From the author of the bestselling book If you can squish a tomato, you can be a food critic.

 

Houston Restaurant Reviews

 

ďIf you donít like it you can get on with it, I said. Others can pick and choose if you canít.Ē

 


Warning: The material on this page may not be suitable for all audiences. If you are the owner or in any way involved with the restaurant business in Houston, you are strongly advised not to read the following reviews. All others are invited to load up your squirt gun of criticism, and letís let em have it. Please consult "the internet" for locations and hours. I ainít your damn secretary.


Discussion Forum * Second Opinions * People Hate Me * Links * Huh?

 

 

 

 

Coffee†††††††††††††

Cafť

Seafood

Others

Lunch
Late Dining
Take Out
Best Bread in Houston
Restaurants That Donít Exist

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

French

Italian††

American (and the like)

Barbecue

Mexican††††††††††

Spanish/Cuban/South American

Mediterranean

Indian††

Japanese†††††††††

Chinese

Vietnamese††††††

Thai

 

 

 

 


Coffee Shops (Rice/Med Center/Montrose)


 

For I have known them all already, known them all: ó
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

Starbuckís (Everywhere)
Frappaccino in summer. Latte the rest of the year. No. Latte all the time. Frappaccinoís are stupid. Unless I order one. Coffee ice cream and an espresso would be better. Unless Iím not in Italy. Wait... The banana nut loaf can be decent, while the zucchini nut loaf is the same great sea sponge texture, but minus the good banana flavor. The chocolate espresso brownie makes an excellent door stop, while the biscotti can be placed around the house to keep cockroaches away.

Diedrichís (Montrose)
Service is fast and consistent, because the staff are severely beaten if there are ever any screw ups. No, Iíve seen it. The muffins are great. The biscotti were good until the Whole Foods by Cactus closed down (RIP), and then they started getting some shiite biscotti from some "business" or something. Eh. Pre-wrapped door jams. They were called Wally biscotti a few years ago. Iím sure itís something else equally silly now. Probably a female name. Annís biscotti. Also flown in. Also shiite. Pistachio is actually a close cousin of the eucanuba nut, which is used to make heroin. My car is addicted to pistachio. Every time we drive by, it pulls us into the parking lot, and I have to get out and get it a pistachio biscotti. Itís amazing. The banana nut muffins have a slightly suspicious sheen on top, but donít they always? The delicious (at least back when) butter-coffee cake will last all morning. Will you? Some say the place gets ďtoo hotĒ in the late afternoon when sunlight comes through the window. Others say itís too cold early in the morning (okay, that was me, and I admit I may have been sitting directly under the AC vent. Okay, I was sitting directly under the AC vent, and I was wearing a bikini, and maybe having iced coffee too. Okay, I was having iced coffee in a bikini underneath the AC vent. But Iím sure the AC was set a little bit too cold. Dammit!). 5/01

[this space reserved for when i think of something hilarious]


 

Diedrichís (Rice University)

Bad ass. One seriously bad ass building space. Wow. Is all Iím sayiní. Wow. Still wouldnít go to Rice if you paid me (for college I mean), but wow. 5/08

 

 

 

Rice Student Center Coffee Shop (Rice University)
Different. I will say that. If youíre in the neighborhood. Get coffee, enjoy the enclosed patio then hit the nearby library or just leave. Staffed and populated mostly by women, which never hurts, unless 18-22 is out of your range, which always hurts. Hours vary, a lot.

Grappino di Nino (West Dallas)
Nice for up-scale coffee and desserts. Interesting outdoor patio in front. Or is it? 2/98

Crescent City Beignets (Westheimer)
This place relaxes me. The atmosphere is good. Sit by the back window on a later summer afternoon. See oaks behind Mies-inspired flatness with the square shade of tin-topped parking garage. Now thatís summer. And no one will bother you. The food has gotten better. The gumbo is good. Theyíve made the beignets a little but doughier than before. The best thing Iíve had has been the red beans and rice with andouille sausage. Very spicy. 9/04

Chez Beignet (Bissonnet next to Buffalo Grill)
Now hereís a great little beignet place owned and run by a great European guy. Blend your own Cafe au Lait with chicory (itís the only place I know that letís you control the chicory). The place is hidden in this parking lot next to Buffalo Grill, so you have to look for it (except I just told you so now you donít really?). It has a nice little outside seating area as well. I recommend you go for a late night snack as thereís an eerie calm and nostalgic atmosphere like going back in time. Reminds me of the liberation of Paris a little bit. The beignets tend to be very dense, which I donít mind, but some people prefer them more puffy. 1/01

Cafe Du Monde
Turn right on 45 then go up to I-10 and head East for about 6 hours. Take a right and go about 5 minutes to the French Market. Park on a side street and walk toward the big water. Itís on your left.

 

 


Coffee/Food


 

Andreís Tea Room (River Oaks Blvd)
This is the first in a new series of reviews, in which I donít actually visit the restaurant. But I feel that sometimes, you can get a good idea about a place just from driving by a few times. Anyway, this place was the perfect example of somewhere that just has to be good. On the edge of River Oaks, itís been around since I was a little kid and the whole concept of a Tea Room just seems to impart quality. So I demand that you visit this establishment for breakfast and pastries. 2/00

Okay, I went. The croissant was delicious. I knew it. 8/00

Okay, I went again. The chocolate and almond-paste filled croissant was delicious. The 3 egg omelet with Gruyere was proper, but not exciting as I couldnít really taste enough Gruyere. By the way, and I donít get to say this a lot, the service was really excellent. 9/00

Cafť Toulouse (Tanglewood)
Might be okay. I went once like 10 years ago. But itís now more upscale with valet parking and shit. And a lot of Lexuses. So that could mean something.

Cafť Brazil (Dunlavy)
A combination of old brick building, black metal here and there, and lacquered wood tables create a very appealing atmosphere. Good for pretending to study during the weekday. Crowded with diverse clientele at night. Surprisingly good sandwiches and pizzas for a Ďso-calledí coffee shop, although the kitchen is indescribably slow. I canít even describe it. But again, I must say theyíre sandwiches like the Brazil Club and BLT and others are all very good. The Alsace Pizza with prosciutto ($7) is very good. In fact, itís almost as good as hearing Russians speak English without burden of preposition. The Sausage and Goat Cheese pizza is good, but as feared and expected, needs a higher goat cheese to mozzarella ratio. Itís okay to sell art on the wall of your restaurant as long as it contributes to the atmosphere. And most of the time it does. Ample dessert options and good coffee. Worldís biggest sconeís for breakfast (many flavors, all [will] crumble). Word on the street is that lately, theyíve gotten uptight about people lingering in the coveted patio con foliage long after the food is gone. Thatís not what we look for in a dirty cafť. One solution would be to just shoot anyone who comes in and doesnít spend more than $10. Another would be to buy out the neighboring property and make more patio space. But itís like my mama always used to say, ĎLie with the dogs, and you end up with fleas.í Opens at (not before) 8 am on Saturday 9/99

Cafť Laurier

Trendy bistro with good service and nice decor and not at all sceney or stupid. Really nice food and great veggies and really nice desserts -not too sweet. Long wine list that Iím not qualified to judge. Thirty dollar entrees for twenty dollars. I only mention this place because it wasnít that crowded. Otherwise I would have to keep it to myself again. - CSE 8/03

Empire Cafť (Westheimer)
Large selection of food that looks more exciting than it tastes (compare to Brazil, where the food actually _is_ exciting or any cafe in San Francisco where they put olive oil on panini rather than mayonnaise. What a concept!). A hundred and one ways to present eggs and potatoes. Maybe Iím not being fair, maybe Iím being too fair. Lattes are large, served in straight glasses and on the whole, good. All espresso drinks come with 2-3 little butter cookies, which are always fun. Better for breakfast, but extremely crowded at peak times. Half-price desserts on Mondays (last I heard). The chocolate amaretto cake is very moist, rich and who doesnít love Amaretto? The frosting is excellent too, although you must have it with milk in order to help the swallowing. 7/99

Cafť Europa (Kirby)
Portions are smaller than a European car and priced about the same. Many great desserts including a very good tres leches (much faster than going to Churrascoís). Very quaint atmosphere that feels like youíre inside a little dollhouse. Perhaps this explains the high incidence of beautiful, what the hell are doing in Houston, Russian models there (A Russian Doll House). But I canít guarantee theyíll still be there when you go. The Spinach Lasagna was pretty good. Lots of spinach, lots of bťchamel. Who could complain? 8/00

Le Croissant Brioche (Rice Village)
The atmosphere consists of two older couples each reading the newspaper quietly, one under-thirty person also reading quietly, but it may not be a newspaper, one approximately thirty person, probably affiliated with new art museum, reading a Houston Press, a group of three old birds conversing at an appropriate volume and bobbing for tea, and one mother with oogling baby and overly talkative toddler. At least sheís in cafť attire, and her baby is not in a jogging stroller (see Starbucks). The espbevís are fine as are the croissants. The banana nut bread is definitely better than the Starbucks but definitely not as good as Beethovenís Piano Concerto No. 5. The other bread products and various desserts, I remember not being impressed by and havenít again for fear. Okay, itís not perfect, but we definitely need more coffee shops like this. 4/00

Einsteinís Bagels (Kirby)
Bagels are more airy, tearable. They also have a curiously pronounced flavor. This can be interesting, but be careful because the last thing you need is to bite into a raisin bagel and come up chocolate chip.

Picnic (Bissonnet)
Neat loft-warehouse atmosphere. Pastries and small assortment of side dishes (potato salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, orzo) are all okay but certainly not better than Whole Foods. Picnic is convenient for people living nearby who are unable or unwilling to cross the 59 barrier without a damn good reason (you know who you are). Itís not a destination. There is a blue mailbox though in the parking lot which is sweet I love those for mailing letters and stuff. The baguettes are particularly not special and the cookies are too hard. 2/08

 

  • Hereís someone elseís review of most of the same coffee places. For the most part, itís accurate and gets to the point a lot quicker than the above reviews.

 

NYR

 

Rustika Bakery and Cafe (SW Frwy)

Raindrop Chocolate (Waugh) ŗ gelateria

 


Italian Restaurants


Italian food in Houston    

Da Marco (Westheimer)

Update: 7/02 Apparently, the service and noise have been addressed, and this place is now to be recommended. If that is true, then I must give the owner credit for listening to his critics and taking appropriate action.

Update: 2/05 Apparently, the service and noise have been undressed, and this place is now back to what we thought, which is great Italian food at astronomical prices. According to the Houston Press, they try to push expensive wines on you. But looking at the wine list, one sees thatís because they only offer extremely expensive wines. The mark-up is about triple Specís prices, which, in my humble opinion is too much. It should be doubled, not tripled.

