Houston Restaurant Weeks: August 1-September 7

Houston Restaurant Weeks is back, kicking off August 1 – September 7. This huge local event offers Houstonians a great opportunity to try some of Houston’s amazing restaurants at a more affordable price.

HRW 2015The bonus is Houston Food Bank receives $3 – $7 of every meal. It’s actually the single largest fundraiser for Houston Food Bank each year — with $1.6 million raised in last year’s event. It broke its previous record, $1.29 million. 100% of the funds raised go directly to the food bank, thanks to amazing volunteers.

This year, the participating restaurants exploded to 200+, which is wonderful for the Houston Food Bank.

Here’s how it works:

  • 2-3 course lunch: $20 ($3 donation to Houston Food Bank)
  • 3-course brunch: $25 ($4 donation to Houston Food Bank)
  • 3-4 course dinner: $35 – $45 ($5-$7 donation providing 15 – 21 meals)

Houston Restaurant Weeks is promoted as a reservation-only event, though some restaurants may accept walk-ins at their discretion.

I’m sure you’ll find your favorite fine dining restaurants and more on the list with names such as Brennan’s of Houston, Canopy, benjy’s, Perry’s Steakhouse, Backstreet Cafe, Commonwealth, Downtown Aquarium, Grotto, Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen, and hundreds more. And once again, Alamo Drafthouse is the only theater on the list with a special dining menu for the occasion.

Check out the list of participating restaurants. Or search by restaurant name here on this printable list.

My Austin Weekend + Radisson Discount for Readers

This is a sponsored post by Radisson Hotel & Suites, Downtown Austin. All opinions are my own.

My family enjoyed a quick trip to Austin last weekend — sort of our last-fling, summer getaway since my daughter started high school drill team this week. I can never get enough of Austin — especially since I lived there 20 years growing up.

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We tend to do a lot of the same things when we visit Austin, which is OK… And it usually revolves around food. This trip we crammed in Amy’s Ice Cream, Torchy’s Tacos, Threadgills, the new Shake Shack, Le Cafe Crepe, and Dine, the downtown restaurant of Radisson Hotel & Suites.

austin food collage

Being the owner of Houston on the Cheap, it’s no surprise that we chose lots of free things to do in town. Because like Houston, Austin has lots of options for free fun. {Our splurge was heading to 6th Street for Esther’s Follies, a fun evening of comedy skits and magic that’s been running for 37 years.} Here are our six free things, thanks to some recommendations from my friend Heidi at Free Fun in Austin:

Six Free Things to Do in Austin

1) Castle Hill/Baylor Street Graffiti Wall — The scenery/art changes often at this hillside of colored walls. Located at 11th & Baylor near North Lamar.

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Baylor Street graffiti wal

2) Mount Bonnell — 775 ft above the lake, Mount Bonnell is a beautiful view of downtown Austin and more. Why does it seem harder to climb the 106 steps to the top now?! I never knew it was dedicated to Travis County in 1938 by a local family.

austin mount bonnell

3) The Contemporary Austin Laguna Gloria — The sculpture park on the grounds of Laguna Gloria are filled with changing art installations by national artists. Love this new one — Looking Up — by Tom Friedman. It’s free to browse the grounds. Tours of the 1916 villa are $5. Free on Tuesdays. I remember attending the annual Fiesta at Laguna Gloria back in the day!

4) Zilker Hillside Theater — We joined tons of people at Zilker Hillside Theater Saturday night for the free summer musical, Hairspray. It’s dubbed the “longest-running free outdoor musical in the country” — since 1959. I enjoyed attending when I grew up! This show continues through August 15. Parking is $5. You’ll find free symphony concerts, dance performances and more throughout the year there.

austin zilker

5) Capitol and Historic Walking Tour Downtown — There is so much history in downtown Austin, from the Capitol to 6th Street. Make a reservation for a free historic walking tour of these National Register Districts. This would definitely be better when it’s not so hot outside! The tour kicks off at the Capitol and goes 10 blocks down Congress Avenue and then explores Sixth Street. The 19th century buildings are amazing, like the Old Bakery (1876), Driskill Hotel (1886) and St. David’s Church (1852). Tours are 9 am Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 11 am and 1 pm.

austin historic downtown

6) Austin Boardwalk — Last summer, Austin completed its Boardwalk along the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. It offers amazing views back at the city. Just cross the Congress Bridge to access it from Austin American Statesman or near E. Riverside and Lakeshore Blvd. For years, this has been a 1.3 mile gap for walkers, bikers, and runners.

austin boardwalk

Living the Local Life

The most exciting part of our weekend was staying right in downtown Austin near the Congress Bridge. What a location! Radisson Hotel & Suites Downtown provided us an amazing lakeview room on the 11th floor. We got spoiled quickly with the scenery!

