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Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls

With the end of this brutal summer finally (hopefully?!) in sight, it is time to start planning for fall. Call it second summer, as in still plenty warm for enjoying the outdoors but no longer hot enough to melt pavement.

Here are six places perfect for a much-needed autumn getaway. Take one (or more) as a just reward for surviving another scorching Texas summer.

Port Aransas
Miles of beach, without summer crowds: What else do you need? Well, perhaps a place to stay, and you’ll find every option from fancy condos to kitschy cottages in this seaside town. Plenty of dining and entertainment options, too. Try the local seafood at places like La Playa Mexican Grill, Fins Grill & Icehouse, and Seafood and Spaghetti Works. Have a cold one at Bernie’s Beach House, the Port A Beer Hut, or Moby Dick’s. Rent bicycles, golf carts, surfboards, and kayaks at Island Surf Rentals (check out the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail). Or just sit on the beach.

Lake Bastrop North Shore Park
This LCRA park in Bastrop hugs the shore of a constant temperature lake for swimming, paddling (canoe, kayak, SUP, and Corcl rentals available), or fishing (with a boat ramp and pier). The park features almost 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, including one connecting to Lake Bastrop South Shore Park, and a sand volleyball court, too. Stay in one of 5 Airstream campers, 2 cabins, or 6 safari style tents. All have grills for cooking and decks for enjoying views of the lake and the stars while sipping a cold one. Other dining and entertainment options in nearby Bastrop, including a distillery and several breweries and taprooms. Neighbor's Kitchen & Yard and Iron Bridge Icehouse, both on the banks of the Colorado River, serve food, craft beer and cocktails, and live music.

Lake Georgetown
At this Corps of Engineers reservoir, choose from four campgrounds with RV and tent camping options. Enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking (rentals available at Russell Park), and hiking. The crown jewel is the Good Water Trail, a 26-mile loop around the entire lake through a variety of terrain, with multiple trailheads offering the opportunity for shorter hikes. Dining options, wine bars, breweries, and other lodging options are nearby in Georgetown. Check out Barking Armadillo Brewing and, on the courthouse square, three wine tasting rooms and multiple dining options.

Matagorda Bay Nature Park
Located where the Colorado River meets the Gulf of Mexico, Matagorda Bay offers miles of uncrowded beaches for combing and wetlands for paddling. Rent beach chairs, wagons, and kayaks (guided tours available), play miniature golf, fish on the beach or pier, or birdwatch. In addition to Airstream rentals and camping and RV sites, visitors now can rent one of 10 new bungalows that sleep from six to eight people, with fully equipped kitchens, outdoor decks, gas grills, and fantastic views.

Painted Sky Inn
Located on a tranquil inlet of Lake Buchanan, this waterfront property offers rooms for two to ten people with kitchens and lake views, as well as a tiny home and a vintage Airstream. Amenities include fire pits, BBQ grills, a fishing pier, and canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park (day pass reservations recommended), or tour several nearby wineries (Torr Na Lochs and Fall Creek, to name two) and breweries (Save the World Brewing and Double Horn Brewing), plus dining options in Burnet and Marble Falls.

Frio River
The aptly named Frio River is famous for swimming and tubing in the summer. The most popular way to enjoy the river is Garner State Park, but getting weekend reservations can be tough. Another option is Neal’s Lodges, a sprawling family-owned complex that includes 81 cabins, 10 lodges, 17 condos, 45 RV hook-ups, and 16 tent sites, plus a country store and dining room. See a bat emergence at nearby Frio Cave or a bit farther away in Kickapoo Cavern State Park. Saturdays are for fine dining at The Laurel Tree and diner fare at Lost Maples Café, both in Utopia, and Concan has several eateries as well (some close after the summer season, so check websites).

Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park near Marble Falls.

Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls
Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park near Marble Falls.
Photo courtesy of Houston Zoo

Houston Zoo's beer-themed bash brews up a wild return this fall

beers and bears

One of the most popular draws at Houston’s most beloved wildlife attractions is back for fall fun for beer and animal lovers. Brew at the Zoo, a showcase of local breweries on Houston Zoo grounds, returns Friday, September 16, running from 6 pm to 10pm, with last call at 9:30 pm.

The annual event draws some of the most favorite of Bayou City and Texas beers. Participating breweries include Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Karbach, Eureka Heights, No Label, 8th Wonder, SpindleTap Brewery, Galveston Island Brewing, and Tupps Brewery.

While visitors sip, they’re invited to play games like skee-ball, electronic darts, foosball, and pool in the game room. Other fun includes a spin on the carousel, fun photo ops and more zoo activities. Unique animal encounters (always an IG post favorite), live music, and a live ice carving experience round out the night.

Tickets, which always go fast, go on sale first to zoo members on Monday, August 8, and to the public on Wednesday, August 10. (Find them online.) A Texas Beer Pass is $45 and includes six four-ounce samples and commemorative cup and an evening filled with unforgettable experiences.

An Event-Only Pass is also available for $35; this does not include beer samples, but gives full access to live music, games, evening animal viewings, and more, per the zoo.

Funds from the brew event partially fund the zoo’s preservation programs, which include breeding and reintroduction programs for the Houston toad and Attwater’s prairie chicken, saving sea turtles stranded or injured on the Texas coast in Galveston with life-saving medical treatment.

Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley

Cult-favorite Houston restaurant redefines 'local' with long-awaited Austin opening

New Locale

Local Foods just got even more local — to Austin. The popular Houston-based restaurant opens its first permanent Austin location on Saturday, June 25, anticipated since 2020. Technically, it’s already been here in pop-up, ghost kitchen capacity since last summer, in the space formerly occupied by Bonhomie. But this time it’s here to stay.

The new restaurant is nestled with dividers into the corner of Second and San Antonio streets in the Second Street District, an area where foot traffic is sure to bring new fans along with its Houston devotees from over a decade in business. It is a return, of sorts, as founders Benjy Levit and Dylan Murray, as well as partner Martin Berson, all went to school at the University of Texas, and are excited to make a home in Austin once again.

Berson, the long-time Austin resident, talked about that feeling in a press release announcing the pop-up in 2021. “What [Levit and Murray] have created with this unique approach to everyday sandwiches and salads is best in class in a growing space of fast-fine concepts. The local farms, vendors, and amazing Austin vibe is a perfect fit for Local Foods.”

It’s all in the name. The restaurant is committed to highlighting ingredients originating in Texas, centering relationships with “local farmers, ranchers, fishmongers, artisans, and vendors.” Most of those ingredients go into sandwiches and salads, piled high with proteins, veggies, and vegan options. Diners know that Local Foods follows the more-is-more philosophy, and these offerings may surprise someone with starker notions of health-conscious foods. (Hello, there, crushed chips on the crispy chicken sandwich!)

The expanded menu at the new brick-and-mortar looks similar, focusing on those two categories, plus some specialty sides including pozole, fruit salad, and house-made pickles. It will also offer wine and beer, the former with some non-local whims, and the latter consisting entirely of local selections including Austin brews by Fairweather Cider, Live Oak, Hops and Grain, Pinthouse, and Independence Brewing.

The beautiful new interior boasts a natural light-bathed design by Austin’s Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, with huge floor-to-ceiling windows, turquoise accents, and woody colors. Seating spreads out over two floors and onto the patio, and the local ethos means sharing the space with plants from nearby.

Some Austin-area vendors joining the Local Foods menu are:

  • Joe’s Microgreens
  • ToGoCo
  • Hifi Mycology
  • Basic B Chai
  • Dos Lunas
  • Mill King
  • Flying Brothers Tempeh
  • Good Flow Honey
  • Vital Farms

“At Local Foods our goal is to always be a landing place and partner for local and regional farmers and purveyors, with the ultimate objective of symbiotically expanding their businesses along with ours,” said Murray in a press release about the Second Street location. “Bringing this longtime Houston favorite to Austin furthers our purpose and commitment to supporting local in an approachable, neighborhood setting.”