Initial Review:

This is a preliminary account. Some items were good, others disappointing. The service was attentive, but in some ways, very un-Italian in my opinion. The wine list is okay, but small. And then the waiter did that thing where you donít have the vintage on the wine list, so you flash the bottle and open it before the customer has a chance to notice the error. I hope that sort of sneaky behavior isnít something Mr. Marco encourages. The shrimp limoncello was pretty good, with a wild, shrimp on the half-shell presentation. The raviolo (thatís ďoĒ as in one) with truffle was good. I give them credit for using the authentic Sottocenere (cheese with truffle) slice, but they needed a bigger slice. The veal chop special was a giant veal chop. It wasnít all that special. I never order veal chop because I feel like it defeats its own purpose (see Raging Bull) when itís not a nice, thin little scallopino. The brisket (although somehow I doubt thatís what they called it on the menu) with risotto was not bad, with quite a bit of good sauce. The chocolate cake was nothing special and there was no ice cream-like option on the entire dessert menu. They do offer a cheese plate, but hopefully, someday, that wonít be a shock in a Houston restaurant. I know an Argentinean who says Iím totally wrong about this place, but arenít they the ones who think theyíre Italian? Iíll try it again some day. 11/00 (updated 7/02) [Join Discussion]

 

Simposio (Richmond/Chimney Rock)
This is a pretty straight forward place. Strip center, platform plywood floors under wall to wall carpeting. Yeah. But really, itís not bad. The food is pretty much priced appropriately. Wonít blow you away but they do all the staple Italian things pretty solidly and without fuss. Probably comparable to Trattoria on Westheimer, only not as intimate. The service was very pleasant. 2/05

 

La Mora (Montrose)
Great building. White marble and ?vaulted ceiling in the center room. Alarmingly attentive service with a large menu. Although I enjoyed the place, the food did not quite inspire me. 11/98

La Griglia (W. Gray)
Canít give a report, because itís too crowded or closed whenever Iíve tried to go there. Iím sure itís identical to the Grotto.

Update: Itís identical to the Grotto (or what was the Grotto, apparently). Itís a good ďsort ofĒ Italian restaurant, which is nice for the Houston power lunch crowd. I saw a guy with this weird little electronic ear piece that would have him on the second deck of the Starship Enterprise. Except he was in La Griglia. Anyway the food is fine, and about up to the price, which is, of course, mildly sad in a way. [Join Discussion]

 


Trattoria (Westheimer)
Intimate atmosphere and well-prepared Northern Italian cuisine. Good Italian wine list with some reasonably priced selections. Too pricy? Maybe, but Iíd go here over Damianís in a Parma second. 3/98 Apparently, Houston Press is down on this place, giving it only 1 star in recent listing. Perhaps they didnít want to pay the Press-tection money? I would have to go again to figure out whether this is a fair cop. 2/05

Prego (Rice Village)
Standard quasi-Italian food. But itís a cute little atmosphere (very dark lighting, maybe too dark). Maybe just go for dessert. Try the poblano/red pepper soup. 6/98

Pasqualeís (Montrose)
Itís got decent Italian food. But I believe the prices are too high for what it is, which is essentially Olive Garden food. The wine list is actually a good sampling of Italian regions, but again, the prices are too much. I must say, however, that the atmosphere is very pleasant, and the service is very good. If I lived nearby, I might go there for lunch, just to enjoy the atmosphere (outdoor seating area) and service. 3/01

Tutto Bene (Heights)
Cross between family-style and intimate atmosphere. Like Fredís, but the food is actually decent. Large portions. There was a singer when I went, which provided a nice touch. 8/98

Ninoís
Again, dangerously close to Vincentís (i.e. itís located on the same lot), but Houston Sidewalk done give it 3 out of 5 circles. Maybe Iíll give it a try.

Collinaís (Morningside)
Only a step up from Pizza Hut, but it is BYOB for $2, which is rare. Those of you who think BYOB means bring your own
Barolo should probably avoid this one. 4/97

Star Pizza (So Shepherd)
Similar cool/fun atmosphere to Baba Yegaís. Itís definitely got a great inside and an old school ambience, Iím thinking Sesame Street. But I wouldnít order anything random and ďexpect good newsĒ like the goat cheese thing they have. Bah humbug. I would just go there for the pizza, and a lot of people do just that. I donít disapprove, but as with all Pizza in Houston, you could make it better at home, even if you donít have a real flaming furnace. Their spaghetti with meatball(s) is something thatís best not talked about. In fact, they really should just sack up and only sell pizza. The pizzeria that only sells pizza. Now that would be something special. They also have a charming way of continually referring to their wheel chair ramp as a veranda, which for those interested, can also be spelled verandah. Thus, the restaurant could be said to be verandaed or verandahed. And you can, of course, get your seasonal lemonade served you in those giant plastic chalices, or as I call it, cups. 9/00

Your Kitchen
Go to the store and buy onions, pancetta (pork), sirloin, carrots, celery, garlic, porcini mushrooms, canned tomatoes and real Parmigiano. Soak the mushrooms for 30 minutes. Meanwhile sear the meat and set aside, then sautť the pancetta a few minutes, then add the onions, carrots and celery. After another ten minutes or so, add the chopped up porcini mushrooms and later the garlic. Let is sautť down until it begins to stick to the pan, but without burning it. Then deglaze with red wine and reduce again in the same fashion doing this for several cycles. This is Ďinsoparireí or bestowing taste to the vegetables (or browning the crap of them as I call it). Now add in the crushed tomatoes, the mushroom liquid and the meat. Let it simmer several hours or until you have to eat it. Put as much parmigiano as you want on it. And the problem of Italian food in Houston is over, for the moment.

NYR

Da Capoís (Allen Parkway)
Mia Bella (downtown)

Dolce Vita Pizzeria (Westheimer)

 


Not Exactly


Birra Porrettiís (West Gray)
I had a $5 coupon for this place, and eventually, it expired.

Oh, god. - GH

 

Corellis (Kirby) [second opinions]

Damianís (Downtown)
On the inside, it looks like an up scale New England lodge. From the outside, it looks like an ordinary brick building. Seems very overpriced. Everything was too greasy, but if I had unlimited money, some items were well prepared. 1/99

Di Amicoís Restaurant and Deli (Rice Village)
This place makes pizzas that are no better than Brazilís (the crust is thin enough, but too chewy). The olives and cappicola was at least very spicy if not terribly delicious. Look, theyíre selling real parmigiano at the deli counter about 6 feet away, for Christís sake,* and somehow, none (or not very much) of it finds its way onto their pizzas. Now thereís a working definition of chincy. I suppose I could try the other items they sell, but the way I see it, the pizza always tells the story. And for that matter, all Broadway musicals sound the same. The fact that the place looks like a real Italian pizzeria is only more saddening.

* The Son of God

 

The meat ball sandwich is their best item. Itís more of a lunch thing - GH

 

Fredís (Kirby)
Fairly bad Italian food, but at least itís not pretentious. Feels like a converted pizza hut, although it does have a sort of cult following. But then again, some cults are better than others. 2/99

 

Dishes cost 50 cents, and theyíre worth at least 75 cents. - GH

 

Macaroni Grill (Westheimer)
Did not eat here because we had better things to do than stand around for 45 minutes waiting for a table, like drive around for 45 minutes arguing about where we should go eat instead. But I can say the belliniís are horrible. The belliniís are horrible. And DO NOT order the one with the swirl of synthetic raspberry, which would be rejected by any reputable snow cone vendor.

 

God I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. - GH [visibly upset]

 

Maggianoís (near Galleria)
Huge portions, flavor is nothing special. The linguini and meat sauce was better than the chicken, pine nuts. These places are good for large families with children that donít yet appreciate subtleties in food. How to raise children is your problem. 2/00

Veneto (North of I-10)
Wonderful old-Mexico (or Houston in the 60s) atmosphere in this, uh, Italian restaurant? Food was too greasy. 1/99

Vincentís (West Dallas)
The service was pathetic. The place is crowded with talkative people who canít wait to make the switch from Ford Explorer to Mercedes truck. After all, theyíve earned it. Do I sound bitter? Well, Iím not nearly as bitter as the garlic in the rusted garlic with Cambozola. Although Cambozola and roasted garlic is a great concept, this particular garlic was inedible. If you canít get enough of that fine Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay, then this is the place for you. 3/99 [second opinions]

 


American


Artista

Supposedly good.

Aries

Supposedly the best restaurant in Houston. Better than Cafe Nanny. Tonyís is closed? For good?

Ashland House (Westview)
This is Junior League Spring Valley style. Itís kind of like being inside a five room life-sized dollhouse. I kept waiting for the mad hatter to show up. But he never did. The food is acceptable southern with a bayou bent. Specials like the fried catfish (I couldnít complain) and other seafood things are fine. Although the seafood gumbo was tomato-based rather than roux based if that means anything to you. And there wasnít really much in the way of seafood to be detected in it either. On the other hand, there have been rumors of a full tea service! And reservations! And tea sandwiches! Woohoo! But seriously, everything is about 30% more expensive than it really needs to be. This place will either have to lower their prices or fade into oblivion as Houstonís demographic continues to swing. The rich get richer, and go to really chic places. And the poor, well the poor donít spend $10 for a sandwich. But I digress. If the prices were a little lower (make that a lot lower), I would recommend this place more unreservedly. Rating: B (formerly B+) 11/06

 

You are getting soft in your old age. I think you are way too generous with your rating of B+. I give this place a B to B-. They did nothing particularly wrong, but then they did nothing to impress me either. How badly can you screw up if all you offer is 5 types of sandwiches, generic pasta dishes and salads. The menu said my sandwich came with baked potato chips, which I thought was a nice healthy twist to the usual plate of fries. But what they fail to tell you is that in this "down-home style" restaurant the baked potato chips are right out of the Lays bag. Iím sorry but if I just paid $10 for a simple Reuben sandwich I want more than a bag of baked Lays potato chips dumped on my plate. Take my advice, you can find better sandwiches at much cheaper prices elsewhere. Even Kahnís deli is cheaper than this place, and at Kahnís I get a sandwich I can hardly fit in my mouth.

