NYT on HOU
New York Times showcases Bayou City's best in glowing '36 hours in Houston' travel guide
With events like the rodeo, the Final Four, and the College Football National Championship coming to Houston in the next 12 months, travelers will be flocking to Houston. Of course, they’ll need some advice about where to say, eat, shop, and sightsee.
The New York Times offers its suggestions in the latest version of it “36 hours in Houston” column, an update to articles it has published in 2010 and 2016. In this edition, author Shannon Sims, identified in the article as a writer who “grew up in Houston and lives there today,” offers a mix of Houston classics with some newer options for people who want to experience the city’s diversity — or, at least, a mostly Inner Loop version of it.
As for where visitors should stay, Sims suggests a trip to the Texas-shaped pool at Marriott Marquis Houston or La Maison in Midtown, a cozy bed and breakfast.
She also lauds La Colombe d’Or, noting that the 100-year-old Montrose manse “exudes luxury, from the glamorously moody hotel bar to the slick rooftop pool.”
Then, it's on to her first two recommendations. She suggests visitors take in artist Yayoi Kusama’s installation inside the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston that opened in 2020. After wandering through the galleries, travelers should head to the classic West Alabama Ice House for beer and tacos from the popular Tacos Tierra Caliente food truck that parks next door. For dinner, travelers should drive or rideshare to Chinatown for Viet-Cajun fare from Crawfish & Noodles.
Saturday morning kicks off with breakfast at Koffeteria, pastry chef Vanarin Kuch’s inventive EaDo bakery and cafe. Visitors can get a sense of the history of Black Houstonians with walking tours at downtown’s Sam Houston Park and through Freedmen’s Town.
Sims acknowledges that “identifying the best Texas barbecue in Houston is a fool’s errand.” Recognizing, however, that many visitors will feel slighted without eating some smoked meat, she sends them to Truth Barbecue on the corner of Heights Boulevard and Washington Avenue for the “mandatory” brisket, “peppery” pork ribs, and brisket boudin sausage. Note to travelers: Truth frequently serves Carolina-style whole hog on Saturdays, too.
A busy Saturday afternoon itinerary includes shopping the vintage stores and boutiques on lower Westheimer followed by a walk through along Buffalo Bayou to Eleanor Tinsley Park. In keeping with the classic foods of Houston aspect of the itinerary, Sims suggests The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation along with some other Tex-Mex options for a proper feast of queso, fajitas, and margaritas. Wrap up the evening with a bar crawl on Main Street in downtown.
Visitors should complete their experience with a Sunday morning visit to Hermann Park followed by brunch (and fantastic people watching) at Lucille’s. Last stop: a casual walk among the oak trees and elegant homes on North and South Boulevards.
Overall, Sims provides readers with a comprehensive list of suggestions for Montrose, the Museum District, and downtown. Still, a few alternatives would make the itinerary a little more contemporary.
Although she notes that EaDo is the “part of Houston has changed the most over the past five years,” her only recommendation in the neighborhood is Koffeteria. Travelers could swap Saturday night’s Main Street bar crawl for EaDo options like Miss Carousel, the Sunset Rooftop Lounge, and breweries such as 8th Wonder and True Anomaly.
Similarly, those who want to dive more deeply into Black Houston could swap out Truth Barbecue and the Montrose shopping jaunt for lunch at Rays Real Pit BBQ Shack, a visit to the University Museum at Texas Southern University, and a stop at Kindred Stories, a nearby bookstore. Hermann Park makes sense for its proximity to Lucille’s, but Memorial Park’s new, 100-acre Land Bridge and Prairie project would be a little more current.
Finally, making a definitive statement about Houston’s best taco truck is just as much of a “fool’s errand” as naming a best barbecue joint. Sims plants her flag for Tacos Tierra Caliente, but those looking for other options should consider Texas Monthly taco editor José Ralat’s “Houston Taco Trail.”