Photo by Cooper + Ricca

The staff at Texas Monthly has shared some of their favorite local restaurants in a new list. Published this week, “The Good Place” covers 31 restaurants across the state that have stood the test of time.

Of course, these restaurants cover a broad range of cuisines. Classic American comfort food is represented, but the list also includes Tex-Mex, Mexican, Indian, and more. After all, modern Texans are as likely to crave sag paneer as chicken fried steak.

The magazine offers some insight into how it selected these specific establishments. “What each of the restaurants on this list has is a strong sense of place, an abundance of hospitality, and a lack of pretense,” the magazine writes in an introductory essay. It continues, “most important, these restaurants share an intangible vibe, a know-it-when-you-feel-it quality.”

All of Texas’s major cities score spots on the list. Houston has four restaurants, plus a couple more along the coast that Houstonians will recognize. San Antonio has four. Three Austin eateries make the cut. Dallas and Fort Worth claim two spots each.

Houston’s representatives are:

Assistant editor Arman Badrei hails Kasra for its taftoon bread, kashke bademjan (an eggplant dip), and signature kebabs. TxMo veteran Mimi Swartz praises Khyber and India’s for their consistency and hospitable service that makes everyone feel like a regular.

“Neither place offers the creativity of other local — and very fine — Indian restaurants, such as Kiran’s and Pondicheri, but that’s part of the charm,” she writes. “We’ve never gone wrong with our favorites — or, frankly, deviated from the menu at all — so I can attest to the superlative kabab-e-dilruba, the dal, and the onion kulcha at India’s and the equally superlative reshmi kabab, dal, and onion kulcha at Khyber, which come, always, with a side of dry jokes and political analysis from [owner Mickey] Kapoor.”

Swartz also pens the entry for Ninfa’s. Even though the place has grown a bit and some of the familiar faces have left, she writes that the restaurant retains much of its charm.

“The chile con queso and the guacamole remain stellar, as do the margaritas,” she writes. “The portions are plus-size, and some of the fancy new items on the menu, such as the wood-roasted octopus, snuggle comfortably alongside old favorites, meaning cheese enchiladas and the classic, made-famous-here (for Texans, that is) tacos al carbón.”

The magazine also recognizes Gilhooley’s, San Leon’s popular oyster bar and restaurant, and Galveston favorite Benno’s, where Badrei recommends the fried seafood platter and whole steamed blue crab.

Admittedly, deciding on whether or not a restaurant qualifies for a list like this one rests entirely on each writer’s individual impressions of it. Still, it’s easy to imagine a number of different possibilities for the Houston-area entries.

Perhaps the magazine should have considered Larry’s Original Mexican Restaurant in Richmond, which has been serving classic Tex-Mex for more than 50 years, or pioneering Vietnamese restaurants like Kim Son and Mai’s. While Khyber and India’s are not without their charm, Aga's Restaurant & Catering — the massive Southwest Houston restaurant known for its goat chops — serves hundreds of people (or more) on any given night. Heck, even Memorial-area steakhouse Taste of Texas would have been a good fit.

Photo by Becca Wright

New York Times names 2 must-try Houston eateries to coveted 50 most exciting restaurants list

NYT's favorite Houston restaurants

The New York Times has included four Texas restaurants — including two from Houston — on its new list of “The 50 places in the United States that we’re most excited about right now.”

Houston’s representatives are Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers, a Southern restaurant from Gatlin’s BBQ owner Greg Gatlin, and El Hidalguense, a Mexican restaurant in Spring Branch. They’re joined by two Austin eateries — Mexican seafood restaurant Este and Wee’s Cozy Kitchen, a Malaysian comfort food near the University of Texas.

Published Tuesday, September 19, the list mixes newer restaurants that have opened since 2022 with more tenured establishments. Overall, 28 states are represented. Texas’s four spots rank it third with New York and California tying for first with five entries each.

“Despite the upheavals in recent years, this is an expansive moment for independent restaurants. We can’t help but feel that cities and towns in the United States are better to eat in today than they have ever been,” the article states.

Food reporter Priya Krishna writes the entries for all four Texas restaurants. At Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers, she praises the biscuits, barbecue shrimp, fried catfish, and “warm-hug hospitality.” “From the cozy booths to the televisions mounted on the walls, it’s a place where you’ll want to stay a while. Just don’t leave without having the cobbler,” she writes.

“Being listed among the best restaurants in America by the New York Times is a huge honor and a testament to the hard work of everyone behind the scenes at my restaurant," Gatlin tells CultureMap. "My goal has always been to bring high quality, Southern-inspired dishes to my community and being recognized on a national level is extremely gratifying. I also want to thank my family for supporting this dream and always being in my corner. It is a true testament to our cornerstone values of Faith, Family, and Food.”

