Flying into Houston this morning for an exclusive tour of the new Focal Powered by Naim Houston store, we were struck by the unbelievable sprawl of the 4th largest city in America. If you have not been to Houston in the past 5 years — you’re missing out on an incredibly diverse city that has a lot to offer.
Baseball fans will snicker and bang a garbage can lid at the mere mention of the Houston Astros, but there’s no question that Minute Maid Park is one of the nicer parks in baseball. Houston is also home to the 4th largest Vietnamese community in N. America and we’re still debating if our stomach can handle another bowl of Bun Bo Hue — the Vietnamese food here along the Gulf Coast is second to none.
Vietnamese is the third-most commonly spoken language in Texas and there are Vietnamese stores, restaurants, and community centers all over the Greater Houston area.
Contrary to any rubbish being posted by the folks in charge in Austin, COVID is still very much a thing in Texas and many stores require masks still. Considering the oppressive nature of the humidity in Houston, we were amazed to see so many people walking around in masks.
Houston also has a number of interesting record stores that we plan on visiting on our tour this week and we managed to sneak in a visit to Sig’s Lagoon before getting down to work.
Our Music Editor, Lauren Halliday, is a native Houstonian and highly recommended Sig’s Lagoon which is located in the downtown core of the city. Located almost 1.5 miles from our hotel, we decided to brave the humidity and it was well worth the effort as far as selection is concerned.
The store occupies two floors of an older building and was wall-to-wall records and rather busy for 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon.
The selection of new/used rock was excellent; the collection was spread out over both floors and we spent more than an hour in the store before leaving with our purchases for lunch.
Blues, jazz, country, and movie soundtracks were well represented and we could have emptied our bank accounts had we not left to eat.
The staff were friendly, eager to help, and it’s the type of record store where one could spend hours crate digging.
Only one issue. The prices at Sig’s Lagoon are definitely on the higher side for used records and some of the new albums were priced higher than stores in NY or NJ. We winced at some of the prices for a number of rock and blues albums on display. Spending between $200 and $900 for Muddy Waters, The Stooges, and Little Richard was not in the cards.
As we mentioned, no trip to Houston is complete without some Bun Bo Hue, Summer Rolls, or Vietnamese Ice Coffee. I’ve been eating Vietnamese food for almost 40 years and Mai’s in Midtown was a real shock. Packed the entire time and for good reason; the food is outstanding and very reasonable.
Locals told me that it’s not even close to being the “best” in Houston which only makes us want to try some other local favorites.
Later in the day back at the hotel, I worked out next to the CTO of a tech company that was in the process of relocating from California to Houston.
“This city has enormous appeal to the tech industry,” he remarked.
“The diversity, tax advantages of Texas, and access to kids graduating from top schools like Rice makes this city a great place to build a company.”
Houston is a city on the move.