Visit Philadelphia: Eight Must See Sites

Philadelphia is like any awesome big city – There is entirely too much to see on one trip! However, as someone who loves to immerse myself in the city life, I was going to give it my very best. It was a whirlwind packed three-ish days and we fit a ton in. First I want to give a shout out to our hotel, the Wyndham Historic District. I would highly recommend staying with them. They are in a great location to Old City, just a couple blocks from a lot of the historic stuff, and then a few more blocks away from downtown and City Hall. The hotel staff was great, the room was amazing and I would stay there again. Alright, time to move on to some of the great sites we saw! As a side note, you MUST have timed tickets for Independence Hall. And while they say that you can obtain tickets on the morning of the day you would like to visit I would STRONGLY recommend that you reserve your tickets ahead of time for $1.

History Lives in Philadelphia {Sites}

National Portrait Gallery Philadelphia {420 Chestnut Street}

I would consider this be a hidden gem here in Philly, only because`several locals that I spoke with had never been. Living in DC we know portrait galleries, and while this one is small, the portraits in it make it worth the trip. The gallery is located in the Second Bank of the United States, which is really cool all by itself. You will find a who’s who of the creation of our country, including signers of the Declaration and Constitution. Many of the portraits are painted by Charles Wilson Peale, one of the most famous portrait painters of the time. Inside you will also find paintings and maps of Philadelphia in its early days, as well as important citizens. The gallery also has several computers in one of the rooms that allow you to look up, and learn in more detail, about the paintings they house.

Old City Hall {corner of 5th and Chestnut St – next to Independence Hall}

Unlike Independence Hall, no tickets are required for Old City Hall. While the building was intended as Philadelphia’s City Hall and seat of local government because Philly was our Nation’s first Capital it often was used for Federal purposes and was the meeting location of the first Supreme Court hearings. It is a really cool building, and if you aren’t able to get tickets into Independence Hall during your visit, this building looks a lot like it. There is a Ranger on site who tells you a little bit about the building and the history of it, as well as answering questions. One of the most interesting things we learned was that there was no special pay or arrangements made for the individuals that participated in the beginning. They came out of the goodness of the hearts from all over to handle cases.

City Hall {1450 JFK Blvd}

Perhaps one of the coolest buildings in Philadelphia is the current City Hall. It is so beautiful and just incredible architecture. I wanted to stare at it all day long. Whether you see it in the daytime or at night (I recommend both though), it is just an incredible example of Empire era architecture. Philly’s City Hall is the largest municipal building in the country. Building began in 1871 and took 30 years to finish. The 548 ft tower is the tallest masonry structure in the world without a steel frame. The first floor is solid granite, with brick structure with marble facade the rest of the way up. There is an absolutely gorgeous courtyard you can walk through during the workweek and Saturdays. There is a guided tour that takes you to an observation deck where you can see the entire city. This is only open however during the work week, so make sure to add that to the list. Attached to the grounds is Dilworth park which has an ice rink in the winter and holds various other community events during the year. Surrounding City Hall are various statutes and memorials marking important events and people to not only our Nation’s history but local history as well.

Christ Church {N. 2nd Street and Market Street} & Christ Church Burial Ground {5th and Arch Street}

Don’t get confused, no these two places aren’t connected to each other physically. Until 1856, Christ Church was actually the tallest building in North America. Its beautiful steeple is quite something. Over 300 years of history have occurred within these walls, and while the church is still an active Episcopal congregation you can tour the church home of many of our Nation’s most famous individuals – Betsey Ross, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and William Penn. One of my favorite parts is the chandelier inside, which is still used even though it was installed in the 1700s! The church also still rings its original bells. Visiting the church is donation only, but there is a small fee to visit the burial grounds down the road. All monies go to help to preserve both landmarks.

Five signers of the Declaration are buried at the Christ Church burial grounds including Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Benjamin Rush. It is also the final resting place of many that died during the yellow fever epidemic.