Turning to El Hidalguense, Krishna feasts on the signature roasted goat and caldo de res. “This is the rustic cooking of Hidalgo, a state in central Mexico whose famously colorful houses are depicted on the restaurant’s sign and splashed onto the table decorations. Grab a big group, order several platters of meat and enjoy the kind of Mexican cooking that you can’t easily get elsewhere — and that’s saying something in Houston,” she writes.

Este chef-owner Fermín Núñez earns recognition for adding global touches like hummus and brown butter to his Mexican seafood dishes. Krishna praises Wee’s Cozy Kitchen for the way chef Wee Fong Ehlers serves dishes like curry laksa in a West Campus gas station “past the cases of Coors Light and off-brand iPhone headphones.”

Gatlin’s has already received regional attention, earning an honorable mention onTexas Monthly’s list of 2023’s best new restaurants (as did Este). Owner Greg Gatlin has made a number of media appearances, including serving as a guest judge on a barbecue-themed episode of Top Chef and in Netflix’s High on the Hog documentary series. Prior to opening Este last year, Núñez earned a Food & Wine Best New Chef award for his work at Suerte, his masa-focused Mexican restaurant in Austin.

Photo by Becca Wright

4 smokin' Houston spots heat up Texas Monthly's Top New and Improved BBQ Joints list

TxMo's best new bbq joints

The barbecue experts at Texas Monthly have once again shared their perspective on where to eat smoked meats statewide courtesy of a new list titled “Top 25 New and Improved BBQ Joints in Texas.”

Released every four years, the new and improved list recognizes restaurants that have either opened or made significant changes since 2021, which is when Texas Monthly last published its quadrennial ranking of the state’s 50 best barbecue restaurants — an occasion that combines the anticipation of receiving Christmas presents with the seriousness of attempting to pass the bar exam. Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn traveled across the state to compile the list, which is presented alphabetically by city. Overall, he finds the state of the state’s barbecue is quite strong.

“No matter where I go, I find there’s no end to smoked-meat innovation,” he writes. “Thanks to ingredients and preparation methods from a medley of culinary traditions, we’re now blessed with dishes such as za’atar-spiced lamb, berbere-seasoned pork ribs, and brisket fried rice. It’s a glorious time to eat Texas barbecue, and I’m more excited than ever for what the future will bring.”

If the northern suburbs of Spring and Montgomery are included, Houston claims four spots on the list. Meanwhile, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex earns seven of the 25 spots on the list, followed by greater Austin with five, while San Antonio gets one.

The Bayou City representatives consist of Brisket & Rice, an Asian-influenced restaurant in a far-west Houston gas station; J-Bar-M, the massive barbecue temple in EaDo; Montgomery’s Bar-A-BBQ; and Rosemeyer Bar-B–Q, a food truck in Spring.

Vaughn praises Brisket & Rice for its namesake, wok-fired rice dishes as well as house-made beef links. J-Bar-M earns praise for sides such as tomato salad and cauliflower au gratin. Both Bar-A-BBQ and Rosemeyer also receive recognition for their sausage-making skills.

The Metroplex representatives start with Arlington’s Ethiopian-influenced Smoke ‘N Ash and Dallas’s Douglas Bar and Grill, which operates as a steakhouse in the evenings. From there, Vaughn, a Dallas resident, dives into the suburbs, shouting out North Texas Smoke BBQ (Decatur), Heritage Butchery & Barbecue (Denison), Pit Commander BBQ (Van Alstyne). Hill City Chophouse (Tolar), and B4 Barbecue and Boba (Mabank).

Austin starts with Egyptian-influenced KG BBQ; Briscuits, a food truck that serves its barbecue on a biscuit; and Lockart’s Barbs B Q, the female-owned restaurant that recently starred on the New York Times’s list of The 20 Best Texas Barbecue Restaurants From the New Generation. The Texas Monthly list also includes Austin restaurant Mum Foods Smokehouse & Delicatessen and Rossler’s Blue Cord Barbecue, which is located in the small town of Harder Heights near Killeen.

Turning to San Antonio, Vaughn recognizes Reese Bros Barbecue, which updated its offerings with Mexican-influenced dishes such as brisket and the queso fundido sausage and a carnitas torta. Heading south, the Rio Grande Valley takes three spots: Vargas BBQ (Edinburg), El Sancho Tex Mex BBQ (Mission), and GW’s BBQ Catering Co. (San Juan).

Barbs B Q isn’t the only overlap between Texas Monthly and the Times. Brisket & Rice and Smoke N Ash also bask in both spotlights.

Courtesy of Trattoria Sofia

10 favorite and flavorful salads for refreshing summer dining in Houston

going green

When considering what to eat on a warm Houston summer night, sizzling chicken fajitas, slow-cooked ribs with fresh coleslaw, and cheesy, grilled sliders may come to mind.

