Courtesy photo

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's time to start making arrangements if you don't already have a Turkey Day feast planned. Use CultureMap's guide — with options ranging from Brasilian cuisine to Cajun fare (and many standards, of course) — to help you figure out where to go and where to make reservations to celebrate the holiday.

This Italian newcomer in the Briargrove shopping center is featuring a four-course menu. Start with butternut squash soup. Choose from roasted quail lasagna or riccotta-stuffed pasta for your second course. Entree choices consist of stuffed turkey breast or roast sucking pig served with Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, green beans and eggplant caponata. Finish with chocolate meringue or pecan tart.
Price: $50

Cordúa Restaurants are hosting a brunch buffet all area Americas and Churrascos locations. The buffet will include familiar dishes with a South American twist, including pumpkin and chorizo empanadas, aji pepper-rubbed turkey and pumpkin spice tres leches to name a few. Many of the restaurants' classic dishes will also be available, and don't miss out on the cinnamon-spiced cranberry sangria.
Price: $49 for adults, $15 for children aged 6 to 12

If you're interested in a French take on the holiday, visit this Midtown establishment for their four-course prix fixe feast. The meal begins with a oyster and chorizo cornbread, then on to select from jumbo lump crab cakes or a port braised short rib. Entrees range from wild rice crusted Alaskan halibut to roasted turkey breast with cream of mushrooms. A decadent pumpkin opera cake serves as the perfect finish to the autumnal meal.
Price: $75

Brennan's of Houston
From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the iconic restaurant will be offering a three-course prix fixe meal. For a down-home take on French fare, start with the duck prosciutto and foie gras dish featuring duck cracklins. As for entrees, the Creole roasted turkey with jalapeno cheddar corn pudding and molasses-roasted sweet potato and pumpkin puree steals the show for a Southern take on Thanksgiving staples. Dessert options include cinnamon spiced pumpkin pie and Brennan's iconic banana's Foster.
Price: $60

The Federal Grill
If you are in the mood a traditional Thanksgiving feast, this Washington-area eatery is the place for you. The three-course menu include oven roasted turkey and honey baked ham, as well as standard (and delicious) Turkey Day sides. The restaurant is offering two seatings, one at noon and another at 2:30 p.m.
Price: $48 for adults, $12 for children 10 and under

Fogo de Chao
The well-known Brasilian steakhouse is serving up all the meats you could conceivably want to eat as part of their holiday feast. Roasted turkey breast, sweet potato casserole and cranberry relish will make you feel right at home. In addition to standard holiday fare, the churrascaria is also serving up house specialties like picanha sirloin, filet mignon, lamb chops, bone-in pork chop and bacon-wrapped chicken.
Price: $52

Mockingbird Bistro
This neighborhood bistro is offering a three-course holiday meal from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. For the first course, opt for the butternut squash souffle, complete with glazed shimeji mushrooms and toasted pepitas. As for entrees, herb roasted turkey with stuffing and sweet potato puree will satisfy your desire for traditional Thanksgiving fare. Dessert options include pumpkin cheesecake, apple bread pudding and chocolate pecan pie.
Price: $65 for adults, $25 for children

Rainbow Lodge
This long-time restaurant's three-course prix fixe menu features dishes with a distinctly Southern slant. For the first course, you can't go wrong with the "Taste of the Wild," comprised of the chef's sampling of wild game. A medallion of venison paired with stuffed quail and pork belly corn pudding is a stunner, although a more traditional turkey and sides meal is also an excellent option. The croissant bread pudding is a can't-miss dessert choice. The best part yet? You can take home turkey and dressing (enough for a delicious sandwich) for only $5 extra.
Price: $55

60 Degrees Mastercrafted
This ranch-to-table restaurant is offering an extensive buffet in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday. You can expect gourmet updates on classics, including curried deviled eggs and foie gras bread pudding. Entree options include traditional fare, such as slow roasted turkey and baked ham with a brown sugar glaze, as well as herb roasted Akausi roast beef. Don't miss out on sides like fried Brussels sprouts and baked sweet potato casserole.
Price: $37 for adults, $15 for children 10 and under

Sorrel Urban Bistro
Contemporary fare reigns supreme at the Upper Kirby restaurant's final Thanksgiving meal (it will be closing in the new year). From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sorrel offers everything from handmade gnocchi and foie gras brulee to smoked turkey leg and Chilean sea bass. Add some holiday cheer and finish your meal with a slice of pumpkin or pecan pie.
Price: A la carte

Did we miss your favorite Thanksgiving destination? Leave a comment below.