Radisson Hotel Austin view

Thanks to a special partnership, Houston on the Cheap readers can save 25 percent on the lowest available room rate and 50 percent off self-parking at this Radisson property. Read to the end for more info!

The hotel is currently in the midst of a renovation of guest rooms, which are expected to be complete by end of summer. I was excited to try out the Sleep Number bed, but it didn’t work as I expected! After a quick call to the front desk the next morning, the hotel staff helped get our bed back on track.

Radisson Austin

Our breakfast Saturday morning was onsite at Dine. My daughter said it was the best pancakes she’d ever had! In early June, the restaurant added a new chef and changed names, serving fresh American fare by Chef David Garrido. The space was renovated last year, and it’s a beautiful setting for meals, thanks to the huge windows and amazing view.

austin dine restaurant

We enjoyed the infinity-edge salt water pool Saturday afternoon. It was definitely a popular destination in the Austin heat, since there weren’t any chairs available for awhile.

austin pool

The hotel lobby is beautiful in its Texas motif and even offers a full-service Starbucks in the lobby.

Radisson hotel AustinOur schedule was so busy in the evening we didn’t get to head out to watch the bats emerge from under the Congress Bridge. Radisson is the perfect location to make that easily happen, though, whether it’s watching from the railing of the bridge or down the hill near the water.

austin bridge collage

Austin muralThanks to a special partnership, Houston on the Cheap readers can save 25 percent on the lowest available room rate and 50 percent off self-parking. If you’d like to experience this downtown hotel for yourself, click over to their site for this deal.

This is a sponsored post by Radisson Hotel & Suites, Downtown Austin. All opinions are my own.

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Free Weekend Fun in Houston July 31 – August 2

Get ready for a weekend of free fun! Here is a snapshot of 15 Free Things to Do in Houston this weekend, July 31 – August 2:

White Linen NightsFRIDAY

Catch a Shakespeare play — Houston Shakespeare Festival presents free Shakespeare in the Park at Miller Outdoor Theater. Two productions alternate nights July 31 – August 9. Macbeth hits the stage July 31, August 2, 4, 6, and 8 at 8:30 pm. Arrive at 7:45 before Macbeth for the pre-show talk. The Merchant of Venice performances begin at 8:30 pm August 1, 5, 7, and 9. Free reserved seat tickets are available each day, 10:30 am – 1 pm, at Miller Outdoor box office in Hermann Park. This is produced by University of Houston.

 SATURDAY

Learn about snakes — Attend a session called Snakes of Harris County Saturday, 10 am, at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center. Then stick around to check out the Reptile Open House Saturday, 1 pm – 4 pm. The Nature Center is packed with amphibians and live reptiles from around the world. Visitors will enjoy live animal displays, including an appearance from 10-ft. long Burmese python, Lucky. Located at 20634 Kenswick in Humble.

Create a bottle cap pendant — The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft is hosting Hands-On Houston Saturday, a free family event the first Saturday of each month. This Saturday’s craft will be a bottle cap pendant for a silk cord. Come anytime from 11 am – 3 pm. Allow about 10-15 minutes for the activity. This month’s activity will be held indoors. HCCC is located at 4848 Main Street.

Enjoy kid-friendly fun — Bring your family to Back to School Splash Bash Saturday, August 1, at Sugar Land Town Square. The event (11 am – 4 pm) features free water slides, hula hoop contest, live music and more. Bring a backpack and school supplies to help support the Fort Bend Rainbow Room. Located at 2711 Town Center Blvd.

Create Asian instruments  — Asia Society Texas hosts another Creation Station free afternoon of fun, Saturday, 1 pm – 3 pm. The afternoon features storytelling and art creation. The event is free with registration. Asia Society Texas is located at 1370 Southmore Blvd. RSVP online here.

