For those who follow my Instagram story, you are fully aware that this weekend I embarked on the Cadillac of Houston Tours. A few of my cousins were in town for the weekend from Kansas City including my cousin Brian and his wife who visited last year as well. Their last visit actually inspired my Houston Neighborhood Guides! This go around, my cousin Troy joined in on the fun and I was determined to highlight some of my favorite things about my hometown. Our weekend turned in to THE Houston Itinerary.
A little back story. I’ve lived in Houston pretty much my whole life, but for the most part my family lives in Kansas City, Missouri, my birth place. My cousins have been visiting us in Houston for over twenty years. With so many trips under our belts they have done many of the obvious tour stops like Galveston/Kemah and NASA. That allows me to skip some of the places that are honestly blah to me and highlight some of the great things a city the size of Houston has to offer.
10am – Arrival
My cousins arrived at 10am, picked up their luggage and a rental car and headed to my place. Shout out to Hobby for expediting their arrival process!
12pm – 4pm Marriott Marquis Pool and Downtown Houston
The highlight of the weekend? FINALLY getting to visit the Marriott Marquis Rooftop Pool. You know the Texas shaped lazy river! If you are not staying at the hotel, you can pick up a day pass for $50-75. The passes are cheaper on the weekdays! With this pass you get access to the lazy river, pool chairs, towels and tubes to float with.
Is it super expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely! We had so much fun at the pool! The music was great. The food was decent and the drink carafes were a good deal. A bonus to visiting the Marriott Marquis are the amazing views of downtown Houston!
Alternative – You could totally be cheap and just go with your neighborhood pool instead of the Marriott. Note that for many colder cities they do not have the plethora of pools that we do in Houston so your apartment complex’s pool MAY just impress some folks. Also, the food at the Marriott was just okay. If you have time consider stopping by a food hall downtown (Finn Hall, the Conservatory, Bravery Chef Hall, or Understory) before heading to the pool.
6pm – Generous Pours at Capitol Grille and Restaurant Weeks Dinner at B&B Butchers
This weekend just happened to be my cousin Brian & Whitnee’s first wedding anniversary! I set them up with a dinner at B&B Butchers using the Houston Restaurant Weeks promo menu. I say it each year but it bears repeating, Restaurant Weeks is the best time to visit Houston steakhouses. Many of our favorites offer $45 three course meals. Can’t beat that! Brian and Whitnee really enjoyed their dinner, plus the restaurant treated them to champagne to celebrate their anniversary. B&B Butchers is also another place with great views of the Houston skyline so it was an added plus.
Not to be outdone, the Capital Grille invited me to try their “The Generous Pour” promo on Thursday night. They thankfully allowed me to bring my cousin Troy who told me “I want to see what this food blogger life is all about.” See it he did, the Generous Pour is a promotional event from the Capital Grille that highlights their wine offerings. For just $28, guest will be treated to “generous pours” of seven wines ranging from white to red and a rosé! You can pair the General Pour event with the Houston Restaurant Weeks menu as well. Just be sure to order that lobster mac and cheese and thank me later. Also, may I suggest an uber? You’ll want to drink all of those wines, TRUST.
10pm – Social Beer Garden
Can I be honest and say it felt like a knock off Axelrad. The murals are great, it’s a cute space, but it lacked the energy I get when I visit Axelrad. If I could redo Thursday night, I would probably opt for a another beer garden or low-key spot like Axelrad or Wicklow Heights.
As I told my cousin Troy SEVERAL times, this weekend was a marathon not a sprint. A chill Thursday was necessary to make it the rest of the weekend.
12pm – Turkey Leg Hut for lunch and a ride around Historic Third Ward
Turkey Leg Hut has quickly become a must stop for Houston visitors! We went on a weekday to avoid the crowd and were seated within ten minutes of arriving. Only problem is we were seated outside on one of the hottest days of the year. I wish we would have requested an indoor table and just waited a bit longer. Those Missourians could not handle the Texas heat! Overall they enjoyed the food in between wiping sweat off their brow. I will add, kudos to the Turkey Leg team for finding a way to accommodate their rising demand!
