Elevating your Summer Bucket List

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Houston is a bustling place all year round, but somehow it’s elevated in the summer time! The sense of excitement is almost palpable as everybody enjoys this season in the city. Although it can be hot and humid, there are always tons of events to enjoy this time of year. With all of the options available to you out there, it’s easy to elevate your summer with a bucket list of fantastic opportunities for fun. These are just some of the choices to consider to end your summer with a bang. I am excited to partner with Transportation in Houston to help make your summer one to remember. Check out our list of suggestions below!

 

Winery and Brewery Tours

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Cool down with refreshing beverages! The atmosphere at local wineries and breweries can definitely vary, so it’s not a difficult task to find a scene that you enjoy. Downtown, it’s easy to find a high energy, trendy spot like Saint Arnold or Karbach Brewing Company. For those who enjoy a laid back vibe, you can’t go wrong checking out some local wineries. La Fuente is a close option that offers sophisticated two hour tastings that are sure to expand your wine knowledge! Make sure you have a designated driver or car service arranged so everyone can enjoy the fun and stay safe.

 

Tailgate at an Astros Game

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Enjoying a home game at Minute Maid Park is one of the simple pleasures in life, no matter your age! There’s nothing better than enjoying the morale of the city here, and tailgating is another way to enhance your experience and overall team spirit at these games.

 

Houston Restaurant Weeks

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Foodies will rejoice during Houston Restaurant Weeks that will span from the beginning of August to the fourth day of September. From vegan finds to classic steak houses, there’s sure to be a participating restaurant that tickles your fancy. Last week I took advantage of HRW deals at Xochi and Potente! If you are looking for something more hands-on, you can even take advantage of a cooking class during restaurant week. I visited Main Course Cooking School in Spring the other week.  For $45 you get to learn cooking techniques, enjoy the delicious meal you prepared, and if you get there early you can tour the inspirational design houses at Main Street America. The cooking school is also BYOB!

 

Local Festivals

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Houston has a distinct personality, and the most efficient way to get familiar with it is to enjoy the local flavor. You can do this by checking out some of the festivals like the International Jazz Festival, ElectroLuv Fest, Polish Harvest Festival, Index Fest, the Houston Hot Sauce Festival, and more. There’s a little something for everybody cuisine, interest, and culture!

 

Feel the Groove

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Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the musical talent in the city! There are tons of concerts spanning a spectrum of genres at local venues like Revention, Arena Theatre, House of Blues, and Stereo Live. It’s worth it to trek a bit out of city limits to enjoy a concert at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Woods Pavilion.

 

Be sure to consider reserving professional transportation for any of these events! This is the perfect way to ensure your experience in the city is one filled with convenience and fun. With a limo or party bus along for the ride, all of the usual inconveniences that come with a trip instantly disappear. You aren’t going to have to deal with things like finding directions, traffic, parking, or dealing with the quest of getting a trustworthy designated driver for the end of the night.

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A limousine or party bus is a luxury transport option that comes with sophisticated features, but that doesn’t mean that it’s out of your price range. When you split the overall cost among the total number of passengers in attendance, it usually works out to be the same price as an Uber service, or even cheaper. When you compare the features, it’s easy to see why it’s more beneficial to invest in professional Transportation in Houston. Stay cool and safe this summer, Houston!

Fajitas A Go-Go

As a loyal Tacos a Go-Go fan I’ve been anxiously awaiting the newest addition to the a go go family, Fajitas a Go-Go!  I was excited to get invited to a special tasting lunch to sample their menu and learn about their concept. My friend Rachel and I had a blast spending the afternoon on their patio sampling their menu highlights and left full and happy.  It’s safe to say it’s my new favorite spot in town when I’m craving Mexican food…I’ve been back 3 times and have been telling everyone I know to check them out.
Their central location in West U has a spacious parking lot and outdoor patio with picnic style tables, twinkle lights, and they are dog friendly. You order at the counter and if you are dining in, they will bring your food out to you. If you place an order to go, they will offer you free beer while you wait! I highly recommend grabbing your besties and a bottle of tequila and pairing it with their homemade agave lime margarita mixture on their patio. Don’t forget the chips with addicting green crack tomatillo salsa.

My Australian baking rockstar friend Lisa loved the rotisserie chicken quesadillas, these were no ordinary quesadillas. The quality of the cage free antibiotic free chicken and rotisserie flavor really made this an exceptional quesadilla. Their home-made tortillas also make a world of difference. Share this as an appetizer with friends, or it is satisfying as a meal when you are craving some comfort food/cheesy goodness.