But with the oppressive Houston heat hitting its stride, try exploring the surplus of easy, fresh, and flavorful salads this city’s finest restaurants have to offer.

Consider this group of tasteful, unique salads as our suggestions for making the scorching summer days a little more bearable.

Island Grill - Island Greek Salad
A Houston staple, Island Grill has served some of the city's best Mediterranean food since 2000. Specifically, their Island Greek Salad — fully loaded with broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, feta, tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, and Kalamata olives that's dressed with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and served with a side of warm pita bread — is a house favorite. Not only is the salad fresh and consistently delicious, but the combination of eight vegetables dressed in balsamic vinaigrette, specifically the sweetness of the onion and slight crunch of the mushroom, makes for an incredibly satisfying experience.

Barnaby's Cafe - Lebanese Chicken Fattoush Salad
With seven Houston-area locations, including one that just opened in Spring Branch, Barnaby's is a local favorite with a wide-ranging menu that spans many different cuisines. While the restaurant serves many noteworthy salads, the Lebanese Chicken Fattoush Salad stands out as one its signature dishes. Decorated with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, olives, feta cheese, house vinaigrette, herb mix, and a seasoned chicken breast, the salad’s unique flavors compliment each other for a rich flavor that keeps diners coming back for more.

Ojo de Agua - Salmon and Pistachio Salad
A new addition to River Oaks District, Ojo de Agua serves Mexican dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The tiled tables, hanging chairs, beautifully decorated dishes, and an array of freshly squeezed juices transport diners to the restaurant's original locations in Mexico City. While the Chicken and Tomato and Rosemary and Pasta salads are clear standout dishes, the Sweet Potato and Pistachio salad with salmon might be our favorite. A nice mix of savory and sweet, the Sweet Potato and Pistachio salad includes kale, avocado, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, fresh pickles, roasted sweet potatoes, and pistachio with sprouts, sesame seeds, spicy tangerine vinaigrette dressing, and diner's choice of salmon or tuna steak. The variety of textures and addition of three superfoods - avocado, sweet potato, and salmon - make for an incredibly flavorful and nutritious dish.

Grace’s on Kirby - American Garden Salad
Part of Johnny's Carrabba's Upper Kirby empire that includes Carrabba’s and Mia’s Table, Grace’s serves an upscale take on classic Southern food. Fried Green Tomatoes, Maw Maw’s Pork Pot Roast, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, and Mac N’ Cheese are just a few of Grace’s most popular recipes. For this article, let's look at the American Garden Salad. Offered as a side or main dish, the American Garden Salad includes chopped carrots, bacon, croutons, and choice of thousand island, blue cheese vinaigrette, classic vinaigrette, or ranch dressing. Not only is this salad is a classic, it may also contain Houston's best croutons — big, crunchy, and deliciously seasoned.

Adair Kitchen - The Harvest Salad
With a new location near West University, Adair Kitchen continues to serve as a go-to for casual lunches and dinners. The restaurant's menu of approachable comfort food includes many tempting options, but don’t miss the Harvest Salad. Butter lettuce topped with grilled chicken breast, goat cheese, avocado, candied walnuts, strawberries, and sweet green dressing, the Harvest Salad is a staple. While fruit is not always a good idea on salads, Adair takes advantage of the sweet taste of strawberry, the tart goat cheese, and avocado to produce a light and fresh summer salad.

Trattoria Sofia - Cavalo Nero
During a recent meal under the garden lights on on the beautiful terrace at Ben Berg's Italian restaurant in the Heights, the Cavalo Nero salad stood out a favorite. The salad combines Tuscan kale salad with basil, mint, smoked chili, toasted parmesan bread crumbs, and Parmigiano Reggiano to produce a memorable combination of textures and flavors. Available as an appetizer or a main, the parmesan bread crumbs and imported Parmigiano Reggiano are pressed into the ideally massaged kale, adding a rich flavor nicely complemented by the basil and mint.

Niko Niko’s - Greek Salad
Known for its traditional Greek fare, this Houston favorite offers arguably one of Houston's favorite salads. Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, red onions, capers, bell peppers, pepperoncini peppers, and feta cheese over iceberg and romaine lettuce dressed with their signature dressing and boosted with a choice of gyro meat, grilled chicken, falafel, or shrimp, Niko Niko’s Greek Salad oozes with flavor. Not only are the ingredients juicy and fresh, but the salad is filling and satisfies a grumbling stomach. Mopping up the leftover dressed with some freshly-baked pita completes the experience.

True Food Kitchen - Chopped Salad
Striving to create healthy yet delicious dishes, True Food Kitchen offers a menu with gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. One of the restaurant's most popular dishes, the vegan Chopped Salad combines mixed greens with Medjool datea, jicama, apple, dried cranberry, manchego, farro, Marcona almond, and a champagne vinaigrette. The subtle ingredients combine to create a crisp dish embellished by the sweet flavor of the dried cranberries and the crunch of the farro and almonds.

