). (That’s “LA” for Louisiana, by the way.) http://thelacrawfish.com/
Himalaya Restaurant (6654 SW Freeway at Hillcroft)
In his latest visit to Houston for his CNN series Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain ate at Himalaya; somebody gave him good advice. The restaurant offers superb Pakistani and Indian dishes, prepared, served and eaten under the watchful eye of the owner himself: there’s no question who makes the rules here, and they aren’t just for the staff. http://himalayarestauranthouston.com/
Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern (105 Sabine St.)
Totally underground. A hypnotically beautiful, 87,500-square-foot space, its roof supported by 221 slender concrete columns. Built in 1926 as a drinking water reservoir, today it’s a)decommissioned and b) open to the public (advance tickets are required). It regularly hosts site-specific art installations as well. http://buffalobayou.org/visit/destination/the-cistern/
25-cent lunchtime martinis at Brennan’s (3300 Smith St)
The family tree’s a tangle, but the Houston outpost of the Brennan family’s New Orleans restaurant empire offers gracious service, sublime Creole classics, and, not least of all, 25-cent martinis at lunch. (You’ll need to order a meal, but given the cocktails and the menu, that’s a pretty good idea.) Brennan’s is walking distance from our office—safety first! https://www.brennanshouston.com/
Discovery Green (1500 McKinney)
It’s the downtown nerve center of Super Bowl festivities. But when that’s all cleared away, you’ll be able to see why this multi-use, multi-purpose park is a favorite of Houstonians of all ages. From a splash pad to model sailboat rentals to free evening concerts, it’s a destination for countless good reasons. http://www.discoverygreen.com/
Drinks at Honeymoon (300 Main St)
It’s not just the sophisticated setting—the banana daiquiri at downtown bar/café Honeymoon is about as far from a Spring Break booze-slushy as you can get. One secret ingredient (there are several) is Giffard Banane du Brésil liqueur: think of the purest essence of ripe banana riding on a ribbon of Cognac …. http://thehoneymoonhtx.com/
James Turrell “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace (Rice University, 6100 Main)
The American conceptual artist James Turrell has three major works in Houston; his Skyspace at Rice University opens for dawn and dusk, six days a week. The experience is hard to put into words: just watch, and breathe. For visiting hours and (free) tickets: (http://skyspace.rice.edu/cms/visit-skyspace/)
The West Alabama Ice House (1919 West Alabama)
Ice houses were once an East Texas staple: neighborhood groceries, selling ice and perishables. Today, they’re indoor/outdoor neighborhood beer joints, usually with roll-up doors, longnecks on ice, dogs, kids, and music. The West Alabama Ice House has been in operation since 1928 and it’s still going strong. Website? Nope.
Bonus points: the taco truck out front may be the best in town.
Shipley Do-Nuts (24/7 at 3932 N. Main. 3410 Ella Blvd, others)Our home-grown doughnut (do-nut?) chain has locations all over; a few are always open. Do as Houstonians do: wrap up an evening’s craft-beer session with a hot plain glazed (or three). http://www.shipleydonuts.com/