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I Love Living in Houston!

Houston's culinary scene may very well be the best kept secret in the country.

We're at Main and Main for many of the best cuisines in the region, from Texas style BBQ, to Cajun, to Gulf Coast seafood, to Tex-Mex, to country cookin', (think CFS), to Vietnamese, (we have a huge SE Asian population in Houston who love to work hard and eat well).

I happen to live in far west Houston near Westheimer and the West Belt. There are so many great, family run restaurants in this area that I have always wanted to tell someone about. I guess you get to be that someone.

Today, I want to tell you about Mexico's Deli. Alex Garcia owns and operates Mexico's Deli. At one time, he ran a small chain in Mexico City. Fortunately for us, he decided to open a new restaurant in a space that was once occupied, (for decades), by Hot Dogs by Harlan. (RIP.) This is in a typical thirty year-old Houston strip center, just south of Westheimer on the west side of Dairy Ashford. What it lacks in ambiance, is more than compensated in quality and value.

Not long after HbH closed, my son and I noticed a new place opened there called Mexico's Deli. Serving a huge variety of tortas, (Mexican style sandwiches, so named because of the tortoise shaped bread used), tacos, burritos, and even breakfast.

My son and I usually each have a bowl of the poblano cream soup. It's sublime, but be forewarned the heat varies with the peppers. Then we split the Lomito Chipotle, a torta made with pork loin, ham and a fried egg.

Other times I simply can't resist the pastor tacos. The authentic pastor is browned and cut from the vertical spit, but then griddle-grilled to conform to local health laws. The tacos are served three to the order and are the smallish style tortillas. Just incredible.

They also make several fresh liquados daily. My personal favorites are the watermelon and jamaica, (hibiscus), but the horchata usually disappears first.

The Houston Press has given Mexico's Deli several (well-deserved) awards including Best Authentic Mexican Restaurant, but don't take their word for it. Take mine!

Go. Try. Thank me later.

Mexico's Deli
2374 S Dairy Ashford St, Houston, TX 77077

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  1. Tejas bills itself as the Oldest Mexican Restaurant in Downtown Alief, and who am I to doubt?

    What appears to be a converted house on Alief Clodine just west Old Westheimer/West Center Blvd, Tejas is serving up some of the best Tex-Mex/Gulf Mex in the city. As soon as you walk in, you can't help but realize that Joe would rather be fishing. Fortunately, he took the day off to cook.

    All of the standards are there, cheese enchiladas, crispy tacos, rice and beans...

    But you'll also have some more interesting choices as well, like crawfish enchiladas, grilled quail and the best stuffed, blackened snapper you've ever had.

    Serving beer and wine only from the adult beverage department, the focus here, (unlike many Tex-Mex joints in the city), is on the food. It is consistently good.

    It's a funky little joint that appears to enjoy its relative anonymity. The regulars keep it crowded enough, but there's usually a parking space around back. (The one right in front of the door is mine.)

    Tejas Restaurant
    12219 Alief Rd, Houston, TX 77082

    2 Replies
    1. re: DoobieWah

      Thank you for your wonderful comment about our Restaurant.

    2. Pho One is a small mom and pop shop in a relatively non-descript strip center at the NW corner of Westheimer and Wilcrest. Hard core foodies might know the center as the home of Bistro le Cep and Daido Japanese Market.

      Serving a variety of authentic Vietnamese noodle soups, (pho), as well as numerous other delicacies, the Mrs. Owner is the scion of a famous Saigon noodle dynasty, (if I understood the story correctly!).

      The Vietnamese egg rolls are the best I've ever had. The Banh Mi are my son's favorite and such a value that he occasionally orders two. Also served are traditional noodle/salad bowls with grilled pork or chicken, lemongrass beef, etc.

      It's not fancy, but it has a loyal and devoted clientele. It's easy to imagine that it might get lost in the crowd just a few miles south in the new "ChinaTown" along Bellaire, but if you look hard enough to find this gem, you won't be disappointed.

      See you there.

      Pho One
      11148 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042

      15 Replies
      1. re: DoobieWah

        We had a late lunch there the other night and it was good. I had the Bun (Vermicelli bowl) and my dining companion had a dish that looked like skinless chicken+coleslaw (Vietnamese chicken salad maybe) that was very good. Their fish sauce appears to be homemade and is good but unlike other restaurants they don't accessorize the fish sauce with carrot curls or pepper flakes like other Vietnamese restaurants -- its the color of a diluted urine sample - but once you get past the look of it and put it on your food --you'll ask for some more.

        1. re: Nata Tariko

          Good call!

          My son loves the fish sauce and after we order egg rolls, he hoards whatever sauce is left for his sandwich.

          (But I never would have thought to compare it to pee! Let's say "weak tea", instead, OK?)

        2. re: DoobieWah

          I've eaten at Pho One and found it to be only average. I dont know what all the ballhyhoo is about this place. I've eaten at over 50 Pho places in Houston, Dallas and other cities and Pho One is not even in the top 20. Their broth and beef are not as flavorful or tender as many other places. Try Pho 24 on Bellaire in Chinatown. Their broth and beef is luscious.

          Pho One
          11148 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042

          Pho 24 Cafe
          9750 Bellaire Blvd Ste 108, Houston, TX 77036

          1. re: andygellis

            Thanks for your input, (although I'll continue to like it, if you don't mind), but other than Pho 24, (which I have been to, btw, and I agree it is good), what other places do YOU like?

            I'm always eager to try a new place.


            1. re: DoobieWah

              Hi Tia

              Pho Danh and Pho Ngon on Bellaire are also good. I have eaten at 6 Pho places in the cinatown area and those 2 and Pho 24 are my faves... and yes I've eaten at Pho Pasteur in Arlington... one of the best. But I've yet to try Pho Binh or some of the other top rated Houston Pho places.......... so much Pho, so little time.

              Pho Binh
              2021 Mangum Rd, Houston, TX 77092

              Pho Pasteur
              12345 Bellaire Blvd Ste B6, Houston, TX 77072

              Pho 24 Cafe
              9750 Bellaire Blvd Ste 108, Houston, TX 77036

              Pho Danh
              11211 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77072

            2. re: andygellis

              Everyone has a different idea of what makes a great bowl of pho. To me Pho One strives for a simpler, cleaner, balanced bowl of pho. I'm talking about balance in the sense that there is no one dominating part (broth, beef, noodles), and it all comes together quite nicely. I like them for that style of broth versus something like, the Pho Binh trailer in Houston or Pho Pasteur's (since you say you've been to some places in DFW..), both places I also enjoy but admit they both serve broth can be too greasy or overbearing.

              Pho Binh
              2021 Mangum Rd, Houston, TX 77092

              Pho One
              11148 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042

              1. re: andygellis

                Concur; The owners are sweet, but their Pho isn't our favorite. Chicken Slaw Salad you mentioned and the Bun Bowls are very good. The House Special Banh Mi is teh awesome. Le Viet is our local Westchase favorite. Pho.

                Le Viet Restaurant
                11328 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77077

              2. re: DoobieWah

                having had pho in literally hundreds of places... diff cities, states, even countries (poland and uk, interestingly enough)... i cant say Pho One is very special or memorable. probably average or slightly average for all the places in houston. which is unfortunate, because i live around the corner, so its more convenient than bellaire.

                its not bad. its just not noteworthy

                for my money theres better at pho saigon (bellaire location; there are 3 with the same name in the city), and the one next to HK supermarket in the HK supermarket complex... forgot the name

                1. re: paleogeek

                  "...the one next to HK supermarket in the HK supermarket complex... forgot the name"

                  Pho Dung.


                  1. re: DoobieWah

                    And we eat at the one out in Katy all the time. Pho is great. Grilled Pork with vermicelli or rice also terrific.

                    1. re: Jaymes

                      Yeah, the one in the Hong Kong Market mall was my first experience with pho.

                      Made me a believer.

                      But Pho One is just around the corner from me and I like the owners.

                      And come the cold weather, it's a frequent stop.

                      We need to grab some Chow soon, Jaymes. It's been a while. How's the new grandbaby?

                      1. re: DoobieWah

                        He's a buster, to be sure. How about that Korean? Sometime soon?

                        1. re: Jaymes

                          How about Sunday lunch?

                          Isn't it Bonga you like?

                  2. re: paleogeek

                    went back to Pho One for lunch today. didnt want to stray too far from the office.

                    1/2 Shrimp Spring Roll: not the standard order cut in half, but small rolls. shrimp was small and sauteed yellow, not halved or butterflied. never seen it like that. missing that long chive like herb (dont know name).

                    Pho special took a long time to come out. Inexplicible for a pho restaurant. The menu barely had any meats and thus the same story for the special: had chewy dried out brisket and big chunks of tendon. No tripe, fatty flank, etc - the good stuff.

                    Herb dish didnt have razorleaf/sawtooth herb!!! But it had cilantro. wtf? The killer however was the broth that came out extremely clear. Barely any fatty bubbles to speak of and thus no body. Ive had watery-er/worse broth, but overall this pho is now down to the bottom quartile to third of my list.

                    It behooves everyone to take that extra drive down to Bellaire...

                2. I love to cook. It's basically my sole creative outlet these days and I have found a certain joy in discovering and experimenting with new ingredients.

                  As a result, one of my favorite pastimes is grocery shopping. I know, I know, and yes, I am a guy, but searching shelves for new additions to my spice or sauce shelf and then figuring out what to do with it gives me a certain amount of satisfaction. (Which is NOT to say that I've never thrown it all out and ordered a pizza!)

                  One of my favorite grocery stores in town is PHOENICIA MARKET on Westheimer between Kirkwood and Dairy Ashford. I first discovered this store when it was 10% its current size and located across Westheimer from the current digs. As an ancient Persian man remarked to me shortly after the new store opened, the new location is "...not so intimate.". And he's right - it's not. But what it lacks in intimacy, it makes up for in selection.

                  Fresh pita bread is made daily on site via a huge conveyor that starts in the ceiling and cascades around until your bread is delivered hot and wrapped in front of you.

                  There are at least six different kinds of feta cheese being offered in the deli case.

                  If you like the olive bars that suddenly appeared in every grocery store in town a couple of years ago, you will love this place.

                  Some of my staples from Phoenicia include : Zergut roasted red pepper strips, mortadella with pistachios, any number of cheeses, (there are dozens of varieties from all over the world), Turkish pistachios, sun dried tomatoes, large Kalamata olives, Spitiko olive oil, ghee, chocolate (!), and on and on and on and on...

                  There's a bakery, (over and above the pita manufactory noted above), a butcher shop, (serving whole lamb among other things), a deli, (with the distinctly non-Halal Serrano jamon and prosciutto available).

                  IF you like to cook, and IF you like to be creative with new flavors on your palette, (a play on words and not a misspelling!), and IF you want to experience something new, get thee to Phoenicia.

                  It's worth a drive on a Sunday afternoon. (I just thank the stars that I live less than 5 minutes away.)

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: DoobieWah

                    They are opening one downtown. I will look forward to visiting once it opens.

                    1. re: Cookie Baker

                      I understand the new downtown location will be much, much smaller and will focus on ready-to-eat. I urge you to make the drive and check out the "big one". It is absolutely unique.

                      1. re: DoobieWah

                        Well, it looks like I was wrong. <shudder>

                        Congrats Downtown! Looks like you scored big.


                        (Just wish they could spell "downtown".)

                    2. re: DoobieWah

                      Yes, totally agree - I LOVE Phoenicia too! Everyone must visit this place at least once.

                      1. re: DoobieWah

                        Phoenicia is definitely a cool place. Almost impossible to just get in and back out again quickly. The variety is stunning.

                        If you're into exotic and variety, you should also check out the Chinese markets along Bellaire between Gessner and the Tollway. Even if you aren't. Old style meat counters and huge selections of fish and shellfish. Their produce departments typically put your average Kroger or HEB to shame in terms of variety AND prices. We usually shop at Welcome, corner of Bellaire Blvd and Ranchester, but there are others in that same neighborhood that are just as good.

                        1. re: DoobieWah

                          I live on the south east side and try to get to Phoenicia once a month or so. It's close to Mexico Deli and Hong Kong Market on Bellaire so it's usually a foodie day for me

                          Hong Kong Cafe
                          9108 Bellaire Blvd Ste A, Houston, TX 77036

                          1. re: DoobieWah

                            fantastic stuff.... but the FADI'S across the street is just as good

                            1. re: paleogeek

                              I think you are referring to the Phoenicia Deli which is reviewed here also. This was about the market.

                              I don't really care for either Fadi's or Dimassi's. Fadi's had good food, (THE most important thing), but I didn't like the setup or service.

                              The people at Phoenicia are almost family.

                              Different cuisine also - kefta or kebab at Fadi's, schwarma at Phoenicia.

                            2. re: DoobieWah

                              I think of you everytime I use my spices from Phoenicia Market! You and Cynsa my chow pals!

                              1. re: dimsumgirl

                                Well, we'll definitely have to hit it again next week!

                            3. It's almost impossible to believe that I lived the first 45 years of my life without sushi. Sure, I'd tried it, but never really cared for it. The textures, the aromas, and the flavors were just too foreign, too ... raw fish, for me to embrace. (My standing joke was that sushi was invented by a lazy fisherman who decided to just eat the bait!)

                              Then a chance lunch with a friend in Austin, (at Mikado Ryotei if you're interested), proved a revelation. The very next day, I was sitting at the sushi bar in Sushi Jin at Memorial and Dairy Ashford. I must confess here and now, that I had lived within a long 3-iron shot of this restaurant for six years before I ever darkened its door. What a fool I had been.

                              That was just over four years ago, and I have been to Sushi Jin at least once, and very, very, very often twice or more, every week since then.

                              The fish is unbelievably fresh. The itamae are craftsmen...no...they are artists. The serving staff are friendly and helpful.

                              Sushi Jin is possibly my favorite restaurant despite the fact that I have come to take for granted the freshness and quality. This is another of my regular haunts that has been discovered by the Press and awarded one of their coveted "Best of..." superlatives.

                              Also boasting a couple of karaoke rooms and a couple of tatami rooms for meetings or small banquets, Sushi Jin should be on every Houston sushi lover's pilgrimage list.

