Sites from the Scene
A recent surfing survey of Houston restaurants on the Internet left me with the depressing conviction that most of our local eateries just don't get cyberspace.

I had initially decided that in my list of the best Houston food sites, I wouldn't mention any restaurant that merely stuck a phone number and address on the Web. No, sir: If I wanted to call you, I'd have a phone in my hand, not a mouse. Then I toughened my criteria to exclude anyone with just your basic menu-n-map. And I didn't need to include review sites, because we all know where to find those. (On the Houston Press web site, of course.)

No, I wanted more: coupons, trivia, eye candy, news, recipes, on-line ordering, reservations. But after hours of Net work, I wound up with a short list.

What follows is the best of the best. For a longer list (with links, even), try the Press web site:

Al's Sports Bar & Grill
I can't decide whether it's more sophomorically offensive than it is entertaining, but at least it's lively. Links to customers, staff and bands, beer quotes and jokes, lots of pictures and more. Like the bar it represents, not for kiddies or feminists.

Locations for Fine Beer in the Houston Area
Okay, it's not strictly a restaurant site, but Bill Shirley's labor of love is one of the most useful to foodies. It's an exhaustive, encyclopedic, thirst-provoking list of Houston's microbreweries, brewpubs, pubs, bars and even home-brew clubs.

Los Tios Mexican Restaurants
At this site, you can order Tex-Mex care packages for your favorite expatriate Texans. Choose from five kinds of salsa, including chipotle and habanero; pickled, jellied or candied jalapenos; dressings, dips and various home-kitchen Tex-Mex kits (which come with instructions for furriners).

Louisiana Foods
The owners of Louisiana Foods (Seafood Deli Market, Magnolia Bar & Grill and Jimmy G's Cajun Seafood Restaurant) have recipes, fish FAQs, on-line seafood ordering (heat-n-eat or fresh frozen); plus not only links to their crawfish festivals in Florida, Louisiana and Texas but also to the weather forecasts for the festivals, so you'll know what to wear! And did I mention Jim's rare oyster plate collection?

The Texas Barbeque Web Site

A personal web site dedicated to Texas barbecue. Offers a barbecue chat area and voting on the best barbecue in Texas (now, that ought to start some fights), and it's a member of "The Smoke Ring," a linked list of even more barbecue web sites.

-- Margaret L. Briggs


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