This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.
It's well-established that I spend too much time in Spec's. The Smith Street location -- like Phoenicia or Super H Mart -- is a Toys R Us for grownups. But the reason I go to Spec's most often is for lunch.
Like many a downtown worker bee, I head to Spec's for lunch to get an amazing sandwich from its deli and peruse the beverage case while waiting for the sandwich to be slowly and deliberately created (this ain't no Subway). I've taken home cans and bottles of Faygo, Leninade, Ironbeer and Almdudler over time. And over the years, I must have tried every sandwich on Spec's menu. But the Pâté de France is my favorite.
The sandwich is so well constructed that I can't think of another ingredient I'd want to add between its two slices of rye bread. There's even a sandwich within the sandwich: thinly sliced Angus roast beef on one side and a slice of country-style pâté surround a filling of crunchy, mayo-tinged coleslaw. On the outside of the "inner sandwich," fat slices of tomatoes rest against mayonnaise on one side of the bread and whole grain mustard on the other. I may not be able to "see the Eifel [sic] tower" with every bite, as promised on the menu, but that would just be weird anyway; you don't mess with the space-time continuum when you're running a deli.
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The list so far:
No. 100: Dumplings at Heights Asian Cafe No. 99: Mixta Pizza at Friends Pizzeria No. 98: Veggie tacos from Radical Eats No. 97: Bean pie from Conscious Cafe No. 96: Swiss chard crepes from Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 95: Eggs Mia Bella at Mia Bella No. 94: Mulligatawny soup at the Queen Vic No. 93: Helado de Lúcuma from Pollo Bravo No. 92: Black bean burger from Natachee's No. 91: Chupacabra pizza from ERA No. 90: Roast chicken from El Norteño No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil No. 88: Frank the Pretzel from Eatsie Boys No. 87: Caldo Tlalpeño from Tacos del Julio No. 86: English pea soup at Brasserie 19 No. 85: Falafel from Zabak's No. 84: Buttermilk-fried pork loin with fried eggs at Canopy No. 83: Grillades and grits from BB's Cajun Cafe No. 82: Haemul dolsot from Seoul House No. 81: Pandan waffles at Parisian Bakery III No. 80: Pita bread and hummus at Phoenicia No. 79: Goat pepper soup at Peppersoup Cafe No. 78: Melon and Texas feta salad from Beaver's No. 77: Hot Italian beef from BB's Beef & Hot Dog No. 76: Bacon-avocado burger from Facundo Cafe No. 75: Pancakes from Fountain View Cafe No. 74: Hobnobs from Fluff Bake Bar No. 73: Chu chee eggplant from Nidda Thai No. 72: Sausage sampler from King's Biergarten No. 71: Shawarma from Abdallah's No. 70: Moules-frite at the Broken Spoke No. 69: Hong Kong-style French toast at House of Bowls No. 68: Sashimi sampler at Sushi Miyagi No. 67: Baleadas from Honduras Mayan No. 66: Snow ice from Star Snow Ice & Teriyaki No. 65: Boudin balls from MerCheri's No. 64: Miso ramen at Umai No. 63: Grim burger at Lankford Grocery No. 62: Dabeli at Bansuri Indian Food Corner No. 61: Wine and cupcakes at 13 Celsius