Category : Know Your Neighborhood

That’s a Wrap! The Best Holiday Shopping Spots in West Houston

“If you like it, then you should have put a bow on it.” These are the immortal (and severely paraphrased) words of Houston native Beyoncé, and she was (probably) referring to the excellent array of shops and craft fests that greet our fair city every holiday season. In December, our hometown transforms into a wonderland of giving and gorgeousness, so get out there and get into the spirit of West Houston!

CityCentre Houston
Located a mere 10 minutes from our front door, CityCentre blends fine dining panache with holiday shopping convenience. Sprawling over a span of 37 acres, this upscale yet down-home destination is the perfect locale for anyone braving their gift list… or for those who are seeking a great meal to muster up their strength for another foray into the shopping breach!



Tomball German Festival Christmas Market
Nothing says yuletide like The Chardon Polka Band! They will be joined by Yodel Blitz, Tubameisters and over 160 street vendors to create an uber-unique spin on the season this December 7th through 9th. The festival is a short jaunt north in Old Town Tomball, but well worth the trip. In the span of about 30 minutes, you’ll feel like you crossed the globe and went back in time!



Katy Mills Mall
Put on your comfy shoes (or buy some new ones) because this huge-mongous shopping center covers a whopping 1.3 million square feet. That’s “million” with a WHAA? Boasting over 200 retailers, the Katy Mills Mall either has what you need, or you need a new shopping list. Also, refresh your palate with some tasty Texas Blue Bell ice cream to refresh after all of that walking/shopping/awesome’ing.



Rice Village
As eclectic as its neighbor, Rice University, this mainstay of Houston shopping dates back to the 1930’s, yet it constantly innovates and evolves to match our thriving city. Big name shops dovetail with local mom and pops to create a tapestry of triumph!

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No matter where you get your shop on, be sure to pay with the preferred currency: a smile! After all, Houston’s greatest resources are hospitality, heart, and home.

The Three Best Spas Around Westchase


Self-care is important, but it’s something we all-too-often forget in our rush to get everything done. Instead of waiting until you’re at your wits’ end to take some time out for you, why don’t you go ahead and book a spa day? Nothing is as relaxing as a session of pampering. We’ve made it easy for you by finding the three best spas around Westchase.

Victoria Heavenly Spa
You’ll be on cloud nine when you book a service at Victoria Heavenly Spa. It’s a full-service wellness center that offers massages, facials, and body wraps. What separates this spa is that they also offer laser treatments, body contour and cellulite treatment, and post-liposuction treatment. If your skin needs a little tightening, they can do it with radio frequencies. It’s a non-surgical method that reduces the “early signs of loose or sagging skin and stimulates subdermal collagen production.”



Akyish Japanese Retreat and Spa
Take a trip to Asia without leaving Houston at Akyish Japanese Retreat and Spa. They’ll take care of your nails, scalp, feet, hands, and eyelashes, and many of the products they use are straight from Japan. Reflexology is also offered, and if you’re going out for a night on the town, they’ll provide styling and do your makeup, too.



Amy’s Skin Care
Don’t let the name fool you; Amy’s Skin Care offers much more than just treatments for your epidermis. Her menu includes massages, waxing, tweezing, tinting, and both hair and skin tag removal. Her skin care really does shine, though, with comprehensive services including microdermabrasion, electrolysis, and permanent makeup. The philosophy behind this Houston day spa is based on ayurvedic principles, so you can expect holistic treatments in a restorative atmosphere.


When it’s time to unwind and take care of you, these Houston day spas are the best in Westchase. Let us know about your favorite local spas on Facebook or Twitter. And Follow our blog here for more local tips and recommendations.

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The Best Cigar Shops in Woodlake/Briar Meadow

Houston is home to some of the finest cigar shops in the country. Whether you are a smoker from way back, or you are just picking it up as a hobby, you will find a cigar to suit your taste. From Churchills to perfectos and full or light bodied, there is a whole world of cigars out there to explore. Here are our 4 favorite cigar lounges to find a favorite stogie.

Stogies World Class Cigars

Stogies offers cigars from over 200 different brands representing 6 Latin American countries and the United States. After tracking down the perfect one for you, you can enjoy it in the large smoking lounge, complete with comfy leather couches and TVs where you can catch the game. Or on nice days, there is a smoking patio so you can enjoy your smoke outside. Cigar aficionados can find plenty to keep them happy here.


Friendly Fire Cigars

In the heart of the Energy Corridor sits Friendly Fire Cigars. This is a newer lounge in town, and it is The goal of Friendly Fire is to foster good conversation and the building of friendships over a quality cigar. Relax in the plush couches around a fireplace with a fine cigar and a drink and while away the hours with a new friend. This being the Energy Corridor, you’re likely to meet someone with interesting stories.


