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Here, Eat This

A beginner's guide to Argentine cuisine.

Alfajores and medialunas

These are just two of the baked goods Argentine bakeries are known for, among others like the fanciful cañoncitos topped with a thick swirl of caramel cream and the dulce de leche-filled colaciones that look like cornucopia horns. Alfajores are simply shortbread cookies sandwiched together with dulce de leche (or sometimes chocolate), while medialunas are flaky, buttery croissant-based pastries often eaten for breakfast, dipped in milky cafe con leche.

Gelato

Royal Oak offers chicken and waffles at brunch.
Brooke Viggiano
Royal Oak offers chicken and waffles at brunch.
The Swaggy Dog roll from Muishii Makiritos.
Katharine Shilcutt
The Swaggy Dog roll from Muishii Makiritos.

Argentines are crazy for cold treats, so it should come as no surprise that the best gelato maker in Houston is from Argentina. Marcelo Kreindel makes the same cool, creamy desserts at Trentino Gelato that are popular back in his hometown of Buenos Aires. Trentino doesn't have a storefront, but it does supply most of the city's best restaurants and coffee shops with their gelato. You can also purchase pints of it at grocery stores like Spec's and Phoenicia, in typically Argentine flavors like dulce de leche and lúcuma.
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Breakfast

A Royal Affair
Brunch and $7 pitchers of mimosas at Royal Oak Bar & Grill.

Brooke Viggiano

Sundays are made for mimosas. The weekend is nearly over and you can feel your freedom fading faster than a Houston winter. It all seems to be going downhill. That is, until you remember you have the holy grail of weekend activities summoning you from the cocoon of blankets you've so delicately wrapped yourself in: the forever-sacred Sunday brunch.

Recently, still feeling the remnants of a particularly fun Saturday night, I tried Royal Oak Bar & Grill for the first time...and even with a wee bit of a hangover, I was pleasantly surprised.

After parking around the corner (you can also deal with the lot across the street or valet), we sat ourselves on the patio out front, where the fans were humming and the music was cooing just loud enough to bury the sounds of the Westheimer traffic. The relaxing atmosphere and promise of $7 pitchers of mimosas were enough for me to let go of my post-Saturday anxiety.

The bar and restaurant sports an eclectic interior that's half swanky speakeasy and half hunting lodge, and it offers a brunch menu filled with omelets, breakfast pizzas and tacos, $4 Bloody Marys and more from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Rumor has it the front patio can get packed with a high-energy Sunday crowd once the live DJ comes on, but on my visit it was quite tame.We ordered a mimosa pitcher to start as we pondered the menu, but because it was just before noon, we couldn't be served alcohol until there was food at the table. No matter — our waitress, saint that she was, brought out our pitcher and two tall glasses of water at 12 p.m. on the dot.

By then, we had decided on our breakfast: a split between the fried chicken and waffles and a breakfast pizza. While both entrées were rather large and certainly enough that we could have split just one, I was more than happy to taste a little of each.

The vanilla-laced waffle was doughy and fluffy on the inside but had enough crisp to hold up a slathering of syrup and chicken. It came in wedges next to two battered and fried chicken thighs — one of which, despite my departing appetite, I picked at until its demise. The chicken was done just right: juicy and tender meat enveloped in a thick, crunchy coating with a hint of spice. Heat lovers may want to splash on some more hot sauce, but we had our pizza for that.

Our square pie came layered with tiny crumbles of spicy chorizo, scrambled eggs, stringy mozzarella, fresh green onions and a healthy dose of hot sauce — all of which, surprisingly, the ultra-thin crust held up to with ease.

The pizza is kind of everything I'd ever want in a breakfast thrown onto a thin, charred flatbread and baked until gooey and golden. With each loaded bite, I wished I had room for more — but alas, the button on my shorts was beginning to pop.

We thanked our kind server and left with warm hearts and heavy stomachs. Next time, we'll bring more friends to share with.
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Top 10

Gourmet to Go
Houston's 10 best "fancy" food trucks.

Katharine Shilcutt

Houston food trucks have never been more clever, more inventive or more consistently enjoyable than they are right now. (The most recent sold-out Haute Wheels food truck festival can surely attest to that.) A few years of winnowing out dilettantes since the first "fancy" food trucks started hitting the streets in 2010 has distilled the selection into the best and brightest mobile food units we've ever had to offer.

Some of the "old-timers" are still around, albeit in different iterations: Oh My! Pocket Pies, for example, concentrates more on catering and direct sales to spots like Inversion Coffee House these days. Zilla Street Eats is defunct, but you can find very similar dishes at chef Jason Kerr's new restaurant, Hollister Grill. The Modular has been transformed into Goro & Gun, a downtown ramen shop drawing lots of local attention. And The Eatsie Boys have gone full brick-and-mortar, opening a full-service restaurant of the same name in Montrose.

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