Photo courtesy of LoveShack Fancy.

The Beatles coined the phrase "can't buy me love," but they probably weren't shopping for a discerning partner on the year's most romantic holiday.

Those looking forward to Valentine's Day and shopping to create a special day of romantic bliss won't be alone. It turns out that most of us will be buying for the special people in our lives. According to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, shoppers are predicted to spend a staggering $25.9 billion on Valentine's Day this year – one the highest spending years on record.

To ease the shopping pressure and increase the shopping pleasure – we've put together a list of the best places to shop for everything Valentine's Day related across all categories, including romance, gal pals, self-care, and of course, our furry friends.

Elizabeth Anthony

Elizabeth Anthony is hosting can't-miss events in the Uptown Park boutique. Highlights include the store's annual Designer Evening Showcase featuring eveningwear with an opportunity to earn a $1,000 gift card and an exciting shopping event for Galentine's Day. On February 9, the store will host Girl's Day Out featuring in-store sweet treats, drinks, and shopping surprises. Shoppers can also check out trunk shows from Assael Fine Jewelry, Judith Leiber Couture Handbags, and the Chris Davies Fine Jewelry Collection Trunk Show with a personal appearance. Details for in-store happenings are available here.


Luxury brand Finley shirts, known for their soft cotton and ruffled collars, have mastered closet staples since they began designing clothing 25 years ago. Finley Shirts are made for the gal that loves all things pink for Valentine's Day. The line features shirt dresses, skirts, and tops perfect for the pink and red-themed holiday. Finley can be found at Tootsies and Neiman Marcus.

Golden Boutique

The coveted Ellsworth+Ivey Crewneck "HOU" sweater is back in stock at Golden. The custom knit sweater is made from an acrylic blend and is lightweight enough for Houston's temperamental weather. Snag one before they are gone again.


Southern Cali-based brand Gorjana will launch a new collection of stunning, heart-shaped pieces just in time for Valentine's Day. The new line, available in stores on February 6, features rings, earrings, and necklaces in Gojana's signature laid-back style.

IW Marks Jewelers

For nearly 50 years, IW Marks Jewelers has been a go-to for great Valentine's Day gifts. On the heels of its complete renovation, they put together a gift guide perfect for the most romantic day of the year. Dazzling diamonds, engagement rings, fashion jewelry, and gifts for him are available at the Bellaire store.

Kendra Scott

Beloved jewelry maven Kendra Scott recently released two new capsule collections. Yellow Rose by Kendra Scott is a Texas ranch-inspired capsule collection exclusively online and at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The 56-piece collection was designed with the Modern Cowgirl in mind, and for those looking for something to wear on Valentine's Day, the brand just released its Valentine's Day collection with pieces for both men and women.

For those wanting even more of Kendra, the Houston Rockets are hosting a Kendra Gives Back Party at the Kendra Scott Houston Heights store on Tuesday, February 7, from 6:30 pm-8:00 pm. During the event, Kendra Scott will give 20% of the proceeds back to Clutch City Foundation. Guests can expect special appearances from Clutch, KJ Martin (Houston Rockets Forward), and the Clutch City Dancers. RSVP to the event here.


Léránt is one of Houston's top destinations for gifts and decor. Score colored glasses, gorgeous dishes, and V-Day-themed linens to create a stunning tablescape for a Galentine's Day dinner or shop for unique gifts. Visit the Galleria-area store for a Margarita Mercantile Pop-Up on February 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Shop Mexican-inspired dresses, Valentine's Day gifts, and decor. Margarita Mercantile merchandise will remain in the store through the weekend.

Lewis & Maese

Art and home decor enthusiasts will be delighted to shop the Lewis & Maese's Sawyer Yards location closing event, The Sale at Sawyer. Deal-savvy shoppers can take advantage of huge savings on thousands of items, including new, gently used antique furniture, rugs, lighting, paintings, sculpture and accessories, handbags, and jewelry. The sale has also helped shoppers find great deals on statuary, pianos, linens, fossils, furs, crystals, and southwestern silver and turquoise pieces – among many other finds. Saturday, February 4 – doors open at 11 am, and the auction begins at 1 pm; Sunday, February 5 – doors open at 11 am, and the auction starts at 1 pm.

