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There are so many great places to live in Houston that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.

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Located in the epicenter of Houston, Memorial Forest is known for its beautiful natural topography, upscale properties, and easy access to major city freeways like the Beltway and I-10.

“Memorial Forest is very much a front-yard neighborhood, surrounded by restaurants and parks and boasting two elementary schools — Bunker Hill and Frostwood — which are within walking distance, as is Memorial Mall,” says Janice Murphy, who is the third generation of a four-generation real estate family.

She lists and sells predominantly in the Memorial neighborhoods, where she has also lived and been an active community member for more than 30 years.

Murphy offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Memorial Forest. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink

"Ciro's Italian Grill not only has great food, there’s a beautiful patio along with an outdoor space for children to run and play, and you can often catch live music there, too,” says Murphy.

She also suggests several other fine restaurants within a five-minute drive, including the coastal flavors of Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette, State Fare Kitchen & Bar’s casual-fun menu (dill pickle dip with house-made barbecue potato chips, anyone?), farm-to-table flair at Dish Society, Southern comfort at Treebeards, and elevated steakhouse fare at Jonathan’s The Rub.

Smoky goodness is served up at Goode Co. Barbeque — and don’t miss sister restaurants Goode Co. Kitchen & Cantina and Goode Co. Seafood, she adds.

For mixing and mingling over drinks, Murphy recommends by Popular Demand (or "bpd," as the locals say).

Where to play
To maximize your downtime in the area, there are parks, movie theaters, shopping, and spas and salons all very close to the Memorial Forest neighborhood.

What to see
Memorial Forest is quite close to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, The Museum of Fine Arts, and the Theater District, where a number of venues host everything from touring Broadway shows to the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Ballet, along with concerts, bands, comedians, and more.

Where to live
“The average lot size in Memorial Forest is about 10,500 square feet,” advises Murphy. One- and two-story homes range from 2,400 square feet to about 5,600 square feet. “The Architectural Committee ensures that the new builds are styled to fit into the original neighborhood,” she adds.

Murphy highlights the European flair of the stunning 12222 Cobblestone Dr. as representative of the Memorial Forest area, what with its timeless remodel and expansion along with it pool and garage apartment.

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Janice Murphy lives, works, and plays in Memorial Forest. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email janice.murphy@sir.com or call 281-236-6853.

Agent Janice Murphy

Photo courtesy of Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty
Agent Janice Murphy

Kingwood: A livable forest with trails, trees, and kindness

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Houston that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.
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Located in northeast Houston, Kingwood offers a welcoming, suburban lifestyle with traditional homes that have been remodeled as well as new construction nearby.

Kingwood’s proximity to the airport and downtown appeals to commuters as well as frequent fliers, while outdoor enthusiasts gravitate to the area for its natural beauty, 75 miles of greenbelt trails, and its adjacency to Lake Houston for boating and fishing.

For real estate agent Michelle Star, the community feel and the highly rated schools were additional factors that drew her family to Kingwood when relocating from Austin about seven years ago.

“Also, having grown up in the Midwest, all of the trees in Kingwood made me feel more at home,” she says.

Indeed, when Kingwood was first developed in the '70s, it was dubbed the "Livable Forest" — and you’ll see that tagline all around town, adds Star.

As the wife of a U.S. Marine, Star lived in nine other states before calling Texas home and previously worked on Capitol Hill. So she is masterful at planning every step of a move — and is also an International Relocation Specialist. She is passionate about finding the perfect property (and deal!) for her clients.

Star offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Kingwood. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
"For a celebration or a special night out, Chimichurri's is hands-down my top spot," says Star. "This South American grill has top-notch service and some of the best steaks I've had — and their chimichurri sauce is amazing! You'll be asking for extra. Their executive lunch is always a hit as well for client meetings or a nice lunch with friends."

If Star wants a little something sweet, she hits Taste of Gnome, a boutique bakery. "This place is so delicious; it's dangerous that it's right next to my office!"

Where to play
For Star, East End Park is one of her favorite places to relax and enjoy nature and wildlife. “You’ll often see deer and a variety of birds,” she says. “I have even seen an eagle on an early morning walk. The park is also a beautiful location for sunsets along Lake Houston and family photos.”

But there are so many other ways to enjoy the outdoors in Kingwood, too.

“We have neighborhood pools and parks and a weekly farmers market at Town Center,” Star adds. “There's also Dylan Duncan Memorial Skate Park to brush up on skateboarding skills with a mini half pipe, kicktail, and ramp.”

For those who like to golf, Clubs of Kingwood has five different courses along with recreational and workout facilities.

What to see
“You can't miss the The Bevil Jarrell Memorial Bridge, adjacent to U.S. Highway 59,” says Star. “It's the original bridge crossing the San Jacinto River and is another great spot for photos or just a scenic outlook point for the river.”

Where to live
“Kingwood is a wonderful place to establish a home,” says Star. “There's so much that our community offers.”

She believes that Kingwood homes also appeal to many people because there’s a mix of traditional styles that don’t feel "cookie cutter."

