Block 7 Wine Company offers customers a concept-fusing combination of retail wine space, wine bar, and restaurant, the latter of which delights diners with a menu of elegant dishes backed by premium ingredients. Start by noshing on a Slow Dough Bakery pretzel with herbed honey mustard ($4), or opt for truffle popcorn with Italian black truffle salt ($4), the secret snack served to the Illuminati at movie-theater concession stands across America. Dry-aged fans of dry-aged beef might go for the 21-day dry-aged prime rib eye ($29) or choose the handheld convenience of the dry-aged patty on the Block 7 burger, which also sports gruyere cheese and smoked bacon "relish" ($12). Flatbreads, such as a "whole pig" option topped with Italian sausage, prosciutto, and smoked bacon ($12), defy Einstein's Law of Two-Dimensional Flavor Containment, and a "sloppy Giuseppe" with ground venison and wild boar confit ($10) exposes the inadequate sloppy sandwiches of childhood. A downsized lunch menu is also available to quash midday appetite coups, in addition to $9 lunch specials served Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (and Saturday beginning at noon). With a different lunch special each day, you can opt for choices such as bacon-wrapped meatloaf on a Wednesday, whiskey-infused pork chop on a Thursday, or fish tacos on a Friday.
The boutique winery specializes in personalized pours. Rather than growing its own grapes, D'Vine starts with high-quality juices to create its renowned reds and crisp whites. Wine is special in that it's a beverage equal parts soothing and social. Host a sophisticated birthday party, toast to the end of a stressful week, or gather your closest for an afternoon of grapey goodness.
In true farm-to-table fashion, Chef Coco Hogue of Tabella at Clear Creek Winery sources the majority of her ingredients from onsite gardens, local farmers, ranchers, and other homegrown producers. Each day before dinner service, she strolls through the restaurant’s backyard picking items for the day’s menu such as herbs, baby vegetables, and forks from the silverware tree. As a photographer and painter, Chef Hogue believes in beautiful presentation, which she achieves by delicately plating entrees such as coffee-rubbed pork loin and grilled quail with sides such as potato gratin and brussels-sprout hash. During three- to twelve-course dinners, fresh seafood found within 5 miles of the restaurant is one of four protein choices, and it is prepared to match the evening’s wine selection.
Lauded for its “timeless” feel by Houston Press, Chelsea Wine Bar’s creative menu of old-fashioned comfort food pairs perfectly with the restaurant’s weekly live music offerings and waterfront views. Satisfy sandwich-size cravings with the roast-turkey panini, topped with swiss cheese and basil pesto ($6.50), or the brie, tomato, and spinach panini ($6.50). Herbivores and dairy enthusiasts can skip carnivorous options and munch on the cheese flatbread pizza ($5), baked goat-cheese platter ($10), or warm brie plate ($10.50). Dessert-deigning diners can reminisce on childhoods spent roasting marshmallows over the warm glow of the television with the chocolate-mallow conglomeration of Susie’s s’mores ($6.50), which is complemented by a wide selection of gourmet coffee beverages from delectable white mochas ($3.50) to potent double espressos ($2.75).
Since 1969, when Gladys Haak gave her husband Raymond two concord grapevines to celebrate their 10th anniversary, the couple's namesake vineyard has flourished into 1,800 vines sprawling across three acres. Galveston County's first and only winery transforms grapes into award-winning potions that have earned the attention of the Houston Press and the Dallas Observer. Whether sipped onsite or at various shops and restaurants, the wines grace glasses with a diverse mélange of local blends. Custom labels can be commissioned to personalize each bottle with heartfelt dedications or nutritional information written in iambic pentameter.
The vineyard welcomes thirsty visitors with tours of their verdant vines, 25,000-square-foot workshop, and deli stocked with Boar's Head meats and pungent cheese. Frequent guests reap the exclusive benefits of the winery’s club memberships, which include invitations to special events, first tastings, discounts, and complementary bottles. An event-ready banquet space also sets the scene for memorable weddings and events, with the winery’s chef, Kim Johnson, overseeing catering duties, cake cuttings, and the busboys’ a capella performance of “Take My Breath Away."
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?"