What to Eat, Drink and Do When You Head to Houston!
Traveling has been so much freaking fun lately and I have been moving nonstop! I’ve gone from Steamboat Springs to Guadeloupe to Houston and as I type this, I’m in Palm Springs! Summer is the best! And May seems to be the best time of year to travel because the weather has been amazing everywhere I have gone. Especially while I was in Houston!
When I was getting all packed for Houston last week, I was trying to think of when the last time I was there. And turns out, it was 3 freaking years ago. Where the hell does time go?! When I went on book tour back in 2015, I was on the road for 20 days straight. Holy balls, I can’t believe I did that. And while I was on that book tour, we drove from Austin to Dallas and then ended the entire tour in Houston. Texas people are my favorite. Those stops were the absolute best. And Houston did not disappoint in the food category either. We ate at Ruggles Black and Hearsay and both were amazing! So when the opportunity to go back to Houston came up, I jumped on it!
If you’re looking for a comfortable place to stay downtown when you’re in Houston, check out Le Méridian Houston Downtown! That’s where I stayed this time around and the hotel was lovely! It’s a 22-story hotel with a modern mid-century feel that has a gym, rooftop lounge and bar, and a fantastic restaurant. What more do you need? I was able to get in 2 workouts while I was there and had plenty of space to get a good workout in with feeling like my sweat was splashing onto someone else. Those super small gyms at hotels are the worst.
After checking into Le Méridian, I headed straight down the street to Local Foods! If you’re ever in Houston, this restaurant is an absolute must! And the downtown location is so freaking cute! They make sandwiches, salads and other healthy options like gluten free treats! And if you’re not down for sandwich bread, they make all their sandwiches on a gluten free wrap OR they can make it into a salad instead! Plus they source high quality, local ingredients to whip up their menu items! And if you’re looking for a meal later in the evening, they also serve beer, wine and cocktails! I ended up ordering the garden sammie sandwich as a salad and added chicken. You also get 2 sides with your order so I chose the potato salad and the pickles. It was SO MUCH food. I ended up not eating lunch until 3pm that day so I was obviously pretty hungry and I still couldn’t finish everything! I honestly wish I could have gone to this restaurant multiple times just to try more of everything on the menu! It was that good!
After an afternoon of settling in and getting some work done, it was already time for dinner! And luckily, dinner was just an elevator ride downstairs to Zutro (formally known as Oxbow7). This restaurant is just like the hotel with mid-century modern furniture and fixtures throughout and a creative menu. They like to call their menu “elevated bayou cuisine” but since I haven’t had much cajun food in my life, I wouldn’t know any different. I just think of it as “really good cuisine” because everything we ate was delicious! I had a blood orange margarita, then the lamb ribs, octopus, the arctic char, and some delicious dessert. The dessert was super creative and different. There was a peas and carrots cheesecake along with an INSANELY delicious banana cream pie (that didn’t look anything like pie, nor did it photograph well). The arctic char had skin crisped to perfection and the lamb ribs had the most amazing dry rub on them. It was all so good and so well prepared!
While in Houston, I also had breakfast a couple times at Zutro and LOVED it! It was super easy to modify whatever I needed to fit my dietary guidelines. Plus they had some super delicious coffee like cardamom infused cold brew, iced mocha lattes and vietnamese coffee. So delicious and so naughty!
For my first full day in Houston, I kicked it off by meeting Cassy (and her new baby!!) of Fed and Fit at The Kitchen at The Dunlavy. This beautiful event space also double as a restaurant serving breakfast, brunch and lunch. When you walk into The Dunlavy, your eyes are instantly taken to the ceiling since it’s covered in beautiful chandeliers. The Kitchen is known for it’s light smoothies, avocado toast, and amazing salads. Since we were there for breakfast, we ended up ordering the bacon, egg and kale sandwich but asked for it in a gluten free wrap instead…BUT they were out of wraps so they simply wrapped it in lettuce instead! Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions at this restaurant because they are super accommodating! And while you’re here, sit on the patio that overlooks Buffalo Bayou where you can see the turtles coming up for air in the morning. It’s the cutest!
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Later on that day, we headed to Sawyer Yards. If you’re a fan of art and are looking for something to do inside, with lots of air conditioning – than this is the spot for you! Sawyer Yards is what you would call a “campus” filled with 300+ artists that create and exhibit their original work on display throughout the hallways. You’ll find paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glass, mosaic, photography, mixed media, jewelry and more. There was so many different kinds of art and paintings. From paintings you would want to hang in your living room…to sculptures that looked like vaginas. They have something for everyone there. Plus they even have little boutiques like the Unbridaled Boutique with absolutely STUNNING bridal gowns. It made me want to get married all over again and wear 47 more dresses.
After wandering through Sawyer Yards for a bit and getting depressed after finding out my favorite painting was $7900, we headed to Hungry’s Café and Bistro for a quick lunch! This restaurant marks all of their gluten free and vegetarian options on their menu so you know what you are getting before you even order it. I hate having to ask a server if something is GF and being let down when it isn’t OR the server having to find out because they have no idea. Well Hungry’s removes that annoying piece all together. And they move FAST! We ordered our food and had it within 10 minutes. I ordered the beef tenderloin fajita salad that was tossed in chunky feta jalapeño dressing and topped with avocado and homemade tortilla strips. This photo doesn’t do the meat justice, but it was so tender and juicy! And I didn’t leave feeling heavy, which is always a plus while traveling.
