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Houston-Try something new

j
jscarbor Apr 27, 2007 04:44 AM

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.

  1. l
    lynndela Jun 5, 2008 08:08 PM

    If you haven't already, try the chicken shwarma at the Phonecia deli (Westheimer, a few streets west of Wilcrest), not to be confused with the massive Phonecia store across the street. It's one of my favorite things in the world.

    1. b
      brucesw Dec 3, 2007 03:03 AM

      Came across a place on Fondren just south of S. Braeswood - Garcia's Carniceria and Taqueria - which had a sign in the window for borrego on weekends. After being introduced to this at Gerardo's I was eager to try it but couldn't make myself understood. Finally the cashier came back and we managed to figure out they don't serve it anymore and the 2 women at the steam table thought I was saying burrito. I wound up with a carnitas burrito and it was pretty good though not the best I've had, lots of toppings to add in. They apparently try to do too many items for the size of the steam table and some containers were stacked on top of others -- there's probably a health code violation in there. The place is in a long struggling strip center and one of only a few businesses operating there; it was very neat and clean on the inside.

      My receipt showed the name of the place as Petatlan # 1 so maybe there's been a change of ownership that explains the sign in the window. I was happy to find this so near my home as there are few options like this around and I'll be going back to sample more.

      1. b
        brucesw Nov 15, 2007 10:10 PM

        La Tacasita - taco bus, Bissonnet, just outside the Beltway. Very clean; interior looks very well equipped for a taco bus. Rather limited menu. Long hours, open til 11pm most nights, 2 am on weekends. I had been to this place a couple of years ago when it was parked in the lot in front of the old Auchan; wasn't very impressed then but my other destination for lunch that day turned out to be a chain sandwich shop so I kept moving and wound up here. Tacos al Pastor - tasty, some hint of pineapple flavoring but no visible pineapple. Green salsa tasted like it was right out of a container with Herdez on the label. This place has been in business a number of years but I haven't detected anything special.

        Mr. Sub - Bissonnet just west of Wilcrest - drove up - obvious looking through the window it's a chain, so I drove on. According to what I found on line, it's based in Toronto. So hard to find a really good poboy here in Houston I had hopes but just looked like a Subway clone and I didn't feel like taking a chance and blowing 4 or 5 bucks.

        1. v
          vergilius Oct 16, 2007 02:30 PM

          Polonia Restaurant is quite good. I had dinner there a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it. They have a sampler plate for two that covers everything on the menu that looks interesting. The food is delicious, the service is good, and the prices are a real bargain. And where else can you watch a Polish soccer game on tv while you eat?

          1. b
            brucesw Oct 15, 2007 05:34 PM

            This is such a great old thread I thought I'd bring it back rather than do 2 new posts on my latest finds:

            Café Rita (also Rita’s café on the signage), Lebanese/Armenian, 755 Dairy Ashford across from Stratford Hi, just off Memorial. This a small hole in the wall deli-like place (they sell some imported food products) with a very friendly proprietor and very good food. I had the trio combo plate with lamb, kafta and chicken kabobs on a bed of pilaf. I’ve had a thing for lamb lately but that and the chicken were just a little dry but the kafta was excellent - juicy and flavorful. I might just order it next time without the others. There are 18 salads and veggies to choose from on display, I chose the regular taboulleh, lemony and not oily like some and very good, and a lentil salad with lentils, carrots, red bell pepper, onion and parsley that was also very good. I also inquired about another which the proprietor informed me was a potato salad and gave me a small sample. It was okay but there were so many other interesting looking choices I don’t know if I’d order it. There are three varieties of hummus, regular, spicy and olive, the olive was interesting but nothing special. There are also 3 varieties of taboulleh, regular and Armenian and one other I can’t remember. Then there is also baba ganouj, of course, which I didn’t try. I also noted on the menu muhamarra, the red pepper spread (ajvar) with minced walnuts which I recently discovered at Phoenicia Specialty foods and is very good but I didn’t try the version here.

            A review on b4-u-eat says it has both vegetarian and vegan offerings but these are not specifically noted on the menu, other than a couple of vegetable plates and a vegetarian sandwich, but I’m sure many of the offerings would qualify. Other than the Armenian taboulleh and a special Armenian hot sausage plate I don’t know what the differences in Lebanese and Armenian are. The place is open 10:30 - 8 M-F and until 4 on Saturday, closed Sunday. They have daily specials including leg of lamb on Thursday. You’re welcome to bring your own beer and wine. Judging from my visit, there are many regulars in the neighborhood who are treated like family when they come in.

            My only complaint about this place is that it’s too far from my home but I will be back when in the neighborhood. I wish there was something like this closer to where I live.

            I also recently tried Soul-on-the-Bayeaux, on Cleburne at Dowling (?) which I have heard about for some time. The crawfish etouffee was rich and flavorful but waaaaaay over salted. Some of the crawfish were plump and tasty but some were tough and stringy like the inferior Chinese variety. The catfish was sweet and tasty, better than many I’ve had though I’m sure it was farmed, but it too had too much salt in the coating, though not anywhere near as much as the etouffee. The portions were also quite skimpy for what is charged. Compared to the catfish at Thelma’s, which I had again recently, I’d say SOTB’s was a tastier fish but the portion was only about half what you’d get at Thelma’s for less. Likewise the crawfish etouffee was not as good as at Louisiana Foods mentioned in another post here and that place offered a really interesting side plus real crusty French bread vs. the insipid, store-bought sliced ‘French’ bread at SOTB. I won’t be going back unless a dining companion insists.

            1. b
              brucesw Sep 10, 2007 12:40 PM

              Louisiana Foods Seafood Mkt and Deli - 4410 W. 12th, accessible off N. Post Oak in the warehouse district and probably off the 610 feeder but 12th street does not go thru to the Heights on the other side. Not well marked.

              I had heard of this place some time ago and wanted to try it out. It's actually a very small place. Note the limited hours on the website. I got the crawfish etouffee and it was very good, best I've had in a while They obviously use Louisiana crawfish instead of the inferior imported kind. Given the price of Louisiana crawfish I thought it was a generous serving for $6.75. It was accompanied by some peas and carrots and crusty French bread. There's no place to eat on the premises but the picnic tables at Memorial Park are about a mile away.

              The menu is very small; I got a product list but didn't get a to go menu. A sign in the window says daily specials are served starting at 11am until they run out. There's another sign for fried chicken, a brand I've never heard of but creole or cajun; the chicken was under a heat lamp. I might try it sometime if I'm there when they bring out some fresh fried.

              I plan to go again to sample some more of the ready to eat and check out the fresh seafood.

              Despite the small space, judging by the tractor-trailer rigs and refrigerated 20 footers, its obvious they supply seafood and cajun specialities to lots of places. The original is apparently in Grand Isle.

              http://www.louisianafoods.com/map.html

              4 Replies
              1. re: brucesw
                Cheflambo Sep 10, 2007 02:48 PM

                Interesting little place, and conveniently within 5 miles of my house. I really do need to check this out. Do they sell to individuals? I dont see much alligator or turtle at my local Randalls.

                1. re: Cheflambo
                  b
                  brucesw Sep 10, 2007 04:47 PM

                  Yes, they sold to me. According to my friend who told me about it at lunch time you may encounter a line. I was there about 2 and was the only customer. Maybe that's the significance of the limited hours? -- that's when they sell to the general public?

                2. re: brucesw
                  b
                  brucesw Nov 2, 2007 05:51 AM

                  Revisits: nothing has measured up to the etouffee. Shrimp gumbo had very good roux but frozen cocktail shrimp and almost nothing else in it. I tried the meatloaf, offered every Tuesday, thinking 'Cajun meatloaf - wow! that's gotta be something.' but there wasn't anything special about it that I detected plus the French bread was stale and tough. Surprisingly the fried chicken has been pretty good. Krispy Krunchy is the brand and Louisiana Foods is the Houston home. Most of the pieces I've tried have been very good and juicy and crispy but it's not spicy at all - a surprise. Some pieces sitting under the heat lamp for too long have been tough and dry - what you'd expect for convenience store chicken - so it's a hit or miss thing.

