100 Favorite Dishes 2012

No. 1, Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings at Underbelly.

In the meantime, The Eat Gallery will continue to host its "culinary artists" in the Almeda space until the big move — at which point the same artists will move along with Fanfair and Hall. They include:

• Ella Russell of Edubalicious Treats

• Keisha Bocage of Bocage Catering

The dish has Southern, Korean and Mexican influences.
Katharine Shilcutt
The dish has Southern, Korean and Mexican influences.
Chicken pot pie
Photo by jeffreyw
Chicken pot pie

• Robert Lopez of Kickin' Kombucha

• Matthew Toomey of Boomtown Coffee

• Sabali Mpozi Earth of Vegan Comfort

The downtown location of Morton's the Steakhouse has a new look and a new lunch menu, according to a press release. The restaurant has added new carpet, artwork, booths, seating and lighting to a renovated dining room as well as a renovated bar. The similarly renovated lunch menu allows guests to enjoy a three-course meal starting at $29, served Tuesday through Friday.

Over at CultureMap, Ralph Bivins is reporting that two longtime Houston restaurateurs will be opening new restaurants in the BBVA Compass building that's currently under construction. Long rumored to be looking for a second location, Hugo Ortega of Hugo's and Backstreet Cafe is one of those two restaurateurs. John Sheely of Mockingbird Cafe is the other. Sheely plans a 4,000-square-foot osteria, while Ortega has leased 8,000 feet of space.

Lastly, get ready to help EaDo favorite Calliope's Po-Boy find a new name. Owner Lisa Carnley is letting the new Calliope's Po-Boy on West Bellfort have that name, and she's asking customers at her location to help rename her po-boy shop.

"Instead of coming up with a name myself — because it was so tough last time — I wanted to let Houston decide on the name of the business," Carnley says. "We thought it would be fun." In fact, if you check out page 83 of the 2012 Best of Houston® issue, you'll see Carnley's smiling face and details on the renaming contest, the winner of which will receive recognition for their contribution as well as a party for ten of their friends.

As far as the perfect new name, Carnley says she's looking for something that signifies a "Cajun restaurant in Houston" as well as one that she "can trademark and market well." It's especially important now that she's planning on renovating and expanding the space — even adding to-go daiquiris just like they do in New Orleans.

If you've got the perfect name picked out, e-mail Carnley at poboyshop at gmail dot com. Katharine Shilcutt

Top Five

Welcome to Houston, TJ
Five of Trader Joe's best products.

If you haven't been living under a rock, you know Trader Joe's opened up its first Houston location in the historic Alabama Theater the weekend before last.

A friend of mine, a longtime TJ fan, was so excited, she threw a Trader Joe's-themed party — Hawaiian shirts and all — Saturday night. The shtick: Everything — food and drinks — must be purchased from Trader Joe's.

Since I had to brave the store opening weekend anyway, I found myself reminiscing about my all-time favorite Trader Joe's Products.

Here are, in my humble opinion, Five of TJ's Best Items (salmonella coated Valencia Peanut Butter not included):

5. Edamame Hummus

It's two of our favorite snacks in one, for only $2.49. TJ's replaces hummus's traditional chickpeas with green soybeans to make an incredibly smooth, creamy dip mixed with just the right amount of sesame tahini, garlic, lemon juice, blend of oils and sea salt. I like serving it with toasted flatbread, sesame pita chips or crudités.

4. Habanero Hot Sauce

TJ's habanero hot sauce has a really nice kick to it — a punch of heat followed by a subtle touch of sweetness and hint of garlic. For me, the $2.99 bottle lasts a while, as a little splash of it can go a long way (so I'm a bit of a wimp) — but even the biggest spice lovers seem to enjoy this one.

3. Organic Wood Fired Sicilian Pizza

As far as frozen pizzas go, this one's pretty top-notch. For starters, the dough comes out light and airy, but still crisp due to a pre-blackened (or wood-fired) crust. Pearls of creamy mozzarella, tangy provolone and roasted red peppers top a sweet marinara sauce. It reminds me of a pizza I'd make at home, so for $4.99, it's a nice shortcut for lazy nights. It even comes with a red pepper flake-infused olive oil to drizzle on for a spicy kick.

2. Almondictive Bits

There is no shortage of chocolate-covered treats at TJ's, and while I haven't met one I didn't like, the Almondictive Bits may just be my favorite. Caramelized almonds are dipped in smooth, slightly bitter dark chocolate, resulting in an addictive combination that is sweet, salty, nutty and rich all at once. Not bad for $3.99.

1. Two-Buck Chuck

Okay, so at $2.99 per bottle, it's more like three-buck chuck, but I stick with what I know. The infamous Charles Shaw wine, made primarily from California grapes, is priced so low, there's really no harm in picking up a bottle or five just to have on hand. Add a splash of the Cabernet Sauvignon to your next Sunday gravy; use the White Zinfandel to make a sweet peach sangria; and the Shiraz — it's just perfect for a cheap-ass, dreamy night under the stars. Sure, the wine may be generic, but the price is right. Brooke Viggiano

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