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Photo courtesy of Brendan van Son

When you think of San Antonio, you may immediately remember the Alamo. But in addition to that legendary Texas landmark, there’s so much more that makes this authentic city memorable.

Awash in Old World charm and a melting pot of culture, San Antonio is a kaleidoscope of history, food, art, and more.

These eight highlights cover some of the not-to-be-missed experiences you should prioritize while in this immersive destination.

Explore the River Walk
Forgive us for stating the obvious, but the Paseo del Rio — the River Walk — lives up to its reputation as the No. 1 tourist attraction in all of Texas.

The world-renowned, 15-mile urban waterway has multiple personalities: quiet and park-like in some areas, while others are brimming with activity from European-style sidewalk cafes, boutiques, art galleries, nightclubs, and gleaming high-rises.

Explore the vibrant maze of walkways, bridges, and canals by foot or jump aboard a Go Rio! river barge for a guided tour or a dinner cruise.

See history come to life
The Mission Reach, an eight-mile stretch along the San Antonio River, has recreational trails, pedestrian bridges, pavilions, and portals to the beautiful, colonial San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes Concepción, San José, San Juan, and Espada.

You can also find Hot Wells along Mission Reach. It's a one-time bathhouse-turned-resort turned-entertainment complex that burned several times over, and the ruins are fascinating.

Downtown, the Spanish Governor's Palace is the only remaining example in Texas of an aristocratic, 18th-century, Spanish Colonial, in-town residence (and it's reportedly very haunted!).

The 1731 San Fernando Cathedral is the oldest standing church and continuously functioning religious community in Texas. Four nights a week, French artist Xavier de Richemont’s The Saga is projected on the façade of the cathedral and tells the history of San Antonio through music, sound, light and visual narration.

South Texas history, culture, and natural science are the focus at The Witte Museum, where you'll find dinosaur skeletons, cave drawings, wildlife dioramas, and several historic homes.

Head to historic art districts
Located on the south bank of the River Walk, the charming La Villita (which translates to “little village”) occupies one square block in the heart of downtown San Antonio.

It was one of the city’s original settlements, and now the tiny district’s cobblestone streets are lined with an eclectic array of adobe structures and early Victorian and Texas limestone buildings that house boutique-style shops with works and wares from artists and craftsmen.

Dating to 1840, Market Square (El Mercado) is a festive combo of Tex-Mex cuisine, music, entertainment, and shopping with more than 100 locally owned businesses.

Just past the hustle and bustle of downtown you’ll find Southtown the Arts District, a trendy, creative community populated by historic houses, converted warehouses, artist lofts, shops, galleries and restaurants.

It also includes the King William Historic District, which reflects San Antonio’s German heritage in a treasured residential area that was originally settled in the late 1800s. There are many mansions in the area, and you can tour the beautiful Villa Finale while there.

Discover even more art
With more than 20 museums, San Antonio has no shortage of artistic experiences, including street murals that dot the city.

With a Mediterranean-style mansion setting, The McNay art museum is beautiful on the outside and inside, with 22,000-plus collection of works, including post-impressionist and modern pieces, medieval offerings, Native American art, and more.

The San Antonio Museum of Art is housed in a castle-like structure that was formerly the Lone Star Brewery. It’s notable for its antiquities collections and a 30,000-square-foot Center or Latin American Art — the largest of its kind — as well as an Asian art wing that spans nearly 6,000 years of history.

Located in a historic building with a sculpture garden onsite, the Briscoe Western Art Museum is a hub for the art and culture of the Wild West.

For an immersive and interactive experience, Hopscotch is a unique, 20,000-square-foot art gallery with 14 distinctive, playful, and whimsical installations from more than 40 local, national, and international artists.

And San Antonio’s newest contemporary art center, Ruby City, is a crimson-hued building that displays paintings, sculptures, installations, and video works.

Find The Pearl
A vibrant micro-community all its own, The Pearl is a highly curated culinary and cultural destination with multiple dining options, shops, and a weekend farmers market, all centered around a historic German brewery that was founded in 1881.

