Best Of The Rest: Houston's Top 5 Places To Eat At A Concert

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We understand this category may initially seem a bit odd, as the words "concert food" tend to conjure up disturbing images of stale chips drowning in phosphorescent cheese, neon-orange grease pools of pizza, and the leathery hotdogs in ill-fitting buns so often found at Houston's larger concert venues.

And yes, it would be pointless to rank such items because, like portapotties, even the "best" among them still doesn't pass for preferable and certainly isn't worthy of a half-hour wait in line.

Luckily some of the city's smaller locales serve up hearty helpings of electrifying live music and equally enticing cuisine - some we even dine at regardless of what band is scheduled to play. Rock's Off's Top 5 places to grab a bite at a show are listed below.

5. The Continental Club. While it may lack a kitchen, the Main Street Mecca of rockabilly and roots rock made our list on account of Adam and Lena Fisher's backroom barbecue setup, producing some of the tastiest brisket and link sandwiches in town from a tiny table stationed near the back bar.

On nights when the duo is not in attendance, we generally opt to soak up the booze at Tacos A-Go-Go, located right next door. Most nights the line even moves quickly enough to scarf down a taco or two between sets. 3700 Main Street, 713-529-9899, Web site

4. Last Concert Café. Even though it's happened on a number of occasions over the years, we're still perplexed every single time we hear someone say, "What? LCC is a restaurant?" Maybe they thought the "cafe" was metaphorical (it's like...a big freaking platter of live music, maaaan)? Or perhaps became distracted by the twirling peasant skirts and hula-hoops or one of the reggae, singer-songwriter, roots-rock or jam bands that regularly play out back.

And it's possible the aforementioned persons never arrived before 10:30 p.m. when the kitchen stops serving a wide array of seriously tasty Mexican fare and combination plates with quirky names like "Mama's Little Dinner," "Mama's Big Dinner", and "Baby Mama". Then again, could be they were all just really, really stoned. 1403 Nance Street, 713-226-8563, Web site

3. Under the Volcano: The Rice Village bar, which hosts an assortment of accomplished blues and roots-rock acts on Wednesday nights, has a food and drink menu as diverse and eclectic as the performers onstage. Selections range from roast beef sandwiches and seafood campechana to Italian queso and a delightfully gooey baked Brie.

The German potato salad, served as a side with several dishes, is a favorite among regulars. And amply garnished with celery, okra, olives, and a sizable chunk of summer sausage, the Volcano's Bloody Mary is a meal in itself. 2349 Bissonnet Street, 713-526-5282, Web site

2. Armadillo Palace. An enormous longhorn armadillo in front, walls littered with antlers and bison heads, saddle-covered barstools, six-shooter door handles, and a guitar-playing cowboy on the mic. We reckon every imaginable Lone Star cliché can be found at Goode's Armadillo Palace.

The Kirby restaurant and bar hosts a variety of country music acts known around the state as well as a number of up-and-coming locals, and features a mixed menu of Tex-Mex, barbecue and Southern-fried favorites. Whether you're a native or a transplant, when there's cream gravy on your mashed potatoes and a steel guitar on the stage, it's hard not to abide by the Goode Co. slogan and thank your lucky stars you're in Texas. 5015 Kirby, 713-526-9700, Web site

1. Rudyard's: With nightly performances ranging from rock, indie, pop, punk, and metal, the upstairs stage at Rudyard's has a hit-or-miss, mixed bag quality that makes it one of the most unique and exciting venues in town. That, and the fact that their burger is fucking orgasmic.

The Montrose pub's exceptional eats can be chalked up to Joe Apa, former head chef of Austin's beloved Mars, whose subtle touch is evident in everything from the lightly toasted and buttered sandwich buns to the expertly fried tater tots, each the perfect complement to an ever-changing selection of beer. 2010 Waugh, 713-521-0521, Web site

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