Southern Smoke Festival

Photo courtesy of Southern Smoke Festival

The annual Southern Smoke Festival features some of the food & beverage industry’s most talented chefs and personalities. Guests will get to eat their share of big and bold bites; have their choice of wine, beer, and spirits; and enjoy live music to enhance the chow-down experience.

Schedule of events

  • October 13: Respect the Rosé - Six chefs from across the country will unite and collaborate on a multi-course extravaganza at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston, made even better by a collection of first-class rosés and other wines. Guests are highly encouraged to dress up in their swankiest 007/Monte Carlo attire. Chefs include Sarah Grueneberg, Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer, Rebecca Masson, Ryan Prewitt, Jason Stanhope, and Stephen Stryjewski.
  • October 14: The Throwdown - Dozens of the best chefs in America will gather at Discovery Green in Downtown Houston to serve up everything from smoked meats to scrumptious pastries. There will also be wine, beer, and spirits, as well as live music. Big names who will be on hand include Bun B, Chris Bianco, Nina Compton, Aaron Franklin, Evelyn Garcia, Mason Hereford, Cheetie Kumar, and Claudette Zepeda.

Proceeds will benefit Southern Smoke Foundation, which has distributed more than $10.5 million to industry workers nationwide.

Photo courtesy of City Place

It's all whiskey, all the time when HTX Whiskey Weekend returns this month

Fun on Tap

Texan whiskey lovers, it’s your time to shine. The second annual HTX Whiskey Weekend is returning at the end of April for an experience full of Texas libations, delectable meals, and spotlighted seminars by industry professionals. The weekend is led by Houston’s dynamic lifestyle hub City Place.

Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect from the boozy lineup of events, happening April 28-29, 2023:

Chef’s Table Dinner
The first event kicks off on Friday with an exclusive four-course dinner in partnership with sustainability focused food group The Butcher’s Ball and Still Austin Whiskey.

HTX Whiskey Weekend

Photo courtesy of City Place

There will be 11 Texas distilleries offering samples.

Expert pitmasters Robin Wong, Terry Wong, and Quy Hoang of Blood Brother’s BBQ will display their culinary skills while also showcasing a few surprises from their new concept Luloo’s Day and Night, spearheaded by chefs Arash Kharat and Alyssa Dole.

Tickets for the dinner are $185 per person and include a wine pairing. The menu will be shared closer to the event date.

The Seminar Series
Continue the libation celebration into Saturday with three talks by whiskey industry-leading professionals at the Houston City Place Marriott.

Whiskey aficionados and novices alike can enjoy an afternoon of cocktail mixology while experimenting with different flavor profiles.

The Seminar Series schedule is as follows:

  • 11:00-11:45 am – Whiskey 101 with Rebecca Creek
  • 1:00-2:15 pm – A Perfect Pour: Whiskey Cocktails Part I – Light and Refreshing
  • 3:00-4:15 pm – A Perfect Pour: Whiskey Cocktails Part II – Stirred and Boozy

Tickets for each seminar are $35 per person.

A Taste of City Place
The Whiskey Weekend’s signature waterfront event, A Taste of City Place, will run from 12-6 pm on April 29. The afternoon will be chock full of whiskey tastings by 11 different distillers from around the state. An assortment of food samplings from Michelin-trained chef Dawn Sloan of Soul Taco will be provided from 12-4 pm.

If you need a break from the festivities, dip into the Take 5 Lounge at the Marriott and cool off with zero-proof cocktails and mocktails by Not Too Sweet. Live music performances will accentuate the atmosphere throughout the day.

Tickets for the premier event are $85 per person and include a whiskey tasting glass, whiskey and food samplings, and access to the Take 5 Lounge. Access to the lounge is on a first come, first serve basis due to limited seating.

Whiskey Under the Stars
The weekend wraps up with Whiskey Under the Stars, a casual sampling from Milam & Green and William Price accompanied by cigar rolling and live music. This finale event runs from 6-10 pm on April 29.