Pearl’s Bottling Department Food Hall has also risen to the rank of a must-visit culinary hub thanks to resident gems like Caribbean street food-peddler Mi Roti and tasty ramen emporium Tenko Ramen.

Just outside the food hall is the Park at Pearl, an expansive lawn where you can catch a concert, fiesta, or dance party on any given evening.

Indulge in an epicurean experience
Known as the culinary capital of Texas, San Antonio is recognized as one of only two U.S. cities designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy (the other is Tucson) because of its unique blend of cuisine options. And it’s about more than just the crazy-good food, too; local restaurants serve up experiences, traditions, and culture.

But where to start the foodie tour? In 2022 alone, dining destinations across the city received seven nominations for the James Beard Awards, one of the highest honors in the culinary industry.

Put these nominees on your short list, including Clementine for chef John Russ’s seasonal eats inspired by global flavors.

Pitmaster Esaul Ramos’s 2M Smokehouse has impressive barbecue — and desserts, too — for the ultimate savory and sweet combo. And if you get nothing else at Cured, you must order chef Steve McHugh’s ultimate charcuterie plates.

Renowned Mexican restaurant Mixtli fuses old pre-Hispanic techniques with modern, avant-garde cuisine, and the menu rotates every 45 days. Pastry chef Sofia Tejeda’s delectable desserts there are not to be missed, either.

Speaking of baking, bakery-cafe La Panaderia specializes in making handmade bread and pan dulce inspired by Mexico’s Golden Era with influences from the famous bread-baking brothers José and David Cáceres.

Modern wine bar and bottle shop High Street Wine Co. has a distinctive selection of small-production wines, and their shareable snacks and small bites are equally impressive.

Put October 27-30, 2022 on your calendar for the Tasting Texas, Wine + Food Festival, which is being hosted in historic Travis Park downtown. It’s the first-ever statewide culinary festival to partner with the James Beard Foundation and will showcase both distinguished and up-and-coming chefs from all across Texas, as well as national all-stars and diverse talent.

Attend a show — or three
Prominently situated near San Antonio’s River Walk, the Tobin Center is a world-class venue that’s a central hub for performances as well as for local performing arts groups.

The opulent Majestic Theatre, built downtown in 1929, is a stunning setting for touring Broadway shows, concerts, and the San Antonio Symphony.

The neighboring Charline McCombs Empire Theatre reflects the beaux-arts grandeur of the 1920s and hosts touring musical acts and other entertainment headliners.

The 1926-built Aztec Theatre is a beautifully restored Meso-American-themed masterpiece for live concerts and other touring productions.

Get in touch with nature
Historic Brackenridge Park is a 343-acre refuge in the heart of the city, where you'll find more than just walking trails and picnic-perfect zones. Also onsite are the Japanese Tea Garden, Sunken Garden Theater, and the San Antonio Zoo, the third largest in the nation with a collection of more than 3,500 animals representing 750 different species from around the globe.

Not far from Brackenridge, the San Antonio Botanical Garden is teeming with beautiful, lush vegetation; there’s even a sensory garden, where emphasis is placed on the texture and scent of plants. Its monumental exhibition, Rooted, is from acclaimed contemporary artist Steve Tobin and features more than 20 towering, nature-inspired sculptures — it’s on view through October 30, 2022.

Discover more to look forward to during a San Antonio sojourn and start planning your trip here.

Rendering courtesy of Overland Partners Architects

Texas firm to design new River Walk-style park at U.S.-Mexico border

International initiative

A San Antonio architecture and design firm is spearheading work on a proposed park that would straddle the U.S.-Mexico border and create a River Walk-style attraction.

Overland Partners recently secured a nearly $190,000 contract from the City of Laredo to come up with a fleshed-out concept and architectural renderings for the binational park.

As envisioned now, the 6.2-mile park would parallel the border of the South Texas city of Laredo and its Mexican neighbor, Nuevo Laredo. The park, encompassing more than 1,000 acres, would run along the banks of Texas’ Rio Grande River and Mexico’s Rio Bravo River. A pedestrian bridge might connect both sides of the park.

Early estimates indicate the binational park might cost more than $100 million. There’s no timetable for starting or completing work on the project.