Native Citizen

Shop contemporary home decor and art at the new location of Native Citizen by Williwest Design Studio on 19th Street in the Heights. The store is known for mixing vintage objects with modern elements to create a unique lifestyle and features art by local artists Edgar Medina and Sonya Cuellar.

LoveShack Fancy

Floral favorite LoveShack Fancy has teamed up with wellness brand BelliWelli for an exclusive launch of their probiotic chocolate chip snack bar. Snag a treat from the collab's pink floral bar stands. The super cute bars will be free with all in-store purchases in LoveShack Fancy's River Oaks District Store.

Look Lifestyle

The mother-and-daughter team behind Look Lifestyle focused on providing luxury and relaxation this Valentine's Day. The Lily Rose Nightgown is lightweight, breathable, and made from a poly-silk and spandex blend. Pair the gown with their artisan-made Babe Towels for the ultimate in-home retreat.


No one is more deserving of our attention and cuddles than our pups. Spoil them with gifts from ultra-glam pet boutique Pucci this Valentine's Day. Pucci carries a full range of heart-themed clothing items, including sweaters, toys, and treats.

Urban Harvest

Shop locally for Valentine's Day at Urban Harvest's third annual Sweetheart Festival on Saturday, February 11, from 9 am to 11 pm. Houstonians will have the opportunity to support local growers and makers to prepare for Valentine's Day. Shoppers can learn from citrus tree expert Bill Arndt and taste seasonal chocolate-covered Atkinson's strawberries dipped on-site by market vendor Xocolla Chocolate. There will also be games, prizes, and crafts for the whole family at the Valentine's Day-themed event.

woman shopping

Photo courtesy of LoveShack Fancy.

Check out the LoveShack Fancy + BelliWelli collab at their RIver Oaks District store.

Zadok Jewelers

The posh Post Oak jewelry store has put together a Valentine's Day gift guide and two events to make the month much sweeter. Round up the besties to shop their Galentine's Day Soirée on Friday, February 10, from noon to 6 pm and score 20 percent off Zadok Collection for your sweetheart or yourself. Experience the new collection from Parisian designer Dinh Van on February 10-11 from 10 am to 6 pm and shop an expanded selection of modern, wearable jewelry, notably worn by the cast of Emily in Paris during the show's latest season.

And, a swoon-worthy bonus...


Ditch the flowers and chocolate and get yourself or your loved one something extra-luxe from Gucci. The formidable fashion house put together a host of options anyone would love to receive on Valentine's Day. Shop at the brand's Galleria outpost and choose from the Ophidia GG heart utility belt, Aphrodite small shoulder bag, Aluminum GG cabin trolley, and so much more.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Willie Nelson receives prestigious honor and inaugural endowment at UT Austin

Willie forever

Willie Nelson has earned countless awards for his seven-decade music career, but the legend is also well known for his activism — particularly in the areas of farming and food security. In recognition of his longtime advocacy work, the LBJ Foundation will present its most prestigious honor, the LBJ Liberty & Justice for All Award to Nelson this spring.

The award will be presented at a special gala tribute dinner on Friday, May 12, 2023, which in turn will benefit the newly established Willie Nelson Endowment for Uplifting Rural Communities at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, a part of The University of Texas at Austin.

According to a release, the endowment will fund research and student fellowships focused on sustainable agriculture, eliminating hunger, resilient energy, sustainable water, and natural disaster recovery to benefit rural and farm communities.

Along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, Nelson organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to raise funds for struggling farmers, which has since raised over $70 million for those who own and operate family farms throughout the United States. He has also helped raise millions around disaster relief, for families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks and for veterans, as well as working toward environmental and animal advocacy, and voting rights. His Luck Family Foundation provides financial grant assistance and other resources to artists, organizations, and programs in need, donating proceeds from Luck Reunion events to Farm Aid and other longtime charity partners like the Texas Food & Wine Alliance.

“Willie Nelson is a national treasure who gained fame through his sheer musical talent and won hearts as someone who truly cares about the lives of his fellow Americans," says Larry Temple, Chairman of the LBJ Foundation Board of Trustees, via release. "A product of rural Texas, Willie has never forgotten where he comes from. His longtime efforts to raise money and awareness for family farmers through Farm Aid and numerous other endeavors to help those in need throughout his career make him a true inspiration.”