One Liberty Observation Tower {1650 Market Street, 57th Floor}

Since I wasn’t able to get inside City Hall I knew I had to visit One Liberty Tower so that I could really take in the city. You can be sure that on the 57th Floor of a building is going to get you some amazing views. We were not disappointed! One of the cool things that they had were various games set up. This is not a rush in and out type place. You are encouraged to take your time and really take it all in. Play some games, look through the telescopes and interact with the large smart boards that help you identify the buildings and landscape you are looking at. You can also get a guided tour without paying extra. You can buy your tickets online ahead of time, and there is a family four-pack available for purchase online or in person. You can also purchase a day/night pass where you can take in the views twice in one day to really get a full picture of the city. Get more info and purchase tickets for Independence Hall.

Philadelphia Free Library – Parkway Library {19th Street and Benjamin Franklin Blvd}

Architecture is my thing and libraries with beautiful architecture are like my heaven! I was so excited when my friend took me to see this beautiful library in Houston, so I knew I wanted to check out one of the oldest libraries when I finally made it to Philadelphia. This particular building was opened for the Free Public Library in 1911, due to the fact that the library was becoming so popular they just needed the space! The Free Public Library was chartered in 1871. If you also enjoy architecture I would recommend visiting this on your way to the Philadelphia Art Museum or the Rocky Steps. There are library tours during the week, as well as a tour of the Rare Books Department. Visit the Library website for more information and specific times.


Wanamaker Organ {Macy’s City Center 1300 Market Street}

I had heard about the Wanamaker Organ from a friend of mine and he had said that it was something that I should definitely try to put on the list. Old building, cool old organ? Nothing more to say in my opinion. Macy’s City Center is home to the Wanamaker Organ and in and of itself is a remarkable building, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Wanamker Organ, built in 1904 for the World’s Fair, is located in the Grand Court and is one of the world’s largest organs. The experience was an incredible one, and even the kids liked it. Growing up, the church I attended had an organ and I’ve always loved them. It is such a beautiful instrument that I don’t really think gets the appreciation it deserves. Make sure to visit the Organ’s website to get details about the playing times. There is a 45min performance usually twice per day, best viewed from the third floor in my opinion. Enjoy the sound from over 28,000 pipes! It is an incredible experience.

The Rocky Steps {Philadelphia Museum of Art 2600 Benjamin Franklin Blvd}

If you’re a fan of the movie this is a must! Join the hundreds of other people running up the 72 steps and do your best Rocky impression. Make sure to catch the Rocky statue down below and wait in line to snap your picture!


BONUS: Eastern State Penitentiary {2124 Fairmount Ave}

For more on this recommendation visit my post all about Eastern State here. This is an excellent experience for kids and adults!

what would add to your Must-See Philadelphia list?

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Visit Philadelphia ~ Eastern State Penitentiary

Thank you Eastern State for providing with the tickets to experience the museum!

You can see more pictures from our Eastern State visit on the Cammo Style Love facebook page

On our recent trip to Philadelphia, I was able to mark off a huge East-Coast bucket list item for me. Since we’ve moved to this side of the US seven years ago I’ve wanted to make it up to Philly and Eastern State Penitentiary. I know it probably sounds ridiculous to have a Prison on your bucket list, but as a Criminal Psychology major, this is a big deal. Eastern State is studied for many reasons – simply because it is America’s first REAL prison and because it was the beginning of prison reform, or downfall, depending on who you ask or the perspective you have. If you’ve never read about or visited Eastern State I strongly recommend it. Even our kids enjoyed it, and the two older ones stated that this was their favorite thing to do the whole trip. As a mom, that’s a major win!

the history of eastern state penitentiary

Eastern State is the world’s first true penitentiary and was designed with achieving penitence. When people look at the prison through today’s eyes they often see something quite different. Cells designed to cut off prisoners from all human contact and solitary confinement tantamount to torture.  When you take the tour or do any real reading about the subject you may learn something entirely different. If you look at the time before Eastern State Penitentiary you will see disease and filth-ridden non-system where men, women, and children were thrown together in large rooms. The building of ES brought about the end to many disease outbreaks and was designed to create an environment where prisoners could spend time in solitude to really reconcile and be penitent. They were not meant to be locked away forever! The creators of this system really did want to see individuals inside the prison release. Prisoners within ES even right up until it was shut down commented on how ES was different than any other prison they had been in before, remarking that the guards here were kind and friendly towards prisoners, bringing in radio, tv, games and Christmas decorations. I encourage you to read more about the history of Eastern State.

the tour

Expect to spend 2-3 hours at Eastern State. While the initial audio tour isn’t that long (35min) there are many areas of the prison that you can explore. Each off-the-beaten-path portion of the prison (50 additional stops) has an audio companion that you can listen to you if you choose, that are 1-2 minutes each. The audio portion is probably the best audio tour that I have ever taken. It is suitable for children and adults. They give you plenty of time to truly explore without making you feel rushed and give you great detail. There are docents and workers stationed in various locations of the prison that are also able to answer questions if you need. We ended up having an additional question and the docent was able to give a little extra insight which was nice. Grab the map and tour guide to help you locate other locations, as well as Hands on History portions where an expert tour guide is on hand to give more details that you won’t hear on the audio portion. Each experience is only about 5-10 min and is available all throughout the day. There is also one hour-long guided tour and discussion which would be perfect for a group (no additional charge for this! Just show up at the correct time). There are three portions of the tour that have adult content but are not part of the numbered tour, so the kiddos can’t accidentally bump into it.

Chaplain’s Office Murals
Synagogue – built by and for Jewish prisoners
one of the prisoners was an avid bug collector and studier – these were collected by him on prison grounds


special events

September – November come back for America’s #1 Haunted House

First Tuesday of every month hosts The Searchlight Series, discussing crime, justice and the American prison system

Hidden Lives Illuminated – August 15-September 12th Nightly – animated films are projected in the yard made by currently incarcerated artists. Nightly speakers and community involvement.

visit the Eastern State website for more special events throughout the year.

military discount and tour prices

One of the reasons I was excited to highlight this particular Philadelphia adventure is to share the military discount with my readers. For military Eastern State offers a $2.00 off discount for up to 4 people. Military discounts cannot be purchased online, but don’t worry they don’t sell out. The last entrance time 4pm. Just show up present your id at admissions. Youth prices are extended up to age 12 which is awesome! Many places list 12 as the first year for the ‘adult’ pricing. There is a student price which gives you a $4.00 discount with id.

Prisons Today Exhibit 

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My Favorite Travel Gear and Accessories

Traveling can be stressful and crazy, but having the right gear can really change everything up and keep you relaxed and comfortable and ready to go! I’ve traveled a bit in my day – with or without kids and solo with my kids – and I feel like I’ve finally really honed my travel accessories down to a fairly decent list of my favorite things that have become my must-have items.

The Right Bag – The right carryon can make life so easy while traveling. I finally found the perfect bag for traveling and this is the type of bag that I would use whether I was traveling with my kids or not. It carries my wallet and my small cross body bag, a small toiletries bag that I carry my contacts and eyeglasses in, my laptop and a book.  My goal when traveling is to be able to have a few things with me that can get me through a long layover or any initial time without my suitcase should I not be carrying it on the plane. When I was traveling from Florida to Virginia I had to check my bag and then it got lost when I had to stay in Miami overnight instead of a layover. Darn crazy East Coast weather! Luckily I had a few things on me that made it a little easier and I only had to pick up a few things from the store before I went to the hotel. This bag from Target is THE bag! It comes in super cute colors and I really love how the backpack straps zip up and can snap up against the purse itself. 

