After spending many weeks in many different towns in Germany (read adventures here!!) over the past few months, I’ve come to fully appreciate just how German Houston is. You might not realize it at first, but when you go abroad and then come back you notice just how international of a city we are and how our German roots shine.
- Westheimer. The biggest most, defining street in town that stretches all the way from downtown to Katy. It’s got your favorite taco shop, the worst traffic, the best bars, and is named after Mitchell Louis Westheimer, a prosperous German Jewish immigrant and flour salesman who had settled in Houston in 1859. Say the street name in your best German accent. You’ll never look at Galleria traffic the same way again.
- Leipzig, Germany. Did you know Houston has a sister city? I actually spent a few weeks in Leipzig last fall–it’s home to the composer Bach, Leipzig University, and is a bustling business city. Edgar Odell Lovett who was the first president of Rice University is from Leipzig! You can learn more about the Houston Leipzig Sister City Association here, which promotes a cordial relationship between the two cities. Pictures below are from Leipzig!
- Oktoberfest. Shout out to my middle school St. Cecilia for throwing a rockin, kid-friendly Oktoberfest festival every year before I even knew what the crazy Munich version even existed. Now that I’m an adult I can appreciate all the Oktoberfest festivities that Houston has to offer. See a fantastic round up of activities here.
- German Beer. Hallo Shiner! A fantastic German prost beer. Ain’t nothing finer. Technically not from Houston, but definitely one of my first loves. If you’re looking for more German-style beer actually made in town be sure to check out Love Street, blonde kolsch from Karbach, and Santo, dark kolsch from St. Arnolds!
- Tejano Music. The accordion popped up into what became Tejano music from German and Polish influences in the early 1900s. Polka music blended with mariachi, cumbia, and corrido to form a unique tex-mex music style embodied by Texas/Houston artists like Selena and La Mafia.
Bonus! Other Central European Texas things we love:
- Kolaches. Houston breakfast staple. My grandmother is polish and had a special recipe for a Polish kolachzi which is a baked nut roll. Very different from the Czech inspired versions that proliferate Shipley’s Donuts displays stuffed with cheese, sausage, and—because we’re Texas—jalapeños.
- Day Trips to Fredericksburg. The perfect weekend away includes tours of wineries and exploring this adorable little German Texan town. Fredericksburg was founded by German immigrants through the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas in 1846 (we had just become a state!). Check out our winery guides here.
- Three Brother’s Bakery. Since 1949, the Jucker family bakery has been sharing their traditional Polish family recipes with Houston in rye bread, Kaiser rolls, bagels, challah and more. They’ve been featured on the Food Network, have three locations across Houston, and continuously reinvent themselves with new recipes. Read more about the family’s incredible journey from Poland to the US here!
Love the comprehensive aspect of the blog, which takes us around the world and back to VVVVVESHTIMERRRR again.
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Hi Anastasia, don’t forget that vast portions of N/NW Harris County, including the Spring/Klein area were settled by Germans in the mid to late 1800’s. (Think Kuykendahl Road, Wunsche Bros, Cafe and all those difficult-to-pronounce schools in Klein ISD that were named after these German families.) There are at least two German-themed yearly festivals in this area. Cheers to you!
ooh that’s a great point!