                              It's not trendy and it's not a place to "be seen", but it is THE place to obtain fresh, ultra high quality sushi. And best of all, even though I no longer live a slice or hook away, it's still just five minutes from home - Which makes my weekly visit a highlight of my dining week.

                              If yo go, tell Leo-san or Uotani-san that Doobie sent you. It won't mean a damned thing to them, but I just might be there.

                              And it will make me laugh.

                              Sushi Jin
                              14670 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                If you've ever enjoyed a meal or two at Sushi Jin, please keep Master Chef Uotani-san in your thoughts and prayers. He has been hospitalized for several weeks now.

                                He is a great, great man.

                                Sushi Jin
                                14670 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079

                                1. re: DoobieWah

                                  We've enjoyed the sushi there many many times. Sorry to hear this.

                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                    My deepest condolences to his family.

                                    He will be truly missed.

                                    So long, Chef. Till we meet again...

                                2. Pierson & Company Bar-B-Que is pretty much out of the way from pretty much everywhere. For me, it's about a 25 minute drive with $3.75 in tolls, (each way!).

                                  And worth every second and every penny.

                                  Clarence and his family have been serving up what is almost certainly the best cue in Houston for several years now. And they are finally getting some recognition for it.

                                  The beef, the smoked pork and the ribs are the best to be found in the area. Pass on the sausage unless you just hafta have it. It's not bad, but he has someone else make it for him, it's very VERY greasy, (which isn't normally a bad thing, but in this case, it is).

                                  If you like chicken, you have to be there early on a Friday or Saturday, the only days he does "yard bird". If you're smart, you'll call on Wednesday or Thursday and pre-order. Then they will call you when they're ready to be picked up. (Don't tell Clarence or Miss Vanessa, but I always get a little extra chicken and make the world's best chicken salad out of the leftovers!)

                                  As I noted, it's a drive for me, but well worth it. I've always picked my order up "To Go", so I can't testify as to the sides, but I have no reason to doubt them.

                                  If the food weren't reason enough to go, they are also the nicest people you can hope to meet. Tell them it's your first visit, and Miss Vanessa will get Mr. Clarence to make you a sampler plate.

                                  Remember this if nothing else: If Miss Vanessa asks you if it's your first visit, the correct answer is always : "YES!".

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                    Can you share an address for Pierson & Co.?

                                    1. re: nestorius

                                      5110 T C Jester Blvd Houston TX 77091

                                      I hope you enjoy it.

                                      1. re: nestorius

                                        There have been many mentions of Pierson's on this board - I think it was 'discovered' on this board a couple of years ago. Use the search feature for more comments. Most people here think it's the best in town right now.

                                        1. re: dexmat

                                          I live in NY, and travel to Houston frequently on business, and I've searched for good BBQ in Houston. Pierson's is hands down the best. I hope his success doesn't ruin him! The Houston Press had an article a couple of years ago about how he does it...

                                      2. re: DoobieWah

                                        I was in the area yesterday so I gave them a call just to check.

                                        The recording is still up that they are temporarily closed due to Mr P's knee surgery.

                                        Here's wishing you a speedy recovery amigo. Get well (and Cookin'!) soon.

                                      3. I love me some hamburgers.

                                        And what's not to love? You've got meat, cheese, bread, condiments, and just in case your mother is watching, you even have vegetables!

                                        My favorite burger ever was called The Austin's Favorite at the long gone but sorely missed, Mad Dog and Beans across from the Castilian Dorm in Austin. A thick patty flame kissed to a perfect medium rare, topped with nothing but mayo, shredded cheddar and avocado. I still dream about them.

                                        But they are gone, I now live in Houston, (and love it!), and when I crave a burger, I still have numerous excellent choices. I love Southwells. I love Cliff's. But when I'm home and have to have a burger, I will often make the trip, (all two miles of it!) to Sam's Deli Diner at Kirkwood and the Katy Freeway.

                                        Sam's lived for years across I-10 in the dumpiest little strip center you can imagine. A hangout for the local high schoolers, Sam's was known for burgers, fries and shakes, just like any good diner should be.

                                        But when the Katy Freeway expansion took the dumpy little shopping center and Sam's was forced to relocate, who could be surprised if the funky charm of the old location could not just be uprooted and replaced in a new facility. We've all seen that process fail many times, haven't we?

                                        Nevertheless, Sam's would be the exception to the rule. My guess is that they used magic to pick up the grills, the counters, the tables and chairs, the linoleum, even the bathroom sinks and moved it all across the freeway to a center anchored by a saddlery and a Starbucks. They don't seem to have skipped a beat.

                                        Are these the absolute best hamburgers in the city? Well, I imagine I could start an argument should I dare to presume...

                                        But they are darned good; No they are DAMNED good, old-fashioned, diner-style hamburgers. If you need proof, just wander in there any Saturday between 11 am and 2 pm. But be prepared to wait.

                                        All food is made to order and because of the popularity, that means that there will be a dozen or so orders in front of yours, so grab a shake and yesterday's news and take a load off.

                                        Whether you've opted for a chili burger, a jalapeno burger, or a double bacon, double cheese extravaganza, it's worth the wait.

                                        I'm not a "real" regular, and no one there "knows my name", but that's my fault.

                                        And it's a shame.

                                        Sam's Deli-Diner
                                        11637 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77079

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                          I too miss the Austin's favorite at Mad Dog & Beans! But as I recall it also had sprouts on it...

                                          1. re: saynice

                                            You are absolutely right. Thanks for the reminder!

                                            Now I want one more than ever!

                                        2. Hafez Persian Cuisine & Chicken Rotisserie (11312 Westheimer at Hayes) is the kind of little place that you'd never find on your own. (I did, but I'm special!)

                                          Instead, it's the kind of place that someone has to tell you about. And as promised in my first paragraph above, I'm here to tell you about it.

                                          Persian cuisine has been popular for a while now. Barg, Kubideh, the stews and the ubiquitous hummus are familiar to many if not most, I would think. My part of town is graced with Kasra, Caspian Cafe, Garson and several others. They are more well known probably, and certainly fancier, but there's something about Hafez that is more welcoming and comforting. Not that the others are uncomfortable, (I'll do a review of Kasra eventually, as I love it as well), but Hafez is just a great place to bop in on a weeknight have a good delicious meal.

                                          The staff are great, (I've really only ever seen the same two guys, but they are great). Very hospitable and helpful.

                                          The food is always fresh and more than filling. And delicious.

                                          Good food. Nice guys. Very reasonable prices.

                                          As I alluded to above, you would have to know this place is there in order to find it.

                                          It's worth the search.

                                          1. I saw that Cafe Pita + (10890 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77042) was bashed on a thread or two here recently. I hope it isn't "just" because that Guy guy featured them on DDD.

                                            We've been visiting Pita+ for several years now after reading a mention on houston.eats newsgroup. (Is it even still around?)

                                            We love it. Again, this is a small, family joint; (actually two friends own and run it, Omer and Bobo). And again, before it got national exposure, it was one of the those places where we would go, within a mile or two of home, and be the only table speaking English. (I looove those kinds of places.) Which is all you need to know about the authenticity of the food.

                                            Like Hafez above, there are a constant stream of regulars dropping in for take-out orders, only here they are Bosnian, Herzogivinian, or Serbian instead of Persian. (Again, that's really all you need to know.)

                                            I won't try to spell any of the specialties of the house, but everything is good. The kabobs, the sandwiches, the appetizers have all been tried and all been enjoyed. Many of the dishes are almost familiar, (almost!), but with a unique twist like the stuffed hamburger, or the hamburger sausages.

                                            I've never had their pizza, but it seems a pretty popular order.

                                            On Saturdays you can get fresh roasted lamb, but it is gone pretty fast.

                                            The one drawback for me regarding Pita+ is that it is so small. Since DDD featured them, it has been hard to get into, (with literally a line out of the door), and several times, we have been unable to get seated and have gone elsewhere. That is always a disappointment, but I am very glad they are so popular. These guys brought a unique product to the market, (and my very own neighborhood!), and I am delighted with their success.

                                            To Omer and Bobo, Thanks, and good luck guys. I'm glad you picked my neck of the woods to open shop.

                                            To everyone else, you HAVE to try it, (if only to say you did).

                                            I L-O-V-E living in Houston!

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: DoobieWah

                                              I don't understand the recent bashing either. Everything I have tried there has been good as well. The times I have gone though, it hasn't been extremely crowded. We have had no problems getting a table... perhaps because we always end up going on a weekday evening. I'm glad they were on DDD (even if I'm the only one). We have recently moved to the area, and if it weren't for them being on the show, we probably never would have found it.

                                              1. re: geochic

                                                We have only been once. My husband's order was forgotten, although we reminded them time and again. He finally got his meal after the rest of us were finished and the waitress acted as though we owed her an apology. No beer or wine, but you can buy it next door. When we did, the waitress knocked over the beer and broke it. To us the food was not worth the effort, it was basically seasoned ground meat in most dishes, pretty basic. Which dish brings you back over and over? Maybe we just did not order the right things.

                                                1. re: Lambowner

                                                  Yeah, I'll admit the service is sometimes very...

                                                  "European!' (Haha!)

                                                  Still though, the place is unique and offers some great food.

                                                  For a weekday lunch, I will often have the chicken sandwich. Perfectly grilled and topped with ajvar, a roasted red pepper puree. I love their (probably frozen) fries also.

                                                  On Saturdays they have a roasted lamb that you should be so lucky as to get some of.

                                                  And yes, several of the traditional specialties are just seasoned ground meat, but lots of them are not.

                                                  Try something else, if you don't like it or the service sucks, eat elsewhere. There's a lot of good food around. No need to waste your time or patience on an aggravation.

                                                2. re: geochic

                                                  We dropped by last Friday night around 7:30 and found a 30 minute wait list.

                                                  Went elsewhere. The old Yogi Berra line comes to mind, "No one goes there any more; it's always too crowded".

                                                3. re: DoobieWah

                                                  Dropped by last night and want to report they moved to bigger quarters within the same center.

                                                  Food is still good. Just after Thanksgiving, (and before the move), I tried their Bosnian Goulash, an item I hadn't seen before.

                                                  Outstanding. Very tender, rich and hearty. I can hardly wait until it gets cold.

                                                  (For any of you out-of-towners reading this, it's January 6 and it's 74 degrees outside today.)

                                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                                    They've opened a second location at Sage and Richmond.

                                                    I haven't been yet, but I'll bet it's good.

                                                  2. Cafe Rita's Lebanese. This is he coolest little joint ever. Once again found in a dumpy little 30-year strip center on Dairy Ashford, this time across the street from Stratford High School.

                                                    Once again, this is quite literally a little Mom and Pop Shop, and for all I know, it's been there since Sam Houston rode through on his way to San Jacinto. This is authentic Lebanese and its as consistent as the sun. All of the regular items are available from hummus and schwarma, to spinach pies and babaganoush.

                                                    The proprietors will treat you like regular on your first visit and you will immediately fall in love with them. They're the grandparents you wish you had. Seriously.

                                                    The last time I was there they told me they were considering expanding into the suite next door. They will probably double in size from ten seats to twenty! After all these years, Rita's is changing, (ever so slightly!)

                                                    Now that's progress.

                                                    Truthfully, I don't get in there as often as I should.

                                                    Do me a favor and pop in once in a while. They deserve your love, and one visit is all that is required to make sure they get it.

                                                    Cafe Rita
                                                    755 Dairy Ashford St, Houston, TX 77079

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: DoobieWah

                                                      Want to note that Rita's has moved from the center on Dairy Ashford across from Startford High School to farther up Westheimer in the same center as Mexico's Deli and Thai Lily.

                                                      I haven't stopped in yet, but saw that it was there and that the old space had been vacated.

                                                      I could easily see myself hitting all three spots for small bites, (a taco here, a falafel there, ...).

                                                    2. A gumbo inquiry thread on this board got me thinking about little out of the way places where I've had remarkably good gumbo; (and let's face it, those places are usually better than the more well known family dynasties - yeah I'm looking at you Pappas and Goode). However, I should admit that I think Goode Company Seafood on Westpark makes a decent gumbo.

                                                      But the best "small batch" I've had lately was found at Cajun Town Cafe on West Little York and Bingle. I have a friend who's been raving about this joint for years. There's some story to it, (guy used to work for Pappas or some such), but I have to tell you that for good, (really good!), simple fare, this is hard to beat. I've only been a few times now, as I tried to hit it on the way to Pierson's to pick up my monthly bbq order.

                                                      Anyway, the last time I was there, I had a lunch combo, (the "Royal" or something), that came with a large piece of fried catfish and a bowl of gumbo with a side of fries, (for like $6). The fries were totally ignorable, and for me that's rare. The piece of catfish was excellent. Best I've had since Jake and Homer's closed in Riverside up on Lake Livingston.

                                                      But the gumbo was outstanding. Thick and hearty. Great flavor and heat balance. Big chunks of seafood.

                                                      This is not an easy place to get to and it's counter service. Seriously, this is a hole in the wall. But to borrow a phrase from Alice, "All the best places are."

                                                      Cajun Town Cafe
                                                      6476 W Little York Rd, Houston, TX 77091

                                                      1. We discovered Ocean Palace many years ago after visiting the (then-new) Hong Kong Market. We had been going to the HK Market on Gessner for a while before that, but had heard the new one out on Bellaire was bigger and better. (It was - and still is!)

                                                        My son and I dropped into the upstairs dining room and asked for menus. (We didn't understand the dim sum ritual at that point.) Sure enough, we ordered off of the menu but it quickly became obvious we had made a mistake. After watching a few of the carts go by, (and assuring every cart operator we weren't interested in their wares despite our empty plates), we knew we would have to return which we did the following weekend.

                                                        Now, I know there is better dim sum in Houston. We've been to the new(er) Kim Son a block east of OP, and Golden Palace just east of Gessner on Bellaire many times.

                                                        But I'll be honest - I just love that big old room at OP. It's getting dated, and at times has certainly looked a little worse for the wear and tear, but I really do just love it.

                                                        The food. Sometimes it's better than others. And I have yet to determine the manner in which dishes are selected for offering, (whether it's the time, the day, the season - I just don't know).