The new Local Foods is located at 454 W. Second St. and opens Saturday, June 25. For more information about hours and ordering, visit localfoodstexas.com.

Here in Houston, CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler named Local Foods to the coveted Top 100 list of best restaurants in the city.

Local Foods is making a new home on Second Street, in a wide-open space with great foot traffic.

Photo by Mackenzie Smith Kelley
Local Foods is making a new home on Second Street, in a wide-open space with great foot traffic.
Photo by Melissa Gaskill

A quintessential Texas road trip to Shiner beckons with beer and barbecue

Texas travel

A koozie in the gift shop at the Spoetzl Brewery demands, “Eat Meat. Drink Beer.” That pretty much sums up any good journey to Shiner, a town about 80 miles southeast of Austin that’s home to roughly 2,000 souls and the famed brewery that produces iconic Shiner beers.

For the meat, options abound along the route to Shiner. For lunch, consider a stop in Lockhart for some of Central Texas’ best barbecue. There’s Smitty’s Market, where the line starts right next to the open pit and the ’cue is served on sheets of paper, old-school style, like all the best Texas barbecue. (Smitty’s also serves Shiner beer, but the eatery only takes cash, so come prepared.)

Other celebrated Lockhart options include Black’s Barbecue and Kruez Market. There’s also City Market (it’s cash only here, too) and Luling Barbq, literally across the street from each other in the town of Luling.

The beer part of this adventure, naturally, happens most deliciously in Shiner. Czech and German immigrants founded a brewery here in 1909 after discovering artesian water. Bavarian Kosmos Spoetzel bought the operation, named it for himself, and continued using traditional methods as its brewmaster from 1914 to 1950. Today, Spoetzel is one of the largest independent craft brewers in the country, selling beers in all 50 states and Mexico, every drop of it brewed here.

That water is key, says Jimmy Mauric, current brewmaster.

“Beer is 93 percent water, so the local water makes Shiner special,” he explains. “The water is pristine, not chlorinated, and we use the well water only for our beers and seltzers.”

Other ingredients used at the brewery include roasted barley malt grain, a special blend of hops, and three types of yeast, including two proprietary strains. For its seasonal beers, the brewery sources special ingredients, like peaches and dewberries, locally as much as possible.

A tour of the brewery is a must. Tour packages start at $15 for guests 21 and older, $10 for guests younger than 21, and run approximately every hour, from 11 am Monday through Saturday and 1 pm Sunday. The last tour is at 4 pm every day.

You’ll be treated to a history video, a stop by a kitchen where the guide explains the beer-making process, a peek at shiny copper fermenters, and a wall of caps from all retired employees since the company started recording keeping. Plus, you’ll get a brief visit to a mock fermentation tank to check out a creative video on that process and the tiny yeast that power it.

A viewing deck overlooks the massive bottling line where the iconic brown bottles travel on moving conveyor belts, piling up like traffic on I-35. The last stop is a classic honky-tonk-style bar, walls covered with historic photographs and a display case of the different seasonal special beers the brewery has released throughout the years.

The tour ends with beer tastings — which you will definitely crave by this time — and visitors can purchase a pint (or two) of their favorites while enjoying a respite at one of the onsite picnic tables on the sprawling lawn outside.

Other local must-visit stops include Howard’s, at 1701 N. Avenue East, which looks like the typical corner gas station convenience store in every small town, but actually offers many wonders, including beers on draft and a charming biergarten out back that often features live music.

Choose from several hundred beers at Antiques, Arts and Beer, each served with complimentary peanuts and popcorn. The historic 1911 building features tin and barnwood walls, art and antiques, and, out back, a pet-friendly covered deck.