My favorite fajita combo is the beef and veggies. Their vegetables are far from the ordinary peppers and onion fajita classic. Theirs include spaghetti squash, zucchini, oyster mushrooms, green onions, and asparagus. A great option for vegetarians or anyone looking to round out their meal. The top quality certified Angus Beef sirloin is minimally seasoned to bring out the natural flavors. They serve fajitas on cafeteria style plates instead of a sizzling traditional platter because their meat is already perfectly grilled over mesquite. I also loved their guacamole, charro beans, homemade flour and con tortillas, and varied salsa options.

So many tasty options!  Lauren , my nutritionist friend/ inspirational runner, loved their grilled shrimp taco salad, it was a great healthy yet hearty option served with guac, pico de gallo, black beans, and corn tortilla strips. We also tried the house made wild boar sausage which was a hit.

I can’t wait to cater from here and come back for more fajita and margarita nights on their patio. Definitely check them out if you are looking to mix up your Tex-Mex options in town, this is the real deal! Friendly service, authentic food, incredible quality, and BYOB tequila…I mean c’mon.

The Union Kitchen- Restaurant Review                   

It’s been a few weeks since I visited The Union Kitchen for an epic tasting experience and I can’t stop dreaming about their food! Life has been crazy with recent travels, but I’ve been dying to return to my new favorite restaurant in town for all occasions. The Union Kitchen offers a relaxing and delicious dining experience from start to finish. Their patio is a nice oasis from the city and it is temperature controlled during both the winter and summer, a Houston necessity. They have great wine deals throughout the week, nearly bottomless boozy brunches, and ridiculously sinful chocolate martinis… Need I say more?

Whether you are looking for a date night spot, have friends in town who want to enjoy some of the best Houston food beyond Tex-Mex, or want a place that can cater to a wide range of palettes, this should be your new go-to restaurant. We dined at their Bellaire location, but they have additional locations in Memorial and Kingwood. The staff couldn’t have been friendlier and we felt truly pampered.
I invited Zoe, my famous empanada making friend, to sample their menu. It was a special night for us as it was our last girls night in Houston, for now at least 😦 So proud of her as she’s off to an exciting new adventure in Florida, but going to miss my partner in crime. We decided we needed to go big and The Union Kitchen staff was so sweet and generous throughout our meal. It was the perfect farewell dinner and we were too full and distracted by the deliciousness to be tearful…phew!


Zoe and I enjoyed the beautiful outdoor patio and fountain. We felt like we were on vacation!

We started with a bottle of Ano Verde Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara. It had a medium body and fruity finish, perfect pairing for our diverse tasting. The Union Kitchen offers half off wine bottles on Monday nights…score!

First up in our food marathon were these glorious brussel sprouts.  We LOVE brussel sprouts and are always looking for the best ones in town and these are currently our #1 favorite. They are crispy, tangy, and perfectly charred. They are dressed with a homemade balsamic dijon sauce and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. You MUST order them!

Next up were sriracha Asian chicken lettuce wraps. They packed a punch but were not too spicy. The marinated chicken was especially flavorful, and I liked that it was served with crunchy cashews, water chestnuts, and fresh sprouts as toppings. Definitely a nice lighter appetizer option and it was a great portion too.

The appetizers kept coming out!

Pepper calamari with feta, green onions, and pepperoncini peppers were a delightful combination of unique flavors. I normally don’t eat calamari but these were quite addicting.

We had to take a pause to enjoy our wine and the weather before gearing up for our entrees…

First up was this melt in your mouth braised beef short rib. It was so tender you could eat it with chop sticks! It is braised slowly for 6-8 hours and served with a natural reduction over a creamy butternut squash puree. The flavors were well balanced and we both loved this dish. All of their sauces and marinades are made in house which makes a HUGE difference.

Our favorite entree was the Gulf Red Snapper served with a zesty lemon risotto, grilled asparagus, and a lemon butter sauce. It was incredibly fresh and flavorful and a very high quality fish. The lemon risotto was equally delicious and would even be tasty on its own. We had to box up some of the food to save room for dessert which we couldn’t miss out on!

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I can’t stop thinking about this chocolate dessert martini (yikes). Their in house mixologist surprised us with this concoction and it was my favorite part of the meal! It was made with Baileys Chocolate liquor and marshmallow fluff.  It was served with a decadent yet light chocolate mouse which we were convinced to eat because it was National Chocolate Mouse day and it would be rude not to celebrate…

While we were stuffed and already had our to-go boxes packed, their friendly manager told us we couldn’t leave without trying their banana bread pudding. It is made with their in house sourdough bread which is made fresh daily. It is then topped with boozy banana deliciousness.  Zoe who normally doesn’t even like bananas said “There are literally no words to describe how good this is.”

Special shout out to their incredible manager Rob. He was so personable and fun to chat with, his passion for their food and restaurant was contagious. Our waiter Marshall was also great and attentive. Zoe and I were both were blown away by the entire experience.

