Eating Our Hearts Out

100 Favorite dishes in the Bayou City

No. 59: Peanut butter and jalapeño jelly burger at Wicked Whisk

At this food truck, peanut butter takes the place of cheese atop the thick, juicy patty with its salty flavor and creamy texture providing only a small background hint of sweet nuttiness. There's a nice porky swagger from the two strips of bacon and more sweetness cut by a pleasant burn from the acid-green jalapeño jelly.

No. 58: Eggplant involtini at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino 3215 Westheimer, 713-522-1934

No. 82: Short-rib sandwich at Shepherd Park Draught House
Troy Fields
No. 82: Short-rib sandwich at Shepherd Park Draught House
No. 43: Wings and grits at the breakfast klub
Katharine Shilcutt
No. 43: Wings and grits at the breakfast klub

Mozzarella and ricotta are stuffed inside thin strips of sautéed eggplant, which are rolled up like cannoli and baked in a creamy tomato sauce before being topped with bright shreds of torn basil leaves and salty Parmigiano-Reggiano.

No. 57: Lone Star Dog at James Coney Island 3607 S. Shepherd, 713-524-7400

Topped simply with tangy, sweet barbecue sauce and battered slices of onion rings, the Lone Star Dog is nestled in a buttery bun that holds up until the very last bite. Being a Texan, I like to top mine with yellow mustard and jalapeños, too — but it tastes just as good without any extras.

No. 56: Sushi at Sushi Miyagi 10600 Bellaire, 281-933-9112

Each piece of fish Miyagi slices is done with the kind of expert precision that comes from 30 years of being a sushi chef. Each mound of rice is shaped lovingly by hand before being pressed lightly onto the plate.

No. 55: Palestinian chicken at Al Aseel 8619 Richmond, 713-787-0400

The grilled musakhan (aka Palestinian) chicken at Al Aseel comes with sautéed onions that sweeten up the tart, charred, sumac-spiced meat, all of it dripping its juices onto the soft pita bread underneath that serves as a makeshift plate.

No. 54: Roast beef sandwich at Local Foods 2424 Dunstan, 713-521-7800

Onto the delightfully rare, paper-thin slices of roast beef go a spicy horseradish aioli along with some of Local Foods's crunchy kale salad (in lieu of lettuce), rosy red tomatoes and a layer of bright yellow curried cauliflower that elevates the entire sandwich from "quick lunch" to "experience."

No. 53: Mexico City Plate at Molina's Cantina 7901 Westheimer, 713-782-0861

The Mexico City Plate has remained on the restaurant's menu — virtually unchanged — since 1941. It's only $12.50 and features three separate plates of food: a queso-drenched puff of fried masa; a beef taco with guacamole and a lettuce- and salsa-topped bean tostada on another plate; and a final plate with a cheese enchilada and a chili con carne-topped pork tamale.

No. 52: Tacos de chicharrón at Brothers Taco House 1604 Dowling, 713-223-0091

The chicharrones are soft, fatty nuggets stewed in a mild red sauce enhanced with some of Brothers's flavorful green salsa and rolled up in fluffy housemade flour tortillas.

No. 51: Branzino at Lucio's BYOB 905 Taft, 713-523-9958

Stuffed with oranges and shining with a summery-sweet hibiscus glaze, the roasted fish is fileted tableside with understated but expert precision by a smiling waiter in full uniform.

No. 50: Beef sweetbreads at Feast 219 Westheimer, 713-529-7788

Creamy beef sweetbreads are served in a mad jumble atop a mound of mashed rutabaga with a side of tangy Swiss chard that's softened by the rich, meaty juices from the sweetbreads — typically the thymus or pancreas of an animal — and a few fresh mint leaves on top.

No. 49: Golden Doomba Special at the Rice Box Truck

Fried chicken from a Chinese food truck? Yes — and it's wonderfully, arm-drippingly juicy inside and crispy, crackly, crunchy on the outside, served in a kitschy Chinese takeout container on top of cabbage and rice, which easily makes one box into a meal.

No. 48: Malted waffle at City Cafe

513 College Ave., South Houston, 713-944-3710

Imagine the waffle equivalent of Ovaltine: rich, toasty, barely sweet and tasting of pure nostalgia. I'd forgotten how good a malted waffle could taste until reencountering it at City Cafe.

No. 47: Banh mi bo kho at Cafe TH 2108 Pease, 713-225-4766

Banh mi bo kho is beef stew at its pinnacle, fiercer than any boeuf bourguignon and heartier than any goulash. The broth is resplendent with the scent of anise and black pepper and thick with carrots, onions and rugged chunks of beef, all served with a crusty, freshly baked baguette.

No. 46: Chicken-fried steak at Triple A 2526 Airline, 713-861-3422

Triple A batters its never-frozen chicken-fried steak from scratch, and this shows in the honest construction of the pounded-thin steak, with a crinkly batter that adheres fiercely to every bite and crunches mesmerizingly under a sea of white cream gravy.

No. 45: Larissa plate at Harry's 318 Tuam, 713-528-0198

The Larissa plate, named for owner Johnny Platsas's hometown in Thessaly, features a hash of cubed homestyle potatoes tossed with sautéed onions and tomatoes, then spiked with copious amounts of feta cheese and fresh parsley on top. Order the eggs that come with it over easy for the perfect sauce on top.

No. 44: Spaghetti carbonara at Coppa ­Ristorante Italiano 5555 Washington, 713-426-4260

Plump strands of spaghetti are served in a shallow bowl tossed with torn bits of salami and chopped parsley, topped with cracked black pepper and a single egg. On top goes a thick Parmesan sauce poured tableside.

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Great list! Love that Hot Bagel Shop is on there. Really love that goat and dumplings too!