October has come and almost gone — happy almost-Halloween, you goblins — and with that comes our monthly roll-out of the absolute best dishes we've had the pleasure of putting in our mouths this month. We certainly dined out a lot in October, and considering we're past the two-month mark out from Harvey, the city's restaurants do appear to be attracting more business now. Let's hope that business continues to pick up for Houston's restaurants, be they big or small, mom-and-pops or multi-location empires, as we head into the holiday season.
The best things we ate this month represent all walks of the culinary life, from Mexican to Italian to Sichuan to soul food. Give these dishes a try as soon as possible.
10. Cresta di Gallo at Provisions, 807 Taft
"An oldie but a goodie," notes Erika Kwee. "A recent meal at Provisions reminded me how extraordinarily good the Cresta di Gallo pasta is. Former Houston Press editor Phaedra Cook noted that this dish is the only item that's remained on the Provisions menu since day one, and for good reason. The toothsome noodles swimming in a sea of foamy, yeast-spiked parmesan cream along with chewy, umami-rich mushrooms makes for an addicting combination."
9. The S.L.A.B Fries from Eatsie Boys
"Before the Astros clinched their ticket to the World Series," Brooke Viggiano writers, "I stopped by 8th Wonder for a few hoppy brews — all of which paired gorgeously with the S.L.A.B. fries from the in-yard Eatsie Boys food truck. Every crisp waffle fry had some sort of ridiculously good coating, whether it was a drizzle of tart barbecue sauce, a slab of smoky pulled pork, a glob of mozzarella, some sliced jalapeño, pickled red onion and chopped tomato, or all of the above. Pro tip: Make sure you grab a fork at the truck."
8. Salmon chicharrones at Seaside Poke, 2118 Lamar, Suite 101
"For a crunchy side, grab an order of the salmon skin “chicharrones” — what the team calls its version of chips and salsa," writes Erika Kwee in a review this month. "The bubbled, fried chips are reminiscent of the foamy Chinese prawn chips with fishy undertones and lingering oiliness that is cut by the “salsa,” a clear, sweet and slightly garlicky green sambal sauce. It’s one of the best dishes I’ve seen address food waste in a while."
7. Smothered beef steak at Mikki's Cafe & Catering, 375 Greens Road
"The beef steak [is] righteous," writes Gwendolyn Knapp in a first look at this soul food eatery's expansion to Greenspoint. "Spot on for when the weather dips and you need a giant plate of savory roast beef in dark, salty gravy." The macaroni and cheese is well-seasoned, and the collard greens are on par with the best in the South. Plus, the portions are massive for the cost.
6. White Alba Truffle Soufflé at Tony's, 3755 Richmond
"White truffle season is here," Mai Pham writes. "While you can find them at a number of restaurants around town served atop pasta. the only place where you can get white Alba Truffle Soufflé, to my knowledge, is Tony's. The first time I had it was in 2014, and I've been dying to have it again ever since. The soufflé arrives at the table, where your server will use a spoon to piece it right down the middle, ladling spoonfuls of truffle cream into the heart of the soufflé. The white Alba Truffle is brought to the table underneath a glass dome, then carefully shaved over the soufflé. Each spoonful is feather-light and creamy with a heady, aphrodisiacal quality that gives meaning to the phrase to die for."
5. Carbonara at Fresco Cafe Italiano
"The Maccheroni Carbonara is executed beautifully at Fresco! Cafe Italiano off I-59 and Buffalo Speedway," Kate McLean writes. "The elegant pecorino and cured guanciale season the dish perfectly while the peppercorn teases just enough. The texture of the housemade maccheroni has great bite and holds onto the sauce just right."
4. Chicken mole enchiladas at Saltillo Mexican Kitchen, 5427 Bissonnet, Suite 200
"This little neighborhood spot reminded me of eating in my grandmother’s kitchen," writes contributor Jamie Alvear. "The mole was slightly sweet with just the right amount of heat. Be sure to ask for extra tortillas because you’ll want to wipe your plate clean."
3. Tomato Toast at Theodore Rex, 1302 Nance
"A thick piece of pan de miel dressed with tomato water, spread with a savory layer of tomato fondant and topped with a lightly dressed tomato and herb salad," writes Katie ONeil. "Rich, savory, light and tangy. The tomato toast is simple and remarkable at the same time. Enjoy this masterpiece as the start of your meal, or pop in for a glass of wine and a Tomato Toast snack. Either way, you won't be disappointed." Check out her first look at Theodore Rex right here.
2. Deep-fried chicken with dry chile pepper corn at Chengdu Taste, 9896 Bellaire
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"It’s a well-known, everyday recipe in the world of Sichuan cooking," writes reviewer Cuc Lam, "but the simple, spicy, deep-fried chicken cubes with dry chile peppers are seriously good at Chengdu Taste. Dark-meat chicken is best for this preparation, with each piece completely encapsulated in a crispy, light-golden batter of cornstarch. The amount of dried chile peppers and toasted peppercorns tossed in the mix could readily feed a small village of spice lovers."
1. Salt-baked live spot prawns at Fung's Kitchen, 7320 Southwest Freeway, Suite 115
"The salt-baked live spot prawns could very possibly be my major food discovery of the year," Mai Pham writes. "I've had live spot prawns at Fung's before, but I usually get them steamed. I was dining there one evening when another table ordered them salt-baked. When you order them this way, Fung's actually prepares them at the table side in this elaborate cart. The spectacle was so mouthwatering, I went back for it the very next day. The salt bake method steam-cooks the prawns in their own juices, yielding a super-sweet prawn with texture reminiscent of lobster."