Tiny’s No.5 - Classic Caesar
Although it might be best known for its celebrated chocolate chip cookies and deluxe charcuterie boards, Tiny’s Classic Caesar is just as beloved. A combination of romaine, parmesan, croutons, grilled chicken, and Caesar dressing, the Classic Caesar lives up to its name. The subtle Caesar dressing enhances the flavor of the fresh lettuce and shaved parmesan, making for a wonderfully light and refined summer salad.

Picnik - Cobb Salad
Recently opened in the Montrose Collective mixed-use development, Picnik serves a breakfast, lunch, and dinner that can be paired with a range of coffees and cocktails. While items like the Breakfast Taco Plate, Cashew Queso, Chicken Katsu Sandwich, and Sustainable Salmon are some of the menu's most popular dishes, the Cobb Salad is a crowd favorite. Decorated with avocado, tomato, raw bleu cheese, no-sugar bacon, Vital Farms egg, cavolo nero, crispy Red Bird chicken, and green goddess dressing, Picnik’s Cobb Salad offers a fresh take on the classic. .

Trattoria Sofia kale salad

Courtesy of Trattoria Sofia

Trattoria Sofia might serve Houston's best kale salad.

Photo courtesy of H-E-B

H-E-B sweeps Food & Wine list of best supermarkets in U.S.


If one were to cast a Hollywood film based on grocery chains (hey, 20 years ago, a Barbie movie would have seemed farfetched, too), surely Nick Offerman could stand in for the ever-practical Hy-Vee. The more patrician Erewhon might be the juicy role that forces Gwyneth Paltrow out of retirement.

But the character of H-E-B could only be played by Meryl Streep — feigning surprise at the camera as her name is read. The homegrown grocer is practically buried in plaudits but can’t help but smile when it gets recognized one more time.

The latest comes from Food & Wine. Earlier this year, the long-running magazine named H-E-B at the top of its list of the Best Supermarkets in America. The locally based business bested regional giants like Publix and Wegman’s and cult faves like Trader Joe’s.

For those already converted, the editors didn’t offer much new insight to chew on. Texans buy the in-store tortillas in bulk and squeeze limes via turquoise Cocinaware. For those who still think Publix’s Havana Bold sub is equal to that excellence, however, it was a comeuppance.

Only two other chains operating in Texas made the Food & Wine list — the aforementioned Trader Joe’s and bulk cheese puff depot Costco. Neither H-E-B-owned Central Market nor Austin-based Whole Foods Market made the list, though it’s unclear whether those more upscale stores met the “supermarket” qualification.

For those keeping score, H-E-B is sweeping awards season. Also in February, the grocery snatched Amazon’s spot atop dunnhumby’s Top U.S. Grocery Retailers list and dominated Newsweek’s Most Trusted Grocery Retailers in America rankings. It might be time for H-E-Buddy to start working with a stylist.

Photo by Robert Jacob Lerma

New York Times showcases 5 smokin' Houston spots in hot new 'Best Texas Barbecue Restaurants' list


The New York Times has shined its spotlight on the new faces of Texas barbecue. In an article titledThe 20 Best Texas Barbecue Restaurants From the New Generation,” the paper considers restaurants that opened after 2011 and are serving more than the traditional brisket and ribs with cole slaw and potato salad. List author Brett Anderson visited Texas seven times in two years to compile the list, according to the Times.

The greater Houston and Austin areas lead the way with five restaurants each. Dallas-Fort Worth has three spots, and San Antonio claims two. The other five restaurants span the state, covering Beaumont, Marfa, Weslaco (near McAllen), and two towns near Lubbock: Slaton and Wolfforth.

Houston's searing spots

Houston is represented by Blood Bros. BBQ, the Asian-influenced restaurant in Bellaire; Brisket & Rice, an Asian-influenced restaurant in Northwest Houston; Gatlin’s BBQ, the staple Black-owned restaurant featured in Netflix’s High on the Hog documentary series; Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack, a Black-owned restaurant in Third Ward; and Truth BBQ, the Washington Avenue restaurant ranked third in the state by Texas Monthly.

Truth BBQ barbecue tray
Photo by Robert Jacob Lerma

Truth Barbecue makes the list.

Each entry gets a brief profile and suggestions for what to order. Anderson's recommendations include gochujang-glazed pork ribs at Blood Bros., barbecue fried rice at Brisket & Rice, the fried chicken biscuit at Gatlin’s, smoked oxtails at Ray’s, and burnt end boudin at Truth.

In the companion essay, Anderson dives a little more deeply into his Houston selections by highlighting Brisket & Rice, a restaurant that’s operated in a Phillips 66 gas station on FM 529 since 2022. He praises its brisket, describing it as “juicy, with a tight, salty crust, and best eaten … over rice, with a drizzle of tomato-based sauce.”

