Restaurant News

10 Best Houston Restaurant Dishes to Eat This Winter

Even though the weather may be only half-heartedly cooperating, the season of hot cocoa, hearty soups and homey sage- and squash-studded pasta dishes is technically here. Get into the winter spirit with these exquisitely cozy dishes around town:

Casserici Pasta at Coltivare:
This winter, dig into the casserici pasta at Coltivare — the twisty, tube-like noodles are dressed in an oxtail sauce and studded with pearl onions. Finished with a shower of parmesan, they're comfort in a bowl.

Acorn Squash Gnocchi at Weights + Measures: The starchy, comforting gnocchi at Weights + Measures are served with pancetta, sage butter and aged pecorino. For other squash options, try the wood-oven-baked spaghetti squash cannelloni, bulked with a medley of parsnips, carrot and peas. For more comforting and hearty meat-and-starch dishes, there's a wild boar ragu with creamy onion risotto or rib eye meatballs with calabrian pepper ragu and toasted pugliese.

Tagliatelle Mare e Monte al Marsala at Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino: Fresh produce is scarce during the winter, which gives sturdy plants like mushrooms the opportunity to shine. The seasonal December pasta at Giacomo's features sautéed cremini and shiitake mushrooms and seared diver scallops over housemade egg noodles in a Marsala tomato cream sauce. For a rich starter, the seasonal soup is also a stunning cream of potato and vegetable soup garnished with gorgonzola, gruyère, cream and pancetta.

Braised Oxtail at Peli Peli Kitchen: The newly opened Peli Peli Kitchen translates its delicious South African flavors into a speedier version that allows you to customize your meal, Chipotle-style. However, the menu — which spans naan tacos to South African entrées with a variety of sides — is a far cry from Chipotle. The braised oxtail is a super-cozy pulled pork-esque option, served with yellow rice.

Butternut Squash Pizza at True Food Kitchen: True Food Kitchen makes it possible to indulge in winter flavors while still keeping your meal light — the butternut squash pizza offers morsels of the sweet roasted squash nestled among ribbons of organic kale and vegan ricotta made from almonds. Additional wintery cocktails, like the Autumn Orchard Sour (muddle pear, juiced apple, lemon zest and mulled brandy) or the spiced brandy-spiked Farmers Market Sangria, make for a jolly meal.

Pumpkin Samosa at Pondicheri: For a delightfully exotic take on pumpkin, pick up a samosa or three from the Bake Lab above Pondicheri. The starchy squash blends beautifully with Indian seasoning inside the folds of a crisp, deeply fried outer shell. Call ahead for availability since the samosas may not be available every day. The menu at the downstairs restaurant also changes seasonally, so stop in for treats like the Buddha Burger on a pumpkin pav bun (or, obviously, the chai pie, which gets dressed up for the
holidays with a layer of pumpkin).

Cinnamon and Pecan Praline Oatmeal at Urban Eats: If you wake up craving warming holiday flavors, stop by Urban Eats to partake in some delicious new oatmeal flavors. Urban Eats also offers an apricot, ginger and pumpkin seed oatmeal as well as a wide variety of other breakfast items.

Roasted Butternut Squash at Lucille’s: For an entirely different take on butternut squash, try the roasted butternut squash at Lucille’s, which recently launched a brand-new menu showcasing global flavors in honor of its fourth birthday. On the heavily meat-leaning menu, a vegan dish is rare, but the roasted squash atop cilantro puree and garnished with roasted pumpkin seeds is vegan right down to the spiced soy yogurt.

Brisket-Stuffed Sweet Potato at Dish Society: What's cozier than a baked potato? Dish Society bakes up local sweet potatoes, then stuffs them with brisket, green onions and cheddar doused in a housemade barbecue sauce that gets topped with a tangy cabbage slaw. Dish Society also offers several wintery salads, like a brussels sprout-based super salad with red quinoa, golden raisins and a house honey vinaigrette, or an apple pecan salad with organic greens and Texas goat cheese.

BBQ Brisket Tamales at Killen’s BBQ: Somehow the combination of tamales stuffed with hearty, seasoned brisket seems the epitome of a seasonal celebration. Pick up these brisket tamales any Thursday, Friday or Saturday through the end of December.

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Erika Kwee is a freelance food writer, photographer and contributor to the Houston Press who particularly enjoys exploring the many unique sweet spots around Houston. She is constantly on the hunt for exceptional pad thai, vegetarian dumplings and pancakes.