FPhoto by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

Many people daydream about making six figures in their career before they enter the workforce. But the rising cost of living certainly throws a wrench in the works. Luckily for Texans, a six-figure salary still goes pretty far in the state.

In a new report from SmartAsset, a $100,000 salary in Texas is worth an average of $77,885 after taxes and adjusted for the cost of living. The financial technology company analyzed income in 76 United States cities, and adjusted them for the cost of living in each location.

Seven Texan cities appear in the study’s top 10 where a six-figure salary goes the furthest. Houston ranked No. 6 as the fourth Texas city on the list, after El Paso (No. 2), Corpus Christi (No. 4), and Lubbock (No. 5). A Houstonian's six-figure salary is reduced to $74,515 after taxes, but is technically worth $81,350 when adjusted for the cost of living.

In a three-way tie with San Antonio for No. 7, a person who makes $100,000 a year in Fort Worth and Arlington takes home about $74,515 after taxes. When adjusted for the cost of living, which is seven percent lower than the national average, that money is worth $80,124.

Dallas appears at No. 34 on the list, with the average six-figure earner bringing home $72,345 after taxes. That salary shrinks in the northern Dallas suburb of Plano (No. 59), where the worker brings home $59,422.

The place where $100,000 goes the furthest is Memphis, Tennessee. Much like Texas, Tennessee doesn’t have a state income tax and has a lower cost of living in comparison to the national average.

After Memphis is El Paso, followed by Oklahoma City (No. 3), then Corpus Christi, Lubbock, and Houston. After the Texan three-way tie for No. 7, St. Louis, Missouri rounds out the top 10.

The 10 total Texas cities that appear in SmartAsset’s study include:

  • No. 2 – El Paso
  • No. 4 – Corpus Christi
  • No. 5 – Lubbock
  • No. 6 – Houston
  • No. 7 – Fort Worth, Arlington, San Antonio (tied)
  • No. 24 – Austin
  • No. 34 – Dallas
  • No. 59 – Plano

The report and its methodology can be found on SmartAsset’s website.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Stylish new restaurant mixes European flair with American fare in Montrose's hottest destination

Montrose's stylish new bistro

The Montrose Collective mixed-use development continues to cement its status as Houston’s newest dining destination. Fresh off openings such as Oheya by Uchi and Picnik comes a new bistro from a veteran team of restaurateurs.

Meet The Chelsea. Now open across from Marmo, the upscale Italian steakhouse, The Chelsea serves a diverse menu of New American fare in a stylish environment that’s inspired by classic European restaurants.

Restaurateurs Shawn Rao and Jonathan Serrano teamed up with Houston operator Roveen Abante, a partner in concepts such as Be More Pacific, Sushi Rebel, and the upcoming Conservatory Galleria food hall, to open The Chelsea. Rao and Serrano are native Houstonians who found success in Dallas with the Syn Group, a hospitality company that operates a number of concepts in the Metroplex, including Don Chingon, The Social House, and America Gardens.

While those concepts are bar forward and casual, The Chelsea aspires to offer a more elevated experience, which suits its owners state in life.

The Chelsea restaurant interior

Photo by Abante Photography

The Chelsea opened this week.

“I think you create the best products when you’re at the stage of your life to relate to the product,” Rao tells CultureMap. “If you create something you won’t enjoy, you may miss the mark. The Chelsea is exactly a place I’d go to. It’s like places I eat in Dallas. That’s why we decided to go this route. We really latched on to it.”

To create the proper atmosphere, Rao and his partners took inspiration from their travels across Europe. They created a space that features marble-patterned floors, shades of teal and burgundy, and lots of art on the walls.

“Our initial design was way over the top. We had to dial it back,” Rao says. Later, he adds, “We wanted to get the design right. We know Houston has a discerning eye when it comes to new restaurants. We felt we had to get it as perfect as possible.”

Chef Andre Garza contributes to those goals with his eclectic menu. Meals at The Chelsea start with raw items such as oysters, tuna tartare, shrimp and scallop verde that’s made with a Peruvian-style leche de tigre and a spicy chili crisp. Three salads round out the starters.

From there, diners may choose from a selection of shareable small plates. Highlights include shrimp scampi, miso-marinated chicken lollipops, charred Spanish octopus, and a tempura fried lobster tail. Parker House Pigs — a riff on the classic rolls that are stuffed with spicy Japanese Kurobuta sausage — emerged as an early fan favorite during last weekend’s invite-only soft opening. Those looking for a more traditional entree have a range of choices, including seafood pot pie, roast chicken, and a classic cheeseburger.

Beverage options start with a cocktail list that offers eight martinis. Look for variations such as the espresso martini, Gibson, Vesper, and a Martinez made with Maraschino and Angostura. The wine list includes about 15 by-the-glass options with most bottles priced between $30 and $180, Rao says.

“We want to be that sort of neighborhood, three-to-five mile radius, go-to for meals, go-to for drinks,” he adds. “I know everyone says that, but we want to cater to that element.”

The Chelsea opens for dinner beginning at 4 pm daily. Brunch will follow in the coming weeks.

Joel the Lab mix's big smile is one to fall in love with at Houston SPCA

Adoptable Dog

If you've always envisioned having a dog that can wow a crowd with tricks, then adopting Joel is a great first step.

