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I Kinda Like Living in Katy!

So over in the "Chinese in Katy" thread, there's been some chatting about Katy-area restaurants other than Chinese. Thought it might be a good time to begin a general Katy thread.

We've lived here in Katy for about two years now, and definitely have some favorites.

Antonia's for Italian is wonderful. It's rather expensive, but we think it's as good as Italian anywhere. It's a chef-driven place, named after the chef-owner's mother, Antonia, who gazes serenely down upon the proceedings from her photograph on an honored spot on the wall right by the front door. There's no doubt she's proud of her boy, Roberto, who is always in the kitchen turning out excellent food based upon her recipes. His brother, Rafael, operates a sister restaurant in Cypress, also featuring a photo of Mama. I haven't been there, but I'm sure it's just as good. Great waitstaff as well. Favorites here are the osso bucco, the veal saltimbocca, the Insalata Caprese, finished off by a snifter of beautiful golden limoncello from the vat that Roberto always has steeping. For less-expensive Italian family fare, we go to the unfortunately-named (in our opinion, anyway) Hasta La Pasta. That name makes it sound like it's some sort of B-list strip mall fast Italian food. It's not. It's a great and affordable, full-service Italian restaurant. There's a bruschetta and hot spinach dip appetizer plate that's absolutely terrific, and it's all I order for dinner on nights when I'm not that hungry. On nights when I am that hungry, I go for the lasagna. It's outstanding.

We go out for Mexican most Friday nights (we call it "TexMex Friday"). We like Tony's, Las Mananitas (where the fresh seafood dishes are standouts), and El Jarrito the best. For authentic Mexican, you can't beat the little (6-seater) lunch counter at Las Tarascas, a small Mexican grocery store and carniceria on Mason. Also, Taqueria Arandas is excellent, as long as you stay away from TexMex dishes.

Khun Noi is serving up excellent Thai, and Pho Saigon, a branch of a long-time Houston restaurant is really wonderful. For Chinese, we've settled in at Hong Kong's Cafe.

Captain Tom's up on I-10 can be 'hit or miss,' but when it's 'hit,' it's really good, and it's always a lot of fun to sit at the bar and order a michelada.

We like Fish City Grill sometimes, too. Although some of the food is a bit pedestrian, the Oyster Nachos are utterly fabulous. They know that it sounds a little weird, but think (correctly) that once you try them, you're hooked. So if you tell them that it's your first time there, or that you've never had the Oyster Nachos, they'll give you an order on the house. And if you like authentic, original Margaritas (with none of that yucky bottled sweet & sour stuff), this is the place to order them. They come in a colorful plastic shaker, that I think you can keep. At least, I've kept mine.

So those are a few of our favorites.

What are yours?

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Hasta La Pasta
1450 W Grand Pkwy S Ste E, Katy, TX 77494

Las Mananitas
803 S Mason Rd Ste 400, Katy, TX 77450

Las Tarascas
1025 S Mason Rd, Katy, TX 77450

Hong Kong's Cafe
1632 S Mason Rd, Katy, TX 77450

El Jarrito
21724 Highland Knolls Dr, Katy, TX 77450

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  1. I see what you did there.

    ;-)

    As an aside, the Genetic Mutant and I rode out to H&H Music off of Mason on Provincial last weekend for a very disappointing foray. Failing to plan ahead, we just drove a little ways down Mason looking for some Chow, (all rights reserved), but the traffic was atrocious.

    We eventually made it almost back to home before deciding to stop in a little out of the way Americanized Chinese restaurant called Chef Ding on Memorial between Dairy Ashford and Kirkwood.

    Decent, but nothing to write home about. It's been there a loooooong time so they must be doing something right, but I can't say exactly what that is.

    The point I am making in my usual long winded way is that I wish I had had access to your post before making that trip. I would love to try some of these.

