Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Live-Music Venue

    Fitzgerald's

    Since Free Press Summer Fest's Omar Afra and Jagi Katial bought Fitzgerald's in July 2010, the old Heights dance hall's transformation has been remarkable. Already one of Houston's most historic venues (Elvis and James Brown played the building), Fitz has upgraded its sound, raised the floor in the big upstairs room and begun attracting the kind of talent that used… More >>
  • Best Local-Music Venue

    Mango's

    Head down to the little house at Westheimer and Taft any night of the week and you'll likely hear live music by a local band, ranging from a new ensemble that's playing for the first time to an established outfit honing its set. The venue never discriminates against genres, meaning that in a span of a few days (and sometimes… More >>
  • Best Museum

    The John C. Freeman Weather Museum

    Think of the John C. Freeman Weather Museum as the little museum that could. Sitting in the shadow of its bigger, shinier cousins, the Weather Museum is housed in what was once a private two-story home. Each room downstairs has been transformed into an exhibit area, the most popular of which might be the WRC TV Studio, which features a… More >>
  • Best Rock Club

    The Dirt

    Houston's favorite dark, hip and nasty rock bar, The Dirt, is now located across from the House of Blues off Caroline after spending its first few years incubating in the Heights. The bar's staff comes complete with fun rocker attitude, with extremely pretty, sorta-dressed girls and tattooed boys who will do shots with you if you're cool. The only hitch… More >>
  • Best Bingo

    Heights Bingo at SPJST Lodge 88

    Sure, you could belly up to a hot singles club or Upper Kirby haunt looking for love in all the wrong places, but why not roll the clock back and head into the Heights for some beer, burgers and bingo? This Thursday night institution in the neighborhood starts the weekend for many a horny and self-respecting, unattached yuppie.… More >>
  • Best Hip-Hop Club

    Warehouse Live

    Warehouse Live is hardly Houston's "best hip-hop club" per se — legions of emo and hardcore bands would beg to differ — as much as it is simply the city's place to see hip-hop. However, it does have a few features that make it especially well-suited for hosting a rap show: Big and small rooms for hosting either headliners or… More >>
  • Best Public Sculpture

    Miró's Personage and Birds

    Joan Miró's Personage and Birds dominates downtown Houston's JPMorgan Chase Tower plaza like a colorful guard standing watch. The steel and cast-bronze sculpture is a representation of a person with birds in flight around the head. The body is a triangle made up of wide bands of metal painted in bright green, red, blue and yellow. A circle of red… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater

    AMC Studio 30

    Being bigger isn't enough when it comes to movie theaters. Having 30 screens won't do you much good if those 30 screens are filled with lame films. That's where AMC Studio 30 beats out the competition to take this year's Best Movie Theater award. It's not only big, it has exciting, exceptional programming. The complex is home to the annual… More >>
  • Best After Hours

    IHOP

    Sneer if you must, but no über-hip, in-the-know, secret-knock speakeasy is going to be anywhere near as interesting as an IHOP at 3 a.m. Here you're likely to find a much broader cross section of modern society than almost anywhere else, from truckers on an interstate haul and working stiffs fueling up for their 5 a.m. shift to rich kids… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    KTRH 740 AM

    There's a double dose of right-wing madman Michael Berry, who, in January, was accused of backing his car into another vehicle in a peculiar hit-and-run incident at gay-bar standby TC's Showbar. On the weekends, local sports-talk vet Lance Zierlein, formerly of KILT 610 AM and KGOW 1560 AM, raps about food. Then, during baseball season, the Astros broadcast goes off,… More >>
  • Best Trivia Bar

    Catbirds

    Of the six local bars on Buzztime's official national list of top 100 NTN Trivia hot spots, Catbirds is the only non-sports bar and/or brohalla of the bunch and has the most character by far. What's more, the bar's official name is Catbirds Cocktails & Trivia, and it lives up to both ends of that equation, with some of the… More >>
  • Best Romantic Hotel

    Hotel ZaZa

    The thing about a romantic stay at ZaZa is that you really get to choose how you define "romantic." Its "concept suites" range from Geisha House to An Affair to Remember to SoHo Loft. As if that weren't indulgent enough, you and your significant other could choose from the hotel's "magnificent seven" theme rooms. Like a little hedonism in your… More >>
  • Best Dance Club

    Stereo Live

    While some of us weren't looking, guitars became obsolete. Everybody else was over at Stereo Live. The spacious discotheque at 6400 Richmond — once home to the legendary Club 6400, whose alumni still hold reunion nights — has actually been booking some of the world's top DJs for a few years now. Remixer-turned-superstar David Guetta played in November 2009 when… More >>
  • Best View

    Eleanor Tinsley Park

    Since it seems like all you can see of Houston from the air is sprawl, the ideal view of the city should come at ground level and include something besides our justifiably famous downtown skyline — like the fact that Houston is a city of trees. Since we're so damn flat, it's hard to beat the banks of Buffalo Bayou… More >>
  • Best Blues Club

    Mr. Gino's

    They don't make 'em like Mr. Gino's anymore. They probably didn't make 'em like Mr. Gino's in 1973, when the ramshackle but well-kept bar near 610 south and Cullen Boulevard opened. With Christmas lights on the walls, plywood partitioning and a small stage in the corner, Gino's feels more like a juke joint in rural Mississippi or East Texas than… More >>
  • Best Solo Exhibition

    "Richard Serra Drawing" at The Menil Collection

    Consider yourself really lucky, Houston. The only other nationwide museums to score this treat of an exhibit, which showcased the first retrospective of the artist's drawings, were New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art and San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art. The Menil's Michelle White and Bernice Rose co-curated the show, which featured more than 80 works by the artist… More >>
  • Best Pumpkin Patch

    Dewberry Farm

    A sort of agricultural AstroWorld, Dewberry Farm offers far more than just pumpkin pleasures, though you can pick your own here every fall. There are also pig races, huge slides, the singing chickens of the Cackle Palace, a multicolored sunflower patch, and a corn maze that will remind you of Malachi and Isaac and those other freaky, murderous quasi-Amish teens… More >>
  • Best Jukebox

    La Carafe

    Said to be the oldest commercial building in Houston, La Carafe is encrusted with history, its walls brimming with old photographs, newspaper clippings and other artifacts. The same is true of its jukebox, whose leaves preserve near-forgotten corners of 20th-century pop music like doo-wop (the Platters, the Ink Spots) and European chanteuses (Edith Piaf) all the way up until the… More >>
  • Best Museum Exhibit

    "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

    Some 3,000 years after his death at the age of 19, King Tutankhamun still fascinates people around the world, including thousands of fans who visited the "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs" exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. (The museum had to open seven days a week to accommodate the crowds.) Priceless riches, including more than… More >>
  • Best Strip Club

    The Colorado Bar & Grill

    Do you like a good Philly cheesesteak or pollo poblano with your boobs? What we're saying here is that, besides the lovely ladies gracing the club's three main stages, there's a bountiful menu. And if for some reason you need a break from looking at half-naked gyrating young females, the Colorado offers billiards, tabletop video games and Golden Tee. From… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    Shoeshine Charley's Big Top Lounge

    The Big Top's circus-themed decor always makes it seem a little like a Fellini movie. First of all, it's dark enough that you almost need to strike a match to see your drink, like every great lounge should be. There's also something a little surreal about nursing a cold one or cocktail surrounded by multiple Elvis portraits, Christmas lights, tabletop… More >>
  • Best Arts Community Outreach

    Houston Grand Opera's HGOCo

    Under the deft direction of Sandra Bernhard and program director Evan Wilderstein, the community outreach arm of Houston Grand Opera takes opera far beyond the confines of the Wortham Theater Center — to the streets, to schools and to the diverse ethnic communities that make up Houston. It is an effort apparently unparalleled in the opera world. As part of… More >>
  • Best Wall Art

