I love weekend getaways. For us, they typically only require a two-hour drive to a nearby destination. Lucky for me, Victoria, TX, located in what is called the Crossroads, means one can drive two hours in almost any direction and land in a major city.
Our most favorite weekend getaway is Houston, as it offers lots of shopping options, one of our favorites being Phoenicia Specialty Foods. This store is a Mecca for international foods, but we make our monthly pilgrimage here to buy our Middle Eastern groceries. Additionally, Houston offers great bike, walking, and running trails as well as many other indoor or outdoor activities to keep you busy.
Recently, as I was scrolling through event feeds on Facebook I noticed one called the Chocolate and Art Show taking place in Houston for the weekend. I love art and with it being in one of my favorite cities we packed up our bags and headed to Houston for the weekend.
Typically, when we overnight in Houston we book a nice hotel close to where we are planning to attend an event or activity but this trip it was time to change it up a bit. We decided on bed and breakfast stay in the heart of the historical district, Houston Heights, Sara’s Inn. This Victorian style home was built in 1898 close to the old Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Southern Pacific Railroad tracks where many of the neighbors worked. Today it’s known as the MKT/SP Hike and Bike Trails.
Within this community, you will find theatres, churches, libraries, corner stores, restaurants, and walking trails. The neighborhood is made up of predominantly small 19th century, one-story cottages and larger, two-story Victorian-era homes, as well as numerous early 20th-century bungalow style buildings.
Sara’s Inn was right off Heights Street & White Oaks Boulevard, one of the most walkable areas of Houston. White Oaks Bike and Hike Trail snakes around beautiful homes, exciting murals, the Obsidian theatre, a bicycle and roller skate shop, and many great restaurants with spacious patios to socialize with your friends. I was excited to capture a few snapshots along the way. We took a quick look at the Golden Bagel and Revival Market to check out their menus. We also noticed that many cyclists stopped for breakfast at El Gallo De Jalisco. It was the perfect morning walk as we managed to accomplish five miles and didn’t realize the distance!
For dinner, we selected Irma’s Southwest Grill, which was featured on Country Texas Reporter. This show shares a variety of places throughout Texas and we recalled this episode not long ago talking about the fantastic Mexican food offered at Irma’s Southwest Grill. The restaurant was truly amazing!
Our waitress, Jessica, was excellent. The menu is posted on the wall in the entryway, so before you sit down take note of what’s being served that day. We started out with fresh, crunchy chips and two flavors of salsa. For the appetizer, we had chunky guacamole prepared with hot tostadas.
Our waitress recommended ordering the combination plate which came with a shrimp taco, beef fajitas, and a cheese enchilada with chili ranchero sauce, served with Mexican rice. I must say the dish was delicious and I felt like we had eaten authentic Mexican food. Although the desserts looked tempting, we decided not to splurge. I highly recommend this restaurant if you are visiting Houston. This place is unique and it isn’t your typical Mexican food restaurant!
After a wonderful meal, we ventured to The Chocolate and Art Show. This show’s platform is for emerging and establishing artists of many mediums to get to know their art community, network, showcase their artwork, and profit from their creativity. The event benefits Artists for Trauma, a nonprofit that aims to aid in recovery through artistic expression and human connection. This art event was located in a large garage, jammed with many creative artists, vendors, artisan chocolatiers, and music. The artwork was displayed on the walls of the garage or hung on gates that zigzagged to create aisles for people to walk around to admire all the art pieces. Vendor booths lined the walls from jewelry makers, chocolate samples, body painters, and a cartoonist. Outside, a hip-hop DJ played some entertaining music along with various food trucks. Art enthusiasts over the age of 21 could have a night of dancing, chocolate, and cultural indulgence.
As we walked around studying and analyzing various art pieces we occasionally had the opportunity to meet and hear from the creators about what inspired their work.
Abiola is an Italian artist of Nigerian origins. Her work that I found so fascinating was of an African woman with beautiful white feathered wings. The feathers added a 3-D image to the painting which attracted me to the piece. After visiting with Abiola, I learned that she attended Baylor University and had a career as a professional basketball player in the countries of Israel, Spain, Italy, and England. Her style of work is very expressive of the African culture.
Veronica Longoria, owner of V-ROC Studios, created art to express her personal experiences as well as her interpretation of the inner being. She was charming, and her work was vibrant in colors and very expressive.
Something that was truly intriguing to watch is the body painting artist of Beyond Visuals-Art & Body Art. She had a gorgeous model stand almost entirely naked as she painted her skin. The model was not only patient as she had to stand in one position for a long time but also very brave as spectators stood there and stared at her while the artist painted.
As we approached Tony Najjar, a chocolate maker, we learned that he is originally from the same neighborhood in Tripoli, Lebanon, as my husband. Xocolla is based in Sugar Land, Texas, where they handcraft world-class single origin chocolate made in small batches from bean to bar. His chocolates come in many different flavors that can be paired with wine, beer, liquors, coffee, tea, cheese and many other types of food. We had a great visit and enjoyed sampling the different collections of chocolate as well purchased few bars to enjoy later.
Artists are beautiful people in that love creating, telling stories through design, sharing inspirational ideas, and are most happy when you appreciate their creativity.
Weekend getaways are always good for the soul and to energize after a long work week. Some people find that big cities are stressful, but I find it rejuvenating. I love the many options to dine, the variety of activities, the massive scale of shopping, and all the different people one could meet.