Mingle at free museums and zoo — It’s another weekend for Bank of America’s “Museums on Us” program with free admission to the Houston Zoo, Children’s Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This is for Bank of America cardholders only, not their children. It’s held the first full weekend each month.

See WWII planes — Tour the WWII Museum and visit the Hangar of the Houston Wing of the Commemorative Air Force 10 am – 3 pm. It’s a great chance to get up close to the Wing’s flyable WWII military aircraft: climb into a cockpit of a WWII trainer or go inside a WWII Paratroop aircraft. Located at West Houston Airport, 2 miles north of I-10 east off Barker Cypress on Groschke Rd.

Love a festival — Head downtown for the Houston Black Heritage Music & Arts Festival Saturday at Discovery Green. Families can enjoy free health screenings and Cultural Arts Zone from 10 am – 5 pm. Access to the exhibits, vendors, Health and Youth Empowerment zones are free and open to the public. {NOTE: Tickets to the music festival are $15 for adults with kids 12 and under free.} Located at 1500 McKinney.

Celebrate community in the Heights — The 10th annual White Linen Night in the Heights returns August 1 from 6 pm – 10 pm. Engage in the Heights community through art, entertainment, live music, and more. Streets are closed for crowds to mingle and browse the eclectic shops. Find specials, discounts and entertainment on 11th Street, 19th Street, Studewood, and White Oak including live music, parking lot parties, food trucks, and more. The Wave will be offering free shuttle rides with four stops around W. 19th, W. 11th, Studewood, and White Oak. First Saturday Arts Market will be incorporated into the evening at the 200-300 block of W. 19th.

Watch The Outsiders in the parkMovie Night on the Strand in Galveston returns August 1 with The Outsiders, 7 pm. Movie begins at dusk. Grab your chairs, blankets and enjoy a family-friendly movie outdoors! This is held the first Saturday of each month at Saengerfest Park, 2300 Strand.

Catch a Shakespeare play — Houston Shakespeare Festival presents free Shakespeare in the Park at Miller Outdoor Theater. Two productions alternate nights July 31 – August 9. Macbeth hits the stage July 31, August 2, 4, 6, and 8 at 8:30 pm. Arrive at 7:45 for the pre-show talk before Macbeth. The Merchant of Venice performances begin at 8:30 pm August 1, 5, 7, and 9. Free reserved seat tickets are available each day, 10:30 am – 1 pm, at Miller Outdoor box office in Hermann Park. This is produced by University of Houston.

Watch a movie under the moon — Enjoy a free outdoor screening of Paddington Saturday at Dow Park in Deer Park. The movie begins at dusk (approximately 8 pm). Don’t forget your lawn chairs and blankets! Located at 610 East San Augustine, Deer Park.

SUNDAY

Learn about snakes — Check out the Reptile Open House Sunday, 1 pm – 4 pm, at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center. The Nature Center is packed with amphibians and live reptiles from around the world. Visitors will enjoy live animal displays, including an appearance from 10-ft. long Burmese python Lucky, who is helping bring attention to responsible pet ownership. Located at 20634 Kenswick in Humble.

Mingle at free museums and zoo — It’s another weekend for Bank of America’s “Museums on Us” program with free admission to the Houston Zoo, Children’s Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This is for Bank of America cardholders only, not their children. It’s held the first full weekend each month.

Catch a Shakespeare play — Houston Shakespeare Festival presents free Shakespeare in the Park at Miller Outdoor Theater. Two productions alternate nights July 31 – August 9. Macbeth hits the stage July 31, August 2, 4, 6, and 8 at 8:30 pm. Arrive at 7:45 before Macbeth for the pre-show talk. The Merchant of Venice performances begin at 8:30 pm August 1, 5, 7, and 9. Free reserved seat tickets are available each day, 10:30 am – 1 pm, at Miller Outdoor box office in Hermann Park. This is produced by University of Houston.

Free Houston Shakespeare Festival July 31-August 9

shakespeareFree Shakespeare in the park returns this weekend to Miller Outdoor Theatre. Houston Shakespeare Festival by University of Houston has attracted nearly 500,000 Houstonians to free Shakespeare performances since 1975.

This year’s performances feature Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice. These classic Shakespeare plays will delight audiences young and old. It’s a great way to introduce your family to Shakespeare!