The Right Shoes – If you’re not one of those fancy people that get to leave their shoes on, the conundrum of what to wear on your feet to make life easier might have been something you spent time questioning. I really don’t want to spend forever putting my life together after taking all my tech out, my shoes off and heaven forbid they have to open my suitcase or bag more. So, getting shoes that I can take off and on easy makes me so happy. I have three shoes that are my go-to travel shoes for different reasons. If I’m traveling in summer time it’s my Rainbow flip flops hand down. Comfortable, easier to take on and off and require zero work from me! If you’re from California these are like a second skin, if you’re not and have no idea what I’m talking about then do yourself a favor and check them out here. The next two depend on how exactly I’m traveling. If I’m traveling really light and only bringing like two pairs of shoes with me I’m going to go with my slip-on converse. They go with most of my outfits and are easy to plan around for a trip. I can wear them throughout my trip no problem! My other favorite travel shoes are the Adidas Cloudfoam Slip-On Tennis Shoes. I scored these at Costco, but they are the most amazing shoe that when I need more I’ll buy them for non-Costco pricing. I’m wearing them in the photo with the awesome travel bag!

The Right Suitcase – I’ve had many different suitcases over the years and I’ve finally found my most favorite suitcase! It is perfect for a weekend or long weekend trip and you can carry it on the plane with you! My absolute favorite is this American Tourister suitcase carryon spinner. It is my favorite spinner suitcase and is so light and comfortable to use no matter how close I get it to the 50lb mark. It fits super easy into the overhead bin and is easy to roll or push. If you’re looking for a new suitcase check out American Tourister.

If you’re looking for larger suitcases I’m in love with our Samsonite suitcases Samsonite suitcases. Its true what they say, pay for quality once. We had our first set for about 12 yrs before the suitcases finally started to run down. They are still usable for road trips because we don’t take them on the plane. So we splurged and purchased another two-piece set and looking forward to having these for another 10+ years.

The Right Accessories – Everyone needs a few good odds and ends to make their travel safe and easy. My RFID accessories do just that. Your identity is often at risk in this day and age, but I feel like during travel is especially when you can find yourself more at risk. If you aren’t a member of AAA i would suggest it. We’ve been members for a long time and they have a great “store” inside some of their bigger locations. This is where I have found the majority of my RFID travel products. Now you can get creative and provide RFID safety, but also combine it with other smart travel tactics. Travelon has a wide variety of products including my two favorites, the RFID blocking Scarf, which not only provides digital security, it provides a way for you to separate your travel documents and money to be closer to your person which is recommended when traveling. If you are a family traveling together another favorite of mine is the Multi-passport holder, which provides a safe way to carry all of your passports together without bulk. You may not know that your passports should also be in RFID blocking cases now! Visit Travelon and load up on all your travel accessories to keep you safe.

Maximize What You Pack – This is probably one of the best things I’ve learned about traveling. Think outside the box when you are packing. What can you wear for multiple things? Can you dress up a certain shirt or outfit to go from day to evening? Normally I would pack a lot of shoes, but for my last trip taking a bunch of shoes was just eating up space! So I decided to go with one casual sneaker type shoe and a bootie for dressing up but wanted to be able to wear the booties for walking around as well. So, I thought outside the box and went with my low-heeled brown booties and then brought black tights to wear with them and a dress for the evening if it was cold. In my head I was thinking black tights with brown booties? Think outside the box ya’ll!! The same thing goes with other clothing you bring as well, cardigans can dress up a shirt, throw on some jewelry which also doesn’t take up a lot of room. Also, a recent user of Maskara makeup I have totally slimmed down what I pack in that department. I love that, especially for when I am going carry on with my luggage. Maskara is all your make-up, multi-purpose, and in one compact! If you are interested in finding out more check out my girl Jena and she’ll fill you in on all the details!

read about some of my favorite places to travel 

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10 Things You Must Do While Visiting Houston

