Heading to Houston on business? Surprises abound, from large swathes of green space to the 145-plus languages spoken and the ethnically diverse dining scene. Here are some ideas to keep you busy in between meetings.
Not all Texas-style barbecue is created equal. Getting your hands on the best often means queuing at inconvenient times but there are a few centrally located joints where you can score commendable slow-smoked beef brisket, pork ribs and sausage – known as the Texas Trinity – without too much effort. Roegels Barbecue Co., Pappa Charlies Barbeque and The Pit Room are all worth a visit. If you have some time between meetings, the hulking beef rib at Killen’s Barbecue, about 30 minutes’ drive south of Downtown, is excellent.
For all its urbane complexities, Houston doesn’t shy away from flaunting its country-and-western roots, especially in late February and March during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. One of the world’s biggest rodeos, the three weeks of festivities include a highly competitive barbecue cook-off, carnival rides and nightly concerts, this year featuring Garth Brooks. Cowboy boots are de rigueur.
Take care of your entire gift list at Kuhl-Linscomb in the Upper Kirby district. This labyrinthine lifestyle store stocks a staggering array of design-minded items, including jewellery, books and toys. It also sells beauty and apothecary products by Spanish skincare brand Natura Bissé, Brooklyn perfumer D. S. & Durga and historic French candlemaker Cire Trudon.
The city’s craft beer scene has exploded in recent years, with many breweries around town offering tastings. Saint Arnold Brewing Company, a quick hop from the CBD, ignited the local-beer movement and its hallowed beer hall is a fine place for a midweek tipple and lunch. Fridays are especially popular so arrive early.
On a leafy campus in Montrose, The Menil Collection is Houston’s most globally renowned museum. Artists and fine-art aficionados make the pilgrimage here to experience the wideranging collection of its late founders, John de Menil and his visionary wife, Schlumberger heiress Dominique. The core works are housed in an impressive Renzo Piano-designed building.
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David Hamilton, the fourth-generation owner of bespoke menswear brand Hamilton Shirts, shares his top five Houston highlights.
- Hugo’s restaurant in Montrose serves Mexican food and is consistently excellent. I love their mole. They also have the best vegetable plate in town.
- If the weather’s good, West Alabama Ice House (1919 West Alabama Street; +1 713 528 6874) is a relaxed outdoor bar where you can have a beer and food from the trucks parked outside.
- The three-mile [about five-kilometre] loop around Rice University is, depending on your ambitions, a great walk or run. The trail is lined with oak trees and goes all the way to Hermann Park.
- I love The Houston Museum of Natural Science, especially the Butterfly Center and the Hall of Paleontology.
- If you want something authentically Texan, hit The Hat Store, a serious western-hat shop [near Uptown] that has been there forever.
Top image: Andy Warhol’s Big Campbell’s Soup Can (Beef Noodle) is part of The Menil Collection