At each of its 31 area locations, the YMCA of Greater Houston pursues a mission to bring health, wellness, and personal growth to communities. Kids leap into activities ranging from swim lessons and youth sports to a teen Youth & Government program that stirs up confidence and leadership abilities in students, preparing them for mudslinging student-council campaigns.
Zumba, ballroom dance, and Les Mills group exercise classes shake up adult workout routines, as complimentary childcare frees up parents to pursue fitness goals. Meanwhile, adult sport leagues such as basketball and racquetball result in friendly competition and hyper-literate team names inspired by obscure philosophers.
In the programs at Drama Kids International, youngsters learn more than how to fake-cry. Since 1999, the drama company has defined "drama" loosely, focusing more on the general goal of helping kids tap into their imaginations. The team does just that with their after-school programs and summer camps, which teach kids ages 3-18 to feel at ease on stage, whether they're starring in a comedy or making a speech. Some programs touch on behind-the-scenes skills, too, from stage managing to writing plays better than Hamlet 2: Shark Hamlet.
Dance Du Coeur Sugar Land Dance Studio slims and tones bodies with customizable, indoor boot-camp classes held on a morning and evening schedule within a gleaming, 6,000-square-foot facility. Instructors lead one-hour workouts that can be modified for various fitness levels to challenge the body from head to toe and tone flabby shadows. The course eschews weight training in favor of exercises designed to strengthen the core and confuse muscles into better shape. Students do not need to take classes consecutively; they can drop in any time boot-camp classes are held.
Favorably featured on Fox News, Char House Bar and Grille dishes out a menu of meat-laden comfort fare. Launch edible excursions from an onion-ring tower, a skyscraper of deep fried onion rings erected next to a diving pool of spicy chipotle mayo ($8). The Malibu burger, cloaked in sliced avocado and buttermilk ranch, transports noshers to the sunny West Coast ($10), and the open-faced flank-steak sandwich painted with horseradish cream harkens back to a gentler time before overprotective bread smothered its meaty offspring ($10). Meat abstainers can munch the grilled swiss cheese slathered in tomato pineapple chutney ($7) or the roasted artichoke garlic hummus ($8). The New Orleans-style crème brûlée tops the short-but-sweet four-item dessert menu ($5).
Baker St.'s Oklahoma City menu offers pub classics along with tacos, sliders, and generously portioned sandwiches. Start with an order of the tripper dipper ($7.99), a medley of fresh salsa, creamy queso, and savory spinach-and-artichoke dip served with tortilla chips. Then filch a hearty helping of shepherd's pie ($8.99), a delicacy of seasoned ground sirloin, cheddar, whipped potatoes, and tomato mixed together and served with green beans and potatoes. From tender, crisped fish and chips ($7.99–$9.99) to a buffalo-chicken sandwich ($7.99) and southern-style mini-chicken sandwiches ($7.99), the menu's flavorful items bode well with a liquid companion. An impressive beer selection and a full bar shine during daily drink specials and happy hour, but they also provide an equally enjoyable sudsy-nectar blast to taste receptors at any time.
Young Chefs Academy provides a fun, safe, and motivating environment for kids to become acquainted with the art of food and food presentation. Engaging chef instructors instill lessons of kitchen etiquette and safety in youngsters growing up in a world full of laser can openers and sharp pasta rakes, giving children a capable handle on their surroundings as they journey into the land of food. Classes in Sugarland and Houston educate a variety of age groups, with specially catered classes for kindercooks and junior chefs, and combine nutritional meals with basic food-prep skills that teach students how to correctly follow a recipe to edible fruition. Senior chefs are offered advanced classes that dig deeper into kitchen secrets and hone specific skills and techniques to expand the parameters of cooking creativity.