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Houston-Try something new

Here are a few places I have tried in the last year or so that I posted on egullet sometime back and wanted to post them here since there seems to be more people on this board talking Houston. I urge you to go out and try a new restaurant and tell us about it here.
I hit a decent taco stand at Bealle and 20th in the shady acres area. A tractor guy told me about this place a few weeks ago so I decided to try it. Verdict: its a solid taco stand with very food barbacoa and good fajita and "al pastor" meats. I had the fajita as a quesadilla and the al pastor as a gordita.
If I found myself in this area I would certainly eat again but my favorite taco stands would be
1. Taconazo for beef fajita
2. Tacombaro at the farmers market for tripas, astor, fajita and sweetbreads
3. Matamoros Meat Mrkt on Washington for carnitas
4. El Jarro for the strak tacos and the salsas.

Not very exciting but I did try Potbelly today for a quick sandwich. It was pretty tasty. I already forgot the name of the sandwich but it had a hot pepper spread, roast beef, ham, swiss and other accompaniments. The bread is a step above the other chains and they offer a really cool looking ice cream shake selection like the pineapple cocunut?
Tried Bistro Tolouse yesterday for lunch and found it to be a overall good dining experiece with relatively good value. Started off with some goat cheese fritters with a fig marmalaid. for lnch entree I had the creole seared tune with wasabi aioli and choice of soup, salad. I chose the onion soup and expected a tiny little bowl of it but got a nice size instead. The tuna was cooked rare and had a nice crust formed, I might do the crust a little different, looking ofr a little less sweet I guess, but the wasabi aioli cut the sweetness I guess? The onion soup was great. The lunch item was $12 and the fritters were $7.
After reading Robb Walsh's blog awhile back on the Venenzuelan Truck stand I finally decided to go. The truck is located in a car repair shop parking lot at the corner of Westheimer and Fondren. I tried the Patacon which is a sandwich of sorts. Instead of bread plantains are smashed and fried then lettuce, avacado, crema, tomato and ropa veja beef are added. Great sandwich!
I had a decent empenada but didn't find the kind made of "Pan" corn meal that I have come to know as Venenzuel type of empenada?
There was another sandwich that I saw a picture of that was more traditional that I want to try next called Pepitan? I'll let you know.
Polonia Restaurant on Blaylock was good polish food. The huge pork shank and the peirogis were very good. I want to go back and try again soon.
Hit Las Gallitos on Murphy Rd last week and have to say it was the worse Mexican food I have had in a LONG time. Just aweful. I had the carnitas los cucus. the los cucos part is some gloopy concoction of onion pepper cheese and other crap. My wife had the enchiladas verdes and had about 4 bites b4 deciding to give up and save the calories.
Its not something new to me but it is worth mentioning. Old Place Cafe in Sugar Land/Mo City has the best dumplings in town. The place really reminds me of the old santong snacks on Bellaire but a little nicer. Its not oppulent but if you ate at Santong Snacks you know what I mean.
I keep telling myself that I need to get the lamb noodle soup but never do. Next time! They have a sister restaurant on Bellaire near beltway 8 called Xiongs, same menu.
There is this little vietnamese joint at Mcgowen and Fannin in midtown (houston) that serves a killer duck noodle soup. That is all I have had at this place and it is very good. Deep rich broth, fried shallots and duck confit. $5 or so.
On the advice of Jay Francis I went to Komart at Gessner and katy freeway for a bowl of bibmabap(I never remember the spelling on the dish), essentially its a rice dish. Anyway, the dish was very good especially the bottom part of the bowl that gets nice and crunchy as it cooks in the hot bowl. The dish that really excelled though was the plate of spicy squid. The squid were great and the mushrooms in the dish was delicious. The place we tried was the 3rd stall from the left.

So give something new a try.

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  1. I like this idea jscarbor. I use to do this in Los Angeles but have found that I tend to go back to my new finds here in Houston and just try other things on the menu.

    Let me start with my newest find. HEB carnitas, in the refrigerator with the prepared foods. They are very moist if made according to the stove top directions...haven't made them any other way. Flavor is good, but could be stronger. They taste as though they are lightly salted. Not very fatty....my preference. I may get lard and fry them up next time to see if they crisp up a little on the outside and taste more like I'm use to. Will have to try the Matamoros Meat Market that you recommend.

