Houston is no doubt a killer place to get your eat on. From the Heights to Midtown, from Rice Village to the Galleria, there are more foodie fun spots than you can shake a stick at. But what do you get when you move away from the hustle and bustle? Are the suburbs nothing but a wasteland of chain restaurants and big-box grocery stores? Or course they aren't, and there are some hidden gems out there.
I'll be regularly highlighting some well known (and not so well known) places outside the beltway...and beyond. So whenever you have a little time on your hands, hit the road and get yourself something good.
Here we go...
Corkscrew BBQ, The Woodlands
What a way to start. Lately there's been quite a bit written and said about the Corkscrew, but in my opinion, it's not enough, and I'll tell you why. Four words: "Brisket of the Gods."
That's right, I said it. It's the brisket I've been waiting my entire life to eat: Moist, salty/smoky, and, unlike the case at most other places serving it, it can be ordered either fatty (recommended) or lean. My go-to is the two-meat plate, but one of those two meats MUST be brisket. Try as I might to break free, I'm but a slave to my fatty beef master.
If you're a lover of all things barbecue, this is definitely the place for you, because the deliciousness doesn't end with the brisket. There's also sausage, chicken, pulled pork and, by the way, did I mention they also smoke a mean pork rib? Hell, even the turkey is moist.
As far as sides go, they're pretty good as well. The beans are tasty, but don't quite make it to the top of my list (that belongs to Goode Co.). Be forewarned that the potato salad is not mustard-based, which can be a bit off-putting to Texas traditionalists. I personally don't mind it, but I will admit that having some tangy mustard would help to balance out some of that meaty richness. For dessert eaters there's usually a daily cobbler, so be sure to ask if you don't see it posted.
Here's a word to the wise: GET THERE EARLY. They open at 11 a.m., but by that time a crowd has already started to form, and when the food's gone, it's gone (usually around 2 or 3). It's actually kind of funny (and sad) to listen to people groan with disappointment as items run out while they stand in line, inching toward the order window.
Hubbell & Hudson, The Woodlands
If you haven't been up to The Woodlands in a few years, then I suggest you make the trip. The Woodlands Mall and Waterway area is quickly becoming somewhat of a dining and shopping destination, with water features and attractions, shops, and plenty of food choices.
Standing front and center is Hubbell & Hudson, a beautiful specialty grocer situated right in the heart of the district.
Think of it as a mini version of Central Market, but without the forced flow to herd people through like cattle.
For me, there are many things to love about this market. From the minute you walk through the door you get an unmistakably urban feel. I would even argue that it feels more urban than many markets in the city that actually are urban.
All this is definitely not to imply that Hubbell & Hudson is all form and no function. That is far from the case. In fact, function is what they do best. In a space that is probably one-third or one-fourth the size of your average grocery store, they've managed to hit all the high spots in spectacular fashion.
The small but incredibly stocked produce section has enough foodie items to rival any store in the city, while the meat case, which is quite large for the store's size, boasts not only grass-fed, dry-aged beef, but also specialty meats such as rabbit and foie gras.
If you're hungry, then you'll want to make your way to the sandwich counter or the prepared-foods area. There are a few tables inside, but I think sitting at one of the sidewalk tables for a little people watching is the way to go.
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After you've eaten, there are plenty of options to satisfy that sweet tooth. There's a chocolate counter, a pastry counter and my personal favorite, the house-made gelato.
I think you'll find that as you wander through the store you can't help but notice how right they've gotten it. From the cheese and charcuterie to the rustic breads and fresh juices, it's just a specialty market done right.
I'll be back soon with some other sweet destinations for the traveling foodie in you.