Chowing down in Texas
Whoever says size doesn’t matter hasn’t enjoyed a heaping plate of Texas meat in a while. Houston might not get the foodie spotlight like Austin, but it couldn’t care less. This is a place where cowboy boots are worn without irony, where food is made without snobbery, and where no one walks away with an empty stomach. Food here is good. Period. Needless to say, Houston Restaurant Week is welcomed like a country song in a pick-up truck. Here’s what you need to know about feasting around the city:
What to expect during Houston Restaurant Week 2015
Over 100 restaurants are participating this season, with a range of everything from old school Southern fare to modern European. Eateries are offering fixed priced menus with three courses, so you can get in your appetizer fix as well as a sweet finish. Prices range from $20-45, with a portion of the revenue going to the Houston Food Bank.
Now, before you get started, know this: Houston is the largest city in Texas and fourth-largest city in the nation. It’s a lot of ground to cover. To help, we created a guide for eating your way through the popular neighborhoods.
Bites between sights
Houston might exist in some people’s imaginations as blank suburban sprawl peppered with a few cowboy hats, but there’s so much more culture than that. See what the city has to offer (and work up an appetite at the same time) by visiting the Museum District–home to 20 museums such as the Children’s Museum of Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Once you’re ready to sit for a meal, make your way to a place as cozy as home: Lucille’s. Open since 2011, brothers Ben and Chris Williams modeled the menu after their great-grandma Lucille’s cooking. Snag a seat on the outdoor wooden benches and order Southern classics like the Lucille Chili Biscuits or shrimp and grits made with Gulf shrimp and punchy sherry tomato broth.
If the Montrose neighborhood was a patron in a bar, he’d be the one wearing a vintage leather jacket while ordering a Hemingway and side-eyeing the canned beer surrounding him. Montrose has long been a playground for artists and musicians and is still considered one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city. This is the perfect place to pick up some antique typewriters to go with your vintage mugs and dresses.
Viewfinder tip: Cafes on Montrose Boulevard play host to a ton of live music.
When you’re ready for a late lunch, swing into Canopy—one of the best restaurants in Houston. True to its name, the chairs appear freshly cut from wood while the crisp white walls are interspersed with intricate tree murals. But forget the scenery: Dig into big Texas flavors with the chile relleno, a stuffed poblano pepper with spicy mushrooms and Oaxaca cheese. To sooth the tongue, cool it with the chocolate fudge brownie topped with house-made vanilla bean ice cream.
If you’re looking for something a touch more upscale, walk into Hugo’s, one of the best Houston restaurants. The high ceilings and ornate floors give the right amount of class to the afternoon, but the meals are anything but unapproachable. Down-home Tex-Mex cooking is the name of the game in this kitchen. Order a big plate of costillas de puerco—spice-rubbed pork ribs served with a sweet potato puree. Just leave enough room for the helado de chocolate Mexicano for dessert.
Here’s a fun fact for your next trivia night: Houston’s Theatre District is second only to New York City in terms of seats to area. In fact, going to the theatre is often regarded as one of the top things to do in Houston. On any given night, dozens of productions are dimming the lights and putting on a show. Before you make your way to your seat, be sure you have a full belly that will tide you over through intermission.
Make dinner plans at Artista, which is the kind of place to be “that person” snapping photos of your beautiful food. Like a Bob Ross painting, each chic white plate comes decorated with colorful (sauce) splashes. Luckily, the tastes match the quality of the presentation. Enjoy the first course of smoked lobster bisque with poached shrimp and sweet panela cheese to balance the smoked tomatoes. Then, watch your fork sink into the 6oz beef tenderloin with a creamy chimichurri before dipping into the warm toffee pudding cake for dessert.
Hearsay is also a top option for a bite. The gastro lounge has the ideal warehouse setting with red brick interior and hanging lights. To start, order Southern favorites like gumbo soup with okra and andouille sausage, then finish with the pan seared airline chicken with garlic mashed potatoes. Or make all the carnivores at the table jealous with the black bean burger and New York cheesecake with fresh berries.
Restaurant Week in Houston takes place from August 1st through September 7th, and features all of the popular neighborhoods in the city. When you’re looking for accommodations, check out downtown. Given the esteemed reputation of the Theatre District, many of the best hotels in Houston are close to the venues. With that taken care of, you’re all set to dive into the big flavors of Texas!
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