Tag Archives: Houston

Field of Light in Houston til February 22

Field of Light

I love Houston. I love her food scene. I love her museums. A lot of my close friends live in Houston. I love the diversity of the population and I love the art! If you’re in Houston from now to February 22, I strongly recommend checking out the Bruce Munro Field of Light exhibit at Discovery Green. The field is illuminated between 3 to 11 pm. If you’re not in Houston on these dates, check out the link anyway as Bruce Munro has multiple traveling exhibits.

I had so much fun setting up a borrowed tripod and taking these shots. The one photo of me was taken by my photography coach and friend for life, Thomas L Chen. You can read more about this night from his perspective on his blog.

Field of Light

Field of Light

Field of Light

Field of Light

Field of Light

Field of Light

Field of Light

Field of Light

Birthday Travel Options

My 30th birthday is on the horizon and I have a few airline miles burning in my pocket. I’ve started thinking about how I want to celebrate my 30th. Here are few contenders I’m currently considering for a weekend trip.

  1. Houston

    Obviously no airline miles are needed for Houston since I live in Austin. I always have a great time in Houston. I’ve never been to Houston with Alan. Since we’ve been together for five years, I think the Houston introduction is overdue! Plus some of my closest friends are in Houston. We can spend Friday night eating take out with my parents since they work all day. Saturday, I can show Alan around and grab dinner with whomever is free. Sunday, brunch with whomever is around before heading back to Austin. If I don’t do this for my 30th, I definitely should drag Alan to Houston soon regardless.

  2. New York

    I’ve been missing New York like something fierce. I take 2-5 trips a year and told myself that I should stop going back to New York City until I cross off more states. I’ve been five times and the last time was 5 years ago! Best Dudie Friend still lives there and it would be great to see him in his element again. The only two cons to this plan are that I’ve been here before so it won’t fulfill any travel goals, and NYC in July can be a bit balmy.

    But man would I eat so good.

  3. Baltimore

    I’ve never been to Maryland. If I go to Baltimore, I can scratch off one new state and fulfill my visit two new states resolution! I can also revisit Washington D.C. and see the Smithsonian again. I’ve always wanted to go back.

  4. New Orleans

    My good friend, Jennifer lives in New Orleans. She just visited Austin last weekend and she told me I should visit her during her medical residency. Mmm. I love me some good Cajun food. The last time I was here was for New Years in 2006, pre-Katrina. Like New York, it won’t fulfill any travel goals but I salivate just thinking of the food in New Orleans.

  5. Nashville

    I’ve never been to Tennessee. I very much want to eat Nashville and visit Elvis’s home and Dolly Parton’s park!

What do you think about these places for birthday weekend trips? Wouldn’t it be lovely if I could wrangle up a few people to meet me out of state? Until recently, my 30th has been a source of much anxiety. It wasn’t until I earned some miles from my new travel credit card that it’s become a source of fun daydreaming!

Questions: What was the most elaborate birthday you’ve had? How did you celebrate?

Straits: Third Stop of Progressive Lunch

A progressive meal is where you go to more than one place for one meal. Some people like to do it by course: an appetizer at one eatery, the main course at another, dessert at a last place. My friends and I do it by what the restaurant is known for. This entry is the third (out of four) progressive stop of a lunch we had in Houston. If you missed the other entries here is a chronological list:

1. First stop: Niko Nikos
2. Second stop: Asia Market
3. Third stop: Straits

Photos used in this blog entry were taken by Thomas.


800 W Sam Houston Pkwy N
Ste 940
Houston, TX 77024

(713) 365-9922

If you click on their website, you’ll see that Straits also has a location in San Francisco, in Atlanta, and in San Jose. I’ve been to Straits before for drinks but have never thought to try their restaurant. Willis, a Houston foodie, recommended that we tried Straits because everything he’s had there he’s enjoyed. Specializing in Asian fusion, the restaurant certainly has a trendy and modern flair in both their cuisine and their atmosphere.