After lunch, we took some time to drive through Third Ward highlighting Project Row Houses, Emancipation Park, Crumbville, UofH and TSU. I also like to highlight the beautiful homes near the bayou including Beyonce’s childhood home.
2pm – Stop over in EADO for the Houston Murals
As a kid, I would always go to Kansas City and try to put my cousins on to local Houston rappers. This was before social media and YouTube. Back when local rappers without big label deals spread via word of mouth. Big Moe was one of those rappers, so we HAD to stop over at the EADO murals behind Leeland House for a photo op with his tribute mural. This area includes Houston themed murals and odes to Texas legends like Pimp C and Selena. Be sure to add this to your list!
Alternatives: There are other murals downtown and in Midtown. Check out my Neighborhood Guide for other popular ones.
3pm – Present Company for drinks and pictures
Some folks in our group needed to regroup with some water and AC after our time at Turkey Leg Hut. Present Company provided all of these plus cute photos! I should note before arriving, my cousin told me he wanted to some Instagram worthy photos. My response was of course, “say less!”
4pm – Grab some Tiny Boxwood Cookies
It is a quick stop at either the original Tiny Boxwoods or the cookie counter at Tiny No 5, but a great snack! These are some of the best chocolate chip cookies around, so your guests are sure to love them.
5pm -7pm A much needed break/nap!
I found out that all three of my cousins had never watched Insecure. Can you believe it?! So during our chill time I made them watch!
8pm – Dinner at Pinkerton’s
Kansas City is known for their barbecue, primarily the sauce (think KC Masterpiece) so a barbecue stop was essential for this itinerary. When I posted that I was going to Pinkerton’s so many of y’all were like NO take them to XYZ place. Listen, I’ve been to all of them and Pinkerton’s remains my favorite. Debate your mom, not me! My barbecue tastes are largely influenced by my Kansas City roots so I find that I don’t love all of the places that Texans obsess over.
Anywho, everyone loved Pinkerton’s! It was a great example of how Texas barbecue focuses on the rub and not the sauce like Kansas City. We ordered a ton of sides and ate them family style. Most of us got barbecue sandwiches (brisket or turkey) and one ordered ribs. All delicious.
Alternatives: If you feel away about Pinkerton’s (not sure why you would ’cause it’s good!) consider going to Killen’s, Gatlin’s, Roegels BBQ or Rays BBQ. I also hear Truth BBQ is good, but I can’t personally speak to it just yet. One day, I’m going to do just a BBQ tour when my KC cousins come to town.
11pm – 2am Live Music at Alley Kat
One of my favorite stops of the weekend, our visit to Alley Kat for live music! Upstairs features singer Marium Echo from 10pm-12am. She is an AMAZING singer who sings songs that we all know and love. Arrive early for a seat and bring cash to add to her tip jar.
Once Marium’s set was over we made our way downstairs. I wasn’t feeling the music in the first room so we headed to the other space closest to Main Street and there my friends we got our whole little lives. We walked in to Rick Ross playing and my cousin told me that he’s never heard Rick Ross in the club. Then the DJ moved in to a whole Houston set that had my cousins confused, but they enjoyed it all the same.
Keep in mind that Houston is lucky to have a black owned night spot that has remained consistent over the years. My cousins said that they have nothing like this at home made me appreciate it even more. It should definitely be on any Houston itinerary.
10am – Brunch at Lucille’s
If you are coming to visit me, you are going to brunch. Know this and prepare yourself. With it being restaurant weeks, a reservation was necessary. The best time was 10am so I had to gather the troops for 10am because what I will NOT be is late to brunch! We went for one of my favorites, Lucille’s and it did not disappoint per usual. Note that Lucille’s is now limiting guests to an hour and a half during brunch. For other brunch options, be sure to check out my Houston Brunch Favorites.
12pm – The Post Oak Hotel
I absolutely LOVE being a looky-loo and bringing others around on my nosey adventures. We made a quick stop over to the Post Oak Hotel to check out the beautiful hotel and the cars! There is a Rolls Royce Dealership inside of the hotel and a Bentley dealership within the complex. The cars are displayed in a manner that encourages taking photos, so we came to do just that! Just outside of the main entrance there is also a Bugatti on display too so be sure to catch that. Our stop to the hotel was probably my cousin Troy’s favorite stop and it was FREE to bask in all of this wealth.
