Rice Village is a prime place to go to forget you're in Houston or, hell, even in Texas. It's a textbook example of the glitzy hodgepodge of strip malls that's homologizing the country, but hidden amongst the Gap, Starbucks and Kinkos is Two Rows Classic Grill & Brewpub, an establishment you can find only in Texas, serving brews you can find only at Two Rows. Brewmaster Ian Larson and his compatriot at Two Rows' Addison location have engineered a spectrum of beers, from the light Honey Blonde to the yeasty Osage Golden and the full-flavored Vienna Lager. It's enough to curb your Double Mocha Frappuccino cravings.
Sometimes it seems as though Junico and Tracy Velarde are rubbing it in. Not only did they score the phone number 713-942-WINE, but their Wine Bucket Boutique & Bar seems designed to attest to the fact that no other couple inside the Loop knows more about wine and wine drinkers. The bar and gift shop has everything even the most finicky oenophile could ask for: The bar offers more than 50 worldly wines, by the bottle and by the glass, for the ever-enjoyable practice of sampling; they sell requisite smelly-in-a-good-way cheeses; and they carry fur-trimmed, leather bottle bags in case you find something you'd like to take home. All of these pleasures are presented in a delightfully Tuscan atmosphere. Best of all, the prices are reasonable, especially for a place with such fancy decor.
Yeah, we know it's meant to be a "peaceful sanctuary" and all, and no, we're not exactly arguing. But we must respectfully ask: What's more peaceful than death? The, shall we say, negative capacity of the black canvases on the walls is not to be underestimated as environmental design, but we find it terribly difficult to shake the knowledge that this was indeed the last work of visionary artist Mark Rothko, who committed suicide by slashing his wrists shortly after completing it. Still, one man's intimate, meditative space is another's stultifying sepulcher, we suppose. Perfect spot for a goth wedding.

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