If you don’t know Texas, you might think it’s nothing more than tumbleweed and and big ol’ high hair. And indeed, the legacy of the Old West is still a strong presence in the Lone Star State, which is the second largest in the US.
But Texas is nothing if not surprising. Yes, there’s plenty of gorgeous turquoise and sterling silver jewelry for sale, made by certified indigenous artisans. There are staggering desert sunsets and equally staggering tequilas, poured around the clock.
But there’s so much more to Houston than ridin’ and ropin.’ Black people comprise about 25% of Houston’s population, and the force of the Diaspora is felt here in so many ways, from the wonderfully spongey bite of authentic Injera to the vibrant theatre and arts scene showcasing Black talent.
So, pack your denims and diamonds, and see you at the rodeo!
Where to stay:
La Maison in Midtown
An urban bed & breakfast
2800 Brazos Street
Houston, TX 77006
Founded by two Black women, Genora Boykins and Sharon Owens. Their concept: a cool hybrid hospitality experience, bringing together the intimacy of a cozy B+B with the convenience of a conventional hotel. For example, the partners were clear on the decision that their three-story building needed an elevator, so guests don’t need to schlep their luggage up three flights of stairs.
The balconies with wrought-iron railings recall another great city, namely New Orleans. The rooms are elegantly appointed in a number of sophisticated decor styles. Room 303, the Full Suite, accommodates two adults, with golden-green silk bedding, stately chocolate accents and Orientalist wicker and rattan furnishings, with a veranda-view of the downtown skyline. A second full bath features a soaker tub, and each room has its own flat screen TV with DVD player. The suite can be arranged to accommodate 2 additional guests, making this a perfect spot for a girls’ micro-cay with your squad.
Located in the heart of Houston’s lively mix of local attractions including theatre, concerts, plays, special events, and fine dining.
What to eat:
No surprise, many of Houston’s best eateries are Black-owned. Just sayin.’
Category: CASUAL COMFORT-FOOD
This Is It Soul Food “Where every meal gives you a Sunday feel.”
2712 Blodgett Street
Crispy fried chicken, chitterlings, fried catfish, pork neck bones, pork and beef ribs, braised oxtails, spicy candied yams, peach cobbler, sweet potato pie, ham hocks, dirty rice, corn bread, greens, black-eyed peas, pork chops, and killa baked mac-and-cheese voted the People’s Choice, Best in Houston. Also known for their frozen daiquiris, with names like “Hypnotical” and “Hurricane.” Beyoncé’s a fan. Originally founded as a boarding house by Frank and Mattie Jones, Ruby Dell Side managed the restaurant and juke-joint called the Zanzibar. Ruby Dell’s children carry on the legacy which has been owned and operated for four generations of the Joseph family since 1959.
CALI Kitchen & Bar Entertainment entrepreneur Oscar Edwards, Jr. serves up the spicy satisfaction, West Coast style.
12910 NORTHWEST FWY
Oakland entertainment entrepreneur Oscar Edwards, Jr. brings his unique “Casian” (Cajun-Asian) mix of West Coast soul and sass to this new family eatery with signature dishes like Rich Girl Fries, Lobster Mac, and the hated-by-purists-loved-by-us Hawaiian Pizza with plenty of juicy pineapple. Some of these classics— Louisiana Fried Catfish Sandwich, Grilled or Fried Lamb Chops, and Peach Cobbler— are self-explanatory. There’s even Kool-Aid on TAP! As for others like “Martha & Snoop” and the “Cali’s Deadliest Catch Bowl,” you’ll have to find out for yourself. Dine-in and take-out.
Category: FROM THE MOTHERLAND
3833 Richmond Avenue
The royal cuisine of Nigeria and Ghana, with jollof rice as the savory foundation. Jollof Rice King is located in a strip mall, but don’t let that stop you. Jollof Rice is a smoky West African masterpiece, vibrant, deep, orange-red with many regional variations. Protein, from goat to fish to chicken, may be added, but the tomato broth, curry, bay leaves, onions, and hot peppers are the soul of this regal traditional dish which serves as the historic basis for jambalaya.
Other Houston locations are run by the same crew, all founded by Tiiffaney and Rasak Odewale. On the menu, palm-nut Banga soup, Afang Soup with crawfish, Ewedu, Egusi, Efo Riro, Ogbono, Edikaikong and other tangy favorites:
Dance while you wait. This spot is basically take-out, although if you’re fast on your feet, you can snag a seat at the counter. Consider the crowd-pleasing “Big J Baked Potato,” named by Houston EATER is a must-have. Why? Well, sure there’s a baked potato down in there someplace, but the spud is topped with chopped brisket, sausage, and a full, juicy pork rib along with a righteous splash of butter, cheese, sour cream, chives, and housemade barbecue sauce.
