Everyone goes on and on about Krispy Kreme, but its down-home vibe feels a little bit forced now that the chain is taking over America. So why not go for the real thing? Christy's Donuts on the corner of Montrose and West Gray is a Houston institution. You can't miss its very ugly yellow and red sign out front -- but hey, that just gives the place charm. Inside you'll find a friendly staff offering up a plethora of tasty treats -- everything from apple fritters to chocolate glazed. We recommend the Bavarian filled doughnuts -- in a word, dee-lish. A dozen is less than five bucks, and the coffee, hot cocoa, juice and soda are reasonably priced, too. Once you've got your goodies there's no reason to leave. Christy's offers seats and tables where you can enjoy your breakfast. Yes, the chairs are made of a bright yellow plastic that matches the sign out front, but nobody goes to Christy's strictly for the decor.
Our favorite feature of the olive bar at Whole Foods is that samples are freely available, so it's easy to try some new and exotic olives before you buy. Tucked away at the back of the store, near the cheese counter, the bar offers an excellent array of olives from around the globe. They come in all different colors, sizes, shapes and textures, with or without pits. There are picholines and niçoises from France, arbequinas and catalanas from Spain and kalamatas from Greece. The best are the stuffed one, filled with everything imaginable: pimientos, garlic, jalapeño, blue cheese and feta. Whole Foods is a perfect final stop when you're looking to accessorize the ultimate wine-and-cheese party.
Don't ask the bartenders at the Davenport if they have any suggestions, or you'll be drinking Barbie's Bathwater before the guy next to you makes his first move with his silicone date. Luckily, you don't need to ask for help, because the drink menu at your fingertips offers a long list of hilariously named cocktails. Where else can you find drinks like Duck & Run, Antarctic Blast, Keke D and Bloodied and Bruised? And with more than 50 different kinds of vodka, along with all the other usual liquors and mixers, each drink is as unique as its name.

The counter men wear New York Fire Department gimme caps and talk with that unmistakable Big Apple accent. The menu hanging on the wall behind the counter includes a Yiddish glossary, just in case you're wondering about authenticity. Yes, these guys are genuine meshuga New Yorkers, and the big doughy, boiled-and-baked bagels taste just like the ones you get on the Upper West Side. But there are plenty of good bagels to choose from in Houston. What causes New York expats to schlepp the whole mishpokhe all the way across town to this little shopping center bagel shop on the U.S. 59 frontage road are all the tasty schmeers. Hot Bagels has an incredible selection of smoked fish. Sure, there's kreftig Nova Scotia salmon and shana whole whitefish, but they also have the best hand-sliced sturgeon this side of Barney Greengrass, the Sturgeon King. And such a mechaya, you don't find just anywhere!
To name a drink is to love a drink. Harvey Wallbangers are for old geezers, Sex On the Beach is not all it's cracked up to be, and having a Screaming Orgasm is what life's all about. But why not just say it like it is? A rainy night at The Boat at 3 Cheers produced this dizzying little number made of vodka, Southern Comfort, Galliano, orange juice and sloe gin. Keep your old-fashioneds, Exploding Irish Car Bombs and Sex with an Alligator -- we'll take a Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall every weekend we can manage.

Sit back with a Mexican Coke and enjoy four tacos for the price of three (that's 75 cents each!). And be sure to slather them all with La Bamba's fabulous homemade salsa. Cooking onions and tomatoes with chiles de árbol makes the dark red sauce. Chile de árbol is a favorite dried pepper for hot sauces in interior Mexico. Mexican cooking authority Rick Bayless describes the shiny, orange-red, dried chile de árbol as "very hot with a straightforward chile flavor." We have seen them used in such quantities as to create hot sauces that will make gringos and small children weep. This hot sauce tastes especially good on a barbacoa taco, as the barbacoa is not seasoned with a sauce like most of the other tacos. And La Bamba has one of the best barbacoa tacos this side of Eagle Pass. La Bamba features ample seating, including two booths, a table with four chairs and a couple of stools by the steam table, with a maximum occupancy of maybe 15 people, if they're really skinny. This Mexican grocery store also is a great place to buy El Caporal pickled pork rind, cones of piloncillo, boxes of Mexican pasta and cans of Jumex fruit juice. There are also piñatas dangling above the soft drink case, in case you're organizing a last-minute birthday party. And at the cash register you can get incense sticks and lottery tickets.
Is there smack in this salsa? No, of course not. But the addictive quality of El Pueblito's version of the condiment will make you wonder. At this Guatemalan/Mexican restaurant, owned by Eduardo and Monica Lopez, the salsa is more than just something to dip the chips in while waiting for your main course -- in fact, stopping there would be almost impossible. The mixture of fresh cilantro and ripe tomatoes makes everything on the varied menu taste even better than it does plain -- from the vegetarian quesadillas to the fresh bay snapper -- so go ahead and cover your plate with the stuff. The chunky sauce is blessed with a sharp bite that somehow makes your mouth feel cool and hot all at the same time, and if you become a regular salsa junkie, the staff will string you out even more by bringing you extra big cups of it. Forget pot -- after one visit it's obvious that El Pueblito's salsa is the true gateway drug.

Your boss has been giving you a hard time. Your lower back's giving you grief. And your girlfriend's not giving it up. Well, the top-shelf margarita at Noche won't get you a promotion, it probably won't heal those aching vertebrae, and it sure won't get you laid. But once you've ordered this delicious concoction, you won't care about any of that. Pull up a stool and watch as the bartender lovingly measures out the Presidente brandy, Sauza Hornitos, orange juice, triple sec and sweet-and-sour mix; shakes the concoction tenderly; and pours it into a martini glass adorned with a lime wedge on a little plastic sword. Savor the comforting tart-sweet balance of the mix and the decadent tongue-pinch of the tequila. After a few sips, you'll start to wish you could have another. Lucky for you, there are at least two more servings waiting for you in the shaker.
The lunch salad with scallops, listed on the menu as "pancetta-wrapped Maine diver scallops, warm salad of watercress, jicama and wild mushrooms," tastes as big as its name. First you notice the scallops: three big fat ones, wrapped in pancetta, and the salty Italian bacon pairs beautifully with the sweet shellfish. Then you assess the "salad" part of the equation. Those scallops surround a small, warm mound of jicama slivers, wild mushrooms and watercress. When you eat a bit of everything at once, the combination of textures and flavors is so entrancing (chewy! soft! crunchy! salty! sweet! peppery!) that for a minute you forget about Quattro's impressive view of the George R. Brown Convention Center. You forget to enjoy the restaurant's hyperstylish interior. You forget even what you were telling your lunch partner just a second before. Maybe it's not fair to classify this dish as a salad -- it could count as a light entrée -- but chef Tim Keating obviously doesn't fret about such petty distinctions, and neither will you. In fact, you'll wish more salads took themselves so seriously.
Okay, here's the situation: There's this spot near Shepherd Plaza that serves delicious fruit-flavored margaritas that are way too easy to get hooked on. Half the joy comes from watching the fiery señorita behind the bar make them. She puts the flavored syrup (strawberry, raspberry, cranberry, Halle Berry, Ken Berry, Boo Berry, Berry Gordy -- whatever kind of berry suits you) in the plastic cup first, then piles on the frozen margarita mix. Then, you take your swizzle stick and mix it all up. And voilà, a lovely concoction that's sweet and soothing and can get you drunker than the Hilton sisters on spring break. Hell, just writing about it makes us feel a little inebriated.

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