Harold's Tap Room + A Giveaway!

Friday, May 27, 2016
This post was done in partnership with Harold's Tap Room, who partially paid for my food and drinks. I was not monetarily compensated for writing this Houston bar/restaurant review. All opinions are completely, 100% my own!

(psst, Houston residents - Scroll down for an exciting giveaway!)

I love a good neighborhood bar. When I lived in NYC that was sort of my thing.

Harold's Tap Room - A bar/restaurant in Houston, Texas

(I was also 100 years younger and unaware of what a "two day hangover" meant, but I digress.)

Houston has a lot of fantastic restaurants (duh.) that also double as bars, but they often tend to be more "food-forward." Not that I'm complaining about that AT ALL, however, I do sort of miss having my go-to little cozy neighborhood bar where you can drink good drinks, you can eat good food, and, yes, everybody knows your name <~~(Please please PLEASE tell me you millennials understand that reference).

Cue: The Tap Room.

Harold's Tap Room - A bar/restaurant in Houston, Texas

Under the same ownership as Harold's and Alli's Pizzeria, the Tap Room opened just last week in Houston's Heights neighborhood. The bar/restaurant is located just below Harold's and right next door to Alli's on West 19th Street. This past Wednesday when Jon and I walked into the no-frills, welcoming, shotgun style bar, I was instantly brought back to my NYC neighborhood bar days!

We were greeted by the exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable lead bartender Lauren, and we also chatted with the super sociable owner Alli Jarrett for a bit. She explained that the Tap Room is a drinks-first, food-second spot. That being said, even though drinks are the priority, they aim to also offer high quality bar food.

the "Not So" Old Fashioned at Harold's Tap Room - A bar/restaurant in Houston, Texas

After discussing the house made infused cocktail list with one of the bartenders, I decided to order the "Not So" Old Fashioned. This concoction of peach infused bourbon, muddled lemon rind, peach bitters, angostura bitters, sugar, and a splash of soda was sweet and syrupy, with a little bit of body and a hint of fire from the bourbon. It went down very very smoothly!

So when you hear "Tap Room," I'm sure you think of beers on Tap (or, as my sister once asked me, "Is that a place where people tap dance?" <~~She totally hates me right now for sharing that). And yes, while the Tap Room does have [local-focused] beers on tap (but no tap dancers), they also have WINE ON TAP. Jon ordered the Saved red blend which was wonderful, and for my next drink I ordered the Trefethen Family Vineyards chardonnay. It was buttery, slightly oaky, and lovely!

For food, Jon and I started off with the charcuterie and cheese plate.

charcuterie and cheese at Harold's Tap Room - A bar/restaurant in Houston, Texas

This dish contained a selection of Houston Dairymaid cheeses (brie, 5-year aged cheddar, and what we think was gouda), cured meats, pickled strawberries, mustard, and bread. The hunks of oozing brie were heavenly, and wonderful when paired with the mildly sweet, green, pickled strawberries. The other cheeses paired fantastically with the hearty mustard (I think there may have been a hint of horseradish in it?) atop the dense bread. And Jon was into the meats! It was definitely a great little meat and cheese plate.

For our next round of food, we ordered the artisanal pretzels.

artisanal pretzels at Harold's Tap Room - A bar/restaurant in Houston, Texas

Gah, I love pretzels and cheese. I mean, how can you not? This iteration of the dish consisted of long, crisped slow dough pretzel sticks that were sturdy and wonderfully salty. The creamy, milky cheese dip was made with a pilsner beer, and it was just luscious. It was probably my favorite food item of the evening. I had to force myself to stop, or I wasn't going to have room for pizza!

So last up for food, Jon and I each ordered one of their 8" pizzas, which are made in the brick stone oven from Alli's. Jon opted for the pepperoni, while I went with the veggie. My super thin-crusted, sauceless pizza was topped off with tons of ooey gooey cheese, tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, and mushrooms. The personal sized pizza was light, super crispy, and tasty!

veggie pizza at Harold's Tap Room - A bar/restaurant in Houston, Texas

The Tap Room is a wonderful new addition to the Houston Heights neighborhood. The restaurant/bar offers unique infused cocktails, WINE ON TAP (hello), and bar food that will certainly keep me coming back for more. I've definitely found my Houston bar!


One lucky Adventures in a New(ish) City reader (aged 21 and over) who lives in the Houston area will win a $50 tab, good towards food and drinks, at Harold's Tap Room! All you have to do is follow me on Instagram (if you don't already), follow Harold's on Instagram, and let me know in the comments section of this photo what your go-to bar drink is. A winner will be randomly selected by the end of next week. Good luck!

wine on tap at Harold's Tap Room - A bar/restaurant in Houston, Texas

My go-to bar drink? WINE. ON. TAP.

Vacation Days: Austin, May 2016 (Part One)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016
The title of this post says "Part One" because even though I haven't been to Austin in 2 1/2 years, I will have gone twice in the span of seven days during May of 2016. Austin was a callin', and I answered!

A Hill Country Wedding at the Propect House - Dripping Springs, Texas

The reason for my first visit to Austin was to attend the wedding of two of my dear childhood friends, Joel and Jeff. (Fun fact: I slept on Joel and our friend Diego's couch/futon in their Harlem apartment during the first two months I lived in NYC, free of charge. Just to give you backstory on the kind-hearted people we're dealing with here. Also, those two months were a total blast, obvs.) The wedding took place this past weekend in Dripping Springs, and it was so lovely and special. So I'll give you guys a little recap of the trip!

Jon and I hit the road Saturday morning, and we made two detours to drop our pups off at their grandparents' houses.

Roadtrip to Austin, Texas
Roadtrip to Austin, Texas

After we got rid of the gremlins, we rode on for a while before stopping at our uszh spot Buc-ee's, this one located just before arriving in Austin:

Buc-ee's outside of Austin, Texas

We made it to Austin in time for lunch. Our original plan was to grab food at Hopdoddy, but since it was UT graduation weekend (a fact we had not realized prior to the trip), the place was more slammed than normal. I called my sister Emily and asked her where we should go. She recommended East Side King. After tons of traffic, hitting every red light, and about 27 expletives later (Sorry y'all, Austin traffic is way worse than Houston inner-loop traffic!), we walked around the main drag off campus aimlessly, confused as to where East Side King was.

Joke was on us because it closed down!!!!!

So we walked over to Cain & Abel's, a spot I am well familiar with from Emily's college days, and had some solid bar food. Jon had a burger and fries, and I had a spicy veggie burger with a fried egg on top, and a side salad.

Cain & Abel's - a restaurant/bar in Austin, Texas
veggie burger at Cain & Abel's - a restaurant/bar in Austin, Texas

After lunch, we fueled up on coffee and drove to our hotel, the gorgeous Sonesta, located in Bee Cave (about a half hour east of Austin). Once we checked in we were provided with an awesome (read: lifesaving) gift bag from Joel and Jeff!

pre-wedding coffee in Bee Cave, Texas
the Sonesta hotel in Bee Cave, Texas
wedding favors in Bee Cave, Texas

We got ready for the wedding, hopped on the party bus, and headed to Dripping Springs for the main event!

attending a Hill Country wedding at Prospect House in Dripping Springs, Texas
Snapchat: newishcityhou
Yes, Joel and Jeff somehow managed to get their own Snapchat filters because they're fancy like that!

social hour cheese plate at Prospect House in Dripping Springs, Texas
social hour Pappasito's taco bar at Prospect House in Dripping Springs, Texas

This easily might have been the best wedding food I've ever had, because it was catered by Pappasito's! Um, hello, awesome much? And yes, what you're seeing above is AN AVOCADO BAR. I have officially died and gone to food heaven.

They also had a fajita bar set up, and were thoughtful enough to provide a vegetarian option, which was a plate of outstanding cheese enchiladas! Again, I died.

Pappasito's cheese enchilada at Prospect House in Dripping Springs, Texas

The venue where they had the wedding ceremony and reception is called Prospect House, and it is absolutely gorgeous. It has a minimalist, modern feel with ginormous windows, and the Hill Country views are beyond dreamy.

Here's a shot of the handsome grooms during their first dance.

