Photo via Houston Symphony

The Houston Symphony opens its 2022-2023 season this weekend at Jones Hall with one of classical music's most stirring selections, the Verdi Requiem.

New symphony music director Juraj Valčuha offers this specially scaled setting of the piece, which had its first performance in 1874, to showcase the depth of the orchestra's playing and the incredible voices in the Houston Symphony Chorus.

That's just the beginning of what Valčuha has in mind for this season. He'll also explore operatic repertoire in concert alongside great choral works from the symphonic repertoire, and continue to spotlight Houston Symphony musicians as soloists, while also welcoming some of the world's most acclaimed musicians to the Bayou City. That means audiences can expect exciting concerts and the opportunity to see world class talent here.

The symphony will also continue its popular series of screening movies while playing the score live. This season sees the orchestra present Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, on stage April 27 -30, 2023, which should delight Potterheads around the city. They'll also show Disney's Fantasia while performing the score live. That concert is this Thanksgiving weekend, a wonderful way to user in the holiday season.

Other highlights abound this year. Violin superstar Joshua Bell joins the orchestra September 23 though 25 for a concert that includes Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony and Sibelius' violin concerto. The world-renowned Itzhak Perlman brings his acclaimed playing and signature style to Houston for a concert of Beethoven October 20-23.

Family-friendly favorites return in the PNC Family Series Concerts. The series opens with two performances on October 8 (10 and 11:30 am) of Celebrating Black Composers: Ellington, Hendrix, Price & More. Guest conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser leads the orchestra in a musical journey paying homage to over a century of trailblazing black artists, from the Chevalier de Saint George’s 18th-century Violin Concerto featuring Houston Symphony Community Embedded Musician Rainel Joubert as soloist, to Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.”

Holiday family treats include two performances of Ho-Ho-Holiday! Polar Express, Frozen & More. The series takes on the theme of space exploration on February 25, 2023 with two performances of Blast Off to Space!, and concludes with two performances on May 6, 2023 of Fairy Tales for Kids! with music from Firebird, Sleeping Beauty, and Disney.

Looking ahead, works that caused "Riots and Scandals" when they made their premiers are the centerpiece of a mini-festival in January, 2023. The following month, look for another mini festival, this one focused on Songs of the Earth. The classical season climaxes with Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, which brings opera stars Michelle DeYoung and Sean Panikkar to town.

Of course, there will also be fan favorites Handel's Messiah December 9-11 and A Very Merry Pops December 15 through 18, both guaranteed to put audiences in the holiday spirit.

In all, the season promises to be one that has offerings appealing to classical music lovers and novices alike, and provides an excellent introduction to Valčuha's concept of what an orchestra can bring to its community. Details and tickets are available online.

Courtesy of Lyric Market

Downtown's newest food hall serves up 9 exciting destinations, from modern Mexican to Indian street food

line up at lyric

Downtown's newest food hall is finally taking shape. Lyric Market announced the nine vendors that will serve diners when it opens this fall.

Located in the Theater District at 411 Smith St., the 14,000-square-foot space will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the week with lunch and dinner available on the weekends. The facility includes a 7,500-square-foot deck, a private event space, and a mural by artist Alex Arzu. An adjacent parking garage offers hundreds of spaces, which is sure to appeal to downtown visitors.

Hospitality HQ will manage the facility. Described as a consulting and management group, the company is participating in the opening and management of 10 food halls in states. It has assembled a mix of local and national names to occupy the food hall.

They are:

  • Sushi Muse: a sushi restaurant from chef Hiroki Odo, who holds a Michelin star at his New York City restaurant Odo.
  • Mexology: a modern Mexican restaurant from chef Ivy Stark, a New York City chef known for her restaurant Dos Caminos.
  • Alenbi Falafel + Hummus: a plant-based Middle Eastern street food restaurant from Sof Hospitality, the company behind Doris Metropolitan, Hamsa, and Badolina Bakery.
  • Lottie’s Smokehouse: a food hall version of pitmaster Scott Lottie's food truck that serve Texas barbecue.
  • BAD CHX: a food hall version of a food truck that serves both Southern fried chicken and Nashville-style hot chicken.
  • 1929 Po-Boy Kitchen: chef Monica Landry's Cajun restaurant serving po'boys and other dishes.
  • Press Waffle Co.: the sweet-and-savory Belgian waffle concept with a sister location in The Woodlands.
  • Kati Roll Wala: an Indian street food concept that serves kati rolls (kebabs wrapped in paratha) and rice bowls.

