Shoppers were looking for whatever they could find.
Shoppers were looking for whatever they could find.
Photo by Margaret Downing

The Most Read Houston Press Food Stories in 2017

Normally the most read food stories in a year don't have a whole lot to do with weather. But 2017 was anything but normal when Hurricane Harvey hit town and people everywhere first hunkered down and then reverted to Neaderthal like warrior status, becoming the hunter-gatherers that would enable them to survive.

The Houston Press was there, guiding them to supplies as well as how they could help others less fortunate who'd been flooded out of their homes and needed to eat.

Of course that wasn't all that our readers cared about in 2017. Where to eat certain kinds of food (burgers, steak and breakfast tacos) were all pretty important as was a surprisingly large interest in whatever was going on restaurant wise in the nearby Bay area.

Happy hour deals, of course, remained a matter of some concern and on a more serious note, our investigation of the closing of Foreign Correspondents attracted quite a readership.

So here they are. Dive in for a refresher course or experience them for the first time. Just click on the headlines to read the entire story. 

Stocking up at H-E-B before Harvey hits.
Stocking up at H-E-B before Harvey hits.
Photo by Marco Torres

There Are a Few Area Grocery Stores Open at This Time

GWENDOLYN KNAPP | AUGUST 28, 2017

Please use caution if you're attempting to travel to these grocery stores, and also keep in mind, wait times have been lengthy. You might have to wait just to enter a store, or stand in an extremely long checkout line, i.e., one that wraps around an entire store.

Please keep in mind, these stores could close at any time owing to many factors. If you know of a grocery store that's open or closed, please leave a comment and let us know.

Confirmed Open on Friday, September 1:

All area Kroger stores that are open are listed here and the company has released the following statement:

We are working to update the list as changes occur, as quickly as possible. MOST Greater Houston Area stores are scheduled to operate normal hours starting Friday. We are saddened that our Champion Forest @ Cypresswood and our Cypresswood @ HWY 249 stores sustained extensive damage but we are already working on a plan to repair and reopen in these very impacted communities ...

Inside the Houston Food Bank
Inside the Houston Food Bank

Texas Food Banks Are Mobilizing: Here's Their Info and How You Can Help or Receive Aid

GWENDOLYN KNAPP | AUGUST 25, 2017

Texas food banks are mobilizing as Hurricane Harvey aims for the coast near Corpus Christi. Food banks are an important asset during hurricanes, as they provide relief to families and residents who have lost access to food and water during the disaster. When a disaster is too big for one food bank to handle, such as is anticipated with Harvey, Feeding Texas steps in to coordinate with the state and other providers so that relief comes quick.

Right now, food banks are currently staging their inventory and manpower in anticipation of the need that will arise after the storm. Food banks are also working to assist local Red Cross shelters with food and other day to day items.

Here's important information on how you can help or receive aid:

To get help for yourself or community, call 2-1-1 or your local food bank immediately following the disaster to learn about public food distributions and open agencies ...

ll was not well behind the scenes at Foreign Correspondents.
ll was not well behind the scenes at Foreign Correspondents.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

What Was Really Going on Behind the Closing of Foreign Correspondents?

CRAIG MALISOW | JANUARY 5, 2017

As the Treadsack group's new restaurants were drawing local and national accolades, raising the city's dining profile and making rock stars out of its owners, the Texas Comptroller's Office was threatening to seize cash for back taxes, the IRS slapped the group with $1.1 million in liens and two banks stopped honoring checks written by the company.

The financial difficulties coincided with the surprise closing of perhaps the group's most acclaimed concept, Foreign Correspondents, which shuttered in December, four months after Bon Appétit listed the farm-to-table northern Thai eatery on its list of the 50 best new restaurants in the country, and just 14 months after it opened.

Treadsack — the portmanteau of co-founders/co-owners Chris Cusack and Joey Treadway — made the announcement the day after the Houston Chronicle reported the resignation of the Heights restaurant's esteemed chefs, PJ and Apple Stoops. One day later, CultureMap Houston reported that another Treadsack concept, a bar called Canard, was closing as well. (Treadway, and another partner, Benjy Mason, whose name apparently couldn't be shoehorned into "Treadsack," did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

It was an ignominious end to a restaurant that seemed to have it all — delicious food, a pretentious name that cleverly gave no indication that it was in fact a restaurant, and an impeccable pedigree: Treadsack had already established the immensely popular Down House ...