The dinner will honor Nelson's lifelong support for rural communities, embodying President Lyndon Baines Johnson's commitment to public service, particularly in the areas of farming and food security. With their similar backgrounds as rural Texans, both President Johnson and Nelson shared a keen awareness of the struggles of those who work in the agricultural industry.

“The bounty of the earth is the foundation of our economy," President Johnson shared in a 1965 Special Message to Congress on Agriculture. "Programs in every aspect of our nation’s life depend on the abundant harvests of our farms.”

Houston's 16 best new restaurants compete for coveted Tastemakers title

voting is open now

In 10 of the 11 categories for the 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, our panel of local restaurant industry experts pick the winners. The exception is Best New Restaurant.

For that category, we ask CultureMap readers to vote for their favorites in a bracket-style, head-to-head tournament of 16 restaurants that opened in Houston in 2022. Our readers have a pretty good track record of identifying quality establishments, as demonstrated by the James Beard Award finalist nominations that two former winners — Blood Bros. BBQ and Xin Chao — earned last year.

Just as winning one of the judges’ prizes is extremely difficult, so too is winning the Best New Restaurant tournament. To keep things interesting, round one always matches up restaurants that have a common tie, whether it’s geography, style of cuisine, or something a little more ephemeral. Let the debates begin!

Voting is open now. People may vote once per matchup. The results are closely monitored for cheating and other shenanigans, so don’t even try to game the results. Round one ends at 11 pm on Monday, March 27.

Which restaurant will win? Find out April 13 at the Tastemaker Awards party. We’ll dine on bites from this year’s nominated restaurants before emcee Bun B reveals the winners. Buy tickets now before they sell out.

Hamsa vs Navy Blue
Arguably the toughest first round matchup, these two restaurant have more in common than their locations in Rice Village. They’re both sister concepts of established restaurants — Bludorn for Navy Blue and Doris Metropolitan for Hamsa — and both made Texas Monthly’s list of the state’s best new restaurants. Vote now to determine whether Hamsa’s hummus and falafel or Navy Blue’s oysters three ways and whole Dover sole will move on to round two.

Marmo steaks
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

Porterhouse, filet, and cowboy ribeye at Marmo.

Marmo vs il Bracco
This pairing features a steakhouse that makes its own pasta and an Italian restaurant that serves a great steak. Marmo has been a hit in the Montrose Collective with its creative pastas, dry-aged beef, and nightly live music. Similarly, diners are flocking to il Bracco for its housemade pastas, fried artichoke appetizer, and Italian-inspired cocktail menu. It will be up to voters to decide which meatball moves on.

Dinette vs Moon Rabbit
The two modern Vietnamese restaurants that have captivated the Heights square off in this matchup. At Dinette, chef Cole Hoang blends his northern Vietnamese heritage with techniques he refined while working for chef Christine Ha at the Blind Goat and Xin Chao to create dishes such as soft shell crab banh mi and a Vietnamese-style pizza. Led by chefs Tam Nguyen and Rudy Vasquez, Moon Rabbit has earned raves for its well-executed takes on staples like shaking beef and lemongrass pork banh mi. Both restaurants serve good cocktails, but only one will move on to round two.

Burger Bodega vs Loro
This matchup features two restaurants that serve tasty burgers. Before launching his smash burger concept, food influencer Abbas Dhanani traveled to Los Angeles and New York to taste all the best versions. For its Asian smokehouse, the Uchi team partnered with legendary pitmaster Aaron Franklin to learn all the techniques necessary to produce consistently excellent smoke-kissed meats. Now it’s time to determine whether Loro’s boozy slushies or Burger Bodega’s mango lassi milkshake move on in the tournament.

Aiko vs Aya Sushi
Our sushi matchup features two restaurants that have embraced omakase. At Aiko, diners choose from $35, $55, and $95 options that include nigiri, handrolls, and crudo. At Aya Sushi, veteran sushi chef Yoshi Katsuyama offers his customers both a chef’s tasting and a premium tasting that can include more than 15 courses. Of course, both restaurants also have extensive a la carte offerings and daily specials, but we encourage you to take the plunge with a tasting — and to pick one restaurant to move on.

