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5 Food Trends Houston Should Export

Whataburger: What a burger, indeed.
Whataburger: What a burger, indeed.
Photo by Sunday Williams

It seems that Eater's post on 10 dead food trends has everyone talking, including the New York Times's Frank Bruni, who disagrees with the vital statistics of many items on the DOA list. Instead, he says, there is one trend above all that needs to die as swift a death as possible: farm-to-______.

There's no argument that the catch-all phrase farm-to-table or farm-to-anything has been used to death. So instead -- and in light of yesterday's post on five food trends to watch for in Houston -- we present a list of food trends that we think Houston should export to the rest of the nation.

These are the things we do best, the things we should be rightfully proud of. Other cities might have them to a certain extent, but not the way Houston does. Let's see if we can't get our burgeoning food traditions on a national stage.

Berryhill Tamales on Montrose, the new epicenter of Sunday Fundays.
Berryhill Tamales on Montrose, the new epicenter of Sunday Fundays.
Photo by Joshua Bousel

5. Sunday Funday

If you're unfamiliar with the term "Sunday Funday," allow me to direct you to this short and sweet definition from Urban Dictionary:

By celebrating the "Sunday Funday" you can extend your weekend festivities just a little longer before hanging up your party pants. This day typically starts out with mimosas or bloody marys aka hair of the dog. It then typically continues through out the day until you find yourself wasted by about 6:30ish. Since the "Funday" ends early enough, you can rest assured that you will go to bed aka pass out early enough to be perfectly refreshed for work on monday morning.

Other cities may have limited Sunday Funday celebrations, but no city gets as into it as Houston, despite losing Sunday Funday epicenter La Strada in 2009. Maybe it's the fact that nearly every restaurant in Houston has a patio and most of them serve bottomless, sugary, alcoholic drinks on Sundays. Maybe it's the joint collaboration with Big Gay Brunch (see: even Mayor Parker does Big Gay Brunch). Whatever the reason, Sunday mid-afternoon is a great time to be a Houstonian if you enjoy partying in the broad daylight.

4. Whataburger

Although not based in Houston (the cheerful chain is from Corpus Christi), even the snobbiest Houstonians agree that this Texas burger chain is the only acceptable fast food -- even for breakfast. Whataburger serves that most Texan of breakfast foods: breakfast tacos, although they're called taquitos here, ready to be introduced to the rest of America. And it serves a true Texas burger, with a thin patty, lots of crunchy vegetables and a generous swipe of mustard. And with its idiosyncratic bright orange decor and late hours, it has every hallmark of being our In-N-Out Burger, our testament to the masses everything is better in Texas, even our fast food.

 

Sorry, Eater, but I don't think "Asian sandwiches" are going anywhere any time soon.
Sorry, Eater, but I don't think "Asian sandwiches" are going anywhere any time soon.
Photo by chiodachic

3. Vietnamese food

One of the benefits of Houston's open-arms policy towards New Orleans residents after Hurricane Katrina was the influx of Vietnamese people. Prior to the hurricane, New Orleans was widely considered to have the best Vietnamese food in the country. My old boss, a Vietnamese immigrant, once told people who asked her where to get the best Vietnamese food in Houston: "Drive to New Orleans." No more, as Houston has far surpassed New Orleans in both quantity and quality of Vietnamese eateries. It's also one of the many reasons that Houston has begun being referred to as the "New Creole City." But why keep all the deliciousness to ourselves? Places like Cafe TH are slowly expanding to other markets -- owner Minh Nguyen is currently opening a second location in New Orleans, bringing the cuisine full ciricle -- but Austin is on his radar next.

2. Crawfish boils

Once again, a concept strongly influenced by our neighbor to the east, crawfish boils mark the beginning of our brief spring in Houston. And watching a neophyte at their first crawfish boil is easily one of the most amusing ways to spend an afternoon. There's something extraordinarily primal about crawfish boils that draws people in: boiling mud-crusted creatures over an open flame, the communal eating experience, standing around a table and attacking your food with your hands as though you were cavemen, tearing apart the heads and lungs like savage beasts. It beats a fifteen-course dinner any day. And what better way to support our neighbors' fishing industry in these tough times than promoting Louisiana crawfish across the nation?

P.J. Stoops is the Johnny Appleseed of Gulf seafood.
P.J. Stoops is the Johnny Appleseed of Gulf seafood.
Photo by Robb Walsh

1. Gulf seafood

Well, there's at least one other way. Gulf seafood. Yes, it's safe to eat. Even the great Tom Colicchio is an advocate. But it doesn't just have to come from Louisiana. Houston's own P.J. Stoops is demonstrating the great bounty of our Gulf coast waters at his weekly Total Catch Market while Jim Gossen and Robb Walsh are busy preaching the gospel of Gulf oysters throughout the country. Imagine one day seeing a Pepper Grove or Lady's Pass oyster on the menu at New York's Grand Central Oyster Bar right next to Apalachicolas or Chincoteagues. Even better, imagine a future where sushi-grade fish like tuna and snapper comes from Texas waters. Yes, that's possible too, according to Stoops and local sushi experts like Shinobu Maeda -- as with Gulf oysters, it's just a matter of marketing.



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