Take In a Show This Holiday Season in Houston

December 12th, 2014

What’s the holiday season without a good show for the whole family? (The answer is, “boring.”) So why not take a break from the shopping and crowds and advertising and actually enjoy a little end-of-the-year cheer with one of these fine shows?


1. The Nutcracker, Nov. 28-Dec.28, Houston Ballet

The perennial, ubiquitous Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker, plays for a solid month at the Houston Ballet. This year’s engagement runs from November 28 through December 28, so you can decide whether you like your fairy tales before or after you exchange presents with your loved ones. And as an added treat, the Houston Ballet will host a single performance of its annual Jubilee Dance on December 5.


2. Very Merry Pops, Dec. 12-14, Houston Symphony Chorus
No holiday would be complete without the spirited conducting of Michael Krajewski guiding the soaring sounds of the Houston Symphony Chorus in an all-decked-out Jones Hall during the annual Very Merry Pops concerts. Traditional favorites like “Winter Wonderland,” “Sleigh Ride” and “Little Drummer Boy” will either put you in the holiday spirit, or … actually, there is no or. Just go and let yourself feel wonderful.


3. ’Twas The Night Before Christmas, Dec. 13, Jones Hall
You know the tale, but after all these years, isn’t it still your favorite thing to have read to you? Narrator Mirron Willis, tells the timeless story with the help of the Houston Symphony for a family night like no other. Festive carols come with the show, by the way.


4. Handel’s Messiah, Dec. 18-21, Jones Hall

If you’ve never seen or heard Handel’s timeless, transcendent opus to God, do yourself a favor and experience it for the first time with the Houston Symphony Chorus. You don’t have to be religious to enjoy he show, and the music is as sweeping and rousing as anything you will ever hear. This is the masterpiece that gave the world the thunderous “Hallelujah” choir, which, trust us, sounds far better in Jones Hall than it would in any other venue in Houston.

5 of the Best Pizza Shops in Houston

December 3rd, 2014


Don’t think of Houston when you think of great pizza? You should. The Bayou City has an abundance of great pizza shops that offer everything from East Coast authenticity to Texas panache. Fold up a few slices from these places and you’ll see what we mean.


Chain restaurants seldom get the notice they deserve when they’re good. But Grimaldi’s corners the market on what real New York pizza tastes like. Not what New York-style pizza tastes like, what actual New York pizza tastes like. The company filters local water so that its chemical composition matches that of the water in New York (which actually is considered the among cleanest and best-tasting in the country), so that the crust comes out exactly right. If you’re from the East Coast, taste this little slice of home, it doesn’t get any more authentic (or delicious) than this.  If you’re in the Woodlands, then don’t pass this location by.



Dolce VitaDolce Vita

The sweet life indeed. As authentic as Florentine pizza gets in Texas (and yes, we mean Florence, Italy), Dolce Vita comes closest to being an actual symphony of tastes ‒‒ sweet and tangy; hearty but mellow; crispy and puffy and chewy. It may be as close to the perfect Italian pizza as you’re ever going to get in Houston.






Forget the lackluster name, this pizza shop offers a grand tour of Italian pizza flavors, from Naples to Tuscany. Provisions cooks its pies over burning wood and serves up an array of gourmet concoctions on a signature-tasting crust that has just the hint of a sourdough pretzel. If you’re a fan of sausage on a pizza, by the way, know that this place makes its pork products in-house.






Coppa has become a local legend for its thin crust and off-beat varieties (like ham&egg pizza), and the reviews are always on the highest end. This is gourmet pizza at its most experimental. Toppings include game meats, such as quail, and as its name implies, the cured pork coppa features on most pies. But if you’re afraid to experiment, there’s still a mighty tasty Margherita pie waiting for you.





Do you just want a pizza without the hype or the experimentation? Antonio’s Flying Pizza is your place. Founded in 1971 by a New Jersey transplant, Antonio’s serves up traditional pizza like an old-school Jersey shop. In other words, incredibly delicious, totally unpretentious, and highly addictive.

