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Bite This!

Sink your teeth into the 1997 Houston Press Music Awards

Best Latin Venue
Elvia's Cantina

Elvia's Cantina has become the upscale Latin nightspot in Houston. Even on weeknights, the dance floor is crowded with folks trying out their fancy footwork to the live sounds of salsa, merengue and other tropical rhythms. And on the weekends -- forget it. It gets so crowded you have to fight your way through the throng just to get to the bar. It wasn't always that way. When the club first opened back in 1991, owners Ed and Elvia Parsons had the idea of combining their heritages -- he a native Houstonian who lived in Europe, and she Mexico City bred -- into a unique combination British pub/Mexican restaurant.

The early days saw live music on weekends only, with acts such as Trish and Darin, Kevin Black, Shake Russell, Pierre and the Zydeco Dots and Trout Fishing in America doing their thing. There wasn't even a dance floor. The club advertised heavily, though, and some people came. But the people really came when the couple decided to try a midweek Latin night. Soon, Wednesdays became the most popular time to be at Elvia's, and a dance floor had to be quickly added.

The demand for Latin music was so great that the single Latin night expanded to other evenings. For a while, Thursday, featuring Angelucho's Copacabana, was the most popular day, with overflow crowds lining up to get in. Eventually, the club had to expand, knocking out walls and building out onto what had been a patio. The club now features live Latin dance music -- that would be salsa, not Tejano -- Tuesday through Saturday, with a live flamenco show every other Tuesday. And if you don't know how to dance to salsa yet, free dance lessons are given an hour before the band starts every Wednesday. The musical mix has proven so successful that the Parsons are now thinking about expanding to Dallas and Austin. But the original will always be Houston's. (

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