This year my mom and I celebrated our Birthdays at a new establishment called Up. The restaurant is located in Highland Village and has views of downtown Houston and the Galleria area. It’s literally “up”, to get to the restaurant which is perched on the 3rd floor, you take a glass Willy Wonka-esque elevator and boom, bam, you’re being welcomed into a Modern- French- 70’s wood panneling – Swarovski chandelier – marble floors – fire place – setting. The decor all seems to come together nicely…
We love coming here for special occasions or any occasion for that matter because they provide great service, food, drinks, music, and atmosphere. I also love the way the restaurant is sectioned off… the bar area overlooks the dining area and also connects to the outdoor patio which makes for good ebb and flow while being able to maintain an open concept.
The crabcakes are to DIE for. nom nom. My mom ordered the shrimp tempura, why she did…not so sure, but they were amazing as well. Also, a complimentary marshmallow Birthday cake contraption was included. If you look behind the marshmallow cake you can see an assortment of NUTELLA flavored goodies. Like, nutella flavored creme brulee. Kill me now.
Up: Highland Village – Houston, TX
Benjy’s is a local Houston favorite. There are two locations, each one having it’s own Executive Chef who produces their own menu based on similar concepts of providing fresh ingredients and seasonal flavorful dishes. It’s a fun place to go anytime of the day. Both locations offer a daily happy hour in their lounge for a post-work escape, on top their traditional lunch and dinner menu, and on weekends it’s a perfect meeting spot for a hangover cure brunch.
The restaurant has a very urban vibe, completely different from what you will find in the typical Houston scence. It’s like stepping into a chic New York City diner. It’s comfy, modern, welcoming with great decor and service!
I ordered the Crabcake Sandwich – bacon + spinach + paoched eggs + topped with a smoked paprika hollandaise. (The things I will do for hollandaise sauce…)
My order was absolutely delightful, especially the poached egg. I’m sucker for a good poached egg. I was confused as to why they called it a sandwich because it’s more like a Crabcake Benedict? Same difference.
Check out the rest of their items on their Brunch Menu
Benjy’s: 2424 Dunstan Houston, TX 77005
Imagine a sushi place set up like a Subway or Chipotle restaurant, build your own sushi like how you would a sandwich or a burrito. Well, this place exists, and it’s called How do you Roll? Genius idea, why didn’t I think of it!?! I’m prediciting this chain will start expanding all over the US and soon hopefully all over the world. Also, you can call your order in so you don’t have to wait in line.
I was treated to a wonderful dinner with a friend whose cousin owns the restaurant. High Roller status…get it??? Well, as a matter of fact they do have these “High Roller” cards where you can top up and accrue points kind of like a Starbucks gold member card.
So I built my own sushi…which um I’m not sure if that was a good idea since I piled on all the fixings I love. Extra crab meat, extra spicy mayo, extra tempura flakes…ya get?!
Friend's customized sushi
I just discovered a great emerging district in San Antonio called Southtown,which is indeterminately defined around south of the downtown area. This district is known for hosting “First Friday” which is an art walk that happens on the…well you guessed it…First Friday of each month. The walk attracts a yuppie, artsy, bohemian, carefree type crowd who are both admirers and sellers of local art.
A friend had recommended La Tuna Grill for their quality food/ingredients and atmosphere. It’s mainly outdoor seating, dog friendly, which makes for a great place to come to when the weather is nice.
I ordered the chicken fried steak (you can never go wrong) while my friends enjoyed the fish tacos and Torta Milanesa sandwich.
I’m so glad they decided to finally open up a place in Houston!!!!! Originating from Austin, TX…Torchy’s started out as a food truck, slowly hooking fellow Austinites then expanding city-wide… and now state-wide! (read the story of Torchy’s Taco’s here) When I think of Austin, I think of Torchy’s. I dream of Torchy’s.
We ordered pretty much everything on the menu!! My favorite is the Trailer Park: Fried Chicken, green chilies, lettuce, pico de gallo and cheese on a flour tortilla. I always get it “trashy” which replaces the lettuce with queso. Served with a Poblano Sauce. Que delicioso!