A Hill Country wedding at Prospect House in Dripping Springs, Texas

Some of my other friends from my elementary/middle school/high school years who were also in attendance were Carla, Amy, Joe, and Carl. We danced the night away to Beyoncé and scored some fun pictures in the photo booth:

A Hill Country wedding at Prospect House in Dripping Springs, Texas

(You can see half of Joel's face in the top left corner. *sigh*, we tried.)

I also dragged my date in there:

A Hill Country wedding at Prospect House in Dripping Springs, Texas

The entire wedding was SO fun, and so love-filled, and such a wonderful celebration of two amazing people who make each other even more amazing!

It was SO fun in fact, that yours truly was a *wee* bit under the weather the next morning. So before we left Austin, we stopped at Tacodeli for some food in the form of tacos, aka my guardian angels.

Tacodeli - a taco truck and restaurant located in Austin, Texas
space cowboy taco from Tacodeli - a taco truck and restaurant located in Austin, Texas

I ordered the space cowboy taco (pictured above) and the bean and cheese taco, and I now officially see what all the Tacodeli fuss is about! Lucky us, since we'll be getting one in Houston soon!

All of our 24 hours in Austin were so wonderful (well, except for me dealing with the repercussions of one to many rosés), and I am so honored to have been a part of Joel and Jeff's special day. It was a jam-packed weekend, filled with reminiscing, catching up, eating good food, celebrating great love, and making wonderful memories!

A Hill Country wedding at Prospect House in Dripping Springs, Texas

See you in four days, Austin. *insert peace sign emoji*

SoulCycle Houston

Friday, May 20, 2016
This post was sponsored by SoulCycle, who provided me with a complimentary class at their Houston studio. I was not monetarily compensated for writing this fitness post. All opinions are completely, 100% my own!

It's pretty clear to anyone who reads this blog, or who has known me for even 30 seconds, that if there's a [safe] health craze that people are super jazzed about, I'm checking it out.

SoulCycle - A cycling fitness studio in Houston, Texas

Enter: SoulCycle.

When I lived in NYC, I started hearing a lot about SoulCycle, and what I heard was mostly that people absolutely loved it because of its high energy classes accompanied by motivating music. I never tried it though, so fast forward to now; SoulCycle opened it's first ever Texas location here in Houston a few weeks ago (!!!!), and I decided to give it a shot.

SoulCycle - A cycling fitness studio in Houston, Texas

Located in Houston's Upper Kirby/River Oaks area, the stark, sleek, fitness studio contains full locker rooms, showers, and a room with 56 stationary bikes, fun lighting, and walls adorned with motivating health and fitness phrases.

I was lucky enough to take a class that day led by Chanelle Lagace, who is the face of the new studio. This incredibly bubbly, welcoming, and energetic (I'm not kidding, I'd kill for the amount of energy she has in just her left pinky!) woman led a 45 minute heart-pumping class that was essentially a bumpin' dance party (she kept referring to it as "happy hour," which was entirely fitting).

Chanelle Lagace of SoulCycle - A cycling fitness studio in Houston, Texas
Photo: SoulCycle

And because who better to explain SoulCycle than Chanelle, she was kind enough to answer a few questions I had! So I'll let her take it away:

What was the reasoning behind placing Texas’s first SoulCycle in Houston?
SoulCycle is always looking to open in active and vibrant communities like Houston. The energy is amazing, and we are so excited to finally be here! Keep an eye out for future Houston locations.

What do you feel sets SoulCycle apart from other fitness studios and workout regimens?
SoulCycle makes exercise FUN. It’s about finding joy in movement. We ride to the beat of the music, in unison, as a group. The combination of inspirational instructors, epic spaces, rocking music, and dark candlelit rooms allows for a truly transformative experience.

SoulCycle is a full body workout. Riders engage in high intensity cardio (burning between 500-700 calories in 45-minutes), while also toning their upper bodies using hand weights and core-engaging choreography.

SoulCycle isn’t just a workout, it’s a total mind/body experience. In addition to the physical benefits, it also benefits the mind through mental and emotional release. Instructors deliver inspirational messages that leave you feeling stronger and more powerful after every ride.

SoulCycle is a community. Our clients and staff rely on and support each other. It's much more than just a workout studio!

