MAGNOLIA CITY. (Chapter 1)

Discovery Green Downtown Houston.

Discovery Green Downtown Houston.

Lin's family is in Houston so we visit once, sometimes, twice a year. I had been previously with work but never really got a good feel for the city except for my hotel room and the businesses I was working with at the time. In all honesty my first long trip there, I was still not overly impressed . But then the more and more I visited and got to know the city..It is a trip I look forward to every year !!!! (My hair however does not...the humidity is intense so I just have learned how to embrace turbans , glam top knots, and hats ) The City is full of a variety of cuisines, quirky little local shops and amazing art ! I mean how silly of me to not have my arms wide open to all that H-town had to offer me ! I am there every Thanksgiving and it's the perfect place to get my Christmas shopping done ! And I love all the Christmas lights the city does . It can help with the Christmas spirit even in 90 degree temps .(The only seasons are Summer and Christmas actually )

People only seem to mention going to Houston for work or study. And while “summering in Houston” is unlikely to become a thing, there has to be more to the city than office towers and libraries since so many of those who do go decide to stay. After more than a decade of frenetic growth, Texas’s biggest city is now America’s fourth largest, and according to several studies, its youngest (more millennials than boomers) and its most ethnically and culturally diverse. So it’s not surprising that Houston offers an amazing gastronomic mix — from taco stands, chicken and waffle joints and all manner of barbecue to Greek, Persian and Vietnamese cuisine — most with an attitude-free vibe. Enriched by the two great American traditions of immigration and philanthropy, the city’s ever-growing museums strike a balance between an expansive global outlook and strong local support. And the bayou in the heart of the city when it was founded in 1836 has been revived as a verdant park. And it's amazing ! I rank it up there with NYC's Central Park actually. . We love The Buffalo Bayou Park. Great place to get some outdoor exercise in for you and your four legged friends. Just ask Henry, my spotted pooch!

Let's just get right into the important stuff first....the coffee, of course. I have a few favorites spread out all over the city. (It seems really confusing the first four times you drive around but then it all makes perfect sense. It's just a big outer loop with a smaller inner loop and everything connects in a big giant circle) No matter where you're going you'll usually end up on Westheimer though ! And just be prepared to be in traffic no matter the time of day.

BLACK HOLE...The iced Chai is heavenly and you will love an iced drink to help with the Houston heat. They also get their coffee from Marfa, Texas. (huge thumbs up from me) and have many vegan options for their baked goods. It's incredibly eclectic and reminds me of a space ship ..not that I have ever been in a space ship but if I were, this is how I imagine it would be !

THE HONEYMOON CAFE & BAR: House-brewed beans, fancy espresso & cocktails are the draw at this NOLA-inspired coffee shop & bar. The coffee is delicious. And the granola is the best !! I could sit here and people watch all day long !

TOUT SUITE: Macarons, cupcakes & other baked goods in a coffeehouse setting with community tables . They do fresh juice too ! Highly recommend the red velvet macaron.

Nestled in the heart of Rice Village, they do great coffee and specialty grocery market finds !

 Rustic-chic cafe & bakery with acclaimed chefs creating sweet pastries & seasonal savory dishes.

There are so many fabulous places to dine with new fabulous places popping up quicker then I can eat ! But here are a few of my very favorites that I often crave !

HUGO'S: Located in the heart of Houston's Montrose area, Hugo's brings the exciting and earthy flavors of Mexico across the border. “Authentic Mexican cooking is a world-class cuisine that has remained virtually unchanged by the outside world," says Executive Chef Hugo Ortega of his native cuisine. "The food is as light and fresh as a seafood cocktail prepared by fishermen on the beach; as deep and complex as the moles of Oaxaca made with an astounding number of ingredients; and as earthy as the simplest handmade corn tortilla." Highly recommend the margaritas and everything on the menu really. The churros and mexican hot chocolate are a must too so save room !

TINY’S NO. 5: It started with a nursery. Tiny Boxwoods emerged as a breathing space in the midst of lush surroundings. A place to stop for a beverage, sustenance, and conversation. Week one, coffee. Week two, breakfast. Week three, a small lunch menu. Soon the tiny seed grew into an elegant experience. Word spread like ivy and by week 208, they branched out to create Tinys No. 5.  This place is a gem and I cannot stop dreaming of it ! Your five senses will be ignited. Highly recommend the kale Caesar salad, kale lemonade, the warm cinnamon sugar donuts (which I have named munchkins) are an absolute must, and the coffee is amazing !!!!!!!!!!!!

EL TIEMPO CANTINA: There are several locations throughout H-town but I prefer the Montrose location best. Seriously the best tex- mex in all the land! Their steak (filet mignon) fajitas will melt in your mouth. Every dish is divine and the margaritas are heavenly! This is our must do every single time!

GIACOMO'S CIBO E VINO: Such a quaint little neighborhood joint among the locals. Everything is so fresh. Highly recommend the ratatouille with a fried egg and the beet goat cheese salad !  Excellent wine list. Great patio.

ESCALANTES: Love the Highland Village location. Super swanky Tex Mex. I want to bathe in the queso. And the Mango Mango Margaritas are heavenly !! And they valet !!

CORNER TABLE: The cutest place tucked away into a side street. Highly recommend Sunday brunch. The menu caters towards a paleo gluten free diet and everything was absolutely heaven ! Best cauliflower soup of my life.

PONDICHERI: Vibrant and Innovative Indian cuisine from chef Anita Jaisinghani. They do Indian brunch too ! And have a bakery. It's unreal how good it is !!!! And I love the modern atmosphere. 

Intrigued, (and now starving) right?!! This is just scratching the surface too !!! Houston is full of surprises.