Once again, a national eye has turned to Houston, which the rest of the country tends to dismiss out of hand as not being a food town. Guy Fieri's popular Food Network show -- Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives -- has spent the last few weeks filming at various restaurants around town, leading to massive speculation about which "dives" were being visited. Because Houston is a city that takes its dives just as seriously as its fine dining, food lovers throughout the town were worried that a national TV show wouldn't be able to adequately capture the essence of our enormous city in only a few snippets. Moreso, they were worried that the "wrong" restaurants would be chosen to represent Houston.
Message boards and emails were aflutter with fretful murmurs of "What if they choose a Fertitta operation?" and "They're never going to choose the right burger place...they'll end up at Cliff's." But as the word got out from restaurant owners and insiders about which places were chosen, it appeared the unlikely had happened: They actually chose somewhat well.
Which restaurants were chosen to appear on the show? Find out after the jump.
Producers settled on these locations for filming, which you'll notice now have a graffiti stencil from Guy Fieri himself on their walls:
The Red Lion Pub (2316 Shepherd): Owner Craig Mallinson let his fans know through his Twitter stream that the show would be filming there -- in the kitchen, naturally -- from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on June 18. The pub's selection was a bone of contention among many Houstonians, who felt that it was neither a diner, drive-in or dive.
Lankford Grocery (88 Dennis): Despite a recent review from Alison Cook that was less than complimentary, the show descended upon one of the city's oldest and quirkiest burger joints. And although it may have slipped some in recent years, the burger stand is still an excellent choice.
Cafe Pita + (10890 Westheimer): The inclusion of this charming yet out-of-the-way Bosnian restaurant on the west side of town celebrates all the hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants that make the Houston dining scene unique. Owners Omer Okanovic and Slobodan Mijic were thrilled to host the TV show and showcase their terribly underappreciated Bosnian cuisine.
(2520 Montrose): There was a point in time when Niko Niko's could truly have been considered a dive. No more, since their expansion and renovation some years back, but the classic Greek diner food has kept the place as popular as ever.
Kenny & Ziggy's Deli (2327 Post Oak Blvd): Another contentious location. As anyone who's ever visited the upscale deli in the Galleria area will tell you, it's anything but a dive, especially when simple sandwiches average $12.50 each. Perhaps the "novelty" of New York deli food in the Bayou City drew the producers here? We won't know until the show airs.
T-Bone Tom's Steakhouse (707 Highway 146, Kemah): This long-time steakhouse in Kemah is a relic from the good old pre-Fertitta days, and it serves more than steak: It's famous for its oysters, shrimp and po-boys. Even the burgers are said to be legendary.
Bob's Taco Station (1901 Avenue H, Rosenberg): This final stop is simply bizarre, as the show passed over dozens of far better Mexican or Tex-Mex joints and ended up at this little place outside of Sugar Land. You can't trust a place that dresses its tacos with lettuce and tomatoes instead of cilantro and onions.
Honorable mention: Himalaya (6652 Southwest Freeway): Owner Kaiser Lashkari was excited to be on the show but was unable to commit to the production crew's desired timeframe and availability. It's a shame, too, as Himalaya and its excellent food could have showcased the large and important South Asian community in Houston.
While none of the restaurants chosen (except for the excluded Himalaya) match up with our recent list of places we'd like to take Guy Fieri, we can take solace in the fact that at least most of them will represent our city well. The Houston episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives will air this September.