Downtown is at the center of the Super Bowl action. So it’s hardly surprising that hotels in the city’s urban core are upping their game and new options are joining the scene. For instance, the Four Seasons’ multimillion-dollar renovation includes a revamp of its spa and an overhaul of its lobby, the latter of which includes a new restaurant/bar called Bayou & Bottle. But perhaps most notable is the new $371 million Marriott Marquis, a 1,000-room, 29-floor convention-center property. Two intriguing amenities: a Texas-shaped lazy river and the hotly anticipated Xochi restaurant from five-time James Beard finalist Hugo Ortega. The former resides on a deck 110 feet above ground, surrounded by skyscrapers. Ortega will debut the latter, serving cuisine inspired by Oaxaca, Mexico, this month. Rooms at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston start at $269; 1300 Lamar St., www.fourseasons.com/houston. Rooms at Marriott Marquis start at $220 per night; 1777 Walker St., www.marriott.com.
Whether or not you score a ticket to the big game, there will be plenty of revelry around town to whet your appetite for the main event. Super Bowl LIVE is a 10-day festival (Jan. 27-Feb. 5) in and around downtown’s convention-center-facing Discovery Green park. Comprising several blocks and open to the public, the Houston-themed event will offer local food, performances and fan experiences such as the NASA-inspired Future Flight ride, which combines virtual reality with a 90-foot drop tower. Texas acts, including ZZ Top, Solange and Leon Bridges, will take the stage; elsewhere, the three-level pop-up venue Club Nomadic in the Sawyer Yards arts district will feature celebrity-filled parties and concerts from the likes of Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars. www.housuperbowl.com.
Two of Houston’s best chefs are putting new twists on the classic steakhouse formula. James Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd opens his One Fifth restaurant this month in a converted 1920s church, blocks from his locavore-savvy, ethnic-Houston-inspired Underbelly in the Montrose area. The restaurant will change concepts annually for five years; its first iteration is a steakhouse. One Fifth Steak’s seasonal menu might include unusual cuts such as a lamb shoulder or hanger steak, and sides will blaze beyond the traditional (creamed mustard greens with Benton’s bacon instead of creamed spinach, for example). Also on offer: a raw bar, tableside cart service and whiskey galore. Meanwhile, Le Cordon Bleu-trained Ronnie Killen has opened Killen’s STQ, which merges the talents of his namesake steakhouse and his barbecue joint in Pearland. STQ is his first inner-city venture: Think smoked Vidalia onion soup, pappardelle with smoked brisket, dry-aged long bone pork chop and bacon tres leches bread pudding. One Fifth Steak, 1658 Westheimer Road,www.onefifthhouston.com. Killen’s STQ, 2231 S. Voss Road, 713-586-0223, www.facebook.com/killensstq.
Houston’s buzziest new shopping destination happens to be a stone’s throw from its biggest (that would be the Galleria mall, with hundreds of stores spanning more than 2 million square feet). Mixed-use development River Oaks District features dining and entertainment venues, but its impressive collection of luxury retailers is the pièce de résistance. Lining the complex’s tree-lined promenades, boutiques from top fashion houses (Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, Roberto Cavalli, Dior) and beauty brands (Jo Malone London, NARS) sidle up next to red-carpet-ready jewelry and accessory purveyors (Hermès, Harry Winston, Chopard, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels). Texas-born concepts — including Houston’s Baanou (womenswear), St. Nicola (men’s and women’s shoes and bags), plus a 3,300-square-foot outpost of Dallas’ Forty Five Ten — are accounted for, as well. If your credit card needs a workout, this is the spot. 4444 Westheimer Road, www.riveroaksdistrict.com.
For some, pampering involves a simple manicure. Others spend hours on a padded table in a hushed treatment room with a therapist. At the new Houston outpost of the Austin-born spa chain Milk + Honey, you can do both. The multilevel, 8,249-square-foot spa and salon in River Oaks’ West Ave development has 15 treatment rooms along with hair and mani/pedi stations. The place’s natural color palette — warm neutrals, wood — echoes its organic-product focus. The spa menu offers a nice range of treatments for men (“Manly Facial,” sports massage, back treatment) and women — try the Spa Partisan, which begins with a full body brushing followed by a sugary skin polish, on-table rinse-off, then a steam treatment followed by an hourlong massage. Bonus: Though there’s an in-store shop, Milk + Honey also is steps from high-fashion store Tootsies. 2800 Kirby Drive, 713-231-0250; www.milkandhoneyspa.com/houston.