    5 Replies
    1. re: tlegray

      I work from home but still go out for lunch when I can. I hit one of the area's (Greenway Plaza) Chinese places (well, Americanized Chinese) about once a week. They're all fairly decent but none of them stand out as anything special. That changed last Thursday. I decided to explore a little farther down Bissonet and went to Daniel Wong's Kitchen. I'd never been before, but WOW! This place is a huge step up -- freshly cut vegetables, soups that aren't the same ol' same ol', and dishes that had real flavor instead of the bombast of salt you get elsewhere. It's obvious they take great care in the food they prepare... but the prices are super reasonable. Evidently Daniel Wong's has been around forever, and he is a chef of some repute judging from the many clippings on the wall at the door. I thoroughly enjoyed this "new" place and will be back often.

      1. re: jim1126

        I agree jim1126, Daniel Wong's is wonderful and it's good to know they still are pleasing their customers with their fresh ingredients and good food. The last time I was there was about 10 years ago and I remember my experience being exceptional and delicious and everything that stuck out was just as you described. I'm glad they have not changed and now I must revisit!

        1. re: jim1126

          Where is Daniel Wong's Kitchen? Sounds like a place my husband and I would like. Too much salt at restaurants is one of my pet peaves. Has anyone been to Little Hips Diner on Washington? I read about it on B4UEat last night and thought it sounded good for burgers and fries. One of my favorite finds is Indika on lower Westheimer - divine Indian food!

          1. re: Texchef

            Daniel Wong's is at 4566 Bissonet in that little commercial stretch between Newcastle and Ave. B.

            I really like Little Hip's... I've only been once but their burger ranks with the best in town. Nice little diner-type place - the cook will come out and chat, she's very friendly.

            1. re: Texchef

              I'm going to give Hipps a second shot one of these days but the burger I had was avg and the fries sucked. My buddy loves the place so I will give them a try again soon.
              Indika is really good. I enjoyed everything I had their except the naan which was dreadful.

        2. I haven't been hitting many new places lately but I finally got to Dragon Bowl Bistro at Shepherd and 11th I believe? Its quick decent food. I don't know if I'll go again. I had the blazing singapore something dish and it was about a 3 on the spice level. Beef, onion, carrot, bell pepper's, those little corn thingies, and singapore style noodle in a mild sauce. Like I said, its quick decent food if you need some fuel at lunch.
          Although not a new place Jarro's taco truck on fondren was a place I hit recently after reading about it on Robb's blog in the hpress and have to say its a real winner. I might have to move my list for taco trucks around to:
          1. Tacambaro pretty much on the strength of the sweetbread tacos. The pork are pretty good as well and all can be had as a gordita.
          2. Jarro's on the strength of the salsa and beef dishes.
          3, Tacanozo for the green sauce and beef fajita.

          1. Tried Which Wich today on Richmond. I'd have to say the sandwich I had was pretty much the same as the one I had recently at PotBelly's. Its a good solid fastfood sandwich.

            1. Well, this isn't a exotic, trendy or upscale place, but everyone should give it a try. It is Doyle's of Oak Forest, on 34th St. A family run business that has been there many years and been a Marvin Zindler award winner more than once. I can't vouch for the italian food, but they have a chicken salad served in an avocado that is to die for! Chunks of chicken - not the shredded stuff - yuk! It comes with a bit of fruit and homemade croutons which are really more like crcles of baguettes, buttered with parsley and baked to a golden crunch.

              They also have a great reuben sandwich, as well as many other sandwiches. Their menu is in the Houston Press Menu of Menus guide this year.

              The pizzas look awesome but I am stuck on the chicken salad and sandwiches.

              4 Replies
              1. re: danhole

                Latest find for coffee is Catalina Coffee House on Washington. Coffee drinks are great and treats good good as well. Tried the chocolate shortbread this afternoon - fantastic. It's half dipped in dark chocolate with crushed pistachio on one edge. Yummy! I'll be back to try the Mexican vanilla ice cream and the Avocado ice cream.

                1. re: danhole

                  danhole you've mentioned this several times and I was by there today and decided to drop in. Quite a place for a neighborhood cafe. I got a very generous and good complimentary appetizer of garlic bread. The other sandwiches I saw being served were very impressive but the Reuben was a more modest offering. Still, it was very good. All the right flavors, a gooey mess with all the melted cheese, of which there was perhaps a bit too much in proportion to the other ingredients. While not the equal of the Reuben's at Kahn's or Kenny and Ziggy's, It was better than the Reuben I had at the New York Coffee Shop last year. The potato salad was okay but not to my taste and I wouldn't order it by itself. I appreciated the slice of cantaloupe and big, ripe, juicy strawberry, too. If I lived in the area I'd probably be a regular (and pack on the pounds because of it).