                  Also tried Hebert's on Richmond just inside the loop. I thought they did a lunch special but I was looking at the wrong web site. The only Houston store to have lunch specials is on Dairy Ashford just south of I-10. The Richmond store has a huge selection of Hebert's stuffed, boneless chickens, some fresh meats, Poche's sausages and some of their creations, frozen. The crawfish etoufee I picked up was no where near as good as the stuff from Louisiana Foods -- fewer crawfish and a brown-gravy taste that I don't care for.

                  Poche's andouille, chaurice and pork and crawfish sausages are excellent; they are also available at Spec's Liquor Whse Deli downtown (and by mail order).

                  Here's the website for Heberts, Houston: http://www.hebertshouston.com/

                  I had read they carried Poffenberger Sausages from Bellville but I forgot to check for them; if they have them, it's a very small selection and I missed it. I've had Poffenberger's summer sausage and blood sausages before and they are very good.

                  1. re: brucesw
                    b
                    brucesw Dec 3, 2007 02:54 AM

                    Update on Hebert's - I went out to the Dairy Ashford location hoping to partake of a Cajun buffet but if they serve one you must need special vision goggles to see it. Brought home some of their boudin - meat and rice virtually pureed and I didn't care for the texture as much. Subsequent samples from the quart of frozen crawfish etouffee I had purchased turned out to have plenty of crawfish - it was just the sample skimmed off the top when it was still partially frozen that was kind of skimpy. A check of the label revealed the brown gravy taste comes from cream of mushroom soup which they also use in their shrimp etouffee. Once I knew what it was I wasn't as bothered by it but I think this is non-traditional. Wouldn't cream of shrimp or even cream of onion or celery be more appropriate???

                    Unable to get lunch at Hebert's, I wound up at Cafe Orlean's Express at Kirkwood and I-10, reviewed recently by the Press. It's supposed to be a prototype of a fast food resto. Cheeseburger po-boy came on good bread but was cooked from frozen, nothing but a hamburger patty cooked then cut in 2 and placed end to end, took 15 mins, and was burnt on one side and over seasoned. Despite these drawbacks I might give this place another try if I'm out that way and I wouldn't mind having one in my neighborhood as opposed to another Star Buicks or Galaxy of Wings but I'll probably get one of them instead.

                3. b
                  brucesw Sep 2, 2007 09:39 AM

                  Tried Stanton's City Bites (on Houston, a few blocks north of Washington) for the burger that has been raved about. The Press review said 'well-toasted bun' -- in my case that turned out to be dry and stale, well-toasted bun on my first visit but it was nice and fresh the second time. The burger is huge; there's no place to eat on the premises and it's very messy to eat in the car. Also very hot and fresh, but kind of bland. First time I tried it there was way too much mayo so on the second visit I told her to hold the mayo and there was way too much mustard. Nice and juicy but the meat needs some seasoning. Fries were good. All in all, a disappointment. Better than any of the chains for sure but I'll stick to Christian's or Lankford's. She has chili and chili and rice on the menu but didn't have any ready since so few people order it in warm weather - I plan to go back when the weather turns and try it.

                  Also tried Wild Kitchen on Stella Link - had driven by and seen it and reviews on b4-u-eat were generally positive; I thought maybe it would be Katrina evacuees setting up shop but I doubt it. Crew was very young. They offer catfish or pollock, cajun or London style. I really wanted some fish n' chips. Portion was large but fish was overcooked and batter chewy, greasy and not crisp. Fries were good. You have to ask for malt vinegar. Animal Style and Special burgers pictured on the menu looked fabulous but the only burger I saw being served -- not one of those two I'm sure, looked pretty ordinary. Honestly, I think you could do better at Captain D's, although portions will be smaller. If I was in the neighborhood, I'd support them, but won't drive over there again.

