HOW TO HOUSTON:

Houston is big. If you're in a band rolling through for the day or you're just here early for an event, this page is for you. If you live in Houston, this page is not really for you. It is an introduction to our great city.

How to get around: Once you're inside loop 610, avoid the highways unless it's late at night. Major streets like Westheimer, Montrose, and Shepherd get a lot of traffic but have parallel streets that are easy to get around on. Yale Street and Waugh Street are quick, usually traffic-free ways to get from south to north quickly.

Where to entertain yourself for free: Houston has a bunch of free museums, and some of them are pretty damn weird. I recommend starting at the Menil Park area. The Surrealism rooms in the Menil Collection building are awesomely strange, but you can also hit the Twombly Gallery, Center for Photography, and Rothko Chapel while parked there. There are more free museums down in the museum district, with highlights being DiverseWorks, the Contemporary Arts Museum, the Center for Contemporary Craft, and neighboring Lawndale Art Center. You can also go walk around in the woods at Memorial Park or the Houston Arboretum without paying state park fees and shit.

Where to eat: Les Givral's has super cheap vietnamese sandwiches. You can eat there for under $5 (downside: they close at 8PM). Avoid the imposter locations in the heights and downtown. The only real one is in midtown on Milam Street. There's a killer cash-only taco truck called Tacos Tierra Caliente (also under $5) - not one of these hip, modern trucks that have popped up in the past few years selling weird food combinations at a huge markup; this is authentic shit. You can get your food and eat on the patio of the ice house next door. If cheap, local burger shacks are your thing, try Sparkles or Someburger. For mediterranean food that isn't marked up to all hell, your spot's inside Al's Quick Stop. You can eat it there or next door at Rudyard's.

Where to eat late: If you're a band on a budget, they sell pizza by the slice at Frank's or Pepperoni's (both 'til 3AM on Friday and Saturday; the area around Frank's has a lot of car break-ins so if you have a bunch of gear hit the Pepperoni's Drive-through). If you have a little more cash you can easily get late night Tex-Mex food; we recommend Chapultapec. If for some reason they're closed try Spanish Flowers (closed Tues-Weds) or Andy's. Andy's is a Mexican restaurant but has great breakfast all day. For diner food, try House of Pies, Dot Coffee, or 59 Diner.

Where to drink: Rudyard's Pub is a Houston staple. They have pool tables, shuffleboard, and darts. They also have decent food if you're there before midnight. Lola's is a dark, graffiti-covered hive of scum and villainy but parking sucks there. Poison Girl is laid back, has some pinball machines and a cool patio.Grand Prize is pretty popular and has a bunch of games and shit. Kind of a nicer place. Avant Garden is usually relaxed and has an awesome patio, but be warned that the parking sucks (mugging central) and if you're there on Thursday it's one big hipster ant pile; a sea of sweaty twenty-somethings crawling all over each other to wait in line for $2 wells. Notsuoh is cool as hell, but if you have gear in your car expect your windows to be smashed when you get back.

Where to eat/drink outside: West Alabama Ice House has a great taco truck next door as well as pool tables, basketball hoops, and other games. Moontower Inn has good food and a bunch of beers on tap. Many locals prefer Big Star Bar in the Heights, but it's a little more out of the way.

Where to buy a bunch of shit you don't need at a bunch of shops in the same place: At the intersection of Hwy 59 and Shepherd, you've got two comic book stores, two record stores, a weird guitar/surfboard shop, and a killer vintage video game store. Third Planet is a big warehouse full of comics and action figures from every era, and worth walking through even if you don't buy anything. Nan's has similar fare, but with a huge selection of board games and RPG shit. Sound Exchange is a cool record store in an old house. They screen their stock, and almost everything they have is good. Cactus Records is a bit more broad and kitschy, but worth a visit. Rockin' Robin has vintage amps, guitars, and surfboards. Game Over is down the highway a bit but definitely worth a visit, even if just to see the weird little video game museum they have in back.

Where to buy used books: Kaboom Books is fantastic.

Where to buy new books: Wired Up. You can get all kinds of shit there.

Where to buy records: Deep End. Wired Up. Sound Exchange. Vinal Edge (they misspell it on purpose).

Where to buy vinyl toys: Insomnia or Wired Up.

Where to buy art: Insomnia

Where to relax in quiet with A/C and WiFi: Teahouse. This is basically a boba tea (tapioca) place with people studying on couches and shit.

Where to watch a movie: River Oaks Theatre. Old theater. Good movies.

Where to dance: try Numbers or Barbarella.

Where to print shit: Copydotcom. They're very helpful.

Where to print shit late at night: Fedex at 59 and Shepherd (24hrs). The staff sucks but it's all you've got at 3AM.

Where to do laundry: West Alabama Street and McDuffie. The Tierra Caliente taco truck is in the same lot and you can day-drink or relax in the shade and play games at West Alabama Ice House.