One Perfect Day in Houston: Winter Edition

December 12, 2013
by Amber Ambrose

If money were no object, calories were nonexistent, driving around the city wasn't such a pain and you had a whole day to yourself with no commitments, where would you go and what would you eat and drink? Here at Zagat, we're dreaming up perfect days in Houston. Today, we show you how to have the ultimate winter day. 

Are these cooler temperatures already getting you down? Turn that frown upside down and get ready for a day of fun, foodie style. It begins with comforting mugs of hot chocolate and ends pretty much where it started, only add booze; after all, this is the perfect day we're talking about. So get off the couch and ready for the ultimate day of eating and drinking; stretchy pants required. Bonus points if you find room to fit in a nap.

Coffee: Blacksmith

Not only is it one of the hottest coffee shops in town, there's also a killer hot chocolate on the menu. Get ready for your perfect day by warming up with a mug of it.

1018 Westheimer Rd.; 832-360-7470

Breakfast: La Guadalupana

Continue the day on a high note with a belly-warming plate of chilaquiles and a cup of coffee - this one laced with cinnamon - at the Mexican bakery and cafe known for their breakfasts. If you don't have room for an almond croissant, be sure to take one for a snack later: their pastries are famously good.

2109 Dunlavy St.; 713-522-2301

Go Exploring: Ranch 99 Market

It beckons to you from the highway with its large presence, and you should obey its calls. Not only is there a massive Asian grocery store stocked with exotic produce, fresh seafood, interesting condiments and any kind of noodle or rice you'd ever need, there are also food vendors (including dim sum, Korean, crawfish and more) and a bakery where you can stock up for tomorrow's breakfast. 

1005 Blalock Rd.; 713-932-8899

Lunch: Cafe Brussels 

This Belgian cafe is warm and cozy and offers some heavy, delicious dishes very appropriate for the cold snap we've had lately. Whether you're in the mood for some mussels and frites or a warming bowl of Flemish beef stew (known as carbonnades à la flamande), you must drink a beer with your lunch - they offer Houston's largest selection of Belgian brews on tap. Plus, it'll warm you up for the next stop on the Tour de Perfection.

1718 Houston Ave.; 713-222-6996

Brewery Tour: Buffalo Bayou Brewery

This microbrewery has some tasty seasonal brews, like the Gingerbread Stout, that are perfect for this time of year, as well as fun tours from noon-3 PM on Saturdays. They're also releasing a Red Velvet Stout this Friday, so even more reason to hit them up at the source.

5301 Nolda St.; 713-750-9795

Snack: Oysters at Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen

It's officially oyster season and time to grab some bivalves on the half shell while they last. One of the greatest places in Houston to enjoy the bounty of our nearby Galveston Bay is Danton's. The Montrose seafood house has happy-hour specials from 1 to 7 PM on Saturdays (and 4 to 7 PM Monday through Friday).

4611 Montrose Blvd.; 713-807-8883

Dinner: Vallone's

When a restaurant has their name emblazoned on the plates (fancy, fancy), you know it's going to be a meal to remember. And a meal to remember it is at this brand-new Italian steakhouse from Tony Vallone. Steaks are aged for 55 days, pasta is made in-house, and decadence abounds. You've almost completed another year - treat yo'self.

947 N Gessner Rd.; 713-395-6100

After Dinner Cocktails: Voodoo Queen

After a day of eating, a warm cocktail on a cold evening is the perfect nightcap. Try out any one of the new hot cocktails on Voodoo Queen's menu, or bring the perfect December day full circle with a spiked coffee or a rum-laden hot chocolate.

322 Milby St.; 713-555-5666