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Best of the City 2018

Ray Dennison and Mellanie Perez | January 9, 2018 | Feature Features National

Over the past year, we've taken notes on the best dining, shopping and lifestyle experiences the city has to offer. Here's our annual list of Houston's finest when it comes to the art of living well.
A look at the swanky showroom at Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land.

WINE & FOOD

MOST EXTRAVAGANT DISH
After a much anticipated wait, Michelin-starred London dim sum teahouse Yauatcha opened its Houston location in the Galleria last summer. Delicately crafted shu mai, soup-filled dumplings, crispy duck rolls, venison puffs, jasmine tea smoked pork ribs and an impressive beverage program have quickly made the spot a must-stop on Houston’s foodie roster. For something truly over-the-top, order the Peking duck and scallion pancakes with Tsar Nicoulai reserve caviar ($138) along with a bottle of Champagne. 504 Westheimer Road, 713.357.7588, yauatcha.com


LARGEST WINE CELLAR
Nationally acclaimed steakhouse Pappas Bros. has one of the country’s most impressive wine cellars, touting more than 4,000 selections. Master sommelier Jack Mason recommends Pierre Peters Reserve Oubliée Blanc de Blancs for bubbles, while his favorite new red is a 2013 Quinta de Chocapalha Vinha Mãe from Portugal. “Rich, dense and full-bodied, this is a great introduction to Portuguese reds,” he says. If money is no issue, however, he recommends a $3,000 bottle of the 2014 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Montrachet. “It’s a bottle that surely won’t disappoint.” 5839 Westheimer Road, 713.780.7352; 1200 McKinney St., 713.658.1995, pappasbros.com

BEST RESTAURANT WITHIN A RESTUARANT
The Pass & Provisions, a two-in-one restaurant concept from chefs Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner, opened in 2012 and has been scoring awards and praise ever since. Provisions offers a casual atmosphere, while hidden behind a secret metal door, white-tableclothed The Pass presents five-course tasting menus of edible art ($105 with pairings). Think pork ravioli with bok choy and hay smoke; or Israeli osetra caviar, sturgeon and smoked steelhead with blue-corn blinis, latkes and okonomiyaki—a Japanese pancake made with flour, eggs and cabbage. Stuart Humphries’ beverage program is equally inspired, and all tasting menus can be paired with wine, beer or cocktails. 807 Taft St., 713.628.9020, passandprovisions.com

MOST INTIMATE PRIVATE DINING ROOM
Since opening in 1965, Tony Vallone’s eponymous restaurant has been a top culinary destination for socialites and local celebrities. The main dining room is a place to see and be seen, and tables celebrating special occasions are easily identified when waiters parade out with sparklers aflame atop fluffy towers of pink cotton candy. For something even more over-the-top and far more romantic, book a private dinner in the intimate wine library. A custom-made Sicilian walnut table for 12 sits beneath a Murano crystal chandelier, and private waitstaff deliver chef de cuisine Austin Waiter’s delicate Italian-inspired creations on Versace chargers and Ginori china. Instead of pursuing the wine list, just point to one of the 200-plus bottles displayed on the walls. The collection’s a mix of first-growth Bordeaux and fine Burgundies, and one vintage even dates back to 1844. 3755 Richmond Ave., 713.622.6778, tonyshouston.com

LIFESTYLE

BEST CUSTOM-DESIGNED GARAGE
Ken Enders of Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land just partnered with award-winning interior designer Marie Flanigan to reinvent the showroom experience. Perched atop the leading dealership, the pair unveiled a two-story, 6,000-square-foot studio that serves as a private VIP showroom for multimillion-dollar cars and an art collection. The lounge features state-of-the-art lighting and sound, floor-to-ceiling glass and panoramic views of the city. Reclaimed wood flooring blends with stone from France and lumber from an 1865 Amish settlement, and an original Picasso masterpiece hangs over the 700-square-foot bar. The space is used for a variey of events and as a stylish waiting area for VIP customers, who can kick back, unwind and relax with a glass of wine while their car is being serviced. “We wanted to honor the qualities Ken adores the most about the vehicles he collects,” says Megan Hotze, marketing director at Marie Flanigan Interiors. “The lounge is a jewel waiting to serve comfort and style to its lucky guests.” 15625 Southwest Freeway, 281.207.1500, mbsugarland.com

BEST THRILL FOR ADRENALINE JUNKIES
Radical Texas operates a professional racing team in Houston, and its top test track where drivers are trained for European-style pro races is just a few miles south of Downtown. On off days, when the team isn’t flying down the course, owner Simon Dawson opens it up to race enthusiasts interested in getting some serious experience behind the wheel. For an introduction fee of $250 and rate of $500 per 20 minutes on the track, hobbyists can get the chance to visit the auto shop, chat with the team, practice with a pro and then take control themselves. After hitting speeds close to 180 mph, coming home on the highway will feel like a crawl. One Performance Drive, Ste. F, Angleton, 832.954.7569,
radical-texas.com

SWANKIEST HOTEL CONCEPT SUITES
The Magnificent Seven Suites are the crown jewel of the ZaZa brand. Known for their top-notch sensory experience, they are all one-of-a-kind exclusive enclaves with unique vibes, culture and atmosphere. In the new Hotel ZaZa Memorial City, the suites are perched on the 10th floor and decked out in fresh new themes like the Beach House, French Connection, and A Passage to India. From $800 per night, 888.880.3244, 9787 Katy Freeway, hotelzaza.com



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