Farm Fresh Goodness at Revival Market

Revival Market may not immediately come to mind as a lunch destination, but since my visit a couple weeks ago, I've been dying to go back. What started out as a simple girl's lunch turned into a three-hour affair, but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

I blame it in part on the coffee, arguably one of the best I've had in Houston. Strong, but smooth, creamy and foamy, and without even a hint of bitterness, my cappuccino was perfection right down to the leaf of coffee art the barista made for me.

We lingered as we took in the comings and goings of shoppers at Revival Market - businessmen, families, couples, girls in workout year, kids, the occasional chef. It was fascinating, so much so, that it's officially my new favorite place for people-watching.

The friendly atmosphere definitely contributed to drawing out the length of my visit. A smiling Fabio wearing a jaunty hat, who was taking orders when we arrived, stopped by on his break to chat. Adam Garcia, the Chef de Cuisine, popped out of the kitchen long enough to say hello. The owners, Morgan Weber and Ryan Pera, who were floating around the shop that day, stopped by to chat, too. Everyone appeared happy and relaxed, and it was warm and welcoming. It felt like a family.

For certain, the pasture-to-plate, farm-to-table food quality was just as promised. Farm-fresh ingredients turned the simple roast chicken and corn salad with basil and queso fresco my friend ordered into something extraordinary. The corn was super sweet and crisp, the shredded chicken full of flavor, the vinaigrette, light yet tangy. One of their new summer menu items, it's something I would order in a heartbeat.

My BLT, made of thick-cut house-made bacon with vine ripe tomatoes, arugula and herbed mayo on a Slow Dough pain de mie bread, was delicious. The pain de mie had a hint of sweetness which balanced the saltiness of the the thick-cut bacon, while the distinctive herbal flavor of the mayo pulled everything together. The bread wasn't toasted, which is what I prefer, but I will know to request that the next time I order a sandwich. A simple side salad of Revival's signature Asian slaw was quite good as well.

Despite the fact that I'd just eaten, glimpses of the impressively large Revival Dog, made of Mangalitsa pork and served on a Slow Dough pretzel bun, had me salivating. A colorful vegetarian platter at an adjacent table piqued my interest as well. I wanted to order more, but didn't have room for anything besides the chocolate cupcake with salted caramel frosting, a to-die-for Fluff Bake Bar creation by pastry chef Rebecca Masson that I can never get enough of.

It takes me about 45 minutes to get to The Heights from where I live, but I'm making it my mission to go back to Revival Market as often as I can. Too often, we indulge ourselves with overly processed foods, but at Revival, you can feel good about giving your body healthy, fresh food.

The seating area inside is small but cozy, reminding me of the European cafes I loved to frequent when traveling abroad. They have a new patio seating area equipped with ceiling fans for those who want to brave the heat and sit outside. As for me, I'll be happy inside with a cup of coffee and pretty much anything from the kitchen.

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Mai Pham is a contributing freelance food writer and food critic for the Houston Press whose adventurous palate has taken her from Argentina to Thailand and everywhere in between -- Peru, Spain, Hong Kong and more -- in pursuit of the most memorable bite. Her work appears in numerous outlets at the local, state and national level, where she is also a luxury travel correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide.
Contact: Mai Pham