                  1. Jayro Sep 1, 2007 04:37 PM

                    We recently tried Paw Paw Bar & Grill at 12151 Westheimer. It’s a Persian & Greek restaurant. Because we had a party of 8, we sampled a variety of appetizers, cheeses and grilled meats (all chef’s choice). The Halloumi grilled cheese was excellent. The Kubideh was the best I’ve ever tried. But really, all our food was delicious. Although it was almost a 30 min. drive from our house, it was worth it. I know we’ll be back soon. We are already planning what we’ll order next time. Here is a link to Paw Paw Grill’s menu: http://www.pawpawgrill.com/

                    Paw Paw’s also has hooka pipes for rent and an extensive Persian tea menu & coffe bar. We only tried a few of their flowering teas. We enjoyed the delicate smooth flavors.

                    Also tried Darband Kabob Restaurant at 5670 Hilcroft. It was also quite tasty, especially for the low prices. There’s not a lot of explanation that goes with this place. They do all kinds of shish kabob. They cook it when you order it. They are tender and well seasoned. Their dips/sauces are good too. A steal at these prices – it would cost $12 at Niko Niko’s!

                    1. t
                      tlegray Sep 1, 2007 12:08 PM

                      We tried Gorditas Aguascalients on Edgebrook....on the recommendation of someone here. We found it interesting enough to try again. They give you 2 salsas, red and green, with chips when you sit down. I thought the green one much better then the red, but I'm not crazy about warmed salsa which is what they do to the red one and it's roasted, blah, blah, blah. I think most will like both. I just refer cold fresh salsas and the red was of the roasted variety.

                      There were 3 of us so we ordered a variety of items. Enchiladas mexicana with cheese...they were ok. The cheese they use here is excellent but there wasn't enough sauce to taste. The beans were very good and tasted like they were made with lard. The enchildadas also came with potatoes and chorizo. Not a typical side.

                      We also ordered a huarache with shredded beef, sopes with potatoes and chorizo, and a gordita with fajitas. The last two items were recommended by our waitress. All items were good and had elements that I really loved. The potatoes and chorizo was my favorite filling while the gordita was my favorite vehicle for carrying the said filling. I would try all of these again with a different filling and we want to try the mole and pastor tacos.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: tlegray
                        j
                        jetlag Sep 1, 2007 03:43 PM

                        Does anyone know a place that serves a real new york hot dog, a brat on a bun or a place serving clams casino in Houston or environs.

                        1. re: jetlag
                          danhole Sep 2, 2007 08:25 AM

                          Have you tried James Coney Island? They have NY, Chi and Tx style hot dogs. They have a website. There is a new place on Airline called Chicago Italian Beef that I think has a brat on a bun. I have heard great things about this place from a close friend but haven't been there yet.

                          Can't help with the clams, though.

                          1. re: danhole
                            b
                            brucesw Sep 2, 2007 09:31 AM

                            That place on Airline sure has a lot of rave reviews for being open such a short time. If you get there be sure to report back. jetlag- lots of sausage makers in SE Texas thanks to Czech, German and Cajun settlers, but brats are not a common style. If you have to DIY, Spec's Liquor Whse Deli downtown will have several varieties of brats (other than Johnsonville), including some Usinger's, depending on what they have in stock.

                            This guy imports Hoffman frankfurters from NY and has a few places in the Woodlands area that serve them, probably NY style.

                            http://www.dougiedogs.com/

                            I googled b4-u-eat for clams casino and turned up The Oceanaire and The Palm; kind of surprised D'Amico's in the Village doesn't have it on the menu. I think I remember having it at the old Nash D'Amico's Clam Bar.

                            Googling b4-u-eat for specific dishes is one way to find if its served anywhere in Houston but it depends on someone having mentioned it in their review.

