Everything’s Better in (Houston) Texas
Welcome to MarMar Monday! KB’s sister, MarMar, is excited to share her travels with you. This week we’re chatting about her girls trip to Houston, Texas!
One of the hardest things about graduating from college is that, more often than not, all of the people you befriend end up moving far away after graduation day. My best friend, Mariah, just moved to Houston, TX to earn her Masters of Public Health from University of Houston. Needless to say, what better way to celebrate than a trip to the home of Yoncè herself? I got to spend NINE whole days exploring H-town, and tbh I could have never left and still unearthed gem after gem.
A Girl’s Gotta Eat
During my trip, I had some of the best food OF MY LIFE. I gotta say, the chefs in Houston really step it up. I also discovered how IN LOVE I am with “gourmet” tacos. Before this trip, I didn’t understand the hype of going to a taquiera and ordering a (normally around $5) taco. I do now. Whether your a local or just passing through, it is imminent that you check out these two places: Velvet Taco and Torchy’s Tacos. Maybe want to take a break from taco’s? Check out Flower Child, where everything is made from sustainable ingredients, or Hungry’s Cafe, where you can fill yourself up with Mediterranean yums.
Taco Tuesday? Nah, every day.
Velvet Taco is all about Taco’s Without Boarders: bringing the taco culture into the mainstream, and proving that taco’s can be made with the same ingredients with fine dining. Better yet, this franchise has spread from it’s Texan roots. You can find Velvet in Chicago and Atlanta as well. I got the #2 Rotisserie Chicken and #7 Cuban Pig tacos, and those left me absolutely stuffed.
Torchy’s Tacos is an Austin-based brand, and Mariah and I actually got to go to a grand opening of their new Houston location. What did that entail? TWO free tacos, an alcoholic beverage of choice (if you’re 21+, of course), and enough chips, queso, and guac to fill you to the brim. Not only was there free food, they had an entire production set up, complete with a DJ, Astros tickets give away, brew samplings from Saint Arnold Brewing Co. , and Torchy himself. They have coined themselves for “Damn Good Tacos” and the slogan fits the food, folks.
So, in Houston, you’ll see something at most bakeries on the menu called a “kolache.” It’s a town staple, and you have to sample one during your time there. A kolache can be thought of as a giant pigs-in-a-blanket, depending on what kind of meat you get. I ordered the sausage while at Shipley’s Donuts. This Houston-based franchise has been rolling dough since 1936. Now-a-days, you can find a Shipley’s in eight states, and now that I know this, I’ll be planning my road trip stops accordingly. But, in all seriousness, the kolache is definitely something to add to the bucket list.
Home of the “Ice House”
Houston is known for the patios and bar scene, but something I hadn’t heard of are their “Ice Houses.” After talking with some bar staff at Kirby’s Ice House, I have come to the understanding that these bars are community meeting places, where the purpose of their intimate, backyard-like feeling are to quite literally meet your neighbors. They (thankfully) aren’t home to college kids wanting ragers, though! Most ice houses are 22+, and are the perfect place for a happy hour after a long day at the office. Houstonians love games, and most restaurants, bars, and apartment building common areas are filled with them. At Kirby’s, you can grab a beer and challenge your mates to a game of Giant Connect 4, Corn-hole, or Jenga, just to name a few.
Little Woodrow’s and the Turtle Races
Another Houston tradition takes place on Thursday nights from 8pm-midnight: Turtle Races at Little Woodrow’s Midtown. Y’all, I cannot express to you how much people lost their minds over turtle’s racing. The races are now in their 11th season and run mid-March through Labor Day. Bets are free, and each round you can bet on *unique* turtle names like Gold Balls or James Franco. Note: James Franco has a unique target that if he gets to, will win automatically, because he is the oldest and slowest of the turtle champions.
Then, to add to the fun, if your turtle wins 2/3 of the races from the round, you get a free drink! Free booze? You’ll definitely get hyped up. The refs and turtle masters make it RAIN free koozies into the crowd, and one lucky lady is picked every race to unleash the turtles from their bucket. If you’re looking for a unique experience, I guarantee you no need to look any further.
To Infinity… and beyond!
Your trip could not reach maximum potential without a visit 30 minutes south to Space Center Houston. Home to NASA, this museum/government plot gives you insight into space exploration and what it’s like at the International Space Station (ISS). You can also go on a tram tour of the grounds, where you might see astronauts training pre-departure. This tour also features the rocket Saturn V, that has been segmented out to show how exactly we get those men to the moon.
Though I am not the biggest space junkie, I had an AMAZING time learning more about NASA and everything they do. I also have such an admiration for astronauts now, because their job is hard. Fun fact: astronauts are sent to the ISS for six months at a time, and have to train 4 hours per every 1 hour of anti-gravity they will experience. You do the math, it’s a lot. It’s $29.95 (for adults) to enter the museum and well worth it. You can and probably will spend the better portion, if not entirety, or your day there. Click here to check out their exhibits and learn more!
I Want Candy
You can currently live your best Willy-Wonka inspired life by visiting Candytopia in Dallas and Houston. Now y’all, we all love an Instagram experience, right? This pop-up has already had so much success in cities like New York (The OG) and Atlanta, so we couldn’t wait to beat the Texas heat by joining the fun. This “land of pure imagination” has used candy to create larger than life sculptures and even re-created some famous pieces of art. Oh yeah, and then there’s the marshmallow pit. OH, and on top of that you get TONS of candy throughout the experience.
You’ll probably be surrounded by millennial moms and their kids, but it’s pretty easy to maneuver through the rooms for your own, child-free experience if thats what you wish. You’ll need to book your tickets ahead of time, because the experience will absolutely sell out. Also, plan to spend an hour at minimum here, and remember: just like time, you can only go forwards, never back.
Whether you’re a college student, young professional, or odds are KB and I begged you to read & share this blog because we know you/your kids/friends, it’s safe to say that many of us drink a cuppa joe on a solid basis. Well, okay, I actually quit drinking coffee back in February, but I might still have the occasional salted caramel latte. Mariah drinks a cup every morning, so I got well accustomed with a few Houston coffee houses. Here’s the skinny: most double as bars. How cool, right? Come in the day for your morning fix/come at happy hour for an end of work celebration with co workers. Win, win.
First up on my must-do is Agora. This grecian themed coffee house in the Montrose neighborhood was originally a library, but was severely burnt due to a fire. Luckily, it has been restored and you can come to this space, complete with a wrap around open-concept second level, to study, jam out to classic music on their jukebox, and take in the sights of sculpture replicas that don the walls. They also have a patio out back that is smoker friendly so you can bring your favorite cigars while enjoying a brew. Coming hungry? Agora has pastries for sale during the day, and a food menu for the evenings.
Fun fact: downtown street parking on Sundays is free. So, with that in mind, Mariah and I went to Boomtown Coffee Main Street, where she worked on some graduate school pre-work and I just so happened to write a certain post about New Orleans. Boomtown is where that salted caramel latte came in, and she did not disappoint. They also have an amazing brunch menu to accommodate the Sunday mid-day grind.
It’s safe to say that I left a huge chunk of my heart in Texas. Houston is such a special city. To be the third largest city in the country, the residents make you feel just like you’re back in a small town. (Looking @ u, NYC.) I hope that this will be one of many trips to H-town, and that, when you venture there, you will leave loving it as much as I did.
all my love,