The Amacones don't just look cute -- they're delicious.
Photo by Troy Fields
The Amacones don't just look cute -- they're delicious.
The love's run dry, and it's time to sit down and talk with the person you've been seeing. It would be rude to suggest a meeting at KFC. It would be misleading to go to somewhere romantic, like Aries. And it would be dangerous to visit any bar, which could lead to excessive drinking -- and a final shag. We suggest breaking up at Amazón Grill. The atmosphere is clean, bright, loud and decidedly neutral; the walk-up service casual; and the Latin cuisine, especially the corn empanadas and tacos, delish. Admittedly, the margaritas are also tasty and fairly strong, so allow yourself only one, just to get your nerve up before doing the deed. If it doesn't go well, you can tell your dinner companion that you're off for plantain chips and cilantro sauce and bolt for the parking lot.
The Lexington Grille
Not far away, traffic is snarled on the Southwest Freeway as motorists fight to regain those lost minutes of lunchtime. Even closer, the crowds are crushing into Shepherd Plaza-area eateries for the midday rush. Thankfully, no such frenzies will ever find their way into The Lexington Grill. Tucked away on a quiet side street, this small restaurant thrives on its atmosphere of peaceful calm. Diners at the handful of tables may be closing a business deal or deep in romantic bliss. Their common love at the Lexington, however, is the dynamic food (including unrivaled crab cakes), splendid service and sense of intimacy -- the ingredients for truly memorable meals.

Taco Milagro
Cool evenings find the umbrella-studded corner patio at Taco Milagro packed with the young and the beautiful. Whether you're looking to be discovered by modeling agents from Page Parkes down the street or the politicos and oil magnates who frequent the Downing Street cigar bar next door, this place is all about seeing and being seen. Sit back, keep those Gucci shades on all night, and sip tequila. They'll find you.

The front of this market is much like that of any other grocery store. But walk past the pretty piles of fresh strawberries and green beans to the back of the market, and you'll be tempted to look over your shoulder for the border patrol. Here, the vegetables are dirt-cheap -- you can get a basket of anything for $1. There are trucks selling tacos, rows of Mexican candies, even little fruit bouquets like the ones you might find south of the border. The delights of Mexico, with no fear of Montezuma's revenge.

River Oaks Country Club
The best way to glimpse what youre missing as a nonmember of the country club set is to attend the annual River Oaks International Tennis Tournament. While the ticket is pricey, you dont need one to get on the grounds, only to enter the stadium. Sneak in some alcohol, because and this is a recent development -- you must be a member to order beer and mixed drinks. Once you're settled, gawk away. But a word to the wise: Stand still, wherever you are, during the national anthem; otherwise, some stiff wearing khakis and a navy-blue blazer may hassle you. On your way out, don't miss the miniature horses tied to the trees in some rich jerk's front yard -- a gawk-worthy site if ever there was one.

It's hard to stay focused when reading a book at a coffee shop. You're deep into Bel Canto, and suddenly the next table erupts into guffaws. The spell is broken. But it's always easy to find a quiet spot at the Houston Municipal Rose Garden. You can wander around and inhale the scents of a rainbow of roses, putting yourself in a sufficiently dreamy mood before settling down on a blanket with your novel. (If you're anti-grass, there's an ornate Chinese gazebo with benches.) And after hours of reading and relaxing, when the sun begins to set, honest-to-God bunnies materialize from nowhere and hop through the garden, chasing each other.

Jaded Houstonians have gotten used to losing architectural treasures to the wrecking ball. After all, the cavalier attitude of most Houston developers seems to be "out with the old, in with the new," regardless of the results. Even modern architectural gems risk destruction -- but not if Houston Mod can help it. The organization is on a quest to preserve the modern architecture of both Houston and Texas, using advocacy and education to spread its message. The city's newest, hippest preservation group sponsors classes, lectures, study tours and the like. Stephen Fox, architectural historian and author of the Houston Architectural Guide, is one of Houston Mod's several founders. Word to Houston developers: Just because a building is modern, that doesn't mean it's not an architectural classic. Check with Houston Mod before you call in the demolition team.
Recent statistics show that the average American wedding costs $20,000. Not only is that the cost of a car or four years at a state university spent on one single day, we guarantee you that most of your guests will be too drunk or bored to care if the bridesmaids' shoes match the ushers' socks. So why not get economical about the affair? At Harmony Wedding Chapel the cost of the average wedding is about $200. And that includes taped music and use of the "Bride's Room," a pink-carpeted waiting area with a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall. For nearly 40 years, this little blue-and-white building off the Gulf Freeway has been the place to get hitched for couples from all over the Houston area and beyond; they handle as many as ten weddings each Saturday. Yes, the chapel's carpet is seafoam-green, and there's a large sign in the office that warns "NO REFUNDS ON WEDDINGS." But everywhere you look there are photographs of happy couples who have sent notes to Harmony with thanks for hosting their special day. So who cares if it's not the Four Seasons? After all, love is blind.

The Rice University campus is a world unto itself. When you drive past its stately gates, suddenly you're enveloped in a collegiate, oak tree-shaded enclave populated with old brick buildings. Unlike most other parts of Houston, the campus has a sense of history. Lovett Hall, which has been around since 1912, is a beautiful building. There's an air of permanence to it -- which is why starry-eyed engaged people want to pose in front of its graceful arches for their wedding photos. Perhaps (against all odds) their unions will be permanent too. Note: Backpacked folks wandering to class are a background hazard.

Where will you be when a giant ball of flame engulfs Houston's skyline? If you're smart, you'll hightail it to Bread of Life Church. Or at least that's what the ominous ad in the yellow pages seems to be saying. "Experience Revival Fire and the Presence of God," the ad proclaims, and with that kind of pitch, it's no wonder this humongoid congregation has about 2,400 members. Pastor Dusty Kemp has been with the church since it opened in 1979, but he leaves the Sunday-evening Spanish services to another preacher. Yes, Bread of Life has something for everyone, especially the kids. Check out the two-story, 40,000-square-foot "Kids' Kastle," a real treat for those who like to mix up their devotion with some creepy-looking faux-medieval architecture; it'll put the fear of God in them for sure. Services: Sundays, 10:30 a.m., 7 p.m. (Spanish); Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 7 p.m. No membership fees. Nondenominational.

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