And $13 for Chicken Tenders, are you kidding? For less than that I can get a plate of 12 chicken tenders big enough to feed four people at Christianís Tailgate, and I guarantee they are better than Ashland Houseís. So basically I have no reason to ever come back to this place and therefore I canít give it a B+. A B+ means Iím willing to give it another shot, but there is nothing that this place did that I canít find cheaper and better some where else. So for that I have to say B-. - GH

 

Baroque (Sunset)
Ridiculously overpriced, but the orange glazed duck was fantastic. Good continental cuisine if you have more money than your third wife knows what to do with. This is one of those situations where the seller responds to decreased sales by increasing the price, and amazingly, it works. 5/97

Daily Review (near West Dallas)
Great building, which is a converted printing press. Has a nice outdoor eating area. April is the coolest month. Went again for the first time in a while. The fish tacos were really good. My friend liked his shrimp appetizer and black bean soup. Overall my impression was good. Seems to be not too overcrowded or overpriced. 3/07 [second opinions (1) (2)]

Ouisieís Table (near River Oaks)
This place is really good. Itís a little bit pricy ($10-15) entrťe, but itís worth it. The atmosphere is total class. The service is very good. I have known about this place forever, and I canít believe I only now just went there. The polenta with spinach is a nice item. The accompanying Portobello mushroom slices and asparagus where just right. Thank god, I finally find a kitchen that can get these simple things right. The crab cakes thing was very good. The pate is okay. The wine list is mostly American wines. Personally, they really need to ditch all the Chardonnayís and add some Loire and Alsace wines. Nevertheless, they offer several good whites by the glass. 3/01 [discuss]

 

Pappas Steakhouse
This is a feed trough for Houstonians who have too much money. The fact is, yes, they have good steaks and a huge wine list. And the service is excellent (for a feed trough). But the bottom line is why on earth should you pay $30 for someone to cook a piece of steak. No sauce, nothing that requires any skill, or training, whatsoever. And they donít even give you any sides, like potatoes or vegetables or what not. Whatís up with that? And also, the tables are way too small, which underscores the ownersí desire to feed more people (make more money) for the same square feet. Iím serious, the table in the booth I was sitting in was a joke almost. But then again, if you want a cigar-smoking section the size of most restaurants, this is definitely the place. If I wanted meat, I would go to the Rotisserie (see below) instead. 4/02

 

Donít forget the shrimp tacosÖand for once they arenít just a ďhealthy alternativeĒ dish that feels like its an after-thought on the menu. These guys were butterflied and deep fried with a tangy lime sauce and a spicy side of black bean soup. Recommended. - GH

 

Ruggles Grill (Westheimer)
Way too crowded at all times. Maybe lunch would be better. Random menu. 2/98 [second opinions]

 

Itís only good if you have someone with you who can yell at the manager. - GH

 

Ruggles Grill (The Sequel) (Rice Village)
Okay, Iíve been twice. The inside is sort of like a more lacquered La Madeleine. Itís attractive enough. But the smoked salmon pasta is so greasy that it literally makes your stomach hurt. The scone is pathetic. The tiramisu is okay, but all desserts cost a whopping five or six dollars, even to go. In short, itís in line for Rice Village, but itís pretty much a rip-off. [second opinions]

 

Everything is so rich that you just canít go very often. - GH

 

Donít worry.


This Is It
More like This Was It because you know this baby is not going to withstand the mid town gentrification process. Supposed to have (had) really good soul food. Theyíll make them an offer they canít refuse.

TíAfias (Midtown)

Pros: The food. Is good. The menu. Is small. Good. More power to them. I would have gladly ordered anything on it. I had the prix fixe 5 course for $45. Pressed fig confit with dot of ordinary chalky chevre. The Ĺ a quail with butternut wontons was good. I would have had the wontons be crispy (not steamed) but thatís totally subjective. Flavors were all fine. Carrot and leek soup, was okay, but didnít have zip or great depth, but whatever. Letís not be too picky. Veal scaloppini on penne pasta entrťe. Two large pieces of veal were more like mini-chicken fried steak or even veal schnitzel (a little overcooked and over ?breaded; Sheiner?) than the soft, pounded thing should have been expecting. The chocolate mousse/gingerbread cylinder-shaped thing was very good; rich enough to have without that scoop of vanilla ice cream, butÖ

Cons: for these prices, one expects a (slightly) larger wine list (they have only one or two examples from each region), more attentive/faster service (nothing wrong with service, just that they were clearly short one waiter equivalentóthey could have used a few more equivalents, but Iím only asking for one). And the atmosphere was nothing different than many lower-prices places. Oh, also, the pre-dinner table bread was really ordinary.

Conclusion: Not bad, but I would certainly try some other places before going back. That said, I would go back if friends wanted to go, and I look forward to hearing what GH has to say. 1/06

 

West Gray Cafe
Supposed to have good soul food, but I havenít been yet.

Ottoís (Memorial)
I havenít been here since I was a little kid. But hey, that means itís been there forever. Rule number one, if a restaurant has been there forever then itís owned by the Pappas family. But if by some miracle itís not owned by the Pappas family, then chances are you betta go getcha some. NYR

The Palm
Have not been, but hereís one angry readerís pre-emptive response.

Redwood Grill (Montrose)

Markís (Westheimer)
Someone sent an email suggesting that I try this place. I believe they said it was ďThe Best!Ē Well, Iíve seen the cars parked outside that place, and I think itís safe to say I canít afford it. But hereís a review of Markís classic dish Tom Sawyer lifted from Amazon.

 

iím in 6th grade... i loved it!

Reviewer: Kate from mclean virginia January 14, 2000

well iíd just like 2 say that this is a great book and everyone should read it! to all the people who gave it bad reviews- you have no taste in good literature. i am in 6th grade and i read it in 5th... well itís interesting and each chapter is a cliff hanger. itís not your everyday book so i suggest you take a break from your babysitters club and sit down and read something thatís in the english language for a change. óThis text refers to the hardcover edition. [More Kids Write About Twain]

 


Not Exactly


Backstreet Cafť (S. Shepherd)
Too big, too slow, too expensive. Owners feel that the higher they pile the food on the plate, the more they can charge. This restaurant may have had a soul once a long time ago. Some people I know disagree, but they are stupid. Cool back patio, which would be a lot cooler if it had live flamingos. 7/98 [second opinions (1) (2)]

Boulevard Bistrot (Montrose)
The classic atmosphere reminds you of a miniature Arnaudís in New Orleans with the tile floor and square room. They do it with mirrors! Unfortunately, itís totally overrated and overpriced. Iíd also mention that itís too loud, but thatís irrelevant now that you wonít be going there. The linguine with prosciutto was good (they donít skimp on the prosciutto) if not a bit too greasy. The squash soup was good, although I canít remember ever having a bad squash soup. The grilled vegetable sandwich was the pan-fried version of the same. The hanger steak tasted okay (good sauce), but was nothing more than glorified fajita meat. The salmon entree was unevenly cooked to the point of invoking pity. The triple chocolate cake was nothing special. The service is friendly. But more important is the lack of diversity of patrons. Every time Iíve been there, Iíve seen only an occasional couple trying for romance, but mostly itís just fashionable women. Itís usually a group of three middle-aged women and one young gay man. I have my imagination, you have yours. But mine involves them single handedly staving off the bankruptcy of places like Boulevard Bistrot and Sax Fifth Avenue. Is it their unfounded sense of self-importance that makes me so digress? Hell no, I invented the unfounded sense of self-importance thing myself, way back in the beginning, the beginning of time. But these people should be frowned upon because their innocent taste buds create illegitimate market forces and drive down food quality. Though Sax is pretty cool for a walk through every once in a while. 6/99

[Note to chef, please see Tauntonís Fine Cooking 34, how to cook an eggplant]

Basilís (Bammel)
White lattice and gray painted brick form a New England cottage/wedding atmosphere. But like most weddings, itís overpriced and easily forgotten. [second opinions] 6/99

Hard Rock Cafť (Kirby)
Blech, no better than Chiliís, Hooterís, Houstonís, Benniganís or any other tax on stupidity.

Le Peep
This is one of those places that you could drive by a million times without getting the slightest urge to go inside.

La Madeleine
Lots of people I know, good, decent, hard-working people even, seem to be enchanted with this place. Sure, the inside is quaint, and yes, they do have pieces of bread that are the same dimensions as real French bread. And maybe they even have decent onion soup, but I only go there if somebody I know really wants to, not just anybody, but somebody with something I want. 2/00
(2) My God, it just happened! 9/06

 

 

 

Barbecue

 

 

Goode Company (Kirby, I-10)

An institution for barbecue in Houston. Itís fun. Real simple. Like cafeteria thing. You just grab your beer, walk up to the line and get your meat. Brisket, sausage, pork ribs, spicy pork, maybe some other items. Get a combination plate. Then they ask if you want barbecue sauce on it. You say yes. Then they ask if you want a side. You say ďbaked beansĒ or ďriceĒ or ďkidney beans.Ē Then they ask you, ďWhat else?Ē And you say ďcole slawĒ or ďpotato salad.Ē And then you walk over to the register and pay. Oh, donít forget napkins. You were supposed to grab a hunk when you were grabbing your beer at the beginning. That is pretty much how it goes here. Itís fun. And good. 2/07

 

 

NYR

 

Jax Grill (Shepherd, Rice)

 

 


French and Similar


 

Rabelais (by Nit Noi Food Trough in Rice Village)
Awesome. This is my favorite French restaurant in Houston, if you have (tons of) money. The wine list is very well chosen. The quality of the food itself is good. Yay! 2/05


Also GHís favorite.