Casa de Montecristo

Sometimes, sitting around with a cigar just isn’t enough. You need an event to enjoy while you puff away. For that, head to Casa de Montecristo. Find deals on boxes or individual cigars, and bring your friends for trivia night on Whiskey Wednesday. Or celebrate the life of Arturo Fuente at an event with swag and deals on Arturo cigars. They also have a rewards program where you can earn points toward cigars and accessories.


Hoyo de Cuba

If you are in the mood for a cigar but want to smoke it at home on your own time, you can find amazing deals at Hoyo de Cuba Cigar Factory. You can find more than 25,000 different cigars in their giant walk-in humidor, many made exclusively for Hoyo de Cuba with tobacco grown from Cuban seeds. You can also order personalized boxes or labels for an individualized celebration of a bachelor party, birthday, birth of a child, or any other occasion. They may not have as wide a range of brands as some of the other stores, but they offer the finest quality of the types they manufacture.


Cigars are a big part of Houston’s past and culture. Try one out of these stores and you might find a new favorite way to relax!

*SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Tobacco smoke increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, even in nonsmokers.

Farmers Markets of Southwest Houston

In our fast-paced society, it is sometimes hard to stop and take a look around you. To appreciate the hard work and creativity of the members of our community. If you are looking to get back in touch with your neighborhood and support local artisans and laborers, a Farmers Market is an excellent place to start. Here are our favorite Farmers Markets in Southwest Houston.

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  Westchase District Farmers Market   With over two dozen vendors, you are sure to find something you love at the Westchase District Farmers Market. In a time when there are almost weekly stories in the news of e. Coli or salmonella outbreaks in produce, it is more important than ever to know where your food is coming from. Here you can know your fruit and veggies are grown with love and care by local small business owners. Also, are you a seasonal allergy sufferer? Some say that honey made from local flowers can help acclimate your immune response and ease allergy symptoms. It’s worth a shot! The Westchase Farmers Market is open every Thursday at 3 pm.    

Memorial Village Farmers Market

You can make a day of it with the family at the Memorial Village Farmers Market. This market features activities for the kids, live music, guest lectures, and pet-friendly options. Get your organic produce, some artisan soaps, a handmade loaf of bread, and see some great local musicians all in one place! Join the fun on Saturdays from 9-1.

Chimney Rock Market

Chimney Rock Market is a farmers market, but it’s also more. They are also an art show! While you can buy your favorite natural, farm-fresh goods, you can also peruse beautiful works of art by local artists. Pick up a fresh squeezed lemonade while you wander through aisles of alluring paintings and elegant sculptures every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. You might just find the perfect piece for your home!

What better way to support local small business and enjoy high-quality craft made products than by shopping at a farmers market?

The Best Vegan Restaurants in Houston, TX

A plant-based diet is more than a popular trend. It’s actually a pretty good idea. The health benefits are more than Google-able, they’re evident. And Houston’s greatest culinary minds are cooking up healthy vegan dishes that any brisket-biting Texan would gladly make his supper.

Let’s order up some vegan vittles at the best vegan restaurants in Houston!

 

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GOVINDA’S

The menu at Govinda’s Vegetarian Cuisine uses the fresh ingredients and a variety of spices, giving each dish and a bite a unique flavor of India. The brunch scene is not to be missed. Govinda’s is a long hailed Houston institution, the launch pad of every Sunday Funday and the ultimate reward of sleeping in and missing breakfast. The all-you-can-eat buffet will make sure you don’t go home hungry.

Eater Houston praises the spot’s attention to detail: “All the dishes here, like barbecue tofu, okra & potato masala, and saag paneer are made from scratch with fresh ingredients, and the roti is top-notch.”

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BABA YEGA CAFE

Baba Yega is a friendly neighborhood restaurant in the Montrose area serving a great menu of tasty American favorites. They have a daily buffet available, as well as a full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Enjoy the warm and welcoming atmosphere, with fireplaces, comfortable seating and a great patio area with flowers, plants and even a waterfall.

Eater Houston calls Baba Yega “one of Montrose’s most beloved eateries.” They recommend the black bean veggie burger.

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LES GIVRAL’S CAFE

Authenticity with a modern twist, Les Givral’s Kahve delivers fresh, fast, healthy and affordable Vietnamese cuisine.  With a contemporary design and an uncompromising approach towards the quality of food, Les Givral’s Kahve is prime for the masses.

“Tofu dishes are abundant at this Vietnamese eatery,” says Eater Houston, “including an iteration of pho that skips the meat.”

Make like a tree and leave for the best vegan restaurants in Houston!  

The Best Vintage Shops Around Houston

Leftovers taste better, love doesn’t sting so much and those old Chuck Taylor kicks never looked so good. Some things are just better the second time around. It takes a keen eye to curate the hidden gems from a rubbish pile, discarding the merely tacky and out-of-date and skimming those rarified finds that any hipster would proudly proclaim “vintage.” Brand new is so yesterday. Let’s trawl the best vintage shops in Houston for a thrift store!