I’m still wistfully remembering my days in Houston ya’ll. It was just the best time and exactly what I needed. The flip side of that is that there is such a huge drawback to that City and it’s strongly connected to my soul. When something rescues you it becomes a huge part of your heart and you feel like you’ve literally left a piece of your heart back there. Texas has that effect on me. I’ve loved every time I’ve been there and I feel like I’m just a little bit Texas. So, if you’ve never been to Texas I would strongly suggest considering it for a vacation. Houston is such a great place with so much to do. You can catch up on my Visit Houston posts and get some great ideas for your visit –> here (or by clicking the Travel tab up top).

1.Yellow Rose Distillery


On my list was checking out one some of the local breweries and distilleries in the area. Since I happen to be a whiskey fan I decided on Yellow Rose Distillery. They offer a $10 tour, which includes tastings of their six different types of whiskey. They also have a great bar where they make some fabulous cocktails. Catch them the right time and you’ll get $5 drinks! You can catch tours Friday 4:30 and 5:30 pm and six tour options on Saturday on the 1/2 hr starting at 11:30. One really awesome thing about Yellow Rose is that they want you to come to hang out! Bring your kids, bring snacks and bring a board game and hang out with your friends. I would recommend their Old Fashioned AND their liquor chocolates. Those were so heavenly! You can also grab some of their special maple syrup and their Yellow Rose cocktail glasses. Supporting local businesses is so important, especially a business where they work so hard to make a quality local product.


2. Kaboom Books

A good used book store should always be on everyone’s list. This particular one in The Heights might need more than one visit because of its size. So many nooks and crannies, and I guarantee you will find something to tickle your fancy. There are 76 sections with over 100,000 books. You can find out of print books and current titles. Plus if you’re real lucky you might get to have good conversation with the owner who is often behind the counter…or get to pet the shop cat. Either way, put Kaboom Books on your list for things to check out while in Houston.


3. 19th Street

Welcome to the main drag of what is known as Houston Heights. The Heights, a planned community created in 1890 is a wonderful place to spend a good part of your afternoon if you are looking to get out of the downtown city part of Houston. Its everything you could ever want in an older part of town, a town within a town. The beauty of Houston Heights is in the tree-lined streets, the beautiful stately homes ( I might have scrolled a few pages worth on Zillow ), the fun art and 19th Street. The streets are lined with small business and locally owned shops, each with their own uniqueness. Visit the historic Heights Theater, built in 1929, and refurbished to be what it is now, keeping the Art Deco feel intact. 19th Street is also a bloggers dream, with adorable shops with quirky colors, and a few of those famous Houston Murals. Some of my favorite stores on the street include