“This is the epitome of Houston barbecue. We don’t care if the nerds show up,” Houston Chronicle barbecue columnist J.C. Reid tells the Times about Brisket & Rice.

Austin and Dallas mentions

The Austin-area representatives consist of Distant Relatives, known for incorporating flavors of the African diaspora; Japanese-influenced Kemuri Tatsu-ya; farm-to-table food truck LeRoy and Lewis; and Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ, which just opened its new location in Buda last month. Anderson also includes Barbs-B-Q, a restaurant in Lockhart that only opened at the end of May but whose three female owners boast serious resumes.

The Metroplex is represented by Goldee’s Barbecue, ranked number one on Texas Monthly’s list; Smoke ‘N Ash Barbecue, which has earned acclaim for its use of Ethiopian flavors; and Vaqueros Bar-B-Q, which serves barbecue-influenced takes on Mexican dishes such as cochinita pibil and birria tacos. Similarly, San Antonio is represented by two Mexican-influenced spots: 2M Smokehouse and Burnt Bean Co., the restaurant in Seguin whose owners Ernest Servantes and David Kirkland earned nominations for Best Chef: Texas in this year’s James Beard Awards.

Leading the way in the “New Generation”

Some guidance for the criteria used to identify the members of the “New Generation” comes via Anderson's companion essay. Titled “Texas Barbecue Is the Best It Has Ever Been. Here’s Why,” he explains that Texas barbecue has evolved beyond its Central Texas, European-inspired roots to include a more diverse set of influences.

“It is a malleable cuisine, one that is open to newcomers and includes the traditions, notably Black and Mexican American styles, that have long thrived here,” he writes. “The new Texas barbecue gives voice to a population that has been diversified by new arrivals from other states and countries, and to a cultural dialogue between rural and urban artisans; much of it nods to American barbecue’s origins in the live fire cooking of Indigenous people and enslaved Africans.”

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Stylish Heights restaurateur launches pop-up for her fab and functional travelwear

jetsetters welcome

As savvy Houston travelers know all to well, creating the perfect travel wardrobe is a journey in itself. Suitcases must be packed with functional, versatile pieces — and let's not forget the all-important stain resistant staples. And when it comes to packing for a travel adventure, size matters.

We've all seen the cringeworthy videos of Americans lugging their oversized luggage up flights of stairs in Europe – let's make a pact to avoid that at all costs. Travelers should keep their wardrobes minimal but try to incorporate magical pieces for those Insta-worthy photos.

Knowing that a great wardrobe is the key to unlocking a stylish trip, Houstonian Thy Mitchell set out to create a line of clothing perfect for travel and wanderlust inspo. Enter Foreign Fare, the clothing line she created earlier this year with her husband Matt. (Locals know the couple as owner/operators of global cuisine restaurant Traveler's Table.

Foreign Fare Houston The grand opening event of Foreign Fare's pop-up is on Saturday, December 2, from 1 pm to 4 pm. Guests are invited to shop, enjoy music from DJ Danielle Dupont, and nosh on light bites and drinks provided by Fiora Bottle Shop.Photo by Emily Jaschke

After years of globetrotting to research food for the couple's restaurant, Thy Mitchell was inspired to start the clothing brand. During her travels, she realized "there was no brand specifically designed to provide stylish yet functional clothing tailored for travelers," she recalls to CultureMap.

So, Mitchell set out to create an apparel line crafted with modern adventurers in mind where comfort and convenience could be paired with luxury and flair. Foreign Fare's first collection features six silhouettes that she hopes will "inspire people to explore the world in style."

Until now, her brand has been available exclusively online, but just in time for the holiday travel season, Foreign Fare is hosting its first pop-up in the buzzy Montrose Collective. Stylish shoppers can jet to the Foreign Fare grand opening event on Saturday, December 2, from 1 pm to 4 pm. Guests can get the jump on Foreign Fare's dresses, jumpsuits, jackets, and more, enjoy tunes from DJ Danielle Dupont, and nosh on light bites and drinks from Fiora's Bottle Shop.

Ahead of the her big grand opening event, we sat down with the always-on-the-go Mitchell to get her take on curating the best travel wardrobe.

CultureMap: What are your three essential tips for curating an excellent travel wardrobe?

Thy Mitchell: I focus on versatile, low-maintenance, comfortable pieces when curating a travel wardrobe. However, I refuse to sacrifice style, and that's why I love apparel that I can wear day to night, with just a switch of jewelry or an accessories update to transform a look.

I appreciate multi-functional items like stylish belt bags that can be worn as a crossbody sling and reversible jewelry that can change the look of an outfit.

CM: Why is Houston a perfect place for Foreign Fare?

