A Houston & Austin Adventure

Welcome to the land of brisket, cowboys and rodeos! Well that certainly was my impression of Texas before I landed. Being a bon-a-fide east coaster, specifically northern NJ/New York my impressions of the great state of Texas pretty much stopped at George Bush and Toddlers in Tiaras. Before you write me off, hear me out. Just as most people think (as a New Jersey native) we are all about fist pumps and spray tans we tend to stereotype people and places that we have never been. So I was pleasantly surprised by the awesome food, people and culture that existed in Texas that I low key wanted to be adopted by ya’ll. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Texas is one of my favorite places on the planet.

I was there back in March of 2017, and since the hurricane my heart and prayers go out to the people who are rebuilding. There is so much media coverage when tragedy first hits, but it is important to remember the people there who are still rebuilding their lives. This post is for those people, praying that God is with you in this time.

A few of my favorite spots:

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Big Easy | Houston, TX: I love my friend for taking me here! Seriously, I was updating her on life and such (girl talk). We had a small dinner at another spot and were on our way home. Literally mid convo Trish goes “No wait, we are totally going to this hole-in-the wall spot - I am not taking no for an answer.” Curious and honestly a little tired, I agreed. And it was just what I needed. The place has this perfect New Orleans Vibe that is gritty and magical all in one breathe. It was jumping with cowboys and cat daddy’s (men of a certain age with gold teeth and gator boots). Plenty of aunties coming from work with their girl gang. I had delicious regional beer recommended to me by the bartender and got hit on by a cowboy who kept gushing over my hair - he also had an interesting story. To cap it off I got my Texas-2-Step on with the most talented dancer in the joint. I had more fun than I’ve had in awhile; definitely worth a visit if you are close by.

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Happy Hour Veggies at Trish’s place: Seeing as though I didn’t capture the wild rendition of “When Doves Cry” that we played at the airport and proceeded hop out the car and dance at a red light welcoming Vaughn from Philly to The Lone Star state; this beautiful tray of veggies will have to do. The homies and I live a well appointed life filled with good food, unique travel experiences and specialty teas. So, when we are all in the same room be prepared for the most artisanal experience of your life. A 20 min stop at a grocery store becomes the best meal you’ve ever had, perfectly paired wine and sage and frankincense burning in the background. We turned snack time into an event. I love them for these very reasons.

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Bvblos, Houston, TX: Celebrating another trip around the sun for Vaughn was in order. We weren’t willing to roll the dice on the night club experience. So Trish suggested we immerse ourselves in the middle east. We certainly felt transported as we smoked orange hookah, munched on baklava and jammed to the tunes of Lebanese star Michel Rmeih It was an awesome, authentic and very festive experience.

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3 hour drive from Houston - No problem. We grooved out to some of Vaughn’s amazing playlists.

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Austin Airbnb: We stayed in the most relaxing and quaint airbnb in Austin. The couple was so great and really helpful with restaurant recommendations. Austin is full of really kind yet cool people I will just call them Swipsters (southwest hipsters). The place embodied that vibe and we were very comfortable in this treehouse pad.

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Takoba | Austin, TX: For some slap your momma this food is so good, who the hell is cooking this in the back TexMex than this is your spot. Seriously, east coasters we have got the whole taco, beans and guac thing all wrong. These flavors are only produced from people who know their way around a smoker.We cleaned our plates and licked our forks; seriously when the waitress tried to remove the dishes we almost took her hand off. My veggie taco was amazing and the experience went from amazing to epic listening to bands and seeing other foodies vibe out to the sounds of sxsw.

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Lawrence the Band | SXSW:  We checked out some free events. The energy was tangible, dancing in the streets, new acts filming music videos and the eclectic vibes that sxsw brings gives me goose bumps. While heading back we stumbled upon Lawrence the band, let me preface this review by saying I am a sucker for soul music that is reinvented. So I was swooning by the second song, to cap it all off the trumpet players leaped off stage and started playing in the audience. Lets just say spotify has made me a new super fan of Lawrence who happen to based in NYC. Feel good vibes, great vocals and excellent musicality.

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Blue Dahlia Bistro | Austin, TX: If you just go to Texas for the food alone then you will be a happy camper. Blue Dahlia did not disappoint. I was so impressed with how simple the items were on the menu but how utterly delicious they were. The produce was excellent and their open face sandwiches were so savory. I also had a some of my friend’s omelette which was perfection. This was honestly the most enjoyable way to cap off a wonderful weekend. We dined al fresco in their beautiful garden with a running fountain, I can’t wait to return.

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Take Heart Shop Austin, TX | Nina Gordan owner: This place is awesome overload. Perfectly curated by Nina. Each item in the store feels so special and nostalgic. It was artisanal at it’s finest. I chatted with Nina about her experience purging and the life changing magic of tidying up. She was so sincere and kind you could tell her love was displayed all over the store.

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This is one of the most memorable trips to date, I am so thankful for my friends Vaughn & Trish. I had just gone through a breakup and I needed them by my side. Tell me about your Austin or Houston experience, what places are on your ‘must visit” list?

Xo

Khaleeqa

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