The 5 Best Live Music Venues in Houston

November 12th, 2014


So music is in your blood, eh? So you need to know where to find great music in the city, eh? Good thing there are so many great venues to choose from in Houston. Try these venues on for size next time you need a night out with a soundtrack.

Anderson Fair

Like your music authentic and not so loud and booming that it breaks your ears? Try Anderson Fair, where a simple platform and an astonishingly broad parade of eclectic, singer-songwriter acts travel through on a pretty frequent basis. Don’t go in expecting a huge menu or anything. Even the food is simple here. Just enough to keep you from going hungry or thirsty while you take in some great music.



The Big Easy

With a name like this, you know this place is as cool as New Orleans. And in a town nicknamed Bayou City, you know it’s a great venue for blues and zydeco. And if you didn’t know it before, now you do. Try to find a bad act playing here and try to not get swept up in the lively fun of this crowd-pleaser. We dare you.




Big Top Lounge 

The funky, eclectic vibe of Big Top and the fact that there is never a cover (seriously, they emphasize that) draws many a chill crowd not interested in hype and trend. But everyone who comes here seems to be big on good tunes and relaxed live bands. You never know quite what you’re going to hear, but odds are you’ll remember it.


Dan Electro’sDan Electro's

If you actually do want hip, Dan Electro’s Guitar Bar is the best bet for a great dive bar in the Heights. Dark and divey, there’s a certain vintage edge to the music played here; music reminiscent of the underground New York or London scenes of the late 1970s, when punk and new wave, disco and metal met at a crossroads.



No mention of Houston’s live music scene is complete without a nod to Fitzgerald’s. This place has for three decades been a train stop for artists on the verge of making it and a pilgrimage site for passionate, touring acts looking for an authentic place to play live. With two stages, up-and-comer shows on weekends, and open-mic Wednesdays, there are few places in Houston better to catch an act you’ll soon say “I saw them when …” about.

The 5 Coolest Movies Shot in Houston

November 10th, 2014

Ever get the vague sense that something in a movie looks familiar? Well, you’ve likely walked right through some of cinema’s more mainstream sets and never knew it. Or maybe you did. In either case, here’s a list of some of the coolest movies ever to set up camp in Houston.

Space Cowboys

If you’ve ever visited the Johnson Space Center (and you should ‒‒ come on, it’s NASA!), you’ll recognize many of the sets used in this 2000 space-bound comedy about astronauts who aren’t quite past their prime yet. And let’s face it, any location that can say ‘Clint Eastwood was here’ is a cool location.


Apollo 13appollo

In real-world space-bound adventures, there is Ron Howard’s near-flawless telling of the 1971 failed lunar mission that almost cost the lives of three American astronauts in outer space. Like Space Cowboys, Apollo 13 uses the Johnson Space Center to great effect. (And seriously, go see this place, it’s open to the public).




Bill Murray’s transition from movie star to indie icon began with this 1998 art house hit about a prep school kid and a grown man feuding over a woman. Probably better now than when it was released. And anyone who knows Lamar High School will know exactly where they shot this movie.


Urban Cowboyurban cowboy

The first era when John Travolta was cool, circa 1980, wound down around the time of Urban Cowboy, a love story about the up-and-down relationship between a cowboy and cowgirl. Iconic as a slice of Texas beef, the film may have aged a little (the hair and clothes? Ouch), but it remains one of the most popular depictions of the very-Texas tradition of the road house.


Terms of Endearment

Undoubtedly the most critically successful film ever to shoot in Houston is 1983’s multi-Oscar winner, Terms of Endearment.  In fact, the film won three of the Big-4 Academy awards (best picture, director, and actress) and another for supporting actor. The exterior shots of Aurora’s (Shirley MacLaine) home were filmed at 3060 Locke Lane.