TM: Even though Foreign Fare is available via e-commerce from anywhere in the U.S., I think Houston is a fantastic place for its first pop-up store and home. We are one of the most diverse cities in the country, with many Houstonians having a passion and love for travel.

One thing that we've learned from our restaurant, Traveler's Table, is how people can instantly connect with one another over sharing travel stories or discussing trip recommendations, and we hope a travel clothing brand can resonate with customers in a similar way.

CM: This one is an essential ask for the ladies: If you are only taking two pairs of shoes on a trip, what are they?

TM: First off, let me say that my default setting is always to try to travel with only a carry-on, because it allows me to be flexible and to pivot at a moment's notice – changing airlines or destinations when there are delays is almost impossible to do when the airline has your luggage.

However, this means I must be very intentional in my clothing and shoe choices, so let me break down a couple of shoe scenarios for different seasons:

  • Spring/summer travel: A pair of stylish Tory Burchplatform sneakers and Stuart Weitzman mule sandals with a block heel
  • Fall travel: Nike Air Force 1s and Prada black-brushed leather loafers
  • Winter travel: Superga platform sneakers and All Saints slip-on ankle boots with a block heel

CM: What is the biggest mistake people make when packing for travel?

TM: I think people often focus on single-use pieces, which can lead to overpacking and being forced to check in luggage. Often, people don't know what to pack, so they pack certain items "just in case," when they should ideally focus on multi-functional items that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits.

Focusing on several high-quality and stylish foundation pieces that can go together in different combinations and be accessorized to create different looks is definitely the way to go.


The Foreign Fare pop-up runs through January 14, 2024 at Montrose Collective (888 Westheimer Rd. Ste 153). Hours are 11 am - 7 pm Tuesday - Saturday; noon - 5 pm Sunday. The store is closed on Mondays.

Foreign Fare Houston

Photo courtesy of Foreign Fare

Travel brand Foreign Fare was co-founded by Thy Mitchell and her husband Matt, who also own global cuisine restaurant Traveler's Table.

Hot Houston hotel deals guarantee a merry and bright staycation this holiday season

Home For the Holidays

It's the time of year when downtown Houston transforms into a shiny, sparkly, magical holiday wonderland, and you won't want to miss it.

Ready to experience the magic of the holiday season in Houston? Here's what to see and where to stay.

City Lights Downtown Holiday Magic
Take a stroll through 11 themed holiday villages, which encompass everything from life-sized chocolate sculptures to the state's biggest mistletoe to ice skating under the stars.

Grab a free ride from village to village in one of the festively decorated pedicabs provided by Downtown Houston+. Locate the holiday pedicab pickup stations at Discovery Green, Lynn Wyatt Square, POST Houston, Trebly Park, and Market Square Park.

For a nominal fee, guests can ride in a holiday-decorated double-decker trolley to five downtown stops: Trebly Park, Heritage Society, Avenida Houston/Discovery Green, Market Square Park, and POST Houston.

You'll also want to pick up a holiday passport from Market Square Park, Trebly Park, or Heritage Society for the chance to win awesome prizes, including a downtown holiday staycation package with a one-night stay at Hotel Icon, four tickets to a Theater District performance, and four tickets to a Houston Rockets game.

Happy hotel deals
Whether you're in town on vacation or keeping it close for a staycation, you'll want to bookmark these incredibly festive hotel offers.

Marriott Marquis Houston
Experience Texas Winter Lights at Marriott Marquis Houston at the Altitude Rooftop & Pool, famous for its Texas-shaped lazy river. Through December 31, 2023, it is transformed into an interactive light experience with thousands of twinkling lights and winter-themed activations. Guests can enjoy immersive light displays from 5-10 pm nightly.

The basic experience is complimentary for all hotel guests, but if you want a real VIP experience, upgrade your experience at Texas Winter Lights with promo code HOL, which includes VIP access to Texas Winter Lights for up to four people (including the brand-new interactive experience, the Virtual Reality Ride), $25 food and beverage credit, and upgrade to the pool-view guest room.

Hilton Americas-Houston
Get into the holiday spirit with the ´Tis The Season package, which includes a daily breakfast buffet, one complimentary Green Mountain Energy Ice ticket for ice skating at Discovery Green next-door, and a child’s treat upon arrival. Valid through January 28, 2024.

Hallmark enthusiasts will be enchanted by Hilton’s most festive collab of the year: an incredible partnership with Hallmark Channel to bring guests the most joyous, fun, and fabulously decorated two-bedroom Hallmark Holiday Suites. Inspired by the original Hallmark holiday movie premiere of Haul Out The Holly: Lit Up, these festive suites feature jaw-dropping holiday designs and light treatments throughout, including a holiday village, a gingerbread and cocoa bar, takeaway holiday gifts, and more (through December 31, 2023).

