Wing Stop Chicken wings fly out of this Dallas-based franchise. After placing your order at the counter, be prepared to wait precisely 14 minutes, since everything is cooked fresh. Their original wings are similar to those at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York (which purportedly invented buffalo wings in 1964 and made them a part of our national culinary heritage). But even though the wings at Wing Stop are authentic, they're nowhere near hot enough to make us Texans break a sweat. The atomic wings, however, are coated in a habanero-pepper sauce and should come with a fire extinguisher. Nontraditional flavors worth exploring are the garlic-Parmesan wings and the lemon-pepper wings, along with the homemade ranch and blue cheese dressings that accompany the celery sticks.

Rudyard's A few years back Rudyard's Pub was given Best Burger honors. This year we salute their burger sans viande. The generous, tasty and never-dry patty made from nature's goodness sits on a perfectly toasted bun alongside crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes and thin slivers of red onion. You call the condiments. One bite of this delicious, no-cholesterol stomach-stuffer might make you forget meat for good. Eat upstairs during happy hour to take advantage of cheap drink prices and avoid all the cigarette smoke.

Christian's Tailgate Bar & Grill Swaddled in tissue paper and laid in a plastic cradle full of french fries, this burger seems to glow. Maybe it's just the grease sheen on the upper bun reflecting the fluorescent lights. Or maybe there really is an aura surrounding the burgers at the convenience store called Christian's Tailgate Bar & Grill. The sandwich perches on the side of the basket, awaiting your grasp, its tissue paper tighter on the well-wrapped downward side so the top and bottom buns part slightly to reveal colorful lettuce, tomato and jalapeños within. The tissue-paper corners face forward and then double back so that the burger seems to be emerging like a flower blossom. If you pull up the top bun, you will notice a dark char circle surrounding the golden interior -- the mark of a perfectly toasted bun. Inside, the hand-formed patty is made from a half-pound of never-frozen, freshly ground beef. This is it: All hail the perfect burger.

Kim Son When you crave steamed pockets of Asian goodness, a drive to Kim Son's Stafford location is more reasonable than a 14-hour flight to the Orient. Truth is, once seated and eating at Kim Son, you might start believing you've left the United States. The palatial neo-Chinese-style restaurant and banquet hall adorned with a dramatic goldfish pond looks like the real deal. At $3 to $5 a pop, the 30-plus-item menu is so diverse -- pan-fried, stuffed bell peppers, beef or shrimp noodles, savory wrapped tofu, chasu bao, ha gow (shrimp dumplings), sticky rice and mixed meat in lotus leaf, to name a few -- everyone is bound to find something they like. The dim sum is offered only on weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., so save yourself the jet lag and drive on out to Stafford.

Best Of Houston®

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