Shiner’s Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church is worth a photo stop. The red brick Romanesque Revival-style church, dedicated in 1921 and listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, features a dramatic altar backed by a painted mural, statues, and stained-glass windows. Take a look inside, and feel free to offer up a prayer of thanks for Shiner beer.

Photo courtesy of ThreeSun

Alex Bregman and Lance McCullers, Jr. debut new hard seltzer in time for Houston Astros championship run

introducing threesun

Houstonians ready to raise a glass to the Houston Astros and the team’s return to the World Series now have a new, grand-slam local option — one created by two of the hottest players in Major League Baseball.

Astros superstars Alex Bregman and Lance McCullers, Jr. have launched a new hard seltzer — called ThreeSun — available exclusively on draft at Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company (2101 Summer St.), which has crafted the beverage. The launch comes just in time for Game 1 of the Astros’ World Series showdown against the Atlanta Braves.

Fans can post up at the brewery — affectionately known as BuffBrew — for Game 1 starting at 3 pm Tuesday, October 26. BuffBrew and ThreeSun will host special ThreeSun World Series watch parties, which will run through each game of the entire series.

Expect two tasty flavors on tap — while supplies of the limited-run batches last, natch. (Not to worry: Tyler Straub, the third partner behind the seltzer, promises more exciting flavors on the way.) Current choices, which offer a light, 5-percent alcohol-by-volume count, include Mango, boasting a “sweet, but subtle, fresh mango flavor,” per press materials, and Huckleberry, which sports a “fresh, dark blueberry and deep raspberry flavor.”

CultureMap caught up exclusively with McCullers to talk ThreeSun, the idea behind the brand, and of course, the Astros in the World Series. (Note: This interview took place before news of McCullers missing the World Series broke.)

CultureMap: Congratulations on your third World Series since winning it all in 2017, Lance. What’s your take on the team as Game 1 approaches?

Lance McCullers, Jr.: We’re playing great baseball as a team. One of the coolest things about this playoff run is you’re seeing every person on our roster coming up big for us in different moments and different situations and different games.

We’re playing great team baseball and we’re backed by the greatest city in the U.S. and the best fans. We want to do it for us and the organization, of course, but we really want to bring this home for our fans who have supported us every step of the way.

CM: Speaking of fans, we imagine every single orange-and-blue-blooded one is gonna want to sip this new seltzer. So, which one of you gets to take credit for this idea?

LMJ: [laughs] This was Breggy’s idea. As the progression went, we decided on a cool, fun name and cool product. We knew we wanted to keep it in Houston and make sure it was Houston-made, and be something we’re proud of and be fun.

CM: Mission accomplished. Talk to us about the development. Were you pretty hands-on?

LMJ: Oh yeah. We could’ve outsourced this anywhere, but we wanted this to be made, packaged, and sold here. We started talking with BuffBrew and we really vibed with them right away — we had the same vision for the seltzer.

From there, we started designing, started getting flavors, started test-tasting, and now we’re here.

CM: You called this a ‘bro brand,’ but you two did way more than just slap your names on something. You’ve clearly been deep in it.

LMJ: For sure. We’ve gone to BuffBrew a few times, we’ve sat upstairs and had these think-tank meetings on what the bottles and labels should look like and tasting seltzers.

Breggie and I have gotten on FaceTimes after games at 1 am talking to people there about ideas we’ve had on the field. When Breggie was coming back from his quad we’d be on the bench kicking ideas around and say ‘Oh, we gotta write that down,’ or ‘we gotta call them after this.’ A lot of it was flavors or how we’d get to market and to launch.

CM: Between the name and the flavors, ThreeSun is a whole vibe. How would you describe the brand?

LMJ: It’s kinda like a Southern drink, where it’s hotter and there’s water around and lots of sporting events. The goal is to bring a fun, cool product for people to enjoy on the lake, beach, or whenever they’re having fun.

