A long weekend in Houston

By S. Mitra Kalita

We recently spent a wonderful long weekend in Houston filled with art and food. Sharing our itinerary and other things to do: 

Where we stayed: 

We think we found not just the best Airbnb in Houston but among the best in the country. Coffee station, air filters, not cookie cutter decor, snacks galore.. We chose this house because it was close to Rice, restaurants, the galleries and museums. 

Here’s the listing. Yes, snacks galore.  

Day 1

We landed on a Wednesday night and needed to find a place to eat before everything closed and was halfway between the airport and our Airbnb. 

Cyclone Anaya’s in Houston Heights is where we ended up.  Solid.

Day 2

For breakfast, husband got pastries at the nearest Common Bond, a chain of six bakeries and cafes across Houston. Try the green tea croissant. 

We started our sightseeing at the stunning Menil Collection in Montrose. We parked at the Bistro Menil and began at the Rothko Chapel, then made our way into the galleries (the best rooms, IMHO, were the spaces devoted to Surrealism). 

Other things not to miss: Rothko chapel, the Cy Twombley Gallery (be sure to just sit before the massive work toward the exit, “Untitled (Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor), 1994”). It apparently took him 22 years to finish and is the size of a small airplane.  

We also were there for the exhibit, “Dream Monuments: Drawing in the 1960s and 1970s,” which felt especially relevant given the current state of monuments. These now-historical plans show how controversial the idea of commemoration always has been; my favorite work was a series of stacked oil barrels along a Houston highway. The artist Christo never built it but its cheekiness endures.  

We had lunch at Kau Ba, a creative Vietnamese Cajun joint with great brisket pho and pork belly in many forms, all served in stainless steel dishes reminiscent of tiffin carriers

Our evening itinerary: 
Dinner: MAD (stands for Madrid) 

Drinks: West Alabama Ice House (dozens of beer choices)

Dessert: House of Pies

Coconut custard pie!

Day 3

We spent our morning touring Rice University (it’s a gorgeous campus and features a James Turrell that is also well experienced at sunrise or sunset) and then off to the Museum of Fine Arts (walking distance or one stop on the metro).

Every entryway in the museum feels a work of art, too.

We were lucky to catch the Ernesto Neto installation (interactive!) SunForceOceanLife (wear socks, get there early if you want to skip long lines).

She did not plan the earring matchy matchy. This Neto exhibit is like an obstacle course of nets and mazes.

Lunch: Goode Co. BBQ (amazing cafeteria-style sandwiches and sides; outdoor dining)

My husband heard about a Quaker meeting house with another James Turrell skyscape (I feel like we have traveled the country seeing his work, California to Queens) that was supposedly at sunset. So we head to Live Oaks Friends Meeting House a few minutes before 7:30 p.m. and expected to have to dodge crowds (the New Yorkers in us). It was completely empty. 

This was during sunset. We moved about the chapel freely to get different views of the sky. Only one other party showed up.

A simple chapel opened up to a blue sky greeted us, with blankets placed on the pews. We settled in and looked upward, waiting for the colors to turn. 

It takes a while. 

Shades of blue.

An hour later, after we experienced shades of blue, gray and black, we left. 

Dinner: Hugo’s (amazing food and experience; has outdoor dining)

More shade.

Dessert: Amy’s

Day 4

One of our greatest finds in Houston is this Indian breakfast place. We gathered a group of about a dozen friends for an informal but fun meal at Chai Khana & Grill. The keema omelette was incredible, as was the cheese toast, Maggi, South Indian filter coffee and the vibe. We don't even have these menu items in Jackson Heights!

From there, we left Houston and headed to Dallas to see my cousin. 


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