It’s often said that everything is bigger in Texas, and the city of Houston is by no means an exception. With a population reaching over 2 million residents, Texas’s most populous city is packed with variety in food, attractions, people, and of course, culture. Since its founding in 1836 and its incorporation as a city only a year later, Houston has grown to become quite the powerhouse of a city in the southern United States. While its industries focus around manufacturing, energy, and transportation, it should be noted that the city’s nickname – Space City – comes from the fact that NASA’s Johnson Space Center (home of Mission Control) is located within the city and has since become an iconic part of the city’s history. In other areas of business, the city continues to hold its own and attract a large number of high-profile businesses looking to set up shop, making Houston second to only New York City when it comes to the number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered within its limits. As one might expect, the climate in Houston is one of high heat and humidity, with its proximity to the coast bringing in thunderstorms and the occasional tornado. Of course, the winters in Houston are mild and snowfall in the area is quite rare, with the lowest officially recorded temperature in the city reaching 5 °F.
If Space City is inspiring you to lift off from your current residence and make your way down to Texas, it’s important to know some of the biggest attractions in the city so that you can experience the best Houston has to offer once you get here. Continue reading below to familiarize yourself with some of the prominent restaurants, museums, and entertainment venues in Houston.
The Breakfast Klub
Opened in September 2001, The Breakfast Klub has since been recognized as one of the best breakfast restaurants in the country by a number of publications, and for good reason. As a restaurant built on the principles of faith, family, “kommunity,” and empowerment, The Breakfast Klub welcomes every guest as one of their own, and the staff makes it their goal to provide quality service every time they see you. The Klub’s menu features an excellent selection of breakfast favorites with more soul than you may know what to do with, including pork chops & eggs, wings & grits, klub’s benedikt, and the Klub’s signature dishes: katfish & grits and wings & waffle. After 11am each day, the menu opens up a bit more to include a variety of lunch sandwiches and salads to accommodate visitors who may not be looking for breakfast at all times. The Breakfast Klub also serves a number of beverages including juices, teas, fountain drinks, bottomless “koffee,” and several other delicious coffee-based drinks sure to get your day off to the right start. Hours of operation for The Breakfast Klub are 7am to 2pm Monday through Friday and 8am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays, so be sure to get there early! (Photo credit: thebreakfastklub.com)
Children’s Museum of Houston
Since its founding in 1980, the Children’s Museum of Houston has become one of the top destinations for kids within the city to have fun while also gaining a better appreciation for the world around them and the things to be learned about it. Through its many innovative and engaging exhibits, the Children’s Museum allows for its young visitors to enter into a number of hands-on learning experiences designed to help encourage continued learning throughout their youth and adult life. This summer, the Children’s Museum of Houston initiated an exciting new interactive experience for visitors aged 8 and up based around secret agents and espionage. The S.E.C.R.E.T: S.O.S. (Special Elite Crime Resolution and Espionage Team: Summer of Spies) program places children in the shoes of special agents tasked with uncovering clues and following leads throughout the museum to complete their primary objective: defeating the R.I.V.A.L. (Ridiculously Intelligent Villainous Agent League) opposition and protecting the museum’s precious energy-emitting crystals, a crucial source of power for its exhibits. The event will be running until September 5th, and potential agents can visit the museum Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 12pm-6pm with an extension to 8pm on Thursdays and special Monday openings over the summer. (Photo credit: Cody Duty – cmhouston.org)
With several locations spread out across not only Texas, but also Florida and California, it’s safe to say that Truluck’s has established itself as a steak & seafood restaurant to be known. While primarily a seafood restaurant, the team behind Truluck’s places a heavy emphasis on remaining conscious of the environment when it comes to acquiring and preparing their selection of seafood and meat-oriented dishes. They utilize their own crab fisheries and only serve seafood that is in season, paying attention to the different seasonal cycles of the animals they come into contact with. Land-born creatures receive similar respect from Truluck’s, with the restaurant choosing to only work with farmers who raise their animals humanely and naturally. The restaurant’s dinner menu features an incredible selection of appetizers both hot and cold, soups, salads, and expertly prepared seafood classics including Hawaiian Ahi Tuna, Pacific Swordfish Steak, Scottish Salmon, and an opportunity to snag the Whole Fish of the Day. Of course, the menu also includes the best of the best in filets, prime cuts of meat, and crab and lobster selections including a South African Lobster Tail referred to as “the Rolls-Royce of lobster.” Put on your favorite business casual outfit and dive into Truluck’s 11am-10pm Monday through Thursday, 11am-11pm on Fridays, 12pm-11pm on Saturdays, and 4pm-10pm on Sundays. (Photo credit: trulucks.com)