The Warwick vs Karne Korean Steakhouse
Both of these restaurants offer a fresh take on the steakhouse. At The Warwick, look for Southern classics like shrimp and grits and smoked ribs as well as a couple nods to the restaurant’s location as a former Houston’s in the form of a Hawaiian ribeye and a Thai noodle salad. Karne offers its diners the signature Karnivore platter that provides a sample of its best meats and banchan as well as some splurge-worthy dishes like oysters topped with uni. Diners will find an eye-catching design and photo-worthy cocktails at both establishments, but only one will make it to round two.

Cucharita vs Tatemó
Now comes the old school vs new school Mexican matchup. A sister concept to Montrose staple Cuchara, Cucharita serves a range of breakfast favorites including tacos, waffles, and all the egg dishes — including caviar. Tatemó has earned regional and national attention, including a James Beard semifinalist nomination, for its nixtamalized masa creations that use heirloom Mexican corn. Vote to decide whether Cucharita’s corn waffles or Tatemó’s masa pancakes make it to round two.

Amrina vs Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers
Admittedly, pairing an Indian fine dining restaurant with a Southern restaurant devoted to fried chicken and seafood seems like a bit of a curious matchup, but these two restaurants are united by the way they offer unique perspectives on familiar dishes. For example, Amrina serves dishes such as whiskey naan, jackfruit samosas, and tandoori leg of lamb with gold leaf that are distinct from the versions at other, similar establishments. Of course, Gatlin’s Fins & Feathers produces craveable fried chicken and shrimp, but it’s globally inspired dishes like grilled jerk chicken and sweet ‘n spicy miso wings that set it apart. Sadly, only one restaurant will earn a spot in round two.

Ridiculously violent John Wick: Chapter 4 hits most of the right marks

Movie Review

The world of John Wick sure has changed a lot from its relatively small beginnings in 2014. Back then, Wick (Keanu Reeves) was just a former hitman out for revenge on the people who killed his dog. Now it’s a full-blown franchise with a story that spans continents, necessitating that each subsequent sequel try to out-do the previous film.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is the biggest movie in the series yet, clocking in at just shy of three hours. Stunt coordinator-turned-director Chad Stahelski does his best to fill that massive running time with as much brutality and derring-do as possible. Wick, having long ago run afoul of the powers-that-be that lead the hitman syndicate, The High Table, is still on the lam, with only a few loyal friends willing to help him.

One of the leaders of The High Table, the Marquis (Bill Skarsgård), is on mission to root out Wick once and for all, systemically shutting down versions of The Continental, hotels that serve as safe houses for assassins like Wick. With the Marquis and his henchmen constantly on his tail, Wick has no choice but to do what he does best – take out as many people as he can before they get to him first.

The film, written by Shay Hatten, Michael Finch, and Derek Kolstad, is not quite a non-stop thrill ride, but it’s as close as you can get when you decide to make a film this long. The complexity of the machinations of The High Table makes it almost impossible to keep up with the actual story of the film, but when they get down to the business of fighting, none of that really matters.

There are multiple extended sequences that become an orgy of violence, but the way they’re staged by Stahelski and his team make them eminently engaging. John Wick: Chapter 3 suffered from repetitiveness, and while the same could be said here to a degree, it feels fresher because of the sheer number of combatants and constantly changing scenery.

The fight scenes are magnificently over-the-top, but in this series, that’s to be expected. Where the filmmakers step up this time around is in the cinematography, with bravura shots filling the screen. The camera is almost constantly on the move, swooping in, out, and above the action. One especially memorable sequence even has the camera going above walls to follow the fighting.

While the majority of the story is treated in a deadly serious manner, the filmmakers aren’t afraid to add in some goofy elements. We’ve always had to take Wick’s ability to survive (mostly) unscathed with a huge grain of salt, but this film turns that idea up to 11. At certain points, there’s a kind of a Wile E. Coyote tone to Wick’s escapes, especially a late sequence involving (many) stairs.

There’s not much to the character of John Wick other than his preternatural ability to kill, and Reeves continues to play him perfectly, expressing himself more in gunshots and punches than words. In addition to returning favorites like Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, and Laurence Fishburne, this film sees great supporting turns by Skarsgård, Donnie Yen, and Shamier Anderson.

John Wick: Chapter 4 did not need to be nearly as long as it is, but in this case, the excess is the point. Much of it is ridiculous and ridiculously violent, but it’s also highly entertaining, which is all you can hope for from this type of film.


John Wick: Chapter 4 opens in theaters on March 24.

Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4

Photo by Murray Close/Lionsgate

Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4.