Best of Houston®

Best Of 2008

Neighborhoods

  • + Addison
  • + Austin
  • + Baytown
  • + Braeswood
  • + California
  • + Clear Lake
  • + Conroe
  • + Corpus Christi
  • + Cypress
  • + Dallas
  • + Denton
  • + Downtown/ Midtown
  • + East End
  • + El Paso
  • + Forney
  • + Fort Worth
  • + Frisco
  • + Gainesville
  • + Galleria
  • + Galveston
  • + Greenway Plaza
  • + Heights
  • + Humble/Kingwood
  • + Inner Loop - NE
  • + Inner Loop - SW
  • + Jersey Village
  • + Katy
  • + Kaufman
  • + Kirby-West U
  • + Lake Dallas
  • + Lewisville
  • + Louisiana
  • + Lower Shepherd-Kirby
  • + Memorial
  • + Missouri
  • + Montgomery
  • + Montrose
  • + North-Northwest
  • + Out of Town
  • + Outer Loop - NE
  • + Outer Loop - NW
  • + Outer Loop - SE
  • + Outer Loop - SW
  • + Outside Houston
  • + Pasadena
  • + Pearland
  • + Plano
  • + Richmond/Rosenberg
  • + River Oaks
  • + Royse City
  • + San Antonio
  • + Third Ward
  • + Unknown
  • + Wylie
Map It

Arts & Entertainment

Food & Drink

Shopping & Services

People & Places

MORE

Best Of :: People & Places

Best Place to People Watch

If you've ever been within a two-block radius of the downtown Greyhound Bus Station, you already know just how interesting this place can be. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it's where you can always get your people-watching fix. Cultural foreigners and foreigners in the literal sense of the word, bohemian types and people just passing through — you get it all. Best of all, it's not like the airport, where you have to have a ticket to get into the terminal. This is an all-access people-watching mecca.

Best 15 Minutes of Fame

This one is just waiting to be turned into a movie: In May, a Houston police officer pulled over Roland Carnaby for speeding. Carnaby presented some sort of ID with "Central ­Intelligence Agency" stamped on it, plus a concealed handgun permit. The officer also reported that Carnaby was acting nervously. After some talk about who at the CIA could vouch for Carnaby, the man sped away, ­resulting in yet another Houston chase. When he finally stopped, officers ordered him out, but he refused. ­Unfortunately, this one ended in tragedy — police shot Carnaby to death. Over the next few days, details of Carnaby's ­bizarre claims emerged, presenting a portrait of a man who apparently led a very weird — yet often convincing — fantasy life.

Best Abandoned Building

We have no idea when, or why, the big "Fear Factory" sign came to rest on the side of the abandoned house at Travis and Rosalie near the big HCC high-rise in Midtown, but it's hard to imagine a more appropriate sign or a spookier-looking building. A Google search for "Fear Factory Houston" offered no clues on why the sign wound up there or how the house came to be abandoned — it's one of those gigantic Midtown/Montrose houses that was probably split up into several different dwellings, the kind that line West Gray around Cecil's and Barnaby's — but filmmakers looking for a low-budget horror location could do a lot worse, especially since the overgrown courtyard looks straight out of Apocalypse Now. Since this is an election year, the house is also being used as a convenient — and presumably free — billboard for campaign signs, which, come to think of it, might be the scariest thing of all.

Best Act of Larceny

It was like a scene out of Grand Theft Auto IV: While vice cops were sorting out the detritus of a predawn raid on downtown's Pink Monkey nightclub, still more hell broke loose. A stolen ambulance with an (allegedly) intoxicated driver behind the wheel came careening down Franklin Street and smashed through the police roadblock. Before it came to rest, its windshield shattered and its hood ripped off, the ambulance had sideswiped or smashed into a trailer, another ambulance, a private car and a police car. The driver, who went unnamed in all the coverage of the chaos, was cut out of the wreckage with the jaws of life and headed to the hospital, before eventually joining the 140 other people headed to jail on that most dramatic of Saturday nights. Authorities later learned that the miscreant had absconded with the meatwagon from a Galleria-area 24-hour Starbucks.

Best Architect

Houston architect Brett Zamore was featured in Best of Houston® 2002, after he rehabbed a house as an architecture student at Rice University. The house won "Best Shotgun Shack." Zamore now runs his own company, and his designs are creating a buzz. Perhaps most notable are Zamore's "kit houses." The kits aren't preassembled, but all the materials are shipped to the build site. The houses take a builder about 20 weeks to complete. Zamore has seven designs for his kit house, and a couple are being built in the Heights. In 2006, Zamore won the Architecture for Humanity's Biloxi Home Competition for his post-Katrina work.