The featured distilleries
The Texan distillers that attendees can expect to see throughout the weekend include:

  • Blackland Distillery – Fort Worth
  • Clifford Distilling – Port Arthur
  • Devil’s River Whiskey – San Antonio
  • Gentle Ben – Alvin
  • Ironroot Republic Distillery – Denison
  • Milam & Greene Whiskey Distillery – Blanco
  • Modisett & Sons Distillery – Fredericksburg
  • Rebecca Creek – San Antonio
  • Still Austin – Austin
  • Texas Tail Distillery – Galveston
  • William Price Distillery – Houston

To check out the full schedule and grab your tickets, visit htxwhiskeyweekend.com.

Photo courtesy of Mario Santos

HTX Whiskey Weekend

North Houston’s dynamic lifestyle hub, City Place, hosts the second annual HTX Whiskey Weekend. The two-day celebration features complimentary and paid festivities, showcasing regional distillers, a chef’s table dinner, whiskey education sessions, cocktail classes, food and beverage tastings, live music, and more.

Image courtesy of Houston Botanic Garden

Houston Botanic Garden presents The Secret Garden

At The Secret Garden, guests can discover the Houston Botanic Garden’s many natural wonders – frogs, flowers, and more – and some fun surprises – bars, games, and special tastings. The after-hours garden chic social fête is hosted by the Bloomers, the Garden’s young professionals group.

Photo courtesy of Jon Denman

Drink of Ages presents Fright Night 1.5 - Halfway to Halloween

The Fright Night 1.5 - Halfway to Halloween will feature over 40 local vendors, unusual performances, craft beer, and live music from HolyHell and more. Entertainment will include body suspension, sideshow clown performances, live body painting, and more. Halloween costumes and Cosplay are welcome.

Photo courtesy of Moxies

Moxies in Uptown rustles up special dinner deal as your Rodeo go-to

Steak Special

Has attending all the contests, concerts, and cool events at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo helped you work up an appetite? Then fuel up at Moxies, which is serving up a special Rodeo menu just for the occasion.

For $63 you can enjoy a three-course meal featuring a 16 oz. USDA Prime ribeye steak, your choice of a Caesar or market salad, and Moxies' best-selling sticky toffee pudding to end on a sweet note.

The steak comes with fresh seasonal vegetables and your choice of mashed potatoes, lemon quinoa, or a stuffed potato with cream cheese, green onion, and bacon.

The dessert is served warm with candied pecans, buttery caramel sauce, bourbon creme anglaise, and vanilla bean ice cream.

You can start your meal with a delicious cocktail like the new Kentucky River, made with Maker's Mark private selection, crème de cacao, Liber & Co. demerara gum syrup, and Fee Brothers peach bitters.

If you're looking for something lighter, order up the steak bites, sourced from Texas Lonestar Meats and drizzled with dijon horseradish aioli, or the cashew chicken lettuce wraps with their flavors of ginger, sesame, and spicy mayo.

Moxies is open until midnight during the week and 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays for all your post-Rodeo cravings, with happy hour happening 3-6 pm Monday through Friday.

Moxies Rodeo steak special dinner

Photo courtesy of Moxies

Get all this for only $63.

The restaurant's modern lounges, dining rooms, and patio space are the perfect place for your group bookings — the more the merrier!

Find the Houston location in Uptown at 5000 Westheimer Rd. Call 346-571-6164 or visit here to make a reservation, or just stop in for a nip and a nibble.

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'Wicked' games, wild Italian comedy, and little lies headline June theater in Houston

best june theater

It’s getting hot out there, Houston. Perfect timing for cool new theater and dance to chill out to this June.

From tragic swans to wicked witches, devilish deals, a new take on a comic classic, and two new-play festivals, we’ve got a lot on our must-see list this month. Plus, it wouldn’t be a Houston theater summer without a new musical dancing mayhem revue from Tamarie Cooper and the Catastrophic Theatre crew.

