Welcome to Discovering Houston on the Cheap, a weekly series highlighting cheap dates, cheap
meals, Houston’s best-kept secret and more — by local chefs, media, athletes, and folks in local business.

Darrin Straughan, President, Jones Coney Island Inc.
{A native Houstonian, Darrin Straughan has turned around James Coney Island during his 21 years as president. The local eatery now sells more hot dogs per unit than any other chain in the country. The company has grown to 21 Houston locations in its 91 years.}

Discovering Houston on the Cheap: Darrin Straughan, President, James Coney Island1) Favorite spot for a cheap mealTostada Regia

Tostada Regia on Long Point at Gessner is my favorite. The Legendarias Northenitas are Chicken Tostadas topped with all things good on a tostada. Sprinkle on the green and red hot sauce, and my head sweats. Great with an ice cold Dos Equis.

2) Favorite spot for a cheap date Treebeards

Treebeards on Market Square. Red Beans & Rice with Cheese and Onions. I’ve been eating there since 1984, when my first job was downtown. Good Southern food before some downtown activities.

3) Houston’s best-kept secret — Waugh Drive Bridge Bat Colony

At dusk, 250,000 Mexican Free-Tailed Bats come out to eat our pesky mosquitos!

4) Best place to save money in Houston — Retro night at No Label Brewery

Drive out to Katy and go to one of No Label Brewery’s retro theme nights. For a small price you get two beers, access to food trucks while Alamo Drafthouse shows an old movie on its portable movie screen. You can buy more beer, of course! In September, the theme is Roller Derby. I think the movie is “Whip It.” Houston’s Roller Derby team will be there as well. Last time the theme was Urban Cowboy, and the movie was exactly that. Fun!

5) Favorite Houston festival or annual event — Greek Festival

I love the food and the people. Plus it is in October, which is not a bad weather month in Houston.

6) My perfect day in Houston would be…

Late Fall. Morning run at Memorial Park followed by Special Enchiladas-A-La-Taylor at Spanish Village on Almeda for lunch. Flour tortillas please to sop up the chile con carne. Finish the day with an evening at a University of Houston football game. Ice cold beer while watching my alma mater’s team on the gridiron — Go Coogs!

photo: Groovehouse