We tasted breakfast tacos from 16 spots around Houston to find the best.
We tasted breakfast tacos from 16 spots around Houston to find the best.
Photo by Erika Kwee

Taste Test: We Found the Best Breakfast Taco in the Loop

ERIKA KWEE | MAY 3, 2017

Let’s talk breakfast tacos. Putting aside the controversy surrounding the origin of the breakfast taco, I think we can all agree on the inherent satisfaction that comes from consuming the Tex-Mex creation. While breakfast tacos generally follow the same formula (tortilla, egg, filling, salsa), the quality of the taco can greatly vary owing to the pliability and freshness of the tortilla, the fluffiness or sogginess of the egg, the spice level of the salsa, and a hundred other factors. Today we’re getting down into the nitty-gritty mechanics of Houston breakfast tacos — a task so serious that we formed teams to carry out a bracket-style tasting to find the best in Houston.

This tasting was conducted with eight teams of three to four people who collectively visited 16 breakfast taco locations inside the Loop to sample each locale’s “best” breakfast taco (both on flour and on corn). Each location's "best” breakfast taco was determined by a recommendation from the establishment. While admittedly not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, this was the fairest way to judge each locale's strongest offering. Locations were selected by word-of-mouth recommendations, online reviews and online research (many thanks to special input from Tacos of Texas contributor Marco Torres) ...

The Ross Burger at Preamble Lounge and Craft House.
The Ross Burger at Preamble Lounge and Craft House.
Photo by Jennifer Fuller

The 10 Best Burgers in Houston's Bay Area

JENNIFER FULLER | MAY 8, 2017

May is Burger Month, and with Cinco de Mayo out of the way, it’s time to put America’s favorite dish back on center stage. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 burgers in Houston’s Bay Area for you to try if you haven’t yet.

From kid-friendly patios to adult-only establishments, we have a burger dining experience for you.

The Bakkhus Burger at Bakkhus Taverna in Kemah

A spot known for its tender gyros and cheesy pastitsio, Bakkhus Taverna just happens to serve up a few incredible burgers too. The Bakkhus burger is a beef patty marinated in red wine and topped with sautéed onion and mushroom, feta cheese, Greek spices, lettuce and tomato. Sink your teeth into the warm bun and velvety mound of salty feta as the burger’s juices drip down your chin. Grab a Greek coffee and a slice of baklava cheesecake to round out this satisfying experience ...

Crooked Road Catering Co. grills up yummy steaks at Lincoln bar; the filets are sous-vide.
Crooked Road Catering Co. grills up yummy steaks at Lincoln bar; the filets are sous-vide.
Photo by Cuc Lam

Nine Steak Nights Not to Miss in Houston

CUC LAM | JANUARY 5, 2017

The weather is always right for a steak night in Houston. We are a city full of meat-lovers who worship the grill and all of its glorious offerings. On any given night, bars and restaurants around town reel diners in with promises of fat, juicy steaks and sides. Most places stick with the traditional baked potato and salad, but a few actually go beyond and feature items like crawfish mac and cheese, creamed corn or grilled asparagus. We've scoured the city and packed on the pounds to put together a list of the best joints to satisfy that steak craving.

Hay Merchant, 1100 Westheimer
Tuesdays, $15, 8-ounce 44 Farms Angus sirloin
presented with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables
starts at 5 p.m., steaks usually last until 9 p.m., or until they sell out

There's a reason Hay Merchant was voted Best Steak Night in 2016 by the Houston Press. A representative of the popular Montrose hangout said the beef it uses, from 44 Farms, sets it apart from other neighborhood steak nights. Hay Merchant has been hosting a steak night for close to four years now. Special housemade sauces, like demi-glace, chimichurri, red wine shallot butter and herbs, are available. Diners can enjoy happy hour prices from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., but come early on Tuesday nights; the steaks always sell out ...

Chris Cusack, the public face of Treadsack.
Chris Cusack, the public face of Treadsack.
Photo by Chuck Cook Photography

House of Cards: The Rise and Fall of Restaurateur Chris Cusack

CRAIG MALISOW | FEBRUARY 14, 2017

Six days before Christmas 2016, Darth Vader strolled into the Thai food restaurant on North Main with the bad news: The joint was closing and everyone was out of a job.

