What are the best five things to do on a romantic trip to Houston?

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There are plenty of ways to find romance in this city. From breathtaking wild flowers to a fabulous opera performance, it is hard not to find some parts of Houston romantic. Here are five ways to romance your Houston honey:

1. Take in Memorial Park: Pack a picnic and head over to the city’s largest urban park. With 1,500 acres to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for two. Active couples can take an afternoon walk on the gravel jogging path that loops the park. Picnickers beware: Don’t lay your blanket on any ant mounds. Houston has a large population of fire ants and their bites are a sure-fire mood killer.

2. See an opera or a ballet: Nothing says romance like a night out at the theater. The Houston Grand Opera often has international stars grace is stage. The black tie performances give you a chance to dress up for a night out. Far from boring, the Houston Grand Opera will keep you on the edge of your seat, if only for the notes that the performers hit. You may not think it, but the Houston Ballet Company is hailed as one of the best in the nation. We suggest picking out a holiday show to take that special someone to. Both are located downtown.

3. Stroll at Hermann Park: Located in the Museum District, this historic 445-acre space has everything you need for love: large lawns, gardens and an idyllic lake for paddle boating. As you walk toward the lake, you’ll be guided a path lined by beautiful trees and plenty of nature. Head over to the right side of the lake to the walking bridge where you can watch the plethora of turtles gliding through the water.

4. Stop and Smell the Bluebonnets: The Texas state flower blooms in spring, making way for picturesque views and celebrations throughout Houston. Take in the beautiful sight on Highway 290, which gets completely bordered by bluebonnets - you’ll notice cars pulled to the side every other mile to take pictures in the breathtaking fields of wildflowers. If you keep heading west on 290, you’ll make it to Chappell Hill, which is home to the official bluebonnet festival each April.

5.Take a horse drawn carriage ride: You’ll find several of these romantic rides downtown. Hop on one and take a hand-in-hand ride as you soak in the Houston sites. Of course, nothing says Texas like a horse drawn carriage. We suggest you arrange a ride after rush hour, so you don’t have cars honking in your ear, interrupting your conversation with that special someone.

  • On July 1, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    What are the best hotel pools in Houston?

    Photo courtesy of Hotel Zaza Houston is known for its sweltering summer heat, and the best way to beat it is with a trip to to pool. For a party atmosphere, Hotel Zaza is the place to be. Private cabanas, sunny umbrellas, free flowing drinks, and a ping pong table are just a few of the reasons why this pool is such a hit with locals and travelers. Use is limited to guests and spa guests.

    The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star rated Four Seasons can't be beat for service and amenities. You will feel utterly pampered from the minute you step foot on the pool deck and are greeted with fresh fruit water and a bottle of SPF for your use. The saltwater pool with jacuzzi is simply divine, and a full bar and pool menu are avaible at the misted, covered pool bar, The Deck. Use is limited to guests and spa guests.

    Finally, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star rated Hotel Granduca has one of the most beautiful pools in Houston. The Tuscan-inpsired architecture and decor, along with a saltwater pool with jacuzzi make this a relaxing place to get away from the heat and the stresses of the day. Available only to hotel guests.
  • On July 1, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    Where is the best Tex-Mex in Houston?

    Tex-Mex is king here in Houston, which is why choosing a "best" is a difficult task. Hard core enthusiasts swear by Mama Ninfa, and her original Ninfa's on Navigation for their famous fajitas.
    From the same family came El Tiempo, widely regarded as some of the best fajitas in town as well. In terms of longevity, it would be hard to beat Molina's Cantina, a fixture on the Houston restaurant scene for 70 years and going strong. Their enchiladas de tejas, or cheese enchilada topped with chili con carne, is legend. Others swear by Lupe Tortilla for their fajitas as well, so successful that they've grown and expanded to several restaurants around town. And for Montrosians, there's no place like La Mexicana, serving Tex-Mex for 30-plus years. Finally El Real Tex-Mex, started by former Houston Press food critic Robb Walsh and celebrity chef Bryan Caswell, offers old-school Tex-Mex with offerings like Frito Pie in the heart of Montrose. When syndicated "Ask a Mexican" columnist Gustavo Arellano came to Houston to promote his new book, that's where he held his afterparty.




  • On July 1, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    What are the best hotel pools in Houston?

