For the most part, Houstonians are a pretty laid-back bunch (largely because it’s kind of too damn hot not to be). We enjoy simple things -- patio beers with our dogs, driving everywhere, and unabashedly hating on Dallas. There are, however, a few things that can ruffle the city’s collective feathers. We’re talking about certain icons, institutions, and practices that locals hold near and dear, and those beliefs that will ignite a Houston-wide, fiery passion if brought into question. And we figure, the more “Hou” know about them, the better off you’ll be.
So the next time you talk to your fellow Houstonian over patio beers, keep in mind the things that people in Houston are irrationally passionate about:
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Houstonians are passionate about craft beer, and no matter how much they loved a brewery in the past, they will turn on it the second it “sells out.” Case in point: the serious backlash that occurred when Karbach, the city’s beloved craft brew darling, went from hometown hero to public enemy number one late last year. You see, Karbach made the grave mistake of accepting what we can only imagine is a bajillion dollars to sell its business to global beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. Immediately after the announcement, The Hay Merchant owner Kevin Floyd made an announcement he was pulling all Karbach out of HM and Underbelly on the bar’s Facebook page, claiming “It's a sad day. I wish I could say I was surprised....but I'm not.” Locals seemed to share Floyd’s sentiment. Whether it’s a rational one or not, that’s up to you to decide.
Defending (or not defending) antiquated laws
Perhaps it’s because much of the city’s history gets torn down with reckless abandon. Or maybe it’s because locals like a good fight. Whatever it is, the argument over archaic rules gets Houstonians riled up. The city’s zoning proposals were shut down every single time they were proposed (1948, 1962, and 1993); and just recently, a ballot that would lift the ban on the sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption ignited a damn Civil War in the dry area of Heights. Thankfully, the good side won (meaning that new H-E-B will be selling beer and wine).
Not paying for chips and salsa
Stand anywhere in Houston, throw a rock and you’ll hit a Tex-Mex restaurant serving chips and salsa, on the house. Now what would happen if you threw a rock and hit a Tex-Mex restaurant that didn’t serve free chips and salsa? Trick question, you wouldn’t. Because NO ONE WOULD GO THERE.
Inner versus Outer Loopers
Look at a map of Houston. See that big circle enveloping that smaller circle surrounding the city? Those are Beltway 8 and the 610 loop, respectively; and that 610 loop is like an imaginary forcefield separating the “inner” and the “outer” dimensions, kinda like that totally strange Five Movements dance in The OA. With reasoning that is unbeknownst to anyone at this point, the war between inner and outer loopers is real. Those “inside” don’t see any reason to leave (besides Chinatown and Killen’s, because how else are you supposed to get Instagram likes?); while those “outside” think anyone “inside” is a pretentious brat with no life experience. None of this is true, because it’s pretty clear that there are brats both inside and outside the loop. Duh.
A certain burger allegiance
We don’t even have to name names, here. There is a line in the sand drawn between a certain chain with burgers as big as Texas, and everybody else. If you’re not down with fancy ketchup and Green Chile Doubles, you ain’t down at all and you should probably keep quiet about your opinion because people won’t take kindly to it.
Keeping drinks cold for as long as humanly possible
ICYMI, it’s hot here. As such, any true Houstonian has a random drawer full of koozies somewhere in their kitchen, plus a few thrown in their trunk and a secret stash hidden in a side pocket of their miniature cooler, just in case whatever pool party they are going to doesn’t have enough for the crowd. At that pool party, by the way, you’ll also find ice block shots, a handful of intensely large Yetis, and at least one cooler with built-in speakers, which doesn’t help keep things cold but is cool, nonetheless.
Fact: Beloved Texans defensive end JJ Watt could be indicted in some sort of “stealing from retirement homes” ring and the majority of locals would still back him like he’s Robin Hood. Why? Because like, everyone has a crush on him. Plus Houstonians appreciate a good heart, and they know deep down he’s such a nice guy. Seriously, on January 2nd, someone tweeted him that a young fan had been injured in a car accident on NYE and emergency responders had to rip his favorite “Watt” jersey to tend to his injuries. Guess what happened the next day? Little Noah got a hospital visit from JJ, himself. That kind of guy doesn’t steal from old people without reason, right?
Or more accurately, correcting outsiders when they refer to them as “cowboys,” but loving the hell out of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo so much it’s given its own season. During this sacred time, Houstonians deck themselves out in the finest bolo ties, hats, boots, and buckles they can find. They take up two-step like they are real-life Southerners. They cheer loud as four-year-olds mutton bust and make bets on bull riders like the best of them. And they leave work early because they are “volunteering at the Hideout” -- but really they are just super hungover from last night’s Little Big Town concert.
People that don’t like crawfish
We get it. You can’t imagine your life without crawfish season. You get a high from pinching, peeling and twisting and you wouldn’t ever fathom not sucking the head. So when you bring your out-of-town buddy to your favorite mudbug spot and slap down a big ol' bucket next and two ice cold Lone Stars, you’re super let down when he tries a few, mumbles something about them being “too much work,” then orders a burger. He’s lame, for sure, but try not to get butt hurt about it.
Having the option of hot sauce
It’s not uncommon to walk into a taco joint and find roughly 20 different types of hot sauce to choose from. The condiment is so popular here, it even makes an appearance next to the ketchup, mustard, and napkins in table trays. Pretty sure it’s often there instead of mustard, actually. Oh, did you order a nice big pancake breakfast? Here’s some syrup. And some hot sauce for your side of eggs. Or whatever, the pancakes, too.
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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who proudly possesses a pantry full of hot sauce and a drawer full of koozies. Find out what else she’s hiding @BrookeViggiano.