Over the past four decades, Starbucks has bloomed from a single coffee shop in Seattle's Pike Place Market to more than 17,000 stores responsible for caffeinating 55 countries. The company’s smiling, green-aproned baristas have become the mascots of many people’s morning routine, pouring cups of dark, medium, and blonde roast for coffee purists and adding shots of caramel or white chocolate to more elaborate espresso creations and treats such as a Frappuccino blended beverage.
Concerned with more than flavour, Starbucks strives to fill its menu with responsibly sourced coffee, cocoa, and tea that protect the farmers and bioregions they come from. These efforts have earned the company a spot on Ethisphere's 2013 list of the world's most ethical companies.
More than 30,000 students have plunged from the skies above Skydive Houston's private Waller airport. You'll spend 20–30 minutes in a classroom going over expectations and basic safety precautions while certified technicians pack your parachute and prepare the latest of the latest equipment designed specially for tandem jumps. After an inspirational speech about how the sky is more afraid of you than you are of it, you'll load into the safe, sturdy Twin Otter turboprop, strap onto your jumpsperienced dive guide, and soar as high as 14,000 feet before it's time to fall into the open arms of sky. Securely fastened to your partner, you'll plummet for a 60-second free fall, hooting and spinning while your instructor manages the details of swerving around clouds and asking hawks for directions. When the time is right, he or she will pull your chute, and during the next five to six minutes of canopy glide, you'll be able to admire the sights of downtown Houston, the Galleria area, and Lake Conroe.
Back when Greek Brothers first opened, diners had three options: oysters on the half-shell, boiled shrimp, or pizza. Today, the menu is home to more than 50 items, and the roadhouse-style restaurant has transitioned from pizzas to grilled-to-order steaks hand-cut in house. But the roadhouse-style restaurant?characterized by exposed brick walls and Budweiser posters from the '80s?hasn't gotten above its raising. It still serves classics such as chicken-fried steak or mama Blanche's seafood gumbo.
Frequent live acts add to the light grittiness of the ambiance, and keep the dining room buzzing with the sounds of live country or classic rock bands.
In Hemingway's Bar & Grill's bustling kitchen, Chef Jason West crafts rotating weekly menus inspired by seasonal produce and fresh catches. The seafood cache pairs pasta and vegetables with a sautéed or artfully blackened fillet, which, like Ebenezer Scrooge, is warm and tender beneath its toughened demeanor. A signature gnocchi of the day joins chops and bowls swirling with house-made soups, and lavish Sunday brunches greet the day with pastries, omelets, and curlicues of peel-and-eat shrimp. Hemingway's full-service bar, the Blue Marlin, pours domestic and imported beers alongside flights and bottles of wines, which often headline their own tasting events. Hemingway's Bar & Grill also caters special events throughout the Corpus Christi area.
Outside La Playa Mexican Grill, a hand-painted, sky-blue sign depicts conch shells and silver dollars, hinting at the maritime feasts that await guests inside. Fresh seafood stars in many of the house favorites, such as daily fish specials, ceviche samplers, and shrimp- and crab-stuffed enchiladas. Familiar Tex-Mex dishes round out the menu and include quesadillas, soft tacos, and burritos stuffed with beef or chicken. Diners customize a perfect margarita more than 70 types of tequila and a life-size replica of the Great Salt Lake.
The chefs at Bellino's Italian Restaurant handcraft fresh ingredients into a menu of traditional Italian eats. Steer tiny metal soup gondolas through a bowl of tomato and mussel zuppa di cozze ($9.95), or nosh on an order of bruschetta con gamberi e broccoli, which, like a volcanic eruption on the Italian coast, scatters sautéed shrimp and broccoli across toasted garlic bread ($8.95). Pollo al gorgonzola finds a fowl lounging in a creamy gorgonzola sauce atop a bed of spaghetti ($20.95), and fish, shrimp, clams, and mussels dawdle in the tomato-based soup caciucco ($20.95). Transport yourself to a rustic Italian village with an order of homemade Sicilian-style tiramisu sprinkled with a dusting of cocoa ($6.95).