Later on that evening, we headed back out for food to get dinner at B&B Butchers. If you’re ever in Houston, this restaurant is a must! You can either shop (or book an event!) in their butcher shop or you can simply make a reservation at the steakhouse, both within their building that was originally built in 1924. Either way, you’re going to find high quality, delicious meats that satisfy the entire family! While we were there, we tried the fried oysters (but they made them a little different for us so they would be gluten free), then we ordered the bacon 3-ways, and tried a couple different cuts of beef. Everything was super tender and delicious. But if you ever go there, you absolutely 100% need to order that bacon. It comes with pork bacon, lamb bacon, and then bacon topped with blue cheese and honey. It was FANTASTIC. Maybe even life changing. And of course, we had dessert while we were there, and the crème brûlée did not disappoint. And yes, I copied and pasted that word. So many symbols.
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The next morning, we started our day off learning about a really amazing farm. On other trips, I’ve been to an urban farm, an olive farm, a local farm on a winery, and lots of farmers markets, but nothing quite like Hope Farms. This farm is a 7-acre urban agricultural operation designed to grow fresh, affordable produce in the midst of a Houston “food desert.” If you haven’t heard of a food desert before, you’re not alone. I wasn’t sure what it meant until I walked onto this farm. But a food desert is a designation given to an area with limited access to affordable and nutritious food. And at Hope Farms, they’re trying to change that. This completely organic farm is a place where they grow delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables with a staff of veterans. Hope Farms whole goal is to combat childhood obesity by giving children the knowledge and understanding of what real food looks and tastes like. Even when we drove up, they were hosting a school and having the children pick their own vegetables and create a meal with them. Pretty rad.
They also have “Farm Stand Market” which is open each Saturday, for people to come and choose from a selection of organic seasonal produce freshly picked that morning. We were all lucky enough to have a peach after a bunch had fallen on the ground and it was honestly probably the best peach I’ve ever eaten. No joke. So much better than what you get in the store.
Hope Farms also works with a ton of chefs around Houston and often hosts event showcasing those chefs skills with produce from the farm! Their event space is so cool and welcoming and made me want to go back for an event someday soon!
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After a morning at the farm feeding the chickens and snacking on the fresh produce, we headed to the Pure Spa at Marriott Marquis Houston for a little pampering before a day at the pool in a cabana! Pure Spa offers massages, body therapies, facials and manicures. Both Cassy and I had massages before we headed to our poolside cabana to relax right by the one-of-a-kind Texas-shaped lazy river rooftop infinity pool that overlooks the 12-acre Discovery Green park. This pool was such a unique space with a full bar to grab a drink at, then LOTS of floats to grab and float around for hours in. When we were there, there were tons of people with their kids or babies, but I could also see this as an awesome spot to have girls weekend or bachelorette party. They pool had great, delicious lunch options and awesome music throughout the day. If you go to Houston, make sure this is a pit stop because no other pool is quite as unique as this one!
On our last night together, before Cassy had to head home with her little adorable baby, we ate at Xochi. This restaurant was my favorite of the entire trip. I order the Pluma for a drink which was a cocktail made of tequila, organs liqueur, pineapple, lime, habanero syrup, and hibiscus salted margarita foam. It was probably the best cocktail I’ve ever had. I can’t even explain how good it was! Xochi offers cuisine inspired by Oaxacan region so you’ll find adventurous items on the menu like grasshoppers or crickets, and you’ll even hear about dried and ground up worm on their cocktails. I’m probably just scaring you off at this point, but I promise you it’s not scary. We tried the masa cakes, I ordered the Lechon (slow cooked pig), and then we tried the chocolate pudding, which was insane! We told our server we were gluten free and there was no issue finding something to eat! If you like flavor and to be amazed with what is on your plate, Xochi is definitely for you!
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After Cassy left and it was just me, myself and I on the last day before my 4pm flight home, I dropped in at Cityside CrossFit for a great workout before sitting for hours on a plane. The best thing about CrossFit is that anytime you travel, you instantly feel at home as soon as you walk into a CrossFit gym. Sure, that’s not the experience at EVERY CrossFit gym I’ve been to while traveling, but definitely most. And Citywide CrossFit was one of the good ones. The staff is incredibly friendly and welcoming, the workout was awesome, and the members were super easy to chat with. It was such a fun class and I left knowing I would be sore the next day. Which is the best.
But the best part of my entire trip was definitely seeing Cassy. When I say Texas people are the best people, Cassy is number one on that list. I met Cassy years ago at PaleoFx and we have been close friends ever since. People always ask me if she’s really as positive as she seems on instagram and it really is 100% her. This woman is kind, hardworking, positive, and she is always trying to bring light into someone else’s life. Even on this trip, she kept talking about how she wants to do more for her community and change more lives from it. She’s an incredibly woman with an incredibly website doing incredibly things. I just adore her. And whenever I get to hang out with her, I’m instantly inspired to work harder and try new things. If you don’t follow her yet, you should. Because that smile she gives every day on her instagram stories is a completely genuine smile. I promise you that she will bring a little light into your day!
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Quick Summary of Houston Favorites:
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat
- What To Do
- Even More to Enjoy in Houston
This trip was hosted by Visit Houston, but all opinions are my own!
Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.
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