Houston Restaurant Weeks: Américas River Oaks
I'd wine and dine for a cause at Americas any day.
What they're up to for Restaurant Weeks: Three course dinner for $35, with complimentary plantain chips and a choice of their most popular appetizers, entrees and desserts. Mix and match Latin favorites like the ceviche trio, grilled swordfish, and tres leches. Bonus for meat eaters: They have multiple cuts of beef to choose from and are even offering a mixed grill platter, with filet of beef, chicken, short ribs, pork carnitas, chorizo, and shrimp.
Service/Atmosphere: You can't walk into Américas and not immediately smile. The décor is bold and fun, with giant booths that look like shavings of chocolate and sculptures of popped corn and beans peppering the walls (all touches meant to represent the three core foods in South American cuisine, as we later learned from our server). Service was friendly and perfectly orchestrated, balancing being attentive without making the meal feel rushed.
Items that won't be on the regular menu: The Restaurant Week menu is comprised of the restaurant's most popular dishes from their regular menu. While everything's available all year round, you can't beat this special price.
Don't Miss This Dish: I truly enjoyed each and everything I tried, but the highlight was their juicy as all hell signature steak, the Churrasco (I should note that it was voted one of the top steaks in America by Esquire Magazine). Served in a 6 oz portion with a chimichurri sauce and a yucca cake, my steak was incredibly luscious, well-seasoned, and cooked to the perfect medium rare. I actually would have loved some more of the chimichurri sauce with it, not because the steak needed it, but because of its bold herb and garlic flavor. And while we couldn't get over the amazing desserts, a chocolate cake aptly named delirio de chocolate and a tequila-soaked bread pudding, I am sort of sad no one at my table ordered the tres leches. Mostly because (if you say it's for a special occasion) they light a glass on fire and flambé it right in front of you. And that's just plain cool.
Don't Bother: with the Angel Wings appetizer. While the chicken drumettes are tasty, there are too many other exciting first courses to try; like the Lobster Duo, a creamy shrimp and lobster bisque accompanied by lobster corn dogs(!!!); or their pulled chicken Empanadas, with candied pecans, basil, and red peppers.
Final verdict: This is most certainly a killer deal. For $35 (+ wine, tax, and tip), I enjoyed the crisp plantain chips and dips (a spicy salsa, a chimichurri, and a queso fresco & crème fraiche sauce -- may I suggest mixing all three in one bite?), a fiery seafood bisque with a side of lobster corn dogs, a 6 oz steak with a crisp yucca cake, family style rice and vegetables, and a decadent, caramel drizzled tequila bread pudding. I had a wonderful night with friends, wine, and more food than I could possibly take down (though I gave it a pretty good shot).
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