Around the World in Houston: Discover the American South

around-the-world-in-houston-american-south
Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences. Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

This week, we’re staying close to home and taking a dive into the Southern region of the United States, from the Creole-spiced coast of Louisiana to the South Carolina Lowcountry, into Tennessee and East Texas all through Dixieland.

Annual Events

  • Houston Livestock Show & RodeoEvery year around late February and early March, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo comes into town, bringing barrel racin’, two-stepping, mutton busting, bull riding, and a lineup of live performances from top country artists and more.
  • The Taste of Louisiana Festival This annual festival dives into Louisiana culture with live music and eats from boudin and gumbo to crawfish étouffée.
  • Texas Crawfish Festival Located in Spring, this annual crawfish festival brings the fun with plenty of music and mudbugs.

Museums

  • Buffalo Soldiers MuseumThis historical museum pays homage to Buffalo Soldiers, comprised of former slaves, freemen and Black Civil War soldiers who were the first to serve during peacetime, beginning with the 10th Cavalry Regiment in New Orleans in 1866. Exhibitions include a look at the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Western frontier expansion and more.
  • Museum of Southern History at Houston Baptist University Located on the Houston Baptist University campus, this museum chronicles the history of the South during the mid-1800s, taking a look at clothing, furnishings, uniforms, tools, and weapons post-Civil War.

