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Houston's Restaurant - feedback please

Jeff Rose Jul 12, 2002 01:45 PM


Can anyone please provide feedback on this restaurant. I will be going to the one located in Irvine this weekend.

Any general suggestions and/or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Also, any specific feedback regarding their steaks (my meal of choice) would also be welcomed.

Thanks in advance,


  1. s
    SouthernTara May 6, 2009 09:17 AM

    They have a great veggie burger if your dining companions aren't carnivores. It actually looks like a hamburger - I am guessing they use beets to give it a red color.

    1. r
      RSMBob Jul 13, 2002 01:37 PM

      Lotsa good comments here...

      I am a big fan of Houston's...I don't think there is a better chain restaurant in the country. As noted, the menu is not huges, but most of what they serve is very good to excellent.

      My favorites here are the BBQ baby back ribs and the prime rib, which I view as much better than the steaks I have had there. In addition, the fries are among the best anywhere and the cole slaw and couscous are also outstanding.

      Yes, there are better restaurants out there, and yes, better values. But you'd be hard pressed to find a better balance of nice decor, good service, very good food and semi-reasonable prices. Makes for a nice night out.

      1 Reply
      1. re: RSMBob
        annorr Apr 22, 2009 02:05 PM

        When I want to have a good meal, good service, and attractive surroundings I always try for Houston's. Traveling to different cities I find the food consistent, that is consistently good. I like the ribs and the shrimp cocktail also salmon and filet. The service always there with whatever I need. Each restaurant is different from the outside and I enjoy that too. But it is inside that I really feel at home when I'm in Santa Monica, Phoenix, Bethesda, where ever, gimme a Houston's every time. Ann

      2. i
        Ira Jul 13, 2002 03:31 AM

        My favorite is the BBQ chicken which is served with their excellent fries and cole slaw. It's no longer on the menu, however, if you ask for it, they'll make it for you.

        1. z
          Zach Jul 12, 2002 08:55 PM

          I love the seared ahi($18). You get two sides, which for me amounts to cous cous and black beans and brown rice. It's a really good plate of food. In New Orleans, the red fish was top notch, but I don't think you can get it out here. The ribs are ridiculously expensive at $26, but very good if that's your thing.


          1. j
            Jeff Jul 12, 2002 07:33 PM

            While KC branches might be better than those out West, I have to say I love Houstons. The vegetarian options there aren't treated as second-class choices like most places.

            The fries are better than Campanile (trust me!), the cole slaw is delicious, and they have the best banana cream pie in the world. I'm not kidding- and also better than the mediocre Silverton dessert we had at Campanile. Not to overdo the Campanile references, just the only LA area restaurant that comes to mind!


            1. s
              Samantha Jul 12, 2002 06:21 PM

              I agree with the others-good but not great. Also, super crowded on weekend nights, full of thirty-five and forty-year old women dressed like twenty-year olds and super tan with too much makeup hanging out in the bar. You can call ahead and get your name on the waiting list 15 to 20 minutes before you arrive-do this because it gets packed. By the way, I would order a hamburger or ribs (both were decent). Never had the steak, but it's not necessarily a place I would order steak-there are much better places in OC for steak.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Samantha
                Emma Jul 12, 2002 06:22 PM

                I agree, if you want steak, I'd go to Chris Ruth's instead, which I think are better than Morton's.

              2. c
                carter Jul 12, 2002 05:44 PM

                Have eaten at Century City only, but the ribs and ahi salad were very good, and very consistently so. This chain is very professionally run, yet keep in mind that they have units from California to NYC, etc. so consistency can be a problem, and they are not competing with top local restaurants, or most other chains. They have good reliability, for a medium high price point restaurant. Great decor is always a hallmark of their operation as is the well trained wait staff. Given the amount of money you will spend, you do have options elsewhere, however, where you might get better value, including the Gullivers at MacArthur and the 405, especially for a meat lover as you profess to be. Regardless, give us your feedback.

                1. s
                  Stan Jul 12, 2002 04:32 PM

                  I too like the decor (and I have been to both Century City and Pasadena). I also like the only thing I've had there, which is the veggie burger, which is pleasingly large and spicy. I find that I have to police them to make sure that things are cooked in a healthy way, the side vegetables for example. I'm not sure I would go there if my top priority was food, but it has its place.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Stan
                    HomeChef Jul 12, 2002 04:50 PM

                    I find the meny disappointingly small. I do like the couscous that comes as a side to some of the entrees. They are pretty places to look out but I don't find anything special about it.

                    They are famous for their artichoke dip which is served with chips and pretty tasty.

                  2. c
                    Chino Wayne Jul 12, 2002 04:02 PM

                    The branch of this chain in Pasadena is drop dead gorgeous in terms of architecture, decor and ambiance. (I love the bar). The food in my opionion is second rate. I don't know how they prepare their "BBQ" or smoked entrees, as there is never any smoke emanating from this establishment.

