Things To Do

Upcoming Events: Punch Parties and Greek Eats

Can you believe it's been nearly 50 years since the first Greek Festival in Houston? Here we are on the 46th anniversary of the beloved festival, and it's bigger and better this year than ever -- but it's still only $5 at the gate, with kids getting in for free.

The festival actually started yesterday afternoon, but it runs through today, tomorrow and Sunday with shuttles to and from the festival grounds at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral all three days. There will be cathedral tours, live Greek music, shops and even a Greek playground for the kids, but we all know the real draw at the Greek Festival each year is the food.

As always, there will be plenty of delicious Greek cuisine on hand, from a $12 dinner plate that includes pastitsio, tiropita, spanakopita, keftedes and a salad to more portable souvlaki or gyros for $7 each. There'll also be plenty of strong Greek coffee to wash down your baklava, kourambiedes or finikia, plus -- as always -- a huge bounty of Greek wine, this year from Boutari Wines, all of which are available to take home by the bottle.

To keep the Greek fun going, head to Yia Yia Mary's on Wednesday, October 10, when the restaurant will be hosting Christina Boutari from Boutari Wines as a part of its Wine Wednesday promotion. Each Wednesday, Yia Yia Mary's hosts a complimentary wine tasting from 6 to 8 p.m., but this evening will find Boutari pouring wines from her own Greek vineyard.

If the Greek Festival sounds too sedate, then head to Little Woodrow's in Midtown all day tomorrow, when the bar will be hosting its 1st Annual Wild Game Cook Off and full-on block party. (Hadley will be closed to traffic). $1,500 in cash prizes will be awarded to the cook-off winners, but there will also be a $1,000 purse for the winner of the "Miss Wild Game" swimwear competition and live music from local band Downfall 2012. There will also be an Extreme Midget Wrestling Federation bout from 9 to 11 p.m. Yep.

Keep the adult beverage fun going on Thursday, October 18, when the Rienzi Museum will be hosting its annual Punch Party from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Each fall, Rienzi hosts a jolly celebration to celebrate the "18th-century imbiber," and invites guests to travel back through time to the mid-1700s to explore historic English punch, a blend of spirits, citrus, sugar and spices. During this Punch Party at the MFAH house museum, guests can sample original 18th-century cocktail recipes concocted by Mongoose versus Cobra and savory light bites with a historic twist from Lola.

Divisi Strings will provide the music while you eat, drink and get merry on Rienzi's terrace -- and you'll even have the opportunity dress up in 18th-century garb on loan from Houston Grand Opera for a snap in the photobooth. Tickets are $25 for MFAH members and $30 for non-members. Admission includes punch, light bites and complimentary valet parking. Space is limited, and reservations are required. Guests must be 21 or older. To purchase tickets, visit or call 713-639-7800.

Throughout October, La Madeleine is inviting busy Houstonians to step away from their desks, and "Savour the Moment." Every Tuesday this month, the French fast-casual chain is offering guests a coupon redeemable for a free cup of coffee or mini dessert with purchase of its new Savoury Sampler or any other entrée. The coupon will be sent to all e-club members as well as the La Madeleine Facebook page. To redeem your free coffee or dessert, simply present the printed coupon or coupon image on your smartphone, iPad or other mobile device at the register.

If you've never visited the trio of charming Italian restaurants on West Dallas all connected by a big, beautiful patio -- Nino's, Vincent's and Grappino's -- try them all out at once during their upcoming joint wine dinner on Tuesday, October 16. Vincent and Mary Mandola, who own all three restaurants, will be hosting the annual Mandola Family Fall Wine Dinner with their two daughters.

Starting at 6:30 p.m., the Italian ballroom in Grappino's and the landscaped courtyard will be the site of a five-course dinner featuring wine pairings from the Fonterutoli, Belguardo and Zisola Wineries, located in the acclaimed wine making regions of Tuscany and Sicily. Owner and winemaker Francisco Mazzei will be the special guest for the evening, introducing and explaining his choice of wines. The cost is $95, plus tax and 20 percent gratuity. Reservations are required and can be made at 713-522-5120.

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Katharine Shilcutt