D&W Lounge

D&W Lounge, off Milby at McKinney in the shadow of the Maximus Coffee Factory and surrounded by railroad tracks, has a kind of Jekyll-and-Hyde vibe. By day (D&W opens at 7 a.m.), the unassuming shack's patio and dark interior are home to third-shifters just getting off work from the nearby factories and warehouses. By night, it's home to everything from University of Houston tailgaters to, recently, local bands and DJs including Umbrella Man. In the past couple of years, the bar's beer selection has improved remarkably — they now carry Houston faves Saint Arnold and Karbach. And don't let the ­outside fool you — the interior decor is reminiscent of another local business, Super Happy Fun Land.

Mo Mong

Dirt-cheap yet delicious cosmos are a real live thing that exists outside of daydreams, thanks to Mo Mong's "Martini Wednesdays," a weekly tradition that involves not only some rockin' $3 cosmopolitans but also some of the best people-watching and pan-Asian food around. The scenery ain't so bad, either; Mo Mong is a sleek art- and bamboo-filled little spot right in the heart of Montrose, and the Wednesday night drink special draws one of the liveliest crowds around, ready to imbibe and indulge in some of the more interesting spring roll variations the city has to offer.

Sure, this colorful Montrose character has been making passers-by say, "What the fuck?" for a few years now, but it wasn't until recently that the dude actually started making headlines. With the help of some exposure provided by a local documentarian, Carlos's exciting, upbeat dance moves have wowed even more folks, and when he disappeared for a little while at the beginning of the year, people began to worry. Fortunately, Carlos reappeared, letting us know that things were going to be okay again. His 15 minutes might turn out to be much longer than ­anticipated.

DJ Sun knows how to release an album right. For the three months leading up to the launch of his first ever full-length LP, One Hundred, the Houston turntablist, producer and host of KPFT's Soular Grooves — not to mention a multiple Houston Press Music Awards winner — regularly updated his Web site with "One Hundred Days to One Hundred," all sorts of content creating a rich multimedia context around the album, his first release since 2009's EP Para. Once it came out, One Hundred proved to be worth the wait. Stretching to 19 tracks, including a couple of remixes, it lasts more than an hour but flows by in one richly textured groove that layers hip-hop, soul, electro, funk, exotica, disco and reggae. Sun's rich musical blend is further enhanced by One Hundred's abundant appearances by friends such as jazz musicians Tim Ruiz and Martin Perna, producer The ARE, vocalist Leah Alvarez, and a laboratory's worth of vintage keyboards, samplers and sequencers.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

If light artist James Turrell weren't a Houston favorite before his latest exhibition, "The Light Inside," he certainly is now. Turrell, a pioneer in the Light and Space movement, contributed an installation of the same name to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2000. That Light Inside was the lighted tunnel between two of MFAH's buildings (colors morph from blue to red and back while blurring the physical elements of the space, making it seem to be an endless void on either side of the walkway rather than just a few feet of empty space). The newest "Light Inside" was a gallery exhibit featuring seven immersive environments, ranging from the artist's first projection projects to his most recent series. Walking into one of the galleries that housed the exhibit was a perception-bending experience for visitors (and slightly disorienting for some). Space and time in the galleries seemed to no longer be on the same continuum as in the museum's corridors just outside the door. While light installations are fairly commonplace in the contemporary art world, few had the impact of Turrell's "The Light Inside."

Howl At The Moon

The talent and range of the musicians at Midtown's Howl at the Moon are vast, impressive and downright fun. Whether singing covers of Top 40 radio hits, rapping the best of hip-hop or belting out the standards, the party is always moving in this interactive atmosphere of music and libations. One of the main attractions here is the 86-ounce "Buckets of Booze," which are tasty vats of liquid courage that free your mind so you can sing along with the crowd. Bring a friend or your whole office to this cool and casual blend of karaoke, concert and cantina that will have you howling by the end of the night.

JPMorgan Chase Tower

The theater district is full of some of Houston's most recognizable landmarks, from Jones Hall and the Alley Theatre to the downtown skyline's tallest building, the JPMorgan Chase Tower. But while it may be dwarfed by the 75-story skyscraper, the sculpture in the plaza by Catalonia-born artist Joan Miró (1893-1983) makes a much cooler calling card. Perhaps a surrealist spin on the 1958 B-movie Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (or perhaps not), the pyramid-based structure of steel and bronze — in red, green, blue, yellow and black — bears a remarkable resemblance to Miró's 1926 painting Personage Throwing a Stone at a Bird and has been dubbed the "Tinker Toy" by employees in the neighboring tower. The building's architect, I.M. Pei, found Personnage et oiseaux an ideal extension of Miró's whimsical nature. "It was Miró's mischievous aspect that appealed to me," he told the media at the building's 1982 dedication, when it was still known as the Texas Commerce Bank Building (and which, sadly, Miró was too ill to attend). "His work is a celebration of life."

Wortham Theater Center

With any dance performance, it must be noted that the dance is only half of what makes a show either remarkable or unmemorable. The other half is the lighting. In this year's "Dance Salad Festival," Robert Eubanks and Nathan Haworth's creative lighting design was as impressive as the work itself. From piece to piece, the lighting mirrored the sentiments of the various choreographers and both complemented the work and stole some of the show.

Cecil's Pub

Cheap drinks; friendly bartenders; pool tables; an expansive patio; an old-school juke with Muddy Waters, Elvis Costello and Outkast; a laid-back crowd; the occasional laid-back dog: We're generally pleased if a bar has one or two of these things, but it's downright kick-ass when they're all rolled into one. There are trendier bars in Montrose, but if you want a break from craft beer and mixologists and just want an ­honest-to-goodness bar, pull up a stool. You're here.

The Orange Show

This year's winner for Best Festival, the Houston Art Car Parade, is actually a weekend-long party that includes the parade; a ball; an awards ceremony and brunch; and other, slightly less official events. True to the parade's Orange Show beginnings, the celebrations are all weird, eccentric and decidedly offbeat. The procession of art cars, art bikes and what are best described as tricked-out contraptions remains the centerpiece, with more than 300 entries from across the country and an audience of 250,000 spectators at last year's parade.

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