    1. Captain Tom's is a wonderful go-to for oysters. How have they been this season?

      Wings and More is also not bad (if you like wings). Those two restaurants are probably the ones I visit most often in Katy. I've also read good things about Swampy's and Pizza Bella in Katy.

      Beer: Katy Pub Hub is the one of the few beer bars in the area and it's nice if you don't want to drive very far (I still personally prefer going into town for Petrol, etc). Expect to find beer that would also be available at most of the better beer bars in town, and their selection could please any beer drinker (including BMC). Can't talk about the food, but it looks to be mostly typical pub grub.
      http://pubhubworld.com/

      I'd heard of The Public House as they were the first to tap a commercial keg from the local brewery, No Label Brewing. Fewer selection but big support for hometown breweries as seen on the tap list.
      http://www.thepublichousekaty.com/

      Any interesting BBQ in the area? I'd figure something good would have popped up by now... unfortunate that Spring Creek set up shop.

      5 Replies
      1. re: air

        There's Nonmacher's on Mason. It's a small BBQ "joint." Some things there are just fine. They have daily "non-barbecue" specials like the lima beans and ham on Thursdays. Nonmacher's is definitely not "go to" barbecue in the same league as the Texas greats, but they're trying hard and do have some tasty offerings.

        There's a barbecue truck that parks in a parking lot of a business on Mason. I've seen it, and driven up and looked over the menu, but haven't tried it yet. I can't think of the business right off the bat, but it seems to me as though it might be a pawn shop. It's on the west side of Mason, not too far south of I-10. If you drive slowly, and keep looking west, you should spot it.

        Spring Creek is a really cheesy chain, but we've been twice. We have a big family - mom, dad, three kids, and the granny (me) - and Spring Creek is kind of fun for the whole family. I certainly wouldn't classify it as great barbecue, though. Still, we all enjoy it for what it is, and feel we get our money's worth.

        Swampy's looked to us as though it might be good and one night, we decided to try it. But, speaking of smoking in Katy, as we approached the front door, that repugnant stench of cigarette smoke was already overwhelming. We didn't even need to open the front door. So we didn't. We turned around and left.

        There's not a chance in hell we'll ever go in.

        Especially not with three kids in tow.

        Although, frankly, I don't need to put up with that even if I'm by myself.

        And - since we're talking about smoking in restaurants - I've got to say that I can't understand why, in this day and age, any restaurant would allow it. If you're putting out good food, it's a proven fact that smokers will come and eat. They'll have a cigarette on the way over and, as soon as they're out the front door on the way home, they'll light up again, but they will come and patronize you.

        On the other hand, many (and I'd even say, most) non-smokers will not.

        I just don't get why a restaurateur wouldn't want all of the potential customers; not just the fewer-than-half of the public that smokes.

        -----
        Spring Creek Restaurant
        21000 Katy Fwy, Katy, TX 77449

        1. re: Jaymes

          We tried an interesting new restaurant a few weeks back: Babaloo International Cafe & Bar. It's in the Villagio shopping center at Westheimer and Peek.

          They've got something of an unusual theme, no doubt in large part because the owner's path to Katy has taken him through Spain, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. Most of the menu features tapas-style bites of this and that, all with an international, eclectic flare. You can spot the Spanish, Cuban, Asian influences.

          We were there on a Saturday night, and ordered a wide assortment of the tapas, which we all loved. We also had a big pitcher of Sangria, which was delicious and we'll happily do that again next time.

          About 10pm, I guess it was, just as we were finishing up our meal, the salsa band arrived, and what appeared to be much of Katy's Latin community took to the dance floor for what clearly promised to be a very festive evening.

          This place is new, and I really admire them for trying something different. We had a great time, will go back soon, and hold best wishes for their success.

          http://www.babaloocafe.net/

          1. re: Jaymes

            Re. Swampy's Creek - last week it was mentioned in the Houston Press's "Openings and Closings" as being "closed".

