It's the end of July, and that means it's time to take a look back on the dishes we have been obsessing over all month. From Chinese pastries to Tex-Mex staples, this month is not lacking for diversity. On the list you'll find Italian, Vietnamese, modern American, Hawaiian, Spanish, soul food and even a steakhouse, with both fine dining and casual eats well represented. There's a little something for everyone, including those in search of decent quail.
Make sure to check out our slideshow, featuring 20 of the best dishes we ate this month as well.
10. The Coconut Tart at 85C Bakery Cafe
Pastry-obsessor Erika Kwee found that this "crunchy, buttery short crust" holds up against a mild coconut filling during a taste test at Chinatown's hottest new bakery and coffee shop, also known as "The Starbucks of Taiwan." Pair it with a sea-salt coffee and call it a day.
9. The Short Rib Mac and Cheese at Grazia Italian Kitchen
This beefy macaroni and cheese at Grazia Italian Kitchen, which opened its second location in Clear Lake (the first is in Pearland) in the summer of 2016, features a melted three-cheese blend and tender short rib that hits all the right comfort food marks for our contributor Jennifer Fuller.
8. The Patatas Bravas at BCN Taste & Tradition
Chef Luis Roger's patatas bravas may just be one of the coolest platings in town. Plus, the carefully crafted potatoes come bursting with creamy notes of garlic and paprika in each "little bite of heaven," as our contributor Mai Pham calls them. "I order this every time I visit the restaurant, and it never disappoints."
7. The Fried Quail and Crispy Pork Belly at Bacon Bros. Public House
The batter on the quail is crunchy and salty, a great pairing for the corn succotash it rests upon, reviewer Cuc Lam discovered this month, "full of bursts of freshness from the corn and tomatoes, and the buttery finish of the beans and the okra" and stewed bacon, making for "a sublime bite."
6. The Special Vermicelli Bowl at Pho & Crab Memorial
Nothing fussy about it. This vermicelli bowl comes packed with perfectly grilled meats — lemongrass chicken, pork and shrimp — with loads of fresh greens, sprouts and pickled carrots on top, making for one very reliable and very tasty lunch.
5. The Chicken Fried Duck Breakfast Sandwich at Kitchen 713
"The duck is tender, juicy and flavorful," writes Nicholas Hall. "Served open-faced on a simple round of toasted white bread and draped with a sunny fried duck egg, it feels like a lily-gilded toad in a hole. Southern roots moor the 'sandwich' in a pool of white gravy shot through with collard greens, which just might be my new favorite form of gravy."
4. The Burger at Presidio
The thick-cut patty with chuck sourced from 44 Farms is served up juicy and medium rare with butter lettuce, tomato, bacon jam and grain mustard on a challah bun, available in single- or double-patty form with crispy, handcut fries on the side. Best enjoyed in the restaurant's backyard on a summer evening with an ice cold beer.
3. The Truffle Yellowtail Bowl at Seaside Poke
Just when you want to go and roll your eyes at the Houston poke fad, a restaurant comes along that simply nails it. Seaside is that place, and its offerings are just incredible enough to make your eyes stop rolling in your head. Don't miss the truffle yellowtail bowl, with tender fish marinated in simple shoyu — soy and truffle oil that doesn't overpower — with little bits of puffed rice and a wispy, crispy nest of colorful ito togarashi (chile pepper) coming in for the textural kill. Cilantro and jalapeño play off the earthen truffle flavors at play here, making this both a satisfying and a visually stunning lunch for $10.
2. The Quail Fajitas at The Original Ninfa's on Navigation
One of life's greatest pleasures has to be eating fajitas where tacos al carbon all began: The Original Ninfa's on Navigation, where service is great, margaritas are strong and the tortillas...well, you know all about how incredible they are already. In any case, adding the grilled quail to your fajita order for an extra $10 is a must. The bird is cooked on the wood-burning grill to succulent, smoky perfection. Seriously, we've never had quail this good. The meat just basically falls off the bone. Just make sure it hits the tortilla before you stuff it in your mouth.
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1. The 48-ounce Snake River Farms long bone-in Wagyu rib eye at Killen's STQ
"I’d never seen a bone so magnificent in proportion," writes reviewer Mai Pham of her trip to one of Houston's best new restaurants of the year for a monster rib eye. "Ours came with an extra-big rib-cap, its crust intensely brown with a strong outer sear, and a deep rose-colored center that was the very definition of a perfect medium rare. I looked around the table as everyone took a bite, chewing slowly and nodding at the same time as involuntary moans of food pleasure erupted, making words completely unnecessary."