Bistro Le Cep [guest review by Gilberto]
In a very ugly red, metal-sided shopping center off of Westheimer, but donít let it fool you. The food is definitely country French, and the decor is quaint and the dress is casual. I had the best damn mixed salad with vinaigrette dressing, ever, at this place! The steak dishes are good, although the steak au poivre does not use filet, but a lesser cut of meat that is questionable. The French bread is excellent, as are the deserts. Try the mousse au chocolate and whatever their special is. They also have excellent coffee, Lavazza, of course. Three people can eat here, without wine, for 90 dollars. (including appetizers and dessert). The place is not sexy though, just to warn you. You would want to take your mom here. 7/02

Cafť Montrose (Westheimer)
This is hearty Belgian cuisine from people who take pride in their establishment. Itís a small little place thatís been around about a year. Cheese, soup, fondue, liberal use of Worcestershire - these are good things. 3/00
I went back again, and this time, I felt the prices were 15% too high across the board from the $6.5 beer to the $12 for a plate of fries with a small portion of beef stew. Hey, this is Houston, not Brussels, and we donít pay $6.5 for beer. I will go back again at some point, and I think you should feel free to try it. I know Iím going to hear it for this one. 8/00


I havenít been back actually but I did get a much higher paying job, and now Iíve decided $6.5 is not too much for good beer. Bring it on. Go Cafť Montrose! 2/05 [second opinions]

 

NYR

 

Bistro Moderne (W Loop South)

 


Others


 

59 Diner
Fun but food not even as mediocre as it should be. Oneís A Meal is better. They do make awesome milk shakes, however. 2/00

Barnabyís (Fairview, also S. Shepherd)
Burgers, chicken, huge salads and the odd fish or pasta dish make up a diner-type menu. And the baby back ribs are very good. You wonít find better for under $10. Itís very small, so it gets quite full at peak times. But itís a nice place to get a late Saturday lunch. The lemonade is nice with free-refills until you explode or get a seizure from water intoxication, whichever comes first. The meat lasagna doesnít have any vegetables in it, but itís not bad for the price. The Forrestís Fresh Pasta story: I almost went stark raving belligerent when they told me the pasta wasnít made on site, that it wasnít actually fresh and that it had nothing to do with any forest, real or imagined. I ordered it anyway, the thought of corn, black beans, cream sauce and cilantro was already too much on my mind. The dish had a good foundation, but in the end, was too bland to be eaten on location. However, with the proper modifications made at home (I used some Eatziís basil-dip that I had), there was enough to make about 3 good leftover meals. The chicken burrito is a lot, but would be a lot better if it had cheese in it. Once again, just take it home and put in some cheese. The service and atmosphere is friendly. 9/00

[second opinions (1) (2)]

Baba Yegaís
Colorful atmosphere sort of like Montrose meets Captain Hook and Alice in Wonderland. Inside-outside design, wood planks, parrots on perches, body piercing. Itís all good. Diner food laced with goat cheese. The veggie burger with mushrooms is a veggie burger with mushrooms. Or is it? The turkey, brie sandwich with the little bit of pesto is good. Entrees come with a side of fries or potato salad, and the potato salad is actually pretty darn good. Make sure you eat on the patio, because the inside looks too much like Benniganís. Free refills on soda. 1/00

Bubbles Carwash (Kirby)
The building is standard, but they do have a really interesting concept, where you watch cars rolling by with people washing them. Itís a clever idea, but Iím not sure the restaurant is up to it. Apparently, itís self-seating, although there was no sign telling you what to do. There wasnít even a hostess, and the service was terrible. The waiter never brought us any menus and never even asked us what we wanted. Eventually, we just got up and looked for some food ourselves. We found some vending machines and got some sodas and snack food. The coffee was in cheap Styrofoam cups, but then again, they did have free unlimited refills. Overall, it was not a great dining experience, but I might try it again sometime.


Farrago (Bagby)
Good. Brand new. - GH 1/06

Fusion Cafe (Main)
A small selection of Caribbean, Creole, Southern items can be found at this nice little place. The food is reasonably priced, the portions are good (special deals for family size) and the service is friendly. The po-boy with pork and gravy is okay, and the jerk chicken is good. You can call 24 hrs ahead and get a whole sweet potato pie, carrot cake or bread pudding. Why am a writing a free advertisement for these people? I donít know. Itís nice outside right now and that makes me nice inside. (Mo-Thu 11-10 pm, Fri-Sat 11-12 am, Sun 11-5 pm) 3/00

Katzís Deli
Authentic deli food, but service was sub par. Iíve been twice. Ė GH 1/06

GH is such a sourpuss! I was impressed by how many people were piling in at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. I liked the atmosphere. I only had soup and a friendís chocolate shake. So I will defer to Mr. Sourpuss on the quality of the food. Ė Anon. 1/06

Mesa Grill
Itís so Bobby Flay. - GH

Typical Restaurant (in a certain city in a certain country near you)

Upon entering this restaurant, Alexis de Tocqueville would not have said:

 

ďI confess that in America I saw more than America;
I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations,
its character, its prejudices, and its passions,
in order to learn what we have to fear or hope from its progress.Ē

 

In fact, he would have cried out in horror and gone back to Europe immediately. Donít believe me? Want to send me hate mail? Try going to Europe first.

 


Seafood


 

 

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

 


Ostioneria 7 Mares (everywhere)

White people, what are you thinking? Not eating here? These places are awesome! You get super fresh red snapper cooked any way you want for about half what it costs at a Pappacrap equivalent. If you want your choice of pre-frozen whatever, fine. Go somewhere else. If you want delicious red snapper until you explode. Come here. And the boiled shrimp in ďsauceĒ were also delicious. Careful though because no frills (at least at the one on Wirt) may mean no ventilation. Youíll leave smelling pretty much like the kitchen. So just leave the Gucci at home, and go eat. Seriously.


Joyceís Oyster Resort (San Felipe)
Kicks some serious oyster. Itís my vote for best seafood in Houston (considering price). [Discuss]

Raginí Cajun (Richmond)

Suck the heads with friends and family. Corn on the cob. Bread pudding. Zydeco on tap. A real oyster bar. This is newspaper on the table, mallet-time, or at least itís close enough, unless you talk to someone from Louisiana. Lafayette is about 3 hours away. Your choice. Note: apparently this place is part-owned by the notorious Mandola family, which is interesting. 9/99 [Discuss]

Floydís Cajun (Durham)
Itís okay, but I donít think itís any better (or cheaper) than Raginí Cajun. Nice low-key atmosphere though. 12/00 [Discuss]

Brennanís (Downtown)
People get off buses to eat here. Thatís not a compliment by the way. Not comparable to the real Brennanís in New Orleans, although it does have a nice, brick building and an enclosed patio with foliage going on. And if you really have to have turtle soup, then I suppose why not. But you better bring your own sherry just in case. Trust no one. 12/97 [second opinions]

Tony Mandolaís Gulf Coast Kitchen (West Gray near Shepherd)

Okay. Hereís the deal. The atmosphere (by which I mean the tables, dťcor and all the people inside) is like a sort of like that populist, non-specific country club díHouston, which of course, is just silly for this cuisine. The menu reads like a Cajun/Creole dineróyou can get all the New Orleans standards. The problem isóthe food just isnít inspired. Itís not that itís bad (the French fries were bad), but I can get the exact same stuff for much less at other places like Floydís or Rajun Cajun or bla la bla. Bla. 1/07

 

Zagat: ďYou canít go wrongĒ with this ďdependableĒ River Oaks seafooderís ďdelectable varietyĒ of Gulf CoastĖstyle shellfish, ďperfectly seasonedĒ slaw or gumbo thatíll ďmake you weepĒ; ďTony runs a tight shipĒ in this ďlivelyĒ, ďfriendlyĒ ďhangoutĒ, so though a few find the fare ďoverpricedĒ, ďno one seems to care.Ē

 

ďNo one seems to careĒ ŗ I think that pretty much says it all...


NYR

Rainbow Lodge (Memorial Dr. near S. Shepherd)

Magnolia Bar and Grill

 


Not Exactly


Danton (Montrose)

Barely adequate Cajun food. Thatís all you need to know. The place wonít last very long. If you want to read more, here is more. Atmosphere is like a simpler version of McCormick and Schmikís inside. Booths. Food roughly same as Mandolaís Gulf Coast Table, which I also think is overpriced and donít recommend. 2/08

 

Pesce (just look out your window right now)
Give me a break. Hereís a tip. Any restaurant where the sign is bigger than your car, sucks. I actually went there, and the new conclusion is that itís not worth the price. 7/03 [Discuss]

Joeís Crab Shack (who cares)
The entrees average about $14, which is usually more than I expect to pay for cow dung. Again, when you can go elsewhere and get double better seafood for only a few dollars more, there is no place for a restaurant like this. The crab balls were okay. 9/99

 

Fuck no! - GH

 

Atchafalayaís (donít know where it is, donít care)
Normally, I donít think itís right to put restaurants I havenít been to in this category, but here I feel confident that the ends justify the means. [second opinion]

Pappadeaux [Discuss]
Pappas Seafood [Discuss]
Pappas World Takeover - Delicious! Coming soon!

 


Mexican


 

Las Alamedas

Great building. Atmosphere generates a high degree of nostalgia for some trip you may or may not have taken to Guadalajara. Or else it just reminds of the Hotel California. Great service. You really should take a group of friends to the fabulous little bar they have there. 6/98

 

GH says the menu has expanded/changed/possibly improved since a few years back. Still recommended. 3/01

 

(2) I noticed they got rid of the old brass plates. A sad sign of the times I guess. I also fear the quality of their tortillas may have dipped since the old days. 3/03

(3) Atmosphere same. Margaritas still good. Perhaps the best Mexican food in Houston. 2/05

(4) Wow they keep evolving. Now theyíve kept some of their old standards but taken their seafood into broader territory (Snapper Ponchatrain, Paella, etc). No longer a strictly Mexican or Tex-Mex place. Still same great atmosphere and service. Just different than in the beginning. Margaritas no longer great, but still above average. 1/07

 

Otiliaís

No frills. Medium-sized menu. Good service. Nothing amazing about this place other than the food tastes good and costs not very much. The best thing Iíve had there so far has been the picadillo (in whatever form they serve it). The last time I had the onions stuffed with picadillo and they were really good. I kept eating until I was full, but I just couldnít stop. Normally I can stop. But not this time. I couldnít. There was something addictive in that picadillo. A certain taste. The tortilla soup is perhaps too simple. Whatever. That could just be the yuppie talking. The poblano soup is good but can be very spicy hot. The chicken with mole verde are pretty good. The rice and beans were ordinary. The service is fairly attentive. 1/07

Zagat: Folks will tell ya they love this ďout-of-the-wayĒ Spring Branch ďfamily favoriteĒ Ė a converted Whataburger thatís recently been expanded Ė for its ďexcellentĒ regional Mexican fare (ďawesomeĒ chile en nogada, ďreal-dealĒ mole) that ďcannot be duplicated at any chainĒ; ďgreat staffersĒ serve it all up in a simple, colorful setting.

 

††††††††††† Once again, Zagat only tells half the story.