CultureMap food writer Eric Sandler contributed to this article.

Image courtesy of Bernadine's

Restaurant game changer: Surprise new Heights spot with Slumdog Millionaire chef to elevate Gulf Coast food

Exclusive Restaurant News

It's time for Treadsack to come clean. For over a year, the ambitious, Heights-based restaurant group has been telling diners that Foreign Correspondents, its Thai concept led by chef turned fishmonger (turned chef) PJ Stoops, will be opening next to Hunky Dory in an under construction building at the corner of Shepherd and 18th Street.

Instead, the group has quietly been developing a restaurant called Bernadine's for the space that will be led by Kipper Club general manager Graham Laborde. Foreign Correspondents is still on track to open next spring, but it will be at another location that has yet to be revealed.

"Bernadine’s is our love letter to Gulf Coast food," Laborde tells CultureMap. "If you go up and down the I-10 corridor, you get to see all these rural places that are not nearly as celebrated as they should be for the fact that they serve absolutely spectacular food. You look at a smoked sausage place in Iota, Louisiana, a crab shack doing barbecue crabs near Beaumont, a Florida fish shack.

"I feel like Graham is the Slumdog Millionaire of Bernadine’s — everything he’s done in his life leads up to this awesome project."

"You take those things, apply modern techniques to them, maybe lighten them up a little bit, make them fresh. You really come up with something spectacular. It’s our tribute to that."

While Laborde didn't make the direct comparison, Bernadine's offers something of a twist on the idea of elevating food with humble roots that Underbelly has employed to so much success. However, instead of taking influences from Houston streets like Bellaire, Long Point and Hillcroft, Bernadine's takes its inspiration from the boudain shacks, oyster dives and fish huts of the extended Gulf Coast.

The restaurant will feature a "fully-stocked raw bar" and serve dishes like grilled oysters, roast duck, BBQ crab, whole fish and house-made boudin. Of course, Laborde will preview some of these items at an upcoming Kipper Club dinner (date TBA).

To the extent that Laborde is known at all in Houston prior to appearing at the Kipper Club, it's from his stint as Jonathan Jones's sous chef at the well-regarded but ill-fated Concepción. However, his resume includes time at fine dining restaurants like Commander's Palace and Stella in New Orleans and The Florence Club, a private hunting lodge in Gueydan, Lousiana.

"There’s not an element of this food that isn’t 100 percent true to who I am. The reason I’m comfortable serving food from this entire region is because I’ve been back and forth across that region driving and stopping at roadside stands to appreciate it," Laborde says.

"I feel like Graham is the Slumdog Millionaire of Bernadine’s — everything he’s done in his life leads up to this awesome project," adds Treadsack co-owner Chris Cusack. "Graham is an amazing problem solver. He’s a great communicator. He’s a really fun person to be around. That was something that we had the opportunity to learn over the last year and a half of getting to know each other."

The Feast Connection — and Challenge

Prior to signing on with Treadsack, Laborde worked for Black Hill Ranch as the operations manager, which is where he met former Feast (and future Hunky Dory) chef Richard Knight. After he worked on a party for Black Hill customers at D&T and alongside Stoops at a pop-up, Cusack and Treadsack director of operations Benjy Mason decided to bring Laborde on board.

"They approached me through Richard," Laborde recalls. "When someone approaches you with your dream job — I’ve said no to executive chef gigs before — but this was just the right time. These guys, I feel like we really share a similar vision for what we want to do and guest experience as a whole. It was no debate, absolutely a go."

Asked about whether Laborde and Bernadine's can hold up to the inevitable scrutiny from both the media and the public that will come from being compared to Knight, a James Beard semifinalist during his time at Feast, Mason is philosophical. "Who was the James Beard Best Chef Southwest four years ago? You don’t remember, and no one else does either," he quips.

"Not to discount the Beard committee, because we all want to be recognized by them at the end," Cusack quickly adds. "I think we’re looking at the long term. I think people will come to Bernadine’s, be excited and want to come back. It’s that simple, and it’s that difficult as far as finding success in the restaurant world."

For his part, Laborde has a slightly different perspective on being compared to his friend. "I am an extremely competitive individual, and I love Richard Knight to death. We are as close as friends can be, but damn I want to show him up. Every chance I get. Why wouldn’t you? This is my passion. This is my life’s work.

"These guys have given me a restaurant. I want to make them proud of me. I want to make them happy."

Bernadine "Bird" Laborde is the matriarch of Laborde's family. A "committee of aunts" had to approve using their mother's name for her grandson's restaurant. "She had nine children. She had 36 grandchildren. She made three meals a day for all of us, for 80 years of her life," Laborde says. "She was an absolute master of production. There was nothing that couldn’t be done with another pot of rice and maybe a glass of Scotch or two."

Cusack notes that he's never heard of a restaurant that tries to synthesize and elevate all of Gulf Coast cuisine.

Beyond giving Laborde his first opportunity to cook, he hopes that his restaurant embodies Bernadine's attitude about the power of food. "She would never turn a guest away. It was hospitality to the nth degree," he says. "I’ve taken that, put more of a fine dining twist on it with my past experiences, but never lost an appreciation for what it takes to just nourish people. Make them leave feeling satisfied and happy."

Cusack notes that he's never heard of a restaurant that tries to synthesize and elevate all of Gulf Coast cuisine. Iconic restaurants like Brennan's of Houston and Gaido's in Galveston represent the New Orleans-based Creole tradition, but Bernadine's has a much broader scope. Can the Slumdog Millionaire chef pull off such an ambitious concept, hold his own alongside one of Houston's most well-regarded chefs and honor his grandmother's legacy?

"I’m driven by a challenge, and I hope to exceed everyone’s expectations," Laborde says.

A rendering of the joint Hunky Dory/Bernadine's complex, known colloquially as "the mothership."

Hunky Dory Bernadine's exterior
Image courtesy of Bernadine's
A rendering of the joint Hunky Dory/Bernadine's complex, known colloquially as "the mothership."
Photo by Eric Sandler

Downtown Houston is finally getting a top barbecue restaurant: Star-studded team plans big

Barbecue Game Changer

Houston is undeniably in the middle of a barbecue renaissance. Places like CorkScrew BBQ in Spring and Killen's Barbecue in Pearland can hold their own with the best pitmasters in Texas.

The only problem is that the best option inside the Loop is severely limited. Gatlin's BBQ in the Heights is so small that it's constantly overwhelmed.

If only Gatlin's had a bigger space that was slightly more centrally located. Like in downtown. And what if maybe it could serve burgers, salads and even seafood to satisfy people who don't want meat with a side of meat?

Wouldn't that be great?

Reef owners Bryan Caswell and Bill Floyd certainly think so, which is why they've partnered with Greg Gatlin to launch Jackson Street Barbecue. Set to open in March, the 8,000 square foot restaurant will feature Gatlin's brisket, sausage, ribs and chicken alongside seasonally appropriate seafood from Caswell like barbecue shrimp, crab and crawfish. Burgers and salads will round out the menu. Sides will be developed by both Gatlin and Caswell, but Reef's famous fried mac and cheese will definitely be included.

Barbecue in Houston is better now than it's ever been. If Jackson Street lives up to the reputation of its partners, that will only get better.

"We are totally sold on downtown," Floyd tells CultureMap. "Now with the Super Bowl and the increase in residential property, I think downtown is going to catch on."

Floyd acknowledges that Jackson Street might be a little bit ahead of downtown's current level of development, but he sees that as a plus. "We were early in Midtown with Reef and early in Montrose with El Real, and that's worked out well for us."

The location has another benefit in that will serve as the catering kitchen for the company's stands at Minute Maid Park. "It's right behind the loading dock. It couldn't be any more perfect for us," Floyd explains. Instead of having to load up a van with a bunch of food, they'll be able to roll it across the street to the stadium.

Turning to food, Floyd cites places like Louie Mueller, Franklin's, Killen's and CorkScrew as examples. "You line them all up. They're all good. They're all super quality. The difference is personal taste," Floyd says. He sees the ability to serve seafood as a major point of differentiation between Jackson Street and those other restaurants.

"I hope we'll have the best sides in town. Sometimes, they're kind of secondary, in my opinion, and they shouldn't be," he adds.

Jackson Street will utilize a traditional line during the lunch rush but switch to a la carte counter service in the afternoon and early evening. In other words, it won't be a lunch only affair, which will allow people to pick up barbecue and take it home with them for dinner if they choose. The new restaurant will be open even later when the Houston Astros are playing at Minute Maid. The space will also feature a stage, which Floyd anticipates using for live entertainment or to host private events.

Assuming it all goes well, the partnership between Gatlin, Floyd and Caswell could expand to other ventures. "We've done so well at the airport with 3rd Bar. We'd like to expand our footprint with El Real and Jackson Street," Floyd says.

Barbecue in Houston is better now than it's ever been. If Jackson Street lives up to the reputation of its partners, that will only get better.

Photo by Eric Sandler

New restaurant serves up Southern cooking with an Asian twist in emerging foodie neighborhood

Foodie News

The Second Ward may not be a culinary destination on the level of Montrose or the Heights, but the neighborhood is rapidly becoming known for more than fajitas (Ninfa's on Navigation, El Tiempo) and breakfast tacos (the peerless Villa Arcos). Moon Tower Inn is a solid craft beer destination that serves excellent burgers and sausages, and Andes Cafe offers a diverse menu of South American dishes.

Now, two chefs are looking to introduce Southern fusion at their restaurant Kitchen 713.

Chefs Ross Coleman and James Haywood met when they worked together at Minute Maid Park. As their friendship developed and they cooked together at each other's homes, they realized they wanted to open a restaurant together.

"We tried to find a little spot we could get into for not as much money as a prime time location and just let the food speak for itself," Coleman tells CultureMap.

The union led to the Southern-inspired, Asian-influenced food of Kitchen 713. While the space is nondescript, it isn't short on charm thanks to the hospitality in the dining room and the magic of Coleman and Haywood's cooking.

"We tried to find a little spot we could get into for not as much money as a prime time location and just let the food speak for itself," Coleman tells CultureMap. "We always wanted to do Southern food and (showcase) the world using Southern ingredients."

Haywood cites the country ham dish on the brunch menu as one example of their approach. "We take pork belly and treat it exactly how you would treat a ham, the whole process. Normally, when you serve ham in the south, you get collard greens and corn bread. We took that spin and we also did a cornbread pudding and fermented greens. We use a little kimchi that we do in house from fermented mustard greens."

As demonstrated during a tasting provided by the restaurant, the results are very promising. A trio of boudain (pork, chicken and seafood) each show a good mix of meat and rice, with just enough spice to make lips tingle without being overwhelming; instead of crackers, the homemade links are served with large pork cracklings. Turkey necks, another staple of Southern cooking, arrives in a Vietnamese-inspired lettuce wrap with nuoc cham sauce. An off the menu special takes a turkey leg and covers it in a spot-on Indian-style vindaloo sauce; if it isn't quite as spicy as might be found on Hillcroft, it's a lot more interesting than the usually tough roasted examples found at festivals.

Coleman says the diners who have found the restaurant have given it good feedback. "We're getting pretty good reviews on Yelp," he notes. Members of the Houston Chowhounds Facebook group have also been raving.

The only downside is that the restaurant's lease agreement doesn't permit it to serve alcohol or allow customers to BYOB, "but we definitely plan to revisit that," Haywood says.

For now, the duo's biggest challenge is to draw people far enough down Canal Street for that first visit. "We’re moving in the right direction," Coleman says. "Just about getting people in here and letting them see what we can do."

The restaurant that started at Minute Maid Park isn't a home run (yet). Call it a solid double off the wall. For a rapidly growing neighborhood, that's a good start.

Chicken and sausage gumbo featured a dark roux and mild spiciness.

