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Top 5: Better with Ranch Dressing

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Salad is better with ranch dressing, to be sure, and so is pizza, although Italians and Brooklyn guys may not realize that dipping pizza in ranch is protected by the Constitution. Here are five other foods that are better with ranch dressing:

5. Chicken Tenders The acme of this All-American dressing is the garlic buttermilk ranch at Hillstone's (or Houston's). Chicken tenders are on the kid's menu, but if you ask, the accommodating staff will serve you an adult portion. The large pieces are juicy white on the inside, with a billowy panko-flaky crust. Try the odd-tasting honey mustard sauce before asking for extra ranch, with enhanced appreciation.

4. Baked Potatoes A deluxe ranch, with cheddar cheese, could carry a baked potato on its own. But there's no reason to stop there. Diners in southwest Houston know the best ranch can be found at Old Hickory Inn Barbecue (5427 S. Braeswood). The jumbo foil-wrapped "baker" is thoroughly tender. Ask for butter, cheese, and chives, and stock up on ranch at the fixin's bar. Chopped sausage on top gives a smoky contrast to the ranch, but veto the ketchupy barbecue sauce.

3. Celery Cooked celery may be a foundation of French mirepoix, and with bell peppers and onions, part of the holy trinity of Cajun and Creole cooking, but raw celery is merely a Ranch Delivery System.

2. French Fries This applies if the French fries are spicy, or the fries are average and the ranch is not.

1. Hot Wings Whoever designed the orange-and-white Hooters outfits had the fashion sense of a football coach, which makes it easier to notice what makes Hooters Girls truly attractive--their friendly service. With a smile, they'll bring you breaded hot wings and average spicy curly fries (see No.2), or "naked" wings for a lighter fare. The ranch dressing is 69¢, as is the bleu cheese for comparison, but there is no comparison.

As a bonus for parents, Hooters is louder and rowdier than the kids, so you can actually enjoy the primo ranch dressing. Ultimate Fighting on the monitors and The Cure droning in the background gives you that No. 1 Dad feeling.

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