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Hello, Houston! What's Cooking?

The boast that everything is bigger in Texas is true when it comes to APTA’s Annual Meeting & EXPO—the single largest gathering of public transportation agency leaders, business executives, and program and policy experts, all ready to share knowledge and insights about the industry’s latest news, trends, technologies, and advances.

Step outside the 1.8 million-square-foot, three-level George R. Brown Convention Center to explore the fourth largest city in the United States, boasting world-class cultural attractions and one of the nation’s most diverse culinary scenes, with 8,000-plus restaurants.

Houston is home to many ­museums, and these are free to visitors: the Menil Collection, presenting more than 16,000 artworks dating from the Paleolithic era to the present; Rothko Chapel, a non-denominational ­chapel ­housing several paintings by Mark Rothko; the Art Car Museum, where designers turn automobiles into works of art; the Contemporary Arts Museum, show­casing new work from national and inter­national artists; work in fiber, metal, glass, clay, and wood at the ­Houston Center for Contemporary Craft;

The Lawndale Art Center, a staple of Houston’s art scene; the Station Museum, which hosts contemporary art displays; the Heritage Society, the city’s only interactive outdoor museum; Project Row Houses, a nonprofit art initiative aimed at creating a positive place for local artists to work; the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston; Rice Gallery, the only university museum in the U.S. devoted to site-specific installation art; and the Houston Center for Photography, which displays both historic and new photographic works.

Architectural highlights include the Houston Cotton Exchange building, which dates to 1884; the restored ­Harris County Courthouse, originally constructed in 1910; the JPMorgan Chase Building from 1929, considered one of the finest Art Deco skyscrapers in the Southwest; the three buildings of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston; and architect Philip Johnson’s three buildings on the campus of St. Thomas University.

But there’s more to life in Houston than things to see. For example, here are 15 representative meals showcasing the many tastes of the city, courtesy of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau:

Wings and waffles at the Breakfast Klub. This variation on traditional Southern chicken and waffles includes six fried chicken wings and a Belgian waffle.

Pansoti at Tony’s. Squash-filled pasta topped with a parmesan puff, an Italian classic.

Campechana Extra at Goode Company Seafood. A Cajun take on ceviche, served in a cocktail glass with a mix of shrimp, crab, avocado, salsa, and jalapeños, and fresh tortilla chips on the side.

Parillada at Churrascos. A mixed grill plate highlighting the restaurant’s best loved meats.

Breakfast Tacos at Tacos a Go Go or Kolaches at Shipley’s. Houston-style breakfast foods: a breakfast taco with chorizo, egg, and cheese, or a kolache, a baked roll packed with sausage and cheese.

Fried chicken at Frenchy’s Chicken. Peppery, hot pans of crispy fried chicken. Lines are long, so plan to take out.

Dim Sum at Fung’s Kitchen. Hong Kong-style dim sum with selections ranging from the basic to the esoteric.

Ribs at Gatlin’s BBQ. A small, family-run barbecue joint serving ribs, brisket, Cajun-style sausage, and pulled pork.

Cheeseburger at Lankford Grocery. A hand-rolled and flattened patty served up with numerous toppings. Go early to avoid the lines and bring cash.

Vietnamese sandwich at Les Givral’s. Banh mi (Vietnamese baguette sandwiches) filled with barbecued pork or tofu.

Fajitas at Ninfa’s on Navigation. Lots of places in Houston serve fajitas, but Ninfa’s invented the dish in 1973.

Crawfish and noodles at Crawfish. A Vietnamese spin on a Cajun classic, served up “regular spicy.”

Braised goat dumplings at Underbelly. A highlight of the menu, a dish of Korean-braised goat meat, gnocchi-style dumplings, and spicy chili sauce.

Pho at Pho Binh. Crowds gather to enjoy this Vietnamese-style soup with noodles and beef.

Ribeye at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. This ribeye, available bone-in or bone-out, is dry aged in-house and available in portions fit for a cowboy.
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