Kitchen 713 November 2014 soup
Photo by Eric Sandler
Chicken and sausage gumbo featured a dark roux and mild spiciness.

Celebrity chef looks for a fresh start with plans for a hot new "rustic chic" restaurant

Foodie News

The area around Richmond and Montrose has been a hot one for openings in 2014. Revelry on Richmond brought a sports bar with craft beer to the area, BCN: Taste & Tradition is a fine dining rising star with international flair and Pax Americana is one of the most exciting restaurants in the city, period.

Into that mix comes chef Wendell Price.

"I prayed for a unique spot instead of a strip center," Price says. "I've taken everything I've done for 30 years and pushed it into this building."

Price, whose resume includes appearances on the Food Network, cooking for Hollywood celebrities like Kevin Costner and Denzel Washington and restaurants in Houston and Memphis, spent time in jail after being convicted of tax evasion in 2012. Now he's looking for a fresh start with a 40-seat restaurant in a converted Montrose bungalow next door to Brooklyn Athletic Club.

Called Rustic Oak, Price tells CultureMap the restaurant will be "rustic chic" with French-inspired fare. When it opens in January, Rustic Oak will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week from a tidy menu of eight entrees per meal.

"I prayed for a unique spot instead of a strip center," Price says. "I've taken everything I've done for 30 years and pushed it into this building."

While the space doesn't look like much now, Price explains that structural work to replace the roof, support the floor and upgrade the air conditioning has already taken place. An adjacent structure was demolished to create the parking lot. All that's left is to install the bathroom and kitchen equipment.

Plans calls for the space to be decorated with vintage chandeliers, antique furniture and wallpaper. Diners will have a choice of sitting in one of the three dining rooms or at an eight-seat bar facing the exposed kitchen. Behind the house, Price has built a second story space that will house a whiskey bar and cigar-friendly patio.

"I'm the little guy on the block," Price adds.

He understands that he's up against some serious competition but thinks he can attract diners with dishes like barbecue crab, roasted oysters, crab soup and, at breakfast, savory shrimp pancakes. An accessible location just across the street from the Post 510 apartments helps, too.

Price says he has one overriding philosophy for the project. "I'm was like, 'Wendell, keep it simple.'"

If Price is able to stick to that plan and execute in the kitchen, the residents of Montrose and Midtown will have a solid new option. Even Hollywood celebrities need those, right?

Wendell Price has big plans for a new restaurant featuring French-inspired fare.

Wendell Price
Wendell Price has big plans for a new restaurant featuring French-inspired fare.
Photo by Marisa Brodie

Houston's best chefs get fresh at an unforgettable dinner and a top restaurant shuts down for the night

Chefs Get Fresh

Chef Dylan Murray of Benjy's and Local Foods must have summoned some sort of vegan voodoo to create his gnocchetti with cauliflower cream, butter beans and broccoli rabe, the richness of the concoction making discerning palates swear the dish had to be doused with melted cheese or something with loads of fat. But alas, not the case.

Using local produce grown by Theresa and Mike Atkinson, owners of Atkinson Farms, Murray wowed gourmands at the Urban Harvest "Chefs Get Fresh" food grazing soirée, a fundraiser that paired creative toques with a bounty sourced from local farms and gardens.

For the al fresco party hosted at Underbelly, chef Chris Shepherd, whose piquant Korean stew with goodies from Plant It Forward Farms warmed the mouth and fed the soul, closed the restaurant to pop up a mini market environment, not so dissimilar to what one would find at the Urban Harvest farmers markets at Eastside. Tents around the parking lot lured some 200 supporters with tastings that bespoke that local is better. It all could potentially be the start of a new dinner series.

Tents around the parking lot lured some 200 supporters with tastings that bespoke that local is better.

The imaginative offerings continued with Soren Pedersen's crusted pumpkin cake topped with jalapeno goat cheese fondue, with the dairy provided by Blue Heron Farms; Ara Malekian's succulent slices of roasted pig, courtesy of Harrison Hog Farm, with pineapple reduction over polenta; and fishmonger P.J. Stoops' beautifully visual som tum salad with veggies from Knopp Branch Farms. Stoops sprinkled his traditional green papaya salad with fish candy and prepared it on site using a kruk, a large clay mortar and pestle popular in Thai and Laotian cuisine.

More food? Kipper Club's Richard Knight, Treadsack Group's Benjy Mason and Sugar and Rice's David Leftwich contributed to the efforts that led to the sweet finale, an inventive persimmon study by German Mosquera with fruit from Lightsey Farms plus a melt-in-your-mouth sweet potato pie thanks to vegan queen baker Dylan Carnes of Sinfull Bakery. Carnes sourced her spuds from Gundermann Acres.

Local wine and local beer? Check.

Participating in the feeding fun alongside Urban Harvest executive director Sandra Wicoff, director of farmers markets Tyler Horne and fiancée Ashley Seddon, development manager Libby Kennedy and board president Scott Howard were Stephanie and Bill Kearney, Jim Petersen, Maureen Croft, Garland Kerr, Ed Smith, Lindsey Brown, Nicole Longnecker and Brad Barber.

Sandy Wicoff, from left, Garland Kerr and Maureen Croft.

33 Sandy Wicoff, from left, Maureen Croft and Garland Kerr at the Urban Harvest 10th anniversary dinner November 2014
Photo by Marisa Brodie
Sandy Wicoff, from left, Garland Kerr and Maureen Croft.
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3 Lubbock luminaries on what ignites the Hub City

Faces and Places

In Lubbock, Texas, where locals have been pouring their livelihood into both the city and their craft, the community has created a Texas experience like no other. What sets apart a destination from others is the welcoming faces who meet travelers with open doors and a willingness to share the West Texas way of life with all who wander through.

CultureMap recently checked in with three Lubbock luminaries to learn what drew them to the city, what dreams they're making come true, and how visitors can take part in the magic.

Matt Bostick, sommelier and hospitality director of Llano Estacado Winery
Though his roots are in Texas, Matt Bostick found his passion for wine in Italy. While studying hospitality in Florence in 2011, he met Parisian sommelier Quinton Paillard, who encouraged his budding love of vino and set Bostick on the path toward becoming a sommelier himself.

After earning his degree in restaurant, hotel, and institutional management from Texas Tech University in 2012, Bostick joined Jackson Family Estates in Los Angeles. From there, he further honed his expertise as the lead sommelier for Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza, under the mentorship of Sarah Clarke A few years later, Bostick co-founded a restaurant called Baldoria and even developed a line of ready-to-drink cocktails with his business partner, David King.

"When David and I decided to create B&K Cocktail Company, our business venture brought us back to Texas," Bostick says. "With my family residing in Lubbock, it was a natural choice to settle here. Lubbock holds significant personal and professional values for me. It's my hometown, where I was born and raised, and where most of my family continues to live and contribute to this community."

Today, Bostick is the events director and sommelier at Llano Estacado Winery, Texas’ second oldest winery. Bostick guides visitors through a sensory journey, introducing them to the complexities of different wines, regions, and vintages while offering insights into history, production techniques, and the unique characteristics of each varietal.

"I help individuals identify tasting notes, appreciate nuances, and even recommend food pairings that enhance the overall culinary experience," he says.

Grape Day on October 21 is an ideal time to visit the winery to see Bostick in action. To celebrate the end of the harvest, which spans late July to early October, Llano features captivating self-guided tours, diverse art booths, delicious offerings from the finest local vendors, exciting games for kids, and a mesmerizing lineup of live music on the Lubbock Listening Room stage.

Admission is free, but for $35 attendees will receive a commemorative Grape Day wine glass along with two tickets redeemable for a glass of wine. Pre-sale drink tickets will also be available for purchase in a bundle of three tickets for $15 (otherwise each ticket is $8 at the event).

"Grape Day holds immense significance to me. It's a celebration that represents the culmination of hard work and a sense of community," Bostick says. "Llano Estacado Winery has not only been a pioneer in the Texas wine industry but has also contributed to our local community's growth. Events like this shine a light on the rich heritage and traditions of winemaking, connecting our community to a broader narrative of craftsmanship and appreciation for the finer things in life."