    Photo courtesy of Hotel Zaza Houston is known for its sweltering summer heat, and the best way to beat it is with a trip to to pool. For a party atmosphere, Hotel Zaza is the place to be. Private cabanas, sunny umbrellas, free flowing drinks, and a ping pong table are just a few of the reasons why this pool is such a hit with locals and travelers. Use is limited to guests and spa guests.
    The Four Seasons can't be beat for service and amenities. You will feel utterly pampered from the minute you step foot on the pool deck and are greeted with fresh fruit water and a bottle of SPF for your use. The saltwater pool with jacuzzi is simply divine, and a full bar and pool menu are avaible at the misted, covered pool bar, The Deck. Use is limited to guests and spa guests.
    Finally, the Hotel Granduca has one of the most beautiful pools in Houston. The Tuscan-inpsired architecture and decor, along with a saltwater pool with jacuzzi make this a relaxing place to get away from the heat and the stresses of the day. Available only to hotel guests.
  • On July 1, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    Where are the best go-to spots in downtown Houston?

    Downtown Houston is experiencing a revival at this very moment. It started with the opening of the very hip, very cool OKRA Charity Bar, which dedicated all its proceeds to funding charities across town. Soon thereafter, Latin hotspot Batanga opened up, with a gorgeous patio reminiscent of a scene from Spain, serving Latin American inspired tapas in a lively atmosphere marked by the live music on weekends. 

    In the same complex, you'll find cool newcomer Goro  and Gun has opened with the promise of great ramen and well constructed cocktails, along with chef driven food to match. Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar is also one of the cool new hotspots in the heart of downtown. 

    Over near Discovery Green, MKT Bar at Phoenicia Specialty Foods hosts nightly musical performances, from DJ sets to live music and acoustics -- the calendar is rotating. One block down is the best whiskey bar in Houston, Reserve 101, and across the street is House of Blues, which also has the exclusive Foundation Room upstairs.
  • On July 1, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    Where is the best pizza in Houston?

    Pizza makes the world go round, doesn’t it? A reason why there are so many excellent choices around town. I list my favorites here:
    1. For Neopolitan-style, thin crust pizza, Dolce Vita in Montrose does a superb job. The crust is light as air, fluffy and crisp -- just perfection. Order the calabrese (spicy salami), the arugula and prosciutto, or build your own. The pizzas are fabulous every time.
    2. Piola, a franchise from Italy, also offers great thin-crust pizzas in Midtown. Known for their famous Brazilian cheese pizza, they have an artichoke pizza that’s really wonderful as well.
    3. Pizaro’s over near the West side at Memorial and Kirkwood has a certified pie maker, and was named Houston Press’ best pizza the year of its debut.
    4. The Pass & Provisions offers chef-driven, wood-fired oven pizzas, like their uni and guanciale, or their sausage and fontina.
    5. Coppa Ristorante Italiano is turning our delicious pies as well. Their mushroom pie with arugula and black truffle cream, and their coppa ham and eggs is super tasty.
  • On July 1, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    What are the best specialty markets in Houston?

    Photo by Mai Pham: Central Market cheese section Houston is home to some of the best grocery store shopping you can find stateside. Specialty Markets like Phoenicia Specialty Foods, essentially a world emporium of hard-to-find items from places like Croatia and Lebanon, to Greek and Spanish items, is amazing.

    Inside the city, gourmet Central Market is tough to beat. A gourmet food lover’s dream come true, it offers some of the finest produce, meats, and pre-prepared food items in the city, along with cooking classes to help you use their product. In The Woodlands area, Hubbell & Hudson offers another foodie paradiseon a smaller scale.

    We are blessed to have Spec’s Liquor store based in Houston. The flagship location on Smith street downtown is iconic, a literal warehouse of wine and liquor and everything that goes along with it.

    On the Asian front, it’s anyone’s game. Viet Hoa is an excellent Vietnamese super-grocer, as is Hong Kong Food Market. Ranch 99 is one of the best Chinese supermarkets, and Super H Mart for Korean-focused grocery shopping. For Japanese foods, Daido Market, though smaller, offers a suitable selection of fresh fish and other Japanese products.
  • On July 1, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    Where are the best hamburgers in Houston?