    "Fruits of Fifth Ward" mural

    Nestled between Crawford Elementary School and the Eastex Freeway's Lyons Avenue off-ramp, the "Fruits of Fifth Ward" mural is an impressive tribute to both the Fifth Ward dwellers enshrined on it and the neighborhood they all helped to blossom. Seeded by a $10,000 grant from the History Channel and composed of more than 1,500 mosaic tiles, the 50-foot mural was… More >>
  • Best Alternative Club

    Walters Houston

    At this point Walter's seems almost invulnerable. Pam Robinson's club spent the last half of 2011 in limbo as Robinson had difficulty moving into her new quarters near UH-Downtown. But now that it's all smoothed over, the newly rechristened Walters Houston (no more apostrophe) is even more of a melting pot of music that's beloved but not popular, an array… More >>
  • Best Dance Studio

    Houston Dance Factory

    We don't know what we want to learn first — swing? Salsa? Bachata? Ballroom? A bunch of others? Well, whenever we decide, we're going to bachata over to the Houston Dance Factory, whose top-notch instructors teach everyone from toddlers to seniors. They offer private and group classes, and they can also help even the most uncoordinated klutz with a wedding… More >>
  • Best Art Museum

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

    Like the New York Yankees, the only word to really describe the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is "powerhouse." True, it has the kind of deep-pocketed endowment that attracts top-dollar traveling exhibits like the recent "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs," but it concurrently showed its annual collection of Third Ward photography taken by Jack Yates High School… More >>
  • Best Lesbian Bar

    The Usual - CLOSED

    Since the demise of Lower Westheimer mainstay Chances, the Usual has been Houston's only lesbian bar, so luckily it's a good one. Not exclusively for ladies who love ladies, the Usual sports an inviting front porch with a sweet view of some nearby train tracks, great deals on wine, and frequent raucous karaoke nights. After an evening so close and… More >>
  • Best Arts Organization

    Fresh Arts

    The Fresh Arts Coalition-Spacetaker merger is a solid illustration of one team being stronger than two individuals. In April, the ten-year-old Fresh Arts Coalition (a marketer for select art presenters) and the nine-year-old Spacetaker (an established support system for creative types) made the tying of the knot official. Headed by Jenni Rebecca Stephenson, a longtime arts advocate and Spacetaker's executive… More >>
  • Best First Date

    Down House

    With the perfect mix of fancy and casual, this eatery/drinkery in the Heights is a dynamic spot to take a first date for caffeine, a kickback lunch or a romantic dinner. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., the coffee/restaurant/bar — decked out in Victorian decor in some spots, modern industrial hip in others — delivers with amazing coffee,… More >>
  • Best Curator (Non-museum)

    GONZO247

    After making an international name for himself as a graffiti artist and leader of Aerosol Warfare, GONZO247 branched out into new territory and began curating shows for other walls. Most notable was this year's "Grandalism" series at DiverseWorks, a program of commissioned works by individual artists who, in turn, each showed oversize works outside the DW building. This summer, Article… More >>
  • Best Drag Bar

    TC's Show Bar

    The favorite drag bar of a certain member of the Houston talk-radio community, TC's in Montrose is the first drag haunt that many curious Houstonians will find themselves in once they get bitten by the fabulous bug. The club features full-on shows five nights a week. Leave your inhibitions at the door and sit back and enjoy a 300-pound man… More >>
  • Best Ultimate-Fighting Bar

    Buffalo Wild Wings

    We're of the mind that if you aren't going to do something right, you might as well not do it at all. That's why we prefer to watch our UFC matches off Washington Avenue, that drunken and amorous avenue full of men with shaved arms and the women who love them, at least for this weekend. The sport of ultimate… More >>
  • Best Karaoke

    PJ's Sports Bar

    If karaoke makes you queasy — that is, if you don't relish the thought of standing onstage with a giant room full of strangers staring you down while you butcher "Rollin' in the Deep" — then what you need to do is gather ten of your closest friends and head to PJ's for karaoke, which starts promptly at 9 p.m.… More >>
  • Best Public Art