 

Hugoís

Loud but attractive atmosphere. Good service. Food is good. Itís a little bit more expensive than your average Tex-Mex, but itís substantially better too. I think itís worth it. Great appetizers. They have cabrito for crying out loud. How can you complain about a place that has cabrito? 3/03

Spanish Flowers

Old School, low-key place on North Main (off I-45 just N. of I-10). This place is apparently an institution in the area. I canít believe I only just now found out about it. Itís really good. Same price as La Mexicana, but the food is better. For example, the spinach enchiladas actually have spinach in them and not some sort of greenish substance that tastes like spinach. No, it really is spinach. Who would have thought? The service is attentive. This place is great. I only wish it was two blocks from my house. 7/02

Taqueria La Tapatia
Open late. This is where you go for Taco Cabana prices with slightly better food. Donít expect fresh cilantro sprigs and try to avoid huge blobs of processed Mexican cheese. Just try! Get the simple fajita-type stuff and you might not get blobbed and come out five pounds heavier than you went in. 6/99


La Mexicana
Iíve been here a few times now. Itís Montrose-style Tex-Mex. The food comes out very quickly. This makes it great for impatient teenagers and adults. The waiters are nice and come by frequently to ask if you need anything. Do you need anything? The enchiladas are good. The guacamole (who ever complains about that?) is good. The margaritas are okay. 6/00

Mission Burrito

Used to be good before. Now not any better than Chipotle. (Thatís not saying a lot). They make you pay an extra amount of money for most of what you want to put on the burrito, like melted queso, guacamole, etc. Thatís just chincy and obnoxious considering the burritos are already overpriced to begin with. This place just isnít that great. They donít even have pork anymore like they used to. Just chicken and beef niblets. 3/08

 

Cafe Noche

Standard Mexican restaurant. 2/97

Chuyís
Like Pappasitoís or Ninfaís, but perhaps a little more hip. The green sauce for chips is well-known. 8/98

 

Standard Tex-Mex - GH

 

Jalapenoís
Not bad. Clientele a little more ďwhite breadĒ than Chuyís. I donít know. These old distinctions... 4/97

River Cafť

Standard food. Very quiet bar is good for having one or two friends for conversation. 8/98

El Tiempo (Richmond)
Ambivalent. I am ambivalent. Strong margaritas, but they damn well should be at these prices. Wait a minute. I think itís time to discuss margaritas. Iím tired of people heaping praise on restaurants for having good margaritas. Iím sorry but itís just not that hard to make good margaritas. Frozen limeade, ice, tequila, triplesec (if you have it) and a blender. People who crave it. Not that difficult to please. That said, El Tiempoís margaritas were a hell of a lot better than Donnerakiís rip-offs, which were the most expensive and nearly the weakest in the city. Getting back to ET, the red and green dipping sauce for the chips is very good, and the dark tables and atmosphere are as close as youíll get without actually driving to Nuevo Laredo (which by the way I can no longer recommend unless you bring your bullet proof vest and take out a nice life insurance policy). Cool enough to use the color-rimmed Mexican glassware, but not cool enough to use the kind with the gripping dimples. This review has gone astray. The chili rellenos were like poblano corn dogs. Pathetic. Corn dogs!!!

 

The mari queso is very good as are the jalapeŮo sausage enchiladas. - GH

 

NYR

Sylviaís Enchilada Kitchen (Westheimer)

Old Felix (Westheimer and Montrose)
Donnerakiís (Fulton)
Ninfaís (Navigation)
Spanish Village [second opinion]
Taco Milagro
Chacoís [second opinion]
Ermaís
Merida

 


Not Exactly


 

ďThis is the dead land...This is cactus landĒ



Molinaís (Buffalo Spdwy at 59)
Ha ha! They make better margaritas at 7-11. Ha Ha! What a joke. Better than most Ninfaís though! God. Houston. Gotta love it. Well, the servers work hard, and God love Ďem. I hope these places never go out of business. Even if they wonít get a lot of mine.

Tortugaís
Loud, crowded and full of people who never had taste buds anyway (unlike those who burned them off somewhere along the way). Margaritas from a machine. Fish tacos from the same machine. I wish I had some interesting derision for this place, but itís just so mediocre, thereís really nothing to say about it. Uh...they decorate their food with squirt bottles of sour cream.

Pappasitoís
The last time I went there was because some friends demanded I meet them there. Fortunately, I only had margaritas as several of them got a bad case of food poisoning the next day. Pappas food isnít terrible, but itís just a large portion of ordinary quality. Whatís the difference between a restaurant chain owner and a blood sucking leech? The leech doesnít charge you for it. [Join Discussion] [Second Opinions (1)(2)(3)]

 

Ceviche and fajitas with the frothy butter are the only reason for going back. Itís the opiate for the masses. - GH

 

Ninfaís (Richmond)
This place makes Taco Bell look like Chez Panissaria. Itís so awful I canít even describe it to you.

Caboís (Downtown)
This is commercialism, Spring Break, MTV beach party, and NASA (not Nassau) all rolled into one. The inside was designed by the same genius behind the current uniforms for the Rocketteís. The food is a total joke, and itís not even worth discussing in detail. The worst part about this place is that itís a waste of a wonderful old building downtown. It has an upper level with a neat view of the surrounding area. If you could just go and bring a sack lunch, it would be great. Perhaps there will be other, more serious, places downtown, perhaps even in this very building. $ and I want it back. 5/99

 


Chinese


 

Mingís (Montrose)

Having driven by this place about a jillion times and never checked it out, I was excited to finally try it. The laid back, but mysterious atmosphere is kind of a Big Trouble in Little China effect. The music was good-Simon and Garfunkel and Lou Reed. And what could be better than Lou Reed while eating. The egg rolls were standard, but the fried wontons were forgettable. The egg drop soup was good, and the orange beef went both ways. The flavor and accompanying vegetable pepper sauce was tasty, but 2 out of 10 pieces of beef were just about not chewable. Cheap prices and decent food. Might try again if Iím in the neighborhood and still poor. 7/00

Fuís Garden (University)

Standard Americanized Chinese with an above average presentation. Canít complain, but canít get too excited about it either. Pining for something different from the same standard Chinese restaurant menuósomething in between Kun Pao Chicken and lizards on sticks. 7/99

 

Fuís Garden is the Olive Garden for Chinese food. - GH

 

Fungís (SW Frwy)

Great seafood. Hong Kong style. Been around forever. Iíve been several times. Never been disappointed. 12/06

 

Hunan (Bellaire)
Guest Review by GH - Little place in a strip center in Bellaire. Great Chinese cuisine. I believe it deserves the description of cuisine instead of just food. Its that good. Ever since Canton Seafood got demolished this has been the only place Iíve gone for my Chinese fix. They do a great job at delivery also. Little touches, like not putting the sauce on the fried items, instead putting it in a separate container, so they donít become soggy messes before they make it to your front door. That kind of attention to detail shows these chefs really care about their food and how their customers will view it. Good steamed pork dumplings too. Of course they have been voted best Chinese by Houston Press, so Iím kinda getting to this one a little late. I just had never heard of them until Canton left us and I needed a new Chinese delivery place.

Rickshaw
I havenít been. People donít seem to like it very much. Hereís what theyíre saying on the Discussion Forum.

 

NYR

 

Ocean Palace (Bellaire)

Sinh Sinh (Bellaire)

Yum Yum Cha (Times Blvd)

 

 


Japanese


 

The word on the street is...

Ginza, Osaka, Sasaki, Gengi > Bluefish > Zen 5, Teppay > Nippon > Cafe Japon > Japon, Miyako

 

Sasaki, Ginza and Gengi are all supposed to be very good. Kaneyama is supposed to be a little cheaper, but not quite as good according to this guy who wrote in. GH has been to Teppay and says Ginza is still better. I have now been to Ginza, and it definitely blows the silly places on Kirby away. Other than perhaps the first four places listed above, the best Japanese food may have to be found in some other city far far away. Far as in maybe 18 hours and $1,500 later on JAL. 2/01 [second opinions] [Discuss Japanese Food]

 

GH recommends the Cafe Japon roll (at Cafe Japon) and the cha soba (cold buckwheat noodles) at Nippon.

 

Bluefish (Richmond)
Good. Small, quaint. Simple Zen wares. Few frills. Attentive service. No complaints. Had good squid salad. Had a few sashimi and nigiri which were fine. Had some cucumber rolls which were fine, although they did unravel spontaneously (e.g. before I touched them). Not a serious complaint at these reasonable prices. I like this place better than the those sillier mainstream ones. 10/6

Blowfish (that silly little block of new condoís and restaurants they built in midtown a few years ago to look like NYC, but it is such a joke because you can still wake up to some random crack head trying to break into your garage at 2 in the morning). Itís fine. Itís a standard trendy little sushi place, but frankly, I have nothing negative to say about it. They offer little half-bottles of champagne on the menu. That is hilarious. We ordered it. 5/05

Ra

Service poor. Sushi bad. Did not even finish. Rock music? Huh? I donít even remember writing this review? Did I write this? Huh. 4/06

Teppay (Westheimer)
I was very excited to try this place, but we got there about ten minutes before they were supposed to close for lunch. I would have been totally fine if the guy had just apologetically told us they were closing. But the old guy was really rude about it and basically told us to "fuck off" in so many words. His tone was really nasty and the experience makes me never want to go there again. What a shame because the inside looked all dark and Zatoichi-like. 11/06

Went back for dinner. Inside very authentic-feeling. The female wait staff was very obsequious and I liked that. The sake list was decent for such a small restaurant. We had some starters which were fine. The main problem, quite unfortunately, was the sushi itself. It wasnít that great. The rice was just dead. We think itís because they were not bothering to update their rice frequently, so it was probably not very freshly boiled. The rolls were fairly unexciting tasting. None of the sushi pieces were bad, but they just didnít taste great. Furthermore, they gave me a piece of red snapper with all of the veins on it, so it was really unattractive. The point of sushi is not just taste, but appearance, of course. The piece should have been sent over to Pappasitoís for some fish taco, but certainly not cut as a piece of sushi. It means either the chef was being lazy or just didnít care about his presentation. Either way, itís bad. And I will not go here again. 12/07


Zen 5 Sushi and Steak House (Westview/Wirt)
Simple, no-frills but pleasant atmosphere. There were REAL Japanese people next to me! That was great. Friendly service. Had the seafood tempura rolls. Fine but I must remind myself to not eat too much tempura cause that fried-batter stuff makes it a bit filling. Beef yakisoba was fine. Sticky sauce. Reasonable prices. Went again, everything I say stands except one comment. I tried some of the less common sushi items, and the quality of the pieces was fair, but not great. You see, for rolls and common things, itís fine. But I now realize that only sushi places which do a lot of business can afford to keep a full stock and wide variety of extremely fresh fish. Itís nobodyís fault. Itís just a business reality. I suppose you could just be up front and ask the guy which pieces are really fresh that day and try that. But otherwise, I would focus on noodles, meat entrees and rolls. 11/6

 


Thai


 

Thai Pepper (S. Shepherd)
More expensive, and yes, a little bit higher quality than the many Thai troughs around here. The beef curry was made with soft, tender stew meat whereas ďother placesĒ like to use tougher meat that is too chewy. The curries were rich and flavorful. And Iíll take decent Thai food over poor mockeries of French and Italian food any day. And I would also state that this entire cuisine (and the same goes for all of Southeast Asia) is undervalued by about 15% across the board, and itís a joke that it doesnít cost more than standard Chinese food. If you donít know about Thai food, you better get on it now. As for Thai Pepper, one last thing to say is that the service was very attentive. 6/00

Morningside Thai (Rice Village)
Nice, quiet atmosphere. Friendly. Decent food, although Iím not really sure if thatís true. Itís been a while. 11/97

 

Yes, and its better than it used to be. We really enjoy it now. It is one of our usual delivery restaurants. Very good Tiger Cried and a decent Tom Yum Gai, but its no Kanomwan. - GH 11/06

 

Patu Thai (Rice Village)
Atmosphere can be summed up with the Terry Jones quip, ďWe used to live in a shoebox in the middle of the road.Ē Not as good as the others, not much worse either.

 

Stay away from the seafood and foil packet. - GH 6/03

 

Thai Spice (Rice Village)
Simple, friendly service. Nice 2nd floor balcony for that 37 minutes of pleasant weather you get each year. 4/98

 

Good lunch value. - GH

 

NYR

 

Thai Gourmet (Richmond)

 


Vietnamese


 

Maiís Vietnamese (midtown)
Open til 3am or something! (not sure if still true now that this place has gone more up-scale?) Random clientelle (not sure if this is still true...and what does random clientele mean anyway?). Decent Vietnamese food (like I would know.) The good thing about this type of food is the abundance of fresh cilantro, mint and other bushy green things that occupy a lot of space on a plate. Fresh is as fresh does! (what the hell am I on?) 10/99

Van Loc
Is there some special way to get a Vietnamese waiterís attention that I donít know about? (Anyway maybe thatís changed since I was here a long time ago.) Food is pretty darn good for the price. Try the curiously strong Vietnamese coffee. Weíre definitely not in Kansas anymore, and this ainít no Thai iced tea (tit). 3/99

Tan Tan (Bellaire)
Solid Vietnamese in the heart of Bellaire. No frills (oh, except the LCD flat-panels all around the center-bar flashing menu itemsówow, cool! Ė is it time? Are we Blade Runner yet?). But otherwise, yes, no frills, just fifteen pages of great Vietnamese choices. The omelet-like egg-fried potato flat thingóis awesome! And then that sweet iced coffee thing they do. Everything is so green and fresh. Mint, cilantro, blab la. Everything! So great. Such flavor for the money. Woohoo. 11/06

 

NYR

 

Vieng Thai (Longpoint)

 


Korean


 

Got this email:

 

I noted that your reviews, while including ďAsian,Ē have not included any of the Korean restaurants in Houston. My wife is Korean, and I lived in Korea and elsewhere in Asia for a number of years. By the way, I have no connection to any restaurants other than as a patron. We feel that the food at Il Me Jung on Long Point near Gessner is some of the best (and most authentic) Korean we have had, here or in Asia. Other good, but lesser, Korean restaurants include Asiana Garden, Nam Gang, and Seoul Garden.


R. Everett Langford, Ph.D.

 


Not Exactly


Nit Noi (Nit Not) (Rice Village)

New building, same average quality. Lots of ardent followers for this restaurant, but I question their character, the lot of them. Actually, Iíve had two respectable friends say that Nit Noi is good, so I will have to go again now. Okay, I went again. I now have two less friends. Thank god. Thatís pruning "the right way." Anyway, Nit Not is 30% cheaper and about 30% lower quality than Thai Pepper, so itís up to you which way you want to go. Higher quality means the curry has more flavor, the service is more personal (Nit Noi is a feeding trough), and the dishes have fewer large, non-edible or otherwise useless items such as giant pieces of tomato and lemon rinds. Ouch! Somehow I just donít want to eat a lemon rind? Is it me? 7/00


Auntie Changís Dumpling House (Westheimer/Shepherd)

Several friends like it. I wasnít impressed. My list of friends grows interestingly small.

 

 


Indian


 

The best Indian food seems to be in London, NYC, and Boston. But we will try.

 

Madras Pavilion (Kirby)
Very good South Indian, vegetarian couzine. [Discuss Madras] [Second Opinions]

Khyber
Good. - GH

Bombay Palace
Great lunch buffet. - GH

 

NYR

 

Indika (Westheimer)

Kiranís Indian Gourmet and Wine Bar (Westheimer)

 


Spanish/Cuban/South American Restaurants


 

Cafť Latina (Fairview between Shepherd/Dunlavy)
A tiny little place with charm and simplicity. If this place still exists, I recommend the tropical fruit milkshake (choose mango, papaya or a fruit Iíd never heard of, but it was good). God I love plantains. This Cuban food is so good, youíll wish YOU were Elian Gonzales. 5/00

Churrascoís (S. Shepherd)
Crowded, but good food and service. Well-prepared South American flavors. Excellent tres leches. 4/98

Rodizio and Fogo de Chao
Guest Review by GH: ďI have been to none of them. I have however tried out the new rodizio style Brazilian place on Montrose. I give it a B+/A-. It is more neighborhoody and not so disney-esque as Fogo de Choa. The meat was excellent and they have a very nice, very reasonably priced wine list. It is about $10 less per person than Fogo on the meat. Overall, I like it better than Fogo, but Fogoís meat is cooked over a wood burning grill and this is electic. So the Fogo meat has a slightly smokier taste to it, which I like. But Fogo is just overwhelming. You canít relax in that place. This place is much smaller and more casual.Ē [Discuss]

El Meson (Rice Village)
This is about as down to earth as one can expect in Rice Village. Lots of families eat here. If you know anything about Cuban food, the thought will occur to you that you could make it better yourself with a can of black beans and some plantains from Whole Foods. On the other hand, the service is attentive and friendly and the margaritas are pretty strong. But this isnít Zagat so letís go back to bashing. I found the ropa veija to be devoid of flavor, spice or roasted peppers. The picadillo was better if I recall, or maybe Iím just remembering some that I made a long time ago. No, I think it was okay, but donít expect a poached egg on top like Fidel likes it. That you will have to do at home (preferably mine). [second opinions] 11/00

Mi Luna (Rice Village)
Spanish Crapas. The margaritas are pathetic too. Iím sure you could find something worth eating if you ordered everything on the menu. A word of truth: most tapas which are not in Spain are crap. Iím sorry but thatís just the truth. Show me a seriously good tapas restaurant outside of Spain, and I will go there. 12/00

El Publito (Richmond)
Small building. Close to the road. Try it? 6/98

Solero (Downtown)
Forget downtown. Thatís not what Houstonís about. Never has been and never will be. All you need to know: see manchego and apple slices. Love the ďhalf-torn away plaster over the brick wall effect,Ē or was it ďhalf-plastered over the existing brick wall.Ē Time wonít tell. 2/99

 

NYR

 

Americaís
Have not tried yet. Supposed to be really good. [second opinions]

Reggae Hut (W. Alabama)
Not tried yet, but friends recommend it highly. Pshhh. I bet this place doesnít even exist anymore! Ha! Friends! Ha!

Red Onion Cafe
Take South American, Cuban and Tex-Mex and make it look like itís about to jump off the plate and youíve got the Red Onion Cafe. Itís not bad, but itís no certainly not worth a detour or a twenty minute wait, which was the case when we went. I applaud their wine list for having a lot of cheap S. American wines, or do I? Matching spicy food with a Chilean wine is a mistake. You think youíre doing it right, but trust me, youíre not. You should be having your silly spicy food with beer, or a cheap riesling. Or even champagne for chrissakes, if youíre in love. Anyway, in the time I wrote this review, three people just sipped an over-oaked cabernet and said it went good with their taco. Sigh. [second opinions]

 


Mediterranean


 

Droubiís (Kirby)
Half-deli, half-restaurant. Itís like a Mediterranean version of Antoneís. Antoneís! Wow. What an institution. Even though they got dumped out of that San Felipe/Woodway/Voss triangle in favor of a glitzy Droubiís. Droubiís! Wow. What a comer! Oh wait, this review is for Droubiís. How funny. I didnít even realize it. Yes. Droubiís, the subject of this review. Get your pita chips and other 99% Muslim we-swear-itís-secular items here. 2060 (Newtonís prediction for the end of the world.)

Istanbul (Morningside)
Good Turkish food, as far as I know. A little more expensive than Niko Nikoís (I said Turkish dammit!), but we are in the Rice Village, remember. Compare the Doner sandwich to the gyro from Niko Nikoís. (Doner: thatís where you give them one of your kidneys, and in exchange, they give you a sandwich). It has spicy little pieces of meat, and itís good. But it is a little dry, so make sure you get some yogurt-based sauce or make the proper arrangements if youíre getting take out. Their hummus is is good and spicy. They have good baklava (like who the fuck doesnít?) and other Mediterranean-type desserts. Also pick up some of that round, puffy, spicy bread, which you can freeze too (not that I would). 3/01

Cafe Lili
Good Lebanese food. Owner is a former Olympic wrestler, and your meal is free if you can beat him in a three round match. Even if you lose, he will still bring you some Lebanese coffee to enjoy.

 

The appetizer sampler is good, and the mixed grill is great for a three person dinner. - GH

 

Marrakesh

Good Moroccan? food. Have not been forever, but I hear the belly dancers and food can still ďkick them up like Constantine


Mykonos Island (Shepherd Square)
This review is old. I donít know if this place still exists. But if it does, it typifies mediocre Greek food that gives Greek food a bad name. Green beans directly from a can. Probably not even Del Monte, but Parade or Randallís special. Good God! You will not find any good Greek food here. Youíd have better luck trying to get a Greek to cook for you without giving them oral sex in return. I challenge anyone to show me one Greek who doesnít believe in oral sex. One! You canít. Anyway this place sucks. Youíd have better luck getting a Pappas to give you ten dollars for a hand job in back of one of their many wonderful restaurant/money laundering outfits. [second opinion]

Niko Nikoís (Montrose)
Used to be great. Now itís not. Gyros are barely passable. Side of potato is an Idaho potato with some sort of synthetic garlic flavoring. Terrible. The Greek salad is awful. This is a real tragedy. This place used to be fantastic. Obviously they now only care about profit. What a shame. Okay did that Greek salad really have a white onion instead of red? Or did I just dream it. Wow. [second opinion] 1/07

Zagat: ďRecently expanded, this ďGreek cafeteria gone wildĒ has long been a Montrose-area ďiconĒ for its ďexcellent handlingĒ of Hellenic specialties (ďspanakopita to die forĒ) and ďhurried but kindĒ staff Ė itís ďstressful when the counter guys yellĒ but they keep the ďlong linesĒ ďrunning fastĒ; the ďalways absurdly busyĒ conditions are a ďtestamentĒ to the ďcheapĒ, ďdelishĒ eats.Ē

 

Wrong.