We want this to be something people bring when they tailgate. We just want people to enjoy it and the flavors and go from there. We hope that people like the flavors and the fun idea behind the brand.

CM: That’s easy to picture. Alex already has a popular product [Breggy Bomb Salsa] — so what are your goals for ThreeSun?

LMJ: I think if you’re talking to Breggy he’d say we want to take over the seltzer game. [laughs] We just want this to be a fun brand, one that people like, first and foremost.

Who knows, maybe this takes off and we can open a ThreeSun brewery right here in Houston with the people at BuffBrew running it.

CM: With the logo and the flavors, ThreeSun seems like the perfect summer drink.

LMJ: Oh yeah. People at the bar, at their house, cooking out, watching the Astros game, people at the beach listening to the game — that’s what we’re going for.

CM: And we can picture another perfect season for ThreeSun.

LMJ: Oh yeah — I’d say this is pretty perfect for Astros playoff season.

Bregman's and McCullers' new seltzer, ThreeSun, is now on tap at BuffBrew.

Photo courtesy of ThreeSun
Bregman's and McCullers' new seltzer, ThreeSun, is now on tap at BuffBrew.
Fitzhugh Brewing/Facebook

6 intoxicating breweries and distilleries to spirit away to in nearby Dripping Springs

Dripping with drinks

Dripping Springs bills itself as the Wedding Capital of Texas, complete with a trademark on the phrase. The growing community near Austin also brags about its official International Dark Sky designation, a draw for stargazers. While there may be no official recognition for an abundance of wineries, distilleries, and breweries — trust us — this area has boozy bona fides.

As summer fades into fall (yes, please!), here are three distilleries and three breweries in Dripping Springs offering plenty of reasons to stop by.

Booze

Desert Door Distillery
Sotol is tequila’s smoother cousin. This distillery makes it from sotol plants wild-harvested in West Texas and uses it to make ranch water, margaritas, and bespoke cocktails. A covered outdoor seating area with misting fans is kid- and dog-friendly. Enjoy live music, limited editions of sotol, and farm-to-table inspired dishes from the Eden West food truck, open Thursday 4-8 pm, Friday and Saturday noon-8 pm, and Sunday noon-6 pm. Distillery hours are Thursday 3:30-8 pm, Friday and Saturday 11:30 am-8 pm, and Sunday noon-6. 211 Darden Hill Rd., 512-829-6129.

Dripping Springs Distilling
In 2005, the Kelleher brothers built the first distillery in the Texas Hill Country and in 2007, sold their first bottle of Dripping Springs Vodka. The venture became Dripping Springs Distilling in 2018, offering vodka, gin, bourbon, tequila, and other spirits. A new location with a bar; visitors center; event venue; and spacious, oak-studded grounds, complete with a kids’ play area and water bowls for the pups, opened in August. After a pandemic-related hiatus, distillery tours and tastings are back by reservation or walk-up ($21.65 per person). Venue operations manager Kristi Quick reports plans for Sunday tours with Austin Tour Company, featuring this and two other area stops. The distillery plans to roll out fall cocktails in October, with seasonal touches such as warming spices and hot drinks. Also in the works: Sunday brunch. The distillery is open Thursday through Sunday 10:30 am-5 pm. 5330 Bell Springs Rd., 512-858-1199.

Treaty Oak Distilling
On 28 shady acres, tour the production facility, dine at Alice’s Restaurant, sip cocktails, or sample spirits in the Rickhouse Bar or tasting room, or grab a picnic table under the oaks. Bring the dog and the kids (there’s a play area for the little ones). A $25, 45-minute guided tour and tasting includes $5 off any bottle, up to two bottles. Tours run Saturday noon-5 pm every hour. Live music happens on Friday and Saturday. Nab one of 10 spots in the Single Barrel Select program that includes behind-the-scenes tasting and barrel samples, a personalized bottle of cask-strength Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon, a barbecue plate, and a 40 percent discount on food, beverages, and merchandise all day. The entire facility is open Friday and Saturday noon-9 pm, and Sunday noon-6 pm. 16604 Fitzhugh Rd., 512-400-4023.