            1. re: FarleyFlavors

              Ah, well then. I guess that's that.

              Looks like they could have used my money a time or two.

          2. re: air

            For wings, hubby and I are big fans of Wild Wing Cafe. They have some face-melting-ly hot sauces which also have some really good flavor - not just hot for the sake of being hot. My husband usually gets his wings with either Braveheart or China Syndrome. My personal favorite is Red Dragon, but I also like Chernobyl. If you don't like hot stuff, they probably have 20+ sauces. I've had their jerk sauce once, which was really good, and a BBQ sauce (Gold Rush, maybe?) that was good, but a bit too sweet. The service is also really friendly and fast. We usually sit at the bar and still get good service (although it smoking is allowed at the bar) - in my experience, most restaurants have hit or miss bar service. The only drawback to Wild Wing Cafe, in my opinion, is that it's a sports bar, so it gets a bit rowdy during football season. Neither of us are football fans, so it's a bit irritating to us.

            -----
            Wild Wing Cafe
            20940 Katy Fwy, Katy, TX 77449

          3. Jaymes, have you tried Midway BBQ in Katy? I remember this article by Robb Walsh and looked it up at the time, but couldn't find it on the map and then never made it in any event. Still want to try it.

            http://www.houstonpress.com/2008-10-0...

            We've also tried Rocco's Italian, a family owned place that was recommended to us and it was pretty good.

            Omar's Mexican on the freeway at Mason is pretty rustic, cheap and tasty Tex-Mex.

            -----
            Omar's Mexican Restaurant
            20029 Katy Fwy, Katy, TX 77450

            Rocco's Italian Restaurant
            966 S Fry Rd, Katy, TX 77450

            12 Replies
            1. re: Lambowner

              Have tried Midway BBQ. They've actually got two locations - the original, and then they built a newer more "restauranty" type of place about a block away. I honestly thought it was just okay. Maybe I'm expecting too much - I don't know. Went twice, in my continuing belief that you should give pitmasters at least two chances. I don't hate it. But I don't think I'll go back. I've heard good things about Dozier's in Fulshear. Have you been there? That's next on my list to try. That and the BBQ truck I mentioned above.

              When we first got here, we found Rocco's, and fell in love. Went several times, and had good experiences. Then had several bad experiences. Then crossed it off the list. We've had repeatedly great luck with Hasta La Pasta for that sort of "family Italian" experience, so we go there now (although I'll probably give Rocco's another try one of these days). And for upscale and wonderful Italian, are not sure it's possible to beat Antonia's.

              And I know I've mentioned Pho Sai Gon several times, but want to reiterate that it's really good Vietnamese. We went again last weekend. All of the family members have settled into their favorite entrees here, and for most of us, that's the char-broiled sliced pork. You can get it with either steamed rice (#53 on the menu), or vermicelli. It also comes with an egg roll. (Just as an aside, although I've eaten those egg rolls plain for much of my life, I noticed a while back that the Vietnamese take a lettuce leaf and roll it around the outside of the egg roll when they eat it, so now that's what I do. Much tastier!)

              Haven't even heard of Omar's Mexican, but will try it very soon. I love that name. Thanks!

              -----
              Hasta La Pasta
              1450 W Grand Pkwy S Ste E, Katy, TX 77494

              1. re: Jaymes

                We've been going to Dozier's for years and while we usually will sit down for a sliced beef sammich, we really go for the beef and turkey jerky, sausage, smoked bacon, etc.

                The cue is fine, but the smoked meats are the among the best in town.

                My $0.02.

                1. re: DoobieWah

                  Good to know. As I said, it's next on my list. Regardless as to how I feel about the brisket, now I'll definitely bring home some sausage and bacon for the fridge.