The food baby that ensued in my stomach after consumption.
Trailer Park and Fried Avocado Taco
Green Chile Pork Taco
The Democrat Taco
The great thing about living in San Antonio is the huge Mexican influence, after all Texas used to be a part of Mexcio right? Small Battle of the Alamo changed that and other things, but at least San Antonio was able to keep the Mexican culture alive.
My local native friend showed me the way of the land and took me to Mi Tierra
, a restaurant y panaderia located in El Mercado – a plaza filled with entertainment like Mariachi Bands, Salsa dancing, shops where you can find Mexican souvenirs, and of course delicous food/drinks.
We started out with an order of Margaritas at the Mariachi Bar (which is located inside the restaurant of Mi Tierra)….Word of warning: just be prepared to be overwhelmed by color at this place. There’s a shrine to family and friends, lots of Catholic influence, a bakery filled with dulces, hanging pinatas and crazy lights. I would normally complain about being in such an ornate, overwheming color boosting, loud, tacky decorations kind of place, but NO…It’s culture, I have to respect culture… I can feel like I’m in Mexico without having to be in Mexico. You get?
Our first round of Margaritas weren’t as large as the couples’ sitting next to us, so we HAD to get the one’s in a bigger glass. Why? Was this necessary? Yes…Yes it was, for obvious reasons – the sake of deliciousness.
I conclude without having snapped a photo of the delicious food we ordered because um, I ate it. And I can’t come up with a better answer other than – did you see the size of our margaritas?!
Since the city of Houston is so large – there isn’t just one common area of Houston where everyone goes to shop, eat, drink, etc. Houston is broken up into “pockets”which include surrounding areas- mainly suburbs. Many of these suburb areas act as mini-cities and have started developing common plaza type areas where fellow residents can enjoy an urban-like atmosphere without having to travel long ways away for a social scene.
City Centre, located in the Memorial area is a great emerging mini-city hang out spot to catering to the local residents of the surrounding suburbs. I like to spend my Saturdays here by starting the day with an intense workout at Lifetime Fitness, then wasting the workout on a hefty brunch from Flora and Muse, browsing for unneccessary items at Sur la Table, then topping it off with a glass of Rose from The Tasting Room.
A bottle of wine isn’t complete without the perfect pairings – pictured above: Spanish chorizo and Bucheron goat cheese. The goat cheese was light with creamy center and not too pungent, which balanced well with the smoky intense flavor of the chorizo. Did I mention the live music? Yeah, there’s live music. Swanky, sexy, I feel like I should be on the beaches of Spain music. Here’s to lazy Saturdays!
The Tasting Room: 818 Town and Country Blvd.,Suite 100 Houston, Texas 77024
Horchata is a traditional beverage that is common amongst various Latin cultures. It’s common to find that different cultures have their own variation of horchata. In Spain, horchata is made from tigernuts, water and sugar. Pictured below is horchata flavored ice cream. Delicious, creamy, and can be enjoyed anytime of the year.
Peace. Love. Cupcakes.
Hanging out in Highland Village on the eve of NYE with the cousins and got free Sprinkles Cupcakes (11 to be exact) if you said the word “Confetti”.
Sprinkles Cupcakes: 4014 Westheimer Road
5 lbs of Shrimp & 5 lbs of Crawfish soaked and served in the “whole she-bang” sauce + Fried Oysters + Fried Catfish + Fried Shrimp w/ Cajun Fries… Washed down with a Corona and Dos Equis = heartburn and acid reflux on a table. Worth it? YES. It has become a family tradition to end/start the year with barbaric eating, finger licking, good conversation and cheesy pick up lines (“Hey, there’s an exit sign…Want to go out?”) at our favorite restaurant: The Boiling Crab.
Dinner also involves who can eat the most crawfish and peel the shrimp fastest… I’m afraid to post pictures of the aftermath.
The Boiling Crab: 8300 W Sam Houston Pkwy S #268