Urban Swank: Phoenicia Specialty Foods downtown is definitely not the place you go for a short grocery trip. Joanna O'Leary explains why she loves visiting the downtown location as it is "a multi-sensory experience." You can spend tons of time scanning the aisles for unique items such as smoked kippers, Russian jam, chutneys, cheeses and fresh pasta. But, don't forget about the fresh-baked pita bread, cookies, Indian and Mediterranean pastries, oh and those pizzas.
Homesick Texan: The Homesick Texan has a recipe that just about any Houstonian will love -- squash and green chile casserole. She normally makes her own Tex-Mex squash casserole, but decided to try something different and follow a recipe featured in Texas Monthly from Liz Carpenter, who was Lady Bird Johnson's press secretary. The squash casserole is an egg-based dish and includes either canned or fresh Hatch chiles; the Homesick Texan substituted the parsley for cilantro, since this is a Texas dish; she also added garlic and cumin, then sauteed the squash and seasonings in butter instead of boiling the veggies.
Hank On Food: Hank recently tried the three national summer frozen yogurt flavors from Pinkberry. The Banana Split with strawberry froyo topped with bananas, almonds, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a raspberry, as well as the S'mores with chocolate hazelnut froyo plus chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, marshmallow crème and graham crackers, both received an A grade. But, it was the Watermelon Cooler featuring the original tart froyo with crushed watermelon that received an A+. Get one of these flavors now before the summer season is over; each is only available for a limited time.
Zagat Houston: Many of the new restaurants in our city serve incredible food, but a few also have spectacular interior decor. Zagat Houston created a list of five new Houston restaurants with stunning design. First up is Caracol featuring a beach color scheme with sand, straw and blue, as well as aquatic-themed art from American Modernist painter Charley Harper. Common Bond's "casual urban elegance meets modern aesthetics of wood, concrete and glass," earned its place on the list, as did The Honeymoon Cafe & Bar's New Orleans-style furniture and decorations.
Gastronaut: If you enjoy meatless Mondays, then take Katharine Shilcutt's suggestion and order the tofu tacos at Fusion Taco. Tofu squares are fried then tossed in a tomato-curry sauce and placed not in a flour tortilla, but rather naan bread. Make it a meal with two tacos, a side (Shilcutt recommends chips and queso) and a drink for less than $11.
Texas Monthly: If you're in Austin for a UT football game this year, stop by the Donut Taco Palace. This Texas Monthly article explains that the small bakery in Austin has invented the Longhorn donut, which is in the shape of a hook 'em hand sign. These sign donuts can be purchased every Saturday and Sunday at all three of the Donut Taco Palace locations.