The Houston Press is presenting a series of posts leading up to a feature story in the print edition of the 100 Things to Do in Houston Before You Die. Each blog post contains one of our top 10 bucket list items along with nine others in the top 100. To narrow our list, we chose only items unique to Houston -- or items to which Houston provides a unique twist -- and everything on the list must be in or occur within 30 miles of downtown Houston (so, nothing from Galveston, for example). We welcome your suggestions in the comment section.
There are a million great things to eat in the city of Houston and as many places to eat them. This is probably why we are consistently ranked as one of the fattest cities in America...and one of the happiest. Trying to pick even a handful of restaurants for this list was a challenge. Several different dining experiences will make the 100, but only one signature restaurant will make the top ten and that one is at the top of our seventh installment of the Houston Bucket List.
Enjoy some Tex-Mex at the Original Ninfa's on Navigation.
If Houstonians were to vote on the official cuisine of Houston, my money is on Tex-Mex. As I told a friend a few years ago, it seems there is a taqueria opening every week on virtually every block. I'm fairly certain there is a grand opening for a new one in my bathroom this weekend. And, yes, there are a TON of worthy choices for where to spend your hard-earned cash on fajitas, queso, guacamole and margaritas (never forget the margaritas), but none can match the experience and the food of the Original Ninfa's on Navigation.
In 2010, former Houston Press food critic, author and, now, part Tex-Mex restaurant owner himself, ranked Ninfa's fajitas #2 on his list of favorite dishes in Houston, which makes sense given the fact that this is the place that made fajitas famous. Despite a poorly-conceived franchise venture that has left a handful of "Ninfa's" restaurants open in Texas and Louisiana, the original on Navigation is the only one worth visiting and the best place in town to get truly authentic Tex-Mex...the un-official food of Houston.
Nine More (in no particular order)
Go to a football game at Rice Stadium and sit high up on the home side for a great view of downtown. You're certainly not going for the football unless you are a fan of the opponent or just a diehard Rice nut, but the view from the venerable old stadium is pretty fantastic.
Visit the Buffalo Soldiers Museum The only museum in America dedicated to the African-American soldier. If you are lucky, you can catch Melissa Waddy-Thibodeaux channel Harriet Tubman in one of her amazing one-woman monologues.
Go fishing on Armand Bayou. Texas is a great fishing state and, not surprisingly, there are some good places to get your line wet around Houston. One of my favorites is Armand Bayou in Clear Lake. It's paddle only making it quiet and because the water ranges from salty to fresh, you can fish for bass and redfish on the same day.
Spend a Sunday night at Mr. Gino's Lounge listening to the blues. Since 1973, Mr. Gino's on Cullen has been delivering the goods when it comes to the blues. Houston's rich history is on display every Sunday night at the legendary blues jam.
Go on a taco truck crawl to the original food trucks. Since we're talking about Mexican food, you would do yourself right to go on one of the many taco truck crawls that happen throughout the year. There are lots of new, fantastic food trucks, but going to some of the authentic, original taco trucks along Long Point is a truly Houston experience.
Celebrate Dia de los Muertos on the Houston's east side. Sticking with the Latin theme, as fun as Halloween might be, there's an equally entertaining holiday the two following days in Dia de los Muertos. The "Day of the Dead" celebration is particularly festive on the east side of town around the Multicultural Eduction and Counseling Through the Arts (MECA) center where they have an annual two-day festival.
Go to one of Houston's many gun shows. As crazy as it sounds, the High Caliber Gun and Knife Show is held somewhere in Houston almost every single weekend, either at one of the conventions centers in Houston or Pasadena. Yee haw!
Stop and smell...the coffee at the Maximus Coffee plant on Harrisburg. If you have never driven down Harrisburg with your windows open, you are missing a treat. The strong aroma of coffee will fill your car as you pass the Maximums Coffee plant. Soon, the light rail will whip right by and riders can get a whiff of the dark-roasted goodness.
See A Christmas Carol at the Alley or The Nutcracker at the Wortham...or both. One awesome Christmas tradition is seeing one of these timeless classics in the theater district. Sure, they have them in other cities, but no one does it up like the Wortham and the Alley. If that doesn't put you in the Christmas spirit, well, bah humbug.
Previous Bucket Lists
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.