West Houston, at first glance, seems to be no more than urban sprawl at its worst: strip malls, gridlock, billboards, and more strip malls. Yet one need not travel far from the interstate to discover a trove of hidden gems: tranquil parks, the absolute highs and lows in both upscale and bargain shopping, and an endless variety of exotic, authentic eateries - as proof, look no further than New Chinatown.
Despite a plethora of rundown apartment complexes and a reputation for crime, Southwest Houston was the center of much of the city's suburban development from the 1940s through the 1970s, today it is one of its most diverse quarters and is also home to some of the city's most desirable neighborhoods, including Meyerland and the charming City of Bellaire. This area is almost completely outside of the 610 Loop, although the City of Bellaire is partially inside the 610.
New Chinatown (AKA Little Saigon or Asiatown) would be the largest Chinatown in the world area-wise, but the term Chinatown is misleading due to the fact that the majority of the shops and restaurants cater to Houston's large Vietnamese population. This area is outside the 610 Loop and near the Beltway, Houston's outer freeway loop.
Forbidden Gardens, . Outdoor museum (expensive and sadly incomplete) replicating some of China's historic scenes (Closed 2011)
WorldFest-Houston Film Festival Totally dedicated to Independent Film screenings. All Screenings at the AMC Studio 30 on Dunvale, the HQ Hotel is The Renaissance Hotel, Greenway Plaza. Featuring 55 new international feature films and 100 new short films, all introduced by their directors with a Q&A after the screening.
Hong Kong City Mall is a very large grocery store/shopping center in this area.
Memorial City Mall, 303 Memorial City (IH-10 West at Gessner), ☎ 713-464-8640 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Has many department stores and also an indoor ice skating rink.
Traders Village, 7979 N. Eldridge Rd.. A giant outdoor flea market with all sorts of wares. Deals are to be sought here. Unlike in the rest of the US, you can actually try to bargain in flea markets like this. Should not be missed by those looking to shop.
Phoenicia Specialty Food Market, 12141 Westheimer Road (Located in a retail center on the south side of Westheimer, just past Kirkwood Road), ☎ (281) 558-8225, . 8:00 AM - 9:00 PM. This market has the largest selection of Mediterranean food and specialty items in Houston. The 55,000 square foot market has an amazing selection of foods and spices from the mid-east and southern europe. If you just want to eat they have a ready made food deli and bakery.
Taste of Texas, 10505 Katy Freeway (IH-10 between BW-8 and Gessner), . The finest steaks and prime rib (only certified Angus Beef) money can buy. Award-winning wine list, lobster, freshly baked breads, etc. Menu is translated into 12 different languages.
Vargo's Restaurant, 2401 Fondren, ☎ 713-782-3888. Beautiful 9-acre garden and delicious steaks in a historic 40-year-old restaurant. Reservations recommended. VARGO'S HAS CLOSED.
Rioja, 11920 Westheimer Road (Located at the southeast corner of Westheimer Road and Kirkwood Road.), ☎ 281-531-5569. Lunch 11-2, Dinner 5:30-11. Closed Mondays. A tasty selection of Spanish food including a large tapas selection and very good paella. Inexpensive Spanish wines and an outdoor patio. Live music Friday and Saturday nights.
Bear and Bull Tavern and Eatery, 11980 Westheimer Road (Located at the back of the retail center at the southeast corner of Westheimer and Kirkwood.), ☎ 281-496-6655, . 11-10. The Bear and Bull is popular with British expats and Soccer fans. The food is good with daily lunch specials and 30 domestic and imported beers on tap.
Omni Houston Hotel at Westside, 13210 Katy Freeway, ☎ +1 281-558-833 (email@example.com, fax: +1 281-558-4028), . A luxury hotel featuring an atrium lobby complete with indoor lakes and waterfalls, tropical fish and glass elevators.