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The La Vida Es Cortos/Life Is Shorts Festival will feature live performances and film screenings in Spanish and English. Performances will include the premiere of Sexo y Tortillas - The Musical, three TEATRX plays, a Spanish language play, and a dance performance. Short film selections include films from Houston and other Texas regions, from around the U.S., and Latin America.

Photo courtesy of Whiskey Riot

Pour more than 200 varieties of whiskey for an unforgettable holiday gift

Raise a Glass

Give the gift of whiskey this holiday season with tickets to Whiskey Riot, coming to POST Houston on April 15, 2023.

From whiskey connoisseurs to the "whiskey curious," everyone is invited to this massive tasting event, which boasts more than 200 varieties of whiskey for attendees to try.

All types of whiskey will be available, with representation from the large historic bourbon houses of Kentucky — like Four Roses and Heaven Hill — to local Texas distillers with products made right here in the Lone Star State.

The event runs 4-7 pm that Saturday, with VIP ticket-holders gaining early admission for an extra hour of sampling.

General admission tickets are $90 and VIP are $160, but early birds can score $85 general admission if purchased before December 31.

Grab your tickets here, and delight the whiskey lover in your life this holiday season with a once in a lifetime experience.

Courtesy of Wurstfest

The meatiest tips for the best jaunt through Wurstfest in New Braunfels

Best of the Wurst

New Braunfels is about a three-hour drive for Houstonians, but fans of German beer and food have a great incentive to go before the event ends on November 13.

Wurstfest is in full swing again in the popular Hill Country town, coming out of its first weekend of 2022 festivities. Admission is free from Monday to Thursday, then $18 online for the weekend.

Although the German food is at least half the draw, Wurstfest could be called Bierfest with the sheer volume of beers it serves. And they’re not expecting too many visitors drinking before business hours end in the rather quaint New Braunfels. So, Wurstfest starts at 5 pm on weekdays, but the five hours it’s open (ending at 10 pm) offer plenty of ways to pass the time.

All weekdays start with live music at 5:30 pm on all five stages across the old German grounds. (For those who haven’t visited, this is basically a theme park: visitors wander through timber framed beer halls, past many, many concession stands, down the Comal River to a fairground, all without stepping out of Germany, it seems.) From those opening sets, there’s near-constant music on three of the stages.

Most of the entertainment comes from live music and the novelty of wandering around among the lederhosen and dirndls. (Those drinking less than friends should strongly consider bringing a book — this is from experience.) But there is some light programming every day to break up the drinking and dancing, especially for visitors with kids.

Wednesday bring smasskrugstemmen (beer holding) contest and a magic show. On Thursday, kids can hear some storytelling, and Friday, Veteran’s Day, honors veterans with a salute. Following crowds will also bring visitors to shopping, sausage-making demonstrations, and children’s fair rides.

Perhaps needless to say, the food is legitimately excellent; this is, at its heart, a culinary event, and serves more than standard fried fair foods. Obviously, sausage is a great choice, but there are potatoes, gravy, pickles, and sauerkraut to go around.

Returning revelers are thrilled to share their best recommendations for the food and imported beers. Pacing yourself, three to five hours is a very reasonable stretch for trying as much as possible and returning to old favorites.

Wurstfest tickets are available now at wurstfest.com, along with more information and entertainment schedules.

Houston Greek Film Festival

In its 5th year, the Houston Greek Film Festival showcases new films from Greek and Cypriot filmmakers, producers, and actors from Greece, Cyprus, and the diaspora. Featuring both feature-length and shorts, the festival aims to promote Greek cinema to Houston and all of Texas and the Southwest.

Photo by Daniel Jackson

9 best November food and drink events in Houston — from Butcher's Ball to Tokyo Night Festival

Best food and drink events

Fall festival season is in full swing, and, of course Houston hospitality professionals are participating in a number of fun events, many of which raise money for worthy causes.

From bar takeovers to sommelier competitions to Tokyo-inspired street festival, the next month offers plenty of food-focused opportunities to experience something different. Below are nine of our favorites:

Licorería Limantour Bar Takeover at Julep, November 1
Houston’s James Beard Award-winning cocktail bar will celebrate Dia de los Muertos by welcoming Licorería Limantour co-owner Benjamin Padrón and bar manager Eduardo Nava for a one night only takeover event. Recently named the No. 4 bar in the world by World’s Best Bars, Licorería Limantour is a Mexico City institution known for its lively atmosphere, efficient service, and creative cocktails. Expect the bar’s signature margarita al pastor, a riff on the taco al pastor, as well as other signature drinks, 6-10 pm.