“This project will rescue the Rio Grande by enhancing its ecology and the quality of our main source of water. It will also strengthen tourism, security, economic prosperity, our binational ties with Mexico, and quality of life,” Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz recently told the Laredo Morning Times. “Both cities look forward to presenting this project at a binational level and as a model to the world with the objective of keeping ‘Los Dos Laredos’ as one river, one community.”

The Laredo-Nuevo Laredo metro area is home to more than 636,000 people.

Laredo officials describe the proposed park as a “unique international landmark.” Proponents hope the park will evolve into a popular attraction like San Antonio’s famed 15-mile River Walk, which was dedicated in 1941 and now draws more than 15 million visitors a year. Because of his ties to the River Walk, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg has joined discussions about the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo project.

“Rivers are sources of life. They’re sources of culture, heritage, and history, and when properly embraced, they can be a place where people congregate and come together,” the Laredo Morning Times quoted Nirenberg as saying in December. “So the work that will take place on this beautiful binational park that brings this critical river back to its life and prominence is an opportunity again for us to establish an important future that the United States has with Mexico.”

Aside from the mayors of Laredo and San Antonio, prominent backers of the binational project include Ken Salazar, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico; Esteban Moctezuma, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S.; Deanna Kim, the U.S. consul general for Nuevo Laredo; and Carmen Lilia Canturosas, the mayor of Nuevo Laredo.

In February, representatives of Overland Partners and Laredo architecture firm Able City unveiled a preliminary site plan and initial renderings of the binational park. The firms are coordinating with the Binational Working Group, a public-private consortium, on the project.

“This park is a real solution to pressing challenges on both sides of the border — challenges that we as design professionals need to be solving in sustainable and inspiring ways,” Overland Partners says.

Photo courtesy of The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa

2 posh Houston spots check in on Travel + Leisure's list of best resorts

stay here now

Planning that perfect fall staycation? Travel + Leisure loves this two luxurious Houston stays, according to its new list of best resorts.

The esteemed travel publication ranked The Woodlands Resort third overall in its latest list of top resorts in Texas. The Houstonian Hotel & Spa, home of Houston's elite, follows at No. 4.

Surrounded by some 350 acres of a veritable forest, The Woodlands Resort boasts two on-site championship golf courses, a tennis center, a spa, walking and biking paths, and and seasonal water park complete with 1,005-foot Lazy River and 30-foot waterslide. It has become the go-to getaway for north Houstonians. Guest here can enjoy four distinct venues, from casual poolside fare to creative a la carte specialties.

Meanwhile, The Houstonian has enjoyed a 40-year reputation as one of the highest-status stays in Texas. President George HW Bush and Barbara Bush made their home there (Barbara's cookies are a favorite), as have myriad dignitaries and celebrities.

Nestled in the midst of a 27-acre oasis just off Loop 610 (and shrewdly hidden), the newly renovated rooms boast floor-to-ceiling wooded views. (Each room was redesigned in February with a base of blues, creams and golds, by award-winning design team Kay Lang + Associates, to hark to the the property's wooded acreage and heritage. Four onsite dining restaurants and a classic hotel bar provide sips and quality eats, while the popular Trellis Spa is a local oasis for rejuvenation.

Leading the list of Texas resorts is Austin’s Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection. The full Texas list includes:

  • Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving, No. 2.
  • The Woodlands Resort in The Woodlands, No. 3.
  • The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa in Houston, No. 4.
  • Gage Hotel in Marathon, No. 6.
  • Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa, west of Bastrop, No. 8.
  • Horseshoe Bay Resort in Horseshoe Bay, No. 9.

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Steven Devadanam contributed to this article.

Visit San Antonio/Facebook

The surprising reason San Antonio's River Walk is going to the birds

Bird-eye View

These days, visitors might see more binoculars than margaritas down by the River Walk. That's because a recent resurgence in the native birding population along the river's Museum Reach section is impressing serious bird-watchers and casual observers alike.

Thanks to the multimillion-dollar San Antonio River Improvements Project that finished up in 2013, the birding population along the 8-mile stretch has flourished. Walking along this wilder, less-tamed section of the river, birders might be surprised by what they see flying past.