Macbeth — July 31, August 2, 4, 6 and 8 at 8:30 pm. Arrive early before Macbeth (7:45 pm) for a pre-show talk.

The Merchant of Venice August 1, 5, 7, and 9 at 8:30 pm

Free reserved seat tickets are available each performance day from 10:30 am – 1 pm at Miller Outdoor box office located at 6000 Hermann Park Drive.

Learn DNA of Pooch w/ Discount at Austin Pet Expo

MaisyFor folks like me who have a heart for dog rescue, the breeds of your favorite mixed breed pooch are a mystery. There might be strong speculation, but it’s nothing more than that!

Wisdom Panel 3.0

Did you know there are benefits to knowing the breeds of your dog? Since 2007, Mars Veterinary has offered a simple test to provide reliable breed ancestry information. It recently launched the next evolution of its canine DNA test — Wisdom Panel 3.0. This version not only expanded the breed screening coverage but also added the medical applications as well. Tests can be run for mixed-breed, designer or purebred dogs.

Last month we rescued this cutie (above) from K-9 Angels Rescue. Maisy, a 50-lb. snugglebug, was labeled as a Labradoodle. My vet thinks she is more Goldendoodle. I can’t wait to try the Wisdom Panel 3.0 testing to learn more about her background. No matter what the results, we know she is super sweet!

Benefits of DNA Testing

So what are the benefits of knowing the DNA of your dog?

  • Enables you to watch for breed-specific health concerns or common issues. The test covers 250+ breeds, types and varieties including those recognized by American Kennel Club.
  • Offers MDR1 mutation testing for drug sensitivity.
  • Allows you to develop a nutrition plan for breed-specific needs.
  • Helps determine what the adult size of your dog might be.

mars wisdom panel DNA logo

Save with Discount Code

Mars Veterinary will be attending the Amazing Pet Expo in Austin August 1-2. Dogs can be swabbed onsite at their booth for the discounted price of $39.99. A take-home kit can be purchased for $49.99 ($84.99 regularly). The test involves rubbing the dog’s gum and cheek for 15 seconds with the swab to collect cells for DNA extraction. Results take approximately 2-3 weeks.

Follow Mars Veterinary on social media for more discounts and product info:

Facebook: facebook.com/DoggieDNA
Twitter: @WidsomPanel
Instagram: @WisdomPanel
Pinterest: @WisdomPanel

Any guesses on what my dog might be? She has a summer cut to fix her uneven grooming when we adopted her! But her fur doesn’t seem to be as curly as some “doodles” I’ve seen! I will get her swabbed and let you know!

MaisyThis post is sponsored by Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 3.0. All opinions are my own.

Houston Deals for National Lasagna Day 2015

National Lasagna Day 2014Once again, Houston eateries are offering specials this week for National Lasagna Day.

Brio Tuscan Grille — This Italian favorite is offering 50% off its lasagna entrees all day Tuesday, July 28. Dine in only, while supplies last. Brio Tuscan Grill is located at CityCentre and The Woodlands.

Buca di Beppo — This family-style restaurant is offering a deal July 27-July 31. Save 50% off lasagna with this coupon. Get the coupon here. Dine in only. Located at 5192 Buffalo Speedway and The Woodlands at 19075 I-45 South.

Lasagna House — This local restaurant is the spot for lasagna! Get half-priced lasagna all day at The Lasagna House July 29. Valid at Memorial and Sugar Land Town Square. {The 1960/I-45 location is temporarily closed due to a fire last week in the shopping center.}

Spaghetti Warehouse — Get a free appetizer at Spaghetti Warehouse July 27-August 2 with purchase of two lasagnas. This is located at 901 Commerce.

Children’s Museum: Free Back-to-School Shots

It’s not too early to think about back to school — and saving money in the process!

Thankfully, the Children’s Museum of Houston will once again offer free back-to-school immunizations for children under 18 years this summer. Each Thursday (August 6-August 27) families can get kids immunized for free during the museum’s Free Family Night. The first 200 people will be eligible for the free shots from 5 pm – 7 pm. No registration required.

Texas Children’s Mobile Clinic Program will be administering the immunizations. Parents must bring their child’s shot records to qualify for free immunizations.

Free Family Night offers free admission for all visitors from 5 pm to 8 pm each Thursday. The Children’s Museum is located at 1500 Binz.

photo courtesy Children’s Museum of Houston

Save 50% off Houston Tickets with Goldstar App

goldstar appDo you love saving money with Goldstar on Houston-area theater, sports, comedy and more? Then take advantage of the free Goldstar app so you can have savings at your fingertips!

It’s easy to discover a great event in Houston for half price! And the reviews are fantastic. Some of the features include:

  • Add a credit card by taking a photo
  • View seating chart during checkout
  • View FAQ during checkout
  • Autocomplete fulfillment name from account info

Download the Goldstar app and sign up today!

If you aren’t on mobile right now, see the Goldstar Half-Price ticket page right from your computer. Enjoy free tickets to Sugar Land Skeeters or half-price to ComedySportz, Michael Bolton, Rick Springfield, Peter Pan, Gospel Brunch, Guys & Dolls and more!

Disclosure: Affiliate links included

7 Free Things to Do in Houston July 27-31

Don’t miss these 7 options for free fun in Houston July 27-31 before planning your free and cheap weekend!

We Love Houston sign

Monday (7/27) — Get free admission to Czech Center Museum noon – 4 pm Monday. This museum is free the fourth Monday of each month. Located at 4920 San Jacinto.

Tuesday (7/28) — Catch a free screening of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb at Santikos Theatres. Free weekly summer movies are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 am. Locations include Silverado 19 IMAX in Tomball and Palladium AVX Entertainment in Richmond. Tickets are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Wednesday (7/29) — Learn the basics of kayaking at a free weekly kayak class at Discovery Green. This is offered Wednesdays through August, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Participants must be 18 years or older. Located at 1500 McKinney.

Thursday (7/30) — Enjoy free craft workshops all summer at Houston area libraries. This week kids will make free shadow puppets craft, 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm. You need to have a library card and RSVP. Located at Looscan Neighborhood Library, 2510 Willowick Road.

Thursday (7/30) — Don’t miss a free performance of Michael Cavanaugh performing with the Houston Symphony. Cavanaugh performs songs by Billy Joel, Elton John, James Taylor and more. Mezzanine and lawn seats are free, thanks to Insperity & Anadarko Petroleum Corporation. {Orchestra seats are $20.} Located at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Thursday (7/30) — Enjoy seven museums for free each Thursday in Houston’s Museum District. {The Weather Museum is relocating and temporarily closed, but is usually an 8th free museum on Thursdays.}

Thursday (7/30) — Enjoy free Argentine Tango Lessons, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Learn basic tango steps, emphasizing connection, musicality and line of dance. No partner or experience necessary. This class is for beginners! Located at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney.

Friday (7/31) —  Get complimentary sweet frozen treats this summer thanks to Frost Bank. Friday is a freebie from Kona Ice, 1 pm – 3 pm, at Frost Bank, 3304 W. Sam Houston Parkway S., 77042.

Food Freebies & Deals in July in Houston {Updated}

free tea day 2015July is a great month for food freebies and deals! Here are the remaining dates to get on your calendar:

All month: National Ice Cream Month

Get a free waffle cone at Baskin-Robbins in July with any double scoop purchase.

July 23: Free Tea Day
Enjoy a free Sweet Tea at McAlister’s Deli. No purchase necessary.

July 23: National Hot Dog Day
Enjoy $1 All-American Dog and Chili Cheese Coney at Sonic Drive-In all day.

July 28: National Lasagna Day (early)

Save 50% on lasagna at BRIO Tuscan Grille. It’s just a day before National Lasagna Day!

July 29: National Lasagna Day
Get half-priced lasagna all day at The Lasagna House: Westheimer and Sugar Land locations. {The 1960 location is temporarily closed due to a fire in its shopping center.}

Get half-priced lasagna at Buca di Beppo July 27-July 31. Get the coupon here. Dine in only. Located at 5192 Buffalo Speedway and The Woodlands at 19075 I-45 South.

Get a free appetizer at Spaghetti Warehouse July 27-August 2 with purchase of two lasagnas.

July 29-30: National Cheesecake Day
Celebrate for two days at The Cheesecake Factory: any slice is half price July 29 – 30. The newest flavor this year is Salted Caramel Cheesecake. One slice per person, no coupon required.

July 31: Celebrate 31
Get 31% off ice cream sundaes at Baskin-Robbins July 31 for its 70th birthday and year of Celebrate 31.