Houston 5 Tallest Skyscrapers

August 25th, 2014


It seems only fitting that Texas’ biggest city and biggest boomtown also has the biggest building in the state. The Bayou City’s skyline is recognizable for its sheer height ‒‒ even its runner up buildings are taller than most buildings in Texas. Three of them are in the top 30 tallest in the U.S. The moral of the story is, if you go to Houston, be prepared to cast your gaze skyward. Just don’t hurt your neck.

1. Heritage Plaza Tower

At 53 stories and 762 feet, his tower is the fifth-tallest building in Houston, the eighth-tallest in Texas, and the 60th-tallest in the United States. Completed in early 1987, it was the last major office building completed in Downtown Houston, as the state’s real estate, banking, and oil industries collapsed in unison in the 1980s.


2. Bank of America Center

At 56 stories, the BOA Center is Houston’s fourth-tallest building. It’s also the 55th-tallest building in the United States and the seventh-tallest in Texas. Unique to Texas skylines, the northeast corner of this building houses a building within a building ‒‒ Western Union. Relocation of the latter’s telegraph cables proved infeasible, so the new building was built right over the old one. BOA Center reaches 780 feet.

3. The Williams Tower

Once (and still commonly) known as the Transco Tower, this 64-story office tower is the bronze medalist in Houston’s tallest buildings competition. Reaching 901 feet, the tower is the 26th-tallest building in the United States, and the 140th-tallest building in the world. At the time of its construction, in the early 1980s, it was thought to be the world’s tallest skyscraper outside of a central downtown business district.


4. Wells Fargo Bank Plaza

Though it is the runner up to the city’s tallest building, Wells Fargo Bank Plaza has a few cool distinctions. It’s the second-tallest building in the state, 16th-tallest building in the country, and at 992 feet, is the tallest all-glass building in the western hemisphere. It’s also the tallest building named for Wells Fargo. It was formerly known as the Allied Bank Plaza and the First Interstate Bank Plaza.

5. JPMorganChase Tower

The tallest building in Houston is the tallest in Texas and 14th-tallest in the country. Soaring a mighty 1,002 feet, this 75-story giant is the most visible landmark in the city. And though it is the 79th-tallest building in the world, it actually is the world’s tallest five-sided building. There is also an observation deck on its 60th floor.

Our Houston Rockets ‒‒ Will They Be As Hot As Our Real Estate Market?

August 22nd, 2014

Over the past 10 NBA seasons, the state of Texas has been the capital of championship basketball. Since 2004, Texas has been represented in the NBA Finals six times and has won four. Alas, the Houston Rockets have yet to join the 21st century party. Not since 1994 and 1995, when the Rockets won back-to-back titles, has Houston yielded an NBA championship contender.

Still, as we head into fall, and the 2014-15 NBA season, Houston may not be poised to take off like it’s team name suggests. Everyone knows the city and its suburbs are growing in a big way, but will the Rockets be able to match the explosive growth in the city?

Certainly the team’s hopes are high. Despite the devastating, three-point buzzer-beater loss at the hands of that guy from Portland who shall remain not named, which knocked Houston’s championship hopes off the fast track last season, the sting of that loss has lit a fire under the Rockets that had the team scurrying to land the mighty LeBron James. Okay, so no one expected them to, but the fight to be in the conversation shows how serious the Rockets are about getting a marquee name and a big-time run at the big time.

It’s safe to say that Houston is at a crossroads, both in its real estate growth (where the boom is outpacing the city’s infrastructure) and its NBA team, which failed to land a megastar in the off-season but is looking to build organically, and solidly. And the team is looking solid already, with the likes of Patrick Beverley, James Harden, and Dwight Howard in the mix.

How the team bounces back from its heartbreaking loss in last year’s playoff will be a good indicator of how suited the Rockets are for another run at a championship. And it’s only fair that they get to play in the Texas championship party some time this century, right?

Back To School Shopping ‒‒ Top Three Houston-area Malls

August 20th, 2014


Whether your kids are looking forward to going back to school or not, there’s no reason for them to look out of style. If you want them to look their best for a brand new year, you can’t go wrong with these Houston malls.