Bungalow — Downtown Dining
407 Main Street
Here’s where you get your bougie on, as well as feast on prime beef, jokingly called the Texas state bird (the mockingbird actually holds that honor). This location is over-the-top, starting with the glass of cold, sparkling bubbly that’s handed to you as you cross the threshold. They’ve got the meats, from an 8 oz prime Filet Mignon to the 30 oz Prime Tomahawk Ribeye (hey, a girl’s gotta eat, right?). There’s also fried lobster tail and redfish with crab-bacon butter, for a truly Texan twist. Start with Pineapple Jerk Lemon Pepper wings, finish off with Lush Lemon Meringue Tart.
Sounds like a beer tavern, but it’s not. This is a fab brunch and Happy Hour spot, with outdoor garden seating and weekend specialties including Mimosa Towers and Pancake Flights. For a little more funk on the plate, lunch on Lump Crab Gumbo, vegan-“Chik’n” fried Shrooms & Grits, or a Cajun Croissant stuffed with Boudin rice, or try a tasty flatbread pizza drizzled with truffle oil or dairy-free, soy-free feta “cheez.”
For authentic East African fare, check Ethiopian cuisine at:
3030 Audley Street
When you get that craving for 100% teff flour Injera bread, head to Blue Nile for the soft spongy Ethiopian classic. This menu is packed with gorgeous vegetarian dishes, including green lentil stew. Since Texas in without a doubt carnivore country, Blue Nile also offers a selection of stewed lamb dishes brightened with rosemary and jalapeño, as well as Dulet, the delicacy which combines minced lamb tripe, liver and lean beef sauteed in hot pepper and herbs. True to Ethiopian tradition, Dulet is offered well-done, medium rare, or thrillingly raw.
Fun Things to DO in Houston
Houston Theatre — Your Independent Guide to the Best Shows in Houston
- (844) 321-9797 Check out this local guide for news on musicals, plays, stand-up comedy, family shows, dance, classical and opera, concerts, contemporary pop, and more in Houston’s wide assortment of entertainment venues. https://www.houston-theater.com/news/434493
A few upcoming attractions:
A Christmas Carol
November 17 -December 30, 2023
615 Texas Avenue
November 17 -December 30, 2023
500 Texas Avenue
November 25 – December 27, 2023
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
January 2 – 7, 2024
Hobby Center, 800 Bagby Street
Art Galleries Showcasing the Work of Black Artists
Bisong Art Gallery — Houston’s longest-running commercial art gallery owned by a Black woman, Carla Bisong
Historic Warehouse District
1305 Sterrett Street
Closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday
4807 Caroline Street
Closed Sunday, Monday, Tuesday
3100 Cleburne Avenue, First Floor
2521 Holman Street
Closed Monday, Tuesday
Where to Shop
Some of the clichés about Texas are true, like the size and scale of Texan life. Texans do everything big, and they love truly humongous, modern, awesome malls and shopping centers.
5085 Westheimer Road
It’s nothing you haven’t seen (or bought) before, just more of it. Lots more. Yes, there’s a Chico’s, a Cinnabon, a Claire’s. Moving upscale, there’s Alexander McQueen, Ann Taylor, Balenciaga, Bally, Balmain, Brooks Brothers, Coach, Cole Haan, David Yurman, de Beers, Dior, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Jo Malone, Monteblanc, Neiman Marcus, Prada, rag & bone, Saks Fifth Avenue, St. John, TUMI, UGG, Valentino — there’s even an Escape Room! Basically, everything you’ve ever wanted to buy (and didn’t know you needed) is right here.
303 Memorial City
This hotspot offers events and happenings–everything from community blood drives and diamond-appraisals to dog shows and sunset jazz on the lawn. The store directory is staggering, everything a girl could want in terms of retail therapy (plus an ice-skating rink). Memorial City Club is a high-end fitness center offering 9Round kickboxing and HOTWORX for heat, infrared energy, and exercise, to help burn off some of that truffle-mac-and-cheese you ate two nights in a row.
Need a Mani-Pedi?
9555 Spring Green Boulevard, Suite D
1708 Spring Green Boulevard, Suite 100
Need to Get That Hairdo-Did?
Even though you’re only in town for a minute, we know that your coiffure needs to be on point! Houston has literally hundreds of salons dedicated to styling and caring for Black hair. Below, just to get you started, a few that got five stars on YELP!
- Black Hair Design
10702 Shady Canyon
- Spoiled by D Salon
5288 West 34th Street, Suite 100
- Kouture Experience
1011 W. Bay Area Boulevard, Suite 1001
- Bliss Hair Studio
8555 Westheimer Road, Suite 114
- Snooty Girl Salon and Spa
Book Snooty Girl
2915 S. Sam Houston Parkway East
Suite 100, Room 114
*NOTE: Offers lash services!
Just for Fun
Houston City Tours
302 Dallas Street
It’s fun to just want to be an unapologetic tourist, and this bus tour agency is a great place to start. This service offers double-decker bus city tours, tours to the NASA Space Center (as in, “Houston, we have a problem…”), and excursions to the city aquarium, Galveston, fine arts museum, underground tunnels, mural tour, and many other local offerings.
Let us know in the comments where and what place in Houston is calling out to you!