Houston is, of course, home to NASA, a champion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And this month, the Space City furthers its standing as an innovation hub, playing host to the For Inspiration & Recognition of Technology (FIRST) Championship. The technology and robotics competition takes place among more than 40,000 K-12 students, from 40-plus countries around the world, on April 19-22. Started by Dean Kamen — the kooky innovator behind, among other inventions, the Segway and Coca-Cola’s new space-age soda-fountain machines — in 1989 in an effort to increase the number of young people who pursued careers in the science-related fields, the FIRST competitions take place year-round, culminating in a scholarship awarding championship every April. At the Houston event — which is open to the public and includes activities and competitions at the George R. Brown, the Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park — teams of aspiring engineers work together to create and show off their robots, which then compete in games of varying degrees of coordination and skill. Prizes are distributed based on categories like creativity and safety. Participants also mingle with hundreds of execs from companies like Google, Boeing, General Electric and — naturally — NASA.
HOUSTON FOODIES ARE out this month, and those in the know are getting from restaurant to restaurant in the rideshare service that has taken the industry by a storm.
Alto started driving in Houston in late 2020, and it has quickly become a favorite way to get around. The experience is unparalleled. Think luxury SUVs with leather captain chairs, thoughtful amenities like complimentary water and umbrellas, and even curated playlists to choose from in the Alto app. Those who have ridden know that Alto is more than a ride from point A to B, but a journey to be enjoyed — because the recap of every dish on the ride home should be just as good as the dinner.
Community is at the heart of Alto. Rather than hiring independent contractors, Alto has hired W-2 employee drivers who are trained and supported by a local Houston team. The service also offers a Membership that unlocks Alto benefits as well as unique offers from Houston partners. Those who join Alto’s exclusive Membership gain full access to the Alto fleet during the busiest "Members Only" hours, savings on every ride, and Alto’s prescheduling feature for booking rides in advance (Pro tip: Lock in your ride when you lock in your dinner reservation!). Join a community of adventurous, in-the-know Houstonians, at only $12.95 a month.
Alto shared the top pick-up and drop-offs that make up their Members most recommended spots — and also happen to be celebrating Houston Restaurant Week! — so you can plan the perfect night out.
Trattoria Sofia A top drop-off among Alto Members, we recommend Trattoria Sofia for authentic Italian with the perfect atmosphere.
The Annie Cafe Another frequent destination, The Annie Cafe and Bar serves classics, totally reimagined.
MAD Houston A spot as innovative as your Alto. Book a ride to MAD for a night of tapas with a twist that are sure to be a new adventure.
Ouzo Bay The Alto team’s go-to modern Mediterranean spot for a perfect night out.
B&B Butchers and Restaurant This upscale steakhouse and traditional butcher shop is a classic Alto favorite.
FLORA A must try this month — FLORA is a culinary journey through the small towns of Mexico with a Texas touch.
IT WAS A big night for the Houston Symphony. Not only was it the annual Opening Night Concert and Gala, chaired this year by Susan and Dennis Carlyle, but it was also the official first performance of Juraj Valčuha as the symphony’s 16th music director.
And the music was big. The concert presentation of Verdi Requiem drew on the full orchestra, guest opera stars including Houston’s Ana María Martínez and others from around the world, and a large 100+-person choir.
After dinner, per Symphony custom, patrons including Margaret Alkek Williams, Bobby and Phoebe Tudor, and Betty and Jess Tutor piled onto luxury buses and made their way to the grand Corinthian event space nearby for a lavish dinner. “The décor, created by The Events Company, transformed the space with crystal chandeliers and greenery cascading across the balcony,” cooed a rep for the organization. “Tables, covered in green linens, filled the room and were topped with varying high and low floral arrangements in shades of white and green.”
Dinner included salad with shrimp terrine, gremolata-and-breadcrumb-crusted cod, with profiteroles and hazelnut macaroons for dessert. The David Caceres Band played for a lively dancefloor afterward.
The Symphony announced it had raised $540,000 on Opening Night for its education and community-engagement efforts.
