When you get a meatball sub to go at Zinnante's, get the sauce on the side so you can heat it up yourself at home. Not only will this keep the sandwich from getting soggy, it also prevents the flying meatball problem. See, the meatballs, bread and red sauce on Zinnante's sub are all outstanding, but when you bite one end of it, the sauce-lubricated meatballs have a terrible habit of popping out the other. By cutting each meatball in half and then slathering the bread underneath with the red sauce, you can anchor the meatballs firmly in place. Thus reconfigured, Zinnante's meatball sub is exquisite. The Paisano, a muffuletta-style sandwich, is another standout; the shrimp and catfish poor boys are excellent as well.
Cafe Montrose
Full of Francophobia but still want good mussels? Switch from French to Flemish at the only Belgian restaurant in town, Café Montrose. When you do, there are four things you need to know. First, even though they list many varieties of mussels on the menu, the best and most traditional are called moules frites, spoken all in one word (that's mussels and french fries, $16). These steamed bivalves are prepared in a white wine sauce with onions, celery and parsley, and they're served piping hot in a huge black pot. Second, it's mayonnaise they serve with the fries -- get used to it. Third, the Belgians brew more beers than the Germans, so wash down the mussels with a Duvel or Chimay ale. Fourth, French is still spoken here. Get over it.

The house special noodle soup at Lucky Pot comes with big chunks of Chinese bacon, shiitake mushrooms, black mushrooms and dried tofu in a thick brown broth. The sublimely flavored bowl of noodles will remind you of fresh, rough-cut pasta in a mushroom and bacon sauce. But hey, if that doesn't appeal, don't worry. This is only one bowl of noodles in a noodle jungle. "There are 10,000 kinds of noodles in China," the Lucky Pot waitress lectures. While you may not be able to find all 10,000 varieties in the unassuming shopping center at 9888 Bellaire, just east of Beltway 8, you will find more than you can eat in a week of lunches. Yunnan-, Peking-, Szechuan-, Hong Kong-, Taiwan- and Mandarin-style noodles are all assembled here for your slurping enjoyment.

Kraftsmen Bakery
Steeped in the old-world European tradition of bread-baking, the folks at KraftsMen Baking produce one of the only organic breads in the city. There's nothing light, airy or dainty about their pain biologique. It's dense and heavy, laden with lots of different kinds of seeds -- like hemp, flax, pumpkin and sunflower. A loaf costs between $4 and $6.50, depending on the size. It has an amazingly fresh taste. One drawback is that it doesn't keep very long, since it has no preservatives. But that's not much of a drawback at all: It's never around long enough to go stale.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
You may not want, or need, to order anything else after polishing off the tower o' rings at Fleming's. The stack of lightly battered, perfectly fried, giant white onion rings is a full foot tall. Japanese bread crumbs, garlic, salt, peppercorns and parsley make up the lighter-than-air batter that clings without clumping, and the rings are served with a fresh chipotle mayonnaise on the side. At $6.95, the tower makes a great appetizer for the whole table or just a nice snack for one. Try it with one of the over 100 wines by the glass (like the Rodney Strong Sonoma County 2000) for a decadent after-work treat.

When a dish that started out as a daily special makes it to the regular menu, it's got to be good. The avocado pasta at Annabelle's is just such a dish. A whole avocado is pitted and stuffed with a delicious, cheesy crawfish mixture. It's then reassembled and rolled in some spicy bread crumbs before being quickly fried and placed in the center of a dish of linguine. Slivers of carrot, zucchini, onion and squash are tossed in a creamy white wine sauce before being added to the pasta. The most fun is biting through the crunchy bread-crumb coating to the velvety smooth avocado and then the seafood filling. If you manage to mix this with the veggies and the linguine, the combination of tastes is extraordinary.
Flying Saucer Pie Company
A long, long time ago, Publius Syrus said that to do two things at once is to do neither. Sorry, Pub, but having visited the Flying Saucer Pie Company, we strongly disagree. Since 1967, co-owners Bill Leeson and Marilyn Smith have been doing at least a dozen things at once, each one of them brilliantly. Cherry, coconut cream, pecan, fresh strawberry cream, pumpkin, key lime, chocolate cream...Maybe their loophole is that they do pies and pies alone -- no sandwiches, no tables, no drinks. No matter. On Tuesday through Saturday mornings at 8 a.m., Flying Saucer's legions of loyal customers line up at the modest Garden Oaks-area store to get a whiff of the tantalizing aroma of baking and take home a perfect pie (or two) straight from the oven.
Churrascos
Photo by Houston Press Staff
In Latin America, plantains -- raw, mashed or fried -- are what's for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So it's no surprise that they show up all over South American menus in Houston. One of the best uses for the banana's big brother is the plantain chips at Churrascos. Known for its tender steaks and divine tres leches, Churrascos secures its loyal following with bottomless baskets of perfectly cut and lightly fried plantain slices. Throw in the amazing dipping sauce, and it's a good thing the baskets are bottomless.

In their definitive rendition of the oyster poor boy, the humble Main Street dive called Original New Orleans Po' Boy approaches greatness. They start with a toasted skinny roll, a spatula-full of tartar sauce, a bed of lettuce and a couple of tomato slices. Then come the six golden oysters fresh from the fryer. They fit the bread perfectly. If you eat it there, the oysters are still hot and juicy, so they gush into the lettuce, tomatoes and tartar sauce, creating a moist and creamy texture. This is one of those rare sandwiches in which every bite tastes better than the last. Rarer still is the price: $5.14, with tax.

Daniel Wong's Kitchen
Never thought you'd ever eat anything that had the words "road kill" in its description? Think again. Daniel Wong's Road Kill Pork is good, really good. It's basically the same dish as the restaurant's garlic pork, but with fewer vegetables and more meat. We recommend starting off with some dumplings and an order of Sparkling Chicken (chicken wrapped in aluminum foil with special spices and sauces). Though you'll be tempted, try not to lick the sauce directly off the foil. Hold out for that big dish of road kill. And don't share -- you'll want the whole thing, or at least the leftovers.

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