Living Like A Local, 20 Hotspots In Houston
Exploring the hotspots that students are dedicated to keeping hidden in Houston, Texas.
I love life down in the Bayou City. When people think Texas, they picture horses, ranches, cowboy hats and a plethora of plaid. What they don’t know is that while we may have an abundance of cowboy boots and plaid, we also know where to plant our boots to have a good time. Houstonians have long kept the secret that the best food and the best people come from hole-in-the-wall establishments and we fully embrace that fact. The hotspots of Houston are constantly changing, but the ones that make this list are staples and will remain so as long as we have a say about it!
Niko Niko’s: One of the not-so-well-kept secrets, Niko Niko’s greek restaurant is a mouth watering good time. I could write a huge paragraph on the great aspects of this place or I could just casually mention that the food is so delicious that it was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives! This hotspot takes the cake for the best Greek food around. People will drive out from Cypress, Katy or even farther just for their Greek fix. Driving 40 minutes in Houston traffic just for authentic Greek food may seem like madness to most, but anyone who has experienced Niko Niko’s are happy to make the effort.
Bernie’s Burger Bus: This is the first mobile Houston hotspot that I have heard people raving about. Yes, most major cities have food trucks traveling around satisfying rabid hunger, but this is the first truck I have heard referred to by name. Bernie’s Burger Bus is just as it sounds, a bus that sells burgers. However, this reverted mini school bus is rapidly gaining a following in Houston and the surrounding areas. You have the choice of following their social media or glancing at the website to find out where they are going to be stationed for the week and once there you have to decide which aspect of school you like the best. Would you rather have a Field Trip with BBQ sauce and potato strings or do you want to stay with the comfort of Principal? No matter which one you choose you will have homework: to tell everyone you know!
Local Foods: This will be new foodie’s paradise. From the Duck Confit sandwich to the side of Tuscan Kale to the most versatile Crunchy Chicken Sandwich, Local Foods has an item for everyone and every person can appreciate it. Adjacent to Rice Village (another favorite!), this kept secret is always ready to accommodate its large queue with speedy service. The greatest part? It’s open seven days a week! You can’t get any better than that!
Benji’s: Remember when I mentioned that you couldn’t get much better than Local Foods? Well, just walk next door! Benji’s is directly connected to Local Foods and it is the right touch for someone who wants a restaurant feel but a local ambiance. This hotspot is known for its delicious food and demanded outdoor patio. As us Houstonians revel in our high autumn temperatures, the patio is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the coveted Blood Orange Mimosa while enjoying the warm weather.
Crave Cupcakes: With the Sprinkles following growing by the day, it may surprise you to hear that there is another cupcake connoisseur that is giving them a run for their money! Crave is an up and coming bakery in Houston that is gaining a following just as huge as Sprinkles and any Houstonian will tell you that! Do you want to know the best part? There is a location right down the street from Rice Village!
Rice Village: If you ask anyone in Houston, they will list Rice Village just as often as the Galleria as a must see while in Houston and I fully support that claim. This hotspot is home to The Chocolate Bar (another hotspot!), Urban Outfitters, Kate Spade, and many other boutiques and restaurants. You can park at one end of the Village and walk to everything along this strip of shops. The best aspect of the Village? Once you end your adventure, you can travel a couple of blocks over, visit Local Foods or Benjis and then grab a Crave cupcake on your way out!
The Chocolate Bar: The name of this establishment doesn’t even describe the amount of sweets that are hiding in this hotspot. The moment you walk though the door you get an immediate view of an enormous display case with cakes on 1 side and chocolate-covered treats on the other. I cannot even put The Chocolate Bar into words because it’s an experience that can’t be described. One small tip: order a piece of cake. The slices of cake you get can serve 3+ people so take that into account before your entire group goes home in a food coma.
Houston Zoo: This hotspot is the funniest one on the list. You would not expect to hear about the Zoo being a hotspot, but in Houston we love our Zoo! You have the choice of 2 entrances to enter in and you should choose wisely. Do you want to start with the action of feeding the giraffes and riding the Merry-Go-Round or would you like to begin the adventure with the reptiles and work you way up to the madness? With the amount of shows that go on, you are destined to find multiple attractions that you love. Embrace your inner kid and enjoy the ride!
Hermann Park Conservatory: The amount of love that Houstonians have for this park is astounding! This conservatory is a staple for all residents alike and the perfect spot for a relaxing moment in the gorgeous Texas weather. The laid back atmosphere is perfect when you need a break from a demanding day and being adjacent to the Houston Zoo makes it easy for you to experience 2 hotspots at once! My advice for a successful outing? Spend the morning at the Zoo and then find some delicious munchies (perhaps from another hotspot?) and have a picnic in Hermann Park!
Tacos A Go-Go: I can confidently state that this establishment makes the best tacos I have ever had in my life. At first glance you expect the colorful door to lead to a small hole in the wall and I think that is what they want you to think. They want you to venture out of your expectations and be blown away by the food coming from their kitchen. In the time it took me to glance at the menu and place my order, there was already a line trailing out of the door. This 5 time Best In Houston winner knows how to make delicious food and everyone wants a piece of the action.
Double Trouble Cafe and Cocktails: Located half a block from Taco A Go-Go, Double Trouble Café lets the title speak for itself. This hotspot gives you a pick of caffeine or cocktails and its prime location makes it a double contender for both your study and Happy Hour fix. Their cappuccinos are said to be the best in Houston and they even make a design on the top with the foam! I’ve gotten many suggestions to study the day away with a cute cappuccino, meet friends for Happy Hour, and then go fetch some delicious tacos from Taco A Go-Go. The perfect evening all on 1 block!
The Breakfast Klub: Right around the corner from both the Double Trouble Café and Taco A Go-Go, The Breakfast Klub is gathering quite a following despite the lack of parking space. As there is a pay-per-day parking right down the street and a Metro rail line the next block over, I don’t think many consider the absence of parking when they know the quality of food coming out of this establishment. I think some would do just about anything for some chicken and waffles!
Last Concert Cafe: This low key establishment is a great place to unwind and show off your pipes. Musical talent graces their stage as delicious food flies out of their kitchen. Every evening is a new music adventure and the musicians who are brave enough to grace the stage make you feel as though they are here to entertain you and you alone.
Houston Galleria: I am going to begin this hotspot with a tip: park on the ground floor near the ice rink, travel up to the top floor, and work your way back to the beginning. This Houston hotspot is a must if you are in Houston and you usually knock it off your to-do list the first chance you get. The reason I included it? For the collection of mini hotspots in one building! The ice rink must be conquered, Dylan’s Candy Bar has to be raided and all 3 sections must be explored before you can discount it as your main hotspot. After the exploration has been completed you can find your way to Kona Grill for a much coveted Happy Hour spot.
Brasil: The amounts of love people have for this café is astounding. Everything that comes out of Brasil is delicious and keeps everyone coming back for more. This merge of coffee shop and bar allows you to experience all the variety Brasil can bring to your life and makes sure that everyone can find something completely addicting about this hotspot.
Whole Foods Market: No matter how much I love to experience new restaurants, I feel as though I always stray back to Whole Foods. The fresh food is what draws everyone back, not just the healthy groceries. Whether you are feeling handmade sushi rolls, Indian dishes or a simple slice of freshly made pizza, Whole Foods is a staple and a very well known secret.
Whiskey River: If you are looking for an authentic Texan experience, Whiskey River is the place to go. Pull out your jeans and cowboy boots and get ready to dance the night away! My friend Andrea first suggested this place to me and I have not looked back since.
Drink Houston: I feel as though the name speaks for itself. This Houston hotspot is a main attraction to both residents of the Houston area and Katy. Their concept of 5-clubs-in-1 gives you the best of all worlds and allows you to choose how you want to spend your evening. Every person, no matter how low key, will find their niche and have a great time at this place!
Warehouse Live: Nothing about this hotspot would say, “warehouse” except the bones of the building. This hotspot pulls people in off of the street with its great music and laid back rocker vibe. When attending a concert in Houston you mainly choose 4 places: The Toyota Center, Bayou Music Center, The House of Blues, and Warehouse Live. I have personally seen The Maine and Paramore there before they began playing sold out international venues and the reason this is a hotspot is the atmosphere. On a lot of occasions you will be speaking to someone from the band and not even know it! Musicians are still normal people and Warehouse Live doesn’t let you forget it.
House of Pies: This hotspot is a must-have after an evening concert or event in Houston. This hotspot has even become a staple in my life. Their desserts are to die for and it is quite common travel out of your way to end your evening at House of Pies. Plus, it gives you an excuse to buy extra slices and take the experience home with you!
The amount of variety that the Houston area has in its arsenal is astonishing sometimes! I hope the amount of love I have for Houston is showing through and convincing everyone to visit some of these places as soon as possible! These staples are the heart of the student population at the current moment and I want everyone to experience that love and dedication for themselves!
Don’t Mess With Texas!