                            I looked for Sabrett's there and turned up nothing.

                            http://www.b4-u-eat.com/

                          2. re: jetlag
                            b
                            brucesw Sep 3, 2007 08:31 AM

                            jetlag - I was looking at the menu for Kahn's mentioned in the Jewish deli thread and they have a brat reuben on the menu and a brat plate so they have brats and rolls (I don't know what kind of bun a brat is served on but theirs are pretty hard rolls). I'd guess you could ask them to fix it they way you want it.

                            http://www.kahnsdeli.com/menuk.htm

                        2. j
                          jscarbor Jun 8, 2007 04:50 AM

                          Went to Matamoros Meat Market on Washington today to find that El Tiempo has taken it over but kept the meat market/taco store concept going. The tacos were probably the same as they were which is good but maybe a little smaller and a little more expensive? I had a good carnita and a different fajita.

                          1. o
                            oltheimmer May 28, 2007 07:14 PM

                            I was searching for something new (and hopefully low-cal so I can keep from blowing my calorie counting diet) to try to fulfill our assignments for this thread and came across Savoy Grocery, Tika Kabab on Wilcrest in the Press’ Dining Guide under Health/Vegetarian. The review might be quite dated as it refers to it as a hole in the wall and it’s now a fairly decent sized restaurant. It is new to me. I believe it is listed on B4-u-eat as Indian/Pakistani and the reviews are very positive. The restaurant is just north of W. Bellfort on Wilcrest. The parking lot has been packed when I drove by a couple of times but on my way there I had noticed Salaam Nataste on W. Bellfort, about half way between 59 and Wilcrest; the signs say it is Indo-Pak fast food and Naan Corner. I was more intrigued by that and went back to try that first.

                            This is a hole in the wall that has been open less than a year. There are billiards tables in the rear and only about ½ a dozen places to eat up front. It is counter service. I was intrigued by what the counterman was fixing the 3 men in front of me and tried to ascertain what it was but we had trouble communicating. I finally found out it was called paan; this was new to me. I thought he was saying you had a choice of sweet or tabasco but he was saying tobacco and that isn’t an option, tobacco paste is integral to the dish which also includes nuts and spices rolled in a betel leaf. I haven’t done any tobacco in at least 25 years and this was quite a shock when I bit into it. It’s an acquired taste but I’m not sure I wouldn’t order one again.

                            I had the chicken korma, a dish I’ve had before at Himalaya and liked. I think the version at Himalaya is richer, perhaps meaning they use more ghee, but this was very good and spicy. I encountered several whole black peppercorns and whole cloves.

                            We also had trouble communicating about the bread. I assumed it would be naan but the counterman several times called it a big tortilla and that’s what I got (roti? - he may have used the word roti but I missed it). I would rather have had naan and I assume they offer it because of the sign but I didn’t see it listed on the menu.

                            There are some basic items available every day but some of the menu changes a little from day to day and they don’t have a printed one to take away. I did notice some dishes that were different from what I remember at Himalaya including goat chop, brain massala, fish massala and beef bihari. I asked if beef bihari was another name for beef nihari (more below) but it isn’t - beef bihari is grilled while nihari is stewed.

                            I got the korma, 2 large ‘tortillas’, a small salad of sliced onions and cucumbers with yogurt dressing and the paan for $8.98 including tax; I thought it was a fair price for what I got. The bread was apparently extra. The fellow was very friendly and apologized for not knowing the English for some of the terms. I will definitely be back to try some other things. Service was fairly fast; there’s no drive-thru lane or kiddie playground, thank goodness, so this is not fast food in the American sense. I was probably in the restaurant between 12 and 15 minutes to get my order to go. He said they do a big business at lunch from the spillover crowd at Murphy’s Deli next door - the kebabs are big items - but don’t get many customers from the Dairy Queen on the other side ;).

                            I didn’t notice a sign about hours but I did notice several breakfast items on the menu.

                            I happened to remember a few more places I’ve tried in the last year to add to the list above, among them Sabri Nihari, another Pakistani restaurant across Hillcroft from Himilaya which deserves mention here. I went there before going to Himalaya and had the $7.99 AYCE lunch buffet and was impressed. It would have become a regular stop if I hadn’t tried Himalaya a couple of weeks later. I remember the chicken tandoori and beef nihari and the naan best from Sabri. Beef Nihari is a signature Pakistani dish that is usually compared to pot roast, a cut of beef (shoulder) simmered for up to 24 hours with spices. I think the dish is closer to chili!, different spices than a bowl of Texas red to be sure but the same principle, nothing but meat and spices (if there are any vegetables in beef nihari like in pot roast, they must completely disintegrate). It is a very substantial and satisfying dish. I think I could live happily for some time on nothing but the gravy from beef nihari and naan and I would expect the version at Himalaya to be better but have not tried it yet. Some reviews on b4-u-eat claim Sabri Nihari’s version is the best in town. The naan at Sabri is glazed with ghee and is quite addictive.

                            I’ll try to get around to going to Savoy in the next couple of weeks.

                            1. o
                              oltheimmer May 22, 2007 11:12 PM

                              Okay I've been wanting to post on this thread but haven't had the time to write anything up. I've been calorie counting for 2 and a half months and only eaten out 3 times in that period, so all of this is earlier in the year.

                              Best find of the year was Himalaya; not new to jscarbor but apparently few others on CH have tried it yet.

                              Another good one was JC's Chicago Deli on Spencer Hwy @ Woodward, right on the line between Pasadena and La Porte -- he uses Vienna Beef provisions. I'm not fond of the Chicago Style hot dog but the Italian Beef is an awesome sandwich and probably my favorite sandwich in the Houston area right now.

                              I had to spend some time in Humble and discovered a taco wagon on FM 1960 Business East in old downtown Humble, Taqueria Dona Maria which is Venezuelan. Great snack sized Venezuelan empanadas (corn meal based). This led me to look into other Venezuelan places and I discovered Pana's Cafe on Scarsdale and their awesome patacones, shredded beef sandwich on mashed, fried plantains. I posted a review here some time back, with pictures.

                              Another good one was the venison chili at Armadillo Palace.

                              I didn't make it to Polonia the restaurant but did hit the Polish grocery next door for some kielbasa and their astonishing array of sauerkraut products. Also sampled their kolaches which are Czech style, not Polish.

                              Original Kolache Shoppe on Telephone just north of Park Place was another good one; probably Houston's original kolache shop dating to 1956 and best in town that I know of but limited hours and selection.

                              Another good one was Mojito's Cuban Bistro on 6 @ Dulles, learned of on CH.

                              Other places I 'discovered' because of CH: Thiem Hung on Pease (?) @ St. Emmanuel, and, believe it or not, Taqueria Del Sol. I'd heard of this for years from a co-worker but his recs were usually eminently forgettable so I ignored it until it was touted recently in a thread here on CH. Very good, wish I'd tried it earlier; I've only been once, so far, though, because of my diet.

                              Rediscoveries: Marini’s Original Empanada House in Katy, Kelley's for CFS (after Robb Walsh's review), Andros Greek Deli on Fondren. I used to shop at this place when it was an import grocery rivaling the original Antone's on Taft; it's now just a sandwich shop. Decent gyro - more meat than Niko, Niko but less tomato, onion and tzatziki sauce. A good option if you don't feel like driving all the way to Montrose and standing in line for 15 minutes! Decent Fatboy (poboy) also, very similar to Antone's but bigger. Also, Cafe Latina, in the old Cardet's in Montrose (Cuban).

                              I also hit a very good pupuseria way out on Bellaire, El Cuscatleco.

                              Out of town, Swinging Door in Richmond impressed me - pecan smoked Q with good smoke penetration. If it weren't for my diet I'd be trying to get co-workers or friends to go and take advantage of the AYCE family style special - a little of everything they do.

                              Novosad's in Halletsville was a great find -- awesome Q. I posted a review here on CH some time back.

                              Also caught Austin's in Eagle Lake open for the first time. Excellent sausage, rivalling the very best I've ever had at Louis Mueller in Taylor. I wanted to make it back out at Easter when they were supposed to have cabrito but didn't. I haven't gotten around to writing a review about that one.

                              Also in Halletsville, Besetney's Kountry Bakery (another location in Schulenberg). Great kolaches and home made breads. I was there one chilly Saturday morning, just passing through. They had several home made soups on the sign board and almost every table was occupied and almost every table had big soup bowls on them -- must be pretty good stuff.

                              I'm a fan of old-timey burger stands like Someburger on 11th street -- there's a very good one in Richmond, Jaime's Dairy Treat,on 90-A @ 762. They have a very extensive menu for a burger stand including home-made tamales and enchiladas, but I haven't tried them yet. Burgers are very good.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: oltheimmer
                                t
                                Texchef May 23, 2007 05:48 AM

                                Thanks oltheimmer. That should keep us busy for awhile!

                                1. re: oltheimmer
                                  j
                                  jscarbor May 23, 2007 02:19 PM

                                  Nice! I'm going to commit to trying atleast 2 new places in the next 2 weeks. I saw this chicago beef joint that looked like it was close to opening on Airline? Then I saw Empire seafood also on Airline. Those 2 might make the cut?

                                  1. re: jscarbor
                                    t
                                    Texchef May 23, 2007 04:10 PM

                                    I've not been to Empire seafood but am super curious since I see it every time I go to the Farmers Market across the street. If you try it let us know!

                                    1. re: jscarbor
                                      neverfull Oct 17, 2007 02:31 PM

                                      connie's seafood on airline across the street from the farmer's market has really good fried seafood. the steamed fish with garlic (al mojo) was fantastic as well.

                                    2. re: oltheimmer
                                      m
                                      mialebven May 25, 2007 01:04 PM

                                      I've never tried Pana's Cafe on Scarsdale, but I've heard everyone rave about Miguelito's, a Venezuelan restaurant (sit-in) on Richmond in the Galleria area. Those were much better than the Venezuelan "taco" stands in the area on Fondren and Richmond.

                                    3. j
                                      jscarbor May 22, 2007 02:10 PM

                                      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
                                        t
                                        Texchef May 22, 2007 04:00 PM

                                        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
                                          j
                                          jscarbor May 22, 2007 07:15 PM

                                          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
                                            j
                                            jscarbor May 22, 2007 07:38 PM

                                            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
                                              Jayro May 29, 2008 06:55 PM

                                              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
                                            l
                                            lynndela Jun 5, 2008 08:05 PM

                                            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
                                            zorra May 26, 2007 07:38 AM

                                            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.

                                          4. danhole May 18, 2007 12:56 PM

                                            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
                                              t
                                              Texchef May 20, 2007 05:27 PM

                                              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
                                                b
                                                brucesw Jan 12, 2008 01:12 PM

                                                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
                                                  danhole Jan 14, 2008 07:23 AM

                                                  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
                                                    Cheflambo Jun 1, 2008 11:50 AM

                                                    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. j
                                                  jscarbor May 18, 2007 12:17 PM

                                                  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. j
                                                    jscarbor May 16, 2007 07:55 PM

                                                    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. t
                                                      tlegray Apr 28, 2007 01:14 PM

                                                      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
                                                        j
                                                        jim1126 Apr 28, 2007 04:10 PM

                                                        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
                                                          daguttgrl79 Apr 30, 2007 08:25 AM

                                                          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
                                                            t
                                                            Texchef May 17, 2007 04:39 PM

                                                            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
                                                              j
                                                              jim1126 May 18, 2007 07:45 PM

                                                              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
                                                                j
                                                                jscarbor May 18, 2007 09:06 PM

                                                                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.

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