Hometown Glory

Is Houston the culinary and culture capital of Texas? One study says yes

Is Houston the culinary and culture capital of Texas? One study says yes

News_Tony's, interior
Houston is a top regional dining destination, according to a new survey from the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Pictured here, the dining scene at Tony's. Photo by Julie Soefer/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
News_Cinema Fest Wrap_MFAH reception
Frank Stella's "Damascus Gate" at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The city also ranked at the top of the GHCVB list in the area of "culture/performing arts." Photo by Priscilla Dickson
News_Tony's, interior
News_Cinema Fest Wrap_MFAH reception

It turns out all those travel writers coming to Houston and raving about the food — as well as the slick adverts starring Jim Parsons and The Tontons — have made an impact on how people view the city.

In a survey commissioned by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Houston was ranked the top regional destination for "variety of dining options" and in "culture/performing arts" among cities that included Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and New Orleans — Houston's main competitors for visitors.

 Are Chris Shepherd, Justin Yu and Hugo Ortega the new John Besh, Susan Spicer and Emeril Lagasse? It seems possible at this point. 

That's a big change from 2011, when a similar study placed Houston in a tie with Dallas on culinary variety and when all five cities were tied in the culture and performing arts category.

Houston pulling ahead is pretty significant considering that Dallas recently opened the massive AT&T Performing Arts Center, which includes four new arts venues for opera, theater and dance performances. In addition, Houston has long lived in the shadow of New Orleans' celebrated Creole culinary tradition. Are Chris Shepherd, Justin Yu and Hugo Ortega the new John Besh, Susan Spicer and Emeril Lagasse? It seems possible at this point.

The changing perception of H-Town seems to be having an effect on travel patterns as well. According to the Houston Chronicle, visits to Houston increased 20 percent between 2010 and 2011, although the lion's share of the increase (and of Houston's visitors in general) are coming to the city for business.