Other holiday offers at Hilton Americas-Houston you might want to checkout include Breakfast, Parking & WiFi: Enjoy your getaway with a full breakfast buffet for two, self-parking for one car, and WiFi; Park & Stay: Get daily parking each night of your stay; Experience the Stay: With an on-property credit and additional perks, like premium WiFi and early check-in.

Four Seasons Hotel Houston
Houston Getaway offer, valid for selected dates and with a minimum two-night stay, includes 20 percent off the room rate along with valet parking.

With Residents Retreat Package, you receive 10 percent off the room rate, daily full American breakfast for two served at Toro Toro or through in-room dining, and valet parking for one vehicle. Proof of Texas or Louisiana residency is required at check-in.

Advance Purchase allows you to save up to 25 percent on the room rate when you book your stay at least seven days in advance.

Don’t forget to visit The Spa and get a Peppermint Peace Massage, available only through the holiday season, to revitalize, hydrate and brighten the skin. You will also receive a travel-size peppermint scrub as a gift to continue the holiday spa experience at home.

C. Baldwin
With a Short & Suite package at the urban-chic C. Baldwin hotel, enjoy 15 percent off the best available rate for any of the suites and relish in the comfort of a sophisticated stay. And if you are traveling with your furry friend, check out the Pet Package — it includes waiving the pet fee, delicious treats, and complimentary overnight parking.

Hotel ZaZa Houston Museum District
For an exotic and unforgettable party on December 31 (10 pm-2 am), reserve the NYE at ZaZa package. It includes overnight accommodations, two NYE party wristbands at check-in, and New Year’s Day elevated brunch for two guests per room, including mimosas and more.

Dress to impress in your best cocktail attire and dance to today’s hottest hits. Enjoy wine, beer, and cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, decadent activations, heightened experiences and spectacular entertainment, and a lavish midnight countdown and bubbly toast. NYE party and brunch are exclusive to overnight guests of Hotel ZaZa.

Westin Collection - Houston Galleria
You don't even need to leave the building to shop in one of the largest malls in America, if you stay at The Westin Oaks Houston at The Galleria or The Westin Galleria Houston, two hotels directly attached to The Galleria mall, Houston's most celebrated retail and dining destination with over 400 stores, 70 of which are unique to the Houston area.

Through December 31, both hotels offer the Holiday Shop-cation Getaway, which includes deluxe accommodations, complimentary Wi-Fi, free valet parking, and a $50 gift card to use at the mall. Use promo code ZJL when booking.

JW Marriott by The Galleria
Make precious family memories with the Indoor Ice Skating package at the completely renovated JW Marriott Houston by The Galleria. In addition to luxury overnight accommodations and complimentary self-parking, you'll receive two tickets for admission to the indoor skating rink at The Galleria Mall along with vouchers for skate rental. Use promo code 11P (valid until December 11, 2023).

The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
Perks & Presents package (available through December 30, 2023) lets you step into a magical wonderland this season, with twinkling trees, splendid décor, Houston's largest mistletoe kissing ball, and a Merry Mansions gingerbread house display above the Great Room Lobby's 30-foot fireplace.

Enjoy holiday entertainment by the fire, a menu of delectable holiday cocktails, and a collectible Kitty Keller ornament to hang on your tree. This holiday package includes specially priced guest room accommodations, two complimentary holiday themed cocktails at The Bar at The Houstonian per stay, a hand-painted glass Merry Mansions holiday ornament ($36 value), complimentary transportation to The Galleria and River Oaks District for holiday shopping and dining, complimentary holiday coloring books and crayons for children in-room, complimentary self-parking, late check-out on Sunday if applies to stay, and access to the exclusive Houstonian Club with three temperature-controlled pools. No resort fees and convenient 48-hour cancellation policy.

Hotel Zaza Memorial City
Hotel Zaza Memorial City, a haven of oversized, well-appointed accommodations — including Concept Suites and The Magnificent Seven Suites — and thought-provoking art, has created the perfect Winter Wonderland Spa Package to treat yourself after an incredibly busy year.

Indulge in a 120-minute session featuring a hot stone massage to help you relax and ease tense muscles, and a holistic facial to give your skin a pleasant refresh (available through December 22, 2023).

The Moran CityCentre
Located at the heart of one of Houston’s favorite shopping, dining, and lifestyle destinations, The Moran CityCentre is offering its Citycentre Steakation Package. This special offer includes a $100 restaurant gift card for every night of your stay. Use your gift cards at The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, or Yard House, all steps away from the hotel, and experience the vibe of CityCentre.

Blossom Hotel Houston
This new hotel, inaugurated in February 2022, is located near Texas Medical Center and NRG Stadium. Stay two-plus nights and receive 15 percent off with the Stay Longer & Save Package.

Texas residents enjoy 10 percent off the best available rate plus two welcome drinks in the lobby lounge with Texas Resident Rate offer. A Valid Texas ID is required at check-in. Suite Promotion allows you to receive a one-time $100 food and beverage credit when you book a three-night stay in one of the luxurious suites.

