This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston® issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.
You can top practically anything with bonito flakes right now and I'll eat it, with gusto. I love the briny, sea-spray flavor and depth the compressed fish flakes bring to dishes, whether it's the roasted cauliflower at Roost or the Geisha dog at the Happy Endings food truck.
The dog also comes with spicy mayo and Katsu sauce, although both play second fiddle to the fat, broad ribbons of bonito flakes on top -- which seems, at first, as it would be incongruous with something like a beef hot dog. In taste, however, the bonito flakes more or less melt on the tongue with each bite, reducing to a salty pool of umami flavors that bring out the beefy swagger of the hot dog. Each bite is a punch of meaty joy, with bright pops of heat from the spicy mayo and a subtle sweetness from the Katsu sauce.
And just in case the bonito flakes prove too much for you, here's an alternative: Try the cheekily named Back Door Loving dog (hey, the truck itself is named after a rub-and-tug parlor), which comes with tangy cream cheese, spicy kimchi, bright scallions and salty bacon bits. It's so good that choosing between the two is often impossible (not that I'm complaining).
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The list so far:
No. 100: Chili cheese mac at Jus' Mac No. 99: Texas turkey sandwich at Spec's No. 98: Custard at Petite Sweets No. 97: Caprichos mixtos at Taqueria Monterrey Chiquito No. 96: Pineapple-wasabi burger at Lankford Grocery No. 95: Farmer's MKT Pizza at Phoenicia's MKT Bar No. 94: Potatoes at Money Cat Brunch No. 93: Breakfast tacos at Sunrise Taquito No. 92: Hot dog at Tacos D.F. No. 91: Avocado gelato at Frozen Cafe No. 90: Chicken sandwich at JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers No. 89: Beer-battered asparagus at Hearsay No. 88: Honey Badger omelet at Kraftsmen Cafe No. 87: Pastelitos de carne at El Jalapeño No. 86: Pancakes at Union Kitchen No. 85: Wild boar and crab pizza at Boheme No. 84: Breakfast croissant at BB Donuts No. 83: Pretzel at Anvil Bar & Refuge No. 82: Short rib sandwich at Shepherd Park Draught House No. 81: Grilled shrimp po-boy at Pappadeaux No. 80: Dahi puri at Shiv Sagar No. 79: Aporreado at Los Corrales No. 78: Oxtail francobolli at Aldo's Cucina Italiana No. 77: Tonkotsu at Cafe Kubo's No. 76: Spinach danish from Angela's Oven No. 75: Pupusas at El Petate No. 74: Pheasant dog at Sammy's Wild Game Grill No. 73: X-Tudo burger at Friends Pizzeria No. 72: Esparragos gratinados at Tintos No. 71: Gua bao at Yummy Kitchen