What drew you, personally, to SoulCycle?
The music. When I could hear the music blaring out of the studio in Bridgehampton, NY it was instant love. Not to mention the crowd of people who came out of the class dripping sweat all while smiling. From that day I knew I needed to be a part of the SoulCycle community. 

I know you’re new to Houston – What are some of your favorite things you’ve gotten to do/see/eat so far in town?
There are so many things to do! So far, my husband and I enjoy taking our 10 month old baby girl to the park where she can crawl around and be inspired by all of the other kids running around. She loves it! I also love all the different shopping areas. I love to decorate, and Houston has such great home decorating stores. As for eating, in just a month I think I have eaten Mexican food for almost every meal. It's so much better in Texas than it is up North!

(Kim's Note: We couldn't agree more with that last statement!)

What would be your biggest piece of advice to give to a SoulCycle beginner?
Don’t be nervous or intimidated - you can take class at your own pace! And don’t beat yourself up if you can’t keep up with the pace or choreography on your first try – it takes practice! Our studio staff and instructors are incredible at making people feel comfortable and welcome. We will walk you through everything!

SoulCycle - A cycling fitness studio in Houston, Texas

So there you have it! Houston has such a fantastic variety of health and fitness studios, and SoulCycle is a great new addition to the scene. While it isn't necessarily an inexpensive fitness option, it may be worth you're while if it ignites you in the same way it does its countless enthusiasts. The positive, great workouts (and not to mention heart-thumping jams) are definitely a fantastic way to get physical!

SoulCycle - A cycling fitness studio in Houston, Texas
Photo: SoulCycle

Get physical, physical...

Green Vegetarian Cuisine

Wednesday, May 18, 2016
One month from today, I will be on a plane en route to WINE COUNTRY VACATION 2016!!!!

Green Vegetarian Cuisine - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

That being said, in preparation of this upcoming slightly indulgent (okay, indulgent.) California vacation, I've been scaling it back on the booze (WAAHHHHHHH) and eating healthier foods.

Fortunately, Houston has a plethora of options when it comes to restaurants that serve good-for-you eats! One such restaurant is Green Vegetarian Cuisine, located in Houston's Bellaire neighborhood.

Green Vegetarian Cuisine - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

My friend Isabel and I recently decided to have a "business dinner" there (I'm using air quotes because it was 20% Houston Food Blogger Collective business and 80% friend time), after hearing rave reviews about the restaurant from our friend Julie. I had always wanted to visit their location in San Antonio's Pearl District, so I was stoked when I found out they also had a restaurant here in Houston!

Isabel and I decided to go splitzies and share three different items. For our first round of food, we ordered the cauliflower hot wings.

cauliflower hot wings at Green Vegetarian Cuisine - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

It never ceases to amaze me how restaurants are constantly able to make gorgeous, saucy, chicken like appetizers out of cauliflower. Green Vegetarian Cuisine's fell right in line and were absolutely fantastic! The cauliflower bites were coated in a delicate layer of breading, fried, and swimming in a tangy, spicy buffalo sauce. The outer layer was soft, with a subtle crunch, and the natural textures of the cauliflower shone really through. Served with a side of celery sticks and poblano ranch, the "wings" were great on their own or with the creamy dip. We could not get enough of these!

For our next round of food, we ordered the protein bowl.

protein bowl at Green Vegetarian Cuisine - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

This rainbow-in-a-bowl contained kale salad, fresh spinach, chickpeas, quinoa tabouli, flaxseed, pecan hummus, carrots, tomatoes, avocado, and roasted tofu. This dish was as nourishing, filling, and earthy as you can get! Isabel and I were in awe of the pecan hummus which looked - and tasted a bit - like tuna salad. Combined with the mashed avocado, it swirled into the bowl to create an underlying softness to some of the more hearty ingredients, such as the quinoa and tofu. The tofu itself was firm, crisped, and wonderfully golden. The tomatoes added a nice dose of citrus and freshness, and everything went together superbly. I wanted a healthy dish, and by gollee, I got it!