[Discuss Greek Food]

Yildizlarís (Kirby)
The competition is heating up in the old flatbread oven for the best cheap, middle eastern food in southwest Houston. And Yildizlarís is right in there. The service is friendly. Overall, the food is comparable to Istanbul in Rice Village but in a no-nonsense atmosphere and at lower prices. The chicken or beef gyros in pita bread are good and even spicy. The spinach pockets are a bargain, but I have to question whatís the point of having spinach in anything but phyllo dough. Seriously! The lentil stew thing was quite tasty and really impressive. The tabouli is pretty good, but itís always better to take home and use as a sandwich enhancer or to vivify some Bush baked beans. Thatís right. Vivify! 1/00

 

NYR

 

Maryíz Mediterranean Cuisine (Richmond)

 

 

 

 

Lunch

 

Kahnís Deli

Place has a lot of character. Try the almost world-famous Reuben (must take half home for later unless youíre huge). Try to go around the peak times when it gets backed up and mysteriously slow. I mean mysteriously! Slow! 3/99

 

Original New Orleans Po-Boy (Main)

Fried oyster po-boy for cheap. The Peacemaker! This place rocks. Cheap, old-school, no B.S. here. Man I hope this place isnít demolished so some real estate fuck can put up some new cardboard shitboxes and buy himself a new H2. Fuck! 6/00


Dammit!!!!!!!!!!!! I just found out that that happened! Dammit!!! Itís all your faults! 12/06

 

Baby Barnabyís (Fairview)

Tiny little place about the size of an on site construction headquarters. Menu in chalk. Stereo is always playing something good. Bring an extra layer for the vicious AC (or donít sit under it?) This is a refreshing break from the nostalgic but nasty breakfasts at Dennyís, IHOP et al. The place tends to fill up at peak times like Sunday brunch, so try to go early. 6/99

Other diners that meet the ďold schoolĒ threshold include the Avalon Diner and Buffalo Grill and The Breakfast Klub. Theyíre simple, and thatís all they claim to be. Except I just drove by The Breakfast Klub today and my lord the line was around the fucking block. No fucking way. Am I going to stand in line for forty-five minutes. Iím sorry. If I really need fried chicken on waffles that bad, I could fly to Cleveland and back in that time. Detroit? Jesus! No fucking way!


Barnabyís II (Shepherd)

The food is the same as the other Barnabyís, but it just doesnít fit the atmosphere, which is trendy, downtown (concrete floor, mural, brick, etc.). Imagine walking into a soul food kitchen in Harlem and seeing white guys in suits sipping on frozen, blue drinks with straws. Now imagine the converse of that, and you have the new Barnabyís. 11/00

 

Givralís Sandwich and Cafe (Milam)

This place is great. [HCS] 2/08

 

 

 


Late Night Dining


 

Damn. Just see Zagat. I canít keep up with this shit.

Chapultepec

Best 24 hour Mexican food. - GH

 

 


BYOB


 

La Vista (Fountainview)
On the up side, itís in a nice little niche by the Fountainview pharmacy. It has lots of outdoor tables spilling out into the parking lot. The atmosphere is fun and if you want to bring a beer, and you donít live more than a few minutes away, then I say do it. But here it comes. If you were hoping for a place to bring good wine and get serious food, keep hoping. The beef tenderloin $15 is okay, but the accompanying ďport wine, apricot and cherryĒ sauce has one or two apricots or cherries or tablespoons of port too many. Itís cute, but itís just syrup by any other name. The pizzas are nothing special. I donít even want to gross you out by telling you how the waiter had made a mistake and brought out a pizza with the wrong topping. He happily took the pizza back and came out with a new one ten minutes later, or was it? Someone had just picked off the ďillegitimateĒ toppings with their fingers and brought back out a cold, old pizza. It was obvious as they neglected to replace their divots. Iím sure that kind of stuff happens at lots of restaurants, but nevertheless, I must take this opportunity to say that that was monumentally gross. 4/00 [second opinion]

Collinaís (see above)

 


Take Out


 

More soonÖ

 

WMF

        ďclassicalĒ chicken salad Ė good. I like to have this with some good Tomme de Savoie.

        ďspecialĒ chicken salad Ė might have thought it was good, with the red grapes and what not added thing. But since I was privileged enough to experience the now-gone Eatziís version, I am entirely unimpressed with this.

 

Take-out Sushi (read very lazy reviewer)

Central Market and Whole Foods both passable I guess (read edible whereas that from Kroger et al) are not really even edible.

 

 

 


Best Places to Buy Bread In Houston


 

Update 3/08 ŗ The Situation is Worse Than Ever

 

        Second Opinions

 

Hey by the way does anyone out there know if thereís anywhere in Houston I can get GOOD rustic (Italian) bread? (And donít say Central Market or Whole Foods or I will KILL you; update:I discovered the best recipe ever and can now just do it myself so ____all of you.

 

Saturday Farmerís Market at TíAfias
Some good stuff. But donít fucking go before I get there and buy the last rustic loaf you asshole, you know who you are!


Shade Breads (Farmerís Market)

        Croissant Ė not bad.

        Baguette Ė better than Whole Foods and Central Market; not perfect. Too dry.

        Rustic Italian Ė I wait patiently to try

        Wheat Ciabatta Ė Fine. It really is wheat flavored. So in that way it doesnít distinguish itself as much from what CM offers.

        Olive Loaf Ė Iím sure itís fine. What olive loaf isnít?


Kraftsman Bakery (Montrose)

 

Cute little joint. Sandwiches, coffees, etc. Clean and noveau. Will appeal to wannabee hipsters and Lexus women alike. Classy. Like Xandoís in Manhattan or something, only tiny, and not a chain. Nice.

 

        Croissant Ė okay. Very flaky.

 

The following breads are no longer available for walk-in purchase. Which SUCKS. But here are comments about them for posterity and educational value. 3/08

 

        Wheat Rustic Ė Itís fine. But itís certainly wheaty. Good for butter and fig jam. Or dark honey. Or super-strong blue cheese. And Iím sure some other things. But too much flavor to mix with most cheeses. (The wheat flavor just dominates.)

        Ciabatta Ė shaped more like a log than a slipper. Soft and squishy with a floury, soft crust. Mild but good flavor (slight sourness). Works well with English-style cheeses (e.g. farmhouse cheddars and chutney).

        Rustic Loaf ĖThey make it as a long (not a round). Itís also on the dry side, so it wonít freeze well. But that all said. The crust actually tastes normal! Normal! Like a normal rustic loaf should taste. Is that asking so much, Houston? Apparently, yes. Anyway, while Iím happy about the crust, the actual flavor of the bread is not exactly what I was hoping for. It has too much of a certain flavor which is not rustic Italian. Itís got a kind of a ďburnt flourĒ Ė like the inside tastes the same as the crust. Itís odd. Itís a dominating flavor that doesnít work as classic Italian rustic would with the expected cheeses. So just have it for breakfast with butter or dipping in soup or whatever. All bets are off until further notice. Iíll try their baguette.

 

Central Market (Near Kirby)
Iím back and Iím on it. Verdict still out here. I need more time. So far Iím not impressed at all (with their bread).

Whole Foods Market (Kirby)
Iím sure their olive bread is fine without even trying it. Ha.

 

        WFM Rustic Italian Ė Rustic Italian is passable. What a shame. It used to be so rustic. Now itís just wheaty and boring and dense (it used to be airy as all hell it was great; itís like they quit using a starter?). Nothing ostensibly bad about it, but thereís nothing much good about it either. It just doesnít have much flavor, and certainly no rustic quality to it. Itís more just a simple, straightforward round of bread. Because of its blandness, I suppose that makes it easy to use in different types of sandwiches or with different cheeses, without having to worry about mismatching. Eh. Whatever.

        WFM Ciabatta Ė solidly dense (takes two hands to tear). Slight flavor of white bread. Works best with sheepís milk cheeses like Manchego (adding olive oil can also help).

        Baguette Ė pathetic.

        Italian cream cake Ė used to be really good. Will try again.

 

Stone Mill Bakery
Hey, I hear they make a killer Dragonseed loaf. And a starbread super roll which is out of this world. Psshhh. Whatever. And not only that but apparently theyíve infected the shelves of every gourmet market in the city with their B+ jellies and jams. Thus ensuring that truly exceptional products like those from Matin de Pyrenees will never know you (or me).


A Word About Bread Duration
Those denser loaves. You can just cut them in half and freeze them. Also, if you have your bread sliced when you buy it. Then I donít like you. Go away.

 


Places That Are No More


 

Cafť Artiste (Mandell)
Lots of space inside for sitting. Good booths and tables. Quiet music. Very chill. The food is pretty good and reasonably priced. Great pancakes, but I wish they offered a short stack. I mean come on. Can I seriously eat half of that? Anyway the pancakes is fluffy and tasty and if you only eat half you can even avoid
the bloating regret. In fact, if you really are obsessed with pancakes, you might even try to get a house or apartment near Cafe Artiste, so you can easily take their pancakes home (in a box) and have them with unlimited O.J. and real maple syrup. All syrup should be maple. Thumbs also up on their chocolate/white mousse/cake, which is moist enough, rich enough and sweet enough. Take it home and eat it over three days, or maybe two. Who am I kidding, it wonít make it through the night. Their omelets are also good as are their vegetable enchiladas. They even used to allow smoking back in the day. That was then. Then was 2001. 11/06

 

EatZiís (near Galleria)
A little bit posh, a little bit South Post Oak, a little bit expensive. Get over it. Choose bread, choose side dishes, choose entrees, choose eating partners. Walk into the weird atmosphere like a dark cave - a New York scene? Until youíre retired with time to cook, or they get more BYOBís in Houston, you should just worry about providing the wine, meat, and afterlust, and let EatZiís take care of the sides.

The Wild Rice with Cherries is an excellent side. If you like that, though, you really should get a Zojirushi Japanese rice cooker and you wonít regret it. Also remember that wild rice does well with melted Fontina Val díAosta. No kidding. The meatloaf is pretty good, while the chicken Parmigiano is really chicken mozzarella and is nothing special 6/01. The chicken cordon bleu is fair (rice was good, vegetables were bad). The spring rolls and vegetable rolls are silly because theyíre really giant and more like SUV culture than anything authentic. For a lot less, you could get real spring rolls at a Vietnamese place, and they wonít be falling apart all over the place either. (Spinal Tap Link-Itís just so unprofessional). Ditto for Eatziís sushi. Itís better than Krogerís. Thatís the best I can say for it. The chicken with grape salad is terrific, but then again, dog turds would probably be terrific with red grapes in. The mashed potatoes are goode. Russet is it? With some skin left in, nice touch. But watch out for the occasional grain of sand. The crab cake is never worth it. Make your own you lazy fuck. The guacamole is delicious and creamy enough (guacamole needs sour cream in case you didnít know; this is one place I diverge from authenticity; posh gentrification of guacamole is okay). The crawfish quesadillas are good enough. The chicken salad is nothing special. The wild rice side is just as good as it was at the beginning of this review. The Greek pasta doesnít have enough feta (what does?). The veal cannelloni is good, but has a weird flavor (the spinach component was too imposing). As for desserts, the crŤme brulee (small) is like that old Alfred Hitchcock movie, Rich and Strange (but try it). And the double Dutch brownie was pretty good, but should be called a brownie/chocolate mousse instead. The dips are another popular item of which there are several rated on a five point scale here:

 

  • Cucumber Dill (4) Great.
  • Basil Cream (3.5) Very good.
  • Artichoke & Crab (3) Good but watch the breath.
  • Garlic Something (3) Good but watch the gastroesophageal reflux.
  • Sun-Dried Tomato (2.5) Okay, but SDT calls for goat cheese and it isnít there.