Best Benefit to Living Downtown

Let's face it, in a day and age when paying five bucks or possibly more for a gallon of gas has become a reality, not driving is more than just nice. It's great. Think of it: No hour-plus commutes each way with ridiculous amounts of traffic. Downtown, you can do this strange activity many Houstonians previously thought to be long extinct called walking. If you want, you can also ride that thing in the back of your garage you haven't used since you got your driver's license. It's called a bicycle.

Best Bureaucrat
Susanne Theis, ­Discovery Green

Susanne Theis is the programming director for Discovery Green, the 12-acre, $122 million park opened in downtown Houston this year. As such, she'll be responsible for getting people to the park. If her track record is any indication, she'll succeed. Theis was with the Orange Show for 25 years, helping to make it — and the Art Car Parade — become a destination, signature place and event. She managed to do it without using the words "zany" or "wacky" to describe the offbeat aspects of either. She's got a great imagination and terrific energy, and she's absolutely devoted to Houston and its art scene.

1500 McKinney, Houston, 77010
MAP
713-400-7336
Best Cemetery

No, it doesn't have the most verdant grounds or the prettiest headstones, but there is ­something utterly Houston about this 1,100-square-foot family graveyard in Spring Branch. Could it be that it is tucked in the corner of the parking lot of a tire store on the corner of two strip-mall-ridden Spring Branch thoroughfares? Why yes, it could. The Hillendahl Cemetery and its 19 slumbering German farm volks stand as a perpetual testament that even in bottom-line Houston, some matters, like family pride, can trump the relentless onward march of sprawl.

Best Civil Attorney

Is Lloyd Kelley the best civil attorney in Houston, home of some of the legendary giants of the courtroom? Probably not. But he is the best civil attorney this year, for no other reason than he gave us the vastly entertaining soap opera and career implosion of District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal. Clumsily romantic e-mails, dumb ethnic jokes, remarkably inept explanations to a federal judge — it was a wonderful show, watching the pious born-again DA go down in flames. And we owe it all to Kelley, who took a run-of-the-mill suit and used it to create the best soap opera of the year. If that's not good enough to make him Best Civil Attorney, we don't know what is.

Best Contribution to ­Downtown Development
Discovery Green

Let's say it was any year up until 2008, and you were a tourist in Houston, staying downtown, and it was Saturday afternoon, and you had got your kids with you. (Bear with us here, we're on a roll.) What was there for you to do? The tunnels are closed weekends, as were most of the restaurants, and there are no museums worthy of note downtown. In fact, until this year, outside of the ungodly expensive Fertitt-arium, there wasn't a thing to do at all other than stroll parking lots and dodge crackheads. But now a vast prairie of little-used parking lots has been replaced by Discovery Green, a dozen or so acres of green space, bocce courts, lakes, water parks, performance spaces and restaurants. Sure, the name of the place is meh and they got a little sponsor-happy, but when you take in a concert at Discovery Green, you really feel like Houston is giving Chicago a run for its money as America's third city. Readers' Choice: Discovery Green

1500 McKinney, Houston, 77010
MAP
713-400-7336
Best Crime

Probably everyone knows the apple trick, and we had a high school friend who once ­MacGyvered a crude bong out of a half-deflated basketball, but this one takes the cake: In May, Houston police arrested three teenagers for digging up the skeleton of an 11-year-old boy buried in 1921 and using his skull for a bong. They were charged with "abuse of a corpse" — a misdemeanor. (Unfortunately, there is no law against being a total dick.) They confessed to digging up the remains over a two-day period — and The Man says the reefer makes you lazy! Talk about a bunch of potheads — hey-oh!

Best Criminal Court Judge

In years past, Judge Mike McSpadden was regularly in the media, creating or joining an ongoing controversy. Nowadays the veteran isn't in the limelight as much, but he still provides the fairest trial you'll get at the hang-'em-high Harris County courthouse. He knows all the tricks, he knows when a defense attorney — or even a prosecutor! — isn't as prepared as he or she is trying to appear. He cuts through the B.S. and tricks and gets justice. What more can you ask?

X

Best Place to People Watch: Greyhound Bus Station

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >