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Where the Chefs Eat

Grant Gordon, Matt Marcus and Kevin Naderi

We asked three of Houston's up-and-coming young guns — Grant Gordon (age 26), Kevin Naderi (age 26) and Matt Marcus (age 28) — where they like to eat.

The three are not only chefs but friends. Naderi has known Gordon since kindergarten. Marcus, who refers to Gordon as "G-Man," worked with Gordon at Cyrus in Sonoma, California, which is also where he met Naderi.

These three — let's call them "The Boys of Summer" — keep in touch and break bread together regularly, so it isn't just coincidence that all three named Mala Sichuan as a favorite, even though I asked them for their answers independent of each other. Gordon and Marcus even mentioned the same dishes.

The crisp, refreshing avocado tostada from La Gloria.
Katharine Shilcutt
The crisp, refreshing avocado tostada from La Gloria.
The tap list rivals those at Petrol Station and Mongoose versus Cobra.
Courtesy Brews Brothers
The tap list rivals those at Petrol Station and Mongoose versus Cobra.

Grant Gordon

James Beard Nominee

Best Chef Southwest 2012

Executive Chef at Tony's

Standard go-to: My standard go-to restaurant is Mala Sichuan Bistro. I know it has been pretty well documented that this place is good, but I love it. We like to mix up our order, but we almost always get the water boiled fish and the Mala bamboo shoots. Be sure to give their red oil the respect it deserves, and avoid wearing any light-colored shirts. Once, the oil splashed up and ruined my favorite "OU sucks" shirt.

Cheap eats: La Guadalupana Bakery. The chilaquiles verdes are an absolute treat, and I generally add a small steak to my order. The service is outstanding — I've been there every other Sunday for the last two years, and I've never seen the bottom of my coffee mug. The place has a lot of class for cheap eats.

Barbecue: In my opinion, Gatlin's deserves a shout-out. They have the best brisket, ribs and sides of any barbecue joint that I have experienced in Houston. The woman who works the register is a genuine sweetheart, as well. If you order the fatty brisket, and you should, she will be quick to convey to you that she approves of your order.

Matt Marcus

Chef/Owner of Eatsie Boys Food Truck and 8th Wonder Brewery

Standard go-to: My most frequented restaurants are in Chinatown. My favorites are Confucius Seafood, where I order the Jade Tofu and the lobster special, and Mala Sichuan, where I get the surf clams in green chili oil and water boiled fish. I draw most of my inspiration from Asian cuisine, and we have such an amazing Chinatown; we are so lucky.

Cheap eats: Brothers Taco. This place is right down the street from our new brewery, 8th Wonder. There is always a line no matter what time you go, and it is worth the wait. Make sure you find out what the daily special is, because that is not to be missed. Of course, all the tacos are top-notch. Everything is served to go, and the ladies working the line are saucy.

Jewish deli: I am a regular at Kenny & Ziggy's. I am Jewish, and this is my soul food. Ziggy makes pretty much everything from scratch, and it's just like Bubbe used to make. L'chaim!

Kevin Naderi

Chef/Owner of Roost

Standard go-to: For a good casual meal, I like to frequent Dolce Vita. I love getting the parsley salad. It's a plate of picked parsley leaves, aged pecorino cheese, lemon segments, thin red onion and black pepper. They bring it to your table with a boiling-hot little pot of pancetta in its own fat, and they spoon it over the salad. The pancetta is hot, the cheese is warm but not really melting, the aromas are great.

Cheap eats: Cheap eats, I'm the king. Best cheap eats are Bismillah Pakistani on Hillcroft for their chaat. Darband for awesome Persian kebabs. Mala Sichuan for the crispy pepper chicken pieces. And La Gran Sorpresa on Richmond and Tanglewood for their "hunter's platter" and empanadas.

Comfort food and late night: I frequent Nabi Asian because Ji [Kang, the chef/owner] is always trying there, and the food is good. I go to Kasra for Persian with my family, because it's just the place to feel like home with familiar food. Late nights are tough, because if you're drunk, anything goes (ha-ha!). Matt Marcus can tell you, the chicken wings at Cafe 101 at 1 a.m. really got us.
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ON THE ROAD

Eating Up San Antonio
Trying out La Gloria, The Monterey and The Esquire.

BY KATHARINE SHILCUTT

Until this past Tuesday, I didn't realize how easy a day trip to San Antonio could be. Thanks to the recently raised speed limit on I-10, you can speed to the Alamo in three easy hours (or less, if you set your cruise control just above the new 75-mile-per-hour speed limit...not that I'm advocating driving 82, ahem). Now that I realize this, it's only a matter of time before I'm back again for a leisurely Saturday — most of which will undoubtedly be spent at The Monterey and The Esquire Tavern.

Why a random Tuesday day trip to San Antonio? That doesn't really matter; suffice to say that after a day spent with a very energetic seven-year-old at SeaWorld (worth the $60 ticket, by the way, although the $7 pepperoni pizzas are a rip-off) I was ready for some grown-up dining with friends. Randy Rouse, owner of Shiner Restaurant & Bar in nearby Shiner, suggested we start at La Gloria.

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