This two-year-old Lab mix that's currently at the Houston SPCA is super treat motivated, which means he's eager to learn. He already knows how to sit like a champ, so training him to do more complicated commands would be no sweat.

Joel is a playful guy at 57 pounds, who loves to wrestle and run with his pals.

But if you're also seeking a pup who's into quiet time, he's never met a couch he doesn't love to stretch out on.

Joel is what's known as a VIP — Very Important Pup — so his adoption fee is 50 percent off, only $25.

That includes a microchip, neuter surgery, up-to-date vaccinations, a free sample bag of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and a free post-exam from any VCA Animal Hospital.

Stop by the Houston SPCA, which is open every day from 11 am-6 pm, to spend some time in the play yards with Joel and many other adoptable pets.

Houston SPCA adoptable dog Joel

Photo courtesy of Houston SPCA

He's eager to please and easy to train.

CultureMap Wine Guy Chris Shepherd uncorks his favorite  Austin restaurants and bars for superb sips and bold bites

wine guy wednesday

Editor's note: Long before Chris Shepherd became a James Beard Award-winning chef, he developed enough of a passion for wine to work at Brennan's of Houston as a sommelier. He maintains that interest to this day. When Chris expressed interest in writing about wine-related topics for CultureMap, we said yes.

In this week's column, he shares a few of his favorite places to drink wine in Austin. Take it away, Chris.

I spent this past weekend cooking at Aaron Franklin’s Hot Luck festival, which benefits my foundation Southern Smoke. This weekend, I tried a few new spots with great wine programs and visited a few old favorites.

I know a lot of you visit Austin frequently, so here’s my list.

Let’s start with the OG, June’s All Day. We visit June’s almost every time we’re in Austin for a bottle of wine, some shaved ham, fried chicken sandwich, and happy smiles. Word on the street (also known as their website and wine list) is that all sparkling wines are 50-percent off on Monday nights after 5 pm. Who says Mondays aren’t a good day to start drinking?

Underdog is a new spot in town that's only been open for a few weeks. It’s a bottle shop and wine bar with an eclectic list focused on small producers — some classic and some new winemakers. I’m a big fan of their selection of Veyder Malberg, which is a really amazing Austrian producer of Riesling and Gruner. They also have a fantastic selection of red Burdgundys and Rhone. Their food is Korean-inspired and delicious. The bites we had were outstanding. I look forward to going back to Underdog over and over again.

For a tried-and-true wine spot, go get in line at Birdie’s(Editor’s note: It just won Restaurant of the Year in the 2023 CultureMap Austin Tastemaker Awards). Don’t worry, it moves fast. Husband/wife team Tracy Malechek and Arjav Ezekiel run one of my favorite restaurants in Austin. Both the menu and the wine list are always. I asked Arjav to share a little insight into his wine program:

“The list changes all the time, and we’re really thoughtful about the wines we serve. We put the same effort into sourcing our wines as Tracy does with her ingredients in the kitchen, and we take a lot of cues from the weather. In the summer, we have more rosé, white, sparkling, and orange wines. In the winter, the whites become more full-bodied with more reds on the list,” he says.

“It’s a thoughtful blend of classic producers and new, fun, young guard. Too many wine lists pick a side, and it was important to us to build a list of things we’re excited about — whether it’s a cool new natty producer or a Burgundy that’s farmed correctly and been around for 100 years. We want our program to be a bridge for drinkers, introducing something new no matter what styles they typically drink.”

If you’re looking for a place you can hang out and drink wine all day or if a magnum is your speed at 12:30 pm, Lolo is your spot. It’s a killer wine shop and bar on the East side of Austin with all natural wines. The staff is very knowledgeable and can recommend anything from Pet Nats to orange wines to your large formats of happiness. Pro tip: if you have afternoon meetings, schedule them here! If you’re trying to avoid meetings, this is also the place to be.

Enough about wine! Here are two other spots that you should definitely check out.

Uptown Sports Clubis Aaron Franklin and James Moody’s new restaurant, and it’s essentially always open. Walk-ins only, 8am-2am. Here you’ll find great po-boys and gumbo, a strong cold seafood selection, and the cocktails are fantastic. Don’t come here to watch sports. The only TV in the building is an 8-inch tube TV showing black and white baseball reruns from the ‘70s.

Este is the new Mexican seafood spot from the Suerte team. Chef Fermin Nuñez has this place humming. The menu has delightful treats like seafood towers and tostadas, grilled seafood (whole turbo is a must!), and don’t sleep on the Camarones “El Ricas.” It’s the messiest dish on the menu, and it’s Chef Fermin’s favorite. It’s mine as well. The wine list rocks, too!

Enjoy Austin! Keep it weird.


Contact our Wine Guy via email at chris@chrisshepherdconcepts.com.

Chris Shepherd won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2014. Last year, he parted ways with Underbelly Hospitality, a restaurant group that currently operates four Houston restaurants: Wild Oats, GJ Tavern, Underbelly Burger, and Georgia James. The Southern Smoke Foundation, a non-profit he co-founded with his wife Lindsey Brown, has distributed more than $10 million to hospitality workers in crisis through its Emergency Relief Fund.

June's All Day
Photo courtesy of June's All Day

June's All Day is one of Chris's favorite spots in Austin.