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BLIND GIRL PRODUCTIONS Sondra and Keith provide the vision behind Blind Girl Productions. Even though Sondra lost most of her vision due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, it’s clear the heart behind Blind Girl has not lost her humor and insight on what is good in life. The couple re-purpose and restore found items because they “feel finding a new use for what was an everyday item is good for our environment.” They thoroughly enjoy hunting for treasures and sharing them with others. Google Local Guide Shasha Ratta shows unrestrained enthusiasm in her 5-star review: “Great! Wonderful people and amazing things!”  

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CHEEKY VINTAGE Darling, be daring at Cheeky Vintage. Vintage is an obsession for Jina, the mistress of operations at Cheeky. It’s the personal touch that gives a curated collection its personality—and boy, does this place have personality! “One of my greatest joys,” says Jina, “is helping you, our cherished clients, find that perfect piece.” Mixing contemporary fashion with vintage classics is one of the joys of the thrift store circuit. Other joys await you, as well, says Culture Map Houston, “Once inside, you are immersed in a boutique-style setting, complete with cozy sitting area and chocolate!”

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EL BAMBI Lindsay Beale and Emily Hynds teamed up to open El Bambi, Houston’s only vintage store with an in-house tailor! This shop has a quirky vibe and a kitschy aesthetic that millennial fashionistas are sure to find irresistible. Their eclectic inventory includes an 80s tee with neon graphics and a 70s coral dress with a fabulously wide collar. And, best of all, Lindsay and Emily’s refined tastes don’t come with the insane markups you’ll find at some other hipster hubs.   In her 5-star Yelp review, Christine L., of Houston, says, “So cute and reasonable prices! I bought a $22 dress that looks like a wrap style with flowers and so flattering!” You’ll have to go back to the future to find the next trends. Houston’s best vintage shops are moving fashion forward to the past!

The Best Community Gardens Around Houston

A community isn’t just the brick and mortar of its buildings. It’s more than the people who live there, too. A community is a whole ecosystem of living things that call an area home. Life depends on life to thrive, after all. The community garden movement embraces this concept and lets neighbors grow together.

Let’s explore the best community gardens around Houston.

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WESTBURY COMMUNITY GARDEN

The Westbury Community Garden is huge—it’s situated on a marvelous 7-acre site owned by the Houston Housing Authority. In 2009, a group of volunteers sought to lease the land from HHA. Today the garden is a joint project of the Westbury SuperNeighborhood, the Westbury Civic Club, and the Westbury Area Improvement Corporation.

The garden is a real hit with the community. In her 5-star review, Google Local Guide Katharine Dlouhy raves, “Love this great asset of our community in Westbury. Great place to volunteer or buy fresh produce on the weekends!”   

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CAMPUS COMMUNITY GARDEN

Campus Community Garden is approximately 600 square feet of land that the University of Houston has devoted to growing organic produce. True to their academic “roots,” they’ve made it their duty to educate campus and community members about healthy living. All of their produce is donated directly to local food pantries and facilities serving low-income families and individuals.

Their organic produce is not treated with pesticides or herbicides.

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BEAUTY’S COMMUNITY GARDEN

“Food is medicine!” Beauty’s Community Garden declares.  They’re an educational garden with community access to produce without limitations. Their food is all organic. And Beauty’s offers free gardening classes and cooking demos. They advocate for healthy school meals and host regular events to get people out to their wonderful, earthy space.

Anne Goldsmith lauds the place in her 5-star Facebook review: “What a learning experience to help out at this garden. I’m not even really a big gardener but it felt great to get my hands in the dirt… and then plant a bunch of fall veggies.”

It’s time to learn, grow and eat well at one of Houston’s best community gardens!

The Best May Events Around Houston

Houston is abloom this May. It’s the time of year to spring into the most sultry vernal events around H-Town because the month of May is a little extra merry in the Bayou City. So, let’s see what fun this town has to offer this side of the equinox.  

These are the best May events around Houston!

ZOO BALL

Listen to the rhythms of the rainforest at Zoo Ball, Houston Zoo’s annually anticipated soiree. Zoo Ball is more than a helluva good party, it’s a fundraiser for our planet’s most vulnerable inhabitants. Let’s go straight to the horse’s mouth for this one. Here’s what Houston Zoo’s website has to say about the event:

“There’s nothing else quite like it in Houston! You’ll meet Ambassador Animals, bid on exclusive silent and live auction items, enjoy a fabulous seated dinner and dance ‘til midnight to live music.”

Sounds like a tasteful amount of leopard-print is definitely in the dress code for this one.   

