Ultimate guide to The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts

The next time you’re seeking a cultural experience in downtown Houston, consider heading to The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts—Houston’s premier performing arts facility. This modern, state-of-the-art entertainment destination, with 60-foot-high glass walls overlooking the city’s skyline, has two performance halls and a restaurant, making it a theater destination for all ages in the heart of H-Town. 

Adorned by contemporary art including a bronze sculpture outside the center’s entrance, a three-story lobby featuring Café de Paris limestone, a gold leaf ceiling and a roof upheld by tubular steel columns, just stepping foot into the center is an experience in itself.

If you’ve never been to The Hobby Center or its been a while, keep reading for everything to know about Houston’s premier theater complex. 

What is The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts?

Consider this downtown venue the ultimate place for Houstonians and visitors alike to catch a Broadway show and other entertainment events such as jazz, dance, comedy, concerts, magic shows and more. 

Located across from Tranquillity Park and the art deco City Hall, it’s also just a short stroll from Jones Hall for the Performing Arts (home of the Houston Symphony), the central branch of the Houston Public Library and Sam Houston Park. 

Prior to its opening in 2002, the grounds had a storied past. Previously, the site was the home of the Sam Houston Coliseum and Music Hall. The Music Hall hosted theatrical, music and dance productions and the Coliseum hosted the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as well as iconic musicians including Elvis Presley and The Beatles.

Sarofim Hall, part of The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, regularly hosts the touring companies of Broadway musicals in Houston. “Moulin Rouge” had a successful limited run there in February and March 2023. 

Tiffany J via Yelp

What kinds of shows can you see at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts?

Between Sarofim Hall and Zilkha Hall, there’s no shortage of shows available on the monthly calendar. You can view the offerings by searching by event type and performance hall. 

Broadway shows at The Hobby Center Houston include current hits on the Great White Way such as “Wicked,” as well as popular shows that previously made a splash on Broadway such as the Tony Award-winning “Rent.” Unlike in Manhattan, however, these Broadway shows aren’t available at The Hobby Center for ongoing runs; many Broadway tours perform here in Houston from several days to weeks in a limited run.

Weekends offer matinee and evening performances for some productions (sometimes matinees are offered mid-week), but both halls go dark on Mondays.

The stage at Houston's The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

The stage at Houston’s The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

Denise S. via Yelp

What are the theaters at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts?

Inspired by twentieth-century theaters in Europe and Broadway, Sarofim’s elegant design and plush seats accommodate 2,650 patrons on three levels (the orchestra, mezzanine, gallery and private boxes). When you take your seat and the lights dim in Sarofim, be sure to look to the heavens to behold the Joe and Lee Jamail Celestial Dome Ceiling. It boasts 2,000 glistening fiber optic stars, and a shooting star goes by every five minutes.

Zilkha, on the other hand, is a more intimate venue that seats 500 guests. The theater has deep rose tones and walnut wood accents, and hosts countless productions from nonprofit artists to boldface name entertainers. 

What is Theatre Under the Stars?

Theatre Under the Stars, also known as TUTS, is a nonprofit for musical theater in Houston. It includes touring musicals and self-produced shows that perform at The Hobby Center, as well as two theater schools. 

The cast of the national touring company of "Moulin Rouge." 

The cast of the national touring company of “Moulin Rouge.” 

Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade

How can you buy Hobby Center tickets?

You can purchase individual tickets online, over the phone or in person at The Hobby Center for individual performances. Ticket sales are final, and there are no refunds or exchanges. 

There are additional options beyond buying tickets to a single performance. Season tickets offer many perks that often include scoring the best seats at discounted prices. Plus, you’ll get the same seats for each show during the season (with a first look at renewing the same seats for the next season or priority to change your seats for the next season). 

Group tickets are available and offer discounts that vary by performance, but typically start at 10 percent off. Benefits to buying group tickets include placing the order before tickets are available to the general public and the option to use a payment plan. Additional amenities are available and tailored to your group, such as talks with the cast and crew, educational study guides and more. 

Diana American Grill, housed within The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, is a popular restaurant choice for both theatergoers and Houston food lovers.

Diana American Grill, housed within The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, is a popular restaurant choice for both theatergoers and Houston food lovers.

Courtesy of Diana American Grill

Where can you eat at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts?

There are three dining options: Diana American Grill, Grand Lobby Bistro and concession stands.

Diana American Grill

The Diana American Grill (named after Diana Hobby, a notable Houstonian who championed the humanities in Texas) offers upscale dining with downtown views. The grill is open during performances at Sarofim Hall—pre-theater dinner for evening shows and at lunchtime for matinees. The drink menu includes sparkling wine, an extensive wine list and featured cocktails. Reservations are recommended. 

Grand Lobby Bistro

Rather than the delicacies like Wagyu beef Bolognese and grilled C.A.B. strip loin offered on the menu at Diana American Grill, at the Grand Lobby Bistro you’ll find lighter fare such as sandwiches, salads and grab-and-go entrees. The bistro is open 90 minutes prior to performances at Sarofim and has a full bar that includes wine and cocktails.


For snacks and beverages including wine and cocktails, there are concessions located throughout the theater. They’re available 90 minutes before the curtains rise and during intermission as well.

Where can you park at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts?

There are a couple of options for parking. Regardless of where you park, definitely arrive early for performances to leave plenty of time to secure a spot. Keep in mind, self-parking and valet parking may reach capacity, and both options close before the performances begin. Cash and credit cards are accepted for self-parking and valet.

Behind The Hobby Center, an above-ground self-parking garage may be accessed via Rusk and Walker streets. 

You can opt to valet your car in front of The Hobby Center on the corner of Rusk and Bagby. Drivers of Lexus vehicles attending a Hobby Center event will receive complimentary valet parking thanks to Houston area Lexus dealers. 

Additionally, if you take the METRORail system, depart at the Theater District stop located on Capitol and Rusk streets.

Find it: The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby St., Houston, TX 77002; 713-315-2400

This story was edited by Hearst Newspapers Managing Editor Kristina Moy; you can contact her at [email protected].