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Top 5: Places to See and Be Seen

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Let's face it, Houstonians have a tendency to be fickle. They flock to the coolest places when it's new and hip to do so, losing interest and moving on when the next hot new thing hits the scene. 

When a place is "in," though, everyone seems to want to be there, which means that a hot new restaurant will attract a beautiful crowd. After all, everyone wants to see and be seen once in a while, and what's better than a night out when everyone's decked out to the nines looking ready to impress?

Here's my "of the moment" list of places to see and be seen.

5. Benjy's on Washington Boasting one of the best happy hours in town, Benjy's on Washington has got to be the pre-going-out dining destination of the moment. The retro-modern decor is the perfect setting for the younger set in their glittery pre-clubbing gear, who will often come in larger parties. On the night I was there, the chef's table area -- set smack dab in the center of the restaurant -- showcased eight lovely ladies having a great time. It's the ultimate pre-party social-gathering spot, a place to get the party started, and everyone is there to check out the action before the sun goes down.

4. Philippe Restaurant + Lounge

Since it opened in early February, Philippe has been getting rave reviews for its food as well as its ambience. It's also one of those places in Houston where you just might see a TV celebrity -- like when Robert Kardashian recently stopped by for the Final Four -- or a Houston celebrity, as when Carolyn Farb stopped by for Philippe's grand opening party. Whether people come here for the food, for the off chance of a celebrity sighting, or to get a personal greeting from the French chef-proprietor Philippe himself, I have no idea, but the Philippe dining room is always busy. And a the busier a place is, the more everyone else wants to be there.

3. Eddie V's in West Ave

From Thursday to Saturday evenings, if you want to go to Eddie V's in West Ave, just plan to valet. I spied Lambourghinis, Porsches and Ferraris in the valet queue, and if that doesn't tell you about the type of people you'll find at Eddie V's, just get there a bit before dinner and you'll find a packed scene in the bar with everyone decked out to the nines. The dining room was no different, and even as early as 6:30 p.m. the restaurant was already buzzing with an exciting energy that you only feel when you're in a place where everyone else wishes they could be.

2. Ava Kitchen and Whiskey Bar

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a recent visit to Ava, calling it "the place to be." In the last two weeks, nothing has changed much. Ava continues to be one of those places that attract the bold and beautiful, who go not so much for the food but to be part of the "it" crowd. The dining room is gorgeous, it's busy, it's loud, it's happening, and if Houston has what others call an "A-list," chances are you'll see them at Ava.

1. Brasserie 19

Just a few weeks old, this gorgeous, white, French concept restaurant by the owners of Ibiza and Catalan is definitely the place to be right now. "Crazy busy, but super fun," a girlfriend of mine Tweeted when she heard I was there. I sat at the noisy, packed bar last Saturday night and marveled at the comings and goings of trendy, beautiful couples, socialites, and the well-to-do River Oaks set. The iPad drink menus were super-cool, the cocktails were delish, and the people-watching was off the hook.

If you haven't been to one of these see-and-be-seen hot spots and plan to go to any one of them, make sure you're dressed up and you should fit right in. If you don't agree, or you think that other places are more deserving of this Top 5 list, comments are welcome.

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