Tuesday, March 5, 2013

food for thought: the top 100 restaurants in Houston

I promise, this isn't going to be a blog with posts solely pertaining to link-ups, but as this is the first Taste of Tuesday, I wanted to take part because as I have already said, I really like to talk about food.

A post isn't much of a post without photos, but I didn't plan this too well, so you'll have to bear with me...

In June, Alison Cook, the Houston Chronicle's food critic, put out her list of Top 100 Restaurants in Houston. My husband and I were pretty happy to see it. Finally, a tangible list that could point us somewhere good when we wanted to try something new. We poured over it, looked at all the photos, and compared numbers (at the time of publication, I think mine was higher than his... now I think we are about even). I can't even imagine the amount of time and effort put into this list. It contains everything from fine dining to food trucks, hole in the wall ethnic places to experimental, first-of-its-kind-in-the-city places. As much as I like to go out in this city, I can only say that I have been to 29 on this list. I want to highlight a few of my favorites and show the diversity not only of the list, but of the City.

43) The Burger Guys: I could talk about this place forever. How one of the chefs is a Giants fan and now knows us by sight. How the bun has the perfect sweetness and doesn't get soggy until you are almost done with your burger. The bacon is thick, the fries are cooked in duck fat, and the ketchup is made with balsamic vinegar and I want to eat it on everything. The Cafe Sua Da milkshake is also to die for, but I never have room for it. I think the Westchase location is better than the one downtown, but the same menu is served at both and it's worth the drive no matter where you are.

Why yes, I did have pics of a Burger Guys meal saved on my phone. Is that not normal?

6) Underbelly: Andrew's current favorite in Houston (for what it's worth, mine is Pass & Provisions, which was too new at the time the list came out to be considered). It's hard to explain this place. We are planning to go later this month so I will make sure I say something about it then. The portions are small and the options are varied. We usually end up getting some kind of roast. Last time we were there, there was a charred green onion butter with sourdough bread that I am still dreaming of. It is a great place to take people who are new in town- there is a little bit of everything, and all plates are meant to be shared.

12) Melange Creperie: Normally found in the parking lot of a coffee shop in Montrose or at a farmer's market, this isn't a restaurant but a stand. Buffalo Sean, it's proprietor, is one of the friendliest food guys I've ever come across. He skillfully makes perfect crepes while chatting with patrons in line, taking money, and taking the orders of the next three people. The long line at the City Hall Farmer's Market is well worth it for whatever the weekly special is. As much as I love Nutella, I have yet to try one of their Nutella crepes because the savory options are always too appealing.

94) Alicia's Tex Mex: This is a chain only found in Houston, and when one opened in Katy last summer, I insisted that we go. I love Lupe's and Pappasito's. but after seeing Alicia's on the list, I had to try it. I am so glad we did. They have $3 margaritas before 7pm, which would be a reason to go, even if the food was terrible. I always get the El Presidente, which is a mushroom enchilada, chicken taco al carbon, and rice and beans, and I like it so much, I have only strayed once to get fajitas. Andrew always gets the dish that Cook recommends, the Puntas Chimino, and has only finished the entire thing once. It tastes even better the next day. We can get a round of drinks and dinner for around $30 - not a bad deal.

1) Oxheart - I shared my thoughts on that previously here. It was a great meal, but I don't give it my top spot.

There is so much more I could say about these places. About how Himalaya is a hole in the wall and the owner's cluttered desk sits alongside the tables in the dining room. About how Bernie's Burger Bus made me want to stalk every food truck in the city. How I ate squid ink at Uchi, the best brunch of my life at Quattro, and tried oysters for the first time at Gilhooley's. But those are other posts, for other Tuesdays. I'll make sure to bring my camera.

Does your city have a list like this? If you're in Houston, have you seen this list? What's your number, and what are your favorites?


  1. Hey Lauren! Thanks so much for linking up!! I'll will have to try a few of these next time we're in Houston! :)

  2. I live in Houston too!!! My husband and I have decided that from here on out, every time we go out to dinner (minus quick meals when we are running errands) that we are going to try some place new. There are so many good restaurants in Houston that we've never been to. I have already bookmarked this list so I can look at it for new restaurant ideas. Thanks for linking up!! :)

  3. Hi Ashley,
    We live in Magnolia! Yay, another Houstonian.

  4. I just found this list again! Yay. I have only been to 2.... Ninfa's on Navigation and Hubcap Grill (which I loved, I think about that cheeto burger I had on the daily.) My excuse is that I'm new here & we live in Alvin where the highest quality food is at Chili's (hashtag: ew) I had already been planning to try The Breakfast Klub - I have never tried soul food really so that's my next venture! I can't wait to go to more!


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