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Courtesy of Wurstfest

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.

Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

3 of Houston's top restaurants roll out weekday lunch specials

Order Up

Offices are open again, and with that comes the return of the business lunch. Even if you're not dining with clients, a quick and delicious lunch spot should be on everyone's agenda.

These three popular restaurants from Berg Hospitality Group each offer a special menu every Monday through Friday from 11 am-3 pm. Whether you're sitting down to a meal that's all business or a long, leisurely lunch with friends, just let your server know and they will accommodate you. If choosing the latter, be sure to ask your server for cocktail or wine pairing suggestions to fully enhance the experience.

“We created these menus because we wanted to offer our guests a weekday lunch with a great value, and one where they can dictate the speed of the experience," says Berg Hospitality CEO and founder, Benjamin Berg. "We are prepared to serve a quick meal for those looking to get in and out, or we can accommodate a long and relaxing European-style lunch."

Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

Pop into The Annie Cafe & Bar for the Post Oak Burger.

Trattoria Sofia
Two courses, $24

Take a midday break with the ‘Riposino’ menu, which starts with your choice of the insalata misticanza, spiedini de fontina di prosciutto, or barbabietolina arrosto, then move on to secondi like pollo a la parmigiana, margherita pizza, and more. The menu is offered not only in the dining room, but on the terrace and at the bar as well. Call 713-804-0429 or book on OpenTable below, but walk-ins are also accepted. Learn more and view the menu here.

The Annie Cafe & Bar
Two courses, $29
Pop into this Post Oak staple to chow down on classics like The Annie tortilla soup, Post Oak burger, Cobb salad, chicken paillard, and more. Walk-ins are accepted, but a better bet is calling 713-804-1800 or visiting OpenTable for a reservation. Learn more and view the menu here.

B&B Butchers & Restaurant
Two courses, $36
You can't go wrong with the delicious offerings from this Washington Ave. hot spot which is a short drive from downtown. Choose from options like the Caesar salad, Cobb salad, seared salmon, chicken shank, filet medallions, and more. Call 713-862-1814 or visit OpenTable to book your table, though walk-ins are also accepted. Learn more and view the menu here.

Photo courtesy of On The Kirb

Fresh and organic Houston sports bar adds third and biggest location in Katy

New Fave Spot

More is better, especially when it comes to organic, fresh, and local food. On The Kirb, the popular Houston sports bar known for its sustainable approach to food and beverages, is debuting a third location in Katy.

Located at 25230 Farm to Market 1093, the new eatery is set to open September 20.

Its 5,000-square-foot, industrial interior encourages an open and lively experience, complete with a lush green patio on which to enjoy your favorite cocktails.

Like its two existing locations in Upper Kirby and Midtown, the menu is a health-forward take on classic American fare.

It's all scratch-made and using grass-fed beef, ocean-raised salmon, and cage-free poultry, and all meats are antibiotic and hormone-free.

Vegans and vegetarians, don't fret: There are loads of options that accommodate special diets.

And the authentic Neapolitan pizza can't be overlooked — It's formed with artisanal Caputo flour that's imported from Napoli, Italy, and then fermented for three days to ensure an authentic taste.

To wet your whistle, there are 24 taps showcasing Texas’ best craft breweries and beyond, a large wine selection, and signature cocktails crafted with house-made syrups and fresh muddled fruit. There's also an unbeatable happy hour menu that includes $2 off all beer, wine, and spirits.

In fact, you'll want to pop in for a different special each day of the week. Make sure not to miss On The Kirb's famous weekend brunch, offered each Saturday and Sunday from 11 am-4 pm, and the mimosa towers that offer various fresh juice options.

If your weekends (or weekdays, for that matter) are more sports-focused, On The Kirb has more than 22 65-inch HDTVs and a 240-inch HD LED video wall for a larger-than-life football experience. UFC title fight parties are also held every few weeks.

Want to host your own party? Private events come with mouthwatering catering packages and a space that's ideal for a crowd.

In anticipation of the grand opening, join the VIP club to stay up to date and receive exclusive offers.

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In addition to the new location at 25230 Farm to Market 1093 (281-665-8848), On the Kirb can also be found at 5004 Kirby Dr. in Upper Kirby (713-526-1414) and 2521 Bagby St. in Midtown (281-888-7898).

Ocean-raised salmon makes this a step above "bar food."

Photo courtesy of On The Kirb
Ocean-raised salmon makes this a step above "bar food."
Photo courtesy of The Houstonian

The Houstonian Club invites diners into 'The Kitchen' with new restaurant

New Look, New Menu

Whether you're visiting from out of town or you're a long-time Houston local, The Houstonian Club's renovation is something to get excited about — especially if you're into food.

Currently in progress, The Kitchen at The Houstonian Club is the new 6,000-square-foot restaurant and bar that's part of The Houstonian property’s $65 million master-plan project.