“We are thrilled to announce the opening of this innovative food hall in downtown Houston,” Hospitality HQ co-founder Akhtar Nawab said in a statement. “Our number one goal is to provide support for best-in-class restauranteurs and truly invest in the surrounding community. We are looking forward to becoming a part of the culturally diverse tapestry that is Houston.”

It's worth nothing that plans for Lyric Market have been scaled down significantly since it was first announced in 2018. Back then, the plans called for between 20 and 30 vendors in 31,000-square-feet. Since then, a number of new food halls have opened, including Bravery Chef Hall, Finn Hall, and Post Market.

Courtesy of Gensler

Veteran Houston restaurateur shakes up downtown with new tequila-fueled Mexican destination

the real deal

Downtown office workers will soon have a new happy hour option serving Houstonians' favorite spirit. Real Agave opens this Wednesday, September 14, on the first floor of 1100 Louisiana St.

As its name implies, Real Agave is a bar and lounge devoted to tequila and other agave spirits along with a Mexican-inspired food menu. Initially, the bar will be open for happy hour and early dinner from 3:30-8 pm Monday through Friday. Weekday lunch service will begin in October.

Restaurateur Bill Floyd will operate Real Agave in conjunction with El Real, a scaled-down revival of the Montrose Tex-Mex restaurant that closed in 2019. Floyd, a Houston hospitality veteran whose prior experiences include everything from Reef to Potente, also owns Porta'Vino, a wine bar and restaurant with locations on Washington Avenue and in The Woodlands.

Whereas El Real features classic Tex-Mex such as enchiladas, quesadillas, and chips and queso, Real Agave will feature upscale, more traditional Mexican cuisine. Floyd tells the Houston Chronicle that the menu will include dishes such as tuna tiradito, shrimp campechaña, and carnitas sliders with guajillo barbecue sauce.

Diners will also find an upscale environment for their post-work revelry. Global architecture and design firm Gensler transformed a former bank branch into an approximately 2,300-square-foot space that will seat just under 100 people. Design details include custom, hand-painted Dia de Los Muertos murals.

“The classic Tex-Mex menu of El Real has been elevated by chef Derek Cooper to bring mouthwatering bar bites to the Gensler-designed space of Real Agave,” Floyd said in a statement. “The bar, featuring full wine and spirits selections along with the tequilas and mezcals, is staffed by some of Houston’s most accomplished mixologists.”

Tell the bartenders CultureMap sent you.

Courtesy of Gensler
Tell the bartenders CultureMap sent you.
Courtesy of WAX

Tallest high-rise in Texas to tower above Austin in late 2026

Up, up, and away

Texas’ tallest building is set to grace the Austin skyline three years from now.

At 74 stories tall and 1,022 feet high, the downtown mixed-use project – carrying the new name of Waterline – is scheduled to open in late 2026. Construction is underway at 98 Red River St., near the Austin Convention Center.

Developers of Waterline released specifics about the project September 6. Word surfaced in June 2020 that the Red River site would be home to the state’s tallest building, but the developers hadn’t confirmed the height.

The height of Waterline will eclipse that of Texas’ current titleholder by 5 feet. Houston’s 75-story JP Morgan Chase Tower stands 1,002 feet tall, making it the state’s tallest high-rise.

Of course, Waterline also will reign as Austin’s tallest building. The 66-story, 875-foot-tall Sixth and Guadalupe tower under construction in downtown Austin will temporarily hold the title of Austin’s tallest building.

In verifying the height of the building, developers Lincoln Property Co. and Kairoi Residential, along with investment partner PSP Investments, also unveiled details of Waterline such as:

  • 700,000 square feet of office space.
  • 352 high-end apartments.
  • 251-room 1 Hotel Austin, the first Texas location for hospitality company SH Hotel Resorts’ sustainability-focused 1 Hotels brand.

“Downtown Austin offers one of the most dynamic markets and skylines in the nation, and we’re excited to help drive its ongoing transformation,” Seth Johnston, senior vice president of Lincoln Property, says in a news release. “Waterline marks a new milestone for downtown not only because of its height but also because of the positive impact this project will have on improving connectivity, enhancing public amenities, and attracting more people to this beautiful area of downtown.”