By Cortney Martin from Houston, TX, USA – 19th Street, CC BY 2.0, Link

  • Vinal Edge Yes you did see the spelling and you wondered briefly if I had misspelled it. Nope, I didn’t. I heard about this shop from my friend and I came with room in my suitcase specifically for this shop. In business since the mid-80s, Vinal Edge has established themselves as a go-to record store in Houston. They have a great Jazz selection and a surprisingly decent classical selection. The classical selection is always a little iffy in many of record shops I’ve been in. The pricing is also very good as well. Most importantly they have a great listening area for you so you can check out your record stack before you purchase it. If you are into records give Vinal Edge and once over. Perhaps the coolest thing is that you can also place an order online and they will ship to you!!!
  • Dramatika – Dramatika is a locally owned frame shop, but step inside and find unique gifts that I’ve never seen anywhere and a solid collection of hysterical greeting cards. And yes, I realize that greetings card aren’t something that people usually care about anymore as snail mail is not as popular as it once was. You might change your mind after stepping into Dramatika.
  • Sweet Bribery – This yummy ice cream shop isn’t the only place to get some ice cream in The Heights, but man if it isn’t the cutest. The fluorescent Texas sign is probably my favorite thing, aside from the fun and unique ice cream flavors! The Bourbon Espresso was heavenly!! Sweet Bribery carries vegan and gluten-free options, which I know is appreciated, and you can have your ice cream served in handmade waffle cones! Each flavor is handcrafted and their ice cream is made from the simplest ingredients. Their master pastry chef was just nominated for Best Pastry Chef by Culture Map Houston, and it is well deserved.
  • Manready Mercantile – Looking for a manly shop full of leather, alcohol flavored toothpicks and candles? Yes, I said candles. Look no further than Manready Mercantile. Manready, opened in 2014, was opened to create a highly curated atmosphere of Houston-made, American-made and specifically chosen worldwide products that reflect the values of what it means to be a Texan. Many of the products are unisex, but a majority of products are products chosen by men, for men, which is something that was felt to be missing from the market in the way that Manready does it. The shop in and of itself is really cool to visit. Some of my favorite products are their candles that they make on site (my favorite is called John Wick), their alcohol flavored toothpicks and their hand-dipped bar glasses. Find cool Texas themed products like their recently launched vintage-inspired ball caps.
  • Retropolis – The coolest resale shop in Houston, full of Vintage clothing and accessories for sale. It also has an interesting collection of rentals as well. You pick out just about any color of polyester suit with matching ruffle shirt! Find your next themed night costume or that PanAm stewardess bag you’ve been looking for. Its an adventure every time and should definitely be on your list of things to check out when in The Heights.

4. Graffiti Building/ Houston Mural (Gelazzi building) – EADO and The Heights

If you’ve followed me on Instagram you know that aside from my love affair with the Houston skyline you know that I loved the Houston street art. I had in mind to see as much as I could and my awesome friend delivered. I would definitely say that Houston is known for its street art, and it is commonly the subject of Instagram accounts. Anyone can feel like a fashion blogger in front of one of these. I know I did! The main place to go to see a lot of street art in one place is the Graffiti Building in EADO (east downtown) Several buildings are covered in them, and you can find the angel wings there too! There is so much good stuff there so get your camera ready.

Another mural that was high on my list was the Welcome to Houston mural in The Heights. Stop in to Gelazzi and grab some gelato, then get a super cute “Welcome to Houston” snap before you leave.

5. Wells Fargo Building View (downtown architecture)

There aren’t many places to see the view of Houston from up high, especially since the restaurant in the Wedge Tower has been closed for renovation (don’t worry that’s coming back soon and its going to be awesome!). But you can take a few elevators and an escalator and check out the floor to ceiling view in the Wells Fargo Building. It was incredible and made me a little nervous. But I’m glad we didn’t give up the search. Seeing all of the amazing architecture from that view is worth getting up there, and the stroll to get there has a ton of sites to see.

6. Julia Ideson Library Reading Room and Ceiling

Another bucket list item should be the Julia Ideson Library Reading Room and the ceiling that is just outside of it. The Julia Ideson is a Houston Public Library in Downtown Houston. It was built in 1926, and for my fellow architecture lovers is modeled after the Spanish Renaissance. Everything about this place is gorgeous. In 1977 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

7. George Bush and Sesquicentennial Park

After George HW Bush passed away I learned that there was a park in Houston that was created to honor him. I knew that if I had some extra time that I needed to go visit. The whole Sesquicentennial Park and the green space that lines the Bayou Canal through the city is a great place to run while visiting Houston, eat a lunch, read or just take a walk in. Its close to the city, but I found it to be slightly removed the bustling and surprisingly peaceful. Come back and night and see the large silver art installations light up the night!

8. Beer Can House

In 1968 retired Southern Pacific Railroad worker began the project that would become The Beer Can House. Eighteen years later the house slowly began is disappear. Over 50,000 cans are estimated to have been used for the project. The walkway and driveway is even art, with embedded metal and marbles making it a colorful and unique site. You can go inside the beer can house for a small fee of $5. During the winter and spring months you can catch the Beer Can House open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5, but in the summertime you would have more opportunities to visit during the week (wed-sun 12-5pm).