It's a dynamic indoor-outdoor concept with separate adult and family-friendly dining spaces. The respective decks will provide al fresco dining and overlook the beautiful, relaxed environment of the hotel's resort pool complex.

The Kitchen has been designed to be a central location and gathering place exclusive to members and guests, where they can connect and unwind over classic meals.

It will offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner service with unique and comforting dishes based around proteins, grains, bowls, salads, and soups, all with thoughtful and innovative touches by executive chef Marcus Hollander.

"I believe my biggest influence in The Kitchen is to offer a scratch-made menu so that every ingredient is understood," says Hollander. "Our full-scale menu offers great, healthy options such as acai bowls for a healthy breakfast, locally sourced greens for our salads, homemade breads, and a la carte steaks and seafood."

The restaurant's new bar will offer seasonal beverages including local craft beer on tap and a cocktail list curated by a professional mixologist, including "mocktail" options. The wine list will feature a variety of choices from California, Oregon, and abroad.

This is all part of Phase 2 of the club’s remodel, which once complete will alter nearly 70 percent of the facility and add 10,000 square feet, for an impressive total of 185,000 square feet.

And if this impressive renovation wasn't enough to make you want to check out the hotel, perhaps being named the No. 1 resort hotel in Texas in Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards will.

The Houstonian Club's first-class amenities and commitment to service have earned it the honorable distinction of being a Platinum Club of America.

This places it in the top 5 percent of private clubs and only 1 of 20 athletic clubs in the nation with this recognition. The Houstonian Club is the only Platinum Club in Houston.

To see the new spaces and amenities, to apply for membership, or for tours and access to the club, you can make an appointment only by calling 713-316-2729.

Who says you have to choose?

Photo courtesy of The Houstonian
Who says you have to choose?
Photo courtesy of On The Kirb

Healthy and hearty Houston sports bar scores winning pass at lunch

Kirbside Lunch Service

To some, sports bars are invariably dark environments with greasy food and watered-down drinks. Anyone who knows about On The Kirb, however, knows that this trope doesn't exist inside this eatery's doors.

This spot focuses on fresh and organic foods, and is committing to something unique among competitors: the lunch crowd.

At both the Upper Kirby and Midtown locations, natural light floods in during the day through nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, illuminating the wood-paneled bar. The spacious patio is even brighter, with more plants than tables and plenty of fresh air to enjoy.

Whether inside or out, it’s not just airy decor creating an open feeling. Diners actually get quite a bit of personal space thanks to cozy booths and well-spaced high tables. These magic tricks for separation maximize space leave lunches with friends, family, business colleagues, and casual dates feeling private.

With salads and wraps among the more ubiquitous sports-bar fare, there’s something for everyone, making On The Kirb a great choice for low-key business lunches, and even road trips through or out of Houston.

To further the comfy vibes, On The Kirb focuses on playing nostalgic hits — mostly alternative and classic rock of the '80s and '90s — in the background.

So when you're seeking a crowd-pleasing choice for a mid-day meal, it's a win-win when you end up here.

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On the Kirb is located at 5004 Kirby Dr. in Upper Kirby (713-526-1414) and 2521 Bagby St. in Midtown (281-888-7898).

On The Kirb is not the average Houstonian's sports bar.

Photo courtesy of On The Kirb
On The Kirb is not the average Houstonian's sports bar.
Photo courtesy of Discover Temple

Dig into the history and food of Temple, where town meets country

On the Road

Located smack-dab in between Waco and Austin, Temple brings together town and country. It features a historic downtown district with shopping, art, and entertainment, plus easy access to lakes, hiking, and parks.

But the town’s growing scene also boasts an impressive — and eclectic — mix of locally owned and operated dining destinations, where you can just as easily sidle up for some seriously good gourmet pizza with a side of live music as you can for a dressed-up dinner for two, or even a Mexican-Korean mash-up of flavors.

Go for the food and bevvies, stay for the vibe
Treno Pizzeria & Taproom serves up all the artisan, wood-fired pies you could want (try the Lord of the Rings with calamari, or the King Brisket) and the craft beers to go with them. They also have live music on their lawn space outside and a kids’ movie night each week.

Veteran-owned Fire Base Brewing Company offers a large selection of craft beers in a dynamic atmosphere with events and specials throughout the week, including open mic nights, food trucks, and live music.

Casual-cool hangout The Yard – Food Truck Plaza has a rotating list of mobile eateries throughout the year, along with local artists and music.

Find global flavors in the heart of Temple
Drawing inspiration from the owners' cultures and experiences, MexiKo Cafe pairs Mexican and Korean cuisines to create a unique assortment of dishes you didn't know you needed until now.

For authentic, straight-up Mexican cuisine, head to Tres Magueyes for everything from chile rellenos to carne asada, fajitas, enchiladas, and more.

