Around the World in Houston: Discover California & the West Coast

Photo courtesy of Present Company

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’ll move to the Pacific Coast, taking a look at favorites from California burritos to a bar that will transport you to Palm Springs. Here’s how to experience a taste of California and the West Coast in Houston.

Arts & Culture

Food & Drink

  • Black Bear DinerNorthern Cali’s Black Bear Diner opened up shop in Katy, offering all-day breakfast and diner faves. Dig into California omelets, burgers, and chicken avocado club.
  • Cabo Baja Tacos & BurritosYou’ll find Baja-style fried fish tacos and massive California burritos stuffed with grilled steak, guac’, and fries at this Washington Ave spot.
  • Churned CreameryCali import Churned Creamery, known for its Instagram-worthy ice cream-filled croissants, is set to open up shop in Sugar Land.
  • Houston Wine Merchant Hit this wine store to find selections from California, Oregon, and Washington.
  • International SmokeHead over to CityCentre for a taste of International Smoke, the San Francisco sensation from California chef Michael Mina and culinary star Ayesha Curry. In addition to local Gulf coast options, you’ll find everything from cedar-smoked Pacific Northwest Salmon to smoked Korean short ribs.
  • JINYA Ramen BarThis beloved California-based ramen bar now has a whopping five (soon to be six) outposts in the Greater Houston area. Hit one to slurp scratch-made noodles in rich, flavorful broth that simmers for 10-plus hours.
  • Jollibee The first US location of this Filipino chain opened in Daly City, California in 1998; today, it hosts 34 locations across the country, one of which sits on Main and Kirby. Get house favorites like the Chickenjoy, Jollibee’s take on crispy, juicy fried chicken; meaty Jolly Spaghetti and garlicky Fiesta Noddles; and Burger Steaks, beef patties smothered in mushroom gravy with a side of steamed rice.
  • Mendocino Farms This LA-based, farm-fresh sandwich shop is coming to Houston’s Rice Village in 2019.
  • North Shore Poké Getting its start in Huntington Beach, CA in 2012, this Hawaiian-style poké mini-chain has made its way to Houston’s Westchase.
  • Poké Bar This California import has two locations in Houston (off Memorial and Westheimer), offering make-your-own poké with options from tuna and octopus to jalapeño and masago.
  • Present CompanyTransport yourself to Palm Springs, California at this bright and trendy Montrose patio bar.
  • Samurai Noodle This popular ramen shop comes to Houston by way of Seattle, bringing its addicting shouyu and tonkotsu ramen along with it.
  • SugarfinaStarted in Beverly Hills, this sweet spot has become a candy-coasted phenom around the country. Get your sugar fix at locations in the Galleria, Woodlands, and Rice Village.
  • Taquerias ArandasOrder the Super California burrito and you’ll get a super-sized tortilla stuffed with your choice of meat, rice, refried beans, avocado, tomato, sour cream, lettuce, and cheese.
  • Taurino’s Authentic Mexican RestaurantWhile you’ll find a variety of Mexican fare at this Wilcrest haunt, West Coasters will want to dig into the California Burrito, loaded with French fries, melted cheese, beef fajita, sour cream, guacamole and pico, and served with a small side of queso (because this is still Texas, after all).

Other Notables

  • Alumni Clubs and Meetups – Houston is a transplant city, so be sure to check out local meetup groups and college alumni clubs, with groups from UCLA to Gonzaga.
Previous articleCrack up to Russell Peters’ outrageous comedy at Revention Music Center
Next articleCelebrate all things Italiano at the 40th Houston Italian Festival
Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .