After a long hiatus, our My Top 5 series returns, highlighting Houstonians who create Houston’s culture in real time. In it, we ask them to share their own favorite things to do in their downtime. This week we’re very pleased to be back with an entry from Tom Paynter, co-owner of No Label Brewing in Katy, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this weekend—on Saturday, November 28, 2020—with a socially distanced, family friendly outdoor celebration on its newly renovated grounds.
My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston
by Tom Paynter
Local Craft Beer Scene − The craft brewery industry and the people in it have been a mainstay in my life for over a decade. Years ago as a freelancer, it was that industry that played a great part in pushing me towards where I am today. My week isn’t complete unless it’s filled with a visit to my friends at Spindletap, Saint Arnold, Vallenson’s, 11 Below, or Texas Leaguer. No Label is definitely my home, but all those others often make up my second home.
Catalina Coffee and Blendin Coffee Club − My day is not whole if I haven’t had a cup, or two, of coffee. Catalina was the launching pad for my entry into the craft coffee community and Blendin, well hell… It’s right next to my house and it happens to be terrific! Both of these great shops have been impacted by Covid. I look forward to the day when I can meet up with someone there, open a laptop, and get some day work done. Pointless coffee fact: both these places sell their delicious coffee beans-to-go so you too can become an amateur barista at home. That’s what I’ve done during Covid. Also a special mention to the one-man machine, Matthew, at Spindletap Coffee.
Running and Live Races − I love to run, It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s the perfect way to binge some local podcasts like Beer, Blood & The Bayou or Drink Of Ages. I truly miss live races. I can’t wait for the return of the Houston Marathon and those running celebrations surrounding them. There’s nothing quite like waking up early, lacing up, meeting strangers on completely cleared roads, and running around through this city on the street level, appreciating this place from a truly unique point of view. Running is not just exploration, but tradition. There is no way better than to kick off Thanksgiving than with the YMCA Turkey Dash—six miles to build that sweat and earn that turkey. I still run but, holy Hell, are virtual half marathons difficult.
Tacos-A-Go-Go − Two margaritas and chips n’ queso is the ultimate post race snack. There are many great options that are all delicious in Houston. There are many great options, but my hands down—without a doubt—spot is the “closest to me” Tacos-A-Go-Go. When half marathon races return to this great city, I shall return to my post race tradition of Tacos-A-Go-Go and look like the most satisfied out of shape worthless heap of a human. Truth be told, it could probably have a top 50 in this category.
People & Hugs − I miss the people. I didn’t realize how important getting close, handshakes, and hugs were until this year hit. Tapping elbows does not make for a good handshake, but I get it. I just miss people and that human interaction. People are definitely one of my favorite things.
About Tom Paynter
For more than a decade, Paynter was an independent videographer and photographer, who worked with people and institutions, with a focus on craft beer. Years ago, he started a live music series called The Caroline Sessions featuring more than 100 performances of live and local musicians and also managed the band Second Lovers. Somewhere along the line, he became a co-owner of No Label Brewing in Katy.