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Living Large at OTC — the Best Restaurants, Clubs and Special Events for Blowout Houston Nights

Let that Expense Account Loose

BY // 05.02.18

It’s that time of year again. The sun is out, spring is in the air. But there’s something new, too. After years and years of lows, oil prices are on the rise and it look like they might just stick.

Gas is projected to be more expensive this summer than in the last four years. It may irk the consumer, but it’s something to celebrate in Houston — especially for people in the oil biz.

The Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) is going full force at NRG Park, celebrating its 50th year. Think around 70,000 attendees, almost 400 technical presentations and info aplenty

For those attending, it’s a key time to learn. But that doesn’t mean there’s no time to play. Professionals visiting Houston for OTC deserve to kick back a little and see what the city has to offer. And they’re known for doing just that — for going big and then some.

OTC veterans and first-timers alike have a chance to either find or rediscover some of the top things Houston has to offer. This is your guide to living large at OTC.

After all, this week needs to be memorable — or you really haven’t done OTC right.

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Expense Account Worthy Restaurants

The Pass & Provisions

807 Taft

Here’s one a true foodie cannot pass up. The Pass promises an intimate tasting menu experience with carefully curated and plated dishes over five courses. The tantalizing, seasonal menus are switched up regularly.

Current courses run the gamut of flavors, from scallop carpaccio with grapefruit and goat’s milk, caviar and pancakes, to a beet dessert with blackberries, dark chocolate and granola.

This isn’t what you first think of when you hear “taste of Texas,” but maybe it should be.

Steak 48

4444 Westheimer

Do you like your steaks rare? What about your steakhouse experience? Head to Steak 48, the chic River Oaks District hotspot that’s quite the scene.

There’s an in-house butcher shop with wet-aged beef and an expansive raw bar on display in the glass-enclosed, jewel box-like kitchen. But those aren’t the real draw. This is one of the hottest reservations in Houston and spots at the bar are coveted and it’s all about the people watching and being part of the action as much as the food.

One Fifth Romance Languages

1658 Westheimer

This concept comes straight from one of Houston’s most heralded chefs, Chris Shepherd. He’s the man behind such past Bayou City favorites as Underbelly, which was revered by The New York Times.

The One Fifth restaurant concept is a bold one — five years, five restaurants, one space. Its current iteration — Shepherd’s take on the flavors of Italy, Spain and France — might be the best one yet.

Head there for dinner to try out the chicken roulade and charred octopus, or stop by for the tapas portions of popcorn sweetbreads and grilled quail.

B&B Butchers

1814 Washington

Arguably Houston’s best steakhouse, B&B Butchers brings supreme dry-aged meats and a unique, memorable setting. B&B Butchers is housed in a charming, almost century-old brick bakery.

You can’t miss it from the street, and you can’t miss the view from the top. The second floor’s open-air patio looks out over the Houston skyline.

No matter what you order — the 28-day dry-aged A5 Japanese Wagyu is a perennial favorite — you have to start with Chef Tommy’s Bacon. The thick cut bacon is sweet and salty, drizzled with truffle-infused honey and topped with Roquefort.

Brennan’s of Houston

3300 Smith

Brennan’s is an age-old Houston classic, and a throwback to another time that’s full of Southern Hospitality. For more than 50 years, this sister restaurant to New Orleans’ famed Commander Palace has been serving up its unique Texas Creole cuisine.

The interior is both upscale and cozy, and the large courtyard is all tiles and greenery, with a fountain and a pond.

Menu stand-outs include barbecue shrimp and dumplings, fried green tomatoes, ravigote, turtle soup that’s second to none, and the Creole Spiced Cowboy Cut Ribeye.

Xochi

2200 Post Oak

Did you really think you could come to Houston and skip out on Mexican food? But why not make it the type of unique Mexican food that you can’t find almost anywhere else outside of Mexico. That’s what James Beard winner Hugo Ortega brings at Xochi in the Marriott Marquis hotel downtown.

Xochi brings moles to die for — and much more. You can satisfy your queso cravings with some of the warm melty cheese, but you’d better believe it’ll push your boundaries — here, it comes with a trio of insects.

Mole is really what it’s all about, with at least eight different forms of the rich sauce. Try the mole de higos on bacon-wrapped quail, or go for a flight of four different moles with tortillas.

 

Things to Do

Hamilton

The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts — 800 Bagby

Shows Nightly Through May 20

The hottest ticket on Broadway is now the hottest ticket in Houston. Hip-hop sensation Hamilton has finally danced its way to Space City, and good seats could set you back $3,000. The irreverent historical musical lives up to the hype though — and you’re living large at OTC.

Astros v. Yankees, the Showdown

Minute Maid Park — 501 Crawford

7 pm Wednesday and 1 pm Thursday game

The two best teams in the American League — or close to it  — are facing off in a rematch of an American League Championship Series that saw the Astros roar back to win in seven games. This is as high level and intense (these teams really do not like each other) as regular season baseball gets — and you can enjoy it in one of the best ballparks in all of the Major Leagues.

