GO TO THE GAME
No luck with those game tickets? Then Diablo Loco (6025 Richmond Ave.; 713-266-4244; www.diablolocotexas.com) is the place to go on Sunday. Not only is the bar owned by a Patriots fan, but it's also the home base of the Houston Patriots Fan Club, so you'll definitely be in good company. Fan club president Amanda Howe also recommends Lucky's(801 St. Emmanuel St.; 713-522-2010; www.luckyspub.com) and Pub Fiction (2303 Smith St.; 713-400-8400; www.pubfiction.com). If you're looking for great food and craft beer to go along with your game day experience, though, try The Hay Merchant(1100 Westheimer Road; 713-528-9805; www.haymerchant.com). Their menu includes things like homemade beef jerky, "half a pig head" and Texas-style chili. Be warned, though, this is a Texans bar and in honor of their team, they offer half off all locally made beer when Houston is ahead. Here's hoping there will be no discounts come Sunday!
Houston is a city for food lovers. You'll find great Vietnamese at Simply Pho(2929 Milam St.; 713-677-0501) and Mai's(3403 Milam St.; 713-520-5300; www.maishouston.com). For modern American made from local ingredients, pay a visit toPax Americana (4319 Montrose Blvd.; 713-239-0228; www.paxamericanahtx.com). If you're looking to indulge in some fine dining, head toVic & Anthony's Steakhouse (1510 Texas Ave.; 713-228-1111; www.vicandanthonys.com) or Da Marco(1520 Westheimer Road; 713-807-8857; www.damarcohouston.com), both ranked among the best of the best in Houston by Zagat. Craving a bit of southern barbecue instead? Check out Killen's (3613 E. Broadway, Pearland; 281-485-2272; www.killensbarbecue.com). This pop-up-turned-brick-and-mortar restaurant serves things like homemade sausage, brisket and ribs, the latter of which GQ food correspondent Alan Richman has called "the Mona Lisa of meat."
There are a number of hotels within walking distance of NRG Stadium, including the Crowne Plaza (8686 Kirby Drive; 713-748-3221; www.ihg.com) and Holiday Inn *(8111 Kirby Drive; 1-800-864-8165; www.ihg.com). For something a bit more indulgent, try the *Hotel Granduca(1080 Uptown Park Blvd.; 713-418-1000; www.granducahouston.com). Named the top hotel in Texas by Conde Nast Traveler readers in 2014, this European-style property offers artistic accommodation and upscale dining in Uptown Houston. If you prefer to be a little closer to the action in the city, book yourself a room at Hotel ZaZa (2332 Leonard St.; 214-468-8399; www.hotelzaza.com). It's located at the edge ofHermann Park and within walking distance of several museums.
Join the Houston Patriots Fan Club for their Saturday night rally party at Diablo Loco. There will be music, food, drinks and a silent auction to benefit Best Buddies Houston. See the group's Facebook page for details. For more nightlife, Amanda recommends Washington Avenue, which has an eclectic scene ranging from honky-tonk bars to posh clubs. And if you're in Houston on Thursday, get your culture fix on a night out with happy hour at the Museum of Fine Arts (1001 Bissonnet; 713-639-7300; www.mfah.org)
There's plenty of fun to be had during the day, too. Check out the Museum of Natural Science (5555 Hermann Park Drive; 713-639-4629; www. hmns.org), ranked as the city's top visitor attraction on TripAdvisor. While you're there, explore all that Hermann Park has to offer, including the Houston Zoo, Japanese Garden and Rose Garden. Another family friendly destination is the Space Center (1601 NASA Pkwy.; 281-244-2100; www.spacecenter.org), about a 40-minute drive from downtown. Through exhibits, attractions and hands-on activities, you'll learn all about NASA and outer space. Plus, on Friday, you can take part in the center's Meet an Astronaut program.
A huge thank you to Amanda Howe of the Houston Patriots Fan Club for all her suggestions! Do you have ideas for fans traveling to watch the Patriots play the Jets or Dolphins? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.