By Molly Dunn
By Catherine Gillespie
By Brooke Viggiano
By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Mai Pham
By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Minh T Truong
5. Empire Turkish Grill
Partially hidden behind a dry cleaner, this Mediterranean restaurant in a primarily residential area of Memorial doesn't get the credit it deserves. We've never had a meal here that was less than perfect. The authentically Turkish menu ranges from luscious appetizers like the nutty ezme (you'll never go back to baba ghanoush) and the stuffed eggplant dish imam bayld to savory yogurtlu sis with lamb and more than a dozen mixed grills to choose from. Even better, if you're enjoying a glass of wine at the neighboring Vine Room wine bar, Empire will deliver its delicious food to you free of charge.
4. Sushi Jin
When it first opened, Sushi Jin helped raise the bar for Houston's raw fish lovers. Years later, it's still one of the best sushi restaurants in town. Flown in straight from Japan, the mouthwatering pieces of salmon, tuna and yellow tail are sure to impress even the snobbiest connoisseurs. Wanna walk on the wild side? Jellyfish, sea cucumber and other exotics are hidden away in a secret stash — all you have to do is ask and prove you're no novice. Private karaoke rooms allow diners to sing and dance, or you can just relax in one of the booths and enjoy the restaurant's simple, elegant decor.
3. Jonathan's the Rub
Jonathan Levine is a down-to-earth guy, a good cook and a gregarious host. He buys the very best seafood and high-quality beef and cooks it simply. His prices aren't cheap, but the tiny restaurant is always packed — and with the recent addition of a sweet little patio, there's even more room for diners to enjoy Jonathan's beautiful steaks and stellar bowls of shrimp and grits. And while the food is great, it's the show that people come for: There just aren't many restaurant owners sweating on the line while cracking wise with the patrons anymore.
2. Bistro Alex
If you don't want to make the drive to Midtown, Alex Brennan-Martin's famed Texas Creole cuisine can be had on the west side of town at CityCentre (making it the second CityCentre restaurant on the list, although spots such as Flora & Muse and Eddie V's were also strong contenders for the top 10). Antique mesquite wood planks line the walls and ceilings of Bistro Alex, and there's an open kitchen where an in-house charcuterie program is churning out such classics as terrine de foie gras, Spanish chorizo and Italian sopressata. The famed Brennan's turtle soup is also on the menu here, as are other fabulous dishes like shrimp andouillete, mussels and some unbelievable flat breads (try the duck and gala apple version). Whatever you do, leave room for the white chocolate bread pudding, the café au lait cheesecake, or both.
The only restaurant in Houston to truly master the Napoletano-style pizza, Pizaro's is all the more wonderful for its unassuming location in a 1960s-era strip mall between a Los Tios and a nail salon. There's nothing fancy about the bare-bones dining room — especially the disposable plates and utensils — save the enormous, glowing pizza oven that takes up nearly one whole wall. The pizzas here are cooked at 900 degrees in 90 seconds, using house-made mozzarella and imported San Marzano tomatoes, resulting in a pizza nearly as good as you'd get in Naples itself. As an added bonus, Pizaro's lets you BYOB for the ultimate affordable-yet-extravagantly-delicious night out.
In Defense of American Craft Beer Producers
An open letter to The Wall Street Journal.
Dear Mr. Queenan,
I read your recent article in the Wall Street Journal outlining your personal distaste and seeming confusion regarding the proliferation in popularity of American craft beer and found large portions of your piece troubling. As a whole, it left me at a loss as to what your actual point might be. While I would normally hash my quibbles out with you over beers, your stance as a teetotaler doesn't allow, so please find my response below.
Your attempt at painting craft beer as elitist and overly intellectual (namely the parts where you seemingly tossed out the fanciest-sounding beers you found when Googling "craft beer") was so transparent that — while supremely insulting — I hardly feel it's worth addressing.
Instead, what I will address is this: Your implication that the American craft beer industry is a fad, some passing fancy of snobs and hipsters set on trampling your lawn like so many young ruffians is incredibly naive. The statement that our heroes, the veterans and patriots of America, certainly drink only simple macro lagers owned by foreign interests, is vastly irresponsible.
The American craft beer industry is at the culmination of a long and difficult resurrection after being nearly destroyed by one of the greatest mistakes in our country's history: Prohibition.
With over 2,000 breweries and brewpubs nationwide, American-brewed beer is at its largest point since the 19th century. The amount of American breweries is finally back to the kind of numbers last seen in 1887. The road this industry has traveled is long and arduous, stretching back some 300 years to our nation's earliest foundations and beyond. Its sudden appearance on your narrow, dimly lit radar belies its true age and rightful place in our history.