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. It's a list to drool over.
For this list, I generally pick specific items from specific places that strike my fancy. I don't just say pizza from Pizaro's or burgers from Bernie's Burger Bus (though I did include all the bánh mì from Les Givral's as one lump item). I like to tell you exactly which dishes are my favorites so you can try them out for yourselves.
I have a problem with The Golden Grill, though. Every time I go there and order something different, my allegiance changes. You might think that there aren't really that many ways to do grilled cheese, but each sandwich at the little striped food truck is unique, different and delicious in its own way.
I first fell in love with The Hamlin, a simple sandwich of prosciutto, American cheese and jalapeño jam. I'm not normally a huge fan of American cheese, because I'm a bit of a cheese snob, but there's no denying that it makes the best grilled cheese. The prosciutto elevates it from a typical grilled cheese with ham to a gourmet grilled cheese, and the spicy-sweet jalapeño jam provides just enough kick to counter the smooth prosciutto and creamy processed cheese product.
After that, the Kimcheese became my new obsession. I've previously stated that you could slap kimchi on just about anything and I'd eat it, because that's how much I love kimchi. But the beauty of the Kimcheese is that it would be a great grilled cheese sandwich even without the kimchi. I've always been partial to sharp cheddar in sandwiches, and when you put a fried egg on top, well, that's even better (no, I'm not over that trend). But add some spicy, vinegary, funky fermented cabbage to that cheddar and egg, and the combo becomes the ideal balance of familiar and exotic.
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I recently tried the Carnitas, with shredded roasted pork, apple jam, monterey jack cheese and pickles, and it was reminiscent of a pulled pork barbecue sandwich like the kind I used to eat in Kansas City when I lived in Missouri. It could have used a bit more acid or heat from some barbecue sauce, but damn is that a filling sandwich.
My favorite, though, remains the Green Eggs & Jam, a sweet and savory combo with four of my favorite things: green tomatoes, gouda, bacon and a fried egg. The green tomatoes are sliced super thin so as to not make the sandwich overly juicy, and the bacon is slathered on in the form of a mildly sweet, meaty bacon jam. It's a fairly sloppy sandwich, especially considering that the thick toast surrounding the cheese is buttered before being pan-fried (for extra-decadent crispiness).
Fortunately, the melted cheese holds the whole thing together, so while you may need some extra napkins, you probably won't need a bib.
The list so far: No. 100: Bangkok Fries at Boheme No. 99: Almond Croissant at Phoenicia No. 98: Bulgogi Tacos with Kimchi at Chi'Lantro No. 97: Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra No. 96: Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen No. 95: Sweet Potato Gnocchi at Brooklyn Athletic Club No. 94: Foie Gras Mac & Cheese at BRC Gastropub No. 93: Vuelve a la Vida Soup at Connie's Seafood No. 92: Homeroom at Bernie's Burger Bus No. 91: Lobster Cake Benedict at Sorrel Urban Bistro No. 90: Uncle Daryl's Cake at The Chocolate Bar No. 89: Porchetta e Fagioli at Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 88: Sesame Soft Balls at Golden Dim Sum No. 87: Crab Daddy Bao at Fat Bao No. 86: Ham, Egg & Cheese Crepe at Melange Creperie No. 85: Pork Tamales at Irma's No. 84: Greek Burger at Hubcap Grill No. 83: Lobster Roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches No. 82: Grilled Ahi Tuna at St. John's Fire No. 81: Catfish and Grits at The Breakfast Klub No. 80: The Marie Laveau Sandwich at Sandy Witch No. 79: Carnissima Pizza at Coppa Osteria No. 78: Mortadella Sandwich at 13 Celsius No. 77: Lamb Lollipops at Américas No. 76: The Heights Burger at Gratifi No. 75: 'Date With a Pig' at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop No. 74: Taco al Pastor at Taco Keto No. 73: Chili Cheese Mac from Jus' Mac No. 72: Chicken Pot Pie at Kenny & Ziggy's No. 71: Lazy Lane Frites at Brasserie 19 No 70: Banana Split at Cloud 10 Creamery No. 69: Dozen Raw Oysters at Pappas Seafood No. 68: Green "Hurry Curry" at Nit Noi No. 67: Bad Ass Hambur-Torta at Pistolero's No. 66: Enchiladas de Mole at La Guadalupana No. 65: Shorty Mac at H-Town StrEATS No. 64: Squirrel Master Burger at Cottonwood No. 63: Bánh Mì at Les Givral's Sandwich and Cafe No. 62: Korean Spiced Brisket Plate at Revival Market No. 61: Old Fashioned Frito Pie at Armadillo Palace No. 60: Patata e Funghi Pizza at Pizaro's No. 59: Baklava French Toast at Harry's Restaurant & Cafe