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  • Article

    Simply Fondon't

    There was a 40-minute wait for a table at Simply Fondue the Saturday before last; I'm still trying to figure out why. It wasn't because the food at this preciously named Briargrove restaurant was good enough to fuel a revival of the early '60s fondue...

    by Alison Cook on October 20, 1994
  • Article

    Ari's: The Sequel

    Reinvention, that rampant cliche of American pop culture, has lately spread like a virus among Houston restaurants. From highbrow Anthony's to middlebrow Birraporetti's to humble Swan Den (now Neo China), veteran eating establishments are shedding th...

    by Alison Cook on October 20, 1994
  • Article

    Burger Heaven, Burger Hell - A quest for all that's good and greasy in an American icon

    When is a burger not a burger? This is a riddle to which there is no longer an easy answer. Not since cholesterol consciousness and animal-fat paranoia came between Americans and their national dish, loosing a virtuous tide of ground turkey and tempe...

    by Alison Cook on October 13, 1994
  • Article

    Neo China ... or Not

    What's so neo about Neo China? Well, the neon in the window, the black-lacquered neo-deco chairs and the Art Institute-style gallery of moderno paintings are a far cry from the restaurant's original incarnation as Swan Den, the venerable Rice Village...

    by Alison Cook on October 6, 1994
  • Article

    Bread and Balm at Bistro Cuisine

    Life at the hub of the Galleria area seems kinder now that caterer Marian Tindall has opened her French-inspired lunchroom, Bistro Cuisine. A perfect croque monsieur; triumphant Caesar salad; a proprietress who concocts her own mayonnaise, bakes her ...

    by Alison Cook on October 6, 1994
  • Article

    Sneak Preview

    Birraporetti's is in the process of reinventing itself -- a notion to which many who have endured the conveniently located restaurant's exceedingly average food and decor over the years will say "amen." They've junked that schizoid motto, "A Great It...

    by Alison Cook on September 29, 1994
  • Article

    Veni, Vidi Veneto - The Heights' new Italian isn't Venice, but it isn't bad

    "The chef is from Venice!" Being a Houstonian, and therefore inclined to optimism and a wistful respect for Things European, I have been propelled onto the freeways by such tantalizing phrases more often than I care to admit. Dashed hopes generally e...

    by Alison Cook on September 29, 1994
  • Article

    Touring Little Persia - Houston's best undiscovered cuisine unfolds along the Hillcroft strip

    Connect the dots along a certain 12-block stretch of Hillcroft and you'll come up with Little Persia: Houston's latest ethnic commercial hub, a scattering of shops and restaurants serving the 50,000-plus Iranians who call this city home. These establ...

    by Alison Cook on September 15, 1994
  • Article

    Crab cri de coeur

    Blue-crab seasons come and blue-crab seasons go, yet the One True Boiled Crab Joint I keep longing for -- and that Texas' upper Gulf Coast so richly deserves -- remains elusive. A region that boasts some of the finest crabs on the planet (as long as ...

    by Alison Cook on September 8, 1994
  • Article

    Simple Wonders - A mean cook shines through Shug's unlikely facade

    Shug's qualifies as a find on several counts. So awkward is its location, crouched beneath Loop 610 West just south of the I-10 intersection, that you literally must ferret out a way to get there. So unlovely is its monosyllabic name, so deceptive ...

    by Alison Cook on September 8, 1994
  • Article

    Past Imperfect

    Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. Not if my recent time-tunnel excursion to Memorial's venerable Lantern Inn is any indication. Prompted by ads touting the Inn's 30th anniversary (an age that passes for ancient in this city), I headed west, my brai...

    by Alison Cook on September 1, 1994
  • Article

    Calling All Night Owls - It's 10 p.m.: Do you know where Vince Kickerillo's lasagna is? At Loulu's

    Houston needs another pasta joint the way it needs another parking lot on poor old Market Square. Nonetheless, I welcome the advent of Loulu's Spaghetti House for a compelling reason: they serve a truly great spinach lasagna, and they serve it late. ...

    by Alison Cook on September 1, 1994
  • Article

    Hot Plate

    Light Dining Since I believe it is uncivilized to eat dinner while it is still light outside, the appeal of early-bird specials (or daylight-saving time, for that matter) has always eluded me. After trying Sfuzzi's "Summer Sunset Dining" deal -- ...

    by Alison Cook on August 25, 1994
  • Article

    Dishes at an Exhibition - Lunch is more artful than dinner at trend-conscious Museum

    What to make of Museum? There's that portentous name, its rarefied airs upping the ante: after all, a place invoking the sanctified aura of Dominique de Menil's nearby art collection had better deliver. There's the unpredictable (but not untalented) ...

    by Alison Cook on August 25, 1994
  • Article

    Hot Plate

    Southern Comfort There are times when life seems like one vast and inescapable Joel's Deli. At such moments, Doctor Cook prescribes a dose of El Nedo, a comfortingly frumpy Third Ward soul-food spot that's very much its own idiosyncratic self. ...

    by Alison Cook on August 18, 1994
  • Article

    Beating the Buffet Blues - At the Ritz-Carlton's Sunday brunch, every man can be a king -- for a price

    In summertime, a Houstonian's fancy does not turn comfortably to thoughts of a Sunday brunch buffet. That ritual American excuse for shameless self-indulgence is suited to brisker weather -- unless you happen to be talking about the buffet at the Rit...

    by Alison Cook on August 18, 1994
  • Article

    Cheap Thrills - ZuZu proves good Mexican fast food is not an oxymoron

    I've been complaining for years that Houston deserves a great, cheap Mexican fast-food joint. My gripe germinated at a Los Angeles chain taqueria called La Salsa, over a delicate quesadilla, a letter-perfect taco al carbon and three dazzling table sa...

    by Alison Cook on August 11, 1994
  • Article

    Hot Plate

    Shrimp feat Scampi are ubiquitous. Great scampi are not. So it's rewarding to run across them -- particularly in an unlikely spot like Maceo's, where the sounds of such prehistoric ditties as "O, My Papa" and "That's Amore" (sung by Dean Martin) ...

    by Alison Cook on August 11, 1994
  • Article

    Hot Plate

    Prix Fixe-er Upper Ah, the magic of August. When restaurants that could scarcely deign to book you a table back in the spring are eager for your business. When fashion-plate hostesses and gimlet-eyed ma"tre d's suddenly seem less inclined to look...

    by Alison Cook on August 4, 1994
  • Article

    The Same Old Ting - Dong Ting gets a new chef -- and a new lease on life

    It is my pleasant duty to announce that Dong Ting is back on track. During the '80s, the imaginative Hunan menu and elegant quarters of this midtown establishment made it a benchmark for Chinese food in Houston. But in the '90s, Dong Ting wandered of...

    by Alison Cook on August 4, 1994
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