Best Houston Transplant: The Official 2013 Ballot

With this award, we look outside ourselves.

New to the Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate this year, the Best Houston Transplant category considers the outside influences that have helped to shape the city, as well as homegrown ideas that have allowed Houston to shape the rest of the world. The nominees have been selected from your suggestions. Now it’s time to pick the winner.

What deserves recognition as the Best Houston Transplant? Vote in the comments below, by email, on Facebook, or through Twitter — you can even do all 4! Don’t forget to explain your vote. And just make sure you get all your votes in by the deadline: 5 pm on Friday, December 27th.

Now, let’s give a big ol’ Houston welcome to the official nominees:


Proposed New Karbach Brewery, Karbach St., Houston

1. Craft beer microbreweries. “Yes, Houston has had Saint Arnold for a while. But only recently has a microbrew scene landed in Houston that’s been anything close to what the folks in Colorado and the West Coast have had for a long time. Karbach, Buffalo Bayou, 8th Wonder, Southern Star, No Label, Lone Pint, and the forthcoming Town in City have livened up Houston’s bar scene and grocery store aisles in a big way. It has long been a missing element in a city with such a vibrant food scene.”


Rendering of Renovated Interior of Galleria III Featuring Bork, Houston

2. Bork. “Okay, it’s technically not here yet, and for a while many presumed it fictitious, but this Russian-based home appliance store has piqued our curiosity on Swamplot since it first appeared in a rendering of the forthcoming Galleria III expansion. This potential import deserves to be on the ballot merely on the prospect of its transplantation to Houston. Architectural drawings never let us down, right?”


Torchy's Tacos, 350 W. 19th St., Houston Heights

uchi restaurant

3. Austin restaurants. “Torchy’s Tacos brought their delicious Austin tacos to Houston and managed to maintain Austin’s signature parking issues and slow, snarky service. A place like Uchi seems so out of place in a city like Austin. In Houston, it fits right in with our world class and diverse cuisine. It may not be from Houston, but it got here as fast as it could.”


Maximus Coffee Plant, 3900 Harrisburg Blvd., Houston

4. Coffee. “It’s not grown in Texas much, but we roast a ton of it in Houston. And we make it well, going back long before the Port of Houston’s designation as a certified coffee exchange port. Even the bag of national brand coffee that you bought at the grocery store was probably roasted very recently by Maximus Coffee or Duncan Coffee Company. And it’s easy to get something special from Katz, Java Pura and House of Coffee Beans, among other local roasters. We’re such a coffee town, we don’t even think about how much we’re a coffee town.”


Trader Joe's, 10868 Kuykendahl Rd., The Woodlands, Texas

5. New Grocery Store Chains.Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Aldi, Fresh Market — pick your favorite. All of these ‘specialty’ stores tapping into the Houston market have given places like Randalls, Kroger, Whole Foods, and H-E-B a run for their money — or are forcing them to step up their own grocery game.”


Rendering of Brays Bayou Greenway, Mason Park, East End, Houston

6. Bayou-tification. “We only recently took hints from other cities that maintain a better focus on creating or preserving urban greenspaces and started in earnest to address the opportunity offered by our bayous. From the citywide hike-and-bike trail system to the total overhaul of Buffalo Bayou, we are finally turning ugly scars on the landscape into desirable amenities.”


Metro H2 Light Rail Train, Houston

7. Siemens light rail cars. “The newest trains to arrive in Houston are actually a double transplant. The S70 car was originally designed for Houston when the Main Street line first opened; that model has since been transplanted elsewhere. It’s now running in San Diego, Portland, Charlotte, Norfolk, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City. There’s even a variant in Paris. No other light-rail vehicle is running in so many different places. Then the design got transplanted back when Metro piggybacked on a Salt Lake City order to get 19 new Buy American–compliant cars quickly. They all arrived from the plant in Sacramento, California, and began carrying passengers down Main St. in April. They’ve brought more 2-car trains to Main St., making the ride less crowded (and making room for bikes), and they’re why the North Line extension can open on December 21.”


There you have ’em! Now, which one of these nominees deserves to be called the Best Houston Transplant?

Photos: Karbach Brewing Co. (new brewery building); Simon Property Group (Bork); Swamplot inbox (Torchy’s Tacos); Ed Schipul (Uchi [license]); Flickr user txfastmail (Maximus Coffee plant); Hank on Food (Woodlands Trader Joe’s); SWA Group (Brays Bayou); Christof Spieler (Siemens H2 rail car)

The 2013 Swampies

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