Adventures in H-Town

FOMO Frenzy: What restaurants are truly worth showing off to a visitor to Houston?

FOMO Frenzy: What restaurants are truly worth showing off to a visitor to Houston?

Houston, downtown, skyline, necklace, FOMO
I have had this thought process my entire life, but just never knew it had an actual name.  I figured that when I moved to Houston, my FOMO would escalate in high gear, and boy did it ever!
Places-Gigi's Asian Bistro-interior-1
Gigi’s Asian Bistro was by far a favorite during a winter visit. With that thought, another visit to Gigi’s may be in order after all. Photo by © Julie Soefer
Places-La Grilia-interior CVB
La Griglia is one of my awesome boyfriend's go-to for a special night out, but he will branch out to Raging Cajun, Cadillac Bar, Vincent’s, Pappasito’s and has a soft spot for Kim Son and a few other old favorite options. Courtesy of Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
Houston, downtown, skyline, necklace, FOMO
Places-Gigi's Asian Bistro-interior-1
Places-La Grilia-interior CVB

One of the best parts about moving to a new city is having out-of-town company. So, once again, I am preparing for visitors to our place. I love it, but as I get into the tour director mode, which I described in a previous column, I realize what pressure I put on myself to make my family/friend’s visits THE BEST EVER.

So little time and SO many places to take them. Same old, same old dilemma, but one that I happily embrace.

The last time this group came to Houston was in early December. With the extreme lack of rain, it was a bit of a struggle to show the city off properly. However, the gorgeous array of citywide Christmas lights went a long way to make up for the dead trees that were sad reminders of the tragic drought. 

 How is it that I can select and purchase a new car off the Internet, yet have a hard time choosing a restaurant? 

 Thankfully, we are super green this year, but I am feeling a bit of the familiar panic as my mind does its usual mental inventory to capture what I call “The Best of Houston”  (well, to me anyway) in only a three-day period.

Some people would be looking primarily at landmarks around the city to highlight. My focus is definitely on which restaurants showcase Houston’s fabulous cuisine while not being too show off-y or fancy pants to my parents. We tried several that were big hits on their previous visits.

And while I kind of hate going back to the ones we already visited with them, the wild card I threw in to my very Southern mom and stepdad—Gigi’s Asian Bistro —was by far their favorite during their winter visit.

Their (and my) hometown, Shelbyville, Tenn., isn’t exactly a hotbed of exotic cuisine. No upscale Asian, no French, no Italian, but meat and threes, and Mexican . . . yes, indeedy. There are probably more Mexican restaurants per capita in their small town of 20,000 than in Houston!

So while I will do a token Mexican restaurant outing, I usually try to find places that they would both love and couldn’t readily find in middle Tennessee. With that thought, another visit to Gigi’s may be in order. And after all, who doesn’t love the owner, Gigi Huang. Beautiful, smart, and super fun! 

As I consider the places that I should show them or take them, I realize that a phrase which describes a condition of sorts, I suppose, called FOMO, basically describes me. How I missed all the publicity this received a while back and inclusion in the Urban Dictionary, I will never know, but the more I read about FOMO (Fear of Missing Out  — in case you are like me and missed out on this new description), the more I could relate.

What do you do with your out-of- town guests? Do you have a special routine? What are your go-to places? I would love to have any and all input and promise to follow up on all great tips.

 To know that while you are having fun now at this place, was this the absolute very best choice and the absolute very best choice for this exact moment?? And by selecting certain offerings for my family’s visit, I will be denying them so many others.

I have had this thought process my entire life, but just never knew it had an actual name. I figured that when I moved to Houston, my FOMO would escalate in high gear, and, boy, did it ever!

Even after two years, I am happy to report that the city still enthralls me every day with its dizzying array of activities, and growing and vibrant food, music, film, and museum scene serve as a constant reminder that I am lucky that I ended up in Bayou City. Every food review, every recommendation from new friends or even total strangers in a line at Walgreens or at the Discount Tire Store (no less!) will set my mind racing. How is it that I can select and purchase a new car off the Internet, yet have a hard time choosing a restaurant? And our house? I was ready to pull the trigger after a 2-minute look-see.  Crazy, right?

My awesome boyfriend, RT, will offer classic restaurant choices. La Griglia is one of his go-to for a special night out, but he will branch out to Ragin' Cajun, Cadillac Bar, Vincent’s, Pappasito’s and has a soft spot for Kim Son and a few other old favorite options. But a foodie, he is not. 

I consider myself a “foodie light” – meaning that I love to know about new food options (recently discovered Hatch chiles!), shopping for food, cooking and entertaining friends, reading about and trying new restaurants, but I am not obsessed with it and probably would not be considered extremely adventurous.

Once I get the restaurant list buttoned down, the planning is still far from over. No one has left after a visit to my place without feeling completely frazzled. I know this is due to my wanting to show off  H-town, but would it kill me to lighten up on the planning? It would be completely fantastic to find a way to pare down their itinerary without my FOMO kicking in on my guests’ behalf. 

So . . .  please help!  What do you do with your out-of- town guests? Do you have a special routine? What are your go-to places? I would love to have any and all input and promise to follow up on all great tips.

After all, I want my family to love my fabulous adopted city just as much as I do!