“Is that a bald eagle?” someone might say, pointing binoculars skyward. Maybe a Great Blue Heron struts past. They may even see a Lazuli Bunting, a migratory bird rarely seen in the eastern two-thirds of Texas, but has made an appearance here of late. This is all because the improvements project has transformed a neglected part of the San Antonio River into a refurbished natural habitat.

From drainage ditch to urban oasis
The project transformed what Visit San Antonio says was essentially a “drainage ditch” — a muddy trickle flowing south of the original River Walk into a mightier stream, and flanked on either side by waving grasses and native vegetation. While the new walking and biking paths now connects the Alamo with other historic missions, thus creating the Mission Reach, it has also served the avian community.

In fact, it's allowed it to flourish, according to results of the Avian Mission Reach Study, which has tracked the area's birding population since 2015 when the San Antonio River Authority launched the program. Under the leadership of respected naturalist Martin Reid, the study documented 197 species and 63,000 birds used the restored habitats — including those that are rare and endangered. Researchers have spied the Interior Least Tern, a federally listed endangered subspecies of Least Tern; the Black-capped Vireo, a state-listed endangered species; and Cassin’s kingbird, a Western species that was only recorded once in Bexar County prior to the study.

Part of the Central Flyway, the San Antonio River is now home not only to resident species but to many migrant species recorded within the Mission Reach study area.

Play ornithologist
Beyond counting birds and recording data, the Avian Mission Reach Study has two goals: to enrich and sustain life in the San Antonio River watershed and to get residents involved with their efforts. The hope is that residents and visitors alike will help track the flora and fauna along the Mission Reach, and become invested in this now-thriving ecosystem.

Use this handy bird checklist to track bird species spotted and then become a “citizen scientist” by downloading the iNaturalist app. Pictures and notes logged into the app by users is actually considered research-quality scientific data. The San Antonio River Authority will then use these observations in its continued efforts to preserve to keep this area — we have to say it — for the birds.

Other area San Antonio-area birdwatching hot spots include Friedrich Wilderness Park, Government Canyon State Natural Area, Medina River Natural Area, and the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

Where to roost
After a day nature walking in the "wilds" of downtown, rest up at area watering holes along the River Walk and at Pearl, just like the migratory birds who pause here on their journeys south. With your birding journey complete, it's time to put down those binoculars and get that margarita after all.

The San Antonio River Walk is becoming a birder's paradise.

Visit San Antonio/Facebook
The San Antonio River Walk is becoming a birder's paradise.
Courtesy photo

8 essential events to attend at 2019 Fiesta in San Antonio

Party Time

It’s time to party in San Antonio. Fiesta is arriving in the city with more events — both official and unofficial — than ever before. The traditional 10-day celebration is on now and runs through April 28, and it's worth a road trip from every corner of Texas.

Many activities are like mini-festivals, full of food, drinks, music, and games. Others are more reverential and pay tribute to the history and culture of the people who have helped to make what the Alamo City is today. Whatever your tastes, here are some of the truly essential (and officially sanctioned) Fiesta events to put on your to-do list.

Fiesta Carnival — April 18-28
You can’t have Fiesta without a multi-day carnival. The family-friendly extravaganza will be held daily in one of the Alamodome parking lots along Cherry Street. The gates open between 5 pm and 6 pm, most days, except for April 20-21 and 26-28 when they open at 11 am. The carnival provides an assortment of food, games, and rides.

Admission is free, but buying a wristband ($22-$25, depending on which evening) gets you access to all the rides.

Fiesta de los Reyes — April 19-28
Market Square is always a festive place, but during Fiesta de los Reyes, it’s pretty much ground zero for partying. There will be many bands on five stages every day. Gary Hobbs, Grupo Vida, Little Joe y La Familia, The Spazmatics, Augie Meyers, and Jay Perez are just some of the scheduled performers that are sure to attract huge crowds. If that’s not enough, there will be a variety of food vendors every where you turn.

Admission is free.

