A Gent's Guide to Houston

10.1.2012

By Diego James

The dapper man's excursion into the south Texas metropolis

The Menil Collection

Located in a quiet, leafy Montrose neighborhood of Houston, this is the museum that you don't want to miss. Designed by famed architect Louis Kahn, the museum building is subtle and tranquil and like nothing else you'll experience in the sprawling Texas metropolis. The campus also includes the Cy Twombly Gallery and Richmond Hall, which house single-artist installations. Spend a day. You won't regret it. 1533 Sul Ross Street; www.menil.org

Rothko Chapel

Also part of the Menil "campus," the chapel was built by the Menil's as a spiritual retreat but operates as a separate foundation. The chapel is open every day of the year, including holidays, and inside it is a meditative environment with white walls and 14 black Rothko paintings on each of them. You can contemplate silently (no cell phones here!) or pick up one of the spiritual books on hand. 3900 Yupon Street; www.rothkochapel.org

The Class Room

Rice Village's The Class Room offers apparel, bags and other accessories for the guy who knows quality fashion. Brands like Vanishing Elephant, Epperson Mountaineering, Brooklyn Circus, Our Legacy, and White Horse Trading Co. make the Class Room a go-to spot in the trendy nabe. Don't miss the whiskey tastings. Plus, you're in close proximity to lots of college hangouts for some preppy inspiration. 2534 Amherst St.; TheClassRoomShop.com

Empire Cafe

This is one of the best brunch spots located on gay-centric Westheimer Road—lined with antique shops, restaurnts—in Montrose. Not only is it casual chic indoors, with a mix of gay, straight, artsy types and students, but there's great outdoor seating available as well. Try the gingerbread waffles or the Italian-influenced fare. There's also coffee and an upscale wine selection. 1732 Westheimer Road, www.empirecafe.com.

Houston Ballet

A "dapper gent," usually dressed in bowties and braces, C.C. Conner was the managing director Houston Ballet for the past 16 years, successfully tripling the company's endowment, while also fundraising to build the largest professional dance center in the country during the Great Recession. During his tenure, he forged collaborations with American Ballet Theatre and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, among others, to commission major new full-length works, including Ben Stevenson's Dracula, David Parsons's The Pied Piper, and James Kudelka's The Firebird. "I love being a part of making stage magic happen. Every time the curtain goes up there is an exhilarating feeling," Conner says. "A brief visit to a class or rehearsal wipes away all the frustration that can come from running this complex operation." The ballet continues to be one of the most prestigious in the country. During the holidays check out The Nutcracker or the annual Jubilee of Dance. www.houstonballet.org

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