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We Love Food

Our 100 favorite dishes in Houston.

No. 29: Fried oysters at TQLA

4601 Washington, 281-501-3237

Crunchy blue cornmeal batter coats each plump oyster, bringing in TQLA's signature Southwestern influence. The oysters themselves aren't always from the Gulf, but they're always fat and juicy nevertheless. And all six sit on a silky bed of chorizo cream.

No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil
Katharine Shilcutt
No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil
No. 76: Bacon-avocado burger from Facundo Cafe
Allison McPhail
No. 76: Bacon-avocado burger from Facundo Cafe

No. 28: Banh mi at Cali Sandwich

3030 Travis, 713-520-0710

Cali uses a special-recipe mayonnaise that is made on-site. That explains the extra tanginess in its banh mi, especially when paired with the crisp strips of fresh jalapeño and cilantro. And there's something about the way the French bread shatters into a soft layer of pâté that's nearly perfection.

No. 27: Captin's fried chicken at Zelko Bistro

705 E. 11th, 713-880-8691

Chef Jamie Zelko's impossibly moist chicken breast is coated with a crispy, barely sweet crust made with — what else? — Captain Crunch cereal. The darkly sweet and tangy shallot jam on top keeps what could be a kitschy dish elegant, as do the tender pea shoots.

No. 26: The Brisket House ­Special at The Brisket House

5775 Woodway, 281-888-0331

The Special is the best showcase of all the meats that owner Wayne Kammerl smokes, with your choice of brisket, ribs, chicken, turkey or sausage. Just make sure they don't trim the fat off your brisket. Served with raw onions, Cheddar cheese and a whole pickle, this a serious 'cue hound's meal.

No. 25: Menudo at La Mexicana

1018 Fairview, 713-521-0963

I crave this in the mornings, for breakfast, the remnants of the broth sopped up with La Mexicana's fresh flour tortillas. Top it with the finely diced white onions that cut through the greasy broth, powdered oregano and chile pequin to brighten the soup even further.

No. 24: Chargrilled oysters at Wild Cajun Crawfish

6533 Wilcrest, 832-328-4000

Oysters are treated oh-so-simply here, chargrilled before being topped with a bright, slightly sweet ginger puree and a few heat-wilted scallions. It's a beguilingly straightforward way to slurp up our sea-sweet Gulf oysters in season, hot from the grill but still plump and soft.

No. 23: Breakfast tacos at Revival Market

550 Heights, 713-880-8463

The fresh yard eggs in your breakfast taco here came straight from the store, as do the other ingredients in this most blissfully basic taco: cuts of beef fresh from the ranch and a piquant salsa made in-house.

No. 22: Sticky toffee pudding at Branch Water Tavern

510 Shepherd, 713-863-7777

Some desserts dance crazily along the boundary of too-sweet, but this does not. It's an elegant and restrained, albeit incredibly rich, dessert: caramelized sugar atop a terrifically moist cake, all of it tempered by the understated calm of the house-made pistachio ice cream on top.

No. 21: Tex-Mex burger at El Real Tex-Mex Cafe

1201 Westheimer, 713-524-1201

The thick, sloppy beef patty is rich and meaty, its juices holding all of the other ingredients together: Fritos, roasted poblano peppers, a smear of lardy refried beans, red tomatoes, caramelized onions and a sprinkling of queso fresco.

No. 20: Lasagna at Capri Pasta Pizza & More

25602 I-45, Spring, 281-298-0055

The lasagna resembles a savory mille-feuille, layers of handmade pasta alternating with soft ricotta and bright, sweet marinara. It's that handmade pasta that makes all the difference, too, ceding easily to each carve of the fork so that none of the fine layers are crushed underneath.

No. 19: Pork rillette at Feast

219 Westheimer, 713-529-7788

The pork rillette is my favorite all-purpose pork preparation at Feast. The rough-hewn rillette is perfectly portioned bliss in a bowl, served along with a sort of modern ploughman's lunch: cheese, freshly baked bread, cornichons, onions. There's even a sort of house-made Branston pickle that pairs brilliantly with the fatty meat and cheese. I love being able to make finger sandwiches in endless combinations with soft shreds of rillette as the only constant: pickled red onions, sage-infused Cheddar cheese on one, pickle and fierce Stilton on the next. Through it all, that clean, buttery flavor of the pork comes through most emphatically.

No. 18: Chicken-fried steak at Triple A Restaurant

2526 Airline, 713-861-3422

The homemade qualities of this made-from-scratch CFS show in the honest construction of the pounded-thin steak, with crinkly batter that adheres fiercely to every bite and crunches satisfyingly under a sea of peppery white cream gravy.

No. 17: Crème brûlée bread ­pudding at Killen's Steakhouse

2804 S. Main, Pearland, 281-485-0844

Chef Ronnie Killen soaks brioche bread in crème brûlée — giving the dessert its name — before baking it, then tops it with an assortment of warm, spice-soaked fruit and brandy that pushes the entire dessert into a different territory altogether.

No. 16: Migas at La ­Guadalupana Bakery & Cafe

2109 Dunlavy, 713-522-2301

All of the ingredients — tortillas, chorizo, bell peppers, onions — are uniformly diced and tossed with the scrambled eggs, resulting in a far more festive (and more delicious) dish than the plain old egg-and-tortilla mish-mash that many of us grew up with.

No. 15: Snapper with grapefruit at Kata Robata Sushi & Grill

3600 Kirby, 713-526-8858

Specials at Kata Robata change every day, so it's not always possible to get the same dish twice. One day, it's fresh Gulf snapper served with grapefruit, peppery arugula, mandolined carrots and a sticky-sweet miso glaze, the next it's toro with hazelnuts, kimchi sauce and a poached egg.

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4 comments
Jasminesmith198714
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jasonE
jasonE

Thanks for the 2012 dining guide!

 
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