Burgers and Hash

Lola, a modern diner in the Heights is dishing up some top-notch Texas short-order cooking.

The haystack of French fries the steak came with were beautifully hand cut and perfectly cooked. Then they were covered with a blizzard of parmesan that hung on the potatoes like wet slush. The fries tasted more like cheese than potatoes. It wasn't a horrible flavor. But it didn't harmonize with the soy sauce and cola-flavored steak very well. I wonder if anybody in the kitchen actually tasted this combination.

I hung out in a lot of diners when I lived in Connecticut. There were burger joint diners like the Duchess, breakfast hash diners like the Athena, and classic diners where you went for blue plate dinners, like the late, great Green Comet.

After eating a few meals in diners, you learn what to order and, more importantly, what not to order. Fries, hash browns, eggs, burgers and anything that's cooked on a griddle or in a deep fryer are excellent bets. Meatloaf or roast beef sandwiches covered with brown gravy are pretty safe blue plate specials.

Lola offers an awesome diner breakfast.
Troy Fields
Lola offers an awesome diner breakfast.

Location Info



1102 Yale
Houston, TX 77008

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Heights


Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

Bacon & 3 eggs: $11

CFS & 3 eggs: $12

Roast beef debris sandwich: $11

Burger: $10

Steak frites: $13

1102 Yale St., 713-426-5652.

Some Connecticut diner menus also listed dozens of ambitious dishes. After choking down a few plates of bad fettuccine alfredo or shrimp scampi, you quickly learned not to make that mistake again. Steaks, seafood and anything with a foreign name on a diner menu was invariably an invitation to disaster. It's simple when you think about it — real diners are staffed by short order cooks, not chefs.

We have lost track of that distinction because so many great chefs are opening downscale restaurants these days. French chef Daniel Boulud just opened a new joint in New York called DBGB's that specializes in sausages. At Bryan Caswell's Little Bigs burger joint on Montrose, you get top-quality burgers, soufflé fries worthy of a great French restaurant, and a savvy selection of great wines at cheap prices.

DBGB has steak frites too. At $26, it's double the price of the $13 version at Lola. Boulud's steak frites is a ten-ounce black angus ribeye steak with pepper butter, fries and fancy Lollo rosso salad. I bet it's fabulous.

But you can't get chicken-fried steak and eggs or a short stack at Boulud — it's not even open for breakfast. Meanwhile, at Lola, breakfast is served all day.

Chefs and fancy French fries are lovely. But so is top-rate short-order cooking, and that's what I suggest you order at Lola.

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