Taylor Swift probably won’t have a whole lot of free time while she’s in Houston. If pop’s brightest star is within the city limits for 24 hours from roll-in/touchdown to “good night, Houston!” Wednesday evening, that might be a generous estimate. Still, Swift’s reputation is built around being personable and accessible to her fans, and plenty of those are desperately hoping they’ll somehow cross paths with their idol somewhere during her brief stay. But where might that be?
Even bearing in mind the amount of handlers/security likely to be surrounding Swift the entire time, a girl’s still got to eat, right? Or maybe Swift will have a few hours to kill before heading to Minute Maid Park from her hotel, but doesn’t quite grasp the variety of worthwhile attractions and activities this city has to offer. That’s where we’re more than happy to step in — because God forbid Taylor Swift come to Houston and go somewhere lame.
AN ABUELITA’S KITCHEN
Big fan of Taylor Swift, but I don’t see her kicking it with La Raza much. Maybe she’s unaware, but she’s possibly the heir apparent to Morrissey’s reign as act who seems least likely to have the undying love of Mexicans everywhere. Because we love you, Taylor, we must insist that you eat a little more and get some meat on those bones. You’re in the midst of a tour and need to keep your energy up. Practically any Mexican grandma in town can whip up some carne guisada and homemade tortillas on a moment’s notice, chica. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
If I had to guess, I think you'd easily find Taylor Swift roaming around smaller businesses in The Heights or Montrose. Why? Because those areas are widely praised, have great dining and shopping options, and I just have a feeling that she's going to hunt down one of our delicious bakeries for a dozen macaroons. Plus, I've heard Swift is pretty sweet to her fans, so this will give her some options that will have more laid-back patrons who will respect her space but still take a Swift selfie for their Instagram account. ALYSSA DUPREE
Swifties have already started entreating Taylor to stop by Cactus while she’s in town. It’s hard to imagine her having the kind of time to dig through box after box of out-of-print vintage vinyl, but for someone who seems to love meeting her fans as much as Swift does, there’s no better place in Houston for her to do it. These days pulling in big-name appearances is something smarter record stores excel at as much as actually selling records (or almost, anyway); it doesn’t even have to be on Record Store Day, either. A pop-up meet-and-greet might sound like a stretch, but Cactus’ reputation is well-established enough that Swift (or someone on her team) has surely at least heard of the store already. A breeze-through here would cause quite a stir. CHRIS GRAY
HIT THE TOWN (DISCREETLY)
Surely Ms. Swift has seen enough malls to fill an entire lifetime, or at least her image already fills them for her. So, in that regard, her visits should be far more culturally significant. To really experience the true range of diversity the Bayou City can offer, I say start slow and easy by heading to Alley Kat or Mongoose vs. Cobra; if she’s lucky, she might catch a poetry slam or reading. Then, catch a few drinks at Montrose’s own JR’s Bar and Grill, or Ripcord for the scenery. Move on to Tony’s Corner Pocket for a highlight (bring your singles, girl). After that, wind down at Sambuca or Warren’s. If she’s feeling locally inspired, she can visit Rudyard’s or Rice’s own Valhalla or The Ginger Man. And a good night in Houston always ends at Katz Deli & Bar with latkes and applesauce. KRISTY LOYE
THE MENIL COLLECTION
A beloved urban retreat for Houstonians of all stripes, the Menil appeals to people who simply enjoy spreading a blanket on its spacious lawn as much as art lovers. Word has gotten around the touring circuit as well; Wilco bassist John Stirratt saluted the museum’s Cy Twombly Gallery when the alt-country godfathers were here back in April. A leisurely afternoon here would be the perfect antidote to the whirlwind pace of a major pop-star touring operation, whether an al fresco picnic or stroll through the museum itself; however, the ongoing exhibit “Affecting Presence and the Pursuit of Delicious Experience” sounds particularly like it would be right up a budding aesthete like Swift’s alley. CHRIS GRAY Alternate: The Orange Show Center For Visionary Art
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Cy Twombly gallery at the astounding Menil Collections, Houston. https://t.co/kcBwb28lVq— John Stirratt (@Oneanda3) April 24, 2015
Doesn’t matter to me if Taylor drinks like a sixth-year college frat boy or teetotals like a staunch Southern Baptist. A Swift stop at the city’s friendliest lesbian-friendly bar is more about politics than parties. If recent events have taught us anything it’s that, for better or worse, the average American now trusts celebrities more than politicians. It’s naïve to think Swift’s influence is limited to music her fans enjoy. C'mon girl, let Julie and her crew pamper you, turn some shocked but adoring heads and make a bold statement about tolerance to set the course for that 2020 Swift-West presidential ticket. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
A PHOTO SHOOT
I know Team Taylor brought a resolution to that whole concert photographers’ kerfuffle, but until I see some Taylor-made photos where she’s posing explicitly for these underappreciated, hard-working shutterbugs, Swift’s endorsement of the photographic arts rings a little hollow. With a beautiful and diverse city to background her God-given beauty, it’d be awesome to see how Violeta Alvarez, Jackson Gorman, Stephen Odom and Marco Torres could make us see Swift in a whole new way. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
SUGARHILL RECORDING STUDIOS
Pop stars who don’t keep the ideas flowing don’t stay pop stars very long nowadays, so if Swift has a few hours to kill and a couple of lyric ideas burning a hole in her iPhone, she could well dispatch her next hit single here in the space of an afternoon. If she wants to duck her entourage for a few hours to cut a few demos, that would be fine, but Houston’s “House of Hits,” established in 1941 (when it was known as Gold Star Studios), is fully equipped to craft one of those multitrack cathedrals of sound that make up her 1989 album too. CHRIS GRAY