The Music Box Theater
If live musical entertainment and comedy are what you’re searching for in Houston, look no further than The Music Box Theater! Named the Best (and only) Cabaret Theater in Houston by the Houston Press, it should come as no surprise that the cast and crew behind The Music Box takes providing entertainment to visitors and Houston residents alike very seriously. With a cast made up of 5 professional actor-singers, each year The Music Box puts together four 2-act comedy shows (along with hosting live music from a variety of other acts) that run through popular music from years past while bringing everyone more than enough laughs. Past shows include The White Christmas Album: a Beatles Holiday (plus sequels), Broadway at the Box, MBTV: The Music Box Does Television, and many more. Behind the instrumental portion of The Music Box’s tunes, we’ve got musical director Glenn “G” Sharp and the MBT 3, who work directly with the cast of performers to put together a show that utilizes everyone to the best of their abilities. Show after show, the whole crew combines their wide range of talents to bring audiences a performance they are unlikely to forget. The Music Box Theater also has a selection of wine, beer, mimosas, and sodas for guests, along with some snacks in the form of New York cheesecake, homemade pumpkin bread, cheese and crackers, and a pub mix. (Photo credit: themusicboxtheater.com)
Chef Hugo Ortega and Restaurateur Tracy Vaught come together at Caracol Mexican Coastal Kitchen to bring the authentic flavor of Mexican coastal seafood to the plates and lives of every visitor that comes through their door. Taking his expertise with Mexican cuisine and tapping into memories of the beach and conch ceviche with his brother, Chef Hugo has assembled an excellent menu full of flavor and care for the craft. The bright and festive menu comes equipped with a large selection of salads, soups, and smaller dishes and appetizers that highlight the flavors of the sea before diving into a multitude of entrees from wood-roasted short rib and crispy duck to bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed shrimp and wood-grilled whole fish. Caracol also has a regular brunch menu on Saturdays, with live music and a thorough brunch buffet on Sundays from 11am to 2:30pm, featuring an extensive brunch cocktail menu and traditional Mexican fresh baked pastries from Pastry Chef Ruben Ortega. Get an authentic taste of the Mexican coast at Caracol Monday through Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-11pm, and Sunday 11am-9pm. (Photo credit: www.caracol.net)
Space Center Houston
As the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center (home to Mission Control and astronaut training), it should come as no surprise that Space Center Houston is one of the top destinations for almost 1 million annual visitors touring through the city of Houston. By placing an emphasis on engaging educational programming in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the Space Center hopes to inspire generation after generation to learn more about the world around them and the others waiting for exploration in space. With over 400 space artifacts, including the world’s largest publically viewable collection of lunar samples and moon rocks, there is no shortage of materials to be seen and investigated within the walls of the Space Center. Other exhibits and attractions include Independence Plaza, both the historic Mission Control facility and it’s much more modern counterpart being used today, the Starship Gallery, one of eight lunar rocks in the world that can be touched, and shows in a number of theaters throughout the Center. One of these theaters, the Space Center Theater, is also the largest screen theater across the entire state of Texas. Explore space and learn from the extraterrestrial experts any day of the week from 9am to 7pm! (Photo credit: pixabay.com)
Étoile Cuisine et Bar
After graduating from the French Culinary Institute at the top of his class and working in a number of successful restaurants, Master Chef Philippe Verpiand decided to bring his offering of French cuisine to the Space City in 2012. Since then, he and wife/co-owner Monica have made their mark on the culinary scene in Houston with Étoile Cuisine et Bar, which takes the renowned flair of French dishes and offers visitors an opportunity to experience them in a more local setting without any of the pretention one might expect at a high-end, authentic French restaurant. Everything in the restaurant is made in-house by Chef Verpiand, and the restaurant offers a menu split into two categories, La Tradition and La Saison. With the La Tradition portion of the menu, you can expect a greater emphasis on classic French dishes such as Foie Gras au Torchon, Cassoulet Toulousain, or Chef Verpiand’s own signature Raviolis de Champignon. As for the La Saison side of things, diners are treated to a more modern and seasonal selection including dishes like Foie Gras Poêlé, Magret de Canard “à l’Orange,” and a selection of game dishes during the winter time. Catch an authentic French meal at Étoile between the hours of 5-10pm Sunday through Thursday and 5-11pm on Friday and Saturday, with daily lunch 11am-3pm and brunch on Sundays. (Photo credit: etoilecuisine.com)
