Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! Just a reminder that if you haven't made dinner plans for tonight, there are still plenty of Houston restaurants open. B4-U-Eat has a terrific list, complete with menus, but just heading over to Chinatown is also a good bet (and generally a lot cheaper, too).
With that said, you might as well go ahead and start making those New Year's Eve plans now. Even though it's not technically the end of the decade -- it just feels like it -- you can bet that plenty of partiers will be out on December 31, happily saying good-bye to a year and a decade that's brought a lot of confusion, financial woes and uncertainty. GOOD TIMES. So check out our New Year's Eve listings or set your sights on some of the soirees below:
The Flying Saucer is hosting an '80s-themed party (remember the 80s? when we all actually had money?!) with live music from cover band The Lost Boys starting at 6 p.m. Entry is free for U.F.O. members and $10 for non-beer knurds (i.e., the rest of us), but the cover includes a champagne toast at midnight and plenty of party favors.
Block 7 Wine Company is offering something a little more upscale, but still relaxed -- as is its atmosphere -- with its New Year's Eve dinner and all-you-can-drink wine. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. The cost is $130 a person, but it includes a four-course meal, sparkling wine tastings from NV Veuve Clicquot, NV Krug Grande Cuvee, NV Camille Saves Grand Cru Rosé, a DJ, a champagne toast at midnight and -- oh, yeah -- AYCE WINE. Reservations are necessary, naturally. Call 713-572-2565 to make yours now.
Aloft Hotel is a great place to pretend you've gone out of town for New Year's Eve, without the hassle of paying through the nose for tickets and getting a patdown from the TSA. The hotel's NYE package starts at 10 p.m. and runs through 2 p.m., with a DJ and champagne toast, of course, but also 10 drink tickets to go along with the hotel room you'll be needing after all that booze. Rates start at $209 for the night.
Howl at the Moon has a more immersive experience, if you will, which allows you reserved seating to scream along with overworked piano players all night long (or until you lose your voice). It's actually more fun than it sounds. $25 buys you a three-course Mexican feast and a midnight toast, while $75 buys you reserved seating for the night. You'll need it.
Of course, if you're looking for a more traditional New Year's Eve dinner, head over to B4-U-Eat for a listing of hotels and fancy restaurants where you can dine in style. You'll pay for it, of course, but that's half the fun of impressing the girl you're hoping to bone after copious amounts of champagne, right?
After the New Year has been rung in, head out to Branch Water Tavern for the next installment of Evan Turner's series of cocktail classes on January 8. From 1 to 3 p.m., learn all about the Prohibition-era cocktails that were the impetus behind the national cocktail craze -- the same cocktails that Bobby Heugel and the Anvil crew brought to Houston two years ago -- and how to make them yourself at home. The class costs $35 and includes light bites from Chef David Grossman as well.
That next weekend, don't miss the annual Citrus Fest at the Eastside Farmers Market on Saturday, January 15 from 8 a.m. to noon. At this ever-popular fruit tree sale, you can purchase an amazing variety of trees -- even trees you've likely never heard of, such as Jaboticaba and Grumihcama. But never fear if you're unfamiliar with a certain varietal or have reservations about being able to grow your own: Urban Harvest offers free classes on how to grow and care for fruit trees. Prices start at only $15 for a sugar apple tree, making these an inexpensive yet worthy investment that's worth every penny.