    Photo by Mai Pham: Wild Game Burger at Rainbow Lodge Houston was named Travel + Leisure's best burger city in 2011 because, quite frankly, our burgers rock. 

    On the gourmet front, Texas Akaushi Beef, known for their juiciness, is at the forefront of the gourmet burger movement with places like the Burger Guys, Burger Palace, and Guru Burgers and Crepes in Sugar Land. All three offer Texas Akaushi Beef patties cooked to order, with gourmet versions already prepared for you, build-your-own options. 

    Restaurant burgers worth noting include Mockingbird Bistro's awesome American Kobe burger, Max's Wine Dive's Kobe Burger, the foie gras burger at Corner Table, the kim chi burger at Down House, the burger at BYOB gem Jonathan's The Rub, Hubbel & Hudson's burger in The Woodlands, and the fantastic Wild Game Burger at Rainbow Lodge, available only on Friday afternoons at lunch.

    For the classic burger, places like Hubcap Grill, Lankford Grocery, and Christian's Tailgate are at the top of their game. And if you don't mind chasing down a food truck, Bernie's Burger Bus burgers is tasty and delicious no matter what.


  • On July 1, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    Where is the best bar dining in Houston?

    Photo by Mai Pham: The sushi bar at Uchi Dining solo, or just don’t want the formality of dining at a table? Restaurant bars are all the rage in Houston, with almost too many choices to count.

    Let’s start with Artisans, Midtown’s French eatery with 28 seats in front of an open kitchen. They call it Chef’s Table seating; I call lit fantastic bar dining. Philippe Restaurant + Lounge and Etoile both offer excellent bar dining if you’re in the mood for some French cuisine.
     
    Montrose hidden gem Mockingbird Bistro scores points for its long, elongated bar, excellent food, and a great happy hour. For some see and be seen action, head to the popular River Oaks Brasserie 19, Triniti Restaurant,  where you can sample delicious food in a beautiful surroundings among Houston’s glitterati.

    For pizza, Dolce Vita has a small bar always filled with happy diners, while Midtown hotspot Piola is cute and friendly with a colorful vibe. For wine and comfort food, Max’s Wine Dive is the place to be, but then there’s also Liberty Kitchen with oysters a-plenty, and Brooklyn Athletic Club.

    Sushi restaurants would not be sushi restaurants without the requisite sushi bar, and for that, I recommend Kata Robata, Uchi, and MF Sushi -- all have not only excellent sushi bars, but excellent food as well.
  • On July 1, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    Where is the best bar dining in Houston?

    Photo by Mai Pham: The sushi bar at Uchi Dining solo, or just don’t want the formality of dining at a table? Restaurant bars are all the rage in Houston, with almost too many choices to count.

    Let’s start with Artisans, Midtown’s French eatery with 28 seats in front of an open kitchen. They call it Chef’s Table seating; I call lit fantastic bar dining. Philippe Restaurant + Lounge and Etoile both offer excellent bar dining if you’re in the mood for some French cuisine.
     
    Montrose hidden gem Mockingbird Bistro scores points for its long, elongated bar, excellent food, and a great happy hour. For some see and be seen action, head to the popular River Oaks Brasserie 19, Triniti Restaurant,  where you can sample excellent food in a beautiful surroundings among Houston’s glitterati.

    For pizza, Dolce Vita has a small bar always filled with happy diners, while Midtown hotspot Piola is cute and friendly with a colorful vibe. For wine and comfort food, Max’s Wine Dive is the place to be, but then there’s also Liberty Kitchen with oysters a-plenty, and Brooklyn Athletic Club.

    Sushi restaurants would not be sushi restaurants without the requisite sushi bar, and for that, I recommend Kata Robata, Uchi, and MF Sushi -- all have not only excellent sushi bars, but excellent food as well.
  • On July 1, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    What are the best wine bars in Houston?

    If sipping a glass of wine while noshing on plate of cheese and charcuterie is your thing, there are plenty of wine bars around Houston ready to serve.

    One sure bet is The Tasting Room at Uptown Park, one of the busiest, most successful and happening wine bars in Houston. Most evenings, you’ll see the patio filled with the after work or pre-dinner crowd, mixing and mingling. The small chain includes other sister properties in Memorial City and River Oaks, but if the Uptown Park location is their flagship. In addition to an extensive wine by the glass option, you can purchase wines to take home and drink, and order from a chef-driven menu.