Texas Cavaliers River Parade — April 22
Thousands flock to the banks of the River Walk to see more than 50 decorated, illuminated floats as part one of the nation’s most renowned and unique parades. "Showtime in San Antonio" is the theme for this year’s river parade, over which King Antonio XCVII will preside between 7-9 pm. Created in 1926, Texas Cavaliers are one of the most well-known civic groups in Texas, which in comprised of hundreds of local community and business leaders who raise funds for local youth, first responder, and military charities.

Check the Cavaliers' website for details on ticket packages for special seating along the River Walk.

Cornyation — April 23-25
Fiesta has its reverent, regal coronation of royalty — usually family affairs and celebrations of local culture. Cornyation is not that. It's completely irreverent and very much for the adults. The annual event boasts contemporary, edgy, occasionally raunchy satire and commentary of local, state, national, and global affairs and culture. There are skits and performances galore, and the audience is encouraged to laugh, sing, and chant along. This year's theme is "The Court of Tremendous Expectations." Showtimes are 7 and 10 pm at Empire Theater.

Check out the Cornyation website for ticket information, which range from $15-$100. Act fast, it's one of the hottest Fiesta tickets in town.

A Night in Old San Antonio — April 23-26
Spanning four nights at La Villita, NIOSA is an exploration of the rich, diverse cultures that have played a crucial part in the origins of San Antonio. As such, visitors will have plenty of food and drinks from which to choose. In the mood for escargot or Blarney bacon? How about anticuchos or Yak-i-Tori chicken? La Villita will be filled with the sounds of mariachis, and German, Irish, Americana, and zydeco music, among other genres. There’s also a place for the youngsters. Pro tip: Wear comfortable shoes. A lot of walking and crowd surfing lie ahead.

Tickets are $12 in advance at local H-E-B stores, or $15 at the gate.

Battle of Flowers Parade — April 26
The 128th Battle of Flowers Parade begins around 9:30 am near the Pearl. This San Antonio classic is the nation’s second largest day parade, involving hundreds of entries from around the country walking and riding through the streets of downtown. The parade is so big that it's cause for an official citywide holiday. As it should be because hundreds of thousands of spectators turn out for the lavish parade, with many setting up lawn chairs or camping out in tents to secure their prime spot along the route days in advance.

Admission for official seating: $12-$25. (A free afterparty follows at Pearl.)

King William Fair — April 27
The fair, set across much of the King William Historic District, is family-friendly and yet a little quirky. The event kicks off at 9 am with a mini-neighborhood parade, where most of the entries reflect the Southtown community’s vibe. Visitors then stay for a day full of live music on five stages, art, craft and food vendors, and a massive children’s play area. There’s all kinds of fun to be had wherever you go in the neighborhood turned fairgrounds — especially if you’re lucky enough to know someone who lives there. Such residents can be found having their own house party within a party.

Fair admission: $15 for adults, free for children 12-under. Admission to see the parade is free.

Flambeau Parade — April 27
On the next to final night of Fiesta, downtown is the place to be again for the largest illuminated night parade in the country. Festivities begin 7 pm near the Pearl. Hundreds of entries are watched by hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the streets every year. “Reflections of Music Past” is the theme for this year’s event. Take particular note of the University of Texas Longhorn Marching Band, which takes part in the Flambeau parade every year.

Official bleacher seating is $18.50-$35.

Grand Texas hotel checks in with coveted 5-star rating

Shine On

For Houston travelers, this is a choice time to head to one of San Antonio's gems, as another has been added to Hotel Emma's glittering crown. After being named one of the best in the world by editors at the exclusive Andrew Harper Travel, and landing the No. 10 spot for best hotel in the U.S., Hotel Emma is now checking in with a 5-star rating from AAA.

On June 6, the nonprofit (which ... who knew?) bestowed upon the San Antonio property a coveted AAA Five Diamond Award, effective beginning in 2019. Anonymous AAA represenatives review more than 27,000 hotels every year, but less than 1 percent (actually 0.4 percent) actually make the list.

“Five Diamond properties consistently exceed expectations to deliver a highly personalized, memorable experience far above the ordinary," explained Michael Petrone, director of AAA Inspections & Diamond Ratings, in a release.