Developers say Waterline will serve as a new gateway from the Central Business District to the Rainey Street entertainment district. The developers will add two pedestrian bridges over Waller Creek from the west, as well as three pedestrian and bicycle access points to Waterloo Greenway from the east.

The development team is contributing $1 million to the Waterloo Greenway initiative to help pay for improvements to the 1.5-mile trail connecting the University of Texas to Lady Bird Lake.

Designed by renowned architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, Waterline will feature floor-to-ceiling windows, warm textures, and native stone.

“Waterline will offer a truly unique experience with unrivaled views, world-class amenities, and a thoughtful design that connects the building’s interior with the project’s unique natural surroundings throughout the building,” says Michael Lynd Jr., CEO of Kairoi Residential. “We’re thrilled to introduce Austin’s next iconic project.”

The building’s ground floor will offer 24,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space overlooking Waller Creek and the Waterloo Greenway.

1 Hotel Austin will occupy the next 13 floors, with a ballroom and meeting spaces on the 14th floor, and a rooftop pool with food and beverage service on the 16th floor.

The office portion of the tower will occupy 27 stories, with a 14th-floor amenity deck offering 24,000 square feet of landscaped outdoor space along with a bar and lounge, indoor meeting spaces, and a prep kitchen for special events.

The apartments will take up the top 33 stories. Residents will enjoy access to two pools on the 41st floor, along with a lounge, bar, kitchen, and co-working space. A movement studio, workout studio, and steam room will be one floor above, in addition to soaking tubs, hammocks, a barbecue pit, and a dining area.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/jwmarriottsanantonio/photos/a.10150662365610854.422473.55807470853/10154264899865854/?type=1&theater]

3 choose-your-own-adventure San Antonio staycations to book this fall

Staycation's All I Ever Wanted

And just like that, summer is over. Kidding, kidding — we have months of 90-degree temperatures left. Still, school is back in session and with September's arrival, it’s time to start booking those fall vacations.

This year, with airlines flailing and the economy doing whatever it is the economy does, perhaps it’s time to consider splurging on a staycation. A change of scenery can boost mental health while taking a sustained break from work has proven to increase physical health. Plus, there's zero percent chance of lost baggage or flight delays.

It’s possible to live in San Antonio forever and not experience everything the city has to offer, which is just one of the attractions of living in a big city. This fall, as the heat begins to break, but before the holidays hit, consider being a tourist in your own backyard with one of these choose-your-own-adventure staycations.

Take the whole family to the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
The magic of the JW Marriott is its combination of water park and resort, making it an ideal staycation destination for families. Situated in the foothills of the Texas Hill Country, this sprawling retreat offers nearly every amenity possible: golf courses, pickle ball and tennis courts, winding trails, luxury spa, onsite restaurants, Top Golf, and the list goes on. Adding to the fun, family-oriented atmosphere are special events like nightly s’mores by the fire and petting zoos.

Where the JW Marriott really shines is the water park, a massive complex of pools, sand beaches, towering water slides, and 1,100-foot lazy river encircling the entire thing. The slides range from kiddie-size flumes to the Canyon Oak Twister and Hill Country Plunge body slides, both of which start 60 feet in the air and hit speeds of up to 20 mph. (Just remember to keep your arms and legs crossed, something this author learned from experience is not just a suggestion.)

If you need a place to shake off the adrenaline high, consider renting one of the resort’s poolside cabanas. Though it’s an added expense, the attentive staff makes sure everyone has fresh towels, snacks, and cocktails while a personal fridge comes loaded with bottled water and non-alcoholic drinks. Cabanas also offer a personal mini-deck inside the larger pool with lounge chairs so the kids can splash while you relax.

Book your significant other a romantic downtown getaway
San Antonio has no shortage of fabulous downtown hotels, but there’s something magical about the Hotel Havana. The 113-year-old building has almost always been a hotel, beginning at the turn of the century when it was used to house out-of-town merchants who traveled into San Antonio to sell their wares. Today, the boutique hotel offers an industrial-meets-gothic vibe complete with creaky floorboards and crimson carpet leading up the grand staircase.

Though there’s no pool at this Bunkhouse Hotel (if a pool is a must, The Thompson is another favorite situated just a few blocks away), it does offer Ocho, an onsite restaurant with a gorgeous floor-to-ceiling wall of windows, and a subterranean bar.

