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Guide to Diverse Houston

The nation's fourth-largest metropolis is many things all at once: energy capital, rodeo town, biotech and medical research center, aerospace innovator, and international arts destination. Its multiple personalities exist side by side in a city untamed by zoning laws, and the randomness of the place is sometimes appealing, sometimes appalling, but always exhilarating. Three separate skylines full of audacious skyscrapers—from the likes of I. M. Pei, Cesar Pelli, and Philip Johnson—tower beside leafy residential neighborhoods. Exquisite museums, fine restaurants, and fashionable shops lie off the pristine streets of downtown.

Hotels (8)

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    St. Regis, Houston

    A bit of convincing English pretension snugly situated on a wooded lot near the Galleria mall, the St. Regis is the suburban answer to downtown's F

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    Magnolia Hotel

    Opened in 2004, the 23-story Magnolia is the least designed of the downtown boutique hotels, with spacious and sunny guest rooms but a lobby with c

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    Hotel ZaZa, Houston

    It may be impossible to say the name with a straight face, but the Hotel ZaZa’s location is seriously good. It lies close to the Museum of Fine Art

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    Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa

    This hunting lodge–style resort, set improbably in an 18-acre pine forest in Houston, is a secluded-yet-central low-rise property in the midst of a... More
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    Alden Hotel

    An understated counterpoint to its ravishing neighbor, Hotel Icon, the Alden is an exciting player in Houston's downtown revival. Opened in 2006 an

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    Lancaster Hotel

    Through a brass-and-beveled-glass door, you enter into more than just a small luxury hotel—you experience a bit of old New York, transported to Hou

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    Four Seasons Hotel Houston

    Houston's Four Seasons delivers all the sublime comfort, service, and dining that are trademarks of this hotel group. Guest rooms are generously sc

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    Hotel Icon, Houston

    In their ambitious 2002 top-to-bottom redo, the owners of the Hotel Icon went for a dramatic baroque look, with velvety, tasseled interiors swirlin

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Restaurants (10)

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    Mark's American Cuisine

    Corny to say, but eating at Mark's can be a religious experience, and although it occupies an early 1920's brick church complete with sanctuary, si

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    La Tapatia

    In a town of many fine Tex-Mex restaurants, La Tapatia is the standout. Located on a busy block of Richmond Avenue, this glorified diner offers not

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    Au Petit Paris

    This little bit of Paris, charmingly set in an unassuming brick house at the edge of the Museum District, is the labor of love of two young Frenchm

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    So Vino Bistro & Wine Bar

    This venue has closed.

    Given its unlikely shopping-center-storefront location and the fact that it's known chiefly as a wine bar, So Vino is an un

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    The Grove, Houston

    Nestled within the city's newest park, Discovery Green, the Grove seems on track to be Houston's 21st-century answer to Tavern on the Green, except

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    Hugo's, Houston

    Housed in a 1925 structure built by well-known Houston architect Joseph Finger, Hugo's brings regional Mexican cuisine to the Montrose area. As a M

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    Indika

    Just a few blocks east of Montrose, Indika blends traditional Indian ingredients with fresh, local ingredients to create a progressive take on Indi

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    Goode Company Texas Bar-B-Q

    Texas is known for its barbecue, and as locals will tell you, Goode Company Texas Bar-B-Q is the place to go in Houston for authentic Texas barbecu

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    Dolce Vita

    An overnight success when it opened in 2006, Dolce Vita, which occupies a rambling two-story Victorian house, feels like a private—but very welcomi

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    Riviera Grill

    This venue has closed.

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Activities (26)

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    Thompson + Hanson

    This is Houston's version of the sort of rural compound you might find in Tuscany or Provence, an enchanting oasis that includes a nursery, home an

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    Sloan/Hall

    Sloan/Hall far exceeds expectations for what might seem to be, at first glance, another candle and card shop. Marcus Sloan and Shannon Hall, who br

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    The Tipping Point

    Evolving from the city's thriving hip-hop music scene, The Tipping Point is something more than a store for the sneaker connoisseur. The three owne

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    West Alabama Ice House

    There's nothing to do in this converted icehouse but enjoy a cold one, strike up conversations with the friendly bartenders and fellow customers, a

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    Rich's

    This limestone warehouse, a mid-century beauty that was once a steel-fan factory, blasted back to life in 1980 as a dance club, with owners promoti

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    Cezanne's

    Found, unexpectedly, in a rambling ivy-covered brick building that houses a homey-looking branch of the Houston Public Library, the Kraftsmen Baker

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    Continental Club, Houston

    The Houston outpost of the Austin music-and-dance club had a rocking opening in 2000, and the tin-ceilinged joint hasn't quieted down since. Expect

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    13 Celsius

    One of the best of a new crop of wine bars around town that includes Max's Wine Dive and So Vino, this place has the best name of the bunch (13 Cel

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    Installations, Antiques

    It's hard to say what's most compelling about Installations: the array of merchandise (a 200-plus-year range described by owners Becki and Jur Van

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    Sig's Lagoon

    This tiny hole-in-the-wall's namesake, Sig Byrd, was the coolest cat in town in the 1950's and 60's, covering the local music and club scene for tw

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    Variety Fair 5 & 10

    This venue has closed.

    Possessing not an ounce of retro-chic sensibility, this true time warp is a classic five-and-dime, a jumble of toys and gam

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    Lot 8

    Success has not spoiled Chloe Dao, winner of Project Runway's second season. Located on the edge of Rice Village, the almost bare-bones space is no

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    Hamilton Shirts

    Established in 1883, when two brothers opened a dry-goods store downtown and began outfitting Houston's emerging upper class of cattlemen and cotto

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    Found for the Home

    Crystal chandeliers hang from ceiling grids of hog panel (heavy metal agricultural fencing); statuesque 19th-century gilded candlesticks are cluste

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    Candylicious and The Chocolate Bar

    Willie Wonka has apparently found a new home in Houston at this eye-popping, all-American candy store. Everywhere you look in this chockablock room

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Similar Trips (2)

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  • Rajasthan, India's World Music Scene

    Delhi, Jaisalmer

    The interconnected origins of world music—from flamenco to the blues—are alive in India, in the Gypsy music of Rajasthan.

  • Touring Houston's World-Class Art and Culture

    Houston, Museum District

    Once known as the land of big oil fortunes, Houston has emerged as the Gulf Coast’s cultural capital, with a world-class art scene—and a slew of hotels, restaurants, and shops to match.For a true T

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