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100 Favorite Dishes 2014: A Love Letter to Houston Food

Celebrating our city's diverse culinary scene.

No. 34, Chiles de Padrón Asados at Caracol

2200 Post Oak, Suite 160, 713-622-9996, caracol.net

At Caracol, the padrón chiles are sautéed over high heat in a pan with hot oil until they blister and brown. Then they're finished with lime juice and sea salt and served, stems on, in a dark ceramic bowl. The combination of roasted pepper, citrus and salt dances across the tongue.

No. 33, Taleggio Pizza at Dolce Vita

500 Westheimer, 713-520-8222, dolcevitahouston.com

This pizza starts with Dolce Vita's perfect crust — not too thin, not too chewy, with just the right amount of doughy pull when you bite down on it. Then there's a layer of rich, creamy taleggio, a soft, tangy cheese with a strong smell but mild flavor. On top of that are thinly sliced pears and a drizzle of truffle oil. After thepizza is cooked quickly in a Neapolitan-style wood-burning oven, it's topped with asprinkling of fresh arugula.

No. 32, Carnitas at Molina's Cantina

4720 Washington, 713-862-0013, molinasrestaurants.com

Unlike most carnitas, which are usually served shredded inside tacos or burritos, the carnitas plate at Molina's comes with a half dozen or so good-sized cuts of meat, as well as refried beans, Spanish rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, green salsa and fresh tortillas. These carnitas are better than average because the meat is marinated in citrus and spices for several hours.

No. 31, Cochito con Mole Xico at Hugo's

1600 Westheimer, 713-524-7744, hugosrestaurant.net

An impossibly large serving of pork shoulder braised until it's falling apart is topped with thick, ruddy mole xico and served with mashed plantains, black beans, guacamole and asparagus on a bed of slightly sweet collard greens in apasilla pepper and plum sauce.

No. 30, Ice Cream in a Waffle Cone at Fat Cat Creamery

1901 North Shepherd, 713-869-1080, fatcatcreamery.com

The waffle cones at Fat Cat are so good, I'd eat them without any ice cream in them at all. They're called brown butter/brown sugar waffle cones, and they're made fresh every day. These cones are slightly sweet, but the predominant flavor is the brown butter, slightly burned and rich like caramel, and they pair perfectly with Fat Cat's divine chai tea ice cream.

No. 29, Caesar Wedge Salad at Provisions

807 Taft, 713-628-9020, passandprovisions.com

The Caesar wedge at Provisions is served with a steak knife, and you'll need it to cut through the outer layer of bread crumbs and the crisp, bright-green center of the romaine wedge. In the process, the crumb coating will fall off a bit, and the anchovies and preserved lemons that top the wedge will slide onto the plate, and you'll be left with a beautiful, wonderful mess to eat up.

No. 28, Fried Cauliflower at Roost

1972 Fairview, 713-523-7667, iloveroost.com

When it's brought out to the table, all you can see in the low light of the small restaurant is a few florets of cauliflower, slightly browned, and long, tissue-paper-thin miso flakes that dance under the slight breeze of the air conditioner and the steam coming out of the bowl. Dig deeper and you'll find the sauce is made up of miso, mayonnaise, rice wine vinegar and Sriracha. As if that weren't enough, there are strings of sautéed scallions and pine nuts at the bottom of the bowl.

No. 27, Kim Cheese Fries at Coreanos

Food truck, coreanostx.com

The scorching-hot fries are thicker than most fast-food fries, but still thin enough that they're crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. They're topped with caramelized kimchi; twice-cooked pork belly with a kick; cheese; and Coreanos's signature El Scorcho sauce, a creamy drizzle of garlic, chipotle, lime juice and mayo.

No. 26, Spicy Miso Ramen at Soma Sushi

4820 Washington, 713-861-2726, somasushi.com

There's something addictive about the combination of the soothing miso and bit of chile oil that floats on top of Soma's spicy miso ramen in tiny golden puddles. Then there are the perfectly chewy fresh ramen noodles, two types of mushrooms, onions, seaweed, wakame, tofu and pork belly. The two different mushrooms, enoki and shiitake, give the ramen an earthy flavor, while the seaweed adds bitterness and the fatty pork belly, savory meat.

No. 25, Chips and Queso at Fusion Taco

801 Congress, Suite 101, 713-422-2882, fusiontaco.com

Fusion Taco co-owner Julia Sharaby uses Golden Velvet cheese in her queso because it has a great texture, even once it starts firming up, making the taco-truck-turned-restaurant's queso richer than most such dips you find in restaurants. The secret to the richness is cream, along with homemade red salsa and pulverized chipotle peppers.

No. 24, Som Tam at Vieng Thai

6929 Long Point, 713-688-9910

In the som tam at Vieng Thai, all the ingredients — papaya, lime juice, bird's eye chiles, garlic, palm sugar, fish sauce, dried shrimp and peanuts — get pounded together and then tossed by hand, the juice of the pounded ingredients forming a sort of dressing for the salad. It's served cold or at room temperature. It's refreshing in the way cool salsa is refreshing, but packs quite the punch.

No. 23, Fluffernutter Cookies at Fluff Bake Bar

832-374-8340, fluffbakebar.com

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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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