If it was after 5pm, we would have found a spot at the bar at Mastro’s to people watch while enjoying a cocktail and their warm butter cake.
12:30pm – The Galleria
The Galleria is the only cliché Houston spot that I still make everyone visit because I guarantee their malls back home could NEVER be on my mall’s level.
Alternatives: If you rolling with a fancier crowd that does not like crowds and has major money to blow, take them to the River Oaks District. More higher end stores. Great food and less people.
3pm – Lunch at Uncle Julio’s in Cypress
On Saturday I sent my guests out to my parents house in Cypress and stayed behind for a nap. Listen driving people around all day is tiring! My parents gladly took the “tour guide” baton and treated our guests to lunch at Uncle Julio’s. In addition to a stop at the Galleria, a stop to a TexMex restaurant is essential! Uncle Julio’s is one of the few franchise restaurants that I enjoy and recommend.
Alternatives: If your crew are big time shoppers take them to the Cypress outlets for sure. For other Tex Mex restaurants, I highly recommend Ninfa’s, Escalante’s or Los Cucos.
10pm – 77 Degrees and then Belle Station
My cousin Whitnee saw a photo of my sister and I at Z on23 and wanted rooftop vibes for her visit. The vibe there is very chill and there isn’t much music. Instead of going there for a second weekend in a row, we went to 77 Degrees in Midtown. Can I just say, I haven’t hung out in midtown at night in YEARS. I’ve been asking people if it is still a thing and clearly it is!
77 Degrees is very now and current. It attracted all ages and races. Every level (there are three) was packed. My only critique would be that the music is trash. I hateeee when people make hip hop songs in to those techno dance beats that NOBODY is dancing to. I mean Megan thee Stallion can stand on her own without that awful background beat. An hour in we walked to Belle Station for some real music which we got, with a much younger crowd. I am definitely on the wrong side of 30 for the Belle Station crowd, but my cousins had a good time and that is all that matters.
Alternatives: So many of you responded to my open call for additional spots to take my cousins! Thank you! Here are few others that we just did not make it to. Ghost Bar, Grooves (happy hour or late night crowd), the Address, Revolver, Prospect Park, Davenports, or Wooster’s Garden. Also, note the date of this post (August 2019). Houston’s nightlife moves quickly so double check before going.
2am ( I know this is technically Sunday, but you get it) – Pedro’s Tacos and Whataburger
My sister’s contribution to this itinerary was simply tacos. She was adamant that we take our cousins to Pedro’s Tacos, the taco stand outside of Sam’s Boat on Richmond. He’s there till 2am on the weekends serving up chicken and beef tacos for $4.50. My sister visits often and seems to know this man’s whole life. She shared that he marinates the meat for several days before grilling the tacos. This is a cash only establishment though! One of my cousins opted for Whataburger instead so know that this is always a good late night option as many locations are open 24 hours.
Things to Add
- Given more time or a Sunday I would definitely add another brunch and/or Sunday Funday. The Etta’s Popup at 5015 is done for now, but those kinds of vibes are typical places I take out of town guests.
- We have very unique movie theaters in Houston as well. If you are looking for a chill evening, I would recommend iPic Theater or Rooftop Cinema as good options.
- My cousins were trying to find the KC Chiefs pre-season game on TV on Saturday. If I had known it was coming on, I would have planned a trip to Prospect Park Sports Bar to catch the game.
- I had a hard time convincing my cousins to avoid our standard visit to Pappadeaux. It’s a Houston staple and it is good no doubt, but there are so many other good options that I hate to waste a meal on a place that we have already been countless times. If your visitors are new guests to Houston then by all means add Pappadeaux otherwise skip it! They can eat it at the airport on their way home.
- I like to add seafood in their as well so if time permits consider a spot like Krab Queenz, Neyow’s, OMG Seafood or Shell Shack to name a few.
- For your cultured visitors take them to places like the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany at Rice, Museum of Fine Arts, Project Row Houses, Buffalo Solider Museum, Houston Museum of African American Culture or the Menil Collection.
Hope you enjoy THE Houston Itinerary. Be sure to add your favorite stops to the comments.