JMBLYA

JMBLYA is Texas’ own hip hop fest! With stops in Dallas, Austin, and our very own H-Town, JMBLYA assembles a distinctly curated tour for you to enjoy. Small cameras and GoPros are permitted, so you’ll be able to brag to all your friends on social media. And it should be music to your ears: JMBLYA will be partnering with Event Water Solutions to provide filling stations with an unlimited amount of FREE water throughout the fest.

So, shake your booty and stay hydrated!

GREEK FEST

Enjoy a taste of Greek culture in the Bayou City! Houston Greek Fest sits atop Mt. Olympus as the premier festival event in the West Houston area sharing Greek culture with over 15,000 attendees. So, get ready to raise some Hell-enic cheer and enjoy the food, crafts, and music. Opa!

Summer is on the way but you won’t have to ask “may I?” for the finest fun to be had around Houston in the meantime. Check out the best May events around H-Town!

The Best Summer Music Festivals Around Houston

It’s summertime in the Bayou City. Festival season has returned to Houston! Get out into that sticky heat for the hottest events of the summer. These Texas-sized cultural happenings are happening with or without you, so don’t miss out. These are the best music festivals around Houston this summer.    shutterstock_434290249   THROWDOWN TEXAS BURGER & MUSIC FEST Music festivals can leave you pretty hungry. It was a pure stroke of Texas genius to combine the best of two different festivals into one, perfect hybrid fest! Behold the Throwdown Texas Burger & Music Fest! Brought to you by Inspire Productions, the Burger & Music Fest is a cooking competition to see which restaurant makes the best burger in town. The live country music supplied on stage by local and regional bands will keep the energy high and the appetite large. The Throwdown Texas Burger & Music Fest is in June at the Town Green Park in The Woodlands, TX. shutterstock_655514155   ULTRA SANDS BEACH MUSIC FESTIVAL Dance on the sands of San Jacinto River. Ultra Sands Beach Music Festival features hottest DJs in EDM, Latin, Hip Hop, Dance, Pop, Reggae and more! Turn up to a lineup that will have you shakin’ your thing late into the night. See you on the grounds of the beautiful Magnolia Garden Park for this one! Ultra Sands Beach Music Festival is this June. shutterstock_637469209   MOON AND STARS FEST Moon And Stars Fest from All Access Arts Show promises more than just a music festival. It’s a full-blown arts event with local painters, designers and photographers all showing what they’ve got. Artists are encouraged to showcase and sell their products in a creative, community-based environment for all to experience. You won’t have to travel far for Moon and Stars. The show is this April at the Ayva Center. Don’t let the summer slide by, Houston. Join the revelry at the best music festivals around H-Town!

The Best Spring Festivals in Houston

It’s springtime on the bayou. The days are getting longer and warmer. Tulips bloom and allergies flair. It’s a good time to be alive in Texas. So what to do with all this vivifying energy? Head out to the streets and see fresh faces and old friends out and about in Houston!

These are the best spring festivals in H-Town.  

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HOUSTON BARBECUE FESTIVAL

Travel the world all you like. Nobody does BBQ like we do here in Texas. They’ve got brisket as big as boogie boards at the Houston Barbecue Festival. The meat fest takes place every April. It’s truly a showcase of the best that Houston has to offer. There’s an excellent video of the festival embedded on their website; they flagged down several attendees for on-the-spot interviews. The quotes do a better job of summing up the festivities than this blogging laptop jockey ever could.

“It’s about as fun and communal as it gets, and barbecue is all about both of those,” says one BBQ Fest reveler. Another adds, “It’s all about hot barbecue and cold beer, y’know?”

Oh, yes. We know.  

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MAC & CHEESE FEST

Maybe you’re a vegetarian? We know you’re out there. Even in Texas. So, if brisket doesn’t do it for you, lots and lots of melted cheese surely will. Mac & Cheese Fest is a new addition to Houston’s spring lineup. But there’s just something about the gooey cohesiveness of liquid cheddar that’s like the warm embrace of a long-lost friend. Am I right?

In the heart of Houston’s Washington Ave. Arts District at the lovely Silver Street events complex enjoys unlimited samples from over two dozen local Houston restaurants vying for your vote of Houston’s best mac & cheese!  

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HOUSTON POLISH FESTIVAL  

After you’ve eaten your fill, polka the night away! The Houston Polish Festival takes place in May at Our Lady of Częstochowa Parish and, boy, do they know how to throw a party. It’s the largest Polish festival in Texas, doncha know? The main stage will feature Polish music throughout the day from a number of local performers. CBS Houston recommends the delicious traditional Polish dishes available, including pierogi, kielbasa, and cabbage rolls. Yum!

It’s spring festival season. American poet ee cummings wrote, “sweet spring is your / time is my time is our / time for springtime is love time / and viva sweet love!” Viva Houston!