The Menil Collection
Located in a 30-acre neighborhood of art, The Menil Collection is comprised of four (soon to be five) buildings: a central building for hosting the permanent collection and special exhibitions, one building dedicated to Dan Flavin, one dedicated to Cy Twombly, and one more for year-long projects. The Menil Collection charges no admission and provides free programming to go along with its mission of making art accessible to anyone and everyone. The works themselves do not come with explanation cards or any information that may lead visitors’ perception of the art they’re experiencing, instead letting viewers come up with their own unique perspective of what the works mean to them and what they take away from it. Programming put on by The Menil Collection includes lectures from artists exhibiting their works, along with various live performances and an annual lecture centered around a featured artist. By focusing on the areas of art emphasized by the founders and their collection, The Menil Collection does incredibly well in its familiar fields without diluting any of its potential by trying to become too many things at once. With its focused and thorough collections, it goes without saying that the significance of The Menil Collection to the art community in Houston is apparent when visiting in person. Experience the beauty and unassisted artistry of The Menil Collection Wednesday through Sunday 11am-7pm. (Photo credit: menil.org)
Brennan’s of Houston
After surviving everything from a major fire to floods, hurricanes, and a tornado, it’s hard to argue that the now 40+ year old Brennan’s hasn’t earned its spot in Midtown Houston. With a menu based around the traditional creole cuisine of Louisiana, the crew at Brennan’s puts a Texas spin on its dishes, presenting visitors a culinary experience that is equal parts new and familiar while maintaining the legacy set by the Brennans over 40 years ago. While the menu is subject to change depending on the seasonal availability of ingredients, visitors can expect a selection of dishes full of creole flavor such as Louisiana Frog Legs, a crawfish enchilada, and a range of fish, shrimp, duck, pork, crab, and beef entrees sure to satisfy anyone from the middle of Texas back to the bayou. Brennan’s also has a brunch package that includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for a set price along with (when the special is in effect) up to three 25-cent mimosas or bloody marys to liven up the morning or afternoon a bit. The restaurant has also made some of its offerings available for purchase in bulk servings, so it’s possible to get more of the turtle soup, gumbo, bread pudding, and more to take home. Take a high-end trip back to the bayou at Brennan’s with lunch 11am-2pm Monday through Friday, dinner 5:45pm-10pm every day of the week, and brunch Saturdays and Sundays 11am-2pm. (Photo credit: Shannon O’Hara – brennanshouston.com)
James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Skyspace
On the Rice University campus lies a structure that, after sunset, appears almost otherworldly among the more standard buildings and facilities that surround it. This illuminating structure, the Twilight Epiphany Skyspace, was commissioned by distinguished alumnus Suzanne Deal Booth and the university as part of their Public Art program, which aimed to take the inspiration others often get from visiting works of art in a museum or gallery and place it outside, where passersby could have the opportunity to experience contemplation and inspiration on a daily basis without having to enter another building to access it. The artist who was commissioned to bring this very unique installation into existence is James Turrell, who has become known for his works that alter viewers’ perception of light and space. Over the past forty years, James has made more than a name for himself by installing a considerable number of similarly thought-provoking and inspiring works around the world. The Skyspace is also specifically designed with live performance acoustics in mind, inviting the campus’s musically-inclined students to utilize it as a performance space they wouldn’t find anywhere else. Because of her commitment to making this installation possible, the Skyspace is also officially known as the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion. (Photo credit: Paul Hester – skyspace.rice.edu)
As the largest city in the big state of Texas, Houston has it all, without a doubt. From the best breakfast and southern hospitality to traditional creole dishes and authentic coastal cuisine, the variety of food in Houston alone is enough to have any enthusiastic eater planning their tour of the city in no time. Kick back and catch a performance at The Music Box Theater, or take the younger family members to complete their S.E.C.R.E.T. Agent training at the Children’s Museum Houston. If experiencing incredible and unique works of art is more your speed, visit The Menil Collection and determine your own understanding of the pieces on display among their facilities, or schedule a visit to Rice University to contemplate existence in space-time at James Turrell’s Skyspace. Speaking of space-time, there’s also a little organization called NASA that took the human race into space, and their Johnson Space Center is open to visitors looking to learn more about the history and future of mankind’s exploration of space. All of this and more can only be found in Space City, USA – Houston, Texas.