The Food

Our group of four ordered the Roti Prata, a pulled duck sandwich, and Indian street noodles.

Roti is a crisp griddled Indian Flatbread. It came with the a curry dipping sauce. My three eating buddies LOVED it. I thought it was good. It’s like eating puff pastry with a delicious dip and really, that’s hard to go wrong with. I like my carbs.

Pictured above is the slow roasted pulled duck sandwich that comes with a dipping sauce. Seriously, out of all the dishes we’ve tried that day (I’m also including a dinner that is not included in this lunch), if I could only have one thing over again it will be this pulled duck sandwich. It was heavenly. The Asian Slaw and Shiitake Au Jus with the pulled tender hearty duck, dipped into that sauce was such a powerful fusion. You could taste everything! All the flavors and textures contrasted in such a harmonious way that it’s STUNNING. Shit. I’m not kidding when I say of all the delicious food I had that day, if I could only have a repeat of one, it’ll be this sandwich. The fries, dusted with garlic and Parmesan, were a nice complement.

Our last tasting from Straits was the Indian Street Noodles (“Mee Goreng”), wok fried spicy egg noodles,
fried with cabbage, tofu, prawns, tomatoes. This was pretty decent. It sounds perfect after a night out drinking. I guess it was overshadowed by the fabulous pulled duck sandwich. The prawns and tomatoes were especially satisfying.

The Bathroom

One quality I realize I cherish in my friends is their ability to have fun (almost shamelessly). Thomas left us girls to use the bathroom and came back reporting that the bathroom was “awesome.” So we three girls left Thomas to check it out. To our utter childlike amusement, we were delighted that in addition to the hot pink lighting, the bathroom was also a UNISEX. Party in the bathroom! So we came back and fetched our boy, Thomas and proceeded to have a photo shoot.

All in all, I’m pretty impressed by Straits and cannot wait for my next opportunity to come back. (Again, for that pulled duck sandwich!)

Next up and last for this progressive series, dessert at Juicebox!

Asia Market: 2nd Stop of Progressive Lunch

Last weekend, Thomas, Kim, and Jessica and I embarked on a progressive lunch in Houston. Except for the photo of him and Jessica, photos used in this blog entry were taken by Thomas.

A progressive meal is where you go to more than one place for one meal. Some people like to do it by course: an appetizer at one eatery, the main course at another, dessert at a last place. My friends and I do it by what the restaurant is known for. Follows is the list of entries in series in chronological order.

Progressive Series
1. First stop: Niko Nikos
2. Asia Market
3. Straits

Asia Market

1010 W Cavalcade St Ste D
Houston, TX 77009
(713) 863-7074

Asia Market was actually Willis’s recommendation and was supposed to be our last stop of a progressive meal the previous time we did a progressive in Houston. Willis took Thomas and me there but they were closed for Thanksgiving. You can see Willis’s review of Asia Market here. He wanted us to try the pastry puffs that were stuffed with curried chicken. (Willis couldn’t join us again this round because he went to LA. Funny, Thomas came to Houston from LA and Willis went to LA from Houston.)

Our little eating group of four trekked to Asia Market after our satisfying tasting at Niko Nikos. We each had a curry pastry (priced at under 4 dollars for a box of 4) and we sat our bottoms down at the very modest Asia Market and nibbled. We even shared a Dragon Fruit drink. I’ve confirmed with my parents that I’ve never had Dragon Fruit, a tropical fruit you can find in Asia. Very seedy, that fruit.

Yes. Kim and I totally inadvertently wore the exact same outfit. Leather jacket, leather boots, jeans, and striped shirt. What?

The puffs were tasty. The pastry was nice and flaky and buttery and the curried chicken, flavorful.

They had a Thai restaurant in the market with entrees for very reasonable prices. I’m tempted to come back to this place and try out their kitchen menu. It’s quite tiresome trying to eat the world.

So this concludes our trip to Asia Market. Next up, Straits! Stay tuned for stop number three of our progressive lunch.