Alan and Elizabeth Stein, Bobbie Nau, Marc Grossberg
Alex Blair, Jennifer Roosth, Katherine Warren
Barbara Burger, Dom and Stephanie Beveridge
Betty and Jesse Tutor
Brittany Clark, Mario Gudmundsson
Dee and Lea Hunt
Dennis & Susan Carlyle, John Mangum
James and Kimberly Bell
Houston Symphony Opening Night Gala
John Mangum, Margaret Alkek Williams, Juraj Valčuha
Robert and Joan Duff
Scott and Geraldine Wise
Tony and Frances Buzbee
Yoon Smith, Malaika Mukoro, Heidi Rockecharlie
GLEAMING WHITE BEACHES and clear, turquoise waters in the shadows of towering cliffs dotted with centuries-old forts may come to mind when you think of the diver’s paradise of Aruba. An historic, Dutch-style downtown with tall skinny candy-colored buildings, too. All that is, of course, a major draw.
Increasingly, so is public art — and great dining.
In fact, art-loving foodie visitors may stay at the newly renovated Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, where the food is top-notch, and the local art scene is celebrated. Despite its location on the on the Island’s glitzy and clubby Palm Beach, Aruba Marriott Resort has a warm, friendly beach-chic vibe.
Guests can sip on specialty cocktails in private cabanas at H2Oasis adults-only pool or relax under their own oceanfront Palapa, which have service buttons to press anytime they need a refreshment refill. There’s also a first-rate spa and, for those wanting to try their luck, Stellaris Casino is the largest in Aruba and one of the few open 24 hours.
With 10 eateries onsite, dining options here are vast, from the fabulous little gelato place that greets you immediately upon entering the lobby to the upscale dinner spot, Atardi, which means “late afternoon” in the native Papiamento. The latter, a pop-up restaurant set up nightly, has candlelit tables trailing down the beach almost to water’s edge.
Delicacies at Atardi — where Senior Sous Chef Charles Wagner, a 26-year resort veteran, is in command — include Chilean sea bass, which comes with a creamy, nutty-sweet parsnip purée with a hint of cardamom, and a light white wine sauce. The shrimp starter is flavored with ginger, lime and tropical fruit, while the grouper entrée comes crusted in rich macadamia nuts. Very slow-cooked short ribs get a clever side of roasted pumpkin mash.
The coconut cake for dessert is famous — or should be! Think layered vanilla cake, rich coconut-white chocolate mousse filling, toasted shredded coconut and a topping with a pineapple sauce! But the best treat might be the breathtaking sunset.
There’s also a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on the grounds, and a poolside café or two, but one of the most talked-about eateries may be Gelato & Co. Known to draw customers from the Ritz Carton next door, Gelato & Co. makes its wide assortment of gelato, sorbet and ice cream daily using fresh ingredients, and hotel guests are quick to share their favorite flavors and combinations. A waffle cone stuffed with a combo of pistachio, peanut butter and Nutella is the talk of the resort!
Just a few minutes ride from the resort is the must-go breakfast spot, Linda’s Dutch Pancakes, where thin oversized pancakes are topped with amazing combinations of sweet or savory ingredients. One number with walnuts cooked inside comes topped with brie and honey, and Linda’s Coffee has Bailey’s, Kahlua and Amaretto added. Two words: highly recommend!
Feeling adventurous and eager to see some of the island’s hidden and most spectacular sights? You’ll need to take a ride in an ATV along the outback. De Palm Tours offers guided UTV tours to hidden beaches, natural rock formations, and other attractions off the beaten path.
Increasingly, visitors are opting to add public art tours to their Aruba itineraries, venturing a few miles away to the village of San Nicolas, formerly a red-light district and the hub for Exxon’s refinery, shuttered in 1985. Now it’s the Street Art Capital of the Caribbean, says Forbes.
The animated Tito Bolivar leads groups for Aruba Mural Tours and can explain the history and symbolism of the dozens of murals that seem to cover every building these days — like the one by famous Dutch artist Dopie, whose huge, vibrant lionfish is rather menacing-looking, almost jumping off a wall near the town center.
More than 40 murals are painted on buildings in San Nicolas, each telling a unique story about the island and its people. There’s a beautiful woman whose skirt becomes a butterfly, sea turtles swimming by, a larger-than-life deck of cards and so much more. It’s an eye-popping display, and a wonderful way to see deeper into the soul of an extraordinary island.
Of course, if you just want to sit by a pool near a glimmering sea, that’s allowed!
Red Snapper at Aruba Marriott
Outdoor dining at Aruba Marriott
Woman at carnival
A balcony at Aruba Marriott
Outdoor dining at Aruba Marriott
Jeeps on the beach
Pinchos at Aruba Marriott
Aruba mural tour
Aruba mural tour
Aruba mural tour