Houston tips - bring them on

Have an interview in Houston next week. The firm has an office in the Alief area. Have only visited Houston one time (very briefly), so I’m looking for all your insightful tips on the area. Will need to set up temporary residence until relocating the rest of my family summer 2005 (going to let youngest son graduate HS prior to moving).

Alief? That’s where I grew up.

Let’s see… if you like Asian stuff, you’re in the right place. The Hong Kong Mall & Market at the intersection of Bellaire and Boone road is interesting- the grocery store is probably the biggest asian market I’ve seen.

Phat Ky restaraunt on Wilcrest @ 59 is one of my favorite places- good food!

Hmm… I wouldn’t actually live in Alief- I’d do like I did and live somewhere in teh box defined by Wilcrest, Briarforest, Westpark and Eldridge. Lots of nice apartments that are relatively cheap, good convenient shopping and right next to Alief. If you’re looking for a house, Sugarland/Missouri City and Katy are good choices for nice, new neighborhoods.

Fun stuff? Hmm… most of that’s farther in town.

I haven’t lived in Houston for awhile, so some of my stuff may be out of date.

What I miss most is the restaurants:

Kim Sohn for Vietnamese

Goode Company Barbeque

Ragin’ Cajun for crawfish

Spaghetti Warehouse

59 Diner for burgers and shakes

and places I can’t send you to because I remember them only by the slang name we called them :slight_smile:

For fun stuff, I liked the Houston Zoo, Moody Gardens, NASA. THe anual Rodeo was a big event and you can go to Galveston for a lighter version of Mardi Gras than New Orleans. North of HOuston at the Woods Pavilion there were often big name performers. University of HOuston and Rice both have plenty of activities that are open to all. Astro World amusment park was getting very run down the last time I was there and was over-run with unsupervised kids of all ages.
Downtown Houston was confusing because of the one way streets and it wasn’t built to square. But if you could find it, the orchestra and music halls often had good stuff.

Thanks much. Their office is actually on Wilcrest near Richmond Ave.

The Richmond/Wilcrest area is borderline Alief. It’s a good area. The heart of Alief is really not that fresh. Everything you would want to entertain yourself is pretty close, and getting into town is easy from there, so long as it isn’t rush hour.

Housing prices are still pretty decent, especially out off of Highway 6.

No matter what any realtor tells you, do not buy a house in Katy.

I do not know what part of downtown pipperoo has been visiting, but there is a grid system in place, and the whole scene has become fantastic in recent years. The metro rail has really brought improvement with it.

Traffic is bad, but no worse than any other major city. There is quite a bit of roadwork, but at least it has started (except for the Katy Frwy widening, which is why I wouldn’t buy a house there), which means that someday it will be finished.

It’s hot too, really hot in July and August. When you get here and experience it, you will regret your decision. But be patient, it will be worth it when you’re still wearing shorts in December and playing golf year round.

Any other questions, let me know. I used to work in Alief, and am very familiar with the rest of the city. I love this place, I’m sure you will too.

Oh and check out har.com. I think a good zip code to start with is 77095, but I could be wrong.

A toll road along Westpark outiside the loop (I-610) just opened last week, which should help east-west commuting quite a bit around where you’ll be. I haven’t been on it yet, so I don’t know its extent.

I’m an inside-the-loop guy, so I can’t be of much help as to what to do and where to live where you’ll be. There are a lot of cheap Indian (and to a lesser extent, Middle Eastern) restaurants on Hillcroft, and there’s a nice Persian place on the corner of Westheimer and Gessner. Toward Wilcrest there’s more Chinese stuff.

Inside the loop, a few of the places I really like are:
Cafe Adobe - powerful margaritas and great people watching.
La Carafe - downtown bar, oldest in-place building in Houston. It leans!
Great English/Irish themed bars - Stag’s Head (succeeded the late lamented Ale House, good in it’s own right), Harp (comfy chairs), McGonigel’s Mucky Duck (live country and folk music), Gingerman (lots of beers, lots of people).
The Big Easy - seriously grungy blues bar; the only good blues venue since Billy Blue’s closed down.
Rice U has cheap obscure movies, probably the best classical concert hall in town, and a beautiful baseball park (Rice was NCAA champion last year).
The opera and ballet are superb. I don’t know how the symphony is doing since Eschenbach left, but it was a heavyweight when he was here.
The museums are so-so, but the Museum of Fine Arts has a spanking new building, and some good showings come through. The Natural History Museum has a big mineral collection and the Cockrell Butterfly Exhibit. Nothing like having a butterfly with a one-foot wingspan land on you.

This isn’t a tourist town, but it’s packed with things to do.

Thanks much all of your tips are going to be very helpful :slight_smile:

One question of housing - are basements normal or a rarity? The listings I’ve been looking at in Sugar Land don’t mention anything about a basement.

Don’t forget the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Good choice! I have a sister who lived in Sugar Land for several years, she’s in Beaumont now. Nice houses but, as you said, you might have a hard time finding one with a basement.

Have you tried browsing realtor.com? You can filter listings for basements.

Most Houston houses are on a concrete slab. Some of the older ones, like mine, are pier and beam. A lot of people thing p&b is a lot less trouble. Don’t believe them.

Anyway, don’t even think about getting a basement. With very few exceptions, houses here don’t have them. We use our garage as a basement, our driveway as a garage, and the street as a driveway.

BTW, Houston is also notoriously crappy for sidewalks, especially (again) outside the loop.

I only know of one house in the entire city that has a basement, and it floods twice a year. Houston was built on a swamp, so not to many basements around town. Lots of attic space though.