                  1. re: DoobieWah

                    Not a true test of a barbecue joint, I know, but my SIL brought home some Dozier's for dinner on Tuesday night. We all thought it was pretty good. The brisket could have been more flavorful and tender, but it was definitely several steps above being "just edible." In fact, darn enjoyable even if it was a little dry. The sauce was good enough to slather over the meat - heresy if you're at one of the CenTex legends, but a perfectly reasonable thing to do if you're not. The sausage was very good. Nice flavor; juicy without being too greasy. SIL also got some smoked turkey, which the little ones ate a lot of. Overall, we liked Dozier's and I'm sure we'll be returning.

                    Thanks for the rec.

                  2. re: Jaymes

                    I like Dozier's but IMO Swinging Door is better if you're going further out into Ft. Bend Co. In fact, I believe it's the best (sides included especially since they ramped up the green beans) in Houston and surrounding area. Those eggrolls, are they the Vietnamese style? One of my favorite things to wrap in lettuce and dip in fish sauce!

                    -----
                    Swinging Door
                    3714 Fm 359 Rd, Richmond, TX 77406

                    1. re: Lambowner

                      From the menu:

                      "Vietnam Egg Roll - Small rolls of minced pork, prawn, crab meat, fragrant mushrooms and vegetables wrapped in thin rice paper and deep-fried until crisp. Served with lettuce leaves and Fish Sauce Dip with shredded carrot and slices of Daikon radish."

                      Not sure if they're exactly what you're looking for, but we think they're pretty tasty.

                    2. re: Jaymes

                      Hasta La Pasta is great! I'm addicted to their veal marsala. I prefer a creamy marsala sauce to the more traditional watery sauce, and Hasta La Pasta is one of the few places I've found that serve it that way. It is a party in your mouth. Their tiramisu is also very good, but I rarely have room for it.

                      -----
                      Hasta La Pasta
                      1450 W Grand Pkwy S Ste E, Katy, TX 77494

                    3. re: Lambowner

                      So I gave Omar's a try last night. Maybe my taste buds are corrupted, or my preferences are just different. I do spend a lot of time in Mexico, so perhaps TexMex doesn't do it for me anymore, I don't know.

                      Although I do suspect it isn't just me because, although I went at 7pm on a Friday night, a time when most of the popular restaurants in Katy are jammed with lines out the door, Omar's was well under half full. And also unlike our favorite Mexican restaurants that often have tables with Mexican families enjoying dinner or celebrating this or that special occasion, the only obviously Mexican faces in Omar's were the ones waiting on the tables, not sitting at them.

                      I ordered my favorite Mexican dish - Chiles Rellenos. I did ask for charro beans rather than refried. The charro beans came first, more like a soup course, which made me suspect (although this might be unfair) that they preplate their meals there or something, so that they couldn't take the refried beans off of it. The charro beans were very good, but the remainder of the meal was pretty bad. I didn't finish it and didn't want to take it with me and didn't want to answer questions as to why, so I did the thing where you push what's left around on the plate to make it look like you ate more than you did.

                      And, they couldn't mix a "real margarita"; ie, one without that prepackaged sweet and sour stuff that I dislike.

                      All in all, suffice it to say that Omar's won't be entering our regular "TexMex Friday" rotation that, as of now, includes the new Grand Parkway location of Lupe Tortilla (speaking of jam-packed on a Friday night) as well as Tony's, Las Mananitas and El Jarrito. And, if we're feeling fancy, Las Alamedas, where we have had rather uneven luck with the mains, but the ceviche and queso fundido are to die for. We sit out on the patio with our drinks and antojitos and watch our kids (my grandkids) play in the fountain.

                      That makes for an utterly sublime evening.

                      -----
                      Las Mananitas
                      803 S Mason Rd Ste 400, Katy, TX 77450

                      El Jarrito
                      21724 Highland Knolls Dr, Katy, TX 77450

                      1. re: Jaymes

                        Oops! Sorry! I went there for a quick weekday lunch one day and found it adequate. Good to know I shouldn't return. Have you tried the original Lupe Tortilla? It's better than the new ones. But we go right when they open to get a lunch seat. Crowded.

