NASA, world-class medical innovation, the Astros: This city has a lot to be proud of. But we just may be most proud of one Beyoncé Knowles. The Houston-born-and-raised, critically acclaimed, 22-time Grammy-winning artist has stood at the forefront of pop—both music and culture—since she shot to stardom in the late ’90s as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child.
Bey, by the way, adores her hometown right back: Her 2013 video for “No Angel,” deemed her “love letter to Houston,” pays tribute to local legends Bun B, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, and Scarface and features an opening shot of the city’s skyline at sunset before giving way to scenes of the Third and Fourth Wards. It follows, then, that to get a true taste of Houston, one should follow in the queen’s footsteps.
Eat Like Bey
“Frenchy’s, Boudin in the parking lot,” Beyoncé says on “Bow Down/I Been On,” her 2013 tribute to Houston that coined her trademark phrase, “H-Town Vicious.” That wasn’t a namedrop for the sake of a namedrop, either: Beyoncé is a certified fan of the legendary fried chicken joint. In fact, she famously made a pit stop there last year after visiting with Hurricane Harvey survivors. According to her mom, Tina Knowles, Queen B indulged in “the best chicken in the world,” red beans and rice, French fries, greens, cornbread, and lemon pound cake. For the real-deal experience, hit the original Frenchy’s Chicken location, at 3919 Scott St., in the star’s native Third Ward.
If Frenchy’s is old-school Bey, then B&B Butchers (1814 Washington Ave.) is world-domination Yoncé. Billboard reports that Bey, Jay, and Blue Ivy have been known to rent the restaurant’s private room, where Wagyu carpaccio, crème brûlée, and bellinis are all on the Carters’ preferred menu. During one 2016 visit, the family allegedly hit the restaurant twice in 24 hours and sent their personal chef to buy raw Kobe beef from its first-floor butcher shop. So, stop in to enjoy a prime rib with truffle butter and the knowledge that you’re dining on hallowed ground.
Thanks to “Formation,” the world now knows that when Jay-Z gives Bey what she wants, she rewards him with a trip to Red Lobster, of which there are multiple locations around Houston. But if you’re looking for a higher-brow experience, take Beyoncé’s own recommendation and try Pappadeaux, the popular local seafood chain from Houston’s Pappas family. Finally, the star is also a fan of This Is It Soul Food, which serves up tasty traditional Southern fare at 2712 Blodgett St.
Work It Out Like Bey
Beyoncé’s art holds lots of clues as to her favorite spots to hit around town. The music video for “Blow” sees her expertly wielding a pair of Texas-emblazoned roller skates around the Roller City USA rink at FunPlex Amusement Park (13700 Beechnut St.). Legend has it Queen B even had her first date here. Grab a pair of neon legwarmers and channel your own inner diva at Adult Skate Night, Fridays from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Meanwhile, if following a pop idol’s adolescent workout regimen means getting us one step closer to achieving a comparable figure, we’re willing to try. That would mean morning jaunts along the 3.5-mile trail in Hermann Park (6001 Fannin St.), where, back in the Destiny’s Child days, the star’s father/manager, Mathew Knowles, directed his daughter to run and sing to prepare for taxing live performances.
Your tour wouldn’t be complete without stopping by a few other sites where Beyoncé spent her formative years. There’s the historic Rice Mansion (1505 Hadley St.)—built by University founders in 1910—where Destiny’s Child recorded such hits as “Bootylicious” (which, by the way, gained entry to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2004). It’s part of a group of Midtown buildings, including Mathew Knowles’s old Music World Entertainment headquarters, which he sold to a car dealer last year before relocating.
Today Mrs. Carter may live in an $88 million Bel Air mansion, but it was the Knowles family’s 4,010-square-foot house at 3346 Parkwood Dr. in the Third Ward that witnessed her youth. The home is chronicled in both opening and closing shots of the HBO documentary Beyoncé: Life Is But a Dream. Today fans still flock to the residence to take selfies and, as the home’s current owners told KHOU, literally bow at the entrance.
Finally, stop by St. John’s United Methodist Church (2019 Crawford St.), the star’s longtime place of worship, and the site where she sang her first solo. After Harvey, she returned to St. John’s with her mother and Blue Ivy and even took the stage to announce, as if there were any doubt: “Y’all are my family. Houston is my home.”