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This Week in Houston Food Events: Treat Yourself to a Festive Holiday Lunch

Xochi is just one of the chef Hugo Ortega concepts that will be hosting a special holiday lunch.
Xochi is just one of the chef Hugo Ortega concepts that will be hosting a special holiday lunch. Photo by Troy Fields
Here's a look at this week's hottest culinary happenings:

All month long

13th Anniversary at 13 Celsius

13 Celsius, 3000 Caroline, continues its series of 13 events celebrating its 13th anniversary this December, with the next fun events including The Ultimate Wine and Cheese Class with the Houston Dairymaids on Monday, December 9; and an Au Naturale: Naughty & Natty Wine Night on Tuesday, December 10; and Friday the 13th Masquerade on Friday, December 13. See the entire list of events online.

Miracle Holiday Bar Pop-Up at Johnny’s Gold Brick and Daiquiri Time Out

The Miracle holiday bar pop-up is now open at Johnny’s Gold Brick, 2518 Yale; and Daiquiri Time Out, 2701 Market. Both pop-ups will be hosting special events throughout the end of the year — including a toy drive in support of The Galveston Police Department and a Miracle Monday’s Christmas themed movie night at DTO; and a Toy Drive for Houston Area Women’s Center, Nog Bottle Service (paired with fresh baked cookies and treats) and Tuesday Night Tamales with Christmas movies at Johnny’s Gold Brick.

Santa’s Tavern at Porch Swing Pub

Now through Tuesday, December 31, interactive Christmas pop-up bar Santa’s Tavern will transform the Porch Swing Pub, 69 Heights, into a winter wonderland where adults and kids can release their inner elves. Offerings include holiday-themed photo stations (all day and night); kids photos with Santa and gingerbread and ornament making stations (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.); and Christmas cocktails, food pairings and festive fun for the adults (7 p.m. to 2 a.m.). Tickets for Santa’s Tavern will be sold in three-hour time slots and admission is $20 per adult, $10 for children five to 12 years-of-age, and free for kids four and under.

Seasonal Specials

Picos Tamale Stand at Arnaldo Richards’ Picos

Arnaldo Richards’ Picos, 3601 Kirby, has brought back its Picos Tamale Stand, open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. now through Monday, January 6. Wrapped in fresh corn husks and with both meat and vegetarian options, the expansive menu of features an array of tamales, moles and salsas from which you can build custom packages including cooking instructions. Prices start at $9 for a half-dozen with various combinations and promotions.

12 Days of Tastings at Marriott Marquis Houston

Marriott Marquis Houston, 1777 Walker, is continuing its 12 Days of Tastings event through Thursday, December 12, greeting hotel guests and local Houstonians with caroler performances and festive tasting displays from Makers Mark bourbon to Karbach brews.

Tuesday, December 10

StarChefs Rising Stars at The Corinthian

National restaurant industry magazine StarChefs has announced the 2019 class of Houston Rising Stars, with the class including neo-soul chef Johnny Rhodes at Indigo, Erin Smith of Feges BBQ, Nick Wong of UB Preserv and Better Luck Tomorrow’s Natasha Douglas, among scores of other local talent. To celebrate, the StarChefs Houston Rising Stars event will take place at The Corinthian, 202 Fannin, with a VIP reception at 5:45 p.m., an awards ceremony at 6:30 and a tasting gala from 7:15 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $85 for GA with access to the ceremony and tasting gala; and $125 for VIP.

Wednesday, December 11

Holiday Lunch at Backstreet Cafe

Chef Hugo Ortega’s Backstreet Cafe will offer a special three-course holiday lunch perfect for office parties and holiday get-togethers. Dine on choices such as shrimp and grits, pan-roasted duck confit in pomegranate sauce, profiteroles and more. Cost is $34 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Call 713-521-2239. The special lunch is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays, December 11 and 18.

Holiday Lunch at Xochi

Chef Hugo Ortega will also be hosting a holiday lunch ($34++) at his hot Oaxacan concept, Xochi,1777 Walker, in downtown's Marriott Marquis. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., guests can enjoy a three-course meal with options from duck enchiladas and molotes negros to catch of the day and tres leches de chocolate. The holiday lunch will also run on Wednesday, December 18. Call 713-400-3330. Check out similar deals at Hugo’s, 1600 Westheimer, and Caracol, 2200 Post Oak, on Tuesdays, December 10 and 17.

Friday through Sunday

Tomball German Christmas Market & Festival in Old Town Tomball

The Tomball German Christmas Market & Festival will take place near Old Town Tomball’s Historical Train Depot Plaza, 201 South Elm, on Friday, December 13 through Sunday, December 15. Expect more than 200 street vendors, German and holiday food, beer and wine, a petting zoo, street performers, arts and crafts, four stages of live music and more. Admission is free and hours are Friday 6 to 10 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

click to enlarge Imagine a Breakfast with Santa, but with jumbo lump crab cakes and flourless chocolate cake. - PHOTO BY JENN DUNCAN
Imagine a Breakfast with Santa, but with jumbo lump crab cakes and flourless chocolate cake.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Saturday, December 14

Breakfast & Photos with Santa at The Annie Café & Bar

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., The Annie Café & Bar, 1800 Post Oak, will host its inaugural Breakfast & Photos with Santa, a festive opportunity to enjoy pictures with Santa; a prix fixe menu with kids choices from chicken quesadillas to French toast with Christmas sprinkles and adult choices like crab cake with poached egg and flourless chocolate cake with chocolate coffee mousse and candied orange; hot chocolate and cider bars; specialty cocktails and more (reservations required; $45 for children and $65 for adults).

Bouillabaisse Day Specials

Chef Philippe Verpiand will be serving different versions of bouillabaisse at both Brasserie du Parc, 1440 Lamar, and Etoile Cuisine et Bar, 1101-11 Uptown Park, in honor of National Bouillabaisse Day. At Brasserie, dig into a localized version with shrimp, Gulf snapper redfish and saffron rouille ($20 at lunch and $30 at dinner). At Etoile Cuisine et Bar, guests will find a bouillabaisse much like the traditional stew which originated with Marseille fishermen, a bountiful collection of shrimp, fresh-caught snapper, john dory, mussels, scallops and a saffron emulsion ($28 for lunch and $38 at dinner).

Bistro Provence, 13616 Memorial Drive, will celebrate National Bouillabaisse Day with bowls of Provencal fish stew served as an appetizer for just $11 each. There will also be plenty of fresh-baked Provencal bread to soak up the soup.

The Ancient Art of Making Tamales at Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen

Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen, 1140 Eldridge, continues its Cooking Class series as
chef and restaurateur Sylvia Casares teaches The Ancient Art of Making Tamales on Saturday, December 14 (another class will run on Saturday, December 21). Cost for each hands-on class is $65 per person, which includes all materials, the class and a meal. To register, visit or call 832-230-3842.

Sunday, December 15

December Chef’s Table at Broken Barrel

Chef Hilda Ysusi will take on traditional holiday fare at the December Chef’s Table showcase at Broken Barrel, 1950 Hughes Landing at 4:30 p.m. (7 p.m. sold out). Guests can enjoy an intimate five-course dining experience with holiday inspired dishes from tamales rajas con queso and honey smoked ham to mac and cheese and cookies and “milk.” Cost is $85++. Call 713-389-5628.
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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano