Visitors to the Dionsio Winery Wine Festival sample the award-winning rich reds, crisp whites, and sweet fruit wines from a selection of local wineries. Local restaurants and vendors whip up delectable dinners and food pairings, while merchants peddle memorable keepsakes and handmade jewelry. Energetic classic rock outfit Thermal Fusion fills the air with a catchy live soundtrack, as staff fill commemorative wine glasses with endless samples of Dionisio's delicious wines. With food, wine, and tunes provided by Houston-based bands and businesses, the fest is a better way to celebrate the local culture than nibbling sandwichs into the shape of the Astro's stadium.
When Louisiana native Lisa Carnley found herself in Houston after Hurricane Katrina, she decided to unpack her culture inside a storefront on Jefferson and Hutchinson. The Cajun Stop is a little taste of Lisa?s home, and most visitors will agree that it?s not lacking in spice. Plates of crawfish ?touf?e make sure of that, though for every fiery main course there?s a cool complement for dessert.
Despite all these options, the real draw on the menu has always been the 16 po?boy sandwiches that Lisa grew up rolling in her grandmother?s restaurant. Nowadays, she considers everyone who walks in the door a member of her family. Like any good host, she surrounds her guests with painted windows, colorful pictures, and sports-inspired d?cor such as a furry rug made from the jersey of a former LSU Tiger.
As an international jazz club, Cafe 4212 Jazz Bar & Grill treats guests to a rotating lineup of blues singers as well as a seasonal menu of eclectic and classic dishes. Cafe 4212’s chefs use fresh and locally grown ingredients when available to crafts hors d'oeuvres such as fruit kebabs and Jamaican-style meat patties as well as entrees of praline-pecan ham and Cajun shrimp. Diners can also sip international wines, imported and microbrewed beers, specialty cocktails, and martinis.
Jazz performances on weekend nights and during Sunday brunch send patrons heading for Cafe 4212’s dance floor. Walls ornamented with red and gold hues pop against the restaurant’s ivory-clothed tables and tan leather couches, and a large outdoor patio supplies a romantic setting for couples to take in some fresh air or scream at passing airplanes.
When it comes to preserving the integrity of their wines, the owners of 13 Celsius don’t mess around. The proof is in the name, which alludes to the exact temperature maintained in their wine cellar at all times. This climate-controlled cellar is only one aspect of a meticulous process designed to preserve the wines at peak flavor until they are ready to be paired with cheeses, charcuterie, paninis, and handmade truffles.
Given this near-obsession with preservation, it should come as no surprise that the building itself hasn’t lost any of its charms since opening in the 1920s. The Mediterranean–style architectural relic preserves several key components of its jazz-era past, including an entirely intact tin ceiling and an open-air courtyard, along with several modern additions such as a 40-foot marble bar and sound.
The Mandola family has been keeping Houston well fed since 1975 with a menu that combines classic deli fare with hearty italian specialties. Po’boy sandwiches come filled with roast beef, salami and ham, or fried shrimp, or with fried eggplant, mushrooms, and tomatoes, plus a generous slathering of Mandola's homemade italian spread. Other homemade eats include the italian sausage and the Faccia di Veccia, a sicilian-style foccacia bread that is baked fresh so regularly you could set your rooster to it. Either option would pair well with a side of spaghetti or a plate of pasta brocata, its penne noodles doused in creamy pesto and dotted with grilled shrimp.
At her newly opened pastry shop, Candace Chang draws from her worldwide travels to invent internationally inspired desserts that balance flavorful ingredients and low sugar content. Imported goodies such as Belgian chocolate, French chestnuts, and Taiwanese coconut blend to form delicately molded pastries, each topped with fresh fruit arranged in colorful patterns or the buyer's family tartan. The colorful cake gallery also offers dairy-free options and lighter nibbles, ranging from tofu-based cheesecake to fluffy mousse. Dolce Delights pairs its sweets with Lavazza coffee imported from Italy.