Some of my favorite places:

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema: A first run movie theater with every other row taken out and replaced with bar tables. A waiter will come to your seat and take your order from a hit and miss menu, but the most important part is the beer and wine selection. Want to see Troy and have a Harp? Done! Located in West Oaks Mall at Westheimer and Highway 6. They also have guest apperances (Traci Lords soon!) indie films, special events and the like. Very cool, very fun and suprisingly cheap compared to the MEGA CINEMA!!!111

The Gingerman: kelly5078 mentioned this in passing, but I wanted to throw a spotlight on it. You have to enjoy beer to really get this place, but 50+ beers on tap, 100+ beers in the bottle, along with wines, ciders, and champagne. Add to that a fully stocked bar, and you have yourself a winner. Cigars are welcome, and their are usually a metric assload of people there on the weekends. I also enjoy The Fox and Hound Pub, Mr. C’s Irish Pub and Muldoon’s.

Bedrock City Comic Book Company: Even if you are not a fan of comics, everyone needs to know where to find nerds. This is the spot in Houston. A great selection of Golden and Silver Age books along with the litany of other Comic Shoppe stuff makes this my favorite comic store in town. Midnight Comics (thier website sucks, I refuse to link) would be closer to you.

Star Pizza: Every town you go to has the best pizza in the world. Star Pizza IS the best pizza in the world. A wild collection of toppings, and crust types (why daudle, order a Star Burst) along with an interesting setting make it my favorite place to eat in Houston. The other two of my list are Barry’s Pizza and George Bush Sr.'s favorite pizza place, Fuzzy’s Pizza.

Hope you enjoy your time in Houston, its a great place. Except in the summer… and the winter… and 11 of the 12 weeks in Spring. Fall is nice though…

The Gingerman doesn’t have a fully-stocked bar, just beer and wine. But you can go next door to the Bronx Bar, or two doors down to Brian O’Neill’s if you need a shot.

Fuzzy’s Pizza, BTW, has this thing called a Florida Pizza, which has pineapple and a load of spinach. Sounds gawdawful, but it’s really delicious.

A few other random institutions:
Niko Niko - excellent Greek food on Montrose (but don’t get the meatless dolmas).
Marfreless - unmarked door behind the River Oaks theatre. Nice bar, classical music, and people making out like it’s a whorehouse in the dark. Worth a visit.
Last Concert Cafe - north end of downtown. Have to knock on the door to get in.
Nino’s and Vincents - Italian restaurants next door to each other, owned by the same family.
Otto’s Barbeque - All the cogniscenti like Goode Company and Drexler’s better (the latter is Clyde’s parents, BTW), but GHW Bush and I prefer Otto’s.
Last but certainly not least (and totally out of the blue):

The best thing about Houston is the abundance of great restaurants. I will add a couple of my favorites.

There are a lot of cheap Indian (and to a lesser extent, Middle Eastern) restaurants on Hillcroft,


aaaaa! You must try the flatbread at Droubi’s, a Mid-East grocer on Hillcroft.

There is a Vietnamese restaurant near the intersection of Hillcroft and Westheimer called Vietnam Coast (much better than Kim Son IMO). When I went there some years ago, their pho was just brilliant - fragrant, almost flowery, and oh so beefy. Try their Vietnamese egg rolls, too, wrapped in lettuce and dipped in nuoc mam cham (fish sauce dipping sauce).

Also try Antonio’s pizza right next door to Vietnam Coast. You won’t regret it.

Go to The Hobbit Cafe (formerly the Hobbit Hole) on Richmond Ave - take the Kirby (???) exit off S 59. The sandwiches are GREAT, as are their fries, and their guacamole. Eat a pile of nachos topped with guacamole for me. Their sandwiches are Hobbit/LOTR themed, e.g. the Galadriel (tomatoes and mushroom and cheese on focaccia), the Frodo (turkey and bell peppers and cheese), etc. You can eat the sandwiches either fat or thin, I can’t remember the terminology exactly. I love this place.

I second Nico Nico’s. It’s in an interesting neighborhood, too.

There is a Belgian restaurant on lower Westheimer that’s pretty good, too. Forgot the name, though.

Omigod, how could I forget Frenchy’s for fried chicken???

If you buy the book Are You Really Going to Eat That? by Robb Walsh, you can read a bit more about some good Houston eats.

Oh man, this is starting to sound like it’s going to be another bad stop for the diet :smiley: If there’s one thing I enjoy more than cooking, it’s eating and drinking comes in a close 3rd. I think I just put on about 5 more just reading about all the great places I’m going to have to check out.

Speaking of drinking, is it still OK to have an open container while driving in Texas?

Is he still alive?

Found a link that answers my own question.

Site also says the open container laws were changed in 2001 to be in compliance with the Federal laws.

We have more restaurants per person than any other city in America.

And the open container thing, in 2001 they outlawed them for the passenger, back in the day, the DRIVER could have an open container.

Earlier you mentioned something about basements too. I have never seen a basement in Houston.

My wife and I were talking about this thread last night at dinner. She decided that if she was going to tell a new Houstonian the best and worst things about Houston the best would be the friendly attitude of the people and the worst would be that it is flat.

I decided that the best things were the 3 new sports arenas and the booming downtown and the worst was the road constuction.

Where are you leaving to come to Houston?

I don’t know where you’re moving from, but you may find Houston traffic takes some getting used to. Here’s the rules for traffic lights:

1 - Green means caution
2 - Yellow means go
3 - Red means go fast because it just turned red (see rule #1)

I’ll be relocating from central Illinois. I’m not originally from here, but I have lived in the upper midwest (Illinois & Wisconsin) for 25 years so I’m used to flat terrain, road construction, and have been to Chicago enough to be up to speed on those traffic light rules.