Beer

Beerburg Brewing
Hops don’t grow well in Texas, but Beerburg sources all its other brewing ingredients from the state, with a Wildcraft Series featuring Texas-foraged plants. Seasonal offerings for fall include a mesquite bean and pecan brown ale. Taqueria la Violeta offers a variety of regional Mexican street food, including tacos and house-made ice creams. Enjoy it all on a large deck and tree-shaded beer garden. Live music jams every Friday and Sunday, and local artwork is on view in the lounge. Beerburg is open Thursday and Friday 3-8 pm, and Saturday and Sunday noon-8 pm. 13476 Fitzhugh Rd., 512-265-0543.

Fitzhugh Brewing
Here, the possibilities abound. Choose to spend your day in an expansive indoor space, on the covered patio, or in the large outdoor beer garden with shaded picnic tables, a playscape, and a stage. Co-owner Kerbey Smith and brewer Nathan Rice make beers for everyone, not just aficionados. Rice brews styles from Barbados to Belgium, all piped straight to the bar taps. (It doesn’t get fresher than that!) Food by PEJ Kitchens (the sister company of longtime Austin smokehouse Pok-e-Jo’s) features tender riffs on barbecue, from smokehouse nachos to burnt ends, pork ribs, and sausage — and one of Austin’s most inventive charcuterie boards. Events range from those featuring baby goats to kids’ nights, four-course dinner and beer pairings, and a one-year anniversary party planned for October 16 that will include music, raffles, and bottle releases. Fitzhugh is open Thursday and Friday 4-8 pm, Saturday 11 am-9 pm, and Sunday noon-7 pm. 15435 Fitzhugh Rd., 512-648-0653.

Jester King
The picnic tables in the pole barn, beer garden, pasture, canopy, goat barn, and grotto are first-come, first-served here, but there are a lot of them and most offer glorious shade. In addition to a rotating cast of unique beers, including one brewed with 100 percent Texas ingredients (very impressive since Texas-grown hops are a challenge), Jester King makes wine and cider using its own groundwater and Texas grapes and fruit for wine and Texas apples for cider. Food options include fresh-made pizzas, barbecue, and sides. Walk the mile-plus nature trail and the grounds on your own, or reserve a Goat Experience or Goat Walk with the herd of Nigerian Dwarf goats ($10 per person) or a tour ($5 per person). Jester King is open Wednesday and Thursday 3-9 pm, Friday 3-10 pm, Saturday noon-10 pm, and Sunday noon-9 pm. Reservations are encouraged. 13187 Fitzhugh Rd., 512-661-8736.

Find even more Dripping Springs options here.

Indulge in the charm — and tasty brew and barbecue offerings — at Fitzhugh Brewing.

Fitzhugh Brewing/Facebook
Indulge in the charm — and tasty brew and barbecue offerings — at Fitzhugh Brewing.
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Luxe plastic surgery center injects River Oaks with cutting-edge techniques, posh recovery suites, secret access, and more

A-list treatment

With the holiday season in full swing and many prepping for a new look for the new year, image-conscious Houstonians have a new option for cutting-edge cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery in one of Houston’s most elite neighborhoods.

Nuveau Plastic Surgery + Medical Aesthetics, a local leader in cosmetic medical procedures, has quietly opened a sleek new facility in River Oaks (3720 Westheimer Rd.). Owned and operated by renowned (and board-certified) plastic surgeon Dr. Edward Lee, the facility offers myriad reconstructive surgeries for men, women, and children, as well as beauty treatments, touch-ups, and more.

Aside from top-of-the-line technology, instrumentation, and treatments, the boutique center has personalized service and features to the tony RO crowd. A secret entrance ensures privacy for discreet clients, much like similar operations in Los Angeles and New York.

