Houston – Always Discovering
One of the cities in the United States that I love to re-explore is Houston, Texas. I’ve visited the fourth most populous city in the U.S. about three times and each time a new area is introduced to me. I’ll keep going back to the staples, the things that I really enjoy in Houston, but to be able to return and increase my knowledge of such a great and welcoming city, yes, in Texas.
Everything is Bigger
Houston is a massive city of about 670 square miles and if you include its metro area, that size increases to 10,000 square miles, making it bigger than the states of Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Vermont. So it’s a big place to explore but once you’re in the city there is so much to experience. Each time I have visited Houston, I’ve reached out to those that know the area better than I. I couldn’t imagine just landing in an area the size of Connecticut and saying, “Let’s explore on our own.” To help get an idea of where to start, we visited lgbtq.visithoustontexas.com, also titles My Gay Houston. The site does include some things in Galveston so just make sure you pay attention to the locations recommended. You can as well go to visithoustontexas.com for some other great info on the city.
Montrose – The Happy Gayborhood
Houston has many neighborhoods that are little cities themselves with their own personalities, histories, and highlights. One that MUST be on your radar is Montrose. It’s full of restaurants, shops, and other experiences. With more than a dozen night life offerings, you’re bound to find 2 or 3 that you’ll want to call your new favorite places to visit and have a sip or three.
When we were there this time, The Eagle was our place to hang as both the downstairs and upstairs were hopping with dancing and great music and some bulging in all the right places go go boys. All the bars are within walking distance of each other so just Uber to one of them and you’ll all be set to walk around Montrose all night, hitting several places, and enjoy the feeling of being in a gayborhood that has the comfort of a residential feel.
Newest Gay Additions
Rich’s Houston – We were lucky enough to experience one of the newest offerings in the Montrose area for entertainment. Less than a ½ a mile walk from the other bars in Montrose, Rich’s Houston (Richshouston.bar, formerly rebar) will be a place to check out. Our visit was during brunch on Sunday. The brightness, high ceilings, floral installations, mirrors, the space was impressive, welcoming, and so gay. Come hungry as the food offerings are perfect to enjoy along with the show.
Now if you’ve been going to Houston for years, Rich’s will be a familiar name as it is not a new name. Rich’s originally opened in 1983 and was known as the “Studio 54 of the South”. It was a multi leveled massive 15,000 square foot dance club. The name has been revisited and placed on this new location and from our experience, the name and reputation is in good hands. The place had not celebrated its official opening before we went, and every brunch seat was full for every show.
Koffeteria – I am not a coffee fan, but that did not stop us from checking out gay owned Koffeteria. In the heart of East Downtown, Houston in the neighborhood once known as Vietnam Town, pastry chef Vanarin Kuch spent time in his family’s seafood & doughnut shops. Today real estate agents have dubbed the neighborhood ‘Eado’ and it is home to breweries, music venues, and some of Houston’s best nightlife.
Kuch was on Top Chef: Just Desserts and Chopped, spent time in New York and Chicago, but returned to his hometown of Houston to open Koffeteria, an upscale bakery serving whimsical and ambitious and bold delectables. The menu changes often to incorporate seasonal ingredients and showcase the diverse flavors of Houston. Thanks to Chef Vanarin Kuch and his husband Andreas Hager for showing us a great time and filling our bellies.
Where to Luxuriously Stay Nearby
La Colombe d’Or Hotel, write it down, make a reservation, and enjoy. It was a great recommendation/find and one I would look at staying again in the future as it was just a ½ a mile from the gay center of Montrose. We actually stayed in two different rooms there and had friends in two others. We were in the Mansion for a couple of nights in the Cezanne room and then in the tower in the Zimmerman Suite while a friend was in one of the Tower rooms and then another was in one of the bungalows. You would be content in any of the rooms, but the mansion and the bungalows are a different experience. Thanks to the staff for making my stay wonderful, easy, and valued.
As a guest at La Colombe d’Or Hotel, you have access to the pool on the 10th floor of the tower as well as the entertainment rooms and the gym, which were all quite nice as they’re shared with the tower residences.
I have a belly and it loves new experiences. Houston restaurant scene does not disappoint as you can finds anything and everything you are looking for and some things you didn’t know you needed to put in your mouth. From 1000 year old creations to strip mall eateries, the variety in Houston is very pleasing.
Navy Blue – We had lunch one day at Navy Blue, recognized by Texas Monthly as one of the state’s “Best New Restaurants of 2023”. Of course blue would be an accent color and the menu was very seafood forward. After having the drinks, appetizers, main dishes, experiencing the wonderful and plentiful service, yes, I agree this offering should be on the top of the list. Wear a collared shirt or not, but this place is more upscale than a fish fry.
TH PRSV – The name may be short on vowels, but this place is more than just a name. It features Indigenous chef’s tasting menu cooked the ancient way put together by three great minds – Chocktaw tribal member Chef David Skinner, Chef “G”- Benchawan Jabthong Painter who was named Houston’s 2023 James Beard Winner for Best Chef, and Sommelier Graham Painter (who will feature Indigenous wine pairings. The restaurant is located about 45 minute drive south of Houston, reservations must be made at least a couple of weeks in advance, and the optional wine pairing is extra but well worth it.
Anabelle Brasserie – When new to Houston was desired, we experienced it. Just a few days old, Anabelle Brasserie was a treat for brunch. French design, food, and a fun with an excited staff and bright dining area with more floral opulence, it was a very elegant adventure. The do have to work on their rum dessert as it was very boozy, but everything else did not need any edits.
Nancy’s Hustle – From brunch to late night, if you’re in the mood for some after-hours bites, make the time to go to Nancy’s Hustle. You’ll see why the chef is a James Beard Award winner and why it has made the list of best restaurants in America. The cheeseburger is epic, okra is shockingly over the top, croquettes and fries were worth trying, too.
Himalaya Restaurant – Yep, it’s in a strip mall and it will be some of the best Asian food you’ve ever had. A mix of Indian and Pakistani, this restaurant made it onto Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown”. I’m also excited to say that one of my friends has a menu item named after her.
Diversion Cocktails – Other things to check out? How about the bar named the “Best Bar in the US” by Esquire. Diversion Cocktails seems like a dark warehouse and you’d be half right. The subtly lit bar offers a mix of science and beverage creation to imagine and produce some options you will find nowhere else. A great date atmosphere or a nice night out to catch up with friends.
Post Houston – We did a quick tour of Post Houston (formerly the Barbara Jordan Post Office Building). There we saw many more options in their food court area that we will want to check out next time (too full from brunch to do that day) and we also capture some of the best rooftop views of downtown Houston. We also had some fun with this Asian trinket booth and actually met the owner there as he was checking up on his “store”.
A Future Return to Space City?
I started off this post with “Houston – Always Discovering” and that is the mood I get in when I land in Houston, what will I discover next. The home of NASA (Space City) seems to continue to grow and continue to add new events, restaurants, social spaces, and they’re all welcoming to all. I feel safe and confident in Houston. Sure, it’s in Texas, but it’s Houston.
Remember to head over to visithoustontexas.com for more information about new experiences and some great calendar events, especially this holiday season.