There are less than two weeks remaining of Houston Restaurant Weeks, which started on August 1 and ends on September 5.
By this point, many enthusiasts have dined at the top spots on their wish lists. There are, however, several places that might not have received as much attention for their Houston Restaurant Weeks menu. Perhaps some diners don’t even realize these places are offering a dining deal or maybe they’re just taken for granted.
Fortunately, it’s not too late to visit any of these places that might have been overlooked. Here are ten well worth diners’ attention, and of course any meal purchase generates a donation to the Houston Food Bank. View and search all the restaurant menus at the Houston Restaurant Weeks web site.
Américas/Churrascos, various locations. These restaurants, all of which are part of legendary restaurateur Michael Cordúa’s Houston restaurant empire, have faithfully participated in the Houston Restaurant Weeks fundraiser year after year. The only question might be which beloved Houston favorite to try. Should the starter be the beef tenderloin-stuffed empanadas at Américas or the albondigas (beef and pork meatballs) in crisp yucca cups with spicy black bean and queso idiazábal fondue at Churrascos? The good news is that with a few exceptions like these, there’s a lot of overlap between the menus and the signature six-ounce Churrasco steak with chimichurri is available at all locations. Both the $35 dinner and $20 lunch is available.
Aura Brasserie, 15977 City Walk. Chef Frederic Perrier’s France-meets-Texas menus at his Sugar Land restaurant are as elegant as they are approachable. Start with Foie Gras Crème Brûlee with onion marmalade and French toast before tucking into a twist on Beef Wellington that instead has a pastry-wrapped and baked pork filet with porcini mushroom sauce. Conclude the meal with silky chocolate mousse with fresh Chantilly cream.
Benjy’s in the Village, 2424 Dunstan #125. This is definitely among the Houston restaurants that should not be taken for granted. It's done a fine job for years and the HRW menu is full of adventurous choices. Begin with Gulf Crab Dip and housemade saltines, then segue into one of the most interesting HRW entrées: Crispy Fried Harissa Spiced Catfish with summer corn salad and sliced watermelon. The Lemonade Pie with lemon curd and strawberry jam is a tangy end to this ideal August meal. The HRW menu is only available at dinner and is $35. (Don't forget about the Benjy's on Washington, either, which offers the same menu.)
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, 5061 Westheimer Rd #8060. Perch in the upper balcony of this Galleria-area steakhouse while making some delightfully tough entrée decisions. The question comes down to whether to spend an extra $18 for a hefty 16-ounce ribeye or go off the beaten path and select the generous platter of tempura lobster tails with black bean sauce. The obvious answer is to bring a friend and try both. If the soup of the day is the poblano cream, get it. For dessert, the chocolate mousse is a well-made rendition and just as rich and silky as anyone could want.
Latin Bites, 5709 Woodway. Show some love for the food of Peru by indulging in an HRW dinner menu that starts with flounder ceviche service classically with aji limo leche de tigre, cuzco corn, Andean corn nuts and chunks of sweet potato. Move on to Aji De Gallina, or shredded chicken luxuriously bathed in almond-pecan sauce with aji Amarillo, fingerling potatoes and white rice. Then, succumb to the intrigue of a fanciful dessert: a purple corn cheesecake with a oatmeal crust modeled after the national drink of the same hue, chichi morada.
Mala Sichuan Montrose, 1201 Westheimer. Red oil dumplings, anyone? At Mala Sichuan, the answer to that question should always be yes. From there, select the Green Peppercorn Fish Fillet as an entrée and get ready for taste buds to start tingling. This basa fish fillet is accompanied by wood ear fungus, tofu, king oyster mushroom, mung bean glass noodles and green peppercorn sauce. Anyone who has never seen a Mille Crepe Cake should definitely get it here. It’s a stunning visual: dozens of thin mocha crepes stacked on top of each other to make the “caked” and accented with macha crème. It’s accompanied by purple yam soup. Mala Sichuan’s HRW menu is also one of the most affordable: it’s three courses for only $25. Note that this is only available at the Montrose location, not the original on Bellaire.
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Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant, 6800 Southwest Freeway. What better opportunity to indulge in fine Ethiopian cuisine than during Houston Restaurant Weeks? At $25 for a three-course dinner, the HRW menu at Lucy is a terrific value. Those familiar with the cuisine will enjoy the deal; those who are not will experience eye-opening but approachable fare. The appetizers include sambusa, deep fried pastry filled with lentils. (For anyone who has tried samosas, these are close kin.) Fill up on lamb or beef tibs (spiced stews) cooked with tomato, jalapeno, garlic and berebere sauce and served with salad and enjira (soft, flat bread with a honeycomb-like texture) or rice. End the experience with a dessert that will be blissfully familiar to many: strawberry ice cream with whipped cream and Valrhona chocolate sauce.
Mockingbird Bistro, 1985 Welch. Fittingly, visitors can begin their HRW experiences at Mockingbird Bistro with one of our all-time favorite dishes, the 1015 onion soup topped with big, toasty croutons and lots of stringy Gruyere. From there, the eight-ounce braised short ribs with parsnip puree, organic spinach and jus will certainly ensure no one leaves the table hungry. Wrap up with the flourless chocolate truffle adorned wtih raspberry purée for a final touch to this luxurious meal. Mockingbird Bistro is only open for dinner and the HRW menu costs $35. Not bad for a night of decadence.
Quattro at Four Seasons Houston, 1300 Lamar. If HRW is a game, Quattro is playing to win—win new fans, that is. Each course is served with a dramatic flair. Tonno, or raw tuna served “poke style” arrives in a perfectly clear bowl made of ice and then vibrant green avocado sauce is poured over the top. The Costata Di Manzo is a hefty beef rib from 44 farms that’s marinated in 8th Wonder Brewery’s Fourza beer and slow-cooked for 18 hours. The Pompelmo E Aperol, or grapefruit sorbet spiked with Aperol amaro (Italian liqueur) with a mix of citrus is a refreshing wrap-up. At $35, the HRW dinner here is an incredible bang for the buck and Quattro also offers a two-course lunch for $20.
Ragin’ Cajun, 4302 Richmond. It might not have occurred to diners that this longtime Houston favorite for authentic Cajun food is offering a $35 HRW menu for three-course dinners and a $20 two-course lunch. For dinner, dive into four hefty shrimp served New Orleans barbecue-style before indulging in a bowl of Seafood Lafourche Pasta, enlivened with sautéed Gulf Coast shrimp, crawfish, sun-dried tomatoes, spring peas, homemade alfredo sauce and penne pasta topped with lump crab meat. Of course, it would be just silly to leave without having Mama’s Bread Pudding with rum sauce for dessert.