Insider’s Guide

Best of International Houston: Mexico

Mexican opera, norteño nightclubs and, of course, fútbol

By Katharine Shilcutt September 1, 2015 Published in the September 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Produce for sale at Canino

Population in Houston: 599,000 (the third largest Mexican population in the country)

Canino Produce Co.

The front portion of this large, open-air market takes plastic, but you'll want to bring cash for the best part: the rows and rows of colorful stalls out back, which sell everything from yard eggs gathered by the abuelita selling them to homemade moles that smell of dark chocolate and roasted chiles. Grab a sack of fruit to munch on while you shop, and on pretty days, plan to spend a while here hunting for the best bargains and enjoying the energy of the place—especially on weekends, when the narrow aisles are packed with shoppers.

Casa Ramirez

241 W. 19th St., 713-880-2420

A plate of crumbly, sweet, cinnamon-laced ojarascas greets visitors to this charming boutique in the Heights, where owner Macario Ramirez stocks his shop with a rotating and carefully curated selection of Mexican literature, art, jewelry and gifts in every price range.

Chulas Sports Cantina

The botana sampler (appetizer plate) may come with a mix of fried pickles and flautas, and the cheeky atmosphere at the four Houston-area locations of this Hooters-style sports bar may be a bit racy, but there’s no place more festive to watch fútbol with friends. Raucous viewing parties are encouraged with dozens of massive flat-screen TVs and daily drink and food specials.

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Spices and other ingredients at Cuchara

Cuchara Restaurant

This Montrose hotspot mimics the look and feel of a Mexico City bistro right down to the colorful pop-art murals by artist Cecilia Beaven (sister of owner Ana) and menu of comida corrida lunch specials and bountiful dinner dishes. We suggest starting with Cuchara's charalitos and chilatole, and saving room for the chocolate-filled buñuelos at dessert.

Escapade 2001

This massive nightclub complex is one the largest of its kind in the Southwest and one of Houston’s biggest bars (at least in terms of alcohol sales). Escapade 2001 and sister venue Club Stampede host nightly shows with acts ranging from cumbia to norteño, banda to corridos, and patrons of either can book tables online before venturing out for the evening. 

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Escapade 2001

Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts

From its beautiful new home in the Sixth Ward, MECA is continuing the mission it’s had since 1977 of serving the community through arts and cultural programming. Here you’ll find art exhibits and lectures, concerts featuring everything from mariachis to modern Mexican ensembles such as Yetlanezi, and BYOB painting parties where you’re encouraged to channel your inner Frida Kahlo.

Talento Bilingüe de Houston

This multi-disciplinary nonprofit theater in the East End does more than just produce Spanish-language and Spanglish plays. TBH also offers summer camps that teach Mexican cultural arts, including dance and music, and hosts various community events from talent shows to fashion shows. In recent years, TBH has teamed up with Opera in the Heights to produce classical zarzuelas and boleros, as well as the Houston Grand Opera, which commissioned the 45-minute chamber opera Past the Checkpoints a few years back.

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