Our My Top 5 series showcases Houstonians who are creating the city’s culture and community and asks them to share their own local favorites. This week we’re delighted to feature Jake Rainey, partner and COO of Cottonwood and La Grange. In addition to his partnership, Rainey carries out the bar program at both locations and handles all booking for musical acts at Cottonwood.
My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston
by Jake Rainey
- Houston Breweries – I’m a beer guy. I’ve been slinging cold ones since 1997. Nothing has made me happier than to see Houston’s beer scene grow to what we are experiencing now. There are so many good breweries out there to visit, and I haven’t even gotten close to trying them all, but my top pick would have to be what I like to call the OG of Texas breweries, Saint Arnold Brewing Company. If you haven’t been to their new beer garden, it is a must-do. There’s nothing like sipping an Art Car IPA (my favorite beer of all time) and catching a ‘Stros game on their big screen. One of the best views of our Downtown skyline you’ll find.
- Houston Live Music – On a national level, Austin gets all the credit for being a live music destination, but Houston’s performers and venues are just as strong. Shaun Brennan over at Splice Records has a great stable of local artists. Lately, I’ve been listening to Folk Family Revival a lot. But there are lots of other guys that I like to catch whenever I can. John Egan is one of the best guitarists in the city and I love watching him play solo sets. Mike Stinson is just great Texas Rock ‘n’ Roll. Probably my newest music crush is Heapin’ Helpin’. They do a little bit of everything, but I’d throw them in the jam band category if I was forced to put them in a box. They are still coming up, and you can usually catch them three or four times a month at different bars and breweries around town. As far as venues go, my two favorites are The Heights Theater and McGonigel’s Mucky Duck. Heights Theater has (IMHO) the best sound of any venue in the city. Their band lineup is so great, too. I feel like I’m throwing money at them every week for a new show they just announced. Bob Schneider is my spirit animal and when he brings the full band to town here he brings down the house. I try to never miss a Bob Schneider show at Mucky Duck either. The setting is so intimate, and everything they do is quality. It’s also one of the absolute best settings to take a date. My wife and I are both pretty busy people, but we almost always carve out time to catch a Bob show at one of these two places. But sometimes I just want to be a hippie −and that’s when I hit Last Concert Cafe for a good jam band and/or anything Grateful Dead related. There’s something about hula hoops and barefoot people collectively enjoying the vibe of a band in the backyard there that is transformative.
- Brennan’s – Since I was just a kid, we’ve celebrated most family special occasions together here. My grandparents started this tradition and my parents (and now my brothers and I) have carried it on. Once we held a surprise party for my dad’s 70th. Somehow I had too much scotch and ended up in the kitchen with my nephew learning how to make pralines. It was rad. More recently we celebrated my parent’s 50th. It was cool to see the staff and the people that go there still remember them from past visits. I think making people feel special is a cornerstone of my hospitality value system, and I can’t think of another place that does it as well as Brennan’s.
- H-E-B Texas Grocery – there is no better grocery store in the world than H-E-B. Fight me.
- Poison Girl – My office is right across the street. I work some pretty freaky hours, and it’s great to be able to walk over at 1am if I so choose. For me, it’s a great refuge away from the rest of the world. They have one of the best bourbon selections in the city. Every time I go I try to have something I’ve never had before.
About Jake Rainey
Partner and Chief Operating Officer of Cottonwood and La Grange, Jake Rainey is responsible for two of Houston’s prime food and drink destinations. Rainey carries out the bar program at both locations and handles all booking for musical acts at Cottonwood. With experience in the food and beverage industry that spans more than a decade, before joining the team at Cottonwood and La Grange in 2014, Jake worked as a general manager, area director, and eventually National Beer Director at Flying Saucer. His role entailed curating beer programs for all locations, acquiring specially released kegs, vendor relations, and event coordination.