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The Rest of the Best

Houston's Top 10 Patios

Look for Eat St.'s Houston episode to air this fall.
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Openings & Closings

BY KATHARINE SHILCUTT

El Pueblito
Jeff Balke
El Pueblito
The Tasting Room Kingwood overlooks the shores of Lake Kingwood.
The Tasting Room Kingwood overlooks the shores of Lake Kingwood.

Because sometimes around EOW, we like to take a little poetic license with things, here is the past week's restaurant news presented in some merry iambic pentameter:

Though downtown's lost a Mexican rest'rant,

Fear not because another soon will haunt

The Cabo space with patio sublime:

Pepper Jacks will open there in time

More Mexican is moving in on already-crowded Navigation; Next to Ninfa's soon will be

El Tiempo — its old family

And though it's been too many a warm week

Without the welcome salve of beers and freaks

Moon Tower's finally making concrete plans

To reopen with a vengeance for its fans

We've bid adieu to Dharma Cafe

Sad farewells and come-what-mays

But on its horizon has appeared

A Belgian cafe with excellent beers

And finally after hopes and dreams

Of eating in front of the big screen

Inner Loopers will go gung-ho

In Midtown: Remember the Alamo...
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Houston's Top 10 Milkshakes

BY CARLA SORIANO

Finding Houston's top milkshakes was an endeavor more challenging than it sounds. Lucky for you, we completed the agonizing task of sampling countless shakes to bring you a list of the best. So, without further ado, the cream of the crop of Houston's milkshakes:

10. Avalon Diner

If you're looking for a wonderful old-fashioned milkshake, you'd be foolish not to seek it out at Avalon Diner. This no-frills mom-and-pop restaurant, which has been in business since 1938, is the real deal: a diner that serves nostalgia-inducing food with a heavy dose of Southern hospitality, all reminiscent of the good ol' days.

Avalon's thick milkshakes come with the mixing can in tow, which only makes you feel more like you're in the 1930s. For tradition's sake, don't rush the lunch or dinner milkshake run to Avalon; sit back, relax and enjoy sipping on a shake along with some friendly conversation with the elderly, overalls-clad customers or the grinning fiftysomething waitresses, aprons and all.

9. The Counter

The Counter is a modern-day burger joint that still has that laid-back, diner-like feel. The large namesake counter is an ideal spot for pulling up a bar stool and downing a shake. Try their peanut butter variety, as it's a flavor you won't find just anywhere. The Counter makes this shake with just the right amount of peanut butter. And just like The Counter's yummy burgers and fries, their milkshakes come in generous portions — consider sharing it. Or not, if you like generous portions of simple perfection.

8. Potbelly

There are lots of reasons to love the milkshakes at this affordable sandwich shop with multiple Houston locations. First things first — the size. It's easily handheld and perfect for taking to go, making it one of the most easily drinkable shakes in town. Yes, we know that everything is typically bigger in Texas, but who said milkshakes have to be, too? Another plus to Potbelly milkshakes is that should you choose one of the fruit flavors — strawberry, mixed berry or banana — the fruit used is all natural. Finally, see those two rings around the straw? They're mini shortbread cookies, baked in-house — the delicious little cookies are a treat on top of your drinkable treat.

7. Smashburger

Häagen-Dazs is one of the world's premium brands of ice cream, and it's the use of this top-notch stuff — known for its dense, buttery texture — that sets Smashburger's milkshakes apart from others. Even after being mixed into the milkshake, the ice cream holds up extremely well, even under the Texas sun. And in a city as hot as Houston, bonus points are due to any milkshake that can hold its own in the heat. Just another reason to love the already likable Smashburger.

6. Amy's Ice Cream

Considering that milkshakes are made up of few ingredients and that ice cream is one of their core components, it's almost a no-brainer that Amy's Ice Cream makes the list of the best shakes in Houston. You see, the delightful ice cream served up to customers in scoops and cones at Amy's — which comes in mouthwatering flavors that range from classic to alcoholic to eccentric — also goes into their milkshakes. You get to choose which ice cream will flavor your shake and to add ingredients regularly used as "crushn's" and toppings (candy, cookies, nuts, and fresh fruits and syrups).

5. The Burger Guys

The Burger Guys' milkshakes — like everything else the locally owned and operated burger and hot dog spot serves — put other Houston milkshakes to shame, mainly because they make their marvelous ice cream in-house — eight gallons at a time, to ensure that it's always as fresh as can be. The Guys are extremely talented at making ice cream that rocks your socks off. The cafe sua da shake is a spin on the Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened, condensed milk. The unique, filling milkshake's strong flavors come from high-quality ingredients that will leave you yearning for a second visit even before you're done with the first. Also not to be missed: the salted caramel milkshake.

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