Another top-drawer feature: Tastefully appointed pre-op and post-op suites keep patients in-house, rather than having to leave posh treatment centers and head to crowded hospital rooms for recovery.

In keeping with Lee’s insistence on a medicine-first approach, anesthesia for patients is provided by Medical Anesthesia Associates, an MD-only group.

A cut above

Notably, the center places a primary focus on plastic surgery, which, for the uninitiated, has a clear distinction from cosmetic surgery. Randy Rakes, managing partner, tells CultureMap that it’s important for clients to understand the difference.

“You have to understand, you have to go through hundreds of hours of training and cases — face and the entire body — to get that board certification, and go through rigorous testing in order to meet that specification,” he says.

Why is that important? The industry, Rakes notes, is rife with practitioners such as “OBGYNs or dermatologists or people who have not really been trained in the art of plastic surgery, who take a class somewhere and learn how to do liposuction or a fat transfer — and then they're ‘experts’ in aesthetic surgery.”

That’s especially key when selecting a provider for highly invasive — and potentially serious — procedures such as facelifts, eyelid surgeries, tummy tucks, liposuction, rhinoplasty, breast lifts and augmentations, breast reconstruction, and more, Rakes adds.

In an era of Instagram beauty demands, more choosy clients are opting for streamlining facial features. To that end, Lee is one of a select few surgeons in the U.S. who regularly performs “V-Line '' surgery. The set of procedures, popularized in South Korea where Lee honed many of his skills, aim to narrow the width of the jawline and the face.

Aesthetics with an expert eye

Lee’s elegant, 5,500-square-foot center is adorned with CASA Houston designs, Italian-influenced finishes, and soothing elements evocative of a modern art museum or luxury spa. The facility houses a Visia Skin Analysis Studio and seven treatment suites aesthetic work such as Botox, microneedling, VI peels, Halo Laser Resurfacing, Moxi Non-Ablative Laser, Broad Band Light Photofacials, Coolsculpting, Emsculpt, and more.

Rakes says that his registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and estheticians are elite, by design, as he and Lee insist on credentials. “All of our injectors are licensed in the State of Texas,” he says. “Most places don't have that, the reason being is that they are much more highly skilled than a traditional, regular nurse injector. So they have a much higher skill set. The people who do our lasers and things of that nature have 10 to 15 years of experience, so clients know that they're getting the best possible treatment with the best possible devices — we own every medical device that's considered cutting edge in the industry.”

Facing forward

Rakes, a longtime medical industry processional with a keen eye for trends and technology, says that his clients aren’t just looking for traditional services, but new technologies and treatment, such as PRP and other regenerative therapies. “I think patients are kind of moving a little bit away from the traditional Hyaluronic fillers like Restylane and really looking for something with a more natural approach.”

His treatment teams stimulate collagen with fillers such as Radiesse, “and then we combine that with energy-based devices to even further lift the tissue and work as a synergy between using the injectable and the device, because the combination of both of those things give the patient the best possible results,” Rakes notes. Lee and Rakes also focus facial care on medical-grade skincare brands Alastin, Revision, and Elta MD.

A global scope

Aside from his board certification in plastic surgery, Lee has also trained in craniofacial and pediatric surgery. His medical mission work has taken him to Thailand, Haiti, and Cambodia, where he has performed surgeries for nonprofits such as Operation Smile and Smile Train for those in need.

Those in need of non-traditional treatments can also trust Lee, says Rakes, who points to Lee’s work in the cosmetic and plastic surgery-obsessed Korea. “Some of the Korean techniques are much more advanced than the techniques that are available here in the United States,” says Rakes. “Dr. Lee does a lot of things that other physicians here just don't do.”

Those interested should book early, Rakes advises, as the holiday and new year rush is in full swing. The center offers “pre-buying” slots where clients can reserve space and time. “We’ve been very busy,” says Rakes, noting the local celebs who’ve shared the work they’ve received there on social media. “I think people come here because they know they’re getting the very best treatment and results available.”

Photo courtesy of Nuveau PlasticSurgery + Medical Aesthetics

Nuveau's sleek River Oaks center boasts designs from CASA.

Beloved Houston urban farm toasts local culinary legend with new cooking courses and classroom

peg-approved

For longtime Houston food insiders, Peg Lee needs no introduction. A lifelong local culinary instructor, she has been a fixture in the food scene since the 1970s, where she (often humorously) led cooking classes at Houston Community College.

She was a no-brainer to found and direct Rice Epicurean's cooking school. And the newly launched Central Market made waves in 2001 by enticing her to launch its now wildly successful cooking school, which, thanks to Lee, has lured top national and international chefs and food names.

Along the way, Lee mentored now well-known chefs such as Robert Del Grande, Greg Martin, and Mark Cox.

Quite apropos, the Houston legend is now the namesake for a new cooking school in one of the city's most beloved urban green sanctuaries, Hope Farms. The Peg Lee Culinary Classroom in Hope Farms' Gathering Barn now hosts field trips, classes, tastings, and free cooking demonstrations for children and adults.

Locals can also book the charming space, spearheaded by Recipe for Success/Hope Farms founder Gracie Cavnar, for cooking parties and cooking classes for anywhere from four to 24 students. Those interested can find more information on classes, which center on Cavnar's passion for healthy eating, and more here.

As for the classroom, visitors can expect a white, farmhouse-style kitchen with custom cabinets and high-end appliances, all reflective of a home kitchen. Butcherblock countertops, matte black accents, and farm-made tables and more adorn the space, while a Wolf Induction cooktop, A GE Café Smart Five-in-One Wall Oven, and other state-of-the-art appliances get folks cooking.

Fittingly, classroom water is tied into the farm's new rainwater capture system for the ultimate in sustainability.

“Peg was one of my earliest mentors in the imagining and crafting of what Recipe for Success Foundation would become,” Cavnar noted in a statement. “Then, when we began programing, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work, helping us teach children to cook and bringing her many resources to help us raise money and awareness for our efforts. It is my deepest honor to pay her tribute with the naming of our classroom.”

New craft brewery bringing 'bold American beer,' Texas comfort food, live music, and more to Sugar Land

Sugar land's new craft brewery

Houston’s growing craft brewery scene will add a new outpost in Sugar Land. Talyard Brewing Co. recently began construction on a 15,000-square-foot production and tap room that will open in early 2024.

Located in Imperial, a massive mixed-use development on the site of the former Imperial Sugar refinery, Talyard will occupy a three-and-a-half acre site that will include a beer garden with shaded seating areas, pickle ball courts, a playground, and a stage for live entertainment.

Principals Keith Teague and Chuck Laughter are Sugar Land natives and neighbors who bring experience from the business world to Talyard. In a release, Teague says that intend to serve “bold American beer” paired with a food menu of Texas comfort food made from locally sourced ingredients.

“We want to push the boundaries of style and tradition by combining old practices and new,” Teague added.

Ultimately, the brewery’s 20-barrel brewhouse will be capable of producing 10,000 barrels per year. For now, brew master Sean Maloney is dialing in recipes on a test system. Formerly of 8th Wonder Brewing, Maloney has been working on the West Coast and recently finished the World Brewing Academy’s Master Brewer Program, administered by the Siebel Institute in Chicago and the Doemens Academy in Munich.

“As I’m sure is the case for many ventures like ours, the idea of starting a craft brewery was hatched over beers in the backyard,” Teague said. “Sean attended high school with Chuck’s son, and over the years, we’d see him at family gatherings during the holidays when he was visiting from the West Coast. Those backyard beer sessions turned into area brewery tours together, and eventually the idea of sharing our passion here locally was born.”

Talyard will add to Imperial’s extensive entertainment options. The area also includes Constellation Field, home to the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, a weekly farmers market, and the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center.