We decided our next girls date needed to be a workout, but we couldn’t have asked for a better celebratory dinner. I can’t wait to return!

Sweat Sunday- Yogaleena 

After a year and a half in Houston I think I have finally found my studio soulmate: Yogaleena. I’ve been searching for my favorite yoga spot for a while now, but hadn’t found my go-to studio. We are lucky that there are a ton of great yoga options inside the loop, but they all seem to have their flaws which has kept me from becoming a regular. Whether it’s parking issues, overcrowded classes, or boring music during class, I hadn’t felt truly at home at any studio until trying Yogaleena on a whim last week.


I signed up through ClassPass and had no clue what to expect when I went with a coworker during a lunch break for a 45 minute “flow on the go” class. Parking was a breeze and when I walked in, it felt like I had entered another world – a sort of Zen, retreat oasis right off of Shepherd! The studio is charming and filled with whimsical touches everywhere.


We were warmly greeted by Carolina Vennie, the owner and instructor for the class. She is such a sweetheart and inspirational teacher – the yoga scene here needs more like her! Carolina was born in Chile, but has lived all over. She practices Yoga to unwind from the corporate world. She recently  decided to quit her job in big oil to follow her yogi dreams and open a hidden gem of a studio.


Carolina’s teaching style is upbeat, supportive, and inspirational.  She also has a killer soundtrack which makes class fly by and helps keep you motivated through the challenging moments.  I was impressed at how much we accomplished in just 45 minutes. Carolina’s class was a perfect combination of flow,stretch, sweat, and zen moments. It’s a great way to refresh during your lunch break. We were amazed at the personalized attention and the brief shoulder massage at the end was heavenly.
 I came back later in the week to check out the popular “Yoga Sculpt” class. This was my favorite class so far as it incorporates flow, strength training, pilates, and barefoot boot camp. It’s really a 3-in-one type workout and I definitely felt the burn the next day.   After class you can unwind with complimentary tea and cookies…need I say more? Check out their new first time member deals including 30 days for $30. I just hope it doesn’t become too popular of a spot! See you on the mat and may you retain your inner Om as you leave the parking lot and return to the madness of Shepherd…Namaste.

Tasting at The Tuck Room at iPic theater 

Since when has Monday become the new best day of the week for foodie adventures? The past two Monday nights I’ve been wined and dined more than I ever have on a weekend. No complaints though because it’s a great way to fight the Monday blues. I was excited to score an invite through the Houston food blogger collective (HFBC) to attend a media preview dinner at The Tuck room at the new iPic theaters in the new River Oaks. I dined with other HFBC friends KimMorgan, and Onolicious.

I had no idea this area even existed right behind Highland Village and boy was it swanky! Lots of high end stores similar to Rodeo Drive plus a brand new Equinox- Houston’s first. Will be fun to come here for window shopping and dinner + a movie at iPic.

 


Now on to the important things…

Hello liquid nitrogen vodka bar. Where have you been all my life? This was like science class meets a trendy club and I loved that you could build your own cocktail. I had a gingerade type mimosa with plenty of mint and fresh fruit.  You can order this at your movie seat! Mind blown

Awesome lobby installation art built from used books!


  More passed cocktail deliciousness

 

These cod lettuce wraps were a tasty apetizer

Deconstructed Caesar salad was a cool concept and great flavor combo 

Filet sliders were OMG amazing

BBQ brisket sandwiches – table favorite. Seriously get these at your next movie date

Onion soup rings were a huge hit and creative concept. Another one of our favorites

Fish tacos were good but not my favorite. Then again I’m picky about fish tacos being a Southern CA native.  

Food kept on coming… We had no idea what to expect and were shocked by how many courses they served! Plus there were some pairings which each course which was also but also dangerous for a Monday night…

These chicken skewers, steak, and thick sweet potatoe fries were all a hit

Then we got to tour the movie theater. Look at these movie seats! Like your own personal nap pod complete with blankets and pillows and reclining  seats! You will never be at to go back to regular movie seats…

Getting to talk to chef Sherry Yard was a highlight. She was sweet and funny and is kind of a huge deal in the foodie world for winning 3 James Beard awards . After tasting her innovative food I can now totally see why

Next up dessert. We were stuffed but obviously couldn’t say no. Chocolate truffle grapes were a surprisingly addictive dessert. And hey basically eating fruit + antioxidants right?

And then this happened…  chocolate molten lava donuts were pure heaven and worth getting chocolate all over my face for

Can’t wait to return to iPic and the Tuck Room for a movie, cocktails, and more tasty treats. Date night in Houston has now reached a new level, go check it out. Stay tuned for my next Monday night review about Buff Burger! 🍔