Coltivare has all of the right elements for a great group dinner: excellent cocktails, a garden where you can enjoy said cocktails, and a shareable Italian menu. Located in The Heights, this Italian-American spot uses seasonal produce from its own backyard to make a big menu of snacks and small plates in addition to pizzas, pastas, and larger entrees. You should expect a wait, but that just gives you time to get a cocktail and find a bench in the garden while you strategize what to order.
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Julep is where to go on Washington Ave. for good cocktails and fancy bar food without the dress code or bouncers of nearby spots.
Killen's Barbecue in Pearland serves the best barbecue in the Houston-area and is especially known for their smoked brisket.
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