And indeed the Emma does. Its stunning setting inside the 1894 former Pearl Brewhouse aside, the hotel's impeccable touches — custom turndown service, thoughtful tokens, luxe linens, exceptional staff — make the experience not only memorable, but dreamlike. (Also, the bathrooms alone, complete with impeccable tilework, clawfoot tubs, and vintage-inspired doors, are worth a staycation.)

Here in Texas, only one other hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, comes with a AAA Five Diamond rating. Worldwide, Hotel Emma joins just 121 hotels with the designation.

Hotel Emma crowned again.

Hotel Emma/Facebook
Hotel Emma crowned again.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Affluent Houston 'burb's big holiday spending leads week's top stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Affluent Houston suburb leads region for highest holiday spending budgets in U.S. Sugar Land has the nation's 15th highest average holiday budget, a study reports.

2. City of Houston announces boil notice updates, timeline, and important tips. The boil water notice prompted school closures and generally disrupted life around Houston.

3. Disney's Strange World is a visual stunner with too many story ideas. It's one of Disney's "less successful films," our critic opines.

4. New sushi restaurant by Hidden Omakase opens in Rice Village with affordable, 30-minute meals. The new restaurant offers an expedited version of Hidden Omakase's premium tasting menu.

5. Innovative, gluten-free Montrose restaurant returns with new breads and pastries, coffees, and hours. The yearlong closure allowed the restaurant to give customers more of what they want.

Luxe plastic surgery center injects River Oaks with cutting-edge techniques, posh recovery suites, secret access, and more

A-list treatment

With the holiday season in full swing and many prepping for a new look for the new year, image-conscious Houstonians have a new option for cutting-edge cosmetic treatments and plastic surgery in one of Houston’s most elite neighborhoods.

Nuveau Plastic Surgery + Medical Aesthetics, a local leader in cosmetic medical procedures, has quietly opened a sleek new facility in River Oaks (3720 Westheimer Rd.). Owned and operated by renowned (and board-certified) plastic surgeon Dr. Edward Lee, the facility offers myriad reconstructive surgeries for men, women, and children, as well as beauty treatments, touch-ups, and more.

Aside from top-of-the-line technology, instrumentation, and treatments, the boutique center has personalized service and features to the tony RO crowd. A secret entrance ensures privacy for discreet clients, much like similar operations in Los Angeles and New York.

Another top-drawer feature: Tastefully appointed pre-op and post-op suites keep patients in-house, rather than having to leave posh treatment centers and head to crowded hospital rooms for recovery.

In keeping with Lee’s insistence on a medicine-first approach, anesthesia for patients is provided by Medical Anesthesia Associates, an MD-only group.

A cut above

Notably, the center places a primary focus on plastic surgery, which, for the uninitiated, has a clear distinction from cosmetic surgery. Randy Rakes, managing partner, tells CultureMap that it’s important for clients to understand the difference.

“You have to understand, you have to go through hundreds of hours of training and cases — face and the entire body — to get that board certification, and go through rigorous testing in order to meet that specification,” he says.

Why is that important? The industry, Rakes notes, is rife with practitioners such as “OBGYNs or dermatologists or people who have not really been trained in the art of plastic surgery, who take a class somewhere and learn how to do liposuction or a fat transfer — and then they're ‘experts’ in aesthetic surgery.”

That’s especially key when selecting a provider for highly invasive — and potentially serious — procedures such as facelifts, eyelid surgeries, tummy tucks, liposuction, rhinoplasty, breast lifts and augmentations, breast reconstruction, and more, Rakes adds.

In an era of Instagram beauty demands, more choosy clients are opting for streamlining facial features. To that end, Lee is one of a select few surgeons in the U.S. who regularly performs “V-Line '' surgery. The set of procedures, popularized in South Korea where Lee honed many of his skills, aim to narrow the width of the jawline and the face.

Aesthetics with an expert eye

Lee’s elegant, 5,500-square-foot center is adorned with CASA Houston designs, Italian-influenced finishes, and soothing elements evocative of a modern art museum or luxury spa. The facility houses a Visia Skin Analysis Studio and seven treatment suites aesthetic work such as Botox, microneedling, VI peels, Halo Laser Resurfacing, Moxi Non-Ablative Laser, Broad Band Light Photofacials, Coolsculpting, Emsculpt, and more.