Houston Whiskey Social at The Citadel, November 5
Attendees at this seventh annual event will have the opportunity to sample more than 300 whiskeys (and whiskys) from all over the world. Other attractions include food tastings and an outdoor cigar patio. Tickets, priced at $75 for general admission and $135 for VIP, are available online.

Oxtail Mash Up at Project Row Houses, November 6
Founded by chef Shakti Baum and Black Restaurant Week co-foundere Warren Luckett, this fourth annual event celebrates creativity in both food and drinks. A group of 17 chefs from Houston, New York, Philadelphia, and St. Croix will compete to make the tastiest oxtail dish, and five bartenders will present their most delicious cocktails. Chef competitors include: returning champion Reginald Scott, Ruben Vela (Lucille’s), Ryan Savoie (Saint Arnold), Shannen and Stacy Tune (Craft Burger), Joseph Boudreaux (Boo’s Burger), and Darius King (Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers).

In addition to eating and drinking, attendees will have the opportunity to sample different tequilas, experience the art at Project Row Houses, and listen to DJs spinning tunes. A percentage of proceeds benefits the Feed the Soul Foundation, which helps culinary businesses in marginalized communities. Tickets, $95 for general admission and $145 for VIP, are available online.

Urban Harvest Sunday Supper at The Grove, November 6
Five top Houston chefs — Ryan Williams (The Grove), Justin Basye (Goode Co.), Alyssa Dole (LuLoo’s Day & Night), Tony Luhrman (El Topo), and Chase Voelz (Bludorn) — will create a multi-course, family-style meal utilizing ingredients supplied by local farmers and ranchers. Proceeds benefit Urban Harvest’s programming, including community gardens, farmers markets, and youth education. Tickets start at $325 with sponsorship packages still available.

Vishwesh Bhatt Cookbook Release Party at Georgia James, November 8
Executive chef Greg Peters welcomes his mentor, James Beard Award winner Vishwesh Bath of Snackbar in Oxford, MS, for a five-course meal that utilizes recipes from Bhatt’s new cookbook I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef. The menu includes Punjabi-style fried catfish with sweet potato and peanut salad and braised pork shanks with stewed turnip greens and roots with mustard seeds. Tickets, $150, are available via Resy.

Iron Sommelier at the Post Oak Hotel, November 9
The popular wine competition is back for its first full scale in-person event since 2019. Twelve Houston sommeliers will present three wines on a theme to both attendees and a panel of expert judges, who rate the competitors on wine choice, presentation, creativity, and knowledge of their wine selections. Participants include: Zachary Newman, Bludorn; Andrés Blanco, Le Jardinier; Trevor Wiedeman, MAD; Adele Corrigan Wade, 13 Celsius; and Kelly Voelkel – Vinology and Bombetta. The event raises money for The Periwinkle Foundation, which develops programs for children, young adults, and families who are being treated for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses at Texas Children’s Hospital. Tickets start at $250; underwriter and sponsorship packages are also available.

Tokyo Night Festival at at Texas Festival Grounds, November 11-12
The two-day event celebrates Japanese street food and culture. More than 30 food vendors are participating, including: Shun Japanese Kitchen, Hako Bento Box Company, Burger Chan, Click Virtual Food Hall, Crawfish and Noodles, Ramen Tatsuya, and Dumpling Haus. Performers include Japanese hip-hop artist, Zeebra, Nisei Japanese hip-hop artist G Yamazawa, Kaminari Taiko Houston, and j-rock artist Melancholiaah! Tickets are priced at $20 per day or attend both days for $35.

Butcher’s Ball at Rockin’ Star Ranch (Brenham), November 13
At this fifth annual event, attendees can wander the festival grounds eating and drinking while also attending cooking and butchery demonstrations and panel discussions about agricultural issues. Some of the Houston chefs competing for the coveted Golden Cleaver include: Alex Au-Yeung (Phat Eatery), Victoria Elizondo (Cochinita & Co.), Tony Luhrman (El Topo), Joseph Quellar (JQ’s Tex-Mex BBQ), and Austin Waiter (Marigold Room), and Ryan Hildebrand (Hildee’s), Ryan Lachaine (Riel), Performers include Garrett T. Capps, Disko Cowboy, Sheverb, The Jerrells, and DJ Mexican Blackbird. Tickets, $175, are available online. Add a roundtrip bus ride for $50.

Houston BBQ Throwdown at Saint Arnold, November 20
Once again, a group of top Houston barbecue joints will compete to produce the dish that best represents what it means to serve “Houston barbecue.” A panel of barbecue experts will pick their favorite, and attendees will vote for People’s Choice. Participants include: Brett's BBQ Shop, Dozier's BBQ, Harlem Road Texas BBQ, JQ's Tex Mex BBQ, Roegels Barbecue Co, Tejas Chocolate + BBQ, and The Pit Room. Tickets are priced at $75 for general admission (VIP is sold out).

