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100 Favorite Dishes 2014: A Love Letter to Houston Food

Celebrating our city's diverse culinary scene.

No. 93, Vuelve la Vida Soup at ­Connie's Seafood

2525 Airline, 713-868-2144, conniesseafood.com

It's as if the chefs at Connie's managed to scoop up a giant bowl of Gulf Coast water (critters and all), boil it with some vegetables, add some seasoning and dish it out to hungry diners. There's tender purple crab; flaky white fish; plump, juicy oysters; and tiny curled shrimp, all of which swirl around a white skinless potato in the middle of the bowl.

No. 92, Homeroom Burger at ­Bernie's Burger Bus

Food truck, berniesburgerbus.com

The Homeroom is a juicy, medium-rare, inch-high masterpiece of fresh-ground Black Angus beef topped with apple wood-smoked bacon, Cheddar, "tipsy onions," chipotle aioli and a fried egg, all sandwiched between freshly baked fluffy buns.

No. 91, Lobster Cake Benedict at ­Sorrel ­Urban Bistro

2202 West Alabama, 713-677-0391, sorrelhouston.com

Sorrel's lobster cake is assembled like a crab cake, but unlike the soggy, overly bready crab cakes that some restaurants trot out proudly, Sorrel's lobster cake employs a lot of lobster. Big hunks of meat give the cake a buttery lobster flavor, while bits of pepper and onion add complexity to the smooth cake. This is served on top of a slice of toasted, slightly sweet brioche and finished with a poached egg that's firm on the outside but golden yellow and liquid on the inside.

No. 90, Uncle Daryl's Cake at the ­Chocolate Bar

2521 University, 713-520-8888, theoriginalchocolatebar.com

Before this cake, already iced in a decadent buttercream and topped with ganache, is handed over, it's drizzled with extra chocolate ganache and sprinkled with toffee chips. All four layers of cake are moist and rich, with a deep chocolatey flavor.

No. 89, Porcetta e Fagioli at ­Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

3215 Westheimer, 713-522-1934, giacomosciboevino.com

At Giacomo's, the pork butt is stewed in a mixture of tomatoes, garlic and cannellini beans for as long as six hours so that all the herbs and spices mingle together in glorious harmony. Every couple of bites, there might be a standout flavor — a pop of sage, a slow burn of garlic, a bright tomato.

No. 88, Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum

10600 Bellaire, 281-495-1688

The outside of this dessert is soft, chewy and doughy, but the inside is filled with ground black sesame seeds and sugar that together look like black sand from a volcanic beach. The sweet sesame is almost like halawa, but the granulated sugar gives it a different texture and a shock of sweet.

No. 87, Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao

3419 Kirby, 713-667-0341, fatbaohouston.com

One reason the Crab Daddy is so stellar is that the individual ingredients can be easy to mess up. The bao, for instance, can turn gummy when steamed too long, but this one held up to the heft of an entire (albeit small) crustacean. Soft-shell crab can turn chewy or tough, but this little guy was perfectly crispy with a still-intact seafood flavor even after being deep-fried.

No. 86, Ham, Egg and Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie

403 Westheimer, 832-724-9464, melangecreperie.wordpress.com

At Melange, they have crepes down to an art form. Like masters of origami, they fold everything from ham to Nutella to palak paneer into a paper-thin envelope to create meals that are positively magnifique, but the best is the simple ham, egg and cheese.

No. 85, Pork Tamales at Irma's

22 North Chenevert, 713-222-0767, irmasoriginal.com

Menu changes regularly.

There are two things I look for when I judge tamales, and the slightly spicy pork tamales at Irma's have both of them: a good meat-to-masa ratio, and masa that has not been dried out by oversteaming. These are soft and moist (but certainly not runny), and every bite features just the right amount of meat to enhance the flavor of the corn-based masa.

No. 84, Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill

1111 Prairie, 713-223-5885, hubcapgrill.com

The toppings — feta cheese, kalamata olives, onions, green bell peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and extra special mayo — are what makes the Greek Burger special, but Hubcap's lauded patty is what makes this meal one of my favorites. It's made of never-frozen beef, and it's hand-formed, which is immediately evident from the gloriously crunchy little wads of beef that don't quite adhere to the circular shape of the rest of the burger.

No. 83, Lobster Roll at Maine-ly ­Sandwiches

3310 South Shepherd, 713-942-2150, mainelysandwiches.com

The lobster in Maine-ly's rolls is carefully picked out of the claw; chopped into small pieces; and tossed with a simple mixture of mayonnaise, lemon juice, black pepper and salt. It's the right amount of dressing to hold the chunks of lobster together, but not so much that any other flavor overwhelms the delicate brininess of the meat.

No. 82, Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire

Food truck, 713-502-1188, stjohnsfire.net

Menu changes regularly.

First there's the bed of savory bread pudding upon which the tuna steak rests. It's fluffy and eggy and provides just the right amount of mushy starch to counter the other crunchy and spicy elements of the dish. Tiny fried crawfish tails with a kick of heat surround the tuna, and when you gather both sea creatures in one bite, it's a perfect balance of substantial tuna and sweet crawfish. Then there's just a handful of wilted spinach (you know, to make it seem healthier and provide color contrast) and a delightful creamy mustard sauce drizzled over the whole thing.

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13 comments
ACookNotAFoodie
ACookNotAFoodie

Pho Binh = Pho from instant powder, just add water. Never a good pho place unless they're cookin bones from scratch.

rachelili91
rachelili91

I have to say that I'm loyal to Oh My Gogi for kimchi fries-- no fake cheese there (after eating Oh My Gogi so many times, Koagie Hots' fries were a real letdown...) shredded cheese, chipotle mayo, sriracha, cilantro, onion and of course, bulgogi has won my heart over, time and time again.

Terry Brooks
Terry Brooks

The bottom 50 looked better than the top 50.

anaszeineddine
anaszeineddine

the Patata e Funghi Pizza at Pizaro is a must try.

anas zeineddine and fabio meneg tried this it was delicious.

bronson
bronson

nice work, that's quite a selection of goodies!

Jilian Ryan
Jilian Ryan

Corry Cummings, a "few" options for your other meals in Houston

timblack2
timblack2 topcommenter

Thought for sure the Mcrib at one the area's 25 McDonald's would have taken top prize.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@timblack2  I really wanted to put Taco Cabana's queso on there. No lie.

yourdad
yourdad

@darjae  Can you read, dude? The list is called "100 Favorite Dishes" not "100 Top Dishes" and most certainly not "Darjae's 100 Top Dishes."

 
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