While it might seem that everyone worth his or her Ferrari has ditched Houston heat for cooler climes, the truth is that plenty of H-Town's cognoscenti are still here and others are tripping in and out between vacays in Aspen and Nantucket.
Just check out the valet parking at Armandos, Brasserie 19 or SaltAir. Loads of Bentleys, Maserattis and Porsches continue to claim the high-profile slots.
We've been checking out a few of this summer's hot spots and share with you our finds on where to see and be seen.
SaltAir Seafood Kitchen
Since opening two weeks ago, the new restaurant at Kirby and West Alabama has been jammed nightly with practically every notable in town. As co-owner Grant Cooper said on a recent night, "We had to tell the hostesses that we have 195 guests tonight and all of them are VIPs."
Notables included Houston Texans physician Dr. Walt Lowe heading a table full of handsome caballeros, at another table the glam Dr. Romy Mitchell and at other tables those who prefer to fly under the radar.
The young and restless surround the bar, standing three deep or hang at one of the tables in the intimate dining area off the entrance. The well-established coterie tends to order the delish fried clams from tables in the center dining room. Once the weather cools (October?), tables on the covered patio will be at a premium.
Thursday nights are still king at the popular River Oaks Tex-Mex haunt. Once the DJ takes over and tables are moved to make room for the dance floor, the joint is jumping into the wee morning hours.
While their parents are summering in Pebble Beach and the Hamptons, scions of River Oaks, who still do the 9 to 5, are discovering what their parents' generation has long enjoyed — the food, potent margaritas and a social quotient that continuously runs high.
If it's a wild, rocking night in a chic setting that rings your chimes, this is the place. Club Clé (French for key) is regularly a sellout with energy traders, young lawyers and enough hipsters to make it really interesting. The champagne girls are clad in black leather bustiers and tights while the hottie waitress uniform features short shorts.
On a recent Saturday, as many as 1,500 jeunesse dorée crowded into the chic nightspot, more than a few willing to part with big bucks for the special dance floor tables where the geography requires $1,500, $2,500 or $5,000 commitments. The top table includes champagne service like you've never seen — the waitress with champagne carried in on a bier lifted by four hunky dudes, sparklers shooting in the air.
Yes, it's a grocery store but it's a grocery like no other and it draws the chicest of shoppers ranging from medical center notables to star chefs and social swells. Recently, chef Mark Cox of Mark's American Cuisine, clearly on a busman's holiday, was spotted picking up summer plums for making jam. Lunch hour in the cafe offers good people watching as well.
Hint for ladies looking for love, men with a talent for cooking are regularly sighted, after the workday ends, at the meat and seafood counters.
We think the throng that packs this place to the rafters of this new Montrose hotspot is not so much after the Mexican seafood offerings as it is for the specialty cocktails such as the tequila-laced "Watermelon Fresca" or the "Blueberry Crush." La Grange sizzles with a mixed crowd, a little something for everyone.
The best place to see and be seen just might be the second level balcony where you can catch an evening breeze while looking down on one of Montrose's most animated scenes.
While summer is certainly the sleepiest season for retail, something is always afoot at this chic West Ave emporium. Members of the social set are in and out, perhaps in town for a few days break from the Rockies or recuperating from the summer's cosmetic procedures. Trunk shows, special luncheons and shopping keep the energy flowing.
The charming Fady Armanious, Tootsies' creative director, is in town and he's worth the visit in his own right. If you happen to catch owner Mickey Rosmarin, all the better for he is the love of all the ladies.
The mercury can approach the three-digit level but that doesn't stop happy patrons from filling the patio every night of the week (thanks in part to heavy-duty fans and misters) and most of Saturday and Sunday. The conviviality in the crowd is apparent even from the cars driving by on Westheimer.
Morning, noon and early evenings on the weekend, this fresh-from-the-ovens bakery is beyond popular. Expect to stand in line (not a bad thing as it gives you time to visually graze through the offerings) along with a glam collection of YPs who are clearly not counting calories — at least at this moment. Very popular with H-Town's chic Asian community.
Long the center of the universe for Houston's adult scenesters, this watering hole/restaurant might have been expecting to take a hit from its sister restaurant SaltAir, but a recent visit belied any loss of cachet. It seems there are enough Bentleys and Mercedes to go around and enough swells in town even in July to keep the bar hopping.
You might recall that Town & Country magazine declared this hot spot as one of the best places in the country to nab a millionaire husband. But girls, beware. Many of those gents at the bar are married.
Whether the Richmond, Washington, Westheimer or Navigation location, El Tiempo has to reign as the most popular Tex-Mex watering hole inside the Loop. At 7 p.m. on a recent Sunday night, the table wait on Washington was 45 minutes. You'll never feel alone in one of these hot spots as the crowds are thick and congenial. The Washington Avenue locale is particularly popular with the young professional that fill the new townhouses and apartments that are springing up between Memorial Drive and Washington.