Water 2 Wine has a deep understanding of the wine making process, which is apparent from the company’s collection of 50 medals won at various international wine competitions. With 10 locations across the U.S., the company welcomes guests from all over to come and see what all the buzz is about firsthand. Visitors can sip on the low-sulfite and histamine-free wines made on-site, create their own batches of vino replete with custom labels, and learn proper wine etiquette during education classes.
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?"
A large, old-fashioned porch surrounds Phil & Derek's creole-style cottage filled with food, wine, and sounds from the Big Easy. The BYOB restaurant's wine bar washes down catfish and prime rib with potables culled from wineries in Bordeaux, Spain, and Argentina. Every night, live jazz, zydeco, and blues complement the fresh Cajun dishes and the restaurant's antique accents, such as french doors that once acted as translators. On Sunday mornings, diners can devour a variety of ever-rotating brunch fare during what Citysearch called the Best Morning-After Brunch.
Pinot's Palette combines wine and art to create an enjoyable night out with friends or a date. The painting sessions encourage adults' inner artists whether they have any painting experience or not, encouraging light-hearted conversation, fun, and good cheer while painting and sipping BYOB beverages. Each session's painting of the night may feature anything from landscapes and wine-inspired art to known classics such as Van Gogh's Starry Night, and each painter tackles from their own artistic angle under the guidance of an experienced instructor. At the end of the night, painters can take their painting home with them and ring a "Gong of Awesomeness" on their way out to signify a good time.
This outdoor gallery features work by 300 artists in 17 mediums, including brisket, with the downtown skyline serving as a backdrop. This year's featured artist, Vic Lee, defies categorization or easy interpretation, blending religious narrative with dark colorations and demure, distorted figures. There will also be ongoing events, including music and dance provided by the Houston Arts Alliance, an interactive creative play zone for children, and a plethora of wine cafés and restaurants to pique what few senses remain untouched by art.
Although it was voted Best Coffeehouse in 2004, 2005, and 2006 by the Houston Press, the term "coffeehouse" doesn't begin to do Agora justice. Inside it's sociable, woody interior, guests imbibe a menu of Greek wines, beers, and teas––all while tapping their toes to tunes playing on the jukebox or filling the air with smoke rings from their favorite cigar. Patrons can also break off bits of fine chocolates to swirl into cups of Greek coffee, fork up Agora's famous baklava, and surf the waves of the world wide web courtesy of the shop's free wi-fi––an amenity for which the coffeehouse has also garnered an award.