                    When I win Lotto I am going to buy out the Pasadena branch, install a jazz combo, and serve good drinks and graft on the nearby Arroyo Chop house for the food service.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Chino Wayne
                      eeyore Jul 12, 2002 04:14 PM

                      Did you buy your ticket for Saturday? They make an excellent dry martini, but that's about it. Agree with you re food: menu/preparation are about as exciting as that of the Velvet Turtle that once lived here.

                      1. re: eeyore
                        Chino Wayne Jul 12, 2002 07:09 PM

                        Ah yes, the Velvet Turtle, where one evening we were having drinks in the bar while waiting for a table, and then when the table was ready, the hostess did not offer to so much as help us get our drinks to the table, let alone get a tray and carry them over for us. So of course I spilled a drink while getting out of the bar booth, and then management did not have the decency to replace the drink or comp me in anyway. The Velvet Turtle richly deserved its demise.

                      2. re: Chino Wayne
                        Ray Jul 12, 2002 06:13 PM

                        Re your comment on smoke: I havn't looked recently, but the Manhattan Beach Houston's had a place behind the restaurant where they stored the wood for cooking.

                        1. re: Chino Wayne
                          nubi Jul 14, 2002 01:41 AM

                          >> I don't know how they prepare their "BBQ" or smoked entrees, as there is never any smoke emanating from this establishment.

                          The ribs are truly "knife and fork" -- I cleaned the bones without using my hands once. However, I don't recall too much flavor in the meat -- I couldn't detect any smoke in the taste.

                          1. re: Chino Wayne
                            Lotus Jul 14, 2002 03:49 AM

                            We always split the Thai chicken salad as an appetizer and then split the ribs for a main course. For dessert, we have the five nut brownie and we ask for the kahlua (?) sauce. It's no longer on their menu so you need to ask for it.

                          2. e
                            Ernie Jul 12, 2002 02:33 PM

                            The Prime Rib French Dip sandwich is excellent

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Ernie
                              Will Owen Apr 22, 2009 03:08 PM

                              The Prime Rib Sandwich was one of the signature items from the moment the original restaurant opened in Nashville. It was always a bargain for its quality and size, and could easily have been the one item that won the restaurant so many fans, me very much included. That restaurant is no more, but I'm delighted to know the sandwich lives on.

                              1. re: Will Owen
                                Fibber McGee Apr 27, 2009 12:04 PM

                                That is what I ordered when I visited Houston's in Boca Raton a month or so ago. it was very good, but at $18 not for the frugally-inclined.

                                1. re: Fibber McGee
                                  Will Owen Apr 29, 2009 12:27 PM

                                  I guess it depends on where you're used to eating - it's not hard to pay $18 for a burger in L.A.! And if you think of it, except for the slab of bread, that sandwich is roughly the equivalent of an order of steak-frites, for which $17-$18 is the bottom price in this market. I really can't think of anything else equivalent at that price.

                                  1. re: Will Owen
                                    Fibber McGee Apr 30, 2009 04:15 AM

                                    But that market hardly can be used as a gauge for restaurant prices across the country. Boca Raton, Florida has plenty of upscale dining and that was at the high end for such a sandwich, as good as it was. Overall, though, the prices were very reasoanble compared to equivalent restaurants in the area. Houston's may be a chain but I'd call it an upscale one, certainly without the slap dash feel of so many chains. I certainly would go back, because even if I think the price of that sandwich was a little high, it was hardly outrageous.

                            2. l
                              lil mikey Jul 12, 2002 02:06 PM

                              I have been to the ones in Century City and Manhattan Beach. I like the ribs. They are very tender. You can eat them with a fork, no knife, as the meat falls off the bone.

                              I also like the tortilla soup.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: lil mikey
                                kevin Jul 12, 2002 02:34 PM

                                is that beef or pork ribs or do they got both? i've tried the beef ribs at the sister rest. Bandera, and the beef ribs were beyond falling off the bone tender. all though it's pricey for ribs, hovering somewhere in the mid-20s.

                                1. re: kevin
                                  lil mikey Jul 12, 2002 02:41 PM

                                  It's been a while, but I think they were beef ribs.

                                  1. re: kevin
                                    WLA Jul 12, 2002 04:49 PM

                                    Bandera's ribs are beef, Houston's are pork ribs. For the knife and fork ribs, which are damn expensive at $24, the meat really does come apart as you pull it from the rib. They also have ribs called "Hawaiian Style" or some such name, but I haven't tried those.

                                    I like their burgers. Very juicy, tasty beef. I normally get the one with barbque sauce, but instead of the grated non-melted cheddar and chopped onions which just fall off, I get the cheddar melted and sliced red onions. I also like to get a side of their Thai salad dressing to add.

                                    They used to have one of the best grilled pork chops I have ever tried, but alas I have not seen it in sometime, so may be gone for ever.

                                    Lastly, while their fries are quite good they can be way over salted at times. I actually started getting one of their loaded baked potatoes with the burger.

                                    It's not great, but it is good.

                                    1. re: WLA
                                      Emma Jul 12, 2002 05:03 PM

                                      I concur -- the burger and the ribs are great.

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