Make the Havana home base as you explore the River Walk, Southtown, and King William. If you find yourself forced to take an e-scooter by your significant other, as I was during a stay at the Havana last fall, use it to play tourist. Take it for a drive by the Alamo (do note that scooters are programmed to automatically slow to a crawl around the famed attraction) and on through Hemisfair on your way to appetizers and early evening cocktails at Little Em’s Oyster Bar or the new-ish Up Scale, two Southtown hot spots owned by Houston and Emily Carpenter.

For dinner, book a late table at Shiro and take a Lyft (or a scooter if someone forces you to) to the north end of the River Walk for sushi and other Japanese fare. After dinner, take a leisurely stroll back along the river to the hotel for a night cap. (Pro tip: Use the restroom before leaving Shiro or you may end up speed walking the last half of the River Walk and your romantic walk will be ruined.)

Live out your Eloise fantasies at the Hotel Emma
Looking for a solo staycation? San Antonio has the perfect spot for that too: Hotel Emma. At this point, the Emma needs no introduction; the hotel has won countless awards and topped best-of lists for the past seven years. And the August 25 news that chef Jorge Hernandez is taking over the culinary program will only heighten its acclaim. All of this is to say is the Hotel Emma is nice. Very, very nice. And there is no better place to spend a little time (and a lot of money) than soaking in a giant tub in a four-star hotel with a professionally made cocktail delivered directly to your room.

Hotel Emma is located in the heart of the Pearl, a tourist destination in its own right, but when we’re traveling alone, we want to explore as much as possible. Head to Alamo Heights to fuel up with an early morning nosh at Bird Bakery before heading to the McNay Art Museum. On your way back to the Pearl, take a detour down the St. Mary’s Strip for lunch at Singh’s (shrimp bún with a side of chili oil and a Topo) and poke around the nearby vintage shops.

Recharge that afternoon with an in-room massage at Hotel Emma by Hiatus Spa + Retreat and the aforementioned soak ‘n’ cocktail. For dinner, take yourself on a date to Scorpion, an impeccably designed cafe and natural wine bar on the East Side. Once back at the Emma, cozy up in the plush robes and an episode of reality TV. You deserve it.

The otherwordly sunsets atop the JW Marriott willl have guests forgetting they're still in San Antonio.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa/Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/jwmarriottsanantonio/photos/a.10150662365610854.422473.55807470853/10154264899865854/?type=1&theater]
The otherwordly sunsets atop the JW Marriott willl have guests forgetting they're still in San Antonio.
Photo by Julie Soefer

Downtown food hall heats up with bento boxes, crafty burgers, and cranky carrots

four for finn

Downtown dining destination Finn Hall has switched things up again. The food hall has welcomed the return of one of its original tenants and made space for three new concepts that replace some that quietly shuttered earlier this year.

First, chef Shannen Tune has brought Craft Burger back to Finn Hall. One of the food hall's original tenants when it opened in 2018, Craft Burger's new location joins its brick and mortar outpost in Katy. The restaurant is known for its decadent creations like the Truffle Butter Juicy Lucy and rich milkshakes. In October, the Chopped champion will open Pecking Order, a new chicken concept serving fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, grilled jerk chicken, and more.

Joining them is Maui Bento Box, a Hawaiian-inspired concept that serves combination meals built around proteins such as ahi poke, loco moco, spicy bbq pork, and others. Its lead by chef Henry Hamor, who previously worked at downtown Le Meridien hotel.

“[Hamor] was ready to revive his Hawaiian concept that he had pre-COVID,” Miranda Cartwright, an executive for Finn Hall manager Midway said in response to CultureMap’s request for comment. “We knew that he had amazing culinary acumen, and it was a great fit to round out the diverse concepts that we like to have in the hall.”

In addition to Maui Bento Box, farmers market favorite Cranky Carrot Juice Co. will open its first permanent location at the food hall. Known for its cold-pressed and nut-milk lattes, Cranky Carrot will add açaí bowls, smoothies, and toasts to its menu when it opens in October.

“Cranky Carrot gave us the opportunity to bring in healthy options, which had been feedback we received from our tenants in the building,” Cartwright added. “More importantly it gave us the opportunity to support an up-and-coming local business.”

The four new tenants join Finn Hall’s existing operators: modern Mexican restaurant Papalo Taqueria, Korean concept Yong, cocktail bar Swallow’s Nest, Pizza Zquare, and Greenway Coffee. Earlier this year, the food hall bid farewell to Lit Chicken and Vietnamese restaurant Pho Binh. They’re the latest changes for a food hall that opened in December 2018 and retooled its structure and tenant mix in March 2020, just before the pandemic emptied out downtown office buildings and temporarily closed the facility.