“Many of the homes from the ’70s have been updated inside to showcase their character, and others are ready for a buyer's personal touch,” she adds. “As you travel through Kingwood toward Lake Houston, you'll find homes built throughout the 2000s as well as newer construction in Royal Brook and Royal Shores. Kingwood offers a little bit of something for almost everyone's architectural style.”

Star recently sold a six-bedroom home at 5503 Valley Lark Court that exemplifies all that Kingwood offers.

“This gorgeous property is within close proximity to the lake, trails, and excellent schools,” she says. “It also features a custom-remodeled interior by local Kingwood builder Framestead.”

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Michelle Star works and plays in Kingwood. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email michelle.star@sothebys.realty or call 832-779-7827.

Agent Michelle Star.

Photo courtesy of Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty
Agent Michelle Star.

Towne Lake: Life on the water is made sweeter with custom homes

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Houston that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.
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A Houston-area resident for more than 25 years, Lisa Adams knows her way around town, including the award-winning, master-planned community of Towne Lake.

As the centerpiece of one of the region’s most sought-after areas in Northwest Houston, Towne Lake boasts Texas-sized appeal via its 300-acre lake — the largest private recreational lake in Houston, with 14 miles of shoreline, scenic coves and waterways, boat docks and fishing piers, and a six-mile continuous boat ride.

“I absolutely love outdoor atmosphere and the water feature that Towne Lake offers,” says Adams, whose daughter happens to share her affinity for the water as a two-time Olympic swimmer. “You can waterski, swim, boat, and paddle boat in the lake. And the lazy river pool is awesome for families.”

Bordered by 290, West Road, and Barker Cypress Road, Towne Lake is in the heart of the Cypress-Fairbanks area, surrounded by restaurants, shopping, and educational and recreational opportunities. Zoned to the highly acclaimed Cy-Fair ISD, the community also has three onsite schools.

Adams offered up a few of her personal favorites about the casual-upscale lifestyle of Towne Lake. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat and drink
Start the day with fresh, seasonal flavors at First Watch, which has the best brunch around; order an açai bowl at Nektar Juice Bar; or grab a sweet or savory bite at Coco crêpes waffles & coffee.

Later in the day, head to Ambriza for authentic Mexican flavors or check out Taisho, a Japanese grill and sushi bar. Sam’s Boat is the ultimate sports bar — with good Gulf Coast food, too — and you can never go wrong with a pint at World of Beer.

You can also find easy access to fast-casual faves for tacos (Torchy’s), salads (Sweetgreen), and pies (MOD Pizza).

Where to play
Towne Lake is basically a vacation in your backyard, and even has its own 1.5-acre destination island with a beach, swim area, and a dock for boating and fishing.

Outdoor activities aren’t limited to the lake, though. Parks and recreational areas boast tennis courts, splash pads, a community garden, more than 24 miles of connected trails, covered picnic pavilions, and even a slalom ski course.

Where to live
Each Towne Lake neighborhood offers a unique setting, with most homes designed in an open floorplan that resonates with the relaxed, lakeside environment.

There are a number of exclusive, gated enclaves and communities that offer custom homes and waterfront properties in addition to a “55 and better” section.

One of Adams' favorite homes in the neighborhood, which she sold for a homeowner relocating out of the country, is 18211 Dockside Landing, an incredible, modern Mediterranean-style retreat in one of Towne Lake's gated areas.

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Lisa Adams works and plays in Towne Lake. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email lisa.adams@sir.com, or call 281-330-4342.

Agent Lisa Adams.

Photo courtesy of Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty

Agent Lisa Adams.

Montrose: Wonderfully eclectic spirit in the heart of Houston

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Houston that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.
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Developed in 1911, Montrose is merely four square miles — but don’t let its small size fool you. Situated just west of downtown Houston, it’s a vibrant pocket of bold eccentricity and diversity in the heart of the city, where you can celebrate art, culture, food, and nightlife.

A licensed real estate agent since 1986, Judy Cohen has lived off and on in the Montrose since 1979 and loves celebrating the uniqueness of the area and its residential real estate.

When she’s not checking the box on every possible detail for her clients, she volunteers with Casa de Esperanza and the City of West University Senior Services and has been a member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Committee for six years.

Cohen offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in Montrose. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Hugo’s is the namesake restaurant of James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega and serves authentic, regional Mexican cuisine. But don’t just go for dinner; this place has one of the best Sunday brunch buffets in town. The chilaquiles and the huevos poblanos — poached eggs over sweet cornbread with roasted potatoes and asparagus — are musts.

There are a number of Mediterranean places, including Aladdin, a local institution.

You can also journey around the world with global flavors from the Far East, India, Africa, the Caribbean, and more at The Traveler’s Table.

Among the bars in the neighborhood, many would point to Anvil as the epitome of the cocktail scene, with their take on 100 classic drinks along with seasonal, creative spins on bevvies.

Where to play
The quaint Cherryhurst Park in the heart of Montrose has a playground, lighted tennis court, and a large green space and park benches; it’s also just one side street away from the bar and restaurant scene.

