A State of Grace favorite — oyster on the half-shell. (Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee)
Semolina pancakes at Helen.
Menil Drawing Institute
Even in a world of fractured media and new outlets galore, a New York Times endorsement still means something. Houston’s just received a huge one, with the vaunted media giant gushing over its restaurant, bar and art options.
The Times is suddenly touting the Bayou City as a destination place, though it does rather obviously note that “summering in Houston” is unlikely to ever become a thing. Houston’s restaurant, bar and art scene is something The Old Gray Lady can get behind, though.
On the positive side, the paper singles out Helen Greek Food and Wine, the Rice Village spot that PaperCity contributor James Brock told you about long before it became hip, and recognizes the place’s underrated wine power. “The all-Greek wine list will open your eyes and your palate (not to mention your wallet) to the variety and quality of Greek tipples,” reporter Andrew Ferren writes.
The New York Times‘ other restaurant recommendations range from predictable (the new showy State of Grace) to borderline touristy (Goode Company Seafood) to interesting (Laredo Taqueria and its $2.25 breakfast tacos get a long mention).
The art selections are beyond solid: James Turrell’s Sky Space at Rice University, the Museum of Fine Arts, Rienzi and Bayou Bend. The lodging choices are equally capable, but a little dated. Sure, Hotel Granduca and La Colombe d’Or are both fine establishments, but what about one of the city’s newer hotels, such as the JW Marriott Downtown?
Still, the only major quibble when it comes to this love letter to Houston is found in the shopping selections. And the rather major, complete omission of the new River Oaks District. Even the iPic and its private love pod seating cannot draw the Times’ eye.
Instead, Ferren recommends West Ave, which is like urging theatergoers to catch Phantom of the Opera instead of Hamilton.
Then again, when the most important newspaper in America is touting Houston as the United States’ youngest city (more millennials than boomers, Ferren notes) and its most ethnically and culturally diverse city, it’s hard to get too upset. The New York Times is in love. A few wayward thoughts tend to go along with that condition.