    Moving up Post Oak Boulevard, you’ll find Phil’s Wine Lounge on the ground floor of Philippe Restaurant.  There, sommelier Vanessa Trevino Boyd has assembled a fantastic by-the-glass wine list with 88 selections, including that beautiful Bordeaux from Pomerol, to a lightly fizzy Tchakolina from the Basque region in Spain. During happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., many of these glasses go for half off, and if you get hungry, you can order from Master Chef of France Philippe Schmit’s bar menu, or ascend the attractive staircase to have dinner in the main restaurant.

    In the Upper Kirby area, situated inside upscale West Ave complex, you’ll find Cru Wine Bar, an intimate affair with flickering candlelights and a menu offering bottles, by the glass options, and pre-planned wine flights that’ll let you try three to five small pours. The backdrop is attractive, a place for groups, or couples, with daily drink specials and a menu that includes excellent pizzas and other light bites.

    Down the street from Cru, Sonoma Wine Bar is more of a wind-down kind of place, low-key, with thick, plush couches. It’s the kind of neighborhood hangout where you can go for a casual drink with friends, and it’s always busy.

    For a more intellectual menu offering, visit the hip 13 Celcius in Midtown, regarded by many in the industry as the best wine bar in town. Chefs and sommeliers hang out here often, and sommelier Adele Corrigan is generally always on hand to introduce you to that obscure, complex, off-the-beaten path wine you’d never heard of, but can fall in love with.

    Finally, if dining on gourmet comfort food is your thing, Max’s Wine Dive is available with that fried chicken and champagne pairing, or some other mouthwatering dish to pair with whatever glass of wine hits your fancy.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Mai Pham answered the question: Mai Pham

    Where are the best cocktails in Houston?

    Photos by Mai Pham 1. Pimm's Cup at Anvil. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as a Pimm's Cup at Anvil. One of 100 cocktails at this Montrose hangout, where each cocktail is hand-crafted according to specific measurements, the Pimm’s Cup is always good, no matter what. The fruit-based seasonal swizzles are also a good bet.

    2. $1500 and two weeks off at Double Trouble. This summery neighborhood bar, nestled in the Midtown, is owned by two bartenders named Robin. If that isn’t reason enough to get you there, then their Tiki-themed cocktail menu should. Drinks like the $1500 and two weeks off, a pink cocktail with and umbrella on it, is named after the vacation that one of the Robins wanted to take, and is creative and fun. Don’t hesitate to ask either of the Robins for whatever you feel like drinking, either. Both can make just about anything you want, and it’ll generally knock your socks off.

    3. Mano a Mano at Phil’s Wine Lounge. Manned by Ladies of Libation's Laurie Sheddan, the Lounge at Philippe restaurant not only offers an exciting choice of more than 80 wines by the glass, but fantastic cocktails, too. The Mano a Mano, one of their newest cocktails, for instance, is exquisite. Made with Pisco Porton and Mexican beer, this gourmet version of Houston’s best beer cocktail, the Michelada, features house-made herb-infused tomato juice all wrapped up in an attractive, salt-rimmed, tall Pilsner glass.

    4. Indochine at L’Olivier. Restaurant bar programs offer some of the best cocktails these days, and at L’Olivier French restaurant in Montrose, you’ll be hard pressed to choose just one. Though you may end up ordering several, the Indochine, made of house-infused basil and orange peel vodka, ginger simple syrup, and orange juice is the one that will whisk you away to the days when the French colonized Vietnam.

    5. Paloma at Cuchara. The bar at Cuchara is hip and current, artsy and cool. As you’re admiring the high ceilings and breezy, arthouse-meets-warehouse space, order the Paloma -- tangy, light, fizzy, and absolutely delicious. The pink colored concoction gets its color from the use of fresh grapefruit juice.

    6. Bloody Mary at Triniti. Sunday mornings, there’s nothing like a great Bloody Mary to set the mood while you’re having brunch. At Triniti, you can bet your bottoms up that the Bloody Mary -- just $5 during brunch -- will finish off your week on a great note. Rich with tomato, and topped with celery, jalapeno, pickled okra, and an olive, you can be guaranteed that one won’t be enough.
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