On Westheimer, there’s a quirky conglomeration of shops and more, from antiques to thrift stores and boutiques. “One of my favorite gems is the weekend market at Montrose and Westheimer,” says Cohen. It’s hosted every Sunday from noon to 5 pm.

Where to live
“There is a big mix of homes in the area; you can have a new-construction home next to a duplex,” says Cohen. “But I love the older Craftsman-style homes that have been restored and updated.”

One thing to note is that some of the neighborhoods, like Cherryhurst, are deed-restricted so they do not allow small-lot patio or townhomes.

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Judy Cohen works and plays in Montrose. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email judy.cohen@sothebyshomes.com, or call 832-755-9654.

West University: A small town with the biggest heart

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Houston that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.
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Real estate agent and fourth-generation Houstonian Laura Mayer knows her way around the block. She specializes in Houston’s finest neighborhoods, including West University, which she also calls home herself.

“I have worked in West U my entire career of 20-plus years,” says Mayer. “As a resident, I’m involved in the community myself — and through my children’s various activities — which keeps my network strong in the area. It’s the best place to live, and I am honored to sell in this neighborhood.”

With a gorgeous setting, a great community feel, and stellar schools, Mayer says West University cannot be beat.

“I love feeling like I live in a small town in the heart of the fourth largest city in America,” she adds. “The central location, safety, amenities, and community events are just a few of my favorite highlights. My husband and I love to walk to dinner or up to the ball field, and my kids can ride their bikes to many places.”

Mayer offered up a few of her personal favorites about life in West U. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
“Head to Tiny's No. 5 for breakfast — and to hang with friends!” says Mayer. The charming restaurant is nestled in the old JMH No 5 Grocery Store that served the West U community for 60 years, and is right next door to their bakery, Milk & Cookies.

She also loves Leaf & Grain for a healthy lunch and Torchy's for a quick and easy dinner.

Little Matt's is great if you have kids, Mayer shares. Their mission is beautiful, too: to honor their young son’s memory by donating proceeds from the restaurant to Texas Children’s Hospital.

Where to play
West U has multiple parks, playgrounds, and two swimming pools, Mayer advises; it’s a great community environment. The neighborhood is also very convenient to shopping in Rice Village, which is a walkable, historic haven.

What to see
There are many things to see that are very close by, including the Museum District, Herman Park, and the Houston Zoo. Exploring the art on the Rice University campus — including a piece of the Berlin Wall — is another must.

Where to live
“West U is an eclectic neighborhood with varied architecture and style,” says Mayer. It’s a small town with a big heart and you really can’t go wrong in this area."

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Laura Mayer works and plays in West University. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email laura.mayer@sir.com, or call 713-443-6776.

Oak Forest: Trendy digs in the urban woods of Houston

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in Houston that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.
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Real estate may just run in Freddie Minahan's blood. Both of his parents were in the industry and, although he grew up in Philadelphia, he has adopted Houston as his second home over the last seven years, embracing every ounce of Southern charm.

While he has expertise both inside and outside Houston’s Loop, Minahan maintains a particular affinity for Oak Forest; he’s a resident himself, after all.

He has also seen a number of clients and friends move to the historic neighborhood, which was first established in 1947 and is now being revitalized into a vibrant, diverse community.

“It's fun living in a booming, comfortable, and trendy area that has constant change and exciting new restaurants,” he says.

Situated just north of the 610 loop, Oak Forest is known as the “Urban Woods of Houston” and has more than 5,500 homes and 20 acres of parks along with hiking and biking trails.

“There are so many opportunities to own a beautiful home on a great-sized lot here with convenient access to freeways and entertainment,” says Minahan. “Everyone is very friendly and welcoming, and it's nice having the trails close by.”

Minahan offered up a few of his personal favorites about life in Oak Forest. Here's his guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Minahan happens to be a great amateur chef, but for him, brunch at d'Alba is always a must. Their take on chicken and waffles looks like house-made carb-y goodness topped with confit chicken thigh, Fresno chiles, black pepper ricotta, and chile honey.

For a caffeine fix, it’s Sunday Press for Minahan. He also recommends Walking Stick Brewing Company for a pint in the neighborhood and Wakefield Crowbar for the ultimate sports bar environment — it’s also Houston’s only sand volleyball and entertainment venue.

Where to play
Look no further than T.C. Jester Park, according to Minahan. There are walking and biking trails, a frisbee league, a dog park, picnic spots, and more.

Where to live
Oak Forest boasts a lot of new-construction homes that range in style from traditional to modern and transitional, says Minahan.

“The neighborhood is filled with fantastic builders who deliver high-end homes with phenomenal finishes,” he adds. “Expect tons of curb appeal and many a backyard oasis.”

A recent favorite property sold by Minahan is 859 W. 41st. “I love this new-construction home on a large lot with high-end finishes and appliances,” he says. “The buyers were thrilled to move to this contemporary stunner and are looking forward to customizing the backyard with a pool.”

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Freddie Minahan lives, works, and plays in Oak Forest. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email freddie.minahan@sir.com, or call 832-588-5991.

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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.