                                                        For the uninitiated, dim sum is basically a brunch/lunch with small dishes ordered from mobile carts that circulate the restaurant. Dishes of steamed and/or pan fried dumplings, so-called steamed bbq buns, curried squid, chicken feet, (at least three ways), shrimp balls, (teehee!), etc. etc. etc., are served three or four to the order and presented in steaming dishes, (or others as appropriate). The servers then put their "chop" on your clipboard counter and at the end of the meal, your server just adds up the dishes and presents the bill.

                                                        It would be very hard to go hungry, but sometimes you will never see that one dish you were really looking forward to. I don't know why, (as I alluded to above).

                                                        Do me a favor and try Ocean Palace and then go try Kim Son or Golden Palace or someplace your co-worker recommends, but definitely try this unique foodie experience.

                                                        You deserve it!

                                                        Ocean Palace Restaurant
                                                        11215 Bellaire Blvd Ste D-01, Houston, TX 77072

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                          Well Ocean Palace, we've had a good run, but it's over.

                                                          I swear you didn't do anything wrong. My last visit was imminently satisfying and everything I expected.

                                                          It's not you - It's me.

                                                          So long. Take care. Have a great life.



                                                          "Hello, Fung's Kitchen? It's me - DoobieWah. I know it's only been a day, but I was hoping I could see you again..."


                                                          All kidding aside, if you're into dim sum, Fung's is it. Tasty and delicious. Hot when it's supposed to be, crisp when..., tender when...

                                                          This is the good stuff.

                                                          As noted above, "You deserve it".

                                                          Fung's Kitchen
                                                          7320 Southwest Fwy Ste 115, Houston, TX 77074

                                                        2. We've been going to Nirvana since it was owned by my ex-neighbors and called Shivani.

                                                          While there is certainly cheaper Indian food available in Houston, we just love this place.

                                                          The lunch buffet, served Sunday through Friday, (closed for lunch on Sat), is great and always offers a special treat or two. They also serve a dinner buffet on Monday nights when everything is just a little bit "extra" special.

                                                          The dal and sag paneer are perfect as is the nan.

                                                          The various masalas change daily and are always prepared to perfection.

                                                          I suggest trying the lunch or dinner buffet once and then going back for dinner to order off of the menu, once you have a sense for the style of cuisine.

                                                          And as is usual for the places we really like, the ownership and serving staff are the nicest folks you can imagine.

                                                          Great food. Great people. Close to home. The Big 3!

                                                          Nirvana Indian Restaurant
                                                          14543 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: DoobieWah

                                                            I searched this site for Nirvana and found this comment, which I missed at the time it posted. We have lived in the area for well over 10 years and haven't been to Nirvana since we haven't heard much good about it. So the times you can order from the menu are at dinner only except on Mondays? I'm not a fan of buffets. My interest has revived since they moved next door into the old Candelari. I think based on this, I'll hit it up some dinner soon. By the by, your new comments on this thread a couple of weeks ago didn't show up on my page as new comments, so I just saw those too. Weird.

                                                          2. I made the trek out to Canino's on Airline yesterday for my annual fresh pea stockpiling.

                                                            Available fresh from the hull yesterday were lady cream peas, purple hull peas, pinto beans and zipper cream peas.

                                                            I picked up several pounds of each. I'll be making pintos today and freezing the rest. They're worth the trip.

                                                            I also picked up Vidalia onions, pepitas, radishes, celery, Carolina peaches, (that came highly recommended, but remain untried as yet), poblano peppers, rice... and probably a few other things.

                                                            However, we also took the opportunity to have breakfast at Triple A restaurant. Two eggs over, two homemade biscuits, two sausage patties and ranch style potatoes for $4.99, (I think).

                                                            Now I'm not usually a breakfast eater, but I managed to polish off all but a few of the taters without thinking twice. I wouldn't drive halfway across town to eat there, but since I would drive halfway across town for fresh peas, it was a nice place to begin the adventure.

                                                            Completing the adventure was a quick trip through Flores Herbs and Spices across Airline. They used to be located about halfway down the row of independent shops behind Canino's, but now they have their own parking lot! I picked up some terrific vanilla beans, (3 for $5), chili powder, and my very favorite, their Mexican Oregano. I put it in almost everything I cook in Mexican or Italian style cuisines. By the way, I have driven halfway across town for the oregano as well.


                                                            With all of the summer produce, this is great time of year to hit Canino's. No, it's not a real farmer's market. But it does have a great selection, good prices and some unique and hard to find offerings.

                                                            I won't complain if you skip Trips, but Canino's and Flores are "must-sees".

                                                            BTW, Connie's across Airline has a great rep as I recall, but I almost always time my visits out there for early morning, so I've never tried it. But if you're over there around lunch or evening, let me know if it's worth driving halfway across town for.

                                                            (I might need some more peas.)

                                                            Triple A Restaurant
                                                            2526 Airline Dr, Houston, TX 77009

                                                            1. In my Hafez critique above, I also referenced a Persian restaurant called Kasra.

                                                              Kasra Persian Grill is in the corner of the shopping center at Westheimer and Gessner that also houses Yao's and (I think) a Big Lots store. Tuesday Morning is right next door if that helps. Oh, and it's behind Benihana and Churrascos.

                                                              So now you know where it is, and you know what it is, (I assume the "Persian Grill" part gave it away), now you just need to know How it is. It is great!

                                                              We lunch there a couple of times a month and I almost always go for the kubideh. I'm a burger slob and that makes a great varietal to the routine. Twin skewers of spiced ground beef , grilled to perfection served with two grilled tomato halves and basmati rice. (Can anyone explain to me the Perisan fascination with blackened tomato skins?)

                                                              Yesterday however, we visited and I tried something new - The Jujeh Kabab. Sometimes jujeh is made with your typical chicken, but in this case it was a whole cornish hen, cut into its components, marinated in who knows what and grilled to suuculent, absolute perfection.

                                                              It was ... sublime. Moist, juicy and practically jumping onto the fork.

                                                              The owner of Kasra is a nice guy named Morty and he is always in the dining room, greeting, waving and making sure you have everything you could want.

                                                              The prices here are a couple of bucks higher than at Hafez, but the food is a notch higher grade and the surroundings are a tad nicer, but I just want to say that I have plenty of room in my life for both.

                                                              And I couldn't be happier about it.

                                                              Go see Morty and order...well anything. Let me know if you get something you don't like.

                                                              I'll wait right here.

                                                              Or maybe there.

                                                              Kasra Persian Grill
                                                              9741 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                Had lunch at Kasra over a year ago and still remember the delicious rice with sour cherries.

                                                              2. Doobie:
                                                                I'm planning a trip to Houston from California and this post has me hungry already! I have relatives that I have not visited Houston in over 30 years. Thanks for the wonderful recs. Can't wait to try out all the places you've mentioned.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: dimsumgirl

                                                                  Excellent DimSumGirl, Excellent!

                                                                  Obviously you'll have to try to make Ocean Palace, but when I travel, I always hit the local grocery stores for my souvenirs. You know, a unique spice, bottle of hot sauce, etc., so I strongly suggest Hong Kong Market in the same center as Ocean Palace, and Phoenicia.

                                                                  Do either of them just scream "Houston, Texas"?

                                                                  Well as they say in the vernacular, "Hell Yes, they do!". And that's been the whole point of this thread after all.

                                                                  Have a great visit.

                                                                  Texas - It's a whole bunch of other countries!

                                                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                    Thank you DoobieWah. I haven't read the Houston Chowhound pages enough to know if you ever do chowdowns there. Here in California, I often make the 2 hour drive to meet up with other hounds in the bay area. Also in Fresno in Central California, the hounds there have been kind enough to take me to the best taco trucks. We will have 12 days to check out Houston in November. Please email me if you would be interested in meeting up: dimsumchum@gmail.com

                                                                    1. re: dimsumgirl

                                                                      You might want to get in touch with Jenny Wang @ i'mneverfull.com. She's in charge of a splinter group, Houston Chowhounds, and they do events like this. Contact her soon, as she often has a full plate. Let us know.

                                                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                        Thanks for the suggestion, James. I will email jenny to see if we can arrange something. I would love to meet Houston hounds.

                                                                      2. re: dimsumgirl

                                                                        For taco trucks check this out from erstwhile Houston Press critic Robb Walsh.


                                                                  2. I don't know how long Pappy's has sat there on the south side of the Katy Freeway in Hedwig Village.

                                                                    I do know that current management has owned it for about five years or so.

                                                                    I also know that pretty much my favorite lunch in town is served on Wednesdays, (and usually Thursdays), at that very same location.

                                                                    Blackened catfish with crawfish etouffee - I will offer it up as the best in town.

                                                                    There is nothing at the Ragin' Cajun that can compare.

                                                                    Maybe you could find something at Mandola's, or Brennan's or Mark's.

                                                                    But you sure as heck wouldn't be paying $9.99 for it! Served with two sides, (mine: side salad and fried okra, extra crispy), and over a bed of dirty rice, the catfish is blackened perfectly, moist and flaky. The etouffee is rich and buttery and downright decadent.

                                                                    I have eaten a few other things there; the burgers are good, the CFS is decent, the various chicken platters are a good value...but the catfish is awesome.

                                                                    I have no idea what the lunch specials are for Mon, Tue or Fri.

                                                                    But I'll bet they're good.

                                                                    Pappy's Grill
                                                                    9041 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

                                                                    1. As I noted above, we discovered Ocean Palace and dim sum by visiting a new location of an old haunt, the Hong Kong Market. These days, my visits to the Hong Kong Market always coincide with a trip to OP, so for us, it's a 2-fer!

                                                                      I've been shopping HKM for about twenty years, first at the old Gessner/Harwin location and then the big store on the south side of Bellaire between Wilcrest and Kirkwood. (You couldn't possibly miss it.)

                                                                      The produce section alone is as large as some grocery stores, (well, small ones at least). Live fish swim in tanks at the back of the store, but to be perfectly honest, aside from some lobsters and shrimp, I've never availed myself of those pescatorial delights.

                                                                      No, what draws me back to HKM time after shumai after time, are the fruits of the dreaded "G" word - "globalization".

                                                                      That's right, I love being able to buy spices and sauces and pastes and pickles and teas and candies and instant soup bowls and soap and canned drinks and ...


                                                                      ...and I'm not the least bit ashamed of it.

                                                                      I LOVE that I can buy a curry paste and a fish sauce and gummy candy with not a word of English on it.

                                                                      I LOVE that I can buy sixteen different kinds of fresh cabbage, and at certain times of the year, the most prized fruit in the world - a durian.

                                                                      I can do all that fifteen minutes from home...

                                                                      ...If I drive south.

                                                                      However, if I drive north, or east or west the experiences are different. But they're pretty cool.

                                                                      I love living in Houston.

                                                                      I really do.

                                                                      1. My first visit to Corelli's came courtesy of an Entertainment Book 2 for 1 coupon.

                                                                        On a whim, I ordered the chicken piccata.

                                                                        That was maybe five or six years ago, and I don't get back there very often as it is a bit of a drive for lunch and even farther for dinner. But when I'm in the area, I love to drop in and have what I consider to be the best CP ever. The chicken is lightly dusted in flour, (and not breaded as you see so often), and sauteed. The lemon flavor is very subtle as are the capers. Not too many, but just riiiiiiight. I always order aglio e olio, angel hair pasta with olive oil, (olio) and sauteed garlic (aglio), instead of the traditional pasta with suga rosa sauce.

                                                                        Until recently, it was the only thing I had ever had there as I like it so much and get over there so infrequently. However, we dropped in a couple of months ago and on our way to the table I saw what appeared to be a Fred Flintstone sized chunk of meat and had to ask the hostess what in the hell that was.

                                                                        "Bone in pork chop" about an inch and half thick, beautifully grilled with ...

                                                                        I have no idea what comes on the side; (I'm sure I got aglio e olio, but I don't remember what was supposed to be there - grilled veggies or something, I would assume.)

                                                                        It was awesome. So now I have a dilemma. I still get over there infrequently, but when I do, now I have a decision to make. The best chicken picatta I've ever had or that beautiful big hunk of pork?

                                                                        To make the decision just a little bit harder, the chicken picatta is no longer on the lunch special menu, so the full price is about $13, while the pork which IS on the lunch menu is only $10.

                                                                        Since my "miser credentials" are firmly established waaaay up on this thread, you can see how this could be a problem.

                                                                        The obvious solution of course, is to just get over there more often and switch up.

                                                                        Then again, maybe I should just try some of the other offerings.

                                                                        So far, they're two for two!

                                                                        Corelli's Italian Cafe
                                                                        5640 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77056

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                          You're killing me here. I've only got 12 days in Houston, much of which will be spent with family and you have already recommended more places than I'll be able to get to. I love chicken piccata and thick pork chops!

                                                                          1. re: dimsumgirl


                                                                            Which is why I LOVE LIVING IN HOUSTON!

                                                                        2. Well, I had to get around to this eventually. Rudi Lechner's in Woodlake Square.

                                                                          First let me say, I love Rudi. He's the epitome of a restaurateur - always smiling, always gracious, and most importantly, ALWAYS there.

                                                                          We've been lunching at Rudi's for about twenty-five years. But I have to be honest about this - I'm almost fifty, and I'm still almost ALWAYS the youngest person in the room! I don't know why, so don't ask.

                                                                          The food is good. The lunch specials are great if only for being so unique. Roast beef with horseradish sauce, pork tenderloin medallions, grilled or pan fried trout, sausage sampler, are all evocative of Rudi's Austrian heritage.

                                                                          You like beer? I can't believe you haven't been to Rudi's dark and intimate bar with its array of Bavarian draughts.

                                                                          You like osso bucco? You like real and spicy Hungarian goulash?

                                                                          Come on, people. Drop in on Rudi for lunch, and maybe I won't be the youngest person in there for once!

                                                                          Rudi Lechner's Restaurant
                                                                          2503 S Gessner Rd, Houston, TX 77063

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                            Doobs, although I've lived on the west side for going on 10 years now, I haven't yet been to Rudi Lechner's until today for lunch. We were headed to Thai Spice on Bellaire for a new Thai food experience, but discovered it is an "Express" restaurant, which looked too much like fast food with big McDonald-land lighted boards behind an order counter and curved molded seats affixed to floor and table. Nothing wrong with that, but we were looking for more of a waiter situation. And wine. Cutting over on Gessner to Westheimer with the intention of hitting tried and true Thai Cottage, it occurred to me that Rudi was nearby, and the line of cars in front, even at 2 p.m. meant they were open for lunch on a Saturday.

