Ahh, yes. It’s that wonderful time of year when all your friends are visiting home for the holidays. You’re the Houston guru and a fun time rests in your hands.
You can’t really go wrong anywhere if you have a good friend by your side, but here’s where (and for what occasion) is best for optimal catch-up time with your bud:
For a neighborly bite: Brunch at Union Kitchen
Not really sure what it is about Union Kitchen, but it feels homey — and their brunch is a steal! Highly recommend the beignets to start and the bowl or the sandwich. Whatever you’re eating, it better come with a $10 mimosa pitcher — or two. Love love love the OG OJ or the cranberry!
For a coffee catch-up: Black Hole Coffee
Not being a student anymore, I find it really hard to discover that coffee shop that has a good balance of casual and studious ambiance. Agora for instance, also a great place to catch up, but mostly during the day Agora is filled with UH or Rice students in finals mode (although that should totally be over by now… if not poor things). Black Hole is small and underrated. Get an americano and split a whoopee pie or homemade oreo.
For cheap holiday cheer: Skating in Discovery Green’s Ice
Channel your inner Tara Lipinski and grab a pair of skates! I took my little last year, and she LOVED it. Fair warning, if you go the day after it rains, your skates will be wet.
Bonus: You can get hot chocolate on a break or drinks at a nearby bar after you’re done double axeling.
Wine dinner: Helen in the Heights
Helen in the Heights might be my new fave spot for wine. Literally can’t be more satisfied than the trio of dips and a wine flight. That is, until the course of roasted cauliflower came!
Other highlights include: The broken pasta with brown butter and the “Soutzoukakia” (Gesundheit). They are meatballs and are perfection.
For tag-team last minute shopping: Highland Village
Highland Village might not be your go-to shopping center for a few reasons: parking kind of sucks (there’s a parking garage), stores are spread out, and there aren’t a ton of stores to work with. But, it rocks for shopping with a friend because you get a lot of beautiful outdoor walking and chit chatting time. Grab a Starbucks (or a Sprinkles cupcake) then walk and talk. Here are the stores for everything you need:
- Anthropology (for your trendy friend)
- Crate and Barrel (for your mom)
- Apple (for your brother)
- PaperSource (for your scrapbooking aunt)
- Janie and Jack (for your nephew)
- Francesca’s (for your friends)
- Lush (for your coworkers)
- Jcrew (for your boyfriend)
Hit up Ra Sushi for happy hour after or PF Changs for dinner.
Runner up: CityCentre, very similar stores and setup, but probably much crazier.
For a challenge: #Nogsmas tour
You know Hunky Dory, Foreign Correspondents and Down House we are always blogging about? Yeah, they (along with the other Treadsack bars and restaurant) are doing a eggnog crawl. You get a punch card and if you punch all six nogs, Santa gives you a very special gift. Ho, ho, hell yes. It can be done in one day (maybe stop to eat at one) and provides ample time to catch up with your hometown friend(s).
For a beer by the fire or a night out: Montrose
I have a billion reasons for skipping Midtown, but the biggest one is this: Montrose is just better.
Brooklyn Athletic Club is great for a game watch or a casual bite. There’s some games (corn hole, ping pong, etc.) and usually there’s a fire pit a-blazin’.
La Grange is your one-stop shop for going out. There’s so many bars within, so you can move around all while your tab is conveniently open at all of them. It’s outdoor/indoor, but bring a coat if it’s cold.