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My Top 5 Houston Food Experiences

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Food is more than just about the actual food. Often times, it represents an experience. This experience encompasses the setting, the people, and obviously, the fabulous food. Here are the top five food experiences in our city.

5. Go to Leonard's I listened to the expert. I drove into Acres Homes one afternoon and went to Leonard's. It's basically a burger shack. You park your car, you mosey over to the structure and slide open an old screened window, and you order a burger--from Leonard himself. The burger is easily one of the best you'll eat in this city, but it doesn't hold a candle to the man. I love when you can immediately detect the love and passion someone has for their craft. Leonard's craft is making burgers, and his fries are damn good too.

4. A Walk Through Central Park...I Mean, Central Market Have you ever taken a walk through Central Market in mid-February, specifically, a few days before Valentine's? It's quite an experience, one filled with flowing chocolate fountains and exotic cheeses. One year, I waited almost 30 minutes just to get a pound of sliced roast beef from the deli. Granted, it's an absolute madhouse, but it's an entertaining a spectacle and certainly gets you in that commercially made-up-holiday spirit.

3. Asian Market I'm not talking about the big ones like 99 Ranch or H-Mart, nor am I talking about a behemoth like Hong Kong Market. I'm talking about the mid-size Asian markets located off Bellaire--the no-name places. Go to one--any one. Set aside an hour of your life and just walk around one of those markets. It's an unbelievably relaxing experience. Maybe I'm on a one-man island here, but just walking down each aisle and learning about different ingredients and products is a wonderful time. I always leave with something new, along with a feeling of thankfulness that I live in a city that offers such unique places.

2. New York Bagel & Coffee Shop Wake up early on a Saturday morning and just go there--don't ask any questions, just go. You won't be disappointed. I know this list is all about Houston, but what makes going to the New York Bagel shop such a unique experience is that you actually feel like you're in New York. It's the real deal--the fresh bagels, the hot coffee, the abrupt service, and the specials plastered on the wall. By the way, better eggs in Houston, you will not find. The brother-in-law tandem of Ed and Jay have kept things humming along for nearly 35 years, producing arguably the best bagel in the city.

1. Beef and Bun Bar-B-Q What? You've never heard of Beef and Bun on Long Point? I bet some of you have eaten at Beef and Bun and didn't realize it was called Beef and Bun. The main sign just says "Bar-B-Q." And that's what they've been doing--forever! Opening the front door is like stepping back into a beef-scented version of the mid-'70s. I wanted to report that absolutely nothing has changed about the place. Sadly, Markos, the iconic figure who had been chopping brisket for nearly 30 years, passed away last year. I grew up in Spring Branch. Beef and Bun was my first restaurant memory, and a trip to the place guaranteed you'd see Markos behind that counter. It was a real kick to the gut not seeing him there, but there's still not a better food experience in all of Houston.

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