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Where to Eat on Christmas Day

Your stress-free dining guide to the holidays.

9. Barnaby's

When it comes to waffle fries, Barnaby's can't be beat. Although the Waffle Fries with Blue Cheese Fondue normally comes assembled in a massive pile like a plate of nachos, I always order it "deconstructed." It's not that I'm fussy; it's that I like to make sure that every waffle fry has the perfect amount of blue cheese dipping sauce, blue cheese crumbles, crispy bacon bites and green onions. (Okay, maybe I'm a little fussy.)

8. Sammy's Wild Game Grill

Although the wild game burgers and hot dogs are often the star of the show here (along with the elk tacos — my God, the elk tacos), don't discount the fries. They come in two iterations here: one topped with python chili — yes, as in the snake — and one called simply "Wild Fries." Those are tossed with a fried egg, the yolk coating the fries, before being topped with cheese, bacon and chives. If you're like me, you'll make them extra wild with a healthy portion of Sammy's house-made ghost pepper sauce — and maybe even pick up a few bottles to take home.

7. MKT Bar

The thinny-thin french fries at MKT Bar arrive in a bowl large enough for a table of four to split, so beware. Unlike regular salted fries, MKT Bar's fries are seasoned with za'atar, the sumac-based Middle Eastern spice blend that features prominently in many of the popular downtown bar's dishes. You can even purchase some za'atar of your own next door at Phoenicia, the attached grocery store.

6. Harry's

Harry's feta-topped fries are quickly becoming a thing of legend for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that they're just as popular an order at breakfast as they are at lunch. That's right: The fries are so good that Harry's patrons aren't even willing to wait until lunchtime to order them. It's not just the feta and parsley on top that makes the fries, though — it's Harry's sweet, creamy housemade honey mustard, which is essential for dipping the salty fries into.

5. Ibiza / The Tasting Room (tie)

The truffle-Parmesan fry is almost a genre unto itself now, but not every place that tries out this method gets it right. The two places in town to guarantee the best experience are Ibiza — one of the first places in town to offer this twist — and The Tasting Room, where I'm currently a fan of getting a cone of these fragrant fries with the calamari banh mi that comes with buttery fried squid inside a Slow Dough bun.

4. Bernie's Burger Bus / Flip 'n Patties (tie)

It's all about two things at these two food trucks, which offer the best fries found in a moving vehicle in Houston: hand-cut fries and condiments. In the case of Bernie's, the fries have found their perfect match in the truck's homemade ketchup (which was so sought after that it's now bottled separately by the Bus and sold at Revival Market). And at Filipino street food truck Flip 'n Patties, the irresistible fries are topped with a sweet mayonnaise, cilantro and two kinds of sesame seeds.

3. Jeannine's Bistro / Cafe Brussels (tie)

Of the Belgian joints in town, I actually prefer the mussels at Jeannine's Bistro as well as the homemade mayonnaise, although the frites themselves at Cafe Brussels are better — but only slightly, hence the tie. Still, the twice-fried frites at Jeannine's are nothing to scoff at and are especially delicious at lunch — that's when a nice portion of moules-frites is only $12. Catherine Duwez made amazing frites at The Broken Spoke, and now she's doing the same thing at her brand-new restaurant: Cafe Brussels. And — as with Café Rabelais and Jeannine's Bistro — the tangy housemade mayonnaise is an absolute must.

2. The Burger Guys

Two words: duck fat. The Burger Guys uses this unctuous oil to fry their Belgian-style fries twice, so the fries are piping-hot and crispy when they come out in their little paper-lined metal box. Like the fries at Little Bigs, they're even better when dipped into one of The Burger Guys' equally tremendous milkshakes. And now that the Guys are downtown, you have double the chance to try them out.

1. Hubcap Grill

Though known primarily for its innovative burgers (like the Sticky Monkey with peanut butter, bacon and grilled bananas), Hubcap Grill offers fries that can steal the show from the patties — which is why they were awarded Best Fries in this year's Best of Houston® issue. The Hell Fries, thin strips of deep-fried potato topped with jalapeños, cayenne and chile powders, and a Siracha mayonnaise, are (irony noted) heaven for those who want some serious spice with their starch. Pair them with a milder burger or eat them on their own; either way, you'll need a fork and some milk.
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Restaurant News

OPENINGS & CLOSINGS
The proof is in the...rooftop.

Katharine Shilcutt

I've long said that Houston doesn't have enough cool rooftop spaces, especially close to downtown. That's finally changing with the opening of two fun new spots... The first opened several weeks ago at the Houston Pavilions: the reincarnation of Scott Gertner's ­Skybar on Montrose, which is now — appropriately enough — called Scott Gertner's at the Houston Pavilions. But be warned, guys (and gals): Scott Gertner's doesn't allow any "Polo boots, Timberlands...ripped or soiled clothing...hats or caps of any kind." I have no idea what Polo boots are, but I feel compelled to buy some now purely for the sake of rebellion.

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