If you go to the Third Ward community convenience store Reggae Bodega, you'll find Ariell's cookies all laid out on the counter just waiting for you. They come in several scrumptious flavors: oatmeal raisin, cocoa butter, Belgian chocolate chunk, organic rolled oat and, let's not forget the mutha of them all, Ali's Carrot Cake. With their all-natural, made-from-the-finest-ingredients aesthetic, these are definitely the kind of cookies that were made to be eaten with a glass (or bucket) of milk. There's a stool right next to the counter, if you're so overwhelmed by the taste that you need to sit down. Each cookie costs $2, and they're worth every damn crumb. The chef's "cookie hot line" is temporarily disconnected, so you may have to get in touch with the guy (he named the company after his daughter) about his delightful treats at ariellsgourmettreats@starchefs.com. Or just skip over to the bodega with a bottle of Oak Farms and go nuts right there.

"What's in this?" we asked, taking a sip of our first ever mojito. "Heavenly goodness," a friend said. A mojito is a Cuban drink made with rum, soda and simple syrup. A delectable muddle of mint leaves and lime sits at the bottom. Saba adds to the sugar-water sweetness of the simple syrup with a splash of 7-Up. It's the perfect summer beverage for people who are sick of Jolly Rancher-flavored apple martinis but want something more elegant than a shot of tequila. Saba's ambience adds to the "I'm hip and trendy and drinking a cooler drink than anyone else" vibe. The best thing is to drink a couple mojitos at the bar, then go sit at a table. They'll serve you crispy shrimp chips. Pour soy sauce on them, drink another mojito and listen to the chips sizzle. The more mojitos you have, the cooler this will seem. Trust us.

If you only kind of feel like cooking -- but definitely want to get out of the house -- Seoul Garden is the place to go. The bulgogi is brought to your table. This fantastic Korean beef tastes as though it's been marinating since JFK was alive and is sliced into paper-thin strips. There's an open grill where you cook your own dinner. The dish is accompanied by a chorus of tofu, spicy potatoes, Korea's ubiquitous kimchi. Be careful with your legs. It really hurts if you accidentally slam your thigh into the grill. But don't get too entranced in conversation and forget to flip your beef. If you toss it on expecting the waitress to come back to turn it for you, your tender beef will end up burned and tough.

It's surprising, but the best-tasting dog comes from a veg joint. Yes, we realize how insane it sounds to pick a vegetarian Best Hot Dog, but tasting is believing. Whether you choose the soy or the vegan dog (served on a whole wheat bun with chips or excellent fries), this pup will leave you panting for more. We like it topped with vegetarian chili and cheese. Choose from a slice of American or the veggie or vegan alternatives, which taste just as good as dairy. There's also a corn dog version. Want to make it even more health-conscious? Order fruit instead of fries.

Any of The Chocolate Bar's homemade ice creams could be in contention for this award (Root Beer Float and Orange Blossom leap to mind), but their most popular concoction, Creamy Dreamy Truffle, made from triple-chocolate ice cream and chocolate truffles, is to a chocoholic what water is to a fish. (Okay, not exactly: You can't actually swim in the stuff, though you'll be tempted.) Look for a few new flavors this fall. The Chocolate Bar recently expanded into the store next door, giving it room for a longer ice cream bar -- plus tables, coffees and desserts.
If you listen to KIKK FM, you've probably heard Jerry Jeff Walker's "Sangria Wine" about 73 times. Sangria is most easily described as fruity trash-can punch. But it's hard to find a place that puts real fruit in it, not to mention the difficulty in finding someone who doesn't use watered-down wine that tastes like Kool-Aid. No bones about it, the sangria here is damn tasty. And if you ask for extra fruit, they'll cut up a whole apple for you. The best meal to have with your sangria? Start with an empanada. Then devour a heaping plate of picadillo, essentially Cuban chili. This heavenly hash combines ground beef, tomato, green pepper, green olives or capers and plenty of garlic. Serve it up with rice, fried plantains and a bowl of black beans and -- madre de dios -- que delicioso! Once you've kicked the pitcher of sangria, we recommend a glass of café con leche. Then you're gonna need a nap.

When you walk in the front door of this place, the aroma of goat smacks you in the nose. Or is it mutton? Chivito asado al pastor (spit-roasted goat) and barbacoa de borrego estilo Hidalgo (Hidalgo-style lamb slow-cooked in maguey leaves) are two of the restaurant's specialties; if it's Friday or Saturday, odds are you're smelling both. Weekdays the goat is reheated in sauce, but on the weekends the chivito (or cabrito, as it's called farther north) is spit-roasted over charcoal while you watch. There's a band playing favorite tunes from Hidalgo on Friday and Saturday nights when the whole Houston Huastecan community comes here to hang out.
Candelari's owner Michael Mays calls himself "The King of Sausages." He even has the slogan curving across the top of the pizzeria's logo. His sausage pizza is very good, but Mays could put his Italian sausage on Wonder bread and still draw raves. As the story goes, Mays founded Candelari Sausage with his Grandpa Candelari's sausage recipe. It is boldly spiced, with garlic and fennel in the foreground and the subtle flavor of several secret ingredients (orange liqueur?) in the background. At Candelari's Pizzeria you can get this outrageous Italian sausage on pizzas, sausage-and-pepper subs and in several excellent pasta dishes.
Watch out! The innocent-looking paper-wrapped package they hand you when you ask for a cheeseburger at Adrian's is actually a delicious mess waiting to happen. The giant hand-formed meat patty is topped with a sloppy mountain of lettuce, tomatoes, onion and pickles. The burgers are fried to order, so they're piping hot. They're also so big you need a strategy to eat one. First of all, be sure to ask them to cut it in half. This will reduce the likelihood of the entire sandwich coming apart and cascading down your shirt on first bite. Next, consider sharing with a friend. Two people can easily split the $4.35 monstrosity. Try one of the awesome steam-table potato or vegetable dishes instead of french fries. The food here is beautiful, but the dining room is ugly. That's probably why most Adrian's Burger Bar patrons call in their orders and get the food to go.

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.

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