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Pudgy Pork Dumplings and Crisp Soft-Shell Crab

Cafe Chino proves looks can be deceiving.

Canopy

Federal American Grill

Southern Comfort

Just like Granny used to make.

Brennan's of Houston

Frank's Americana Revival

LA Bar

Lucille's

Ouisie's Table

The Meat of the Matter

If it's meat you're after, these restaurants have you covered.

Vic & Anthony's

La Casa del Caballo

Sullivan's Steakhouse

Del Frisco's Grille

Brenner's Steak House

Fish Dishes

Mollusks, urchins and fishes, oh my! Get a taste of seafood from around the world!

Brasserie 19

Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen

Eddie V's Prime Seafood Restaurant

Merlion Restaurant

Oceanaire Seafood Room

Surf & Turf

Can't decide between steak and seafood? You don't have to.

III Forks

Joyce's Seafood and Steaks

Line & Lariat

Morton's

Veritas Steak and Seafood

Delectable Vegetables

Vegetarian dishes steal the show at these ­restaurants whose veggie dishes are so good, you won't miss the meat.

Bistro des Amis

Harvest Organic Grille

Haven

Indika

Kiran's Restaurant and Bar

Drinking Dinner

More interested in vino than veal? These places have some of the best wine lists in town.

Max's Wine Dive

Philippe

Sonoma

Tango & Malbec

The Tasting Room

Dinner and a Show

These five spots are known for live music, entertaining chefs and great views. Bring a date!

Tokyohana

Solea

Sambuca

Spindletop at the Hyatt Regency

Rioja

Bang for Your Buck

Six restaurants are offering four courses for the price of only three. We suggest wearing stretchy pants to dinner.

Ciao Bello

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

Max's Wine Dive

Coppa Ristorante

Post Oak Grill

Soma Sushi

Must Eats

If you haven't been to these places yet, it's about damn time you went.

benjy's

Brennan's of Houston

Charivari

Shade

Mockingbird Bistro
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Booze

Dust off Your Coconut Bra
Houston is getting a tiki bar.

Kaitlin Steinberg

Craft breweries, upscale cocktail lounges and dive bars abound in Houston, but there's one thing you might not have even realized we're missing: A tiki bar.

Husband-and-wife team Russell and Elizabeth Thoede are attempting to right this wrong with Lei Low, a tiki bar slated to open on North Main in the Heights this fall.

Because that seems like way too long to wait for a proper mai tai, the Thoedes hosted their second pop-up (the first was June 26) upstairs at Grand Prize Bar on July 24.

July 21 was the birthday of Ernest Hemingway, a known lover of anything tiki. To celebrate Hem and delicious fruity cocktails, the theme for the bar takeover was Bar Constantino, Constantino being the name of the best-known bartender at El Floridita bar in Havana.

"Hemingway is a big figure in the cocktail world," Russell explains. "We wanted to celebrate him, in a way. Some of the bars he frequented in Cuba during Prohibition are some that Trader Vic (the supposed inventor of the mai tai) referenced in his concept. We're re-creating some of his old Cuban drinks."

Once Lei Low is operating in its own location in the fall, the Cuban theme will become a weekly event. In fact, Russell says there will be a theme for every day of the week just to keep things interesting.

Monday will feature different mai tai recipes from various bars throughout history.

Tuesday will have a Caribbean reggae theme, which is controversial because it's bad luck to play reggae at a tiki bar in Hawaii. The Thoedes want to prove they have no fear. Wednesday will likely have a vintage beach theme, while Thursday will be zombie night.

Russell says he intends to use seasonal ingredients in his cocktails as much as possible, but for the time being, there won't be a restaurant at the bar. He's hoping to bring in food trucks to feed hungry drinkers until he's able to establish a kitchen.

Eventually there will also be frozen daiquiris and a locker where people can keep their own tiki mugs. That's right; bring your favorite tiki mug and the bartenders will keep it locked up for you until you're ready for a special zombie punch in your very own glass.

Though most tiki drinks use rum, which Russell describes as "a permanent vacation," he acknowledges that there are tropical drinks that make use of other types of liquor.

"We are actually going to do a Ramos Gin Fizz in a whipped-cream canister," Russell says excitedly. "It was famous in New Orleans during Prohibition. When you get one as a bartender, you usually curse and scream, 'cause under bartender code, you have to shake it for eight minutes, and your arm gets all cramped. We're letting the whipped-cream canister do all the work."

It's clear that Russell and Elizabeth are super excited about their new venture, but when it comes to Russell's personal preferences about tiki drinks, he gets a little tongue-tied.

"Oh gosh, it's so hard when people ask me my favorites," he says. "I really enjoy so much. If I had to pick a favorite, I might say a mai tai. But it's so hard for me to pick. I like them all."
_____________________

On the Menu

Wedding Talk: Dream Cocktail Hour
What Houston foods would you want?

Brooke Viggiano

I've been engaged for quite some time now...and I haven't planned a damn thing for the wedding. No date. No venue. No flowers. No dress.

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