                        -----
                        Lupe Tortilla's Restaurants
                        318 Stafford St, Houston, TX 77079

                        1. re: Lambowner

                          No probs. I always like getting new recommendations and trying them out and I really appreciate your suggestion. For one thing, you never know, right? I'd much rather have too many recommendations than too few.

                          I haven't tried the original Lupe Tortilla's personally. But my son-in-law really likes it, so we were among the first to go when the Katy location opened. He agrees with you that the original is best. But a long way to go from Cinco Ranch, so we're thrilled that one has opened out here.

                          -----
                          Lupe Tortilla's Restaurants
                          318 Stafford St, Houston, TX 77079

                          1. re: Jaymes

                            Well a Chron reader has reported that the "Katy institution" called Omar's closed in 2012! I do see that another Tony's is going in on the freeway.

                        2. re: Jaymes

                          I went to Omar's with a few friends a couple of years ago, and I won't go back. After I saw the queso, I decided to eat elsewhere that evening. The queso looked and tasted like Velveeta cheese that had been nuked, and then gotten cold again. I don't recall specifics about any of my friends' meals, except that they cemented my decision to never return.

                          -----
                          Omar's Mexican Restaurant
                          20029 Katy Fwy, Katy, TX 77450

                      2. Yes "Hasta La Pasta" must instantly lose them a lot of custom. Apart from Captain Tom's whose kitchen (when on top form) puts out peerless fried seafood and whose oysters (apart from their heinous and inexplicable habit of sloshing fake liquor (i.e. water) over the shucked dozen) are well-priced and usually fine I don't have much to add of note, but I appreciate hearing about some other things to possibly try. I'd also ask folks to mention "service" in their reviews. Dining out is nto all about the food and for some reason I am finding good (even passable) service almost impossible to come by these days which, no matter what sparks the chef is firing off in the kitchen, ruins the experience for me.
                        Thanks again.
                        bb (live waaaay out west [Colorado county] so Katy is closest for me also)

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: bishopsbitter

                          Regarding the mention of "service."

                          I don't usually mention it if it's just fine. That's my default position, I guess you'd say. I mention it if it's exceptional in some way - either good or bad. If I don't mention it, that means it was damned adequate - neither stellar nor horrid.

                          Went to Babin's last night, up on I-10 at Mason, between the Fiesta Mart parking lot and I-10 and immediately adjacent to Saltgrass.

                          Babin's is a local chain of seafood restaurants, part of the Landry group.

                          We didn't get off to an auspicious start, Babin's and I. The first aroma that hit my nose when I opened the front door was not the piquant and tantalizing aroma of cajun seafood cooking, but instead, the stench of cigarette smoke. For some reason that Babin's clearly finds acceptable, the bar, a large open French Quarter "patio-type" room, is right by the front door. I almost turned around and left. There are not many things I dislike more when it comes to dining out than having to suck in other people's cigarette smoke while I'm trying to enjoy a meal. But I decided to wait until I got to my table to see if the smoke permeated the dining room as well. Luckily, I was seated well away from the bar, so settled in to peruse the menu.

                          And then the second unfortunate indication that perhaps I was in for nothing but disappointment.

                          The entire atmosphere here is "New Orleans." All of the decor screams it. The waitstaff is wearing Mardi Gras beads. Many of the drinks and food items are named "New Orleans this" and "St. Charles that."

                          So I order my personal favorite New Orleans cocktail - a Sazerac.

                          Despite the fact that this drink is undeniably one of the most famous mixed drinks from New Orleans, and has even been designated the "Official Cocktail of New Orleans" by the Louisiana State Legislature, my waiter had never heard of it. I told him that I felt certain his bartender would know it and off he toddled, only to return five minutes later and tell me that the bartender had never heard of it, either. But then he added that he had asked the manager, who had heard of it, but that "we can't make it for you."

                          Don't get me wrong - I would find none of that remarkable nor even important in the slightest, except that New Orleans is Babin's entire shtick and not to be at least familiar with what may be New Orleans's greatest contribution to the cocktail scene did not augur well.

                          So I ordered a Manhattan and, expectations greatly lowered, continued to look over the menu. The Manhattan arrived and, although perfectly fine, had no Maraschino cherry. I've been ordering Manhattans for several decades and think this is the first time that one has arrived cherry-less. I personally feel that the cherry in a Manhattan is more than simply a garnish. While perhaps not a critical component, I do think it adds a slight extra touch of something sweet and fruity. I suppose what I'm saying is not OMG, I didn't get my cherry and I'm furious. I feel quite certain I could have asked for a cherry and it would have arrived expeditiously. I only mention it to illustrate that overall I was not impressed with the skills and knowledge of the barstaff. Not a deal-breaker for me, as I was really there for the food, but if you're a person out there that really loves a good bar and values and appreciates an expert mixologist, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that Babin's ain't it.

                          But back to me and my erstwhile bead-bedecked young waiter.

                          He rattled off several soups on offer, including the usual suspects, gumbos and chowders. I asked which of the chowders was the star and he said the creamy crab chowder, so that's what I ordered.

                          At which point, the meal picked up considerably.

                          That chowder was wonderful. And it was served with a loaf of crusty bread that actually was crusty and warm, mercifully tasting as though it had never seen the inside of a microwave oven. I got the small bowl of the soup, but made an immediate note in my head to return for lunch sometime soon, and order just a large bowl of that.

                          For mains, went with a mixed seafood plate - fried oysters and shrimp. For sides, got cole slaw and a baked potato. The baked potato was lukewarm. The cole slaw was meh. The fried shrimp was meh +. The oysters pretty darn good.

                          I'll be back. Next time I'll have a fried oyster po' boy and a bowl of that soup.

                          I'll know to hold my nose as I scoot past the bar.

                          And I'll be skipping the cocktails entirely.

                          1. re: Jaymes

                            A good review. There was a time (and yea I remember it well) when restaurants would educate YOU (the customer) about hitherto unknown specialty drinks of the region the restaurant purported to represent, and not vice versa!

                            I may just be getting old, but for me your Sazerac episode and their unwillingness to even ATTEMPT to replicate one for you (which should have been possible, even if they'd had to ask the chef to whip up a bit of syrup) would have had me skeddaddling out the door. My drink is G&T . I couldn't tell you the number of times I have had to argue the toss about gin and tonics not made with tonic (club soda is the default option they use if tonic is off: "hey, the customer, won't notice the difference!" So bloody annoying.) But I have 30 years of eating out when things generally did not quite suck so much (as in the 21st Century the rot seemed to set in) to sustain me. You possibly sound a bit younger and without that option of simply leaving the playing field.

                            It is largely because of this "screw you" attitude generally found among waters/waitresses and management that has sidelined me from dining out much any longer. In other words, you do something like request an unusual cocktail, or mention that your gin and tonic is actually not made with tonic (or sometimes even GIN!) at all, and instead of expressing the owed and rightful apology you can plainly see they are thinking "****! why do I always end up waiting on these ****ing troublemakers at my table?" The number of times I have been made to feel like I am putting THEM out by and inconveniencing THEM because THEY screwed up . . . well a lot. I feel sorry for chefs because their waitstaff are killing off their trade.

                            Old fart rant over :-) Keep the reviews coming please.

                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                              Love hearing that I sound young. I'll bet I'm older than you. You say that you've been eating out for 30 years. I'll see you those three decades and add a couple more. I do have that "option of simply leaving the playing field."

                              But guess I've mellowed in my old age. It goes that way, don't you think? Some of us get really crabby and impatient.

                              While some of us just think, oh, what the hell. So you don't do that well? What DO you do well? I'll try that. I'm too old and tired to get back into my car and keep searching.

                              Even if I do have my fancy droid phone and my handy GPS.

                              1. re: Jaymes

                                Wasn't sure. Don't have the droid phone or GPS. Pre Internet I always reckoned the Yellow page ad's could tell you the caliber of non-chain places. Creative ad (wording or artwork) = good food (wrought iron fences a particularly good sign in the artwork!). Maybe it's still valid but many hotels don't bother to stock Yellow pages any more.

                                And (believe it or not) I am a very easy to please customer (I am not expecting miracles nor do I want them). But harder to please than anyone is willing to make the effort to do these days for sure. Is it unreasonable to expect your gin and tonic to consist of gin and tonic versus vodka and club soda and insist on its being so? New-age waitpersons answer YES! I don't know if it's a (good) sign of lingering youth or (bad) of delayed maturity that I am still willing (even on the proverbial windswept night) to walk out and start over looking. For once you've crossed swords with the waiter/ress in my experience (even for entirely reasonable reasons like they got your order wrong) they make you pay for it the rest of the meal, so you have to save yourself the trouble.

                                Case in point today perusing Chowhound boards: instead of being inspired I decided to save my wife and myself the heartache and stay home. If more people did I think they'd be forced to improve their act.

                                Nice chatting. I'm 5 (have to think for a moment) 3 by the way.

                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                  Listen, I'm totally on your side about getting your order right. Not unreasonable at all. Didn't mean to imply otherwise. I guess it's just that often these days I no longer have the energy to do anything vigorous about it (which I don't necessarily see as a virtue, I should add). I owe you a huge debt of thanks that you continue to keep them on their toes. Somebody's got to do it!

                                  And, must say, I am also a gin and tonic fan, and have noticed from time to time that it doesn't taste quite "right" but couldn't put my finger on exactly why. Next time, I think I'll start with that question: "Do you have any tonic in the bar?"

                                  And BTW, I don't have two decades on you. Only one.

                                  And a half.

                            2. re: Jaymes

                              So, a correction to the Babin's post...

                              Said I'll be going there for the creamy crab chowder and oyster po' boys.

                              Make that the creamy crab chowder only.

                              Because I've got a new very favorite place in Katy.

                              For those of you Katyites that are not familiar with Orleans Seafood Kitchen, boy do I have a find for you!

                              I was dropping off a package at a local UPS and the fellow asked me how I was and I said fine how are you? Whereupon he went into smiles of rapture and said, "Oh, I'm great. You're my last package of the day. We close in five minutes, so in about ten minutes, I'll be at Orleans Seafood Kitchen."

                              Naturally, I had to give it a go myself.

                              It's up in that odd-looking, multicolored "food mall" just north of I-10 at Westgreen. I went Sunday for lunch and the place was packed with families obviously coming from church. It's not part of a chain - independently owned and operated. I got the "Orleans Combination" - shrimp or crawfish etouffee (I chose crawfish), and one dish from the "Fried Seafood" menu (I chose oysters).

                              This place is pretty casual. You line up and give them your order and then they give you one of those flashing light things and you go sit down and when it flashes you go back up and get your food. But other than the ambiance (and that crab chowder), Orleans Kitchen puts Babin's to shame. My crawfish etouffee was just wonderful. The mudbugs were moist, juicy and tender, which must be hard to do, because most of the time, they're tasty, but chewy little morsels. And those fried oysters were perfect. Crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside.

                              I liked this place so much that I rounded up my little family, and we all went back last night for dinner.

                              I had the fried oyster po' boy.
                              Daughter had the crawfish etouffee and a half of a shrimp po' boy.
                              Son-in-law had other half of shrimp po boy, a bowl of gumbo, and a dozen oysters on the half-shell.
                              Grandkids had mac & cheese.

