I lived in Houston while my husband went to grad school at Rice and I taught at an outlying high school. We moved away many years ago and I've been reading about Robert Del Grande and Cafe Annie for years. I'd always wanted to go there, but I've been reading some recent posts and I'm not sure now. We're going over from San Antonio in early April and I'd love to find a good place. We love seafood and Italian food. I've looked at the Cafe Anne website and one for DeMarco...both looked good, but pricey. Where could I get the quintessential foodie experience without giving up my retirement? Don't get me wrong. I don't object to the price if it's worth it. We'll be in town for 2 nights. Are either of these places worth the expense?
I've never been to Cafe Annie, but DaMarco is excellent--well worth the price, in my opinion.
Marco Wiles' more casual restaurant, Dolce Vita, is much less expensive and has great food too. Their pizzas are just like the pizzas we ate in Italy, and their appetizers are creative and
delicious (you won't believe how much you'll enjoy the Brussels sprouts!). I love their blood orange/prosecco cocktail, too.
For seafood, I wouldn't call it the quintessential foodie experience, but last weekend we had a very nice meal at Danton's, an attractive new Gulf Coast seafood place on Montrose. They apparently have been paying attention to recent criticism of their wine list and service, and have been refining both. We enjoyed our gumbo, stuffed shrimp, and stuffed redfish, and had no room for dessert.
Fraucook -- the Schiller/DelGrande Group has several good restaurants, and although I have not been to Cafe Annie, I do enjoy DaMarco and feel it is worth the price. For really great seafood without blowing your next mortgage payment, try any of the Pappa's Seafood restaurants. There are quite a few around. Another great seafood spot (a bit fancier but not stuffy) with excellent service, generous portions and more of a Cajun feel is Pappadeaux's. On a busy night there will be a wait, but its worth it.
If you can let me know which part of town you're staying in, I can make some very good Italian recommendations too. There is good Italian all over town, and I'm always on the lookout for new (good) ones.