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So Delicious, a Caveman Could Eat It

Paleo-friendly restaurant menus abound in Houston.

Fiesta Mart on San Jacinto, via the Wheeler Station

• Phoenicia via Main Street Square

• Georgia's via Preston Station (ambitious folk can walk both; it's only a couple of blocks)

The Birdie Galore at Cafe TH: roasted chicken over all the vegetables you could ever want.
Katharine Shilcutt
The Birdie Galore at Cafe TH: roasted chicken over all the vegetables you could ever want.
Lisa Mattson, a wine industry marketing whiz, brought home the 2012 Wine Blogger award for "best winery blog" in 2012 for the Jordan Winery Blog.
Jeremy Parzen
Lisa Mattson, a wine industry marketing whiz, brought home the 2012 Wine Blogger award for "best winery blog" in 2012 for the Jordan Winery Blog.

• Urban Harvest Farmers Market at City Hall (Wednesdays) via Main Street Square

Here are some of my top tips for making the most of an afternoon of grocery shopping sans automobile:

Pack Smart

Never, ever forget your own bags. This is no big deal when you go to the regular grocery store, but when you are traipsing all over the city — presumably with blocks to walk on either end of your train ride — you definitely want a canvas bag you can throw over your shoulder. Even better, go urban hiker and bring a backpack. This is especially great if you pick up canned goods and bottled drinks.

Fuel Up

You wouldn't drive your car around all day without filling up, so think of yourself the way you do your car. Go out to lunch! There are lots of delicious options for dining along the rail, and more are popping up every day. I love Natachee's, Bombay Pizza Co., or just cutting to the chase and filling up at Phoenicia before I shop.

Use the Buddy System

Okay, I know this whole thing started because I don't always have a car to drive, but bringing my husband makes this a lot more fun. He carries most of the stuff, and sometimes he pays for it, too. I do find this to be a fun way to pass an afternoon, especially if you:

Drink!

There is that advice about never going to the grocery store hungry, and going shopping drunk is probably an even worse idea. That said, it can occasionally be a great idea because it's hilarious and you end up with a lot of weird stuff you might not otherwise try. Weird cheese! Discount canned fish! The sky is the limit.

Picnic

Sure, you've already had a few drinks and maybe a meal, but why not stick around at City Hall or take the train to Hermann Park and have a lil' picnic? Make sure you stash a book — or some other old-fashioned technology, like a Walkman! — before you leave the house, and then enjoy a snack before you head home to put away your goodies. Skip this last step if you bought, say, seafood.
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Restaurant News

Openings and Closings
Coltivare tries to cultivate community support.

Katharine Shilcutt

Two new establishments looking to make a positive impact on the Heights have been stymied by the same foe in the last few months: variance-request issues. Both the upcoming Coltivare from Revival Market team Morgan Weber and Ryan Pera as well as the under-construction brewery Town in City Brewing want to have plenty of green space when their facilities are finished.

Not so fast, says the City of Houston.

While Town in City Brewing was finally able to agree with the city on a 15-foot setback for its combination brewery and tasting room — which still provides ample room for parking and a garden area — Coltivare is still struggling with its own variance request.

"Many of you have probably noticed a lot of 'not much' going on with the construction process," the Coltivare team wrote in an e-mailed plea. "This is because we've been going through the variance process with the City of Houston Planning Department."

Because the team wants to install a 3,000-square-foot vegetable garden (their plan from day one), there's less room on the property at White Oak and Arlington for parking. However, there's plenty of parking for lease — if the City will just let Coltivare use it.

As they explain it:

"Across Arlington Street on the North side of White Oak sits a warehouse space that has been in existence since 1938, best we can tell. Dating back to the 50's, via Google satellite images, those same spaces have been used for parking. They are used for parking today as they will continue to be used for parking tomorrow. Over the last 80 years, as White Oak's right-of-way has widened, it has slowly encroached on the depth of these spaces. They sit between 15'-16' deep now. The City likes 19'. However, there is another 13' from the back of the spaces to the actual street, leaving plenty of room to maneuver safely. These spaces are already legally being used by the warehouse during they day; we simply want to use them at night."

Coltivare is asking for community support in getting the City of Houston to allow these spaces to be used by the restaurant. If you're in favor, make your voice heard by attending the Planning Commission hearing on March 28 at 2:30 p.m.

Been wondering what will go into the recently vacated Palazzo's space on Westheimer? Swamplot has the scoop: According to a sign posted on the front door, look for a restaurant called "60 Degree Mastercrafted" with Master Chef Fritz Gitschner to open soon. Gitschner was the longtime executive chef at the Houston Country Club, and the only Master Chef (as certified by the American Culinary Federation) in Texas. In 2005, Gitschner led Team USA to a pretty nifty ninth-place win in La Bocuse d'Or competition in Lyon, France.

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