Rakes says that his registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and estheticians are elite, by design, as he and Lee insist on credentials. “All of our injectors are licensed in the State of Texas,” he says. “Most places don't have that, the reason being is that they are much more highly skilled than a traditional, regular nurse injector. So they have a much higher skill set. The people who do our lasers and things of that nature have 10 to 15 years of experience, so clients know that they're getting the best possible treatment with the best possible devices — we own every medical device that's considered cutting edge in the industry.”

Facing forward

Rakes, a longtime medical industry processional with a keen eye for trends and technology, says that his clients aren’t just looking for traditional services, but new technologies and treatment, such as PRP and other regenerative therapies. “I think patients are kind of moving a little bit away from the traditional Hyaluronic fillers like Restylane and really looking for something with a more natural approach.”

His treatment teams stimulate collagen with fillers such as Radiesse, “and then we combine that with energy-based devices to even further lift the tissue and work as a synergy between using the injectable and the device, because the combination of both of those things give the patient the best possible results,” Rakes notes. Lee and Rakes also focus facial care on medical-grade skincare brands Alastin, Revision, and Elta MD.

A global scope

Aside from his board certification in plastic surgery, Lee has also trained in craniofacial and pediatric surgery. His medical mission work has taken him to Thailand, Haiti, and Cambodia, where he has performed surgeries for nonprofits such as Operation Smile and Smile Train for those in need.

Those in need of non-traditional treatments can also trust Lee, says Rakes, who points to Lee’s work in the cosmetic and plastic surgery-obsessed Korea. “Some of the Korean techniques are much more advanced than the techniques that are available here in the United States,” says Rakes. “Dr. Lee does a lot of things that other physicians here just don't do.”

Those interested should book early, Rakes advises, as the holiday and new year rush is in full swing. The center offers “pre-buying” slots where clients can reserve space and time. “We’ve been very busy,” says Rakes, noting the local celebs who’ve shared the work they’ve received there on social media. “I think people come here because they know they’re getting the very best treatment and results available.”

Photo courtesy of Nuveau PlasticSurgery + Medical Aesthetics

Nuveau's sleek River Oaks center boasts designs from CASA.

Beloved Houston urban farm toasts local culinary legend with new cooking courses and classroom

peg-approved

For longtime Houston food insiders, Peg Lee needs no introduction. A lifelong local culinary instructor, she has been a fixture in the food scene since the 1970s, where she (often humorously) led cooking classes at Houston Community College.

She was a no-brainer to found and direct Rice Epicurean's cooking school. And the newly launched Central Market made waves in 2001 by enticing her to launch its now wildly successful cooking school, which, thanks to Lee, has lured top national and international chefs and food names.

Along the way, Lee mentored now well-known chefs such as Robert Del Grande, Greg Martin, and Mark Cox.

Quite apropos, the Houston legend is now the namesake for a new cooking school in one of the city's most beloved urban green sanctuaries, Hope Farms. The Peg Lee Culinary Classroom in Hope Farms' Gathering Barn now hosts field trips, classes, tastings, and free cooking demonstrations for children and adults.

Locals can also book the charming space, spearheaded by Recipe for Success/Hope Farms founder Gracie Cavnar, for cooking parties and cooking classes for anywhere from four to 24 students. Those interested can find more information on classes, which center on Cavnar's passion for healthy eating, and more here.

As for the classroom, visitors can expect a white, farmhouse-style kitchen with custom cabinets and high-end appliances, all reflective of a home kitchen. Butcherblock countertops, matte black accents, and farm-made tables and more adorn the space, while a Wolf Induction cooktop, A GE Café Smart Five-in-One Wall Oven, and other state-of-the-art appliances get folks cooking.

Fittingly, classroom water is tied into the farm's new rainwater capture system for the ultimate in sustainability.

“Peg was one of my earliest mentors in the imagining and crafting of what Recipe for Success Foundation would become,” Cavnar noted in a statement. “Then, when we began programing, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work, helping us teach children to cook and bringing her many resources to help us raise money and awareness for our efforts. It is my deepest honor to pay her tribute with the naming of our classroom.”