Here are the hottest stage productions this June in Houston.

Wicked from Broadway at the Hobby Center (through July 2)

The show that defied gravity — and Broadway conventions and expectations — when it first took to broomstick in 2003 is back for a nice long stay at the Hobby Center.

Wicked still flies high, with Houston – and world-wide – audiences never getting enough of this story that redefines who’s good and who’s wicked in the land of Oz. Before Dorothy landed via tornado, two witchy legends went on a whole other adventure of sisterhood, love, family, heroism and the occasional flying monkey.

"Thank Goodness" Elphaba and Galinda have returned to bring some magic to our summer.

Swan Lake from Houston Ballet (June 8-18)

National tour of Wicked
Photo by Joan Marcus

Witch team are you: Elphaba or Galinda? Memorial Hermann Broadway at the Hobby Center presents Wicked.

The exquisite tragedy makes a soaring return as the Houston Ballet performs one of the most beloved ballets of all time. This production has quite the history, as the Tchaikovsky-set Swan Lake was the first full-length story ballet that Stanton Welch created as Houston Ballet artistic director in 2006.

With costumes and set design inspired by John William Waterhouse’s painting The Lady of Shalott by the late Kristian Fredrikson, this Swan Lake has become a favorite of Houston dance lovers. It has also earned international praise after tour to the famed Tokyo Bunka Kaikan theater in Tokyo in October 2022.

Oh, and a 150-year-old spoiler alert: there’s no happy ending for this fairytale story of a maiden-turned--swan who falls in love with a prince, but what heights she flies along the way.

The Servant of Two Masters at Alley Theatre (June 9-July 2)

Alley Theatre artistic director Rob Melrose has translated and also adapted this Carlo Goldoni classic work of Commedia dell’arte that's both a world premiere — and a 200-year-old play.

Theater lovers might be a little more familiar with the modern adaptation, One Man, Two Guvnors, which the Alley also staged several years ago. But we hear Melrose, who also directs, will take his adaptation back to its original Italian roots with actors wearing the traditional costumes and masks of the traditional comedy style.

With the entire Alley resident acting company and additional Alley regulars in on the mayhem, expect lots of mistaken identities, outrageous disguises, star-crossed lovers with wacky, not tragic, destinies — and one hungry Harlequin.

Alley All New Festival at Alley Theatre (June 16-25)

The annual new play reading fest gives us the (free) chance to discover what may be the big theatrical thing.

This year brings the freshest new work from several up and coming and award winning women playwrights. Expect tales surrounding a love letter, rural girls and their horses, a DIY séance, a May/December romance, a medical thriller, and even a modern take on The Odyssey from Penelope’s POV.

This festival brings a multitude of voices and stories to the stage for a week of theatrical discoveries.

Thunder Knocking on the Door at Stages (June 16-August 6)

Stages closes out the ’22-’23 season with a bluesy deal with the devil that heats up into a unique love story across generations.

Weaving the music three-time Grammy Award winner Keb’ Mo’ into this family story, Thunder Knocking tells the story of a mysterious blues guitar-playing stranger who arrives in a small Alabama town with a musical challenge for the offspring of his late rival.

"Thunder Knocking on the Door is one of those magical experiences in the theatre where a simple family story transforms into an epic fairy tale,” says Stages artistic director Kenn McLaughlin. "There are so many theatrical surprises and so much joy, I still hold the first time I saw this show in 1998 as one of my favorite evenings in the theatre ever.”

Fade to Black Festival at MATCH (June 22-24)

Houston’s only national short play festival to spotlight the new works of African-American playwrights returns for its 11th year.

The guiding formula for the festival is 10-10, as it features 10 plays of 10-minute length that are all new works from a dynamic selection of playwrights.

Every year, the scripts go through an impressive selection process before the shows make it to full, 10-minute productions. Quite a few of the winning plays come from Houston playwrights, but also look for new works from exciting new voices from across the country.

Tamarie’s Totally True Revue (plus lies too!) from Catastrophic Theatre (June 23-August 5)

Tamarie’s back and daring us to discover the whole truth about her weird, wonderful world. As always, Tamarie brings a cool new musical theater revue to our sweltering summers.

Somehow, she also manages to get her crew of Catastrophic regulars into some of the most outrageous costumes, and dance routines of the year. We hear rumors that everyone from Tinkerbell, Pinocchio, Ben Franklin, Kenny Rogers, and Tamarie's psychic high school attendance clerk (!) will make an appearance to tackle the nature of truth, lies, and dental hygiene.

Smoke on the Mountain at A.D. Players (June 28-July 23)

Another feel-good summer show that brings a bit of music to our nights, this production transports audiences back to a 1938 Saturday night sing-a-long in a small community in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains.

Smoke features two dozen rousing bluegrass songs played and sung by the Sanders Family, a traveling family music group making its return to Mount Pleasant Baptist Church after a five-year hiatus.

As each family member takes a turn sharing an important life event, one thing after another goes awry and they reveal their true — and hilariously imperfect — natures, endearing themselves to us and allowing us to share in their triumphs.

Phenomenal Woman at Ensemble Theatre (June 29-July 30)

Ensemble partners with North Carolina Black Repertory Theatre for a “rolling world premiere” of this biographical depiction of the life of acclaimed American poet and icon, Maya Angelou.

This Phenomenal Woman takes us on an epic journey through her astonishing life story. From the trauma that thrust her into mutism, to the awakening that inspired her to write “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” audiences will experience this monumental, poetic spirit and discover how she developed one of the most celebrated voices of all time.

Pioneering leader of Miller Outdoor Theatre announces curtain call after game-changing, 14-year run

standing o for cissy

Beloved Houston arts figure Cissy Segall Davis, managing director of Miller Outdoor Theatre, will retire at the end of the theater's 100th anniversary season, the organization announced. Segall Davis has helmed the cherished organization for the last 14 years.

Her retirement was announced at a June 6 gathering of arts leaders and Miller Outdoor Theatre Advisory Board (MTAB) members. MTAB oversees the theater and its chairman, Romulo Tim Cisneros, broke the news at the gathering.

"For nearly 15 years, I have had the extraordinary opportunity to follow my personal passion every day," Segall Davis tells CultureMap. "Sharing my love of the performing and cultural arts with millions of Houstonians and visitors has been the thrill of a lifetime. I am a very lucky woman."

A pioneer in Houston arts, media, and events, Segall Davis took on Miller Outdoor Theatre's managing director position in 2008, the culmination of a career that began in 1972 and has included the management, production, and promotion of theatrical, entertainment, and special event industries.

One of her first jobs was in concert promotion, and over the decades, she amassed a deep knowledge of promotions, public relations, management, and arts administration. Long a lover of theater and the performing arts, she's often called her position at the theater a dream job.

"This really was a dream come true for me,” said Segall Davis, in press materials announcing her retirement. “Miller Outdoor Theatre has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. First as a camp counselor gleefully leading kids up and down the famous Miller hill singing “the hills are alive with the sound of music,” then professionally during my 20 years with Theatre Under Theatre Stars, later as a client when I ran my own PR firm and now of course as its managing director."

Under her leadership of Miller's day-to-day operations across the last nearly 15 years, Segall Davis oversaw a grants program for Houston performing arts and community organizations.

She also created and oversaw an annual season of more than 120 artistically and culturally diverse performances, all presented free of charge to the public. Segall's support of the arts and dedication to Miller helped build the theater's series, which runs from March to October, into the largest program of its kind in the U.S.