Niko Nikos: First stop of Progressive Lunch

A progressive meal is where you go to more than one place for one meal. Some people like to do it by course: an appetizer at one eatery, the main course at another, dessert at a last place. My friends and I do it by what the restaurant is known for. Follows is the list of entries in series in chronological order.

1. Niko Nikos: First stop of Progressive Lunch
2. Asia Market: Second stop of Progressive Lunch
3. Straits: Third stop of Progressive Lunch

This past weekend, Thomas, Kim, and Jessica and I embarked on a progressive lunch in Houston. Our first stop was at Niko Nikos. Photos used in this blog entry were taken by Thomas.

Niko Nikos

2520 Montrose Blvd
Houston, TX 77006

(713) 528-1308

Thomas alerted me that Guy from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives went to Niko Nikos, one of my favorite Greek restaurants. He had the lamb shanks and honey balls. I haven’t had either but I LOVE lamb. Thomas nominated that as one of our stops and it ended up being our first eatery. Interestingly, the first time I ever went to Niko Nikos was in 2008 with Thomas! Our whole eating group has been to Niko Nikos numerous times but the famed lamb shanks and honey balls were new for all of us.

I’m a big fan of lamb. When cooked right, the meat just falls off the bone. We watched in anticipation as Thomas easily cut away the meat with a plastic knife. We all shared the plate because Thomas and I learned from the last time we did this, it was best to watch our portions. The lamb came with a side of the potatoes I always get when I go to Nikos. Buttery, lemony, soft potatoes.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

For dessert we had the honey balls. Tasted like donut holes that are dipped in honey and dusted with powdered sugar. Delicious. The four of us had 2 balls each. ;)

All in all, I’m a little upset that I loved the lamb so much. I don’t live in Houston, my stomach lining can only stretch so much, and I already love Niko Niko’s menu so much…. to add yet ANOTHER favorite from here? Torture.

A picture of our photographer.

Video Clip of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives at Niko Nikos

Backstreet Cafe

1103 S Shepherd Dr
Houston, TX 77019

After Kim and I released our balloons right before the year’s end, we had our new Sunday in Houston tradition of eating brunch at a nice place. Instead of Hugo’s, we went to Hugo’s sister restaurant, Backstreet Cafe. We were pleasantly surprised to see that Backstreet Cafe is a two story house (apparently built in the 30s) renovated into a restaurant. Very quaint for Houston. I’m still exploring Houston, but whereas Austin is abundant in quaint, romantic, little restaurants, Houston seems to have a knack for grander interiors.

We were seated upstairs not far from the fireplace which was housing a real fire.

Our window.

We both ordered the wild berry mimosa which I liked even more than Hugo’s guava and watermelon mimosa. I had to consciously not drink it too fast. (I have to REALLY pace myself with alcohol.)

For an appetizer, we shared the roasted pear salad. Neither of us have had a roasted pear and I think both of us have thought about roasting our own pears. After eating this delicious warm pear, more than ever, I’m resolved to roast me a pear now. So warm and moist!

My first roasted pear. It definitely won’t be my last.

Stuffed with bleu cheese, dried fruit and nuts, served with greens.

Bistro Breakfast

Pictured above is Kim’s order, the Bistro Breakfast, which is comprised of a grilled 4oz tenderloin served with two poached eggs, rosemary potato cake, spinach and tomato hollandaise sauce. I had a taste of her tenderloin and it was magnificent and tender. I have to watch it with steaks because it’s usually tough on my lockjaw but this one was perfect.

Spinach Soufflé

I ordered the Spinach Soufflé (pictured above) with mushrooms, poached eggs topped with sabayon and crumbled crisp bacon with a small artichoke salad. I thought I should attempt to eat more greens in the spirit of a new year and new beginnings. I managed half the salad. The soufflé was just as it should be, light and fluffy. The poached eggs on top gave it a heartier bite. I wished they were a tad more generous with the bacon but all in all this dish is a winner.