La Dalat Vietnamese Cuisine is a traditional Vietnamese restaurant with fresh, authentic dishes such as phở, bánh mì, caramelized clay-pot catfish, and more.

Visit Ireland by way of O'Brien's Irish Pub. Yes, there are cheese curds and bangers and mash on the menu in addition to lots of beers on tap. The pub is housed in a 100-year-old building, which only adds to the charm.

If your tastebuds are primed for spice of another kind, look no further than Thai Cafe with its classic dishes and seafood specialties.

With a claim to fame as one of the only fine-dining Jamaican restaurants in Central Texas, Ras Kitchen takes its Caribbean-style cuisine seriously. From jerk chicken to brown-stew and curry, it’s all on the menu and made to order by Chef Ras.

For a hibachi experience, head to Nami Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar to enjoy authentic cuisine in a fun, unique environment.

Savor elevated fine dining
Cheeves Bros. Steak House is world renowned for its Prime steaks, an award-winning wine cellar, and impeccable service and style. Other menu favorites include truffle mac and cheese, firecracker shrimp, South African lobster tails, and Pontchartrain chicken.

Also bringing a delicious menu and an award-winning wine list to the table, Pignetti’s is in the business of creating an elegant dining scene. They also have special experiences every week, including a social night every Wednesday with wine and apps, and date night on Thursdays with more wine specials. For the foodies, Friday is osso bucco day — only 15 orders available! — and fresh lobster is available every first Friday.

Find a full list of delicious downtown places to savor here, including Bird Creek Burger Co.’s beef, lamb, bison, chicken, and black bean between-the-bun options, and PJ’s Tabletop Southern Cuisine’s comfort staples.

In between meals, find more to love
Only about 500 steps from The Yard - Food Truck Plaza, the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is a fascinating place to learn about what it was like to work and travel on the railroad, and it's housed in the historic Santa Fe Depot that dates to 1911.

Right in front of the museum is Santa Fe Plaza, a beautiful and expansive green space with an amphitheater and stage, fountains, and gazebo.

While downtown, you'll want to pop into the Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center. The niche museum is behind a charming, mosaic-tiled 1931 storefront and brings Czech history and culture to life, with a special focus on the story of Czech immigrants in Texas from 1850 to the early 1900s.

For the littles, the Temple Children's Museum is an interactive place for learning and fun, with exhibits designed for children up to 8 years old. Plus, they host periodic summer camps.

For more to do — in downtown and beyond — head over to Discover Temple.

Global flavors can be found at Thai Cafe.

Photo courtesy of Discover Temple
Global flavors can be found at Thai Cafe.
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Iconic Austin blues club brings the show to fans with new indie livestreaming platform

Live on Live

If legendary Austin blues club Antone’s is your vibe, but the drive to Capital City isn't, you’re in luck. Antone’s Nightclub launched a new service for livestreaming its shows in November.

Kicking off with New Orleans-based funk and jam band Dumpstaphunk, for their special “Phunksgiving” show last month with Michael Hale Trio, the full lineup is delineated on the Antone’s website. Specifics were still loose before the launch, allowing the famous blues club to call the shots. The partner agency that created the streaming service, 3rd + Lamar, created the system to give Antone’s as much freedom as possible.

"Partnering with Antone's to build their livestreaming platform and produce each of their shows is an incredible opportunity for 3rd + Lamar," said the agency’s co-founder Nick Schenck in a press release. "The amazing talent that performs at Antone's – and their fans worldwide – deserve best-in-class live production quality, and we're thrilled to play a part in this operation."

Not that Antone’s needed to stand out more in the music industry (the nearly 50-year-old venue has always been one of the best places to see both local and national talent), but this achievement places it among relatively few venues across the country, especially those that operate their system independently.

The intimate Antone's shows are filmed by four Blackmagic 4K cinema cameras on tracks overhead, which ensure that the whole space is easily visible without having camera operators amid the audience.

“We did over 430 individually ticketed shows in 2019 and we felt like we were bursting at the seams,” said Antone’s owner Will Bridges. “Then when livestreams became more prominent during the pandemic we realized, this is our opportunity to take Antone’s outside of our four walls. … [W]e see people in the comment threads all the time saying ‘If I could only be teleported to Antone’s!’ Well now they can.”

The release emphasizes that the system means Antone’s “fully retain[s] ownership of their content, which can then be utilized at their discretion.” It also calls the service “an add-on option for all artists performing at Antone’s,” positioning the service as not just an audience luxury but a performer’s low-cost marketing tool. Suddenly, artists playing at Antone’s are afforded a choice without needing to be invited to record or pay an independent video team, while reaching even more viewers with no extra time spent advertising.

