The resident chefs at Sengelmann Hall infuse their European-inspired offerings with tastes and techniques channeled from Texan culinary traditions. European-inspired entrees include german ribs and sauerkraut ($15), which piles repurposed Wagner records with slow-cooked pork ribs and tangy sauerkraut. Schnitzer's chicken schnitzel ($16) sets deep-fried chicken breast afloat on a sea of lemon-butter sauce next to potatoes and vegetables. American fare stakes its own claim to table space, helping diners oil rusty jaw hinges with meal-prefacing portions of house-made queso or salsa cradled in hand-cut tortilla chips ($3.50) or bite into the Two Brothers burger’s six-ounce angus beef patty brushed with house mayonnaise and mustard ($8.50).
Though the chefs at Babaloo International Cafe & Bar were inspired by the sharable small plates of Spain, they didn't limit themselves to just Spanish dishes. Instead, they craft appetizers and down-sized entrees of cuisines from around the world. This creates a varied menu, with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus appearing beside miniature beef wellingtons and Cuban crab cakes made with plantains. These dishes pair well with wines selected from the vineyards of Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and Australia, to create meals that are both light and filling, much like four courses of flavored heliums. When evening turns to night, the restaurant becomes a hotspot for dancing, with theme parties, hip-hop nights, and salsa dancing.
Since opening in 2003, The Tasting Room has morphed from a wine bar to a full-service restaurant with four locations—all while retaining its wine-bar charm and racking up numerous awards and accolades. Diners can select libations from a list that boasts more than 200 wines, pairing them with contemporary dishes whipped up by executive chef Jonathan LeBlanc. TTR offerings run the gamut from small plates of mini grilled sandwiches and classic bruschetta to entrees including creole-spiced quail and Jamaican jerk chicken breast, which diners can savor at windowside tables or on the plant-ensconced patio and garden area.
The eatery doesn't just sate hunger for eclectic classics and thirst for fermented grapes. It also hosts live music, meetings, and events such as 2011's Grapes vs. Grains, which pitted beer against wine in a liquid wrestling match. The owners have their hands in other culinary enterprises, too. There's the Houston Cellar Classic, for example, an annual celebration of food and wine. Also popular is MAX's Wine Dive, a destination for gourmet comfort food best defined by its slogan—"Fried chicken and champagne? ... Why the hell not?"
The team at Alex Brazil Group knows that getting a party started is an ever-evolving art. Sometimes, it requires aerial acrobats, other times, it requires a cash balloon drop. It all depends on the event being celebrated, which for the Houston-area event planners, can range from Halloween to the New Year's Eve Ball to Brazil’s Carnaval. The staff also pride themselves on creating heightened anticipation for any party they throw, ensuring a high-energy event packed with people. And to keep the energy flowing, their vibrant parties delight revelers with the sights and sounds of samba dancers, live music, and snake charmers who always perform with real reptiles, rather than snake-shaped pipe cleaners.
Popular globetrotting pop collective Architecture in Helsinki transforms the upstairs stage of Houston's Fitzgerald's into a throbbing, futuristic discotheque as its latest tour storms American shores. Formed in Melbourne, the ambidextrous dance band stirs fans with a tornado of flamboyant sounds, infectious anthems, and commitment-free instrument swapping. With hits such as “Do the Whirlwind” and latest single “Contact High,” lead crooner Cameron Bird and his cakewalking team of tunesmiths tickle ear bones and rehabilitate ankles in support of its latest album, Moment Bends. During the kaleidoscopic performance, the band seduces dance floors with 10-foot hooks and sounds culled from hypnotic synths, romantic glockenspiels, and strummed chest hairs. Filling out the bill, Swedish dance wizards Lo-Fi Fnk enchant with instant club hits and songs for strobe-light campfires, and pop enthusiasts Dom charm with stargazing Casios.