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:
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.”
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?”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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?
- How To Vote in the 2013 Swamplot Awards for Houston Real Estate [Swamplot]
- Swamplot Awards Ballots 2013 [Swamplot]
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)
Uchi. Would be an easier call if it were just Uchi and not “Austin Restaurants”
#6 Bayous! Houston neglected these for too long
Suddenly living in Houston seems so great! :)
Tough call (especially with Uchi on the list), but I’m going to have to go with #1, Houston craft beer. Are they all great? No. Will they all become local institutions like St. Arnold? No. But the trend sure is promising. A selection of local beers that are generally approachable while still occasionally challenging the palate has been long overdue. Cheers!
Let’s have some love for the beer. Isn’t it nice to go out for a beer, and not have to decide between Miller Lite and Coors Lite? Don’t know how some of these operations are “micro”, but just keep the good and unusual beers coming, and the world will be a better place.
Bayou-tification. It’s going to be amazing in a couple of years.
A vote for Bork.
Bayou-tification with rail a close second. Two things that will truly improve life in Houston.
1. Craft Beer Microbreweries
3. Austin Restaurants
Torchy’s Tacos is a nice addition to Houston. It’s good, but not OMG awesome. But, it joins Chuy’s as another Austin- imported Mexican* restaurant. Torchy’s and Chuy’s adds to the wide collection of Houston’s Mexican* restaurants. These two chains are more contemporay, ecentric than what we’re used to.
*Mexican is the same as Tex- Mex for me. Swampie ballots not the place to discuss over.
Bork! Bork! Bork!
(with an honorable vote for Uchi, keep pretending it “belongs in Houston not Austin”)
#1 without a doubt
6. Seattle has a great trail system that connects different watersheds. You can cycle or run for 20+ miles without ever mingling with road traffic. Houston could potentially meet and beat what other cities have in terms of its Bayou Greenways project. Long over due and will transform the city.
For the record, Bork is a menswear haberdashery that features styles inspired by the failed Supreme Court nominee, Robert Bork. Their lines include The Heritage Club, Cato Clothiers, and Hudson Casuals.
Bork and the picture above was on newsfix one night so yes bork it is!
#6!!! Houston should be as great a place to live as it is to make money. Projects like this are making it happen.
Coffee. Yes. Coffee. I’m happy. I love Katz. My vote is coffee.
My negative vote is against Torchy’s. I want to like them, but I don’t. And, it isn’t ambivalence like Chuy’s. I really don’t like them. Give me Loredo Taqueria or any other local taco any day.
Trader Joe’s. Definitely Trader Joe’s
#6 Bayou-tificaton. Mainly because I hate all the other choices. But yes, this is a very welcome development regardless. Having lived in Boston and Philly, I know what life is like when you incorporate a river into the social fabric of a city. I’ve seen the little James Baker park tucked in behind the Wortham Center, and I’d love that type of thing spread through the city.
#1 – Craft Beer.
Now where are the brewpubs? I miss Two Rows.
#6. Finally some green to give a more appealing backdrop to our ubiquitos billboard art.
#1 – Craft beer microbreweries
Bayoutification has the greatest potential to transform the urban landscape and to create a signature identifying amenity associated with the City. It will be important to develop a few key N/S connecters to integrate any Bayou trails and bike paths into a City wide system.
Hooray BEER! #1
#6 — Bayou-tification! Future generations of Houston kids need to be able to “go down to the ‘bi-o'” to play with friends like we did.
I’m going to have to go with #5 – Trader Joes. It is one of my go to destinations when I need to go to the grocery store. I love the fact that they went with a movie motif, and the customer service is extraordinary – not to mention the great wine steals.
Bayou, hands down.
2) Bayoufication. Yea!
Well obviously #2: Bork! But it is probably just a false promise like the Borders on the initial drawings for that monstrosity they tore up Bolsover for.
So I vote for #6, growing up here and playing on the concrete banks of braes bayou I would never have believed it, but this is the change that we will still notice in 50 years.
Well, I don’t drink beer or coffee, so that rules out 1 and 4. I can’t stand the pretentious attempts to Austinize Houston, so that rules out 3. I love our bayous, but I prefer them in their natural state with more trees than concrete, so there goes 6. Bork is imaginary and silly, so not 2 either. So it’s down to #5 grocery stores and #7 train cars. I shop at the grocery stores and ride the new trains.
Overall, I’ll have to go with #5, grocery stores.
I find #7 fascinating and pretty awesome. However, as much as I appreciate the idea of it (as well as #1 and #6), I’m going to stick with #5, grocery stores, aka my #1 social activity. I love all the options that Houston currently has, and TJ’s has quickly replaced Kroger as my go-to grocery store (and surprisingly resulted in significant savings). I love the competition, and I appreciate the standard grocery store carrying products that once could only be had at an “alternative” grocery store.
PS – Going to Phoenicia on my lunch break is always a highlight, especially since I can get “specialty” foods without signing over my paycheck to places like WF. Sorry, WF; you’re just outta my league. (Even though Phoenicia has been around prior to 2013 with no immediate plans of expansion, it’s just another excellent choice I have at buying food and groceries. :D)
SWA Group Brays Bayou
6. Bayou-Tification. Thanks to Congressman George H. W. Bush this part of the bayou was not “channelized” with concrete.
6. The bayou’s transition from eyesore to selling point is nothing short of remarkable.
3 – Austin places to eat
#6 Bayoutification for sure. It is really making a difference in the city here.
3. AUSTIN RESTAURANTS
1. Bayous 2. Coffee
Bayous! So excited for whats happening there!
#1 Craft beer
The bayoutication. Amazing it took this long to treat them as more than drainage ditches.
6. Bayoutification. Buffalo Bayou is one big construction site right now, and it generally looks great.
#6 Bayou tification. Improves quality of life in the core of the city with greenspace.
New grocery store chains
6 – Bayoutification.
#6 Bayou-tification. Exorcising the ghosts of the Corps of Engineers, little by little.
Put me down for #6–Bayou-tification!
#6 I didn’t want them but I am enjoying the heck out of them