Simone on Sunset

Tucked between a pair of small-homes-turned-businesses just off Kirby, Simone on Sunset is easy to miss. The gate is lined with greenery and fronted by a cobblestone driveway. Walking onto the patio feels like strolling onto someone's property, which is what gives Simone such a cozy, neighborhood vibe. The bar has a wide selection of wine, beer and cocktails, along with a full menu of pizzas and wine bar fare. Weeknights at happy hour are ideal, but even on weekends, Simone feels more like your neighbor's backyard than a Rice Village bar.

Houston Museum of Natural Science

Already a phenomenal museum thanks to permanent exhibitions of dinosaur bones, precious gems and Egyptian artifacts, the Houston Museum of Natural Science upped its game this year with "Amber Secrets: Feathers from the Age of Dinosaurs." Showcasing Burmese amber that contains feathers, creatures and plant life from about 100 million years ago, the exhibition offers clues about the origin of flight and introduces new species of termites (including the terrifying Gigantotermes rex). No other amber exhibition in the world is as scientifically important or unique as "Amber Secrets," making this one a big win for Houston.

READERS' CHOICE: Houston Museum of Natural Science

To get an idea of how one half — the red part — of the country thinks and feels, don't wait until late morning to crank the dial to Rush Limbaugh. Local boy Michael Berry, who can be heard during the week from 8 to 11 a.m. and again from 5 to 7 p.m., is the best at what he does. On air, the self-anointed "Czar of Talk Radio" chats H-Town and national politics in a compelling, no-nonsense manner. Off the mic, the former Houston City Council member is a busybody who's often sprinting around town to make various speaking engagements and running his Redneck Country Club, a honky tonk and social club out in Stafford that hosted a Ted Cruz party during this year's Super Tuesday.

PJ's Sports Bar

If you're dying to belt out some Pasty Cline but the thought of singing for a room full of strangers makes you queasy, head to P.J.'s Sports Bar on Wednesday and Friday nights for low-pressure karaoke in an intimate space. Upstairs from the bar you'll find a little area where you can croon that tune you've been practicing in the car for weeks. The crowd is welcoming, but bringing along your own cheering section never hurts. On that note, "Good job, you!"

READERS' CHOICE: Spotlight Karaoke

Arlo's Ballroom has turned out to be exactly what owners Ryan Supek and Sara Van Buskirk intended: "a dance dive in an old grandma's house," as Supek told the Houston Press last November, a few weeks before it opened. Situated in a large, repurposed East End dwelling that had been both a crack house and juke joint (two, actually) over the years, Arlo's is as neighborly a nightclub as you're likely to find. Holding just under 100 people, Arlo's offers inexpensive drinks, swanky interiors (disco ball and chandeliers), knowledgeable DJs and an unpretentious vibe that's made it an instant hit with Houston's post-college bohemians.

READERS' CHOICE: Numbers Night Club

Brooks Garner, who helped Houstonians navigate this year's Tax Day floods when KHOU's more senior meteorologists were indisposed, brings a kind of everydude affability his more button-down counterparts at other local stations lack. He just seems like he would be a fun guy to talk weather with over a beer. In that way, Garner is very much an understudy to Channel 11's senior meteorologist, David Paul, but his regular presence on social media makes him even more accessible. Garner often responds to viewer questions in short Facebook videos that explain complicated weather-related phenomena in easily digestible terms, and he retweets viewers' pictures and videos of the weather, too.

House of Pies
Jeff Balke

There is little in life more satisfying than a full menu of feel-good diner breakfast food after a night of drinking. But throw in a full menu of freshly baked pies and House of Pies is pretty much an irresistible after-hours option. Open 24 hours, the diner serves up breakfast at any time alongside lunch and dinner. That means hearty plates of omelettes, waffles, burgers, melts, chicken-fried steaks and more. But don't leave without a bite of rhubarb pie. Or lemon meringue. Or apple, cherry, peach, pumpkin and Texas pecan. We can't promise a trip here will be easy for indecisive customers.

READERS' CHOICE: Mai's Restaurant

KPFT

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every weekday, all the familiar complaints about Houston radio disappear in the laid-back, commercial-free climate of KPFT's eclectic, perfectly curated Wide Open Spaces. Sometimes loosely organized around a different theme (Mellow Mondays, Classic Rock Fridays), Wide Open Spaces highlights artists of the independent and Americana-leaning variety, many of them from right here in Texas. Host Roark Smith has a classic DJ's voice, with just enough gravel and hype to make listeners trust whatever he says implicitly. Especially on Fridays, large swaths of the show are devoted to artists playing in the area over the weekend; that's true of any other weekday, just to a lesser degree. And just about every show features at least one on-air performance accompanied by a Q&A session with Smith, who has a gift for getting artists to open up in a way they rarely do anywhere but onstage.

Rose Garden

There are a lot of great dive bars in Houston, but when we're longing for a true bastion of cheap beer, with a good jukebox in an atmosphere as unassuming as a scene can be, we head to the Rose Garden in the Heights. The wood-paneled walls are decorated with pictures of John Wayne and Elvis Presley without a hint of hipster irony. The bartenders keep the suds coming, and the bar is red and white, the same colors as the Polish flag. This spot was a refuge for Polish Texans who moved to Houston from the sticks around the time of World War II, and that welcoming vibe has lasted through the years.

READERS' CHOICE: Lowbrow Bar & Grill

Just as mother of pearl seems to change color when viewed at different angles, the iridescent grids of "Cloud Room Field" twinkle and change with movement and light. Commissioned by the Houston Airport System through Houston Arts Alliance, the ten-foot by 60-foot dichroic glass, aluminum and stainless steel sculpture graces the atrium near the main departures entrance at William P. Hobby Airport. Christian Eckart has produced similar but smaller pieces before, but this super-sized installation with 600 panes of glass at varying 45-degree angles, using nine pastel colors, is the big kahuna. The properties of the glass reveal different colors in transmission and reflection, producing tertiary colors as the sun rises and sets. The final piece is dreamier than its original saturated mock-ups, adding just the right amount of cool to calm even the most harried traveler.

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