And don't forget the Maestro or the Disco Biscuits! The Maestro is my favorite sandwich on the planet.
By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Minh T Truong
By Molly Dunn
By Brooke Viggiano
By Kaitlin Steinberg
By Molly Dunn
By Molly Dunn
By Eating Our Words
See the colorful characters that run Eatsie Boys in our slideshow.
If someone distilled all that is modern Houston into a restaurant, it would serve dishes like matzoh ball pho and fried shrimp banh mi in a casual, counter-service cafe shaded by thick-trunked live oak trees and fronted by a river of traffic. It would be frequented by rappers and engineers, students and businessmen alike. It would sport an explosive mural by a local graffiti artist, sell local foods and host at least one prayer candle to La Virgen tucked in a corner somewhere even though the owners aren't Catholic or Mexican.
That place exists already, though. It's called Eatsie Boys, and it thoroughly and exuberantly embraces all that is young, vibrant, wonderful and weird about the Bayou City.
4100 Montrose Blvd.
Houston, TX 77006
Category: Coffee Shops
4100 Montrose, 713-524-3737.
Across town, inside 99 Ranch Market, a bowl of pho filled with crawfish and andouille sausage is turning heads at LA Crawfish in a nod to the owners' Cajun and Vietnamese heritage. Here at Eatsie Boys, it's another kind of pho entirely. Plump, perfectly spherical balls of matzoh dough find a natural pairing in pho ga — chicken pho, as seen in Houston restaurants like Pho Ga Dakao — where the chicken-fatty lick of schmaltz in the fluffy balls echoes the rich chicken stock used to make the soup.
It's such a shockingly natural pairing, in fact, that one wonders how no one else conceived of this creation before chef Matt Marcus, whose own Jewish upbringing is on proud display with his cooking. As with the crawfish pho at LA Crawfish, the matzoh ball pho at Eatsie Boys is unique to this place — and to this time. Both dishes represent the progression of cuisine bending and blending and blurring that's taking place throughout Houston right now.
This mad, exhilarating rush of new food and new culinary talent cropping up every day is just one reason why living in the Bayou City has never been better. Outsiders seem to be taking notice, too.
The Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau reports that while travel to Texas is up only 0.4 percent (that's not a typo), travel to Houston is up 21 percent. I like to think a lot of those travelers are choosing Houston because of our restaurants — in fact, food writer Hanna Raskin of the Seattle Weekly told me in November she specifically chose Houston for her birthday vacation because of our food scene — and Eatsie Boys is one of the first places I'd suggest they visit.
It's been nearly 365 days since Kraftsmen Bakery's Montrose location closed. In the interim, the Eatsie Boys crew has staked such a firm foothold in the old sandwich shop's renovated space that it's tough to remember a time without its bright, multihued umbrellas on the patio.
The old ivy-covered, brick-bound church that now houses the Freed-Montrose Library is one of the most beautiful spots in the city, set back from the flow of cars on Montrose Boulevard and protected by a canopy of trees. On one end of the complex, a large chess board complete with pieces sits outside The Black Labrador Pub. Above it, Cezanne hosts smoky jazz nights that cater to an elegant, older crowd. It's an awfully dignified setting for a restaurant named after Brooklyn rappers the Beastie Boys and once operated out of a graffiti-covered trailer.
That trailer — the original Eatsie Boys food truck — is still in use, although mostly for catering operations. The trio of men who started it in 2011 are keeping busy with other projects: Marcus, the CIA-trained chef who sharpened his knives at The Fat Duck and Cyrus (restaurants that have five Michelin stars between them), is found at the cafe most days.
Meanwhile, co-owners Ryan Soroka and Alex Vassilakidis are usually putting in time at 8th Wonder Brewery, the brand-new brewery in East Downtown that just launched its first line of ales in a small lineup of Houston bars and restaurants. There's also an ice cream line dubbed "Frozen Awesome" with flavors such as Shipley's Donut, which tastes exactly like Houston's most beloved glazed breakfast pastry.
Somewhere amid all of this, the Boys find time to cater everything from weddings to bar mitzvahs. They've also cultivated a loyal fan base that includes powerhouse Houston rapper Bun B, whose promotion of the Boys' food started back at a time when the little powder-blue trailer was filled with three men in cramped quarters, blasting Beastie Boys music from a set of speakers and serving up their own versions of Chinese bao and New York hot dogs.
Marcus smartly left some of those food-truck favorites on the menu, like the Pork Snuggies, which find soft, starchy buns folded in half over crispy-skinned pork bellies. Marcus's own "quick pickles" add an acidic bite to the bao, which is helped along with a smack of sugary hoisin sauce. The hot dogs are really chicken sausages sourced from a local purveyor — Marcus's own father, Al Marcus, whose Grateful Bread outfit has been a farmers'-market mainstay for years — tucked into a pretzel bun and topped with Grateful Bread's chardonnay mustard, dotted with pearls of whole-grain mustard seeds.