To be clear, it wasn’t the dark-helmeted, planet-exploding villain himself who lowered the boom, but a 35-year-old, boyishly handsome restaurateur named Chris Cusack who wore Vader’s visage on an ironic Christmas sweater.

Cusack, who co-founded the management group that oversaw the highly acclaimed restaurant Foreign Correspondents, had called for the meeting during off-hours to tell the handful of staff who showed up what every employee already knew: Foreign Correspondents was kaput.

The day before, head chef PJ Stoops told the employees that Cusack and one of his business partners, Benjy Mason, had told him that the restaurant was closing after December 31. According to employees interviewed for this story, Stoops said that Cusack and Mason had no intention of giving the employees a heads-up, and it didn’t sit well with him. But something else was said that day — something that caused Stoops to wrap up his knives, shake employees’ hands and walk out of the restaurant for good. Days later, Canard, the bar that shared space with Foreign Correspondents, also closed. Just over two weeks later, the company’s other renowned chef would also quit.

But now the eight employees gathered at the meeting were being subjected to a patented Cusack spiel, a paean to his own talent and vision, peppered with a few boilerplate references to how proud he was of the staff. (Cusack declined to comment for this story.) ...

Beautiful view of Clear Lake from this patio at Cabo Clear Lake.
Beautiful view of Clear Lake from this patio at Cabo Clear Lake.
Photo courtesy of Cabo Clear Lake

10 Best Patios in Clear Lake and Nearby Areas

JENNIFER FULLER | JUNE 12, 2017

Summer is just about here. Flip-flops, frozen drinks and patio hopping are on the agendas of many people, especially down here by the bay. To make your hunt for that perfect patio a little easier, the Houston Press has put together a list of ten patios in the Clear Lake and nearby areas that just might help make this summer one to remember.

Noah’s Ark, 4438 Boulevard, Bacliff

Just steps away from the water, Noah’s Ark is a place you’ll want to stay awhile. Bring a hair tie for your long locks, because the gulf breeze likes to dance here. There are several patios and decks to choose from, all overlooking endless views of the bay. Many patios are covered, like the oversized palapa bar upstairs, which is reserved for adults. We recommend the Bloody Mary and the rib eye steak and shrimp ...

New cocktails and happy hour abound at Picos.
New cocktails and happy hour abound at Picos.
Photo by Nick de la Torre

The Best New Happy Hours and Booze Specials in Houston

GWENDOLYN KNAPP | JUNE 14, 2017

With the official start of summer just a week away, June 21 to be exact, restaurants and bars around town are rolling out new deals for boozing this summer. Here are ten new (or drastically updated) happy hours and booze specials you'll want to check out in the days ahead. They range from casual to upscale affairs, with neighborhood spots and downtown after-work hubs included.

Here's where to seek out a cheap drink after work (or maybe even at lunch).

10. Fusion Taco, 801 Congress

Hello, after-work crowd. The original downtown brick-and-mortar location of the globally inspired taco shop Fusion Taco just launched a happy hour. Specials include $3 tacos, $3 draft beer and a selection of wines for $5 a glass. For Taco Tuesdays, happy hour now runs ALL day.

As a reminder, Fusion Taco — Heights has a full bar and offers happy hour Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m., with $3 tacos (dine-in only), $3 frozen margaritas and more specials too ...

Grimaldi's cheesecake.
Grimaldi's cheesecake.
Photo courtesy of Grimaldi's

10 New Happy Hours to Try in Houston Now

GWENDOLYN KNAPP | SEPTEMBER 20, 2017

Hard to believe, but autumn officially starts next week, on Friday, September 22. With that in mind, the Houston Press has rounded up the best new happy hours in town. These happy hour deals include brunch and late-night steals, vegetarian options, and regular old after-work drink specials. Here's where to get your cheap drinking and dining on in Houston now.

Also make sure to check out these happy hours that launched over the summer, all of which are still worth a try as well.

10. Helen in the Heights, 1111 Studewood

The Heights-based Greek taverna has officially launched its happy hour with specials available every Tuesday through Friday, 3 to 5:30 p.m., at the bar. Menu highlights include a half-price special for all cocktails and beer, select wine priced at $25 per bottle, along with feta-brined wings for $7, Greek poutine for $8, baklava soft serve for $5, and the restaurant's myriad Greek dips available for $4 each ...

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