Bread Pudding

Kim and I never skip out on dessert when dining together. It’s our rule. The bread pudding was good. It didn’t blow me away or anything but it was not a bad tasting bread pudding.

Backstreet Cafe is unique from its brother, Hugo’s. The feel, the food. It’s a lot quieter and calmer than Hugo’s. It’s a great place to unwind after a crazy night out whereas Hugo’s ambiance is not so good for a hangover. I’m definitely bookmarking this place for future reference. Hugo Ortega, the executive chef, owns Hugo’s, Backstreet Cafe, and Prego. I nominate Prego to be our next brunch or dinner stop for Kim and me next I’m in Houston.

I’m loving Houston’s eats!

Little Bigs: Third and Thankfully Last Stop of Progressive Lunch

This entry is part of a series. Here are the other entries in case you missed them.

1. Sneak Peak/Introduction
2. Sneak Preview of Little Bigs
3. First stop: Kolache Factory
4. Second stop: Antones

Little Bigs: Third and Thankfully Last Stop of Progressive Lunch

2703 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006

Our third and last stop was Little Bigs. (We were supposed to go to fourth place but I’ll tell you what happened to that place later.) You order in threes at Little Bigs which works out perfect for a group of three. We let Willis take the reins and order 2 of whatever he thought best for us. Unfortunately they stopped doing their famous mushroom burger so Willis chose a black bean vegetarian burger and the signature all beef patty burger (with caramelized onions). The boys started with the black bean sliders which I should have done. The black bean was meh to me. I guess it tasted too much like black beans for my taste. I started with the signature slider which was juicy and perfect. I wished I had the black bean slider first so I could finish on a higher note. Their special sauce is special in a good way and their fries were a great complement to the sliders. Mmm. I understand the hype.

Before I tell you about what happened at our fourth destiation, here’s a pictural intermission.

When the guy behind the counter told Willis they don’t make their mushroom burger anymore, he said almost too seriously, “Are. you. serious?!” It made Thomas and me laugh because the poor cashier looked a little nervous.

Patience is a virtue.

Thomas having a hard time with the ketchup.

Still having a hard time.

Which tickled me!

How beautiful is our feast? We were already full from our previous stops and my mom making me lunch, but we managed to enjoy anyway. (It’s hard out there for a foodie, ya’ll)

After we stuffed ourselves to the point of MOANING, we took deep breaths and drove to our fourth place. Willis wanted to take us to get us pastry puffs at Asia Market. We got there, hurting, but still excited to finish our 4 part progressive lunch. We were greeted by a locked door and a sign that stated they were closed for Thanksgiving still. More relieved than saddened, we stood around in the parking lot because it hurt to sit. :) I love progressive meals. I’ve only done it twice before. Once with Cindy (we only hit up 2 places though) and once more with Alan our first night in San Francisco.

P.S. Since we never made it to Asia Market, I’ll leave you with Willis’s food blog entry of Asia Market.

Photos in this entry were taken by Thomas.

Antones: 2nd Stop of Progressive Lunch

If you haven’t an idea what I’m talking about, read these entries first:

1. Sneak Peak/Introduction
2. First stop: Kolache Factory

For our second stop for progressive lunch (third for me if you want to count the lunch I had with mom), Willis drove us to Antones, the original one. I used to LOVE Antones (3 locations in Houston) in high school. They’re famous for their po boys. I alternated between the tuna po boy and the original po boy. Dad often would get them for me while in high school and I often met up with friends junior and senior year of high school at Antones. It’s been years since I’ve had their sandwiches but man, it was one happy reunion. The three of us split one tuna po boy and one Original Po Boy (ham, salami, Provolone, chow chow, mayonnaise & dill Pickles). This rekindled my old flame and now I have another place to haunt when I go back to Houston.

Well I’m really past my bed time. Here are photos!

I think he’s trying to show us what’s inside…

Photos in this entry were taken by Thomas.