    Gemini II

    The 66-foot-high ceiling in the Jones Hall lobby is home to this year's Best Public Art winner, Gemini II. Commissioned by the Houston Endowment in 1966, Gemini II was created by Richard Lippold. The hanging sculpture looks like a flash of light swooshing overhead. But while it seems fluid, it's actually made up of several thousand pieces of polished aluminum… More >>
  • Best All-Ages Venue

    Super Happy Fun Land

    For those who believe that the young brain should be exposed to all sorts of culture, Houston's one-stop spot is Super Happy Fun Land. Husband-and-wife team Brian Arthur and Olivia Dvorak — who, in 2008, moved the now nine-year-old project from a Heights-area house to its current East End spot — continue to bring in the sublime, the bizarre and… More >>
  • Best Darts Bar

    Khon's Wine Darts Coffee Art

    It would be a bummer if Khon's, which flaunts "darts" in its name, didn't do the throwers thing very well. Well, no worries, because the venue's well-kept dartboards make this a destination for rookies as well as the dart teams that sometimes post up inside of the Midtown spot. Khon's also does the "wine," "coffee" and "art" pretty darn well.… More >>
  • Best Curator

    Peter Lucas at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

    Art-film dorks, especially those into found-footage collages, were in hog heaven from April 13 to July 8 when "Perspectives 178: CINEPLEX" posted up at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. For that, we must thank Peter Lucas, who doubles as CAMH's education associate. The curator of the exhibit/film series brought his programming experiences from the Northwest Film Festival, the Seattle International Film… More >>
  • Best Jazz Club

    Cezanne

    With its ivy-covered walls, Cezanne seems more suited to some leafy university town in the Northeast than to the sprawling, swampy Bayou City. But those willing to seek out its cozy quarters above the Black Labrador Pub near Richmond and Montrose will find a cozy spot for a date night, a superb listening room to appreciate the occult art of… More >>
  • Best Large Venue

    Arena Theatre

    With a capacity of about 2,750, Arena Theatre is the redheaded stepchild of Houston music venues. The part of Houston that doesn't use the Southwest Freeway as their major commuter artery tends to forget it's even over there by Sharpstown Mall, but it's been there — albeit not continually operating — since 1965. (The office towers adjoining the theater were… More >>
  • Best Country-and-Western Bar

    Blanco's

    Equally friendly to tourists wanting to see "Texas" and locals jonesing for some two-step, Blanco's has been hooking up folks with a pretty darn authentic country and western experience for 30 years. Along with a $10 bucket-of-beer happy-hour special, Blanco's serves wings, burgers and Tex-Mex classics for lunch and supper. At night, acts like Mike Stinson, The Hollisters and Dale… More >>
  • Best Art Gallery

    Art Palace

    Nearly three years later, Arturo Palacios's ballsy decision continues to pay off. In early 2010, the gallerist relocated Art Palace from Austin to a ground-floor space of Midtown's Isabella Court. Today, the gallery that represents some of Houston's best contemporary artists like Seth Alverson and Elaine Bradford also presents repeat-visit-worthy shows on a monthly basis, including "A View From There,"… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    F Bar

    This hip "boutique clubbing" joint that hugs the Midtown/Montrose border pretty much has it all. From the marvelous drag shows on Tuesdays to Thursday-night karaoke to the friendly bartenders and "Life on the Patio" Sundays on the beautiful outdoor hang, Irwin Palchick and Aike Jamal's 4,200-square-foot venue has become a destination spot that caters to F Bar newbies and diehards.… More >>
  • Best Community Arts Center

    Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts

    The massive circa-1912 brick building that used to house Dow Elementary School is impressive from the outside. On the inside, the activities and tutelage that MECA puts on are pretty much in the blow-you-away department. From Mexican Ballet Folklórico classes to Día De Los Muertos presentations, the community-centric, nonprofit organization has been hooking up at-risk and underserved individuals with robust… More >>
  • Best Piano Bar

    Fuad's

    The first thing you need in a great piano bar is a piano, and a master behind it, and Fuad's has one in the form of Geoff Allen, an unstumpable maestro on the keys. The second thing you need is great atmosphere, and Fuad's vaults that bar with gold-medal ease. There's the ambience: plush, red-leather booths and candlelight. And then… More >>
  • Best Hotel Bar

    Line & Lariat at Hotel Icon

    Once you see the Line and Lariat's central bar tower while walking through the recently remodeled lobby of the Hotel Icon, you're going to want to sit down at the bar. The soft glow will coax you to order a drink, then you'll probably order another because chit-chatting with the swift and friendly bartenders is just too much fun to… More >>
  • Best New Gallery

    Peveto Gallery

    Even though outgoing McClain Gallery director Scott Peveto debuted his Peveto Gallery in March, the space — located in the old New Gallery building near the intersection of Kirby Drive and Richmond Avenue — has already been lauded by some locals as a heavy-hitting addition to the potent arts scene. In March, Peveto's "...Game On :)" opening salvo featured sculpture,… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    The Fountainhead

    Some of the best establishments in fast-growing Houston are situated in quickly slapped-together-looking strip malls, including The Fountainhead, located off of Farm to Market Road 1960. The tavern-like hole in the wall makes it worth trekking Interstate 45 past Beltway 8 to feel the right-at-home goodness that will probably include a spirited conversation with a regular over a stiff drink… More >>
  • Best People-Watching

    Notsuoh/Dean's

    An anarchist punk, a woman in a sexy dress, a musician who plays the guitar strings with pieces of yellow and red chalk, some chess players and a homeless man walk into a bar. That bar is Notsuoh, which is connected to the equally curious Dean's. It's a sleepy Tuesday night — not even a bustling weekend evening — and… More >>
  • Best Arcade

    Joystix

    Joystix is the kind of arcade you have to plan your month around. The rest of the time it's a retailer of all sorts of tabletop amusements available for sale and rental: billiard and air-hockey tables, photo booths, etc. But the first and last Fridays of every month, after 9 p.m. the showroom near Minute Maid Park becomes a wonderland… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar

    NJ's

    The patron saint of NJ's is Miss Norma Jeane Baker, the pinup model who became film icon Marilyn Monroe. Her glorious image is plastered all over the front room of this Oak Forest neighborhood haunt just off the Northwest Freeway. From the street, NJ's looks a lot smaller than it is once you get inside, with a pool hall and… More >>
  • Best Cheap Date

    Valhalla

    You want cheap? Even today, the most economical beer selections on the menu at Rice's venerable student pub are available for less than a buck, and the wine is just as good a deal, relatively speaking. (And we're talking Lone Star and Ziegenbock, not Schaefer and Texas Pride. Volunteer bar staff keep the price down; your tips go toward communal… More >>
  • Best Installation

    "Yasuaki Onishi: Reverse of Volume RG"

    Earlier this year, Japanese artist Yasuaki Onishi filled the Rice Art Gallery with what seemed to be a floating mountain. Onishi, who uses a process he calls "casting the invisible," created the installation over a three-week period. He and an assistant first draped plastic sheeting over stacked cardboard boxes, then glued the sheets in place with black hot-glue, which was… More >>
  • Best Smoking Patio

    Big Star Bar

    It may lack a skyline view, and it might not sprawl alongside a so-called "creek" like a nearby competitor, but damned if we haven't had more fun sucking down coffin-nails in the backyard of Brad Moore's Big Star Bar than anywhere else. Amid all the picnic tables, there's a quasi-military, sorta-camouflage tent back there that looks like something under which… More >>
  • Best Dance Floor

    Silver Slipper

    You'll likely experience one of the unique evenings in your adult life dancing alongside (and oft-times with) the regulars to live and legit soul, blues and R&B on the Silver Slipper's black-and-white checkerboard dance floor. And even if you're saddled with two left feet, the heavy eyes of judgment from the decked-out ladies and the three-piece-suit-wearing gentlemen will never look… More >>
  • Best Punk Bar

    White Swan

    Even when this complete dive in the East End isn't hosting real-deal punk and metal shows that run in the $5 to $7 cover-charge range, the punk-ness oozes from the cans of PBR and the raucous back patio. The best times are Fridays and Saturdays, but even off nights are awesome, such as when Dallas-based Dead to a Dying World… More >>
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