“It is not easy to walk away from a job that has been career-defining and one that I have absolutely loved and that has provided me the opportunity to follow my passion every day," she added. "But, knowing when to exit is part of show business. It’s time to pass the torch and offer someone else the chance to bring a new perspective and make an impact on this program. Miller Outdoor Theatre is one of Houston’s best amenities…it is beloved and treasured. It has been an honor to work with the Miller Theatre Advisory Board, our staff, the many performing arts, and cultural organizations that perform here, and the remarkable Miller crew for so many years.”

Rita MorenoEntertainment legend Rita Moreno will headline MOT's annual gala honoring Segall Davis this year.Photo courtesy of Miller Outdoor Theatre

Another big announcement was made at the same gathering where the news of Segall Davis' retirement was shared. The 16th annual gala for Miller Outdoor Theatre will be held on November 16 and fittingly, will honor Segall Davis.

The event, chaired by June Deadrick, Robin and Danny Klaes, and Christine and David Underwood, Jr., will also feature special guest and Broadway and Hollywood legend Rita Moreno. The actress and activist is one of 18 people to hold EGOT status — winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards for her work.

Funds from the gala will contribute to the theater's $12.5 million capital campaign.

Plan a summer play-cation in Frisco for golf, pools, music, and more

The City That Plays

Looking to take a play-cation this summer? Obviously Frisco, The City That Plays, is the perfect fit. It offers so many activities to fit every interest, from sporting events and unique golf activities to kid-friendly attractions and pools.

Summer sports
Watch a Frisco RoughRiders baseball game like never before from the in-stadium lazy river, or tour The Star, the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters, to take in some NFL history and see where the pros call home.

While you are visiting The Star, you’ll find shopping and dining, with everything from sushi at Sushi Marquee to sweets at Cow Tipping Creamery.

Pro tip: if you love America’s team, plan your trip in August to get a pre-season glimpse of the Dallas Cowboys at training camp, open to the public at Ford Center.

PGA Frisco awaits with its two championship courses, a short course and putting green that’s lit at night, an entertainment district full of shops and dining options for the whole family, and the newly opened Omni PGA Frisco Resort, where it’s easy to cool off in one of the four pools.

Frisco offers golfers a range of play options, including The Fazio Course at The Westin Stonebriar Golf Resort & Spa, Frisco Lakes Golf Club, Plantation Golf Club, The Trails of Frisco, and the unique indoor option of the Swing Suite Lounge by Topgolf.

Cool tunes
Now that Frisco is officially designated a Music Friendly Texas Community, there’s plenty of live music to enjoy over the summer.

Friday nights in June are for listening to live music at Frisco Square during the free outdoor Summer Concert Series on the lawn in front of City Hall.

Visitors can get into the groove anytime at one of Frisco’s many venues that host live music and entertainment throughout the summer.

Happy 4th
Frisco celebrates the Fourth of July big, too. Mark your calendar for two major events with food, music, games, and fireworks: Frisco Freedom Fest and The Independence Day Celebration at Omni PGA Frisco Resort.

Kiddo time
Escape the Texas heat with a visit to Frisco’s unbelievable new library. The bright, open design has spaces to inspire, create, innovate, and collaborate, plus you can say hi to Rexy, the 20-foot-tall T-Rex dinosaur skeleton.

Check out the high-tech Makerspace and active learning spaces like Tiny Town, for kids up to age 5, and Kid’s Club, for kinder through 5th graders.

Take a dip
Cool down poolside in Frisco. With rooftop views, cabanas, adults-only, splash pools, and the Frisco Water Park, families, couples, and friends can all find the right place to cool down during your visit.

Whatever your summer style is, rest your head at one of Frisco’s 26 hotels while experiencing a weekend play-cation with things to do for visitors of all ages.

Soak up all Frisco has to offer this summer — visit the website for more vacation ideas.

Lazy River at Riders Field in Frisco

Photo courtesy of Visit Frisco

See a baseball game from the water at Riders Field.