Photo courtesy of Tokyo Night Festival

Tokyo Night Festival

Tokyo Night Festival was originally started as an idea to bring all the chefs who have been inspired from Japan to create their version of Japanese street food. Now in its second year, the festival will support Japanese communities to represent Japanese food and culture. With over 30 food vendors and 180 total vendors, the goal of the Tokyo Night Festival is to bring a piece of Japan to Houston.

Tokyo Night Festival has teamed up with Japanese owned and operated organizations such as JPP, Sky Go Wifi, Weekly La La La, JapanUP! Magazine and Japanese Association of Greater Houston to help represent and bring the Japanese community together in Houston.

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New legislation would let Texas say no to puppy mill sales statewide

no more mills?

A Texas legislator has introduced a bill to help animals: On December 2, Representative Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) filed HB 870, which would help put an end to puppy mill practices by requiring that pet stores can sell only healthy animals from shelters or rescues.

Pet stores across Texas would no longer be allowed to sell puppies or kittens from unscrupulous, out-of-state puppy mills, protecting pets and consumers -- similar to laws that have already been enacted in a number of cities across Texas.

Patterson previously filed a similar bill, HB 1818, in 2021. And as he notes in a statement, the law would affect only one major retailer: Petland.

"Out-of-state puppy mills store puppies in poor conditions, take them away from their moms too soon, and truck them hundreds or thousands of miles across the country to be sold in retail pet stores,” Patterson says. “There’s a reason why only one of the top 25 retailers still sells dogs from these conditions. I’m proud to once again file HB 870 to provide the necessary restrictions to protect pets and their owners."

If passed, HB 870 would not preempt local ordinances. Instead, the law brings consistency across Texas’ largest counties – those with a population of 200,000 or more – primarily suburban and urban areas.

In 2022, Dallas, Houston, and New Braunfels all passed ordinances like HB 870, demonstrating the need and support for a statewide law, says Stacy Sutton Kerby, Director of Government Relations at Texas Humane Legislation Network, a nonprofit group that advocates for animals and has been involved in prior efforts.

“While 14 cities across Texas have passed retail pet store ordinances, millions of Texans are still vulnerable to the deceptive business practices used to sell puppies sourced from inhumane puppy mills. All Texans deserve to be protected from buying sick, defective puppies,” she says.

During the 87th legislative session in 2021, HB 1818 received huge bipartisan support but couldn’t get past the finish line before the session ended.

“There is widespread support and momentum for this policy," Kerby says. “We are excited to work with Representative Patterson again on this issue. His early filing of the bill shows his dedication to halting the puppy mill pipeline into Texas and alleviating the burden on shelters of having an overwhelming number of healthy, adoptable pets in need of loving homes."

Canada's favorite coffee and doughnut shop opens second Houston location

More Tims for H-town

Canada’s favorite coffee and doughnut shop will expand its Houston presence next week. The city’s second Tim Hortons will open December 16 in northwest Houston at 5312 W Richey Rd.

Founded in 1964 by NHL legend Tim Horton, the coffee shop is well known for its freshly brewed coffee and other beverages such as lattes, juices, and teas. Customers can pair their drinks with a range of sweet and savory bites such as breakfast sandwiches and muffins. Doughnuts come in a variety of flavors, including the signature Timbits doughnut holes.

The appealing menu and friendly service have allowed it to grow to 5,000 locations worldwide, with over 600 in the U.S. Tim Hortons made its Houston debut in late August with a location in Katy.

A grand opening celebration begins at 5 am on December 16. The first 50 customers will receive free coffee for a year. Expect prizes, food samples, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Once open, the store’s hours of operations will be 5 am to 8 pm daily. Customers may order via dine-in, drive-thru, or an app that features a rewards program for frequent diners.

Tim Hortons partnered with Houston's CSM Group, which operates Popeyes locations in Texas, Kansas, and Missouri. CSM Group CEO Ali Lakhany told the Houston Chronicle in March that his company plans to open 30 locations across the Houston area, including 10 in the first three years.

“We’ve received such a warm welcome from the Houston community since our grand opening in Katy earlier this year,” Ekrem Ozer, president of Tim Hortons, U.S., said in a statement. “We’re excited to continue to grow our presence in this community and get to know more Houstonians with the opening of our Richey Road restaurant.”

