As 2022 approaches, we look back at the stories readers most consumed in 2021.
These pieces touched on love, disaster, beloved figures moving on, and — true to Houston form — food. From a lush tropical wedding to Winter Storm Uri, from Britta Merwin to Guy Fieri, these stories most captivated readers hungry for good news after a bleak 2020.
Fortunately, the good news was plentiful this year.
We thank you for reading this year, and sincerely look forward to bringing you the hottest news as it develops in 2022. Here, then, are the top stories of 2021.
1. Houston power couple jets off to St. Croix for luxurious island wedding. Just why did the story of Jacquie Baly and James Craig wedding in the islands soar? Everyone loves a love story, no doubt. But perhaps Houstonians were eager — after a tumultuous 2020 — for some good news. And it's hard to top the charming duo's tropical wedding for good news.
2. Guy Fieri showcases 4 Houston restaurants in new Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives episodes. Few topics explode on CultureMap like Guy Fieri. To wit, this story reporting that the spiky-haired TV host was visiting Fresco Cafe Italiano, Weights + Measures, Be More Pacific, and an empanada house for his beloved show was our most-read dining item in our most-read section.
3. CenterPoint Energy's online outage tracker crashes as thousands of Houstonians wake to no power. As hundreds of thousands of Houstonians woke to no power as Winter Storm Uri arrived, CenterPoint's reliable outage tracker crashed, adding to the confusion and frustration in an already challenging day. The crash was just the first of challenges that February week presented.
4. Charming Houston TV weather personality lands major national gig. Few morning TV personalities in Houston were more loved than Britta Merwin. So readers were dismayed to learn the charming meteorologist was leaving her post at Channel 2. Fans can catch her now on Fox Weather, Fox News Media’s new streaming weather service.
5. Ken Hoffman blasts his former hero and center of controversial new HBO documentary. Our esteemed columnist noted that in watching the controversial HBO documentary Allen v. Farrow, he was "disappointed and repulsed by the comedian whose work I loved and admired," Woody Allen. The director's alleged inappropriate behavior with his then-7-year-old daughter Dylan and his affair with Soon-Yi Previn was too much for Hoffman.
6. Food Network superstar Guy Fieri dives into Houston for surprise visit. What's that, a Guy Fieri sighting? Cue the buzz. Our food editor Eric Sandler's reporting of The Mayor Flavortown's visit to Houston got readers chattering on social media and on our pages. Sandler confirmed that Fieri visited Fresco Cafe Italiano, The Pit Room, The Toasted Coconut, Traveler’s Table, and Weights + Measures.
7. Prestigious Houston university declared No. 7 in the nation and best in Texas by new study. Rice rose again, as the Ivy League of the South was heralded by Niche.com in its college ranking as the seventh best college in the U.S. and the best college in Texas. Rice also made headlines as the best school in Texas for graduates, its new president, and debt-free financial aid.
8. Longtime Houston TV news anchor retires and will be replaced by his son. Another story that proved that Houstonians love reading about TV personalities. Leaving a 23-year post is never easy, but surely ABC13 anchor and mainstay Art Rascon found comfort in announcing he will be replaced by his son, Jacob.
9. Running list of Houston restaurants and bars temporarily closed due to latest COVID outbreak. For this piece, Sandler watched the growing number of restaurants announcing closures over the weekend of the Houston omicron surge. His list reminds that we are still very much in the midst of a pandemic.
10. Houston's most popular traffic anchor signs off after 6-year run. Yet another TV personality departure story, this time: Popular ABC13 traffic anchor Katherine Whaley announced that she was leaving the station after six years to dedicate her time to her family. The avid foodie still boasts a considerable social media presence.