Hoffman's Houston
five stars for this 'hood

Ken Hoffman on the surprise community named best place to live in the Houston area

Ken Hoffman on the community named best place to live in Houston area

LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch
This community topped West University as best place to live in the Houston area.  Photo courtesy of LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch

For the past, oh, every year, I get to write the same story: Small town West University Place in the Houston area is named the best place to live in Texas … best place in the U.S. … best place on Earth … in the universe, etc.

I mention a bunch of the reasons, like charming West U. Elementary School, the amazing Little League, the 60-second response from fire and police departments, the city manager and mayor answer your calls, the location, Kenny & Ziggy’s, the biggest Chick-fil-A in the country, people get to live near me — all the perks.

Here, when the trash collector picks up your garbage, he leaves a mint on your trash can.

The main criticism I hear about West U is, “you live in tidy town, it’s not very diverse, is it?” Not true, we’re very diverse: we have every kind of doctor or lawyer you want.

The other day I saw another study in the Houston Chronicle: “New ranking: These are Houston’s best places to live.” In Larry Bird fashion, I wondered, who’s No. 2 this time? Usually it’s Bellaire or River Oaks or some other distant runner-up.

Not this time. According to a data site called Niche, and based on criterial like schools, cost of living, crime rates, location, and other factors, the best place to live in the Houston area is Cinco Ranch, a master-planned community about 25 miles west of Houston.  

Sugar Land finished in second place, followed by The Woodlands, New Territory, Greatwood, Nassau Bay, Spring Valley Village — and then, in lowly eighth place, West University Place. Rounding out the Top 10 were Memorial and Clear Lake.

My only joy in this survey, Bellaire (West U’s arch rival across the railroad tracks) finished in 17th place. I have nothing against the communities that beat West U. I have a friend who lives in The Woodlands and won’t shut up about the place.

Every time I’m in The Woodlands I completely agree with all of his boasts. I can’t argue with all those tennis courts, bike paths, stores, quick trip to the airport, and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

How about if we just agree that Houston is the best place to live in the U.S., stop this immature squabbling that I started, and leave it at that? 

As for the best country in the world … a new contender for America’s brass ring may be Belgium. Last week, citizens of Belgium were told that they’re not eating enough French fries and they should start eating fries at least twice a week. At least twice a week!

Belgians were told, unless they up their French fry game, more than 750,000 tons of potatoes would have to be thrown away. Wholesale prices of potatoes have dropped from around $146 a ton to about $20 a ton. Supermarkets are offering discounts and special promotions to get Belgians to eat more fries.

At the root (vegetable) of the problem, Belgians are under a strict stay-at-home order, and restaurant dining rooms are closed, so people are eating more freshly prepared meals at home. The current plan has Belgian restaurants allowed to open on June 8.

Lore has it that French fries were invented in Belgium, so points there. They make ‘em great, too. Belgium double and even triple-frying them, and serves them in paper cones for walking around snacks. My only dispute with the Belgians, their favorite dipping condiment for fries is mayonnaise. That’s so wrong for a thousand different reasons, mostly calories and texture.