9. Downtown Stroll and Bar Crawl

I happen to be an architecture lover. Looking at cool buildings makes me very happy. Houston is the perfect place for people like me, as their skyline is known for being awesome. Viewing it during the day is great, but come back at night and see how a lot of it is lit up, and how the different glass reflects the light. Its truly amazing. While you’re down there enjoy Houston’s nightlife and check out some of the coolest bars that I’ve ever been to. The downtown scene in the evening is one of the reasons I can’t wait to go back and one of the reasons Houston is being put on the travel map! Check out my post with 6 bars you must experience. 

10. JP Morgan Chase Building

Probably one of my favorite buildings is the JP Morgan Chase building on Main Street in downtown Houston. The architecture is incredible as you can see from some of my pictures below, but the inside of this building is absolutely drool-worthy. Take a walk through and check out the old call boxes and mailboxes in the lobby, then go through and grab a bite to eat in Finn Hall.

There is so much to do in Houston that one list doesn’t even begin to cover it. Make sure to check out my other Houston posts linked here in this post, as well as up top in my travel drop down! You’ll find stuff to keep you busy for a whole weekend!



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Visit Houston Part 4 – Six Seriously Good Eats in Houston

Continuing on with the Houston Love today I’m sharing six seriously good eats with ya’ll! Checking out good eats in Houston is a daunting task because there is just so much good food to be eaten. You could spend a whole trip checking off Burger joints. Then you’ve got BBQ, steakhouses, and Tex-Mex. There’s a never-ending supply of fabulous places to eat. Several places on the bucket list that I didn’t make it to were The 43rd Restaurant at Wedge Internation. I’m a bit of an architecture lover and eating here, with access to a balcony was going to be a fun treat. Unfortunately, it was closed for construction, but if you get a chance to check it out I would! {update: the 43rd is officially closed and will be reopening as Strato 550 this Spring! Y’all!! I am so excited, and it looks increidble. But it on your list} Add Niko Niko, Teotihuacan and Coltivare to your list. Those are on my Houston Bucket List! So, while the list is long you have to accept you just won’t be able to fit it all in. Between the amazing coffee shops with food, and bars (also with food) food can be the central point of your visit.


Ritual {602 Studewood Street}

Located in The Heights, is the rustic, home cooking, warm vibe Ritual. From the dark wood floors and walls, exposed brick, and the eclectic mix and match vintage plates – everything has been chosen to create the inviting atmosphere that you will find. Sit at the bar and enjoy the full menu which includes meat straight from the butcher room that you would have a great view of if you did sit at the bar. The Ritual Burger was amazing and I would add the Southern Street Corn and the Balsamic Brussel Sprouts w/Bacon to your list. The Old Fashioned was great. And just in case you were in the mood there’s a small collection of new vinyl you can purchase on your way out. Check the large board on the wall to check out the beers they have available because they do change. This isn’t the place to order your Budweiser or Coors. On Ritual’s bar list you’ll find local favorites like Lone Pint Yellow Rose, St Arnolds 5 o’clock Pils and Hoppy Witbier Real Ale White. After dinner head next door to The Ready Room for a drink and, depending on the night of the week, some good music.

Sit Lo in Finn Hall {712 Main Street}

Finn Hall is located in the JP Morgan Chase Building

Located in the newly opened Finn Hall, which I talked about in my coffee post, is Sit Lo – with its Vietnamese street food fare. Providing its customers with locally grown and fresh ingredients is an important part of the Sit Lo experience. If you’ve been downtown and seen a food truck called Bowl’D Up, those would be the same people that have now brought some of their best foods to Finn Hall as Sit Lo. Enjoy Southern Vietnamese fare from some of the most beloved family recipes. Their vermicelli bowls are worth giving a try, although the Imperial rolls were hit or miss. The choices at Finn Hall are many, so take a few visits and give each one a try. Let me know your favorite when you!

The Black Labrador {4100 Montrose Blvd #8}

If you’re looking for an authentic English Pub experience look no further than The Black Labrador in the Montrose area. I’ve been in several English pubs in different states and this one ranks near the top of experiences and food. The Black Lab is only second to Martin’s Tavern here in DC, which is one of my favorite places to eat. The Shepherd’s Pie was spectacular and is a must-try on the menu. The Black Lab is a large restaurant so even on a busy Friday Night seating wasn’t a huge issue. You can also choose to sit at their large bar area. When the weather is nicer they also offer outdoor patio seating. Grab a pint or a mixed drink, or choose one of their specialty UK libations like Pimm’s Cup or The Margaret Thatcher. When you’re done with dinner on a Friday or Saturday Night you can head upstairs for some music at Cezzane’s Jazz Club.

Surya {700 Durham Drive, Suite 200}

Chef-Owner Sheel Joshi brought his successful 10yr restaurant Surya from Beverly Hills to the Heights-area of Houston. You can see some remnants of Surya’s glitzy previous life with a Michelin guide recommendation as well as some famous faces with autographs on the wall. Bringing a little bit of glamour to Houston where home cooking and comfort food are well enjoyed. Sit back and enjoy this modern take on Northern Indian food, in a very modern atmosphere. I have maybe tried Indian food once in my life and didn’t consider myself to be a fan. This is one of the favorite restaurants of some of the people I spent time with in Houston, and there’s nothing better than having people who love something take you to try it and walk you through the process. Ordering here can a family-style event or you can order a personal serving. I favor the family style option for maximum testing of foods, and getting a little bit of everything you like. CSLblog recommended dishes – Aloo Gobi, Daal, Saag Paneer (this is the dish I was convinced I wouldn’t like but ended up being my favorite) and Chicken Tikka. I also can’t rave enough about their Naan bread! I’m a huge Naan fan and this was excellent and the portion size is huge!

Laredo Taqueria  {915 Snover Street}

My one Mexican food outing this round was this local’s favorite. Located in the Memorial Park is the place where locals know its worth it to stand in line for 25+ minutes just to get inside. I wasn’t sure about that part but I assured that it would be and they weren’t wrong. Just make sure to prepare yourself for the ridiculousness that is the parking lot and side street of this place. Not that I was actually ever in fear for my life, everyone is just apparently excited about this food that parking can be a bit tricky to navigate. Be ready for the portion sizes on the platters because I was definitely not! I actually laughed out loud when I got my Tostadas. I couldn’t resist trying the Fideo bowl as well, so needless to say I did not finish my meal. One of my favorite things is that you can get yourself a nice cold glass bottle of soda. Nothing better than drinking soda from a glass bottle.

Laredo has three other locations so make sure to check their website to see if another location is closer to you!

Pho Saigon  {2808 Milam Street}

On my “walking around Houston” day I found myself basically walking from one side of Houston to the other checking off things on my list that I didn’t get to see. It was my bonus “sketchy weather back home” day so I was bound and determined to get as much in as I could. I went to see the lanterns in front of the Toyota Center (which now seeing them at night and lit up in on my bucket list), a historical church that was burnt down and rebuilt, George Bush Park and whatever else I could find. The craving for Pho hit me so I looked up Pho in Houston. Pho Saigon is lauded as the best pho over and over again in my search and it was only another mile. I was working for my pho today! They did not disappoint. I’ve had a lot of pho here in the DC area and this pho was probably some of the best I have ever had. Service is quick and the pho inexpensive, two things I love about a good pho place. I will be honest and say the egg rolls were just okay, and I would pass on them next time. Also, weird note about the check. They leave it with you and you take it to the register, but I only realized that by watching people.

Check out the rest of my Houston posts!

Houston Bars

Houston Coffee

Houston Arts

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