February 5 marks the second time in 13 years that Houston plays host to the Super Bowl (casual observers may remember the first, in 2004, for Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” during halftime). Since then, the city has more than tripled its miles of rail and nearly doubled its hotel rooms. In a town so sprawling—655 square miles for an estimated 2.2 million residents—one thing is certain: Even locals can use a guide. Here’s what to do when you’re not watching the main event.
Where to eat:
Cuisine is front and center in the city, as evidenced by its approximately 10,000 restaurants. One of 2017’s most anticipated openings is One Fifth Steak—the first of five new limited-edition eateries from chef Chris Shepherd, owner of the critically acclaimed Underbelly and 2014 winner of the James Beard Foundation’s award for best Southwestern chef. Debuting in January, the new spot shares Underbelly’s recipe for success: Shepherd’s use of all cuts of meat. “Even as a kid, I understood the importance of utilizing a whole animal,” he says. “It’s how I cook at home, and it’s how we’re going to cook at One Fifth.” Get it while it’s hot because, as part of the chef’s plan to open five restaurants over five years in the same building, Shepherd’s steakhouse will turn into One Fifth Romance Languages (featuring food from Spain, France and Italy) next September.
Where to shop:
In the year–and–change since it opened, the River Oaks District has quickly become one of the city’s top purveyors of all things luxe. Already home to outposts of Tom Ford, Jo Malone and Harry Winston, the indoor–outdoor mall recently welcomed branches of Indonesia–based jeweler John Hardy and Texas’ iconic Forty Five Ten boutique.
Where to party:
Whether your team wins or loses, Omni Houston Hotel’s iconic nightclub, Black Swan, is the place to celebrate (or forget) in style. Fresh off a $2 million facelift, the 30-year-old haunt’s rebirth isn’t restricted to décor—behind the bar, expect new cocktails like the LeFleur (a sparkler made with fresh raspberries) and the Houston Sour (a whiskey sour with a dash of red wine). But longtime patrons needn’t fret: The club’s namesake drink, a mix of vodka, sparkling wine and lemon juice, hasn’t gone anywhere.
One Fifth Romance Languages/Photo by Julie Soefer Photography. All other images courtesy.