                  1. re: brucesw

                    I'm glad you liked it! I don't know if you are into desserts or not, but theirs are very good, and I don't usually like many desserts in restaurants. I think they are homemade. The have a decadent chocolate cake that is too big for one person, but it is soooo good! I practically live around the corner, but resist the urge to eat there as much as I want to! And I agree about the potato salad - not a big fan - but that chicken salad is a work of art, uh . . . so to say!

                    1. re: brucesw

                      Doyle's is right around the corner from me too, and I was there about 3 weeks ago. I've had their pizza, which is pretty good, and Mr. Cheflambo always has the lasagna. It always reminds me of what the neighborhood used to be like, because it looks like nothing has changed in this place for over 30 years. The waitstaff is young and eager, and service is quick, and prices are VERY reasonable. It wont take you long to choose a glass of wine to go with your meal. When I asked our server (who, in all fairness, didn't seem old enough to drink) what kind of wine they had, he said "Umm.... red and white" and directed my gaze to the cooler in the corner. Yes indeed, 1 bottle of red, 1 bottle of white and 1 bottle of rose. They get a lot of seniors (for obvious reasons) and they seem to have a lot of regulars. I'll have to check out that Reuben .... its a favorite of mine, and I usually only order it in a deli.(last one I had was at NY Coffee Shop in March);

                  2. Cafe India on Williams Trace in sugar Land yesterday. It was solid enough but not as good as Himalaya on 59 and Hilcroft. I had lamb vindaloo which had a nice spice to it but I could have had more. The potatoes were very good in the dish and the lamb was ok.The somosa was a nice pastry with potatoes and it was very good a well. I'll give the chicken curry a shot next time. I don't know if I would make a special trip for Cafe India but its near my house(relatively) which makes it more attractive.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: jscarbor

                      Any other ideas for Indian inside the loop? The other cuisine I'm on a quest to enjoy is Vietnamese. We tried Van Loc a couple of weeks ago and the decor, ie moldy smell and 70's theme made it a so-so experience.

                      1. re: Texchef

                        Inside the loop? Can't think of any except indika which is contemporary Indian. Really Himalaya is not that far away. I would drive there everyday of the week if my waistline could handle it.
                        There is a little vietnamese place at Webster and Fannin that has a great duck soup. Nga's on Milan is very good, Cali Sandwich is good and cheap. Mais has some americanized dishes along with some good authentic stuff on the menu.

                        1. re: jscarbor

                          Just remembered some Indian inside the loop. Khyber on Richmond, I have never been! Is Madras still open on Kirby? Its good from what I remember.

                          1. re: jscarbor

                            I LOVE Himalaya too, but when I am feeling lazy I just go to Khyber Grill on Richmond since it is closer to our house. I have only tried a few menu items. So far, based on what I have tried, things have been really good, but not EXCELLENT. I like all the spices in Himalaya’s food. Kyber’s approach is not as bold. The one exception is their “Gunpowder” Lamb Vindaloo. It packs some serious heat, which surprised me. I was glad they didn't tone it down for me. The hotter, the better. Just like the salsas at Jarro cafe!

                            Kyber's dal and samosas are not as good as Himalayas. They are tasty, but still not on the same level. Their traditional curry is perfectly tasty, but not as spice-packed as you would find at Himalaya. However, I do think that Kyber’s Naan is better than Himalaya’s. Kyber’s cilantro-yogurt dipping sauce is thicker and more flavorful too. It packs a nice heat, but doesn’t smack you in the face with it. The Saag Paneer seemed good. My friend ordered it with chicken. I only had a tiny sample though.

                            So I would not ever say Kyber is bad or totally bland. I did truly enjoy the items I ate there, and I think it would be a great place for those people who don’t like things super spicy. Like I said, their naan is so good… I could eat that forever. However, once you are a slave to Himalaya, like me, it is hard to find an equal substitute.

                        2. re: Texchef

                          I hear that Shiva and Bombay Brasserie, both in Rice Village, are popular Indian spots. You could also try Kiran's, just west of Highland Village, for upscale Indian.

                        3. re: jscarbor

                          I love this place. They changed ownership a year or two ago but the recipes did not change. Next time you go, try the chicken biryani.