CultureMap Wine Guy Chris Shepherd reveals the ultimate holiday 'death match' party game

wine guy Wednesday

Editor's note: Long before Chris Shepherd became a James Beard Award-winning chef, he developed enough of a passion for wine to work at Brennan's of Houston as a sommelier. He maintains that interest to this day. When Chris expressed interest in writing about wine-related topics for CultureMap, we said yes.

In this week's column, he shares his favorite way to win more wine. Take it away, Chris.

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If you’re looking to throw a killer party — one that’s unforgettable — I have an idea for you. It doesn’t have to happen during the holidays, but it will make your holiday party more fun. Let me introduce you to Wine Club Death Match.

My friend Ellen Hur, whose classmates at graduate school first started this game, introduced Wine Club Death Match to us here in Houston a few years back. It’s a game that combines things that I love — tasting wine, talking to friends, talking about wine, and, as part of a little friendly competition, you can win the ultimate prize, more wine!

“I had heard about Wine Club Death Match and thought it sounded really fun,” Ellen explains. “I started playing with a few friends in our little New York City apartments, back in 2007 or so. We liked the idea that we could entertain ourselves without having to go out all the time. Plus, if you weren’t too discerning, which we were not, or if your friends had good taste in wine, you could grow a decent wine collection pretty quickly.”

Here's how it works:

  • Every person who comes to the party is asked to bring two bottles of the same wine that fit the night’s theme (more info on that below) and the night’s price point (e.g., each bottle must be under $25).
  • When each guest arrives, one bottle is immediately stored out of sight, and the second bottle is put in a paper bag and labeled A through Z (or however you want to distinguish the covered bottles from each other).
  • As the party goes on, guests taste each wine (responsibly) and keep their own notes about which bottle they like the best.
  • Once everyone has tasted — or the tasting portion of the party is over — everyone votes for their favorite bottle. The host takes the ballots and tallies them up for the big reveal.
  • The person who brought the bottle that gets the most votes is crowned winner of Wine Club Death Match and wins the entire stash of the second bottles that have been stored away. If you have 10 people at the party participating in WCDM, the winner takes home 10 bottles of wine. Not too shabby!
  • Spend the rest of the party lobbying the winner to give you your favorite bottle (or two) as a consolation prize.

We’ve played with our friends a few times, and it’s a fun, unique way to bring a little extra excitement to a party or gathering. It’s an automatic conversation starter. Plus, there’s a lot of strategy involved. If you’re fighting to the death (or, in this case, fighting for all the wine), you’ll need to have a game plan to take home all the spoils.

A few of my favorite themes:

  • Region + Grape/Varietal or color + Price Point is always a good theme (Oregon Pinot Noir under $30, South American reds under $27, French rosé under $20, Spanish Cava under $25, or my least favorite option— Gewürztraminer from anywhere in the world at any price point—not my favorite varietal)
  • Wine from a region you didn’t know made wine.
  • Wines mentioned in music lyrics
  • Wines from a vineyard named for a person

The beauty of this game is that it’s flexible. Want to pair the tasting wines with a specific dish and make it a more hearty affair? Go for it! Want to go all champagne and deal with the consequences later? Do it! Want to tell everyone to bring magnums? Why not? Want to bring the concept to more of a dinner party atmosphere? Cool. Have fun with it, and learn something.

Let me make a few suggestions to optimize your Wine Club Death March:

  • For WCDM to operate most optimally, the sweet spot is 8-12 guests. If you live in a city like NYC, you must consider how you are transporting all the wine home. For example, 12 bottles on a subway is tough. Luckily, 12 bottles in a Houston Uber is much more doable.
  • That being said, make WCDM yours! If you want a bigger party, go for it – you can have two winners, or be creative about how to divvy up the winnings and how to make sure everyone can taste the wines.
  • Set the price point based on your guests. If your guests are bigger spenders who want to bulk up their cellars, you can have a higher price point. But I think everyone would love a solid stash of $20-$30 wines.
  • Go heavy on the apps. Even small tastes of wine can add up.
  • The wines for WCDM are for tasting, not imbibing during the party, so have other drinks available – especially if you have guests who aren’t participating in the competition.
  • Water should be plentiful, and ride shares are a must.

Let me know how this works out for you. Invite me!

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Contact our Wine Guy via email at chris@chrisshepherdconcepts.com.

Chris Shepherd won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2014. He recently parted ways with Underbelly Hospitality, a restaurant group that currently operates four Houston restaurants: Wild Oats, GJ Tavern, Underbelly Burger, and Georgia James. The Southern Smoke Foundation, a non-profit he co-founded with his wife Lindsey Brown, has distributed more than $10 million to hospitality workers in crisis through its Emergency Relief Fund.