“Our ultimate goal is to make these amazing musical experiences accessible to everyone. Life is busy, but we want to give everyone the opportunity to participate no matter where they are or what they have going on,” said Bridges. “We want to make livestreams from Antone’s totally commonplace. When we announce our upcoming shows, fans have two options: watch it at the club our watch it at home.”

Livestreams are at antonesnightclub.com, and links also appear with each applicable event across the site. Prices are listed on the website, and livestreams start 10-20 minutes before each show.

Alt-rock legends Red Hot Chili Peppers heading to Houston for 2023 North American tour

one hot minute

One of alternative rock's most pioneering and enduring acts is headed to Houston to close out a highly anticipated North American tour next year. Red Hot Chili Peppers will play Minute Maid Park on Thursday, May 25, 2023 as part of a North American trek that kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 29.

Houston lands the honor of the closeout city for the North American tour (the band will also play a slew of dates in Europe). Effortlessly hip, celeb-fave modern rock band The Strokes will support the Chili Peppers, along with the talented bassist-vocalist Thundercat.

Tickets go on sale this week at 10 am Friday, December 9 online.

Houston fans who can't get enough can also catch the Chili Peppers when they hit The Alamodome in San Antonio on Wednesday, May 17 — the only other Texas date.

Aside from The Strokes and Thundercat, supporting acts along the way include Iggy Pop, The Roots, The Mars Volta, St. Vincent, City and Colour, and King Princess.

Touring in support of their two No. 1 studio albums released in 2022, Unlimited Love and Return of the Dream Canteen, the Chili Peppers have been played sold-out shows in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and more with major names such as Notable artists such as A$AP Rocky, Anderson.Paak, Beck, and HAIM.

The first rock band in 17 years to score two No. 1 albums in one year, the band has been red hot on the Billboard charts and at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they received the Global Icon Award and brought the house down with a performance of the No. 1 single “Black Summer,'' which also won the award for Best Rock Video.

Fronted by the impossibly chiseled and ageless (he's 60!) Anthony Kiedis, the Chili Peppers formed in 1983. Unabashedly proud of their LA roots, the band burst onto the scene with early singles such as "Higher Ground" and "Give It Away," both showcases of bassist Flea's slappin', funk-fueled basslines.

Throughout the peak of alternative music in the '90s, the band saw tragedy, personnel changes at guitar, and reinventions — Kiedes' rap-singing, Flea's bass grooves, and singalong choruses all constants over the decades.

While many '90s alt-rock acts fizzled, the Chili Peppers stayed relevant; the band boasts two anthemic singles with more than 1 billion streams — "Californication" and "Under the Bridge" — and more than 25 million followers on Spotify.

Expect this show to be packed with Gen Xers and new fans for what promises to be one hot minute.

Red Hot Chili Peppers 2023 tour dates:

  • Wednesday, March 29 – Vancouver – BC Place
  • Saturday, April 1 – Las Vegas – Allegiant Stadium
  • Thursday, April 6 – Fargo, North Dakota – FargoDome
  • Saturday, April 8 – Minneapolis – US Bank Stadium
  • Friday, April 14 – Syracuse, New York – JMA Wireless Dome
  • Friday, May 12 – San Diego – Snap Dragon Stadium
  • Sunday, May 14 – Phoenix – State Farm Stadium
  • Wednesday, May 17 – San Antonio – Alamodome
  • Friday, May 19 – Gulf Shores, Alabama – Hangout Music Festival
  • Thursday, May 25 – Houston – Minute Maid Park

Fan-favorite, wood-fired Houston pizzeria quietly opens in the Heights

enough (pizza) to love

A popular Houston pizzeria has opened its second location in the Heights. The Gypsy Poet has begun a quiet soft opening in the former Fegen’s space at 1050 Studewood St.

Since its 2019 debut in Midtown, the Gypsy Poet has earned a devoted following for its wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant’s personal-sized, 13-inch pizzas exist somewhere on the spectrum between traditional Neapolitan and classic New York — too crispy for the Italians but not quite foldable like an East Coast slice. Options include a classic Margherita and the signature Fancy Backpacker, which is topped with prosciutto, truffle oil, and arugula.

Part of the restaurant’s appeal stems from its friendly service and easy going atmosphere. It regularly hosts informal musical performances and other artistic happenings.

Taken together, Gypsy Poet has earned legions on fans. Yelp users ranked it as Texas’s second best restaurant in 2021. More recently, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy awarded it a high 7.8 rating during a pizza review.

The restaurant opens at a time of transition for pizzerias in the Heights. Dallas-based Neapolitan restaurant Cane Rosso closed last year, and suburban favorite Crust Pizza Co. opened this summer in the former Mellow Mushroom space at N. Shepherd and 20th.

The Heights location of Gypsy Poet will be open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-9 pm; Friday from 12-2 pm and 5-10 pm; Saturday 2-10 pm; and Sunday 2-9 pm.