 

Finally. None of this matters since once the new gimongous Whole Foods opens where Cafe Annie is/was, Eatziís will go the way of the sabre tooth enchilada. Going, going, gone...

 

Crostiniís (So. Shepherd)
There is one and only one reason to go to this restaurant. Their belliniís a) humongous and b) delicious. Itís conceivable that I could go there and just have a five course bellini meal. This web site condones the use of alcohol as a social stimulant. As for the food, itís not really much different from Prego, but I will say itís presented very colorfully. Whatever.

Historical Tidbit: Crostiniís was a pioneer in Houstonís unnecessary valet parking (UVP) trend, where the guy parks your car literally 10 feet from where you get out. I demand a recount. 12/00

Grotto (Woodway or Westheimer)
Maybe a bit overpriced and a too noisy. Iím indifferent. I havenít been in a while. 7/97

Is this place closed down? How sad. Or, not really.2/05

Diedrichís (Westheimer)

 

Note: closed down because landlord didnít want all the kids around the property and convert to different tenants.1/08


Note: Pistachio biscotti back (by popular demand)!!!
Great local building, which must have been a gas station a long long time ago. Nice patio with fountain and sometimes small, naked children playing in it just like Europe. Good for the 3 nice days each year. Has some decent cakes and muffins. The chocolate brownie is good and dense, but itís really a browny trapped in the body of a lemon square. Anyway, this Diedrichís is kind of a Ďmeeting people is easyĎ place. But there comes a time when the idea of meeting people ďloses its lustre, when jewels cease to sparkle, and the only thing left is a manís love for reading.Ē And in the past several years, this particular coffee Schloss has become quite not the place for that. Because there always seems to be one fuck entirely too involved with his cell phone. Eh. They also got this cool, little bar in front of the espresso machine. I always used to think booth > table > bar, but now I think it depends on the situation. I really do. 3/01

 

Cafť Creperie (Montrose)
It doesnít live up to its parking lot. But what about that parking lot? Iím almost tempted to eat at the neighboring (tres boring?) Black Lab, which Iím sure will be quite forgettable, just so I can have a chance to mention that great parking lot again in my inevitable review. And right next to the cool Eleanor K. Freed library too. And the hours? Iím not sure there are any? It seems like the place is never open. Oh yeah, the food, it was okay, I guess. Where else can you get crepes around here? But I wouldnít go out of my way. Oh, believe me, I would never go out of my way. 1/00

Dolce and Freddo
Itís sad that this is the only example of gelato in Houston, because itís not half as good as real Italian gelato. The ownerís arenít even from Earth, theyíre from Neptune of all planets. [second opinion]

Fox Diner
Wow. Long story. Ask me about it.

Jagís
This posh little restaurant is located in the Houston Decorative Center. The only reason I found out about this place was that I had to meet some people there who needed to have a nice lunch to recover from a hard dayís work selecting fabrics and scoffing at Persian rugs because the weave wasnít tight enough. By the way, if you ever get a chance to buy a hand-carved meerschaum pipe in Istanbul for $50, do it. Youíll find them here for twice as much, and none of them will be as good as the one you left behind (see high school girlfriend). As for Jagís, itís bright, itís happening, itís got lots of Southwest menu items. If it doesnít have avocado, then youíre not at Jagís. (lunch only) 2/99

Kaldi Cafť (Heights)
Simple, laid back little coffee shop/restaurant with some basic Italian items. For the price, I was actually quite impressed with the pasta marinara with bacon, onion, etc. I have a coupon for a free entree if anyone wants it (itís too far away from me). It was BYOB last I checked, but for how long? 2/00

Mientjaís (Rice Village)
This is the only coffee shop around with a Ďquiet jazzí atmosphere. A classy little place. Limited menu includes sandwiches and desserts served on good looking porcelain. The muffuletta and other sandwiches are good as is the dense chocolate cake. Parking is the main problem, but you should make an effort to go here if you havenít yet in order to support individually owned coffee houses. Itís one thing to bitch and moan about Starbuckís. Itís another to go somewhere else. 8/00

Pignettiís

Snazzy, energetic and brimming with conscientious capitalists. The salad NOS (not otherwise specified) had lots of good ingredients, but was way over-dressed. In general, it was expensive, trendy and not bad. Or maybe Iím just saying that because I grow tired of having to criticize every upscale restaurant I review. Itís been a while, and Iíll need to go again. I must also note that our waiter was a bit condescending. Apparently, he thought that just because we live in Houston, we didnít know anything about good food. Preposterous! 2/98

Man this place closed before it even opened practically!

Rotisserie For Beef And Bird (Wildcrest)
Very expensive, but very good. This is the place when you must have no less than wild game with bing cherry sauce on it. 11/96

Guess Houston not so big on bing.

Sierra Grill (Montrose)
The $20 seafood dishes at Sierra Grill are a little better than the $15 seafood dishes at some other places. The service was attentive and friendly, and thereís a semi-outdoor section which might be useful. The wine list has many wines, but youíre not here for fine red wine at 3 times the real price. Youíre here for the fish and a glass of crisp white wine. The table bread is actually scones. The salmon crab cake $9 was worth it. The gorgonzola salad $7 is something you can do at home. The pecan trout $19 is quite good with large amounts of wild rice and other stuff on the side, while the campfire salmon $20 is recipe that swam too far upstream. The Iced Tea for $2 was epic with over 20 pieces of ice and just the right color. Also, I just heard an ad for Sierra Grill on T.V., which is bad. Weíll have to watch that. 6/99

Toopees (Richmond)
Standard breakfast menu that includes pancakes, sausage, French toast, etc. Atmosphere and service is relaxed and friendly. Good Lattes that come in tall porcelain cups with handles. 12/98

NY Bagels (Rice Village)
Good for quick, cheap bagels. Blueberry bagels are actually blue! Bagels are very chewy, dense.

Tony Ruppeís (Montrose)
According to a big sign on the window, this is the ďBest New Restaurant in HoustonĒ as judged by the Houston Press. With such high praise in the window, we knew we could not be disappointed. We went in and were seated. The waiter took our order, and had no trouble spotting us for the non-wine, non-dessert buying customers that we were and was appropriately never seen again. We didnít really care, but I must say that that kind of treatment sucks, and it makes you lose respect for an establishment. In general, the food was well-made, but the prices are ridiculous. The table bread was ordinary sourdough. Please. The swordfish carpaccio was very good, very spicy and highly recommended! The foie gras with some jam on the side was decent. The side of polenta was some darn good corn meal mush. The sauce in the angel hair pasta was densely flavored without being too heavy, although the olives were too dominant. Not to be outdone by Sierraís magnificent $2 iced tea, Ruppe has come up with his own offering, the flavored iced tea, which comes with the always subtle, giant orange wedge and goes for a mere $2.25. In reading over this review, Iím starting to think maybe I should try it again. 2/00 [Second Opinions]

Ha ha, sucker!

Sonoma (1415 California near Montrose)
Yes. Itís in the second floor of a funked out old 60ís building that has HISD written all over it. Thereís no sign, but if youíre smart, you should be able to guess which building it is. Very dark with track lights targeting the tables. Itís cool because you can see your table, but you feel like nobody can see you. Itís cool. The atmosphere is very classy and retro, and youíd expect it to be snobby. But actually, the service is quite casual and unpretentious. The crawfish and andouille pasta was spicy and tasty, although it was quite rich. The one bite of chicken Eroica (err...Napoleon) that I had was good, but my friend, the very hungry caterpillar, or as I call her, little Godzilla, finished it before I could try more. I guess thatís a good sign. I went back again a year later, and it was just the same. Overall, the food is very good and reasonably priced. If you havenít been, you should try this place. 5/01

Also note: when a girl tells you she doesnít think of you ďlike that,Ē she probably doesnít.

Dammit!

Tuscany Grill (Kirby)
If you like raw cloves of garlic in your pasta and a beyond cheesy atmosphere, then this is the place for you. Calling your restaurant Tuscany Grill is like Netscapeís little button that says ďWhatís New And CoolĒ. You should probably let someone else push it. 5/98

Ha ha, piece of shit

 

 


Links


 

Guest Comments by GH:

 

I use the Houston Press quite a bit actually. The Chronicle slightly less, but still decent.

But the largest "Customer Review" driven site is www.B4-U-Eat.com. They are strictly Houston and probably have the largest database of restaurants in Houston. But of course you are relying on the people who have been there, not food critics. But thatís okay with me, especially with the smaller, out of the way places. Also, you can see how a place changes over time. The comments go back several years so you can start reading about a place that everyone loves and then watch the comments get worse and worse because of a new chef or manager or something. And the opposite is true too. Some places have horrible reviews in the beginning and then something happens and everyone loves it.

You also get a more subtle understanding of the food and who it will appeal to. This really comes out when you read the reviews of the smaller ethnic places. You can see if the ex-pats like it and if the only bad reviews are from people who wanted something more "American".

You should check it out.

 

        Yelp looks promising?

        She Eats (has other good links)

 

 



Epilogue


 

 

Please send me your comments and second opinions. I need them. Now.

Also see Places to Grow in Houston

Note: It has come to my attention that many of the reviews on this page are incomplete or otherwise devoid of useful information. Someone even criticized the colloquial and choppy writing style. The answer is yes, yes and how true. The same person also asked, ďwhatís the point of putting restaurants in here that you havenít been to yet?Ē The answer is that I have to keep my list of ďrestaurants to tryĒ somewhere, and this way, Iíll always know where it is. I suppose I could have also thrown it into a lake and always known where it is, but thatís not the same is it? (difficult reference to Harold and Maude.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Itís great for taking someone, say, on the 5th or 6th date.

 

 

 

 

 

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