Southern Food & Drink

  • BB’s Café With multiple locations across the city, BB’s Cafe is the go-to stop for po’ boys, grandma-style gumbo, seasonal Cajun crawfish boils, and fun shareables from hush puppies to Southern-style poutine finished with queso, gravy, and roast beef debris.
  • The Boil House Open only during crawfish season, this LSU-loving boil shack is the place to go for authentic Louisiana crawfish. The freshwater mudbugs get properly soaked and seasoned before being served along with corn and potatoes and add-ons like fresh smoked sausage links and shrimp. Settle in at the Heights stop and get messy at a picnic table, hit the drive-thru, or grab all the ingredients you need for your own backyard boil.
  • The Boot Hit the Boot’s sprawling patio to suck down Louisiana-style crawfish that get boiled fresh every day during the season. While you’re at it, add on Creole and Cajun specialties, including awesomeness like boudin links, crawfish po’ boys, gator bites, and crawfish étouffée.
  • The Breakfast Klub This Midtown heavy-hitter is your go-to stop for catfish & grits and wings & waffles.
  • Brennan’s of Houston Southern Hospitality reaches new levels at this Creole fine dining spot, a sister restaurant to the world-famous Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. Dine on Louisiana-meets-Texas classics, from chargrilled oysters and turtle soup to Gulf fish Pontchartrain and whiskey-glazed roasted duck. Don’t forget the bananas foster, a showstopper of a dessert flamed tableside.
  • Beaver’s Original Get a taste of the American South at this “dam good” pitstop off Decatur. Dig into cornmeal-battered fried pickles, pimento cheese & pork rinds, biscuits & gravy, and Viet-Carolina fusion pulled pork lettuce wraps.
  • The Cajun Stop Get a taste of the Big Easy and “eat dat” crawfish. With a trio of locations, the Cajun Stop offers both Cajun and Asian-style boils, plus fried crawfish, crawfish po’ boys, and crawfish étouffée.
  • Esther’s Cajun Cafe & Soul Food Smothered pork chops, fried catfish, braised oxtails, mac n cheese, black-eyed peas, mustard greens, candied yams, and peach cobbler are just some of the Southern classics you’ll find at this soul food staple.
  • Goodnight Charlie’s Hit this Montrose honky-tonk for live music and dancing, an excellent lineup of whiskey, bourbon and beer, and eats from hot chicken tacos to 5 leches funnel cake.
  • Gumbo Jeaux’s As its moniker suggests, Gumbo Jeaux’s is a “Texiana” eatery with a mean gumbo, plus favorites like beans and rice, crawfish bisque, blackened catfish, and fried pork chops.
  • Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken Memphis-style fried chicken is served hot and crisp at this Tennessee import. Get the spicy bird alongside fried okra, mac and cheese, baked beans, and chess pie.
  • Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room Enjoy true Southern comfort on a patio overlooking 19th at this Heights jewel. You’ll dine on delights like summer peach salad, lump crab cakes, grouper succotash, and double-brined cast-iron fried chicken.
  • House of Pies Key lime, sweet potato, Texas pecan, buttermilk, peach. You name a Southern-style pie, this 24-hour diner has it.
  • Houston This Is It Soul Food This Third Ward diner rocks soul food favorites, from smothered oxtails, chitterlings and turkey wings to fried chicken, ham hocks, and fried catfish.
  • Julep From bourbon baron Alba Huerta, this Southern-kissed charmer is one of the best cocktail bars in Houston. Explore the South via cocktails like the Sazerac, Bourbon Sour, and namesake Mint Julep. If you’re fixin’ to eat, there are oysters, pimento cheese plates, and fried ribs to go alongside.
  • Kitchen 713 You’ll find soulful, globally-inspired takes on Southern food at this Washington fan-favorite, from loaded gumbo and jerk ribs to a whole bird fried chicken dinner.
  • Kulture Head to Downtown’s Avenidas de las Americas and you’ll find this sister eatery to the Breakfast Klub, where you can nosh on sherry-laced shrimp & grits, oxtail ragout, and collard dip.
  • Lucille’s Over in the Museum District, Lucille’s wows with lip-smacking, upscale comfort fare, with modern and old school takes on recipes passed down from chef Chris Williams’ great-grandmother, Lucille. Indulge in grandma’s chili biscuits, smothered duck, bone-in fish fry, and cornmeal-crusted fried green tomatoes.
  • The Moonshiner’s Southern Table + BarComfort food, moonshine, and warm hospitality make this Southern table a popular Downtown destination. Get drinks in mason jars alongside shrimp & grits, fried green tomatoes, chicken & waffles, and bourbon pecan pie.
  • Ouisie’s Table – This local institution dishes out a bevy of Southern-kissed comforts, including crispy crab cakes, New Orleans-style red snapper, Gulf shrimp & cheese grits, and lemon ice box pie.
  • Punk’s Simple Southern Food Hit this modern Rice Villlage kitchen for Southern tastes from broiled catfish and pimento cheese dip to whole fried birds served with all the fixin’s (including buttermilk biscuits with honey butter).
  • Ragin’ Cajun Seafood & Oyster Bar Louisiana eats are the name of the game at this Cajun and Southern kitchen. Stop by “The Original” or Westchase locations and grub on seafood po’ boys, roast beef & grits, fried shrimp platters, seasonal crawfish and soft-shell crabs and more.
  • Ray’s BBQ Shack East Texas-style barbecue rules the roost at this bbq shack, from smoked boudin and garlicky beef sausage links to specials like the Thursday-only ‘qued oxtails.
  • Reserve 101 You’ll find an extensive selection of Kentucky bourbon, along with many other Southern spirts, at this warm, welcoming, understated bar in Downtown. The atmosphere is casual, but the bar’s whiskey know how are anything but. Owner Mike Raymond is widely recognized across the industry as one of the premiere purveyors of whiskey in Texas. Reserve regularly hosts distillery ambassadors, Southern whiskey experts, and others for special tastings—open to public—throughout the year.
  • Ritual Head to White Oak and you’ll find this Southern steakhouse and butcher room, with offerings including crispy pig ear mac, boudin-stuffed jumbo shrimp, potlicker pork chop, and cast-iron ribeye with smoked lardo mashers.
  • TreebeardsThis local mini-chain has been serving up Southern comfort foods for 40 years, with house specialties like the red beans & rice, jambalaya, duck gumbo, and shrimp éttoufée.

Other Notables

  • The Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club Channel the Big Easy at this live music spot, which focuses on blues, zydeco, and booze.
  • Dan Electro’s Guitar BarThis Sunset Heights rock bar hosts weekly Thursday Night Blues Jams. Shows are free.
  • House of Blues Hit this Downtown music hall for its Gospel Brunch buffet on select Sundays beginning at 1:30pm. The daily restaurant menu also rocks out iconic Southern dishes like New Orleans-style jambalaya and gumbo, Lowcountry shrimp and grits, house-smoked Carolina pulled-pork barbeque, Memphis-style ribs, and Delta fried chicken
  • Shakespeare PubThis Memorial-area watering hole hosts soulful live blues music every night, from soulful, old-school grooves to upbeat flows. $5 cover at door after 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays only.