                                                                            We didn't see anyone resembling a smiley Rudi, but the waiter was attentive and pleasant. Split pea soup for the starter on the lunch special section was very good, as was my veg lasagne. Hubs had a pork schnitzel which came with red cabbage and spaetzle. That dish was not all that great, with capers in the sauce and cinnamon or all-spice or clove or some combo of such seasonings that just don't appeal to me, even in winter, where they belong. But overall we'd go back, and I think we might try the advertised Wednesday night buffet to sample for what best suits our tastes. The beer list is amazing.

                                                                            And two different young families with sporty kids just off the fields of Spring Branch had lunch near us, so don't worry about your advanced age any more (which appears to be very close to my own in any event, so I can say that).

                                                                            Thanks for the tip!

                                                                            Rudi Lechner's Restaurant
                                                                            2503 S Gessner Rd, Houston, TX 77063

                                                                            1. re: Lambowner

                                                                              I wouldn't worry about Doobie, I wouldn't call him old. As for Rudi's, We've tried to like it, but in two visits have come back unimpressed. We had the sampler platter once, and the only thing I really liked was the spaetzle. The wife and I both thought the schnitzel to be ok, not on par with Polonia. We're searching for a Thanksgiving place to replace the erstwhile Magnolia Grill, working stupid retail hours which preclude any serious cooking on T day, think working to midnight Wednesday and 2 am Friday, Doobie and Jaymes I don't want to see you in line that Friday morning. Anyway, we tried Rudi's buffet on Thanksgiving, it sounded great, but the turkey was dry, and the ham lacking in flavor, and the sides not good. I think I'll fry oysters next year, done in 30 minutes.

                                                                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                After my Maw Maw died I would often serve my Daddy and Paw Paw fried shrimp on Thanksgiving. Paw Paw was a shrimper so they were always in the freezer and it was fast and easy after a two hour drive to get to them on Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. I had never thought to get Maw Maw to teach me how to make turkey. She taught me all the wild game dishes I loved and all the seafood dishes I loved but somehow I forgot the turkey. It was several years later before I started experimenting with turkey. She made a wonderful cornbread dressing and I've never been able to make it like hers. I buy my dressing from Kelley's.

                                                                                It's truly not about what you eat on Thanksgiving anyway. If I'm hungry for turkey or ham, I'll cook one whenever.

                                                                          2. Well, I get to brag a little, (pretending I had anything to do with it at all!).

                                                                            A couple of years ago, Texas Monthly named Snow's BBQ in tiny little Lexington, as the #1 bbq joint in Texas. This was a bit remarkable for a number of reasons, beginning with the fact that in all of their long history, they had never named a "#1"before; in their periodic Best BBQ Lists, they had always named the top ten, but in no specific order. All of the usual suspects were on the list, along with just enough controversy to sell issues and generate a bit of buzz.

                                                                            But for this issue they picked a "supreme", an exemplar, a Number One.

                                                                            Snow's, located fifty miles east of Austin in Lexington, Lee County was not only named the best, but a rather detailed story was involved about checks and balances and double checks and finally, double takes.

                                                                            Here's a link to the Texas Monthly story, so there is no reason to repeat it here, but I would like to add my personal connection.


                                                                            Both of my parents were born in Lexington. (Technically, my mother, as well as my brother and sister, were born in Cameron, as it was the closest hospital to Lexington.) Both of my grandmothers likewise were born in Lexington. All four of my grandparents, as well as four of my great-grandparents, and my father are buried in the little cemetery just south of town.

                                                                            I was baptized in, and later "confirmed" as a member of, the red brick First Methodist Church in town.

                                                                            I didn't go to school there, and I never lived there except for a brief period before my first birthday, but as you can imagine, I spent a little time there while I was growing up, including several whole summers. It is for all intents and purposes, "where I am from".

                                                                            When I was growing up, on one corner of the square in the middle of town sat The Meat Market. I can't say whether it had any other formal name, but if you said "The Meat Market" everyone knew what you meant.

                                                                            And for as long as I can remember, Saturday lunch meant Ms. Tootsie's bbq. My mother always loved the chicken, and if you ever go, be sure to get some because it is unlike any bbq chicken you've ever had. I don't know how they do it, but it is unique.

                                                                            For beef, Ms. Tootsie used to smoke whole inch thick top sirloin. She never did brisket. I was in high school before I knew that bbq beef usually meant brisket and not steak. Seriously.

                                                                            Anyway, starting my freshman year in college, (1978) I would drag my friends through Lex on a Saturday morning, (then, like now, the only time they served bbq), while traveling between Austin and Houston.

                                                                            I now have friends all over the country who can brag about having had the best bbq in Texas, decades before anyone else ever heard of it! I sent them all copies of the magazine when it came out.

                                                                            If you've never heard of Snow's, or weren't inspired enough to go, let me make this suggestion: get up early some Saturday morning and drive the 1 hour 45 minutes to be at Snow's by 8:30am. Get in line, (again I'm serious, there will be a line), and treat yourself to a legend. It is a unique experience and you can be back in Houston long before noon even if you linger in town a bit. We usually call ahead, pick up our haul around back, drive down to the cemetery to say Hi to the folks, and then a little further to the Yegua for a snack of sausage wraps and chicken. Then it's back on the road to Houston and Mom's for a feast with the siblings. It's like a little homecoming and keeps us connected.

                                                                            So, to Ms. Tootsie and Snowman, if you ever get a chance to read this, let me say "Thanks for everything. God bless and... thanks for everything."

                                                                            Snow's Barbeque
                                                                            516 Main St, Lexington, TX 78947

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                            1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                              I just realized that the Texas Monthly article I linked to is a paid subscriber service.

                                                                              Here is an article that appeared in the New Yorker and is free:


                                                                              It's a cool story.

                                                                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                I admit it--you've spoiled me! Love that Snow's in Lexington. Thanks for introducing me to it. And then there was Franklin's and Mueller's in Austin. Now trying to match that in and around San Antonio. James Christinian and Jaymes have recommended City Market in Luling. DW-- any opinions on City Market?

                                                                                1. re: dimsumgirl

                                                                                  Sorry to interrupt, but I think Doobs will agree...City Market in Luling is one of my fav's along with Smitty's in Lockhart. Delicious. Distressing news however about Meuller's this week. John Mueller and his sister have had a falling out and accusations are flying. He has been ousted and Mueller's closed in Austin for a few days to regroup. I wish them both well. This was reported in Texas Monthly, so I'm not speaking out of turn.

                                                                                  1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                    Thanks Lambowner for the reply. We were lucky enough to try Mueller's last year. In fact, did a side by side tasting of Mueller's and Franklin's. I'd heard about Mueller's-- made the news last week. Too bad-- hope it works out.

                                                                                    Sounds like City Market is a must try and will make my way to Smitty's too. I hear they have prime rib.

                                                                                    1. re: dimsumgirl

                                                                                      If you want my opinion of a Texas "absolutely must visit" barbecue stop, there's nothing else even really close to Smitty's. And it's not just because of their barbecue, which is usually pretty wonderful..

                                                                                      But that old building is hallowed ground. It's like the holy temple of Texas barbecue.

                                                                                      If you go, park in back, and not in the front. Then go in the back door.

                                                                                      Before you leave, absolutely do not miss taking a tour of the building.

                                                                                      I swear, every time I walk into that building, I feel like I should speak in hushed tones and make the sign of the cross and genuflect, just out of respect.

                                                                                      1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                        Well said, Jaymes! I posted a few pictures of it on this board somewhere. I'm awestruck when I go, and you must indeed park in the back. Don't take babies or pets in that back door.

                                                                                        1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                          Well, as you all know, Snow's, (and more particularly, Ms. Tootsie her-own-self), is my overwhelming personal favorite.

                                                                                          As for the Luling/Lockhart grouping, I'll take City Market. Don't know why, I just love that old smokey back room with the thousand year old butcher block. And some serious people watching. The last time we were in there was a weekday early afternoon and the place was packed with folks just back from a funeral.

                                                                                          It was, believe it or not, a very joyous occasion. I didn't want to leave.

                                                                                          And no matter where I go in Lockhart, I always, (and I mean ALWAYS), wonder if I shouldn't have hit one of the other two instead. (Personal demons laid bare ... )

                                                                                          1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                            I love that smokey old back room in City Market, too. And especially love the sign on the door that says, "Close the door." And love how, invariably, you're standing in there watching them cut your meat and some neophyte stands in that door and everybody hollers in unison, "Close the door!"

                                                                                            As you know, I've got a pretty strong Lexington connection also, but Snow's isn't always the most-convenient place to go. So you gotta pick other favorites.

                                                                                            And you say that when you're in Lockhart, you "ALWAYS wonder if you shouldn't have hit one of the other two instead."

                                                                                            That never happens to me. Because I never drive that far to Lockhart (even when I lived in Austin) without going to at least two of the three (after Kreuz moved out, and there were three, I mean). I used to always go to all three but, frankly, Kreuz has been such a huge disappointment over the last five years or so that it's gotten easy to skip them, although from time to time, I do go in there and try one or two bites of brisket, just to be sure that I'm still not missing anything.

                                                                              2. I first discovered Taqueria Ruchis back in 1987 or so. At that time it was a narrow little shop tucked into the shopping center at Westpark and Gessner.

                                                                                Great food, stupidly cheap. My kind of place!

                                                                                A little later on, they moved into a freestanding building in the parking lot of the same center and expanded in size five or six fold.

                                                                                It was open 24 hours, and we used to go after the clubs; (remember this was over twenty years ago, and I wasn't yet the paragon of virtue that stands before you today!).

                                                                                Ultimately, that location closed altogether, (actually re-branded as Taqueria Brenda's, but it just wasn't the same).

                                                                                So now when I need a taqueria fix for lunch, I will often head to the Ruchis at Winrock and Westheimer. In fact, I did just that two days ago, when I treated myself to a taco trio consisting of one pastor taco, one carne guisada taco, and one crispy beef taco.

                                                                                The pastor and crispy taco were excellent. The carne guisada was good, (but not as good as mine!)

                                                                                But MAN I love that green sauce. The red sauce is good, but MAN I love that green sauce!

                                                                                There are several locations in town. It may be chain, but it's a local one, and it never feels like a chain.

                                                                                My son loves their big burritos, and that's what we always got back in the day. They stuff them with meat of your choice, beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese....

                                                                                One is a meal if you're hungry and maybe two if not. (Oh, and it will run you about $4).

                                                                                They also have a full bar if that's your thing, (at least the one I note above does).

                                                                                There are a lot of authentico type taquerias in Houston, and we never hesitate to give them a shot when we're out and about. But I can definitely recommend Ruchis....

                                                                                ...cause MAN, I LOVE THAT GREEN SAUCE!

                                                                                Ruchi's Taqueria Rincon De Mexico
                                                                                6410 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77057

                                                                                1. There comes a time when a man just has to have a corned beef sandwich. It's not gluttony nor is it indulgence. It's more primitive than that - and much more primal.

                                                                                  Obviously our distant ancestors, living hand to mouth by what they could hunt or gather, never ate a beautifully marbled mound of shaved corned beef, topped with a magma-like layer of melted Swiss cheese, and nestled between two soft and slightly chewy slices of Jewish rye bread.

                                                                                  But you know damned well they dreamed about them! In fact, primitive, self-indulgent glutton that I am, "I" sometimes dream about them.

                                                                                  And it is that dream that will have me cruising over to Kenny & Ziggy's, (NE/C Post Oak and Westheimer) today for a late lunch.

                                                                                  I love that joint. I first went there many years ago and truthfully have been there only two or three times a year since. I try to avoid the Uptown/Galleria area as much as possible. Traffic, chain stores and chain restaurants...just not my milieu, (so to speak).

                                                                                  But it just happens that I need to go into the office today, (a Saturday), which is atypical.

                                                                                  And since that will put me about halfway to Central Market, I thought I would treat myself afterward with a quick jaunt through there picking up some Hatch Peppers which are now available.

                                                                                  And about halfway between my office and Central Market lies Kenny & Ziggy's.

                                                                                  So there. My rationalization is complete. I have corned beef in my immediate future. Since I will be alone, I will skip the kreplach and probably even the mish mosh chicken soup. And I will kick myself later for it, but I, (yes! even I), can only eat so much.

                                                                                  The menu is huge, both physically and in the quantity and variety of offerings. This is a Jewish-style, New York deli, with all of the brashness and downright chutzpah you would rightly expect.

                                                                                  There will probably be a wait when I get there today around 1-ish. Worth it.

                                                                                  K&Z is another of these uniquely Houston, Texas-sized gems.

                                                                                  "Uniquely Houston?", you scoff? "Why if someone took you in there blindfolded, you would swear they had kidnapped you and dropped you off in mid-Town Manhattan!" (At least until you realized how good looking everyone is.) ;-)

                                                                                  ..To which I say, "Exactly."

                                                                                  I LOVE living in Houston.


                                                                                  Kenny & Ziggy's Deli
                                                                                  2327 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                    Can't beat K&Z for a deli experience! I love the open-faced Ruben and the brisket is to die for. The mish-mash soup is also a must try!

                                                                                    1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                      Got this link from the Media Board about the disappearing Jewish Delis, but I thought a link belonged here also since it features Ziggy Gruber and K&Z's so much.


                                                                                      It's about 11 minutes long and if you like K&Z's it's worth the time.

                                                                                    2. As I said in another thread, based entirely on your reviews, I tried Mexico's Deli on this last Saturday and loved the Creme of Poblano soup so much I went back on Sunday and got a huge vat of it to go.

                                                                                      But one note...

                                                                                      Perhaps it's moved since you wrote this, but the location is actually north of Westheimer (not south), for anyone else planning on going.

                                                                                      Something that everyone that loves good Mexican food should definitely plan on doing.

                                                                                      Mexico's Deli
                                                                                      2374 S Dairy Ashford St, Houston, TX 77077

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                        No, of course you are right. It's one block NORTH of Westheimer.

                                                                                        Thanks for the correction.

                                                                                      2. Have you ever been to Christie's Seafood on Westheimer at Greenridge?

                                                                                        I know, it's been a long, long, long time, right? Me too!

                                                                                        But that's where I found myself Friday for lunch. I ordered the lunch special which was a "snapper fillet" cooked to order, (mine blackened). It wasn't what I expected by "blackened", (rubbed in spices and seared in butter). This appeared to have been rubbed in a paste and then slid through the salamander. It was very different but very, very good. The lunch special came with one side, (white rice, dirty rice, sauteed veg, fries, etc.). I had fries and subbed the salad that was offered for a cup of the "Original 1917 Gumbo". The gumbo was very dark, but not as thick as I usually prefer, (and always make). But it had a ton of seafood including a whole crab claw, lots of crab meat and shrimp. No oysters which is OK with me; I like oysters on the half shell, I like Oysters Rockefeller and/or Bienville. I really don't usually care for them in my gumbo. <shrug>

                                                                                        I think the gumbo sub was about $2.50 extra, but I'd do it again. In fact, next time I might just get a bowl of gumbo and a salad. That sounds like a great lunch.

                                                                                        Let me admit one other thing. If you recall my review of Rudi Lechner's above, you might remember me saying that I was always the youngest person in there. At Christie's on Friday, I was not only the youngest person in there, but just about everyone else was old enough to be Rudi's customers' parents!

                                                                                        I am beginning to think that you young whippersnappers just don't know how or where to find good food anymore. What's with that?

                                                                                        In any case, you're lucky to have me doing the scouting for you. Now get out there!

                                                                                        Christie's Seafood & Steaks Restaurant
                                                                                        6029 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77057

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                          I'm almost 50 and I've been going since I was a kid, they had other locations on Bellaire Blvd. and South Main. They also have great fried shrimp and back in the day what was called a trout sandwich. They no longer can get trout, but it is still a good sandwich. I noticed the "snapper filet." Do you question if it was really snapper? I don't order snapper in restaurants, as I don't trust them to give me Gulf red snapper, too often a lesser fish such as tilapia is pawned off as the real deal. By the way, I love oysters in my gumbo.

                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                            Naw, I didn't question the snapper.

                                                                                            But I DID put it in quotes! Haha!

                                                                                          2. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                            I'll take your oysters for my gumbo :-) yum!!

                                                                                            Nice to know Christie's is still good. I haven't been in a long time. I remember eating at the one on Bellaire Blvd with my great aunt many many times after I first moved here in 1970. She loved the stuffed flounder. Lots of people have given it bad reviews but I never had a bad meal at any of the Christie's.

                                                                                            1. re: texasredtop

                                                                                              Thinking back about Christie's sure evokes memories - the Beachcomber and eccentric Christie Mitchell roaming the streets of Galveston in search of interesting tidbits for his newspaper column.

                                                                                              Christie was certainly one of a kind. And I'll bet that the entire Mitchell family was grateful for that.

                                                                                            2. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                              I can never decide which has the best fried shrimp in town: Christie's or Barbecue Inn?

                                                                                              Barbecue Inn
                                                                                              116 W Crosstimbers St, Houston, TX 77018

                                                                                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                Christie's... very bland, average food, IMO

                                                                                                Rudi's... not great food, but a great environment. especially on Wednesday with live german music. Beware, they're often PACKED.

                                                                                              2. Dropped in to the new Phoenicia Deli for the first time yesterday. It has now moved across Westheimer to the same center that houses the affiliated grocery I raved about above.

                                                                                                As much as I love the grocery, I had only been to the old deli location once and was underwhelmed. But for some reason, a once thriving shwarma market in my area had become sere and we had been seeking alternatives. Because I needed to hit the grocery anyway for feta, pita and blackberry syrup, we decided to give the new location a try.

                                                                                                It was as if a sunbeam had broken through the haze and was shining upon our upturned faces.

                                                                                                The genetic mutant, (a.k.a. "my Son"), had a lamb shwarma sandwich while I got chicken. A small hummus and a small seasoned rice rounded out our order. Many other offerings are also available, but as I mentioned, we were seeking shwarma specifically, and are well satisfied that the void we had suffered in that area has been permanently resolved.

                                                                                                The new location is very clean, sleek and modern but don't let that discourage you.

                                                                                                It's also very, very good.

                                                                                                Phoenicia Deli
                                                                                                12116 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77077

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                  UPDATE: Went for lunch on Saturday and had the lamb shank and tabouli.

                                                                                                  Very good and tender.

                                                                                                  We will still go mainly for the schwarma, but I look forward to working across the menu.

                                                                                                2. <<Moved from another thread ere it disappears forever...>>

                                                                                                  I visited 99 Ranch Market on the Katy Freeway Saturday morning. This was my third visit here since they opened a few months ago.

                                                                                                  They don't have much that my regular haunt Hong Kong Market on Bellaire doesn't have, and either quite a bit less or I just don't know where everything is. I bought a few things - some Japanese Rice Wine for cooking, green tea, curry paste, coconut milk, a ribeye, (which was suspiciously inexpensive so I planned to use it for stirfry), etc.

                                                                                                  Nothing I would intentionally make the trip for. If you don't already know, 99 Ranch Market is located at the Katy Freeway and Blalock in the former Fiesta Superstore.

                                                                                                  I have no quibble with 99 Ranch Market. It is a very nice, very clean Asian market with good prices and great selection. The problems for me are that: 1)I already have one of those, and 2) it is NOT Fiesta!

                                                                                                  Anyway, if you live in the Villages or Spring Branch and have never visited the Hong Kong Market I reccomended because it is too far from you, (it isn't!) or the area is too dicey for you, (it's not!), then try 99 Ranch Market. It's an entire grocery store filled with stuff you've never seen!

                                                                                                  How can you pass that up?

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                    And I'll add again that it's got a great Chinese bakery and good food court.

                                                                                                    And to answer your question (from another thread) about the bakery. I don't know if they have more "man stuff" later in the day. I like the girly frufru stuff, so haven't paid attention to what else, if anything, they have.

                                                                                                    They often have the egg custard tarts, a personal favorite. And while perhaps not so good as the Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco's Chinatown, they are still wonderful.

                                                                                                    1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                      Thanks Jaymes.

                                                                                                      I still have another dozen tamales in the freezer, but I think we really should try the Great Tamale Crawl again as the holidays approach.

                                                                                                      Keep in touch.

                                                                                                      1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                        I think that'd be great fun! I really want to get to Alamo, as it appears that's the one you liked the best, right?

                                                                                                  2. I love this place!!! Yummy Tortas! I learned about this place through a coworker and I always recomend it. The shopping center is not so great but the food and restaurant makes up for it!

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Blossom0184

                                                                                                      Have you tried Thai Lily at the south end of that same center?

                                                                                                      We tried it several years ago and were underwhelmed so we never went back. A lot of people rave about it though, so it's entirely possible I could be wrong.


                                                                                                      Thai Lily Cafe
                                                                                                      2390 S Dairy Ashford St, Houston, TX 77077

                                                                                                    2. We tried to go to Corelli's for lunch yesterday, but there was a lengthy wait, (at 12:05 - go figure!), so we instead wandered down the strip center to The Red Pepper.

                                                                                                      We used to order takeout from the Red Pepper when my sister lived around the corner from there almost twenty years ago and still visit it infrequently. Every time we do however, we always wonder why we don't come back more often.

                                                                                                      They have your typical Americanized Chinese lunch specials with a choice of soup, white or brown rice and egg roll or cold noodle with peanut sauce.

                                                                                                      Maybe my favorite thing there is the homemade chili oil which I put on everything except the cold noodle which is just perfect as is.

                                                                                                      The pan fried green beans that accompany the lunch specials are alone worth the trip and an item I have shamelessly copied in my own kitchen to serve with everything from stir fries to pork chops.

                                                                                                      This is not "groundbreaking" food. It is not "authentic" Chinese as can be found in great quantity and quality just a few miles away. However, it is great for what it is and if that is what you're looking for, I highly recommend it.

                                                                                                      All I know is that the next time I there, I will once again wonder what took me so long.

                                                                                                      Red Pepper Chinese Restaurant
                                                                                                      5626 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77056

                                                                                                      1. DimSumGirl was kind enough to invite me to dine with her family on Friday at Sinh Sinh on Bellaire just east of the Sam Houston Tollway. She had already eaten there once, but wanted to return with her daughter who hadn't been in town yet, and asked me if I would like to tag along. (I did.)

                                                                                                        I still had one of my closest and oldest friends with me after our breakfast at Mexico's Deli earlier in the day. (Have I mentioned how much I L-O-V-E living, and eating, in Houston?)

                                                                                                        I have eaten at numerous places up and down that stretch of Bellaire, but Sinh Sinh had never so much as caught my eye. It just goes to show how much great food we have here.

                                                                                                        The DSG family had come for the noodle soup, so we enjoyed that as well, together with a small order of roasted pork and the (I'm guessing here) beef clay pot.

                                                                                                        The roasted pork was typical, (which of course means excellent), and not as sweet as some I've had. The beef clay pot was savory and tender but could have been a bit spicier for me. I was still from full from breakfast to do more than try it though after eating ...

                                                                                                        a HUGE bowl of wonton and noodle soup with roasted duck! The broth in the soup was very subtle and not overpowering like some pho can be. This was a delicate broth that will almost certainly cure whatever ails you. The duck was an unnecessary add-on as it turned out. Thye noodles as well. Because...

                                                                                                        the dumplings were just perfect. The next time I am feeling he least bit under the weather as if I have a cold or flu coming on, I will immediately visit Sinh Sinh for a bowl of dumpling soup.

                                                                                                        It may or may not cure me, but I guarantee I will feel a whole lot better!

                                                                                                        Thanks to DSG and her lovely family. I hope we can get together one more time before you head back to the wild, wild west.

                                                                                                        P.S. The menu is huge and there are whole pages I haven't seen yet, much less eaten from. They will definitely be seeing me again soon. I know some people who are going to love it.

                                                                                                        Sinh Sinh Restaurant
                                                                                                        9788 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036

                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                          Yes, it was a great lunch and we enjoyed seeing Doobs again. The won tons and the noodles are the specialty at Sinh Sinh but there are great rice plates also. The first time we were there, I asked the waiter and was told that they do a great hot pot meal as well. During this lunch with Doobs and friend, I saw the waiter take a platter to a neighboring table. The platter was loaded with raw seafood and vegetables for a hot pot family meal obviously. We love to make hot pot at home so I haven't ordered it here but if I lived close by and had enough opportunities to go to Sinh Sinh with a group, hot pot would be a great option.

                                                                                                          Thanks again Doobs for making time to visit and chow with us. I hope we have the opportunity to do it again on this trip. I love visiting Houston so much that I'm already contemplating a return trip.

                                                                                                          Sinh Sinh Restaurant
                                                                                                          9788 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036

                                                                                                          1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                            I live in Austin, but for many years (since my late teens) I have taken trips with a group of friends just to eat out in Houston. We stay at a hotel and eat in favorite restos 3 times/day, mostly Vietnamese, Chinese-Vietnamese, and regional Chinese places. We do this about once or twice a year as a weekend vacation. Austin has good Chinese food and many restos owned by Chinese from Vietnam which are similar to some of the well known Bellaire Chinese-Vietnamese places. However, the Houston restos have more extensive menus, plus, we just like a change. One of the places we hit is Sinh SInh. A dish we always get is 132.1, Dungeness Crab and rice stuffed inside of a lotus leaf. The rice is lusciously perfumed with the crab, and we sit there gnawing away at our crab and eating the delicious rice.

                                                                                                            We also like Tan Tan, right down the street. We eat breakfast there every day of our getaway. They have a specialty, fried rice cake omelette topped with pickled turnips and scallions. It goes by the name House Special Rice Cake. This is such a simple yet amazing dish.

                                                                                                            I have been following this thread for several months and noting down interesting places to try. But when I saw SInh Sinh mentioned, I just had to chime in.

                                                                                                            I am not a Houstonion, but I LOVE Houston eats, too. It is a great food city.

                                                                                                            1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                                              You might have caught my own affinity for the Capital City. I served ten semesters at UT and those truly were "The Good Old Days".

                                                                                                              I've only been to Sinh SInh the one time I noted, but look forward to going back. I will make a point of trying your suggested dishes.

                                                                                                              I have been to Tan Tan once also, but a different location, (the new one on Westheimer just west of Voss). I have been waiting to try it a few more times before writing on it but the menu is similar to Sinh Sinh, (in that it is HUUUGE!).

                                                                                                              I seriously believe that I could eat at either of those places five times a week for the rest of my life and never be able to competently review them. Besides, as you noted and as I've devoted this thread to extolling, there are a ton of great places to eat in Houston.

                                                                                                              Let us know what else you find.

                                                                                                              I can't do it all by myself!

                                                                                                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                I have too many places, plus we always try one or two new places.
                                                                                                                We stop at Savoy for Pakistani. I recently tried Himalaya based on a CH rec from another thread, and it was delicious, though greasy. Also, for lau (Vietnamese hot pot) we go to Hong Kong City Mall. There is a place there on the opposite end from the food court that has delicious lau. It is has open seating inside of the mall, not inside of a restaurant. Their broth is very flavorful, which sets them apart from other lau places.

                                                                                                                We also tried Dumpling King. The owners are Koreans who speak Chinese (might be Koreans from China) and they had a variety of dumplings with a delicious sauce which you can adjust to your personal preference. Fried vegetable-tofu dumplings were delicious. I love their deep fried and pan fried dumplings the best. They have a special English menu which you have to ask for.

                                                                                                                Dumpling King
                                                                                                                6515 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77057

                                                                                                                1. re: luckyfatima

                                                                                                                  I have never heard of Savoy or tried Himalaya, but they are now on my list.

                                                                                                                  I know the place you are talking about in Kong Kong Mall. It is right next to the mall entrance for Ocean Palace. I've never eaten there though.

                                                                                                                  We used to eat at Dumpling King on Westheimer at Voss but got tired of trying to park at that little center during lunch hour. We might have to give it another shot though.

                                                                                                                  Thanks for your thoughtful, (not to mention prompt!) reply.

                                                                                                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                    Have been on several trips back to Houston since this thread...we usually stick to Tan Tan and Sinh Sinh but this time we ventured out and tried Banana Leaf Malaysian (owners are Chinese from Malaysia). GOOD restaurant. Every dish (we ordered many) was lip smacking.

                                                                                                          2. It's funny that I've never reported on The Mason Jar since I eat lunch there almost every Monday.

                                                                                                            My usual dining buddy loves it, usually enjoying a salad with grilled chicken.

                                                                                                            I bounce around the menu a little more, rotating the Reuben, burgers, club sandwich/salad or club sandwich/soup, fired shrimp, etc.

                                                                                                            I think there used to be at least one other in the 1960 area, but I think the Katy Freeway location is the only one now.

                                                                                                            The Mason Jar has a Bennigan's/TGI Fridays/Applebee's kind of vibe, with the food consistently edible without being necessarily memorable. (After all, I eat there almost every week, and it took me 68 posts on this thread to get around to mentioning it!)

                                                                                                            I almost hate to point out this next fact, but I guess it might be pertinent to some people. Since it is technically located in the town of Hedwig Village, ( as opposed to Houston), there is smoking allowed in the bar as well as a small seating/eating area. There is a contingent of regulars who spend their lunches eating, drinking and smoking at the bar. As an ex-smoker, I can tell you they do a pretty good job of venting it as I rarely notice it.

                                                                                                            I can't claim it's my favorite place in town, but I suppose I could curtail our very frequent visits if I was so inclined.

                                                                                                            So far, they haven't given me a reason to do so.

                                                                                                            I will be interested in any other opinions.

                                                                                                            Mason Jar
                                                                                                            9005 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

                                                                                                            16 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: DoobieWah


                                                                                                              Just one request, for those of us who might want to read and find your posts in the future -- instead of stringing all of your restaurant 'reviews' into a single thread with a generic subject (i.e. "I Love Eating In Houston"), could you start new threads for each restaurant / subject or food category (for instance, your most recent posting might be easier for others in the future who were looking for opinions on the Mason Jar restaurant to find, were it entitled "Mason Jar" and in its own separate thread).

                                                                                                              Greg Broderick

                                                                                                              Mason Jar
                                                                                                              9005 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

                                                                                                              1. re: grbroderick

                                                                                                                It's kinda' late for that doncha' think?


                                                                                                                  1. re: grbroderick

                                                                                                                    Thanks for your suggestion. The editorial staff appreciates your attention and comment.

                                                                                                                    I admit that when I started this thread, I only intended to comment on my four or five favorite places in my immediate vicinity. However, I assure you that it grew very organically.

                                                                                                                    If you read the thread, you saw an exchange between myself and a new friend dimsumgirl who recently visited with her family from California. Based solely on this thread, AND it's structure, (which cannot be emphasized sufficiently!), we were both able to have some unique chowhounding experiences during the T-Giving holiday.

                                                                                                                    The mods may see it differently, but for now, "Request Denied." ;0-)

                                                                                                                    P.S. Do I remember you from houston.eats?

                                                                                                                    I posted there as Sagan@PaleBlue.com.

                                                                                                                    1. re: grbroderick

                                                                                                                      After additional consideration, I have reconsidered.

                                                                                                                      Thanks for pointing out the obvious. My only excuse is the old "forest and trees" thing.

                                                                                                                      This thread had become too big and unwieldy. I apologize to all.

                                                                                                                      Any new reviews will get their own thread.

                                                                                                                      Thanks again, grb. You were right and I was wrong. <shudder>

                                                                                                                      1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                        Well, I'm sorry, but I disagree. Vehemently. Posts about this or that specific restaurant quickly become boring, then die and fade away. I REALLY LOVE this thread - coming here and reading about what else might be new, and what this person or that has tried.

                                                                                                                        The best posts here often mention two or three or more restaurants, comparing this one and that one to that other one. Or they'll talk about one certain area of town, or one mall, mentioning several restaurants there, often Chinese or Vietnamese (for example). You can't do that well in a thread about just one place. So I respectfully, but strongly, disagree. Please, I'm begging you, keep this thread going just as it is.

                                                                                                                        It may be work, but if you want to start yet another thread about this or that specific restaurant, fine, do it. But please post here as well. This thread is my daily delicious habit and I don't want it changed. Basically any restaurant you mention, there is already an old thread somewhere about that specific restaurant. You want to read a thread specifically about Mason Jar and nothing else? I don't, but if you do, great. All you have to do is to do a search. It's not hard. Do a search for "Mason Jar" and I'm sure that up will pop (in addition to this one, where you know you'll find DoobieWah's opinion, and which you can ignore if you find it to be cumbersome) at least one thread specifically devoted to that one restaurant. Probably several. Old threads already there.

                                                                                                                        Old threads long gone and forgotten.

                                                                                                                        While this, the single very best thread about dining in Houston, continues to survive.

                                                                                                                        And thrive.


                                                                                                                        Please don't change it.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                          Hmmm. Didn't expect that!

                                                                                                                          <Now I'm blushing!>

                                                                                                                          I'm sure the mods don't want me double posting everything, so I'm at a loss.

                                                                                                                          I thought I had "seen the light" but perhaps I just "bumped my head".

                                                                                                                          Thanks for the opinions. Seriously. I really appreciate them both.

                                                                                                                          Now back to food...

                                                                                                                          1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                            You don't have to "double post." Post in this one in your delightful chatty style, comparing this or that restaurant, this or that part of town, hitting the high points, overall impressions, etc.

                                                                                                                            And then, post a strict specific, more detailed, more formal "review" in a separate one.

                                                                                                                            And we can all watch and see which one seems to be more popular. Which continues to pop up. Which engenders discussion and opinion. Which thrives.

                                                                                                                            And which fades away.

                                                                                                                            ETA: Actually, I think that's what you did with Mexico's Deli. Seems to me, anyway, that I first read about it here. You referenced another, more detailed review in another thread. So I did a search and found the other review.

                                                                                                                            Or maybe it was the other way around. I don't remember exactly. But whatever, I read a reference to a more detailed review, sought out the more detailed review, and then went to the restaurant and ordered just what you recommended.

                                                                                                                            Worked great!

                                                                                                                          2. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                            I'm with you on this Jaymes. Being from out of state, if these treasures were mentioned separately, I would never have discovered them. This was the one thread that kept me coming back time after time for planning my trip to Houston. And I've saved it for my next trip that I'm hoping to get back to Houston in 2011.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Jaymes


                                                                                                                              I wasnt' asking Doobie to limit each thread to a single restaurant -- a thread about four chinese restaurants in the same general vicinity (appropriately titled) would fit both my needs and yours, wouldn't it?

                                                                                                                              And neither of us would need to dig through 80-some-odd prior posts to find the new posts / new restaurants.

                                                                                                                      2. re: grbroderick

                                                                                                                        If you are looking for opinions on a certain restaurant, do a search in the "Houston" threads for that restaurant. Just the other day I was looking for a recommendation in The Woodlands, did a search for.... Woodlands, and came up with exactly what I wanted. If you are looking for opinions on Mason Jar - search "Mason Jar". The search feature can be found at the top right of the page - just to the right of the huge CHOWHOUND title. Sometimes there just isn't time to start a new thread and ask so I use the search feature often.

                                                                                                                        Mason Jar
                                                                                                                        9005 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

                                                                                                                      3. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                        Back when I was in high school in Sugar Land, a trip to Mason Jar was an event. They had whole artichokes, which I love. But high school was a looooong time ago, my friend! That place must be 35-40 years old. Now I have lived quite close to it for 8 years or so, and haven't been even once in those 8 years. Why do you go there on Mondays? I hear that Pappy's next door has a great burger, but I haven't tried that either.

                                                                                                                        Mason Jar
                                                                                                                        9005 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

                                                                                                                        1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                                                          I've heard that about Pappy's too. Gonna put in on the radar for a trial.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                                                            Mondays? No idea!

                                                                                                                            My guess is that after the past thirty years of:

                                                                                                                            "Where do you want to go?"

                                                                                                                            "I don't know, where do YOU want to go?" conversations, somewhere along the way we started going to the Mason Jar on Monday and for now, at least, Monday's conversation is just, "It's Monday, I'll see you there."

                                                                                                                            The burgers are good, but they're too big and heavy for me to eat at lunch. I'd sleep all afternoon!

                                                                                                                            As for Pappy's, I wrote a review of it on this thread somewhere. (I bet grb is chuckling right now.)

                                                                                                                            It's a great, unique little joint. Full bar also.

                                                                                                                            Mason Jar
                                                                                                                            9005 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

                                                                                                                            1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                                                              My problem with Mason Jar is the smoking. I'm really allergic to it and the rest of my family also finds it extremely distasteful, especially while eating. The way that restaurant is configured, with the smoking section up by the front door, you can't avoid it. Plus, that odor permeates everything. Even the waitstaff stinks of it. I do like the food there okay. I think it's good, but don't think it's singularly fabulous. We can find food elsewhere that's just as good and we don't have to put up with that unpleasant smoke. It's simply not worth it.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                As I said, I rarely notice the smoke.

                                                                                                                                And this from an ex-smoker. Two packs a day for 24 years, I quit about 12 or 13 years ago. I'm usually very sensitive to it, but Mason Jar doesn't bother me very often.

                                                                                                                                Mason Jar
                                                                                                                                9005 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

                                                                                                                          2. Do you know of any Chilean restaurants in Houston?

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: PeterMacP

                                                                                                                              I don't; I'm sorry.

                                                                                                                              I looked at B4-U-Eat.com and they don't have a specific category for Chilean, but have 57 listings under S American, so you might start there.

                                                                                                                              If you find one, though, I'll meet you there!

                                                                                                                                1. re: PeterMacP

                                                                                                                                  There is a Chilean Consulate here in Houston. I suspect that if there's good Chilean food to be had anywhere in the local area, they'll know about it. If I were you, I'd give them a call. That's what usually works for me. (713) 621-5853 ‎ ‎

                                                                                                                            2. So yesterday was sunny but chilly here in Houston. I found myself with the unusual predicament of dining alone, and frankly, a bowl of good soup sounded like the thing to do.

                                                                                                                              (Sorry grb, I'm going with the girls.) ;-)

                                                                                                                              Now as I noted above, Sinh Sinh would have been just the ticket except for the twenty minute drive from my office. By the time I could break away, it was already 1:30, so I thought of Tan Tan which is just five minutes away and which I had been wanting to revisit.

                                                                                                                              My usual lunching companion and I had been there once about a month ago, and while I stared agog at the extensive menu, he promptly asked for the closest thing to MooGooGaiPan.

                                                                                                                              I love the guy, but he was put out they don't have lunch specials with eggroll and choice of soup. (They don't, and my mom doesn't like it for the same reason!)

                                                                                                                              Anyway, I ordered a dumpling soup, just as I would have at Sinh Sinh. The soup arrived promptly with six or seven fat shrimp and pork dumplings swimming in a fantastic light broth. Sharing the sauna with the dumplings were fried garlic, pork strips, cabbage and Chinese broccoli.

                                                                                                                              That soup and a pot of tea were just what the doctor ordered. There may a rhinovirus epidemic, (cool kids' speak for "common cold"), but dumpling soup and hot tea should keep me inoculated for at least another day.

                                                                                                                              BTW, I grabbed a freebie menu on the way out of the door and as I look at it now, it has about 300 items listed.

                                                                                                                              And I had dumpling soup!


                                                                                                                              Tan Tan Restaurant
                                                                                                                              8066 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77063

                                                                                                                              1. At the southeast corner of Westheimer and Fondren is an aging retail center whose name escapes me. Which is all the more embarrassing and a sure sign of fast approaching decrepitude since I've spent a great deal of time there over the years.

                                                                                                                                Nam Vietnamese Cuisine was my first experience with Vietnamese food and I loved it. The flavors of lemongrass, honey and amazingly fresh vegetables and soups were a revelation and an inspiration to me both as a Chowhound and a home cook. I owe them a lot.

                                                                                                                                Unfortunately, that debt was owed to a previous incarnation. This was a family run enterprise with a great chef (the father), a great front of house, (the mother and eventually the son and daughters). As things tend to happen it all changed when the husband and wife decided not to be that anymore, (husband and wife that is), and he apparently moved back to Viet Nam.

                                                                                                                                The wife and kids kept it going for another couple of years but it just wasn't quite the same and they eventually sold the place. I am not going to say that the new proprietors were terrible since this was seven or eight years ago, (at least!), and they are still in business, but the dishes we had come to love were too different and so we stopped going.

                                                                                                                                So why am I bothering to write this?

                                                                                                                                Well, next door to Nam is Elvia's Cantina. These days it is only open nights and is more of a Latin nightclub with dancing and drinking rating over the food in terms of importance.

                                                                                                                                But back in the day, my two buddies and I used to eat lunch there every Friday for Scotch and darts. (Oh, and enchiladas and tacos.)

                                                                                                                                Scotch and darts at a Latin dance club? Yep. In fact, this is where I was introduced to single malts and they even had a "frequent drinkers card" with their eighteen or twenty Scotchs listed on it. Buy one of each and the last one is free! I went through two or three of them!

                                                                                                                                On the other side of Nam was Fuzzy's Pizza, one of two or three locations in town. Decent pizza, we would eat there once in a while for their "salad and a slice" lunch deal. They are still around but they've moved to a more visible location diagonally across the intersection. I haven't been to the new location, but I'm sure it's still decent.

                                                                                                                                Now this little center isn't your typical straight line Houston strip center. You could walk through one of three porticos into a interior courtyard with various businesses including a bead shop, the local affiliate of the Xenu cult, (Scientologists), and Java Coffee and Tea Company.

                                                                                                                                I absolutely loved Java. Java was owned and run by the Bills. I say "was" because the last time I was in there, (maybe three months ago), I learned that one of the Bills had retired and sold his interest to the remaining Bill. He wasn't in so I'm still not sure which Bill is gone and which Bill remains, but no matter.

                                                                                                                                Java roasts their own coffee daily and the smell alone is evocative enough to pull in patrons from the restaurants because you had to know it was back there or you would never find it. They have literally dozens of varieties of fresh roasted coffees as well as numerous varieties of teas, syrups, and of all things, wines. Additionally, they have all of the accoutrements for making, storing and enjoying all of those fine beverages.