                              Daughter doesn't like food too spicy, and she said that the etouffee was just borderline spicy enough (definitely a "kick" but not too much for her), shrimp po' boy was terrific. SIL loved the gumbo and oysters. Grandkids must have liked the mac and cheese because they certainly ate it enthusiastically.

                              All in all, this place is a true find.

                              In fact, I like it so much that for the first time in a long time, I actually had mixed feelings about letting anyone else in on the secret. But then I thought about it, and there only seem to be a very few of us here chatting about Katy.

                              And all y'all are just so darn nice, that I had to share.

                              http://www.orleansseafoodkitchen.com/

                              '

                              -----
                              Orleans Seafood Kitchen
                              20940 Katy Fwy, Katy, TX 77449

                              1. re: Jaymes

                                Ref my Yellow Pages theorum, I had spotted that place from I-10 and therefore its signage was working and unusually attractive.

                                1. re: Jaymes

                                  For anyone interested in visiting Orleans Seafood Kitchen, tomorrow looks like a good day to do that.

                                  According to B4-U-Eat:

                                  "Orleans Seafood Kitchen, 20940 Katy Fwy, celebrates their 3rd Anniversary Thursday, April 28 with $3.95lb boiled crawfish, $2 domestic longnecks, 50 cent boiled shrimp, all day long, dine-in only. Live music: JABO Texas Prince of Zydeco, 6-10pm."

                                  -----
                                  Orleans Seafood Kitchen
                                  20940 Katy Fwy, Katy, TX 77449

                              2. re: bishopsbitter

                                bishop, they rinse the oysters in water at Captain Benny's in Houston as well. I came up with a simple but ingenious solution on my last trip. I asked the shucker not to do it, and he obliged, no problem. There is a taqueria/carneceria on Fry and W. Little York, possibly but I'm not sure. Next time I take a weekend roadie out there I'll get the name. Thety have great carnitas on the weekend. It has a Katy address, although I don't cosider this barren stretch of prairie Katy.

                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                  It's an ingenious solution to be sure! The trouble is on my first dozen I never do remember beforehand that they're going to do it, because of course it's inconceivable that any shucker would do such a dastardly deed to those dozen over whom he has just labored. I always get a shock akin to what I would if a bartender spat in my gin and tonic just before presenting it for service. Excellent thought though. I'll try to remember next time.

                              3. A question for Jaymes (or anybody out that way) - anybody been to the new Rich Asian Cuisine on S. Mason.

                                http://richasiancuisine.cwahi.net/ (You can turn off the music on the lower left

                                )

                                I think this is by the lady who used to run Cafe Singapore on Bellaire. I read a lot of good things about that place but never got around to trying to go until after she shut it down last summer. I had read she's going to be opening a place in Katy but I didn't know it was already open.

                                If this is her, I'm going to want to plan a trip out there.

                                The menu doesn't look as adventurous as the one in the window of the Bellaire place but I get so irritated at the people at Banana Leaf condescendingly telling you dishes are not available or that you wouldn't like it if they are afraid to let you try it.

                                -----
                                Cafe Singapore
                                12345 Bellaire Blvd Ste B2, Houston, TX 77072

                                Banana Leaf
                                9889 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036

                                24 Replies
                                1. re: brucesw

                                  This sounds very promising. I'll definitely be giving it a try pretty soon. Probably this weekend. We've got a big family party on Saturday, but I see they're open on Sunday, so think I'll plan to stop in!

                                  Thanks, Bruce.

                                  1. re: Jaymes

                                    I think everything I've seen online has been positive; hope you have a good experience and I'll be looking forward to your report.

                                    1. re: brucesw

                                      Tried it out today. Not the easiest to find. Positive impression. Liked the hot and sour soup, had just enough heat to warm the back of the throat. Had the Szechuan chicken.

                                  2. re: brucesw

                                    Thanks for the heads up about this place, Bruce.

                                    I went there yesterday and had a big chat with the owner, