14 Very Houston Things We Can’t Wait to Do When Quarantine Is Over

Dare to dream.

Remember when “social distancing” was an unknown phrase, not a daily refrain? And when businesses weren't shut down? And you hadn't seen your old college roommate attempting the “Savage” dance on TikTok?

Times are weird and challenging right now, but things were normal before this, and someday, they'll be some kind of normal again. Whether you agree with early steps at reopening that Texas and others are taking, one thing’s for certain: It’s nice to daydream about what life may look like when things return to “normal.” So we asked a bunch of influential locals to chime in on what their First Day Back would like -- posing the question, “What is the one thing you can't wait to do in Houston after this is all over?”

Erin Smith
Erin Smith | Julie Soefer

Take advantage of crawfish season

“I love being on a patio on a nice spring day with my friends eating crawfish and drinking beer. Spring time and crawfish season go hand-in-hand in Houston. We usually eat crawfish every week when it’s in season, but this year we’ve only had crawfish once. It just wouldn’t be the same to eat it at home, alone.” - Erin Smith, chef and co-owner Feges BBQ

Dance at the Alley Kat, do karaoke at The Secret Group, and sip fancy drinks at Anvil

“This time has made me appreciate my city in a whole new way. I miss a lot, but I really miss dancing upstairs and downstairs at the Alley Kat on Thursday nights with Waxaholics, Karaoke at The Secret Group, running into old friends at The Dirt Bar, Fancy rum cocktails at Anvil, and attending the Bounce And Turn pop-up events thrown by Amy Muller. Houston is about collaboration, culture and innovation and not being able to watch us grow has made me excited to see what will bloom after this time has passed.” - Kam Franklin, lead singer of The Suffers

Chris Shepherd
Chris Shepherd | John Davidson

Dig into Hai Cang’s tamarind crab, get an omakase sushi experience at Kata Robata, sip through Poison Girl’s ace selection of bourbon, and end the night with live jams at a honky-tonk Goodnight Charlie’s

“Here’s my perfect day post COVID-19: I start with lunch at Hai Cang with a group. I miss sharing food and breaking bread together. I also miss that tamarind crab! Enjoy a sporting event like baseball with a Houston win. Then, grab a seat at the sushi bar at Kata Robata in front of Chef Hori and watch him work his magic. Last, a bourbon at Poison Girl and then bounce to Goodnight Charlie’s to hear some live music.” - Chris Shepherd, owner/executive chef Underbelly Hospitality and co-founder of Southern Smoke

Stephen Brandau
Stephen Brandau

Spend some QT with your mom, take a day trip down to Galveston, and support the local comedy, art, and music scenes

“I look forward to having bo-luc-lac from Cali Sandwich, cocktails and tapas at Izakaya, and I'd really like to go somewhere with my mom. She works at a hospital, and so we haven't been able to get together like normal. I used to eat out with her once or twice a month so it's been a bummer. We look forward to being able to go down to Galveston for a day trip, tour art galleries, visit shops on the strand, have a meal at the Gypsy Joint Cafe and have some drinks at Daquiri Time Out. Standup comedy has been put on indefinite hold along with every other type of live performance, and it'll be a huge relief to comics, patrons, and staff alike when we can hold a show again where people can comfortably enjoy a drink and a laugh.” - Stephen Brandau, co-owner of The Secret Group

Whitney Mercilus, NFL linebacker for the Houston Texans
Whitney Mercilus

Do some dim sum, then visit the Museum District

"I can’t wait to visit Chinatown and get some dim sum! Also excited to visit the art museums." -Whitney Mercilus, NFL linebacker for the Texas Houstons

Alex Au Yeung
Alex Au Yeung | Kimberly Park

Gear up for all the annual food events

“Culinary Events are something I can't wait for. Like Katy Sip and Stroll, Wild West Brewfest, Crawfish Cookoff, Food, and Wine Week in the Woodland, etc.” - Alex Au Yeung, chef/owner Phat Eatery and the upcoming YELO

Star Gilani
Star Gilani

Bar hop the Main Street superblock in Downtown, visit a hookah bar, and get your fill of thought-provoking art at the Menil.

“I cannot wait to bar-hop in Downtown Houston and be day-drunk after visiting all my favorite bars including OKRA Charity Saloon, El Big Bad, Frank's Backyard, and Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar. I have been dreaming about the southside cocktail, hand-shaken margaritas, firepit lounging, and making friends at the bar for too long! Looking forward to when I can go back to shisha bars in Houston like Nara Cafe to sip on a refreshing mint lemonade and enjoy a peach, mango mint shisha with my closest girlfriends. When the Menil Houston opens back up, I'll be first in line to enjoy some thought-provoking art while arguing with my fiancé about our interpretations and enjoy quiet, meditative moments in the Menil lawn.” - Star Gilani, founder of Best Bites Houston

Athena Sapphire
Athena Sapphire

Do something good for the Houston community

“Well while in quarantine I realized my passion for roller skating wasn’t just driveway fun, but something that could bring so many people together of all ages and backgrounds. I’ll be starting a queer Roller skate group for any LGBTQ+ to join. It’s going to be a safe space to have creative freedom on wheels!! And hopefully start a bi-weekly gay day at a local Houston roller rink so stay tuned!” - Athena Sapphire/Joeii Johnson (@athena_sapphiree), Houston drag queen and entertainer

Dive into the local live music scene and spots like Shoeshine Charley's Big Top Lounge.

“Hands down without a doubt as soon as things get back to whatever the new normal will look like, I can't wait to catch a Lonesome Haunts show at the Big Top Lounge. There is something special about that band playing at that particular venue. Big Top is one of my favorite hole in the walls, full of character and authenticity. Pair that with a cold beer and singing along to my favorite LonesomeHaunts song, sounds like magic right about now.” - Lindsay Rae, owner/operator of Two Headed Dog

Duc Hoang
Duc Hoang

Eat some hyperlocal food pairings

“One thing I can’t wait to do once everything is back to normal in houston is visiting all of my favorite restaurants with my friends and family. I feel like I have taken those times for granted because I used to go out so much. I miss having the food prepared on a plate and enjoyed the atmosphere when dining in. A few of my favorites are, Sul Bing Su (they have soft serve and Korean hot dog), Kata Robata (my favorite sushi restaurant in Houston), My Baguette (a local Vietnamese restaurant that specializes in a dish called shaking beef), La Lucha (their Southern fried chicken, roasted oysters, and clam chowder over fries is amazing).” - Duc Hoang (aka @fooodeelicious), founder of @grubclubhtx

Rod Ryan
Rod Ryan

Get inked at GCG Tattoo

“I haven't gotten a new tattoo in 3 years but as soon as I was told I can't have one it's made me want more ink ASAP!" Who’s he gonna go see? “My guy Stephen at GCG Tattoo.” - Rod Ryan, host of The Rod Ryan Show on 94.5 The Buzz

Check out local art show (and drink beers) at 8th Wonder, smash tortas and lemonade from La Esquina, and vibe to excellent food, drink & playlists at Riel

“I can’t wait to have art shows again at 8th wonder brewery. Vibe with people and talk about art and our city. Grab a Torta and drink some homemade lemonade from @la_esquina_truck. Have dinner & drinks at @rielhouston and enjoy their awesome playlist.” - Alex Roman, aka @donkeeboy, artist and remixer of pop culture

Sarah Troxell
Sarah Troxell

Make a new friend at the bar, or pack a cooler full of local goodies and take the ferry to Bolivar

“The thing I miss the most about Houston is standing behind my bar and shaking drinks for all of the people. I love creating hundreds of dinner parties in a night: curating the perfect food and drink pairings, setting the mood with great music and lighting, lively conversations, and most importantly making new friends. Humans are what make Houston great. Some of my most cherished relationships were made across a bar. Second would be packing a cooler full of local goodies and heading to the coast. The ferry to Bolivar is one of my all time favorite, often overlooked, activities. I drive down there to just catch the ferry during sunset. A free sunset cruise, including dolphins and salty ocean air? Sign me up.” - Sarah Troxell, bar manager of Nobie’s/The Toasted Coconut

Hug friends and family, then go bonkers on food in Chinatown

“The one thing I absolutely cannot wait to do first is hugging friends and family! I’m a self-professed hugger and kisser. Although I’m biased because I grew up there, I would have to say I can’t wait to go back to Chinatown.” - Terry Wong, co-owner Blood Bros. BBQ

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who can’t wait to meet her friends for some no-frills patio drinks, maybe ones where tacos or crawfish are involved. Share your “First Day Back” hopes and dreams with her @brookiefafa on IG and @brookeviggiano on Twitter.