                                                                                                                                As an aside, they used to carry Hunan coffee beans, to this day the only place I've ever encountered them. They were huge beans, (robusta?) and while I never had them analyzed, they seemed very high in caffeine content. I really liked them, but one day they were gone and have never returned.

                                                                                                                                They also used to make homemade fudge on site. Four or five different kinds, (with pecans, peanut butter, etc.), and it was absolutely to die for. It was rich and buttery and I think I just popped a stitch in my britches just remembering it.

                                                                                                                                But I rarely go in there any more either. I eventually started buying my coffee at Costco; (roughly half the cost and 90% of the quality). Costco coffee beans aren't bad but you just can't beat the roasted today, (or maybe yesterday), beans from Java.

                                                                                                                                So there you have it. Not one, not two, and not even three, but four different and radically unique Chowhound joints on one little corner. All of which I pass by daily and never return to.

                                                                                                                                Like sand in an hourglass, these are the days of our lives...

                                                                                                                                Nam Vietnamese Cuisine
                                                                                                                                2727 Fondren Rd, Houston, TX 77063

                                                                                                                                Elvia's Cantina
                                                                                                                                2727 Fondren Rd, Houston, TX 77063

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                  And back in the days before Elvia's, that shopping center was the site of a wonderful restaurant, Afghanistan Cuisine. I'm talking 1981 or so. Long gone. There's now a decent little Afghan place in Sugar Land with good kabobs, but not as elaborate as the old Afghanistan Cuisine. I still miss it.

                                                                                                                                2. For the past ten years or so, the vast majority of my family's outside get-togethers have been held at Fajita Flats on Fondren. Red and his crew have been serving us nachos, fajitas, pork chops, enchiladas, a better-than-you-would-expect cheeseburger, shrimp diablos, etc. on a pretty regular basis.

                                                                                                                                  Oh yeah, also a margarita or two.

                                                                                                                                  We have been going there for birthdays, anniversaries, solstices, and when any out of town guests arrive, often straight from the airport.

                                                                                                                                  In the last year or so they've "purtied" it up with a drop ceiling, (to cover the old spray-on-when-is-it-gonna-fall-in-my-soup insulation), an outdoor covered patio, new furniture and a whole wall of big screen televisions to replace the old never quite in focus workhorses.

                                                                                                                                  What's good? I love the pork chops, (grilled perfectly and served with queso broccoli and rice).

                                                                                                                                  I love the shrimp diablos, (bacon wrapped shrimp stuffed with jalapenos).

                                                                                                                                  The usual Tex-Mex stuff is reliable and the drinks are strong.

                                                                                                                                  Since my sister has moved we probably won't be going quite as much as in the past, but we will no doubt be there again soon.

                                                                                                                                  It's a fun place to eat and drink with friends and family.

                                                                                                                                  (Well, mine anyway.)


                                                                                                                                  Fajita Flats
                                                                                                                                  2929 Fondren Rd, Houston, TX 77063

                                                                                                                                  1. Burger Guys, 12225 Westheimer.

                                                                                                                                    Go there.

                                                                                                                                    Best. Burger. In. Town.

                                                                                                                                    We got there at 8:50, just before closing so we had to get ours to go.

                                                                                                                                    I had the "Buffalo", "Tabasco mash aioli, onion strings, Blues [sic] cheese aioli, celery, blue cheese crumbles".


                                                                                                                                    To die for.

                                                                                                                                    My buddy had the Sonoma, "Applewood smoked bacon, cheddar, avocado, arugula, ailoli".

                                                                                                                                    What little I saw of his looked awesome.

                                                                                                                                    To compliment the burgers, we had "Brussels". Belgian Fries cooked in duck fat.

                                                                                                                                    Best fries ever.

                                                                                                                                    The fries come with a choice of two of ten or so, homemade sauces. Since we were the last customers, they gave us a few extra to sample.

                                                                                                                                    The fries and sauces are worth the trip even without the ...

                                                                                                                                    Best. Burger. In. Town.

                                                                                                                                    This place is literally across the side street to the west from Phoenicia Deli.

                                                                                                                                    Five minutes from home.

                                                                                                                                    Great staff too. Young, but they know what they're doing and what they're doing it with.

                                                                                                                                    I'm very impressed.

                                                                                                                                    Oh yeah, if it matters to you, they used Texas Akaushi cattle, which is basically Kobe beef but rather than coming from Kobe Prefecture in Japan, these are sourced from Yoakum, Texas.

                                                                                                                                    Strange array of hot dogs, also. Next time.

                                                                                                                                    Most Burgers are $8, the frites were $3.

                                                                                                                                    Both were worth twice that.

                                                                                                                                    You owe me one.

                                                                                                                                    Burger Guys
                                                                                                                                    12225 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77077

                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                      Thanks for this, DW. I'm going as soon as possible.

                                                                                                                                      I already owe you one for Mexico's Deli.

                                                                                                                                      So now, I owe you two.

                                                                                                                                      But, um...

                                                                                                                                      Two what?

                                                                                                                                      Mexico's Deli
                                                                                                                                      2374 S Dairy Ashford St, Houston, TX 77077

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                        Don't forget the fries.

                                                                                                                                        I dreamed about them last night.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                          Went to Mexico's Deli for breakfast today, it was terrific! I had the eggs w/ poblano mole and husband had green chile eggs on the advice of the super friendly lady at the cash register. Just for fun, we both had the poblano soup as a starter. I can forgive them that the soup was merely warm and not as hot as I'd like, since it was 10 a.m. We went to Burger Guys several weeks after they opened and it was sooo bad, that we haven't been able to return and drop another 20 there. But I've heard others rave also since then and maybe they've worked out the kinks. My burger was a hockey puck and barely edible. I'm starting to gear up for a return, but you know it better be perfect this time! Inconsistency is the death knell to a restaurant. One must trust in the food.

                                                                                                                                          Mexico's Deli
                                                                                                                                          2374 S Dairy Ashford St, Houston, TX 77077

                                                                                                                                          Burger Guys
                                                                                                                                          12225 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77077

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                                                                            They told us last night that they've been open for four weeks and four days, and as I said, I was *very* impressed, even after having to schlep it home.

                                                                                                                                            I hope you give them another shot.

                                                                                                                                            (And I hope they deliver!)

                                                                                                                                            Please let me know.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                              Are we talking about the same place, Westheimer near Kirkwood? Alison Cook wrote about the opening in September.


                                                                                                                                              1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                                                                                Absolutely the same place!

                                                                                                                                                I obviously misunderstood. Thanks for the link and the correction.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                        Burger Guys closed in mid-November.

                                                                                                                                        I have to admit that I hadn't been back in over a year.

                                                                                                                                        Sorry about that guys.

                                                                                                                                      3. Well, we finally made it to Mama's Cafe on Westheimer just east of Greenridge a couple of weeks ago.

                                                                                                                                        We used to hit it fairly frequently "back in the day" and I had been curious to see if it had held up.

                                                                                                                                        Known for good ole' Texas country comfort food, I ordered a chicken fried steak, (which is also available "pan fried" but I like the crunch). Maybe I'm older, maybe they're older, maybe we're both just a little teeny tiny bit older, but I have to admit that it didn't give me the same satisfaction it used to.

                                                                                                                                        I would still take an out of town guest there for their choice of fried pounded meat portions sided with mashed potatoes and gravy, or meatloaf or fried catfish, or whatever their little Yankee hearts desired, but I think I'm just a little, teeny tiny bit too old to move Mama's into the regular rotation. More's the pity.


                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                          Would you say this is your favorite "home cookin'" restaurant in town? Having moved here from Austin, and being familiar with Hoover's & Threadgills there, I'm wondering what the "go to" Texas comfort food place is here.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                            Go to Texas food for me means TexMex, seafood, and chicken fried steak. The Barbecue Inn covers two out of three. Great chicken fried steak, fried oysters and shrimp, plus cooked to order fried chicken The only bbq I've had is the rib appetizer to hold me over for the thirty minute wait for the chicken. Crawfish season is almost on us, and Mardi Gras Grill does a good job with them, plus stellar fried oysters, and oysters Louisianne, poached in butter and wine. El Jardin on the far east side is my favorite TexMex place.

                                                                                                                                            El Jardin Restaurant
                                                                                                                                            7849 Harrisburg Blvd, Houston, TX 77012

                                                                                                                                            Mardi Gras Grill
                                                                                                                                            1200 Durham, Houston, TX 77007

                                                                                                                                            Barbecue Inn
                                                                                                                                            116 W Crosstimbers St, Houston, TX 77018

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                              My favorite down home country food place isn't Mama's Cafe, but rather mama's kitchen.

                                                                                                                                              Only one table and by invitation only.


                                                                                                                                            2. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                              For a comparison, give the Chicken Fried NY Strip at Beaver's a shot -- they pound out / tenderize a NY Strip, batter it and deep fry. Serve with a mushroom cream gravy, mashed potatoes and a veggie. I find it delicious.

                                                                                                                                            3. Based on a visitor's trip report posted here, we hit the Red Balloon Cafe a couple of weekends ago. I have been hoping to get back over there and sample a bit more of the menu before commenting, but time...there just isn't enough time...

                                                                                                                                              The Scene:

                                                                                                                                              Friday night, chilly but dry. An out-of-the-way cafe, situated on the wrong side of the tracks but benefiting from two key ingredients - several nearby limited service hotels and a good chef.

                                                                                                                                              Buddy had the Chicken Fried Steak. That was to have been my order, but when he called "Dibs" I asked the waitress for her recommendation. She admitted that she had only worked there a couple of weeks, but said she really liked the cheeseburger with bacon and avocado, (I don't remember the name they gave it). Now, I had just recently found the Best. Burger. In. Town (see above), but what the heck, I said "Bring it on".

                                                                                                                                              It was good, but I have to pass by too many "good" burgers to journey there just for that.

                                                                                                                                              However, they claim to have a terrific prime rib, and when I go back, (and oh yes, I WILL go back), that is what I will have.

                                                                                                                                              The CFS was very good according to my buddy, but I noticed that he left a whole pile of breading on his plate.

                                                                                                                                              If you've been there, what did you have? How was it?

                                                                                                                                              If not, the next time you're vaguely in the area and looking for something different, give it a shot and let me know, OK?

                                                                                                                                              BTW, they have a full bar. It lives on a room service cart and presumably will come to you. I can't say I ever saw that before!

                                                                                                                                              Lastly, they have two TV's on, (with close captioning). They had one on The Food Network and the other on The Cooking Channel!

                                                                                                                                              Gotta love that!

                                                                                                                                              Red Balloon Cafe
                                                                                                                                              4410 Westway Park Blvd Ste 300, Houston, TX 77041

                                                                                                                                              18 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                Glad you enjoyed it DoobieWah, although I'd agree that it's not worth travelling any distance to dine there.

                                                                                                                                                I thought the Prime Rib was stellar, though - I'm sure you'll enjoy it when you return. Remember to ask them for the rarest piece they can find, as they warned me it was only served "medium and up".

                                                                                                                                                I thought their burger was pretty darned good too, although I'm salivating at the prospect of checking out Burger Guys on my next trip having re-read your rave review !

                                                                                                                                                Burger Guys
                                                                                                                                                12225 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77077

                                                                                                                                                1. re: FarleyFlavors

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the initial recommendation. I had never heard of it.

                                                                                                                                                  What's with the "medium and up" prime rib? That's purty close to blasphemy. I'll remember to ask for the rarest they have, (or an end piece!).


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                    "What's with the "medium and up" prime rib? That's purty close to blasphemy."

                                                                                                                                                    Indeed. For my next visit I can't decide whether to take the girlfriend or a lynch mob :o)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                      Doobs, is this thread getting unwieldy or is it just me? New folks will be met with 115+ entries of various dates and times, and will certainly go away.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                                                                                        Yeah Lambsy, we had that conversation somewhere in the morass above, and I had even agreed. But then I was persuaded to keep this thread alive.

                                                                                                                                                        I'm open minded about it.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                          Don't go. Those who care will read. Those who don't can find lesser reviews of individual restaurants. When I see this thread rise up into the top of Houston, my heart jumps and I zoom to find out what these intrepid 'hounds, led in this thread by DoobieWah, have to say. I have a list based largely on this and the corollary threads...keep explaining why you love Houston...I'm starting to want to move there.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: reinadetostones

                                                                                                                                                            I have to agree with Lambowner. Personally, I rarely open large threads, and the good thing about this board is you don't have to wade through a hundred posts when one of yous is updated. We're not asking Doobie to go away, but I do have a suggestion. What about a I love Houston II thread, with a link to the original?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps what James suggests is a good compromise.

                                                                                                                                                              That way, we'll still get to have these terrific, casual chats with DW (and one another, of course) and see what he's been up to lately, but we can start over.

                                                                                                                                                              (Although I do feel the need to point out that for those of us that come here regularly, when we click on this thread, only the new posts come up, so it's not like we have to read the entire thread each visit.)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                                Then we 're agreed?

                                                                                                                                                                Stay tuned for Chapter Two. (Or would that be "Volume Two"?)

                                                                                                                                                                Anyway, thanks for the input and all of the kind words. It's just nice to know that someone cares...

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: reinadetostones

                                                                                                                                                              Would the thread be diminished if it were broken up, say every time that Doobie starts a new subject, like he did the other day with his review of an individual restaurant on Red Balloon Cafe the other day? No - it would prevent people from having to wade through a morass of unrelated posts (related only insofar as they're all started by Doobie) in order to get to the new stuff. Keep the same style, just break the threads / start a new thread every time you would've gone back and made a new sub-thread here (like you did with the Mason Jar post, like you did with the Red Balloon post, like you did with Mama's Cafe post, etc..).

                                                                                                                                                              Red Balloon Cafe
                                                                                                                                                              4410 Westway Park Blvd Ste 300, Houston, TX 77041

                                                                                                                                                              Mason Jar
                                                                                                                                                              9005 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: grbroderick

                                                                                                                                                                I don't really care either way. I always look forward to a new review by DoobieWah and whether they're in a new thread or not doesn't really matter to me - as Jaymes says, regular viewers only see the new posts anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                On the other hand I can understand Lambowner's argument that someone new to the Houston board might be put off by the sheer number of the postings.

                                                                                                                                                                So ... whatever ... just make sure you keep 'em coming !

