Houston may feel a little like Rodney Dangerfield when it comes to being recognized as a top culinary city -- we get no respect. But the Food Network has always shown Houston a little love. As early as 2003, shows on the Food Network were featuring Houston institutions, and as of late we've been getting a little more air time. Here are my picks for the Top 5 Houston restaurants featured on the Food Network.
5. Bryan Caswell - Okay, I'm cheating here, but it's hard to argue with the fact that he did Houston proud with his run on The Next Iron Chef. Let's hope after his stint as host of Best in Smoke he scores a gig that shows off more of his growing restaurant empire and, of course, his cooking.
4. Lankford Grocery - Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with our favorite TV host Guy Fieri. Whether you think they have the city's best burger or not, there is no denying Lankford has history and its own charms. Personally, as a self-proclaimed chile head, I love the Firehouse Burger. Plenty of Houstonians agree with me, as the lunch hour still brings out a crowd, and they all know what they are there for: "nothing small, nothing healthy, and nothing fast."
3. RDG + Bar Annie - Featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Robert Del Grande is a nationally celebrated chef and has his own empire of restaurants. When his landmark Cafe Annie closed, we waited anxiously to see what his next venture would be. His new space is beautiful, and the food equally so. In this episode, Chef Michael Chiarello claimed an off-the-menu dish, the Grilled Filet of Beef with Crusted Coffee Adobado, was the best thing he ever ate that was grilled. If I had no clue who Robert Del Grande was and had never wanted to travel to Houston, just from the images of the filet, I'd hop a plane.
2. Brennan's of Houston - Featured on Unwrapped with Marc Summers, who I will always remember from his days on Double Dare. When the devastating fire took down the 40-year-old restaurant, it was never a question they would rebuild. After 16 months, Brennan's was reborn. It may have been shinier and newer, but the old traditions of Creole cooking remained. It's a place to gather family and friends, and the episode featured the epitome of this by covering Brennan's festive Easter Brunch.
1. Thelma's BBQ - Featured on FoodNation with Bobby Flay. Thelma's may have paved the way for Houston restaurants being on TV. Back in 2003, Bobby visited the no-nonsense Thelma and got a taste of true Texas barbecue. Thelma's suffered its own tragedy when it burned in 2009, but that would not keep her down for long. Some may say her barbecue is just not the same in the new location, but as long and she keeps grilling those ribs, brisket and chicken and frying that catfish, people will come, even though the old converted house is surely missed.
What restaurants in Houston that have been featured on the Food Network, or just national TV, do you think deserved the recognition?
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