Highland Village

In the bid for Houston’s best high-end mall, Highland Village may be hard to beat. This is the mall where high-end chain stores cement their presence in the city, and it’s pretty much been that way since 1957. If you want to outfit the kids in style, this is absolutely the place to go. There’s even valet parking.


The Galleria

If the high-end of Highland Village is not your scene, maybe the city’s top tourist attraction is. Yes, more so than the Astros, Rockets, and NASA, the Galleria is the top tourist destination on the entire Gulf Coast area. The Galleria boasts 24 million visitors a year, who come to shop and be entertained in the mall’s 2.4 million square feet of indoor space. For back-to-school shopping, you will most certainly find what you’re looking for at the Galleria’s 375 stores, which mix the highest of the high-end (Gucci, Tiffany & Co.,etc.) with more reasonable names, like Macy’s, Dillards, and the Gap.


Houston Premium Outlet

Outside of Houston, in nearby Cypress, lies the Houston Premium Outlet Mall, where shoppers can save as much as 60 percent off department store apparel and other goods. HPO is the favorite spot for bargain hunters in Houston, featuring 145 stores, from Coach to New Balance. Bring a big trunk and get there early, the lot is often full before noon.

Houston Traffic: Be Prepared to Stop

August 16th, 2014


Even if you don’t live in Houston, you’ve likely still heard about its growth. To say the Bayou City is booming is an understatement for sure. And with the boom comes the traffic. Already famous for congestion, Houston’s roads are getting worse. And, because growth is happening so fast and traffic volume is so high, the city often can’t shut down the roads to repair some crumbling infrastructure. If you’re driving through Houston, do your best to avoid these areas:

1. I-45 into Downtown Houston

Coming or going, if you’re travelling on I-45, be prepared to take a long look at the outskirts of Downtown Houston. Clogged on a good day, the ten miles, give or take, leading to and from the city can be extremely slow going. If there’s an accident or some flooding (it happens), you’ll need to phone whoever you’re driving to see and inform them you’ll be late.

2. U.S. 59 from I-10 to TX-288

The Texas Department of Transportation ranked this stretch of road the second-worst in the state (I-35 in Austin is the worst). According to the Houston Chronicle, this piece of highway accounts for an average of 743,006 hours of delay per mile, annually.

3. U.S. 59 from TX-288 to Loop 610

Come on, you didn’t think you were out of the woods yet, did you? This piece of highway real estate is actually third-worst in Texas. According to the Chronicle, this stretch accounts for an annual average of 730,655 hours of delay per mile. And, sadly, there are no easy alternatives to avoid the congestion along 59.

4. I-10 from I-45 to the Grand Parkway

TxDOT considers this segment the worst truck traffic in the entire state. And with the heavy commercial traffic come frequent truck-related incidents ‒‒ spills, breakdowns, accidents that pinch off already-sluggish traffic.

5. South Shepherd between West Gray and U.S. 59

Less about snarled traffic and more about road conditions that make it slow-going, this slip of South Shepherd is actually too busy to shut down to make needed repairs and ease congestion. And it’s still faster than 59, for the most part.

Top 5 Master Planned Communities In Houston

July 28th, 2014


If there’s boom happening in Texas, it’s happening in Houston. But the Bayou City isn’t just a burgeoning urban cityscape. Houston and its surroundings house some of the top master-planned communities going, and more are coming, fueled by the growth of Houston as the energy capital of the U.S.

The Woodlands


No community, much less no master-planned community, is experiencing the growth and fast pace that The Woodlands is. This suburb of Houston is the fastest-growing place in Texas, thanks to the coming of Exxon Mobil and the 10,000 new jobs it’s bringing with it by 2015. A home in The Woodlands is so sought-after that there is barely a month of inventory (a normal market has six months) and in many cases, homes are selling the day they hit the market, and for more than the asking price.


Sedona LakesSedona Lakes

Sedona Lakes, a new master-planned community just south of Houston, in Manvel, is a luxury master-planned community in the shadow of the big city. Sedona Lakes is just a quick commute to the Texas Medical Center, the central business district, Greenway Plaza, and a most major work centers in the metro area. This gated community is served by the Alvin Independent School District, and an onsite elementary school is planned here.


Barrington Kingwood Barrington Kingwood


Another gated master-planned community just outside of downtown Houston is the 200-acre Barrington Kingwood. This upscale community is surrounded by the back nine of the Lakes Golf Course of Kingwood Country Club and is renowned for its spectacular views. There are also manicured baseball and soccer fields, horse stables, the boat ramp into Lake Houston, and Deer Ridge Park. All within a few minutes of the booming, bustling downtown.


City Park


Just minutes from the Medical Center and Galleria area is City Park, an eclectic master-planned community that puts you close to work, but gives you splendid living options.  Renowned builders have lent their hands to a superb location, with outstanding amenities that put you close to city living, but still in the quiet and calm of your own neighborhood.


Westover Park


Still under construction, Westover Park is a premier 500-acre master-planned community slated to house more than 1,400 homes when it’s completed. The inaugural two  recreation centers feature a 5-acre recreation complex that includes three pools, a cabana house, a multi-purpose sports field, a playground, a lake, and a park. Prices are ultimately expected to range from the $150,000s to the $350,000s.

Top 4 Luxury Gated Communities in Houston

July 14th, 2014


Houston isn’t just the sprawling urban cityscape you see in pictures and movies. The Houston area also has some of the finest upscale communities in Texas, if not the country. If you’re looking for luxury living in one of Houston’s premiere gated communities, consider these destinations:


Sedona LakesSedona Lakes

Sedona Lakes is a new master-planned community just south of Downtown Houston, off Route 288 in the Greater Pearland town of Manvel. This is great news for anyone looking for luxury living in the shadow of the big city and all it has to offer. Sedona Lakes is just a quick commute to the Texas Medical Center, the central business district, Greenway Plaza, and a most major work centers in the metro area. And for the kids, there’s the Alvin Independent School District, which will feature an onsite elementary school. At home, Sedona Lakes is set amid tranquil trees and features miles of trails for walking a hiking. There’s a family pool, waterslide, and contemporary open-air pavilion for recreation and a soothing waterfall for relaxing. And, of course, there are some of the finest homes, built by some of the country’s most preferred builders.

Royal Oaks Country ClubRoyal Oaks

Eight miles west of the Galleria is the Royal Oaks Country Club and its private, residential community. This is luxury living at its peak, where homes start at $300,000 and continue past $3 million. But what you get for your money is a legendary course accessible only through a guarded, private gate, where the stonework will take your breath away. The 50-acre course itself was designed by golf legend Fred Couples and boasts nine lakes, multi-tiered greens and even a waterfall. The 600-acre community is a completely private collection of homes in an array of styles on large lots. If you’re not up for a round on the links, enjoy the hiking trails, swimming, or tennis.


Barrington KingwoodBarrington Kingwood

The 200-acre enclave that is Barrington Kingwood is designed for upscale living. This master-planned community offers a resort lifestyle surrounded by the back nine of the Lakes Golf Course of Kingwood Country Club. In other words, the views are spectacular. From your porch, though, you’re likely to get an eyeful of the manicured baseball and soccer fields, horse stables, the boat ramp into Lake Houston, or Deer Ridge Park. And if you want to get your city fix,  it’s just a quick bike ride to Starbucks, Carrabba’s Italian Grille and all of the shopping you could want. The community’s motto is “City Living without the City,” and in this guarded, gated community, you’ll see why.


Place des VosgesPlace des Vosges

Place des Vosges, pronounced “plas ‘VOZH,  puts old-fashioned living in one of Houston’s newest gated luxury communities. This is where cast stone and brick facades meet cobblestone walkways and hand-crafted wrought iron gates. This quiet oasis lies in the shadow of Uptown Park, Post Oak Boulevard, and Tanglewood and boasts 4,200- to 6,800-square-foot custom homes with French exteriors, large living spaces and a low maintenance lifestyle.