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: FarleyFlavors

                                                                                                                                                        So we went back to the Red Balloon last night and as promised, I had the prime rib.

                                                                                                                                                        Per FF's recommendation, I asked for rare and the waitress said no problem. Given the warning Farley gave us here that they only served medium to well, I was pleasantly surprised.

                                                                                                                                                        However, upon arrival of our dinner, I was informed that they were "out of" rare, and she presented me with a medium piece instead. Perfectly medium, but medium nonetheless. She apologized and asked me if I would like something else, but there was ZERO chance of that happening. She swore they serve rare, but were just out. Maybe they save it for the regulars, who knows?

                                                                                                                                                        It was, as promised, very good. Just a tad too garlicky for my taste at first, but I rapidly fell into a slice-chew-swallow-rhythm that had that 8 oz, (smallest of three they serve), tender-as-foie-gras chunk of prime rib gone in no time.

                                                                                                                                                        I had mine sided with "cream potatoes" which I expected to be mashed potatoes but wasn't. It was roasted potatoes served in a garlicky creamy sauce with shredded parm over all. It was good, but paired with the garlicky prime rib may have been a bit much. I ate about half of them.

                                                                                                                                                        Anyway, I really like this little joint.

                                                                                                                                                        Both times we've been there, we've seen a table of HPD officers enjoying dinner as well.

                                                                                                                                                        That's always a good sign of two things: 1) They take care of cops with a discount, and 2) you can bet it will be very good food.

                                                                                                                                                        Both good reasons to patronize anywhere.

                                                                                                                                                        Let me know if you disagree.

                                                                                                                                                        Red Balloon Cafe
                                                                                                                                                        4410 Westway Park Blvd Ste 300, Houston, TX 77041

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                          How bizarre ! I was told by my server that they only served it "medium and up" before I was even asked how I'd like it done.

                                                                                                                                                          I wish I'd known the "cream potatoes" weren't "creamed potatoes" or I'd have ordered me some. I do like a bit of garlic and parmesan.

                                                                                                                                                      3. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                        Here you go Lambowner.

                                                                                                                                                        Closed, huh? Too bad. We went there about a month or six weeks ago. Had a pretty good CFS.

                                                                                                                                                        Thank's for the update.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                          So I'm not crazy. A search did not find this. Anyway, yes, Red Balloon closed. And I just hung up the phone with a friend who tells me Red Onion on Eldridge closed also. That was not a favorite of mine. Same friend was extolling the virtues of the newly opened Chatter's Cafe & Bistro in the same area. The name sounds so highway chain-ish, I keep forgetting about it.

                                                                                                                                                          Chatter's Cafe & Bistro
                                                                                                                                                          140 S Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                          As someone mentioned, there are definitely newbie/foodies (like myself) to the Houston area who will appreciate the cyclopedic nature of DW's thread - and I found it to be just perfect while siting in the airport waiting for a delayed flight back to IAH - can I get a witness?

                                                                                                                                                          Anyway, oddly enough, my parents were just in town (from Taipei), and my dad was looking for prime rib which unfortunately, I didn't manage to get him since our 'steakhouse' choice happened to be Tango Malbec. Excellent, but no prime rib on the menu. Sad to hear that Red Balloon is no more...

                                                                                                                                                          What prompted me to post was the comment about the TVs showing Food Network and Cooking Channel at the same time. Kind of reminds of The Blues Brothers: "We've got both kinds! We got Country and Western!"

                                                                                                                                                          Love 'em both, but it takes a hardcore Foodie to assert that both channels have their place!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: neointima

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the kind words.

                                                                                                                                                            And in the "Great Minds Think Alike" vein, I remember making the comment when we were there, about the TV's noting, "Look, they have Country AND Western!".

                                                                                                                                                            BTW, The Mason Jar on I-10 also has Prime Rib, but I never eat there for dinner - just lunch, so I've never tried it. I've heard it is good, and if I'm not mistaken, they promote Thursday night as "Prime Rib Night".

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: neointima

                                                                                                                                                              Laurenzo's specialty is prime rib. Very good too. On the lunch menu, the prime rib comes in a sandwich, salad, wrap, etc.


                                                                                                                                                          2. Regarding that poblano soup at Mexico's Deli, has anyone ever tried to copy it in your home kitchen?

                                                                                                                                                            Had any luck?

                                                                                                                                                            Mexico's Deli
                                                                                                                                                            2374 S Dairy Ashford St, Houston, TX 77077

                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                              I see that Mexico's Deli is opening a second location on lower Westheimer near the former Felix. They'll get great business there. The location over in West Houston is in a pretty shabby center. I would have never gone in if I hadn't heard of its reputation. I'd love to have the recipe for the soup. It's great stuff.

                                                                                                                                                              Mexico's Deli
                                                                                                                                                              2374 S Dairy Ashford St, Houston, TX 77077

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                                                                                                I've googled for recipes, but haven't made a dedicated effort to replicate it. If you manage to, please let me know.

                                                                                                                                                                That said, it does freeze well. I told them I was having a big party and wanted a couple of gallons of it, which I got, in a big plastic bucket. Came home and froze it in portions enough for two or three generous servings lying flat in those heavy-duty plastic freezer bags. Now I have it on hand whenever I want it. No, it's not so good as being able to prepare it myself.

                                                                                                                                                                But it's definitely second best.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                                  Have you tried just asking Alex? He happily gave me his recipe for his black beans which are awesome.

                                                                                                                                                                  And I didn't know he was finally expanding; I've been urging him to do it for years!

                                                                                                                                                                  Congrats Alex and thanks for the news.

                                                                                                                                                            2. I just moved here, and I love it here, too!! I'm finding it so easy to find everything I need.

                                                                                                                                                              1. Try Polonia in the Bingle Long Point area for great Polish food. They have a web site and a retail store in the same little strip center.

                                                                                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ryback

                                                                                                                                                                  Sounds great. Thanks for the recommendation!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                                    I'll second this recommendation. I've been there several times. It's really a great little find. It's close by a Catholic church that caters to the Polish community, and sometimes I've been in the restaurant when some sort of "doings" going on at the church lets out. The restaurant is particularly fun when it's full of families.

                                                                                                                                                                    And as an aside...

                                                                                                                                                                    When you arrive, you get bread and two little ramekins of something. One is pretty clearly butter. The second, I couldn't figure out at first. Upon inspection, it looked just like sausage grease, with a few flecks of crumbled sausage.

                                                                                                                                                                    Imagine my astonishment and delight to discover that's exactly what it is - seasoned sausage grease. Took me a while to get over my (learned) prejudice against it and try it. It was very tasty. Reminded me that when I was a child, we lived in Germany. It was right after the war. My father was with the occupation troops and, as part of the US government's effort to help the German people, who had been devastated by the war and were in large measure starving, all the American officer's families were asked to hire as many Germans as possible. We were living in a large home that had belonged to one of Hitler's generals, and both the top floor and the basement were servants' quarters. Even though I was very small, I remember that when the weather was bitter cold, the servants often prepared themselves a meal wherein they would take a thick slice of bread, saturate it with essentially lard - some sort of grease or pork drippings such as bacon or sausage - and then fry that slice of bread in more grease. Even though they had plenty of other food available to them, they swore that nothing kept a body warmer in German winters than filling it with grease.

                                                                                                                                                                    So, thinking back to that long-ago memory, I happily smeared the sausage and grease onto my bread.

                                                                                                                                                                    Not sure it's something I'll be repeating at home.

                                                                                                                                                                    But like I said, pretty tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                                      That reminds me of a visit by some Dutch friends a few years ago. They were really friends of my sister's so they were staying with them and wanted to prepare a big family breakfast for everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                      They had bacon and eggs, and pancakes and on and on and on - a huge buffet.

                                                                                                                                                                      At the end of the buffet was a gravy boat full of "au jus" that the Dutch were ladeling over their entire plates, pastries and all.

                                                                                                                                                                      Turns out "au jus" was nothing more than the rendered bacon fat.

                                                                                                                                                                      Just couldn't bring myself to do it.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                                        I also love Polonia. My in-laws are Polish Catholics who were liberated as children from a concentration camp in Germany, Jaymes! They got cross-wise with the German army by harboring a Jewish person in Poland. Your story is great! Your dad must've been quite high up in the military. Such terrible times.

                                                                                                                                                                        But yea, Polonia is da bomb.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                                                                                                          I too love Polonia, especially the veal schnitzel. My fake internet name doesn't reveal it, but I am second generation Polish. Wow, cross- wise with the Germans for harboring Jewish people was usually met with....... My dad was in a B24 and flew twenty plus missions over Germany in 1944-45. I have a map that matches the Eigth Army Air Force missions during the war. There is a Polish Festival at the church across the street, I think in late spring.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                            8th Air Force Army Air Corp brat here, too! B-17 Flying Fortress. Also 20+ missions out of Bassingbourn. http://www.91stbombgroup.com/ Would love to see your map someday. I think I'll watch for that Polish Festival. Hard to think back to those days without getting all verklempt.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                                              We went to the first annual Polish festival two years ago (I think there are 2, one at the church, one not church related). Anyway, it was fun, but it was a rainy weekend and I'm sure disappointing to the planners. Had a beer, watched some singing and that was it. Mr. Lamb likes to speak his native language when possible. Not too many Polish speakers in town.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                                                If you want to look at the map, we could meet at a mutually agreed upon restaurant for lunch. There is a nominal viewing fee, but perhaps it can be waved in true chowhound spirit. I'll bring along my 4 foot nine inch wife so you'll no I'm not an internet stalker, only if I can pry her out of her carseat. Have you seen the commercials about 4/9 and below needing carseats?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                  Sounds great! I saw on your profile that your blog is "ostiones," but couldn't find it with just that name.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Is there more?

                                                                                                                                                                    2. mexico's deli has perhaps the best taco not in a taco truck in this city. al pastor is gorgeous.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Three years ago today, I joined Chowhounds and wrote the OP above.

                                                                                                                                                                        The first sentence in that post reads:

                                                                                                                                                                        "Houston's culinary scene may very well be the best kept secret in the country."

                                                                                                                                                                        This month's issue of Food & Wine's feature "WHERE TO GO NEXT" is titled "Houston in 10 Plates" and the lede reads:

                                                                                                                                                                        "Whether attacking brown-butter cauliflower with a steak knife or sucking crawfish heads, F&W's Kate Krader stops at nothing to find the best flavors in America's newest capital of great food."

                                                                                                                                                                        I won't quote verbatim, but the ten dishes are as follows:

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Crunchy Chicken Sandwich at LOCAL FOODS
                                                                                                                                                                        2. Blackstrap Daiquiri at OKRA CHARITY SALOON
                                                                                                                                                                        3. Fatty Brisket at GATLIN'S
                                                                                                                                                                        4. Hangover Killer Soup at LA FISHERIA
                                                                                                                                                                        5. Chilaquiles at la GUADALUPANA
                                                                                                                                                                        6. Cauliflowers Cooked Different Ways at OXHEART
                                                                                                                                                                        7. Cajun Spiced Crawfish at CRAWFISH AND NOODLES
                                                                                                                                                                        8. Vietnamese Wagyu Meatballs at UNDERBELLY
                                                                                                                                                                        9. Morning Thali at PONDICHERI
                                                                                                                                                                        10. Ham & Eggs at THE PASS

                                                                                                                                                                        So here I am, three years and hundreds of meals and hundreds of posts later and I've never been to a single one of those places!

                                                                                                                                                                        Which of course was the point of this and other threads.

                                                                                                                                                                        There's a LOT of great food in this city and no one should have to travel very far to sample it. As chronicled herein, I rarely leave my neighborhood and there are still great places near me that I haven't found yet.

                                                                                                                                                                        OK, so it's not a secret anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                        But let's all take a moment of silent revery and thank the fates for putting us down in Houston Freakin' Texas.

                                                                                                                                                                        Bon appetit'!

                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                                          I've been to 3, and since I know you left your area for Uchi since you mentioned it here, you can leave for some others! I like the lobster taco and salmon chalupa at La Fisheria, not so much the soups. These are all fairly to very new places (not sure about Guadalupana, I haven't noticed it before), but there are so many great established places here too. Happy anniversary.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lambowner

                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, happy 3 years! I've only been to 2 places on the list, but haven't had the item they mention for each place. I have had the smoked salmon sandwich at Local Foods (excellent) with tuscan kale salad (also really good) and a turnip salad with horseradish that I don't think they're making currently. It was all great and I would happily go back. I've also been to Pondicheri a handful of times, mostly for lunch--my favorite lunch item is the vegetable frankie. I've been meaning to get there for breakfast at some point, but haven't yet--this reminds me I really need to try and get there soon! Oh, and I will be checking out Oxheart soon-ish as we are heading there to celebrate my birthday in a few weeks--really looking forward to that.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. I apologize for dragging up this old thread, but I wanted to note a couple of updates below.

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                                            There's no apology necessary. It's always good to see any post on this board.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. My son just called to tell me that there's a sign on the door at Mexico's Deli that they are closed to mourn the passing of Alex Garcia, the owner. He was a great guy.

                                                                                                                                                                            RIP, amigo.

                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                                              There's a faint, barely audible buzz in the crowd, followed by a smattering of applause. The applause grows, people are shaking unknown neighbors. Is it true? No, it can.t be!! Then. en masse, the crowd leaps to it's feat and bellows. Yes, it's him! Yes, it's him!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                              Welcome back great spiritual leader, welcome back.

                                                                                                                                                                              By the way, I bought some fresh crawfish etoufee, fried catfish, and frozen shrimp and crab gumbo, kicked up with a 1/2 pound of fresh oysters, all from Louisiana Foods storefront, our lent headquarters for the wifeacita.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                                                That's really sad news. He was such a great guy and far too young to be leaving us this way. Thanks for letting us know. RIP indeed.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jaymes

                                                                                                                                                                                  I never got to meet the man nor go to his restaurant. He sounds like a great person. always sad when someone like him passes. God bless.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                                    You should get over there and have a commemorative bowl of Cream of Poblano Soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                    That's sure what I plan to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh what sad news! Must have been some kind of tragedy; he looked healthy when we were there in November. I called in January to see if he would be willing to share his technique for that soup that I long for all year; they said he was in Mexico. I hope he enjoyed his time with family while he was there.