Explore this Houston Hotel Guide and more hotel deals in Houston.

'Hottest comic in America' Sebastian Maniscalco heads to Houston on new 2024 tour

Funny Guy

Comedian, actor, and podcast host Sebastian Maniscalco will embark on the huge It Ain’t Right tour, an all-arena jaunt that includes a stop at Toyota Center on Thursday, August 8.

The tour is Maniscalco's biggest to date, traveling to 47 cities over the course of five months. In addition to Houston, the tour will stop in Austin on August 9, Dallas on August 10, and San Antonio on August 11.

Hailed by The New York Times as the "hottest comic in America," Maniscalco has been performing for over two decades, ramping up from small clubs to arena shows. He has starred in six comedy specials for Netflix, Showtime, and Comedy Central.

He's also proven to be a force in film, television, and podcasting. He has a new series, Bookie, premiering on November 30 on MAX, and he's recently been seen in movies like The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Somewhere in Queens with Ray Romano and Laurie Metcalf, and About My Father, a film which he co-wrote and which was also his first role as a leading man.

Maniscalco currently co-hosts two podcasts, Daddy vs. Doctor and The Pete and Sebastian Show, and is the author of the best-selling memoir, Stay Hungry.

Tickets will be available starting with artist presale beginning on Wednesday, November 29. Additional presales will run throughout the week ahead of the general on-sale beginning on Friday, December 1 at 10 am at SebastianLive.com.


  • Thu Jul 11 – Norfolk, VA – Norfolk Scope Arena
  • Fri Jul 12 – Raleigh, NC – PNC Arena
  • Sat Jul 13 – Asheville, NC – ExploreAsheville.com Arena
  • Thu Jul 18 – Jacksonville, FL – VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena
  • Fri Jul 19 – Savannah, GA – Enmarket Arena
  • Sat Jul 20 – Atlanta, GA – State Farm Arena
  • Sun Jul 21 – Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
  • Thu Aug 08 – Houston – Toyota Center
  • Fri Aug 09 – Austin, TX – Moody Center
  • Sat Aug 10 – Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
  • Sun Aug 11 – San Antonio, TX – Frost Bank Center
  • Thu Aug 15 – Phoenix, AZ – Footprint Center
  • Fri Aug 16 – San Diego, CA – Viejas Arena
  • Sun Aug 18 – San Francisco, CA – Chase Center
  • Thu Sep 12 – Orlando, FL – Amway Center
  • Fri Sep 13 – North Charleston, SC – North Charleston Coliseum
  • Sat Sep 14 – Charlotte, NC – PNC Music Pavilion
  • Wed Sep 18 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
  • Thu Sep 19 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
  • Thu Sep 26 – Pittsburgh, PA – PPG Paints Arena
  • Fri Sep 27 – Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center
  • Sat Sep 28 – Washington, DC – Capital One Arena
  • Sun Sep 29 – Wilkes-Barre, PA – Mohegan Sun Arena
  • Thu Oct 03 – Albany, NY – MVP Arena
  • Fri Oct 04 – Boston, MA – TD Garden
  • Sun Oct 06 – Hershey, PA – GIANT Center
  • Thu Oct 17 – Winnipeg, MB – Canada Life Centre
  • Sat Oct 19 – Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place
  • Sun Oct 20 – Calgary, AB – Scotiabank Saddledome
  • Thu Oct 24 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
  • Fri Oct 25 – Seattle, WA – Climate Pledge Arena
  • Sat Oct 26 – Portland, OR – Moda Center
  • Wed Nov 06 – Milwaukee, WI – Fiserv Forum
  • Fri Nov 08 – Chicago, IL – United Center
  • Sat Nov 09 – Chicago, IL– United Center
  • Sun Nov 10 – Dayton, OH – Nutter Center
  • Thu Nov 14 – Youngstown, OH – Covelli Centre
  • Fri Nov 15 – Rochester, NY – Blue Cross Arena
  • Sat Nov 16 – Buffalo, NY – KeyBank Center
  • Sun Nov 17 – Syracuse, NY – Oncenter War Memorial Arena
  • Thu Nov 21 – Montreal, QC– Bell Centre
  • Fri Nov 22 – Toronto, ON – Scotiabank Arena
  • Sun Nov 24 – Ottawa, ON – Canadian Tire Centre
  • Wed Dec 04 – Estero, FL – Hertz Arena
  • Sat Dec 07 – Tampa, FL – Amalie Arena
  • Thu Dec 12 – Omaha, NE – CHI Health Center
  • Fri Dec 13 – Peoria, IL – Peoria Civic Center Arena
  • Sat Dec 14 – St. Louis, MO – Enterprise Center
  • Sun Dec 15 – Des Moines, IA – Wells Fargo Arena