Ian Timmons, pitmaster and third-generation owner of Tom & Bingo’s BBQ
It's been called a West Texas legend since 1952, and as soon as you step inside Tom & Bingo's BBQ, you'll understand why. This old-school barbecue joint — and Lubbock’s oldest restaurant — is packed with nostalgia and dishes out authentic barbecue that would make original owners Tom and Bettye Clanton proud, and current owner Ian Timmons intends to keep it that way.

While studying at Texas Tech, Timmons worked under Dwayne Clanton (Tom and Bettye's son, who gained ownership of the restaurant in 1980) and earned hands-on experience as a pitmaster. Upon graduation, he moved to Denver with his wife, Kristi, where he worked at Denver Biscuit Company.

"I’ve always worked in restaurants," says Timmons. "From my first job at Dairy Queen to a local restaurant called Orlando’s, where I was a server and got fired for making pizzas during my shift."

Timmons' wife also happens to be Dwayne and Liz Clanton's daughter, making him the obvious choice to carry on the legacy when the couple was ready to retire in 2017.

Now, Timmons pays homage to Tom & Bingo's 70-year legacy by smoking modern bark-on-brisket, his own coarsely ground smoked beef sausage, and pork spare ribs on the original brick pits the predecessors used for decades. He's also expanded the menu to include scratch-made potato salad and slaw, but one item remains a constant since the early days of the restaurant: the steak burger.

"This fall we are switching from our legendary brick pits to a new Centex offset smoker, so it’s back to square one for us," reveals Timmons. "This fall will be a learning season for us! But we are excited to see what a new smoker can do for us."

You can also catch the eatery's new food truck out and about and look forward to more biscuit collaborations with Monomyth Coffee (inspired by Timmons' time in Denver, of course). "We'll also hopefully open a Biscuit Club location to help grow the breakfast scene in Lubbock," Timmons hints.

But perhaps the tastiest way to experience Tom & Bingo's, besides visiting the restaurant itself, is by sampling its goods at the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest in November. Held in Lockhart, November 4-5, the event helps raise funds for Feeding Texas and a network of food banks across the state.

Yung Cry Baby, aka Aaliyah Limon, resident artist with Charles Adams Studio Project
Full-time musician and vocalist Aaliyah Limon was born and raised in Lubbock, but when she was younger, she didn't feel the city had a place for her yet. After graduation, the aspiring talent took off to explore both coasts, working as a model and artist, but after a while realized she wasn’t as fulfilled as she had hoped and missed her family.

"I needed a break from my fast-paced lifestyle," she says. "I came back home to be with family, take a step back, and reassess what I really wanted to do with my life. When I moved back, my music took off much faster than I ever anticipated."

Now Limon is professionally known as Yung Cry Baby and serves as a resident artist with the Charles Adams Studio Project, a nonprofit that supports working artists in Lubbock.

"Because I'm passionate about it and motivated by the people who resonate with what I sing about, I've kind of kept with the momentum of things," Limon says. "I'm excited about what I do, and I love helping people heal through my music. Even if it only helps a little, it gives me a lot of joy knowing I can maybe help someone not feel alone."

Fans can see Yung Cry Baby perform not only at the karaoke bar she hosts at, but also at First Friday Art Trail, a monthly arts festival located in downtown Lubbock with a mission to bring together collectors, artists, and community friends for an evening of art, music, and fun. Participants are ever-changing, offering something for everyone.

"I love doing community-based things, especially when it comes to art," Limon says. "First Friday is always a blast for me."

Yung Cry Baby is currently working on her first full album, following the earlier release of her EP. Follow her on social media for updates.


Experience the people and places of Lubbock yourself by planning your next vacation here.

Llano Estacado Winery wine glass

Photo courtesy of Visit Lubbock

Matt Bostick helps visitors appreciate the wine at Llano Estacado Winery.

Charming Houston community named No. 12 most family-friendly U.S. city

a great place to live

If Houston-area residents are looking for the perfect new place to buy a home and raise a family, they should steer their interest toward Bellaire. The southwest Houston suburb, impressively, has been named the No. 12 most family-friendly city in the U.S. by real estate marketplace Opendoor.

