This Week's Cafe Review: Nothing Squirrelly About Cottonwood

When I was younger, my family had pet squirrels. They fell out of a tree as babies, so we brought them into our home, bottle-fed them and raised them as one might an orphaned puppy or kitten. They'd sit on our shoulders while we walked around the house, and eventually we released them into our backyard, but for years afterward they would come take nuts out of our hands when we called.

So when I first looked at Cottonwood's Web site and noticed the squirrel motif, I figured I'd probably like the place. I like booze, I like food, I like squirrels. I don't expect much from the food at most bars. It would be decent, but nothing to write home about.

After numerous meals at Cottonwood, the subject of this week's cafe review, I realize the joint has much more than squirrels going for it. It also has some of the best burgers in Houston.

If you need more convincing, just go look at the photos in the slideshow that accompanies the review. Them's some mean burgers.

But even Cottonwood's other offerings, like the Sloppy JoJo or made-to-order Doughnut Holes, are far better than average pub food. The ingredients are of the highest quality, and it's clear that chef Daniel Ajtai put thought into crafting the menu items.

Cottonwood is an odd mix of hipster bar, sports bar, great restaurant and entertainment venue. These disparate qualities in one location shouldn't work. Why host parties and invite multiple food trucks when you have a fantastic kitchen? Does it work to serve food on a patio that at times can become a veritable dog park? How is anyone supposed to enjoy an $11 craft beer with some bro yelling about college football every five minutes?

These are all valid concerns, of course, but to anyone who might still wonder about Cottonwood, I say, GO. Just go and see for yourself. I happen to love that I can pet a dog while eating a burger while watching the Texans while playing bocce. I kind of even like how disinterested the servers are and the fact that sometimes Cottonwood might hurt its own business by inviting food trucks to serve a greater array of food.

There's a little something for everyone at Cottonwood, including the squirrels, who can sometimes be found on the patio, picking scraps from the previous night's crowd and admiring their likenesses scattered about the shelves of the bar. Sometimes so much packed into one place can be overwhelming. But I think it's good food, good drink and good fun -- in a nutshell.

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