This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus® issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape.
The first time I went into Sammy's Wild Game Grill, I felt pretty uncomfortable. I looked up at the specials board and saw a number of my favorite zoo friends. There was camel (which I've ridden and petted), yak (which looked like Ludo, my favorite critter from the movie Labyrinth) and kangaroo (Winnie the Pooh, anyone?). Who eats these cute animals, I thought to myself.
Only my thought must have shown on my face, because the guy behind the counter looked at me with concern and said, "Don't worry. In Australia, kangaroos are everywhere. You know how we have a wild hog problem? Australia has a kangaroo problem."
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That made me feel a little better, but still unconvinced, I ordered a much safer bet. And boy am I glad I did.
The BBQ pulled wild boar sandwich -- noted as a chef's favorite on the menu -- is exactly what it sounds like, and so much more. Think Kansas City-style pulled pork on a sandwich with a bit of cole slaw and an onion ring, and that's essentially what the wild boar sandwich is, only better.
Wild boar is gamier than the porcine critters we usually eat, and it takes on a bit of the flavor of whatever it is the boars have been foraging on, be it roots, crops, grass, etc. At Sammy's they barbecue the boar long enough to make it tender and melt-in-your-mouth, and the hint of barbecue sauce in which it's stewed mellows the gamey flavor for those less inclined to enjoy meat that tastes like it's been running around in the wild.
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The best part of the sandwich might not even be the boar, though. It's the zesty cilantro cole slaw that's so juicy it dribbles little pools of light green sauce onto your plate as you eat the sandwich. In lieu of onion rings, which can be incredibly difficult to bite into without yanking the whole thing out of place, the wild boar sandwich features crispy fried onion strings.
Those tasty toppings are covered with some melted cheese and stuffed between a soft pretzel bun. In general, I'm over pretzel buns. They're usually either too hard, too dry or not pretzel-y enough to deserve the title, but this one is pretty damn near perfect. It's slightly sweet and salty, and the smooth, browned crust on the outside keeps the entire sandwich from getting soggy and falling apart.
So, maybe next time I'll try the kangaroo. Of course, I've been saying that for a while now, and instead, I just keep coming back to the wild boar sandwich. Sorry, little boars. You're cute too, but this dish is just too good to pass up.
The list so far: No. 45: Guanciale Burger at Plonk No. 46: Parma 600 Pizza at Pizzeria Solario No. 47: CFC Deviled Eggs at Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar No. 48: The El Real Burger at El Real Tex-Mex Cafe No. 49: Custard Sandwich at Petite Sweets No. 50: Black Pepper Beer Lobster at Hai Cang Seafood Restaurant No. 51: Red Dragon Roll at Michiru Sushi No. 52: Fried Bananas Foster at Custom Confections No. 53: Bánh Canh Hue at Simply Pho No. 54: Kimchi Koagie at Koagie Hots No. 55: The Juicy Lucy Burger at Lowbrow No. 56: Eggplant Fries at Batanga No. 57: Macarons at Ganache Dessert Bar No. 58: Grilled Cheese at The Golden Grill No. 59: Baklava French Toast at Harry's Restaurant & Cafe No. 60: Patata e Funghi Pizza at Pizaro's No. 61: Old Fashioned Frito Pie at Armadillo Palace No. 62: Korean Spiced Brisket Plate at Revival Market No. 63: Bánh Mì at Les Givral's Sandwich and Cafe No. 64: Squirrel Master Burger at Cottonwood No. 65: Shorty Mac at H-Town StrEATS No. 66: Enchiladas de Mole at La Guadalupana No. 67: Bad Ass Hambur-Torta at Pistolero's No. 68: Green "Hurry Curry" at Nit Noi No. 69: Dozen Raw Oysters at Pappas Seafood No 70: Banana Split at Cloud 10 Creamery No. 71: Lazy Lane Frites at Brasserie 19 No. 72: Chicken Pot Pie at Kenny & Ziggy's No. 73: Chili Cheese Mac from Jus' Mac No. 74: Taco al Pastor at Taco Keto No. 75: 'Date With a Pig' at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop No. 76: The Heights Burger at Gratifi No. 77: Lamb Lollipops at Américas No. 78: Mortadella Sandwich at 13 Celsius No. 79: Carnissima Pizza at Coppa Osteria No. 80: The Marie Laveau Sandwich at Sandy Witch No. 81: Catfish and Grits at The Breakfast Klub No. 82: Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire No. 83: Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme