Once again, Kaitlin Steinberg is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes as we work our way toward our annual Menu of Menus® issue and culinary extravaganza. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most delicious, most creative and, of course, most indicative of our ever-changing food scene. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that are uniquely Houstonian.
Well, it was bound to happen.
I've finally found a dish so awesome I had to include it on this year's list, even though it already occupies a space on the 2013-2014 list of 100 favorite dishes. I, and those who have composed top 100 lists before me, try to keep each year fresh, picking a new crop of eats to inspire Houstonians.
But this...this is something I crave, something I'll drive across town to hunt down, something I'll order for dinner even if I've already eaten (which usually does not turn out well for me).
It's H-Town StrEATs's Shorty Mac sandwich, and it's an obsession.
"It should come with a warning label that says, 'You'll get a heart attack in 32 minutes,'" my coworker says upon observing me downing one at my desk for lunch.
She's not too far off. It's junk food gone gourmet, with tender, juicy short rib sandwiched between two slices of buttered, toasted bread and mingled with melted Provolone and macaroni and cheese. The braised short ribs are seasoned with veggies and cooked low and slow for hours until the meat pulls easily off the bone. Then a bunch of that lightly spiced meat is stuffed in with macaroni and cheese (a genius twist on a grilled cheese sandwich) for a cheesy, meaty amalgamation of awesome.
When I wrote about it last year, I noted:
What makes the sandwich so great is that each of its components is good enough to be a meal on its own. The grilled cheese sandwich is lightly buttered before it's grilled, so it tastes like the grilled cheese of your childhood. The macaroni and cheese is oozy and gooey and cheesy without being gummy or soggy. The short rib is juicy and flavorful and worth eating all on its own.
H-Town StrEATs is constantly mixing it up with new takes on classic dishes like Monte Cristo balls and potato chip-crusted fried chicken, but the stalwart Shorty Mac is always on the menu.
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Oh, and in case you were wondering, the H-Town StrEATs boys, Big Sexy and Matt, are aware that Shorty Mac is also the name of a midget porn star. They chose to call the sandwich that anyway, because that's how they roll.
Look for more great stuff from the folks behind H-Town StrEATs when their new doughnut shop Hugs & Donuts opens in September.
See the full list of favorites on the next page.
The list so far: No. 73, Hog & Hominy Poutine at Underbelly No. 74, The Couch Potato Cookie at Fluff Bake Bar No. 75, Fried Chicken Ballotine for Two at Provisions No. 76, Parrillada Platter at Tinto's Grill No. 77, Spaghetti Carbonara at Coppa Osteria No. 78, The Outdoorsman at Pi Pizza Truck No. 79, Campechana de Mariscos at Goode Co. Seafood No. 80, Whole Fried Fish at Churrascos No. 81, Daughter-in-Law Burger at Natachee's Supper 'n Punch No. 82, Chiles en Nogada Tradicionales at Pico's Mex-Mex No. 83, Porkobuco at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 84, Chai Pie at Pondicheri No. 85, Tacos at Taqueria Maya Quiché No. 86, S'mores at 13 Celsius No. 87, Calamari at Lillo & Ella No. 88, Pulled Pork Nachos at Way Good Food Truck No. 89, Garden Sammie at Local Foods No. 90, Barbecued Salmon Salad at Brooks Family BBQ No. 91, Smoked Salmon Waffle at The Waffle Bus No. 92, Chirashi Lunch at Sushi Miyagi No. 93, Finocchiona Sandwich at Siphon Coffee No. 94, Combo Catracho at Mi Bella Honduras Restaurant No. 95, Tamal de Puerco at Andes Cafe No. 96, Cheeseburger at Sparkle's Hamburger Spot No. 97, Mi Quang at Simply Pho No. 98, Helado de Lúcuma at Pollo Bravo No. 99, Fat Fries at Fat Bao No. 100, Fish Bánh Mì at La Baguette