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Theater Dining

By: Houston Press 10th Annual Arts Guide (2014)

There are plenty of eating options in the Museum and Theater districts: from food trucks to fine dining, and many offer pre- and post-show dining specials. And come fall there will be a brand-new option, Bistro Menil on the grounds of The Menil Collection. As part of the remodeling in front of the museum -- which includes a reconfigured parking lot, Metro stop and B-Cycle rack -- there will be a new building housing a cafe.

Chef Greg Martin, formerly executive chef for Cafe Express, says, "Bistro Menil will feature eight craft beer taps, eight wine taps, flatbreads, pizza, salads, sharable starters, light entrées and deserts in a sleek, modern setting with views of the beautiful Menil campus."

Sounds like a great addition not just to the museum but to the whole neighborhood as well.

The in-the-works Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (The MATCH) will also have a coffee and wine bar when it opens next fall. And there will be plenty of places to eat around the Main Street facility, including the popular Tacos A Go-Go and Monica Pope's Sparrow Bar + Cookshop.

Over in the Theater District downtown, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from, and many offer special deals for theater patrons. Brennan's of Houston, 17 at The Sam Houston Hostel and Damian's Cucina Italiana offer free shuttle service to theaters when you dine pre-show, and several others -- Sorrel Urban Bistro, Line & Lariat and Just Dinner or Dunlavy -- offer special discounts or early tasting menus for theatergoers.

Of course, The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts has a wonderful Cordúa restaurant, Artista, right inside the theater building with South American offerings, and The Wortham Theater Center has several food stations in the foyer before ballet and opera performances. The pasta station and dessert offering are especially good.

Mongoose versus Cobra and its sister wine bar, 13 Celsius, offer 13 percent off your tab when you show a Theater District ticket stub for the same day. In Midtown, it's an easy stop on the way home for some wine and nibbles (pickled eggs, anyone?)

A little less upscale but very fun is the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Fine Art + Food Truck program on weekdays, where you can lunch at one of the food trucks and get into the museum for free. There's also Cafe Express inside the museum that will get you into the museum for free on the same day you lunch there. Be sure and check mfah.org on the Fine Art + Food Truck page for restrictions and guidelines.

And just down the street on Montrose Boulevard, you'll soon find the new Pax Americana in the old Thai Sticks place. Helmed by chefs Adam Dorris and Plinio Sandalio, this spot has been hotly anticipated by foodies since it was announced earlier this summer.

Shepard Ross, co-owner with Zimmerman family, says to expect "an extensive selection of house-made charcuterie and menu items such as smoked grouper, with Texas mushrooms, creamer pea ragu and smoked mussels or creamy house-made ricotta with preserved strawberry, bitter greens and dill seed." Also, small-batch American beers, wines and spirits.

As an added benefit, there's also an original Warhol hanging in the restaurant!

Other eateries in the walkable Museum District by Hermann Park include the park's Pinewood Cafe, with build-your-own grilled cheese sandwiches; the tequila and Tex-Mex Bodegas Taco Shop nearby; and the fancier Monarch in the Hotel ZaZa (now helmed by chef Jeff Axline), whose patio looks over the back garden of the MFAH.

And you can always combine dinner and a show at the Galleria area South American restaurant Tango & Malbec, where live tango dancers perform on Saturday nights.

In Highland Village and at CityCentre, RA Shushi offers a reverse happy hour so you can stop by after a show and get drinks starting at $3 and food specials from $2.25 Monday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Headed downtown for a Sunday matinee at The Hobby? Stop in at Beaver's on Washington Avenue for the brunch at this historic icehouse featuring crawfish, crab cakes and a Squealin' Mary garnished with bacon.

Sometimes food can be its own art, but it's always a welcome addition to a day or evening of art.