Unwind in a Japanese garden and try vegetarian Tex-Mex.
Houston is one of the nation's fastest growing metropolises and its diverse community and bold young entrepreneurs are bringing new flavors and ideas to a city historically known for big oil. Here, how to get the most out of a trip to south Texas.
Where to Stay
The Post Oak Hotel is a glamorous new option that features Bentley and Rolls-Royce house cars to take you to meetings or dinner. The 250 guest rooms and 20 residences are decorated in several shades of gray, with chandeliers and dual screen TVs that slide discreetly into the credenza. Spacious soaking tubs are a bathroom highlight. Guests can also take advantage of the partnership with SoulCycle for a cycling class or visit the nearby Equinox River Oaks.
What to Do
For the academic:
Houston's Museum District boasts 19 museums within walking distance including the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston Museum of African American Culture, and Moody Center for the Arts. The Health Museum is a favorite for its interactive exhibits, which allow you to view your skin from a microscopic perspective and see what you’ll look like in 30 years.
For the nature lover:
Hermann Park is an urban oasis that spans 445 acres. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails, as well as a tranquil Japanese garden for quiet meditation. You can also explore McGovern Lake by pedal boat and the open-air Miller Outdoor Theatre frequently hosts movie nights, concerts, dance, and theatre performances.
For the DIY enthusiast:
Manready Mercantile is a modern general store, with leather goods, unisex bath products, vintage home décor, and bar accoutrements. Enjoy cocktails mixed by staff while browsing the mostly American-made collection and choosing between cedar and sage or bergamot and teak candles and lotions. You can even make your own candles or leather coasters during regular workshops hosted by founder Travis Weaver. Or visit the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, which features jewelry- and glass-making classes. Take a stroll in the surrounding garden that is full of plants used to make baskets, textiles, dyes, and papers.
Where to Eat
Start the day at Pondicheri, a casual contemporary Indian restaurant by chef Anita Jaisinghani. Originally from Gujarat, India, Jaisinghani has called Houston home for the past few decades. Her flavorful food is based on Ayurvedic principles; most dishes are vegetarian, gluten-free, and can be made vegan. Indecisive foodies can order the morning thali for a sampler of the restaurant’s most popular items or try the rye poha, a savory grain bowl with squash, onion, and purple potato.
Head to The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, where chef Alex Padilla offers lighter takes on Tex-Mex fare. He cooks with olive oil in place of lard and utilizes lots of local, fresh produce. Ceviche, wood-roasted octopus salad, mole-grilled wild-caught salmon, and Xochitl soup are all healthier options that remain big on flavor.
Book a table at Xochi; the restaurant was a semi-finalist for the Best New Restaurant James Beard Award this year. Chef Hugo Ortego experiments with bugs as a source of sustainable protein in his salads. There’s also a separate vegetarian menu that features dishes like mushroom and zucchini pancakes and black bean soup.