Photo by Troy Fields

La Grange kind of feels like a backyard patio imported from the Alamo. Cacti and tropical plants are everywhere. On chilly autumn nights, fire pits are set up between the outdoor wooden picnic tables. And inside the barebones cement walls and rustic wood-paneled ceilings from which fancy chandeliers hang make you somehow feel like you're in an upscale hideout. The kitchen serves up first-rate Tex-Mex, and the bartenders don't go easy on the tequila. La Grange has three bars: one inside the dimly lit restaurant, one connected to the outdoor patio, and another on the second-floor rooftop, which feels like its own intimate dive bar.

Thankfully, public art has in recent years become a priority for Houston, and there are no works that say "Houston" more forcefully than the David Adickes sculptures in and around the area. Sure, the "We Heart Houston" sign along Interstate 10 is probably the most obvious, but there are many others. From the cello playing itself in front of the Lyric Centre building downtown to the presidential heads on Nance Street to the giant statues of Sam Houston (near Huntsville) and Stephen F. Austin (off the South Freeway), there are plenty of options. And when the 100-foot astronaut statue is finally erected in Webster, prepare your smartphones for liftoff.

David Rozycki

Alice's Tall Texan is famous for its 18-ounce Shiner and Lone Star beers served in enormous, fishbowl-shaped goblets, but what really makes this bar special is the feeling you get walking in, certain that everything will be exactly the way it has always been. Sure, the old jukebox was swapped out for an internet model a while back, but in a fundamental way this place never changes, making it the perfect neighborhood bar. Whether you sidle up to the bar or snag a spot at one of the scrupulously clean tables in this place, you know the beer will be cold, the regulars all know each other's names, and there's a good chance someone will bring in a casserole or some chili to share with the group.

Nominally, Day For Night is a festival, although its sworn mission is to upend many of the stale characteristics of such events — the long walk between outdoor stages, paint-by-numbers talent lineups, or even the same-old-same-old food and drink offerings. Debuting last December at Silver Street Studios, in practice Day For Night came off like a music festival wrapped around a museum, mingling thought-provoking art installations (sometimes an entire warehouse in size) with a musical lineup topped by New Order, Kendrick Lamar and Philip Glass. It really did feel different, all the way down to the giant rug carpeting the area in front of the main stage. This year's Day For Night will be at the former Barbara Jordan Post Office downtown, so it's anyone's guess what the physical configuration (or the lineup) might be, but its promise to be an "experiential" festival is already true in one regard — it's much better to experience it than to try to explain it.

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