Opendoor's second annual "Family-Friendly Cities" list focuses on local communities that offer plenty of recreational outdoor activities that are suitable for families of any age. Bellaire was the only city in Houston to make the new list and the second Texas city to make the list after Watauga (No. 5), near Fort Worth.

Cities were identified using the average number of family-friendly activity tags found on OpenStreetMap that are used for addresses in a city where the marketplace operates. Factors that were considered include cities with community centers, gardens, museums, parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, and more.

For those new to the city or unfamiliar, Bellaire – split in half across I-610 below where it meets I-69, bordered by Southside Place and West University Place to the east – has plenty of family-friendly attractions.

There are 14 different parks around Bellaire, including the popular five-acre Evelyn Park, with its butterfly wall, art lawn, wildflower hill, walking trails, wide open spaces, and two pavillions.

The Evelyn's Park Conservancy says the park is the perfect place to relax with family and enjoy the beauty of nature.

"With its beautifully designed spaces and engaging programming, the new park appeals to audiences of all ages and interests — it is at once a quiet refuge and a flourishing place for community, a fresh destination and a perennial part of our city’s history," the site says.

But its Paseo Park (also on Bellaire Boulevard, but west of I-610) which hosts the Bellaire Arts and Crafts Festival, an annual family-friendly festival that has been showcasing local artwork since 1972. The upcoming festival will take place on November 11, 2023.

In addition, Bellaire residents can make use of a thriving public library, visit the city's 9/11 Memorial, Nature Discovery Center, The "Officer Lucy Dog Park" within Lafayette Park, the Bellaire Town Square Family Aquatic Center, and much more. The city is also adjacent to some major Houston attractions like NRG Stadium, the Houston Zoo, Memorial Park, and The Galleria.

According to recent reports, the average home price in Bellaire is a whopping $1,005,759 – significantly more than the average home value in Houston proper, $264,789. It's become an attractive place for renovated shopping centers and coveted for its "community vibes" in recent years.

Opendoor's 15 best family friendly cities in 2023 are:

  • No. 1 – Somerville, Massachusetts
  • No. 2 – Berkeley, California
  • No. 3 – Cliffside Park, New Jersey
  • No. 4 – Arlington, Virginia
  • No. 5 – Watauga, Texas
  • No. 6 – Chandler, Arizona
  • No. 7 – Denver, Colorado
  • No. 8 – Portland, Oregon
  • No. 9 – Valley Stream, New York
  • No. 10 – Garden Grove, California
  • No. 11 – Coral Gables, Florida
  • No. 12 – Bellaire, Texas
  • No. 13 – Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • No. 14 – Mission, Kansas
  • No. 15 – Avondale Estates, Georgia
The full report can be found on opendoor.com.

Houston's oldest craft brewery wins top spot at Great American Beer Festival

a major award

Houston’s oldest craft brewery received a major award over the weekend. Saint Arnold Brewing Company won the Brewer’s Association 2023 Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Saint Arnold Great American Beer Festival

Courtesy of Saint Arnold

A group of employees represented Saint Arnold at the awards.

It’s the first time Saint Arnold has won the Brewery of the Year award since 2017. The local favorite also earned Gold Medals in two categories — English Ale for its Elissa IPA and Golden or Blonde Ale for Fancy Lawnmower. In total, Saint Arnold has won 29 medals at the event, according to a statement.

Considered the most prestigious awards in the beer world, the Great American Beer Festival features 250 beer experts judging entries in 99 beer categories that cover 175 styles of beer. Overall, the judging panels consider more than 9,000 entries from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

“Winning Brewery of the Year is pretty gosh darn gratifying,” Saint Arnold founder Brock Wagner said in a statement. “Winning a second one is unexpected because it’s so rare. It’s a reflection on the quality of our entire team as well as the beers we brew.”

The timing couldn’t have been more auspicious. Saint Arnold will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2024.

Two other Houston breweries also took home hardware. EaDo’s True Anomaly Brewing took home a Gold in the Contemporary American-Style Lager for Scout and a Silver in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer for Sea of Waves. Karbach Brewing won a Gold in the Non-Alcohol Beer category for its Free & Easy Belgian-Style White.

See a full list of winners at AmericanCraftBeer.com.