Super Bowl LI

In Town for the Super Bowl? Here's Where to Go

How to eat, drink, play and stay like a local

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen January 26, 2017 Published in the January 2017 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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For the Guys


To get and keep the party going, make Aloft Hotel Downtown your home base. Any hotel that has a lobby bar and a rooftop pool bar and deck—but no restaurant—has the right priorities.


For breakfast, head east from downtown to line up for the city’s best breakfast tacos at Villa Arcos, which could tame the a.m. cravings of an entire offensive line. At lunch, order a few rounds of the city’s best Neapolitan pies at Pizaro Pizza Napoletana, and in the evening, feast like gents at the superlative steakhouse Vic & Anthony's. Then pick your poison: Lovers of elaborate beer lists should mosey up to the bar at Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, whiskey enthusiasts can plant themselves at Reserve 101, and cocktail fans should make for the ever-changing menu at Moving Sidewalk.


February is prime outdoors weather around these parts, so take advantage of it by renting a B-Cycle and exploring the revitalized green spaces of Buffalo Bayou Park heading west from downtown. Grab $2 tickets in advance for a short tour of the park’s hauntingly beautiful underground Cistern. Pedal over to Glenwood Cemetery to pay homage to one of America’s great playboys, Howard Hughes, and keep heading west to behold the work of another Houston innovator: the Beer Can House. If you have a car, make the pilgrimage west (to Katy) or north (to Spring) to the bro mecca that is Top Golf before heading back downtown for a night out.

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Montrose Shop

Image: Parcs and Rec

For the Ladies


For a pampering weekend, you’ll want to hole up at the JW Marriott Houston Downtown, which offers cool artwork in the lobby, a creative restaurant, and the world’s first Spa by JW concept, fitted with what Travel + Leisure calls “the Rolls Royce of massage chairs.”


Start off your day with a latte and a mind-blowing pastry (we recommend the kouign-amann) at Common Bond, then go full ladies-who-lunch at stylish State of Grace. Save room for dinner at Pax Americana, where the sublime and unusual desserts are reason enough to order them all, you know, to compare and contrast. Finish the night with a bang at Barbarella for drinks and dancing, or geek out over the city’s best wine selection at the sleek Camerata.


After breakfast, take a short walk up Dunlavy from Common Bond to scour the deals at The Guild Shop —unless it’s Sunday, in which case stick to the locally made goods at Space Montrose or the stylish wares at The Montrose Shop. Later, ogle one of Houston’s prettiest estates at the stunning campus of Bayou Bend.

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Marriott Marquis

For Families


No matter what else you do during your visit, if you spend it at the Marriott Marquis, decades from now your kids will recall this trip as the first time they saw a Texas-shaped lazy river—and that’s what it’s all about, right?


For breakfast, hop over to Natachee's Supper 'N' Punch in Midtown—tots will love the kiddie "cocktails" and comfort food served in old-fashioned lunchboxes, or pick up a portable family-pack lunch and turn it into a picnic at Hermann Park. For dinner, hit up Jus' Mac, Houston’s mac-'n'-cheese-only eatery, or watch the sun set at Cottonwood, a laid-back outdoor bar with enough room for kids to entertain themselves while their parents relax over pints of craft beer. Cap off the day with treats for the whole family at The Chocolate Bar.


While you’re at Hermann Park, hit the Houston Zoo to check out the new gorilla habitat, or stick to indoor fun in the nearby Children's Museum of Houston. Back downtown, the kids will find endless things to do at Discovery Green, which offers putting greens, family yoga, shuffleboard and so much more.

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La Grange

For Singles


For those who are ready to mingle, a stay at the decadently stylish Hotel ZaZa —whose bar basically functions as a semi-permanent after-party—is the natural choice.


Dining solo? Savor a morning at Rice Village’s Croissant Brioche over an espresso and a heavenly pastry. Feeling social? Join the brunch party at La Grange, which combines tasty Tex-Mex with a great bar scene and plenty of screens, or try the tap list at Hay Merchant. For dinner, recharge with banh mi and ca phe sua da at Midtown institution Les Givral's before making a night of it. Axelrad Beer Garden and its hammock grove make the perfect place to hang out—yes, that’s a hammock pun—and listen to live music, or ride the rail downtown to mingle with the pretty young things at OKRA Charity Bar or silently judge all the bad Tinder dates at chic wine bar 13 Celsius.


From the Village it’s a short trip to Rice University, whose campus is always worth exploring. Sunrise and sunset are the best time to experience the school’s James Turrell Skyspace, but the installation is worth a visit anytime (don’t forget to do your best “Hotline Bling” dance while you’re there).

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