Isabel and I were super intrigued about the chopped barbecue sandwich on the restaurant's menu, so we decided to order that for our final round of food.

chopped bbq sandwich at Green Vegetarian Cuisine - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

OH MY. Y'all, I hadn't eaten a barbecue sandwich since before I became a vegetarian, which was well over two years ago. And what a glorious delight this was! Soy protein pieces were marinated in a thick, sweet, hearty, barbecue sauce, and slopped onto a fluffy whole wheat bun. The sandwich was comforting, soul-warming, and ridiculously tasty. Isabel and I were completely flabbergasted by the awesomeness of this sammy! She and I were torn between this or the cauliflower being our favorite dish of the evening.

Green Vegetarian Cuisine - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

Green Vegetarian Cuisine is a great choice for a Houston restaurant that offers inexpensive, insanely delicious, healthy food that still seems like a real treat. Even non-vegetarians (like my friend Isabel) will fall in love with it. If you're used to sticking inside the loop, this restaurant is a beyond fantastic reason to venture out!

Green Vegetarian Cuisine - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

California, here I come! (...in 30 days.)

Green Vegetarian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Piada Italian Street Food

Friday, May 13, 2016
This post was sponsored by Piada Italian Street Food, who provided me with a complimentary meal. I was not monetarily compensated for writing this Houston restaurant post. All opinions are completely, 100% my own!

So what exactly is a "piada" you ask? Excellent question, my cherubs.

Piada Italian Street Food - a restaurant in Houston, Texas

But we'll get to that in a minute.

The kind folks at Piada Italian Street Food invited my friend Kate and I to try their delicious food last week at their restaurant location near Houston's Memorial Park. Piada is a chain restaurant with a simple, yet unique, approach to fast food. They emphasize fresh, quality, healthy ingredients, with a focus on three main categories: pasta bowls, chopped salads, and - you guessed it - piadas.

So what IS a piada, Kim?

All in due time, my loves.

Piada Italian Street Food - a restaurant in Houston, Texas
Piada Italian Street Food - a restaurant in Houston, Texas
Piada Italian Street Food - a restaurant in Houston, Texas

While we were there for an early dinner, the large, sleek restaurant definitely caters to a busy Houston work day lunch crowd. The friendly staff encouraged Kate and I to sample their new seasonal farmer's market salad, so for our first round of food, we ordered a large one to share.

Piada Italian Street Food - a restaurant in Houston, Texas
farmer's market salad at Piada Italian Street Food - a restaurant in Houston, Texas

The salad generally comes with chicken, but we ordered ours without. And let me assure you, we didn't miss it! The salad was bursting with a kaleidoscope of colorful ingredients, from grilled sweet corn, to ripe strawberries, to vibrant avocado, to tart feta, to spiced pecans. All of these bits and pieces were tossed with mixed greens in a house-made lemon basil dressing. I normally prefer my salads to be on the savory side, so since this one included strawberries I didn't think I'd be blown away by it. But in actuality, I thought it was lovely! The grilled corn added a nice smokiness, the avocado muted some of the sweetness, and the feta/strawberry combo was the perfect marriage of flavors. This was a fantastic salad!

Next up, we ordered the piada garlic dough.

piada garlic dough at Piada Italian Street Food - a restaurant in Houston, Texas
piada garlic dough at Piada Italian Street Food - a restaurant in Houston, Texas

So Kim, that looks like a crepe. IS A PIADA AN ITALIAN CREPE?

You would be right!

(sort of.)

So a piada is basically a wrap that's baked on a stone grill. The piada garlic dough pictured above is one of the restaurant's sides that we enjoyed as an appetizer. And it was SO GOOD. After the dough was made, it was baked with mozzarella cheese and brushed with olive oil. While it's certainly not a crazy intricate process, and it doesn't look like there's a whole lot going on from my picture, believe me, THERE WAS. The piada garlic dough was incredibly doughy, wonderfully seasoned, garlicky, and fragrant. The gooey mozzerella gave it another devilish, yummy layer. Ripping it apart with our fingers was a fun process, and we couldn't get enough!

For our last course of food, we of course had to order the restaurant's entree piadas. And there's a reason I said above that piadas were sort of Italian crepes...

vegetable piada at Piada Italian Street Food - a restaurant in Houston, Texas

Because they can also be Italian burritos!

