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.
Everyone who lives in Houston must experience the sheer exhilaration of obtaining boudin-filled kolaches at least once in their life. It's an experience strangely similar to that of an early-morning hunt, except that you're not stuck in a deer blind peeing into an old Folger's can. And at the end of the hunt, there's boudin kolaches instead of deer guts. It's a win-win all around.
This is what happens:
You oversleep your alarm on Saturday morning, so that instead of hitting the road at 6:30 a.m., you end up driving wildly down I-45 at 9 a.m., weaving and speeding like you're on PCP. You whip into the gravel parking lot of the Shipley's on North Main (there are a handful of other Shipley's that serve boudin kolaches, but this is Ground Zero) and practically roll out of the car door before you've even shifted into park, because you know there is a very real possibility that the Shipley's has already sold out of its limited weekend supply of boudin kolaches.
As you try to rush nonchalantly into the store, you eye every asshole in the parking lot that's clutching a white paper bag on the way back to their respective cars, knowing -- just knowing -- that they probably bought the very last kolache, the miserable bastards. It gets worse once you're inside, standing in the long line that takes up most of the small store's waiting area. There is no way that they're going to have any boudin kolaches left when you get to the cashier, you think to yourself as you tap your foot and nervously wait your turn. Just no way.
Finally, you reach the counter and look for the faded, handwritten sign on plain white paper that's tacked between the cake and glazed donuts: "We have boudin kolaches," the scrawled writing reads. Your eyes brighten, your mouth salivates, your heart is suddenly full of hope once again. You have seen the last wild herd of buffalo, and you are going to kill them all.
"Do y'all have any boudin kolaches left?" you ask the cashier, again as nonchalantly as possible.
"Sure," she says. "How many you want?"
Your mind goes blank. HOW MANY DO YOU WANT? The correct answer is two. You only need one or two, after all. Or perhaps four if you've got someone waiting for you at home. But you don't want two. YOU WANT ALL OF THEM. You don't need them, but you order a dozen because that's what conquerors do. And you are conquering this shit.
You take your bags full of one dozen kolaches back to your car, smirking smugly at all of the poor bastards behind you in line as you do. Once in your car, you open one of the bags and let the aroma of freshly-baked, yeasty bread invade every pore of your flesh. You soak up the smell of that kolache dough like you're soaking in the goddamned Tatopani hot springs in Nepal, because that is the smell of success.
Of course, now you have a dozen boudin kolaches that you don't need. But you know what that means... Now's the time to make amends with a friend you've wronged or cozy up to someone's good graces with a nice, old-fashioned kolache delivery.
Now you are not only a conqueror. You are a hero.
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The list so far:
No. 100: Dumplings at Heights Asian Cafe No. 99: Mixta Pizza at Friends Pizzeria No. 98: Veggie tacos from Radical Eats No. 97: Bean pie from Conscious Cafe No. 96: Swiss chard crepes from Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 95: Eggs Mia Bella at Mia Bella No. 94: Mulligatawny soup at the Queen Vic No. 93: Helado de Lúcuma from Pollo Bravo No. 92: Black bean burger from Natachee's No. 91: Chupacabra pizza from ERA No. 90: Roast chicken from El Norteño No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil No. 88: Frank the Pretzel from Eatsie Boys No. 87: Caldo Tlalpeño from Tacos del Julio No. 86: English pea soup at Brasserie 19 No. 85: Falafel from Zabak's No. 84: Buttermilk-fried pork loin with fried eggs at Canopy No. 83: Grillades and grits from BB's Cajun Cafe No. 82: Haemul dolsot from Seoul House No. 81: Pandan waffles at Parisian Bakery III No. 80: Pita bread and hummus at Phoenicia No. 79: Goat pepper soup at Peppersoup Cafe No. 78: Melon and Texas feta salad from Beaver's No. 77: Hot Italian beef from BB's Beef & Hot Dog No. 76: Bacon-avocado burger from Facundo Cafe No. 75: Pancakes from Fountain View Cafe No. 74: Hobnobs from Fluff Bake Bar No. 73: Chu chee eggplant from Nidda Thai No. 72: Sausage sampler from King's Biergarten No. 71: Shawarma from Abdallah's No. 70: Moules-frite at the Broken Spoke No. 69: Hong Kong-style French toast at House of Bowls No. 68: Sashimi sampler at Sushi Miyagi No. 67: Baleadas from Honduras Mayan No. 66: Snow ice from Star Snow Ice & Teriyaki No. 65: Boudin balls from MerCheri's No. 64: Miso ramen at Umai No. 63: Grim burger at Lankford Grocery No. 62: Dabeli at Bansuri Indian Food Corner No. 61: Wine and cupcakes at 13 Celsius No. 60: Pâté de France from Spec's No. 59: Steak and eggs from Ninfa's on Navigation No. 58: Breakfast pita at Niko Niko's No. 57: Vegan curry at Cafe TH No. 56: Samosas at Shiv Sagar No. 55: Ceviche at Latin Bites Cafe No. 54: Wicked Philly at Pappa Geno's No. 53: Pork chop at Perry's Steakhouse No. 52: Soft-shell crab at Pico's Mex-Mex No. 51: Sno-balls at MAM's House of Ice No. 50: Whole catfish at Saigon Pagolac No. 49: Nova fish box at New York Bagel & Coffee Shop No. 48: Sojok mana'eesh at Cedars Bakery No. 47: Pho ga at Pho Ga Dakao No. 46: Sicilia salad at Trevisio No. 45: Dahi puri at Sweet 'n' Namkin No. 44: Hot dogs at Moon Tower Inn No. 43: Real guacamole at Yelapa Playa Mexicana No. 42: Akaushi short ribs at Soma Sushi No. 41: Country-fried chicken livers at Haven No. 40: Seafood gumbo at Cajun Town Cafe No. 39: Tacos at Karanchos No. 38: Crepes at Melange Creperie No. 37: Gua bao at Yummy Kitchen No. 36: Guanciale burger at Plonk No. 35: Snapper al cilantro at Teotihuacan No. 34: The Houstonian at James Coney Island No. 33: The Montrose at Amy's Ice Cream No. 32: Lobster bisque at Philippe No. 31: Tacos de cabeza y orejas at El Ultimo No. 30: Oyster stew at Danton's No. 29: Fried oysters at TQLA No. 28: Banh mi at Cali Sandwich No. 27: Captin's fried chicken at Zelko Bistro No. 26: The Brisket House Special at The Brisket House No. 25: Menudo at La Mexicana No. 24: Chargrilled oysters at Wild Cajun No. 23: Breakfast tacos at Revival Market No. 22: Sticky toffee pudding at Branch Water Tavern No. 21: Tex-Mex burger at El Real Tex-Mex Cafe No. 20: Lasagna at Capri Pasta Pizza & More No. 19: Pork rillette at Feast No. 18: Chicken fried steak at Triple A No. 17: Crème brûlée bread pudding at Killen's No. 16: Migas at La Guadalupana No. 15: Snapper with grapefruit at Kata Robata No. 14: Venison carpaccio at Thanh Phuong No. 13: Mesquite-grilled shrimp poboy at Goode Co. Seafood No. 12: Tamarind-glazed salmon at Samba Grille No. 11: Bone marrow service at Stella Sola No. 10: Ribs at Gatlin's No. 9: Shrimp and grits at Brennan's No. 8: Barbacoa at Hugo's No. 7: Texas shrimp chaat at Pondicheri No. 6: Saigon burger at The Burger Guys No. 5: Tagliarini with black truffles at Da Marco No. 4: Oysters on the half-shell at Casey's