Currently, downtown has three other food halls: Underground Hall, Bravery Chef Hall, and Post Market at Post HTX, which has been earning raves for restaurants such as West African concept ChòpnBlọk, upscale seafood concept Golfstrommen, and dessert shop Lucy Pearl’s. The new additions keep Finn Hall in the mix for diners’ dollars.

“I can't speak for the successes or failures of other food hall concepts in Houston, but I can say how excited I have been to contribute to the culinary culture at Finn Hall,” Finn Hall culinary director David Buehrer said. “Our vendors represent Houston as a whole, and with our new additions we are accommodating diners of all age demographics and income brackets, something I think is particularly exciting for more people.”

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Homey new art installation moves into Discovery Green this fall

Welcome Home

Remember the playful, larger-than-life spinning tops that took over Discovery Green in 2015? The team behind that public art installation is back with another unique, interactive exhibit.

Called Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0, it features 16 glowing, house-like play structures on the Sarofim Lawn that create a space for Houstonians to sit, swing, relax, and come together as a community.

The installation from Mexican designers Esrawe + Cadena is inspired by the mercados of Latin America — lively street markets where human connections are made every day.

The goal is for visitors to make new friends, try new activities, dance to music, and enjoy the city’s diverse cultural and art experiences for the duration of the exhibit, which runs October 8-November 14, 2022.

But that's not all. To help bring Houstonians together, there will be public art programming inspired by the installation and sponsored by Houston Association of Realtors, starting with a big opening night celebration.

On October 8 from 6-10 pm, get ready for:

  • Two evening performances of Lifted by Mimbre, an all-woman acrobatic dance group from the United Kingdom on their first U.S. tour.
  • Houston artist Ange Hillz live-painting the newest President's Mural: Discovery Green from A to Z. Hillz will paint accompanied by DJ Monstaa and pianist DJ Pee Wee from The Too Laid Back Band. The painting will be on view through January 29, 2023.

"During the past two years, many Houstonians have felt isolated in their homes and have missed the opportunity to be part of a community," says Jennifer Wauhob, chair of the Houston Association of Realtors, which is sponsoring the public art programming. "Our 49,000 Realtors know how important community connection is and Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 creates a space where strangers can become friends in the comfort of an exhibit that feels like home."

Here's what else you can enjoy throughout the installation's six-week run:

  • Listen to a “Houston Strong” playlist courtesy of ROCO while enjoying the Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 art installation.
  • Catch two more performances of Lifted on October 9 at noon and 2:30 pm.
  • Watch the Houston Pride Band’s SaxWorx and Brass Tax quartet perform on October 14 from 7-9 pm.
  • Enjoy traditional Indonesian music from Gamelan of the New Moon performed live on October 21 from 7-9 pm.

And especially for children:

  • On Saturday, October 8, from 1:30-3 pm, kids can create a mini casa using toothpicks and gumdrops with the help of Girlstart STEM.
  • On Saturday, October 15, from 1:30-3 pm, kids can sing and dance along with Encanto characters Isabela, Mirabel, and Dolores.
  • On Saturday, October 29 from 1:30-3 pm, they can enjoy cultural crafts created by exhibitors visiting from different parts of Mexico.

Discovery Green is a 12-acre park that features sprawling lawns, a one-acre lake, an interactive fountain, a playground, public art installations, gardens, and an allée of century-old live oaks. Since opening in April 2008, the park has welcomed more than 20 million visitors.

As Discovery Green prepares to celebrate its 15th birthday party, Houstonians are invited to “discover themselves” at the park with free concerts, entertainment, relaxation, and more. More info at www.discoverygreen.com.

Photo courtesy of Creos

Esrawe + Cadena's Mi Casa, Your Casa 2.0 is on display October 8-November 14, 2022.

Conroe-born country star Parker McCollum headlines RodeoHouston 2023 Opening Day celebrations

parker saddles up for rodeo

A familiar face will headline the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s wildly popular Opening Day performance. Conroe native and country star Parker McCollum will take the NRG Stadium stage on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, the rodeo announced.

Individual tickets for McCollum’s Opening Days show start at $25, plus a $4 convenience fee and are on sale at 10 am on Thursday, October 6 via rodeohouston.com. As always, an Online Waiting Room will open at 9:30 am; customers who join the Waiting Room from 9:30 to 9:59 am will be randomly selected to purchase tickets at 10 am. (A place in the Waiting Room does not guarantee tickets.) Customers can purchase a maximum of eight tickets.

McCollum, who boasts more than 3.3 million followers on Spotify with favorites such as “Pretty Heart,” “To Be Loved by You,” and “Hell of a Year,” has won fans with his mix of Americana and country, infused with a bit of blues, soul, and folk rock. Currently touring with country crooner Thomas Rhett, McCollum is a natural choice to open the 2023 RodeoHouston concert series, as the singer-songwriter drew a crowd of 73,243 at last year’s rodeo, marking the fourth-highest paid rodeo/concert attendance in 2022.

Fittingly, custom-designed caps commemorating Opening Day and McCollum’s return to RodeoHouston will be available for purchase online.

New for 2023, a special Opening Day celebration will feature a performance by a local band on the Stars Over Texas Stage before McCollum’s show. Special giveaways will include 10,000 custom-made Howdy bobbleheads for early arrivers that morning (starting at 10 am). Visitors can expect a host of activities including an Opening Day Parade at NRG Park.

As for the highly anticipated 2023 RodeoHouston entertainer will be announced at a later date, plus more Opening Day details, per the rodeo.

“Everyone looks forward to the upcoming Rodeo season all year long, and we hope all Rodeo fans will circle Opening Day on their 2023 calendars, as this will be a day you won’t want to miss,” Chris Boleman, rodeo president and CEO, noted in a statement. “February 28 will truly be a Houston-themed celebration, as we kick off the 2023 Rodeo season with Houston’s-own country music star Parker McCollum closing out the day with another unforgettable RodeoHouston performance.”

The 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and all RodeoHouston performances are scheduled for February 28–March 19, 2023 at NRG Park.

Houston high schools score high marks as Texas' best in 2022

A+ rating

Several campuses in the Houston area have earned extra credit as the best high schools in Texas.

In the latest rankings from education review website Niche, Houston's Carnegie Vanguard High School and Debakey High School for Health Professions come in No. 4 and No. 5 respectively among the state's best public high schools.

Meanwhile, Awty International School comes in at No. 2 (up from No. 3 last year) on the list of the state’s best private high schools.

Here's how Houston schools scored:

  • Houston ISD’s Carnegie Vanguard High School, No. 4 among public high schools
  • Katy ISD’s Seven Lakes High School, No. 5 among public high schools
  • William P. Clements High School, No. 5 among public high schools
  • Houston ISD’s Debakey High School for Health Professions, No. 5 among public high schools
  • Houston ISD’s Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, No. 9 among public high schools
  • The John Cooper School in The Woodlands, No. 6 among private high schools
  • The Village School in Houston, No. 7 among private high schools
  • The Kincaid School in Houston, No. 10 among private high schools
For those interested in private schools, here are the top Houston institutions this year.
  • The Awty International School
  • The John Cooper School
  • The Village School
  • The Kinkaid School
  • Strake Jesuit College Preparatory

“Some of the biggest decisions that parents face have to do with their children’s education,” Luke Skurman, founder and CEO of Niche, says in a news release. “We strive to put as much power in their hands as possible so they can make informed decisions with confidence.”

Niche says that while traditional rankings rely heavily on metrics like test scores and academic performance, its rankings combine ratings from current students, alumni, and parents with data from the U.S. Department of Education to evaluate teachers, resources, facilities, extracurricular activities and more.

Here’s how other Texas schools and school districts fared in this year’s Niche rankings.

Austin area

  • Austin ISD’s Liberal Arts & Science Academy, No. 2 among public high schools
  • Eanes ISD’s Westlake High School, No. 6 among public high schools
  • Round Rock ISD’s Westwood High IB World School, No. 8 among public high schools
  • St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, No. 4 among private high schools
  • Eanes ISD, No. 1 among best school districts
Dallas area

Dallas ISD’s School for the Talented & Gifted tops the list of the state’s best public high schools, and St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas leads the list of the state’s best private high schools. Both schools ranked first on their respective Niche lists last year.

San Antonio area

  • Keystone School in San Antonio, No. 9 among private high schools
  • BASIS Texas Charter Schools in San Antonio, No. 4 among school districts

Rio Grande Valley

  • South Texas ISD in Mercedes, No. 2 among school districts