Bi-Polar Vortex: Survive Houston's Hot-Cold Winter

By Amber Ambrose  |  February 10, 2014
Credit: Groovehouse

The polar vortex has nothing on Houston weather. It may be colder than previous years, but as soon as the Artic air lifts, we'll all be enjoying springlike temperatures and a tiki drink on the patio. But then another front will come through and we'll all be clamoring for a hot chocolate. Such is the winter here in Houston, and we should all be prepared for either extreme. Alas, here's where to celebrate all kinds of weather, bi-polar vortex be damned.

  • Down House

    When it's cold: Order a mole cappuccino made with mezcal and mole chocolate bitters
    If it's warm: A traditional Pimm's cup with cucumber, Pimm's, gin, lemon, sugar and house ginger beer is nice and refreshing
    Bonus: The covered patio is perfect for mild weather that's not too cold and not too hot

    1801 Yale St.; 713-864-3696

  • Backstreet Cafe

    When it's cold: Sit by the fireplace
    If it's warm: Make sure you grab a seat in the scenic courtyard
    Bonus: Housemade hot chocolate for the cold and refreshing cocktails when it's not

    1103 South Shepherd Dr.; 713-521-2239

  • Barnaby's

    When it's cold: Try the hickory smoked chicken with honey barbecue sauce or the hearty meatloaf
    If it's warm: Dig in to one of their giant salads - the Chinese chicken salad is one of our favorites
    Bonus: The ribs are perfect for any weather - a hearty winter meal or a summer barbecue indulgence

    Multiple locations

  • Blacksmith

    When it's cold: Go for a flat white - an Australian-inspired drink with espresso and lightly textured milk where the coffee can really shine through
    If it's warm: A cold, brewed coffee made with a technique that combines both cold brewing and Japanese-style iced coffee in one refreshing drink
    Bonus: This coffee shop is throwing down some serious grub; try anything with a biscuit (they're made in-house)

    1018 Westheimer Rd.; 832-360-7470

  • Mam's House of Ice 

    When it's cold: They've got frito pie with hot chili, cheese and fritos
    If it's warm: A New Orleans-style snoball is in order
    Bonus: They also serve cafe au laits, coffees and other pick-me-ups

    1040 W. Cavalcade St.; 713-868-4545

  • Buffalo Bayou Brewing

    When it's cold: Try a heavier brew like their red velvet stout or Smoke on the Bayou Scotch ale
    If it's warm: Their flagship 1836 is lighter on the palate for balmier days
    Bonus: Tours are every Saturday from noon to 3 PM

    5301 Nolda St.; 713-750-9795

  • Credit: Jasmine Lee Richardson

    Ramen Jin 

    When it's cold: A bowl of curry ramen with ground pork, carrots, potatoes, wood ear mushrooms, cabbage, corn and a five-minute egg will warm you up
    If it's warm:  Cold sesame noodles with shredded cucumber, carrots, a soft-yolk egg and garlic sesame dressing are refreshing
    Bonus: There are five hot ramen selections on the tiny menu, plus a few small plates, rice bowls and even a few desserts

    11181 Westheimer Rd.; 713-278-8702