(I wish I could take credit for that term, but Kate is the real genius who coined it).

The restaurant has signature piadas you can order (the same goes for their salads and pasta bowls), or you can completely customize your own. I ordered mine with roasted zucchini and mushrooms, red onions, sundried tomatoes, spinach, cucumbers, crispy onions, and red pepper pesto. The velvety flavors of the fresh ingredients all wove together wonderfully. Each bite was an exciting new discovery of wonderfully seasoned and thoughtful flavors. The piada itself was incredibly light, but it somehow managed to not get soggy. Let me tell y'all, this was one heck of an Italian burrito! I ate the whole dang thing, and didn't I feel overly full [aka waves of regret] like I do when housing an entire Chipotle burrito!

(jk I never do that.)

(.... y... yes I do.)

Piada Italian Street Food has a few different Houston locations, and if you haven't been yet, I definitely recommend going. The counter service restaurant takes fast casual to a whole new level with it's fresh ingredients and unique concoctions. The food itself baffles me because it manages to be light and satiating (and insanely delicious) all at the same time! If you're looking for a quick, light lunch in Houston - or even if you're looking for a healthy dinner to enjoy with a friend! - Piada is just the spot for that!

vegetable piada at Piada Italian Street Food - a restaurant in Houston, Texas

Piada, you're the Italian burrito of my eye.

Ruggles Green

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Sometimes you have to force yourself to slow down.

Ruggles Green - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

I don't know if any of you are in the same boat, but I have been pretty much running on all cylinders since the start of 2016 with work, blog, Houston restaurants, travel, social stuff, fitness, etc,. and it's all finally come to a head. SO. I am forcing myself to slow down.

(for a bit).

This might mean less food posts each week (mayyyybe). This might also mean less elaborate Houston dinners out, which are AWESOME of course, but sometimes? Low key is key.<~~I'm trademarking that.

Jon and I found ourselves with a free Saturday night recently (one of those rare magical gems), and I didn't feel like cooking, but I didn't feel like having a fancy, lavish dinner, and he was on the same exact page.

Ruggles Green - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

Jon is a big fan of the restaurant Ruggles Green. I had never been, and he's been wanting to get me there for a while, so we figured it was the perfect night for it! Since we live nearby, we ventured over to their Houston Heights location.

The counter service restaurant has an open, airy interior. The food menu focuses on fresh, organic, local, healthy ingredients, and offers several gluten-free and vegan options.

Jon and I decided to split the restaurant's organic spinach dip for our first round of food.

organic spinach dip at Ruggles Green - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

The dip is a blend of organic spinach, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, parmesan, goat cheese, white wine, and ricotta cheese, and it's served with a side of kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and wood-fired flat bread. This utra-rich dip was creamy and decadent, and the use of goat cheese was a very special element.  I also loved the inclusion of sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives - Their acidity and tartness cut nicely through the dip and added fantastic textures. And the flatbread was crisp, fresh, and lovely. We really enjoyed this comforting, tasty appetizer!

For our main course of food, I ordered the local veggies pizza, and Jon ordered his favorite from the restaurant - the quinoa linguini and and turkey meatballs.

local veggies pizza at Ruggles Green - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

For the purpose of showing what was underneath all of the arugula (which was not overpowering, FYI), I moved it to the side in the photo above. The wood-fired pizza was topped with roasted tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, red onion, garlic, mozzarella, fontina, feta, pesto sauce, baby arugula, and balsamic vinegar. The crust was lightly crisped, yet thick and pillowy, the various vegetables were incredibly flavorful and complemented one another fantastically, the melty cheeses were subtle and gooey, and the balsamic vinegar added a wonderful hint of sweetness and brightness. I thoroughly enjoyed this pizza!

If you're wanting to grab a casual, yet thoughtfully made meal, Ruggles Green is the perfect Houston restaurant for that. The environment is laid-back and welcoming, and the food is fresh and nourishing. I'm a big fan!

local veggies pizza at Ruggles Green - A restaurant in Houston, Texas

Slowing down never tasted so good.

Ruggles Green Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
> Back to Top