Local Insights: Houston | Fall 2012

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Local Insights

The St. Regis Houston concierge Tim Hess shares his top recommendations for enjoying the city this fall.

By Caroline Hatano

 Concierge Tim Hess knows the best places to experience all Houston has to offer, from its innovative food scene to its customer-oriented local boutiques and traditional festivals. Here are a few of Hess’ top picks for enjoying the city like a “real” Houstonian this season.

Fresh Ingredients

Houston may be known for its bold international cuisine, but Tim Hess says restaurants involved with Houston’s own locally sourced ingredients are gaining an edge over competitors.

HAVEN, a seasonal restaurant certified by the Green Restaurant Association, takes local to the next level with its own organic garden. Executive Chef and co-owner Randy Evans incorporated a green concept throughout the restaurant with energy-efficient lighting and refurbished kitchen equipment. In keeping with the green philosophy, the menu at Haven constantly changes to reflect what is growing at that time, and everything is house-made. “I have had everything on the appetizers menu and loved them all,” Hess says. (2502 Algerian Way; 713-581-6101; havenhouston.com)

For prepared food or a light lunch, Hess recommends REVIVAL MARKET. He raves that Revival Market has “awesome meat, cheese, and prepared food to-go,” and a “very old-fashioned, homemade vibe.” Thanks to chef Ryan Pera’s passion for the craft of butchering and co-owner Morgan Weber’s farm, Revival Market offers charcuterie and salumi made with all natural meat, house-made canned goods, fresh produce and a unique menu. If you visit, try Hess’ favorite: the farmstead grilled cheese sandwich with ham. (550 Heights Blvd.; 713-880-8463; revivalmarket.com)

With a market, a cafe and a cellar devoted to local brews and organic wines, GEORGIA’S MARKET DOWNTOWN has a little bit of everything. The market’s shelves are stocked with grass-fed meats from their own ranch as well as fresh, local produce and a variety of health food. “They offer a buffet lunch here that is second to none—the very best of the organic, fresh and local,” Hess says. He adds that it’s the “perfect place to grab to-go and head to the park for a picnic.” (420 Main St.; 713-225-0990; georgiasdowntown.com)

Local Boutiques

Once you’ve sampled the freshest Houston has to offer, Hess suggests a short stroll to one of Houston’s local boutiques, stocked with one-of-a-kind items.

SAM AND LILLI is the ideal shopping destination for both men and women. With a long list of exclusive designers and an airy space, Sam and Lilli’s eclectic atmosphere is perfectly suited to its “great fashion from around the globe.” The store makes customer satisfaction its priority, and with a mini bar and attentive staff it’s no wonder Sam and Lilli has made it onto Hess’ list. (2800 Kirby; 713-426-5840; facebook.com/samandlilli)

Evolved from the award-winning Kuhl-Linscomb Design Firm, KUHL-LINSCOMB is the ultimate design and lifestyle store offering products from around the world. “It’s great for a last-minute gift, and is also a great place for the person who has everything,” Hess says. (2424 W. Alabama St.; 713-526-6000; kuhl-linscomb.com)

For a truly exceptional shopping trip, Hess recommends TOOTSIES. The company has three store locations, but the 35,000-square-foot Houston shop is the flagship store. Owner Mickey Rosmarin prides himself on his loyal customer base and fashionable clients. Boasting a host of top-notch designers, such as Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, Hess says Tootsies is the “premier ladies’ designer boutique in town.” (2601 Westheimer Rd.; 713-629-9990; tootsies.com)

Fall Entertainment

Hess urges guests to attend one of the city’s many traditional and colorful festivals.

Princesses, fairies and knights run rampant at the magical TEXAS RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL, the nation’s largest of its kind. The festival takes place every weekend from Oct. 6 to Nov. 25 on a 55-acre “village.” With hundreds of costumed performers and nearly 400 shops dedicated to everything from art to medieval food, this festival casts a spell over kids and adults alike. “The Halloween weekend and pirate weekend are always fun because of the costumes,” he says. (21778 Farm-To-Market Rd. 1774, Plantersville; 800-458-3435; texrenfest.com)

If you enjoy Italian food, music and people, Hess says that the HOUSTON ITALIAN FESTIVAL, which takes place from Oct. 11 to 14, is a must. The festival has been around since 1978, consistently bringing Houstonians 25 booths with homemade Italian fare, rousing bocce ball games, Italian performers, an Italian auto show and rides for kids. Hess notes that the festival is guaranteed to have “great food and lots of music.” As Houston’s largest ethnic festival, “Festa Italiana” has much to offer. (1101 Milford; 713-524-4222; houstonitalianfestival.com)

WINGS OVER HOUSTON is one of Houston’s most-anticipated traditions. Taking place on Oct. 27 and 28 at Ellington Airport, the air show features the talents of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron as well as other crowd favorites—including the Air National Guard Flash Fire Jet Truck, a re-enactment of Tora! Tora! Tora!, and many others. With its legendary performances, instructional historical tents, interactive displays and thrilling games, Wings Over Houston is one of Hess’ favorites. “Wings Over Houston is the best air show I have ever seen,” he says. (11900 Old Galveston Rd.; 713-266-4492; wingsoverhouston.com)