The Midtown Banh Mi Showdown

Settling the banh mi question once and for all.

3. Mi Bella Honduras Restaurant

Honduran cuisine is a unique fusion of Caribbean and Spanish sensibilities with elements of indigenous and Mexican food as well. All these diverse cuisines are evident on the lengthy menu at Mi Bella, where you probably won't run into anyone who's not already familiar with Honduran food. For the best idea of all that Honduras has to offer, order the combo catracho, which comes with enchiladas, tacos de pollo, a beef pastelito, a baleada, fried yuca, fried plantain strips, smoky grilled chicken, and chunks of queso fresco and encurtido as condiments. The baleada, a sort of quesadilla with black beans and queso fresco, is particularly delicious when dipped into the pickled encurtido.

2. BBQ Garden Korean

Can you guess where each of these is from?
Kaitlin Steinberg
Can you guess where each of these is from?
The sausage, red onion and red peppers pizza at Luna Pizzeria is out-of-this-world good.
Molly Dunn
The sausage, red onion and red peppers pizza at Luna Pizzeria is out-of-this-world good.

The Spring Branch area is rife with Korean food, but one of the less popular spots is BBQ Garden Korean. The small restaurant has one long table in the middle, but the rest of the space is composed of semiprivate dining rooms with sliding doors that close, should you choose. Each table has a grill in the middle for barbecuing your own meat, but when it's a slow night, the server will offer to have the kitchen grill the meat for you, just to speed things up. The banchan — small dishes served along with rice (ask for the purple rice) — is some of the best in town, and the soups are similarly alluring, filled with spices and vinegary kimchi. Almost as good as the food is the fact that the restaurant is open until 2 a.m. every night to satisfy your late-night bulgogi cravings. That's not just me, right?

1. Tinto Grill

If you're a fan of Pampa Grill just down the road, you'll be a fan of Tinto Grill, an Argentinian spot specializing in parrilladas. Tinto Grill was started by a former owner of Pampa who parted ways and brought many of the employees along. The small but very charming space has been open about a year, and it's serving up the best parrillada platters in town. The "Grill for 1" (which the restaurant kindly agreed to serve to two people on a recent visit) features the juiciest, smokiest skirt steak, flank steak and sausage you'll find, along with unlimited chimichurri bursting with spicy garlic and parsley flavors. The empanadas are equally delicious. Order the six-empanada sampler plate to try everything from the classic ham and cheese to the Italian-influenced caprese. Much of the menu is composed of Italian and Mediterranean-influenced dishes, but don't let that confuse you. Due to waves of immigration in the 19th and mid-20th centuries, spaghetti is almost as popular as beef in Argentina. And at Tinto Grill, it's just as good.

Restaurant News

Openings & Closings
Niko Niko's heads to Pearland while Dunkin' Donuts continues its Houston takeover.

Molly Dunn

It was quite an exciting week for many anticipated restaurant openings. Some are still in the soft opening stage, like Common Bond, but others have officially opened to the public, like Preview Modern Seafood Cuisine.

This new Sugar Land restaurant at 4645 State Highway 6, Unit C, was in the soft-opening stage as of May 12 and operating as BYOB, but as noted on the Facebook page, Preview was to receive its TABC license last weekend. Diners can expect cold-plate options of East Coast sea uni and ceviche chips 'n' dip; entrée selections feature "KFT" Kentucky Fried Taihitian Big Eye Tuna, and smoked yellowtail and apple tortellini. 

The Egg & I also opened in Sugar Land at 9920 U.S. Highway 90-A. This breakfast-and-lunch franchise focuses on all things eggs (what would give you that idea?) Diners can feast on a variety of eggs Benedicts, from artichoke Florentine to crab cake, as well as breakfast sandwiches, burritos and ­omelettes. Waffles, pancakes and French toast are also available.

Ninja Ramen (4219 Washington) is now open, serving dinner until 2 a.m. on weekdays (except on Monday because it's closed then) and until 3 a.m. on weekends. CultureMap Houston notes that you can now pair those ninja-named cocktails with bowls of the signature pork-based tonkotsu ramen complete with a hard-boiled egg half, shallots, pickled bamboo and garlic oil. Ninja Ramen has not released an official menu, and when asked what's on the menu, the usual response is "ramen." 

Eric Sandler of CultureMap revealed that highly anticipated Common Bond, at 1706 Westheimer, officially opened on May 20 and operates from 7 a.m. until midnight Tuesday through Sunday after its soft-opening stage. Executive chef Roy Shvartzapel has created a sweet and savory menu, but the fan favorite so far seems to be the kugelhopf, a sweet bread/pastry shaped like a mini bundt cake — yum.

We're stalking Siphon Coffee's Facebook page just as you probably are; we want to know when this new coffee shop will finally open! Rice Village Flea asked on Facebook when the 701 West Alabama coffee shop would be open, and Siphon Coffee responded, "Very soon my friend...hopefully by next week."

The Greenway Plaza Bambu Desserts & Drinks opened at 3825 Richmond. Bambu serves milk teas in a variety of flavors such as passion fruit, honeydew, coffee, almond and grass jelly, along with cold drinks such as chai tea, café mocha and Vietnamese coffee, all perfect for quenching your thirst this summer.

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