Grab some of the best tacos in town at Torchy’s Tacos in centerfield or taste some essential Houston brews at the St. Arnold’s Bar by Section 104 while you’re taking in the action.

Aaron Judge and the Yankees are in town.

 

Sessions & Cigars feat. The Righteous Vibe

House of Blues — 1204 Caroline

8 pm Thursday

The House of Blues puts on these soulful jazz and funk nights on Thursdays. This week, the concert hall pairs live jazz from The Righteous Vibe with specialty cigars and drink specials.

The event shows Houston area musicians in a laid-back setting at one of the city’s most popular music venues. 

Dinner with St. Arnold at The Orange Show

The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art — 2402 Munger

Thursday

Settle in for supper at one of the most unique places in Houston. The Orange Show, visionaries behind Houston’s iconic Art Car Parade, are putting on a special four-course dinner at its unique building, surrounded by eclectic art.

St. Arnold’s Orange Show Blond with blood orange will be served, along with Up and Adam Cherry and more. Dinner includes dishes such as cheese and charcuterie, tomato and strawberry salad, and grilled 44 farms Tri-tip orange beef-style steak.

Chapman & Kirby Derby

2118 Lamar Street

Saturday and Sunday

This retro-chic hotspot is celebrating Derby Day with wild flair. Expect it to be over-the-top, expect to be swimming in booze — and expect the unexpected. The free event in this much-loved EaDo nightlife spot will boast a live band kickoff at 2 pm.

Enjoy a specialized Derby menu, whiskey tasting, signature Mint Juleps, not to mention a champagne tower. Come decked out in your Derby best. 

Cinco de Mayo at Last Concert Cafe

1403 Nance

Saturday and Sunday

Last Concert Cafe starts its days-long Cinco de Mayo festivities early at 11:30. This under-the-radar Mexican restaurant fits in perfectly with its colorful, eclectic Houston warehouse neighborhood. It draws musicians from all over for easy listening on evenings or lazy afternoons.

But they know how to kick things up a notch. This Saturday, it’ll be all about smooth and acoustic musicians, moving into a high-energy acts with Latin flavors. Enjoy happy hour margaritas all day. You’ll need a few to handle the Doomsday Wrestling showcase.

 

Rule the Night

Brasserie 19

1926 West Gray

This sweet little French spot will have you living la vie en rose. The River Oaks spot is the place to see and be seen. Either watch for chicly dressed table hoppers inside or sit out front on the bustling patio.

Sip on any glass from the extensive wine list — available for view on the restaurant’s iPads — and settle in for some serious power people watching.

Julep

1919 Washington

Trust us, we didn’t just select this one because Derby day is around the corner. Julep is the perfect pick year-round, Southern sensibilities that would make any Kentucky transplant proud.

Go for the win with a classic Mint Julep, or maybe shake things up with a Sparkling Julep with a splash of rose or the Honeysuckle Julep, kissed with honeysuckle liqueur and coconut. If you want something to snack on, go for the pimento cheese and prosciutto.

 

Julep
Celebrate Derby Day with a Julep at Chapman & Kirby.

Public Services

202 Travis

You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you miss out on this whiskey-rich bar. Housed in a historic building — like, National Register of Historic Places-historic — the bar’s whisky selection is impressive.

There’s a solid mix of price points and flavors, spanning from blended scotch whiskeys to Irish, American, Japanese and even Taiwanese. The plush, low-light setting is perfect for sipping and chatting with other connoisseurs.

Prohibition Supper Club & Bar

1008 Prairie

The 1920s called, and they set up shop at Prohibition. If you’re looking for a night to let loose your inhibitions, this is the place for you. There are two sides of this over-the-top restaurant and bar. First, there’s the food — a $65 pre-fixe dinner or a la carte options off an oyster bar dinner — then, there’s the show.

Prohibition brings live burlesque shows by the Moonlight Dolls.

Tongue-Cut Sparrow

310 Main

This swanky little 25-seat cocktail bar is based around a Japanese fable of an old woman cutting out a sparrow’s tongue. The glassware is as finely cut as the storied bird, high in quality and chilled to perfection. The cocktails are top notch and surprisingly affordable at $12.

Hidden in the heart of Downtown Houston, Tongue-Cut Sparrow evokes Japan down to its drinks’ accouterments.

Doris Metropolitan

2815 S Shepherd 

This centerpiece of this Middle Eastern meat-driven restaurant is its large built-out bar. The charming bar easily seats 20 and is perfect for groups or dates. You could have a quick, well-crafted drink before dinner or simply spend your evening here.

The cocktail list is short but precise. The Israeli Sour harkens back to the Doris owners’ backgrounds. Gin, Arack, coco cream, citrus and lavender are blended with egg white. And you can’t sit at the bar without ordering a cheese board or some of Doris’ fresh baked bread.

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