city guide: houston.

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Liz of Green Revival Blog kindly offered to share a zero waste city guide to her home of Houston, Texas. It's full of outdoor activities, local restaurants, and some tips for visiting the city zero waste style. Thanks, Liz!

DO

-Buffalo Bayou Park: Hike, bike, or run along the Buffalo Bayou and enjoy the fruits of a $58 million, 160-acre project to revamp Houston’s most popular greenway. Bikes are available to rent at any B-cycle station, or you can rent a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard at Allen’s Landing.

-Hermann Park: Watch a free open-air performance at Miller Outdoor Theater. Wander around the Japanese Garden and Reflection Pool.  Grab a snack at the Pinewood Café and trace the spiral mount in the lush new Centennial Gardens for a sweeping view of the city. Hermann Park is our favorite spot to escape the city’s hustle and bustle.

-Museum District: The diverse, expansive museums make Houston a beacon of culture. The butterfly center at Houston Museum of Natural Science is stunning, and a fun activity for kids. The Museum of Fine Arts is an architectural gem in and of itself; the permanent and visiting exhibitions are excellent. For travelers on a budget, the Menil Collection offers free admission.

-Arboretum: Hit the trails in this wooded haven for native plants and animals. The Nature Center is replete with puzzles, discovery boxes, interactive exhibits, and microscopes for kids to learn about wildlife.

-River Oaks Theatre: Catch an indie film or lecture at this historic movie theater.

-The Heights: It’s easy to lose track of time wandering around this neighborhood packed with cute craftsman bungalows. 19th Street is the central retail area, packed with mom-and-pop shops (Casa Ramirez sells beautiful Oaxacan folk art, and Retropolis is the place to find cool vintage costumes). When our feet grow weary, we break for a coffee at Antidote and a salted chocolate chunk cookie at Red Dessert Dive. Fill up your growler with local beer on tap at Premium Draught next door.

-Montrose: This neighborhood is popular for good eats, low-key cafes and cocktail bars, and great boutiques and thrift stores. Pavement has the best atmosphere and widest selection of women’s and men’s vintage clothing. Menil Park is an idyllic spot for a picnic, and West Alabama Ice House is always packed during gametime. I live for the vegan emapanadas and beet-juice mochas at Campesino Coffeehouse, a Latin café in the heart of Montrose.

EAT

-Local Foods: Houston is brimming with a surprising number of farm-to-table restaurants, but Local Foods is at the top of our list. Their casual, aperitive entrees are paired with healthy sides like cauliflower + pomegranate tabbouleh, and their house-made kombucha is available on draft.

-Ruggles Green: Find local and organic ingredients, extensive gluten-free options, and wood-fired organic pizzas at this casual certified “Green Restaurant.” Don’t miss the quinoa mac ‘n cheese.

-Down House: Our favorite cozy, science-themed nook in the heart of the Heights, Down House is beloved for electic food and cocktails alike. Menus note the farm where each ingredient was sourced. Weekend brunch is legendary, but expect a long wait.

-Baba Yega Café: Baba Yega’s is a Montrose institution and a mecca for Houston vegan cuisine. The cozy restaurant is situated in a converted bungalow.

-Tout Suite: We never have trouble finding a table at this industrial EaDo café full of natural light. There’s something for everyone – fresh-squeezed juices, macarons, cupcakes, small bites, wine, and of course, excellent coffee. Many ingredients are local. A small note painted on the floor near the juice bar pays tribute to its roots as a Ford dealership constructed in 1904 (pretty old for Houston!). 

-Other recommendations: Kanomwan ThaiPho BinhChilosos Taco House,  Fat Cat CreameryMoving Sidewalk’s nitrogen-infused mint cocktails, and Hugs & Donuts. For a fancier date night, we love farm-to-table restaurants UnderbellyColtivare, and Pax Americana.

STAY ZERO WASTE

-Grocery shop: Central Market is our favorite grocery store – the produce department is beyond anything I’ve ever seen, with an incredible selection of local and organic produce (including bulk salad greens and mushrooms – hooray!). Central Market also has a large bulk food section, where we stock up on dry goods and spices. Its sister store, H-E-B, also provides many spices and dry goods in bulk. For bulk oils and vinegars, head to Urban Eats. Bring your own container to Houston Dairy Maids to scoop up some local cheese. Central Market’s bakery will satisfy any bread craving, but if you’re looking for more, try Common Bond Café or Weights + Measures.

-Compost: The concept of composting hasn’t taken on in Houston yet, and it is difficult to find locations to dispense your food scraps around the city. For now, take advantage of the compost bins at MOD Pizza and Whole Foods. You can also drop off compostable material for the garden at Houston Food Not Bombs.

Thanks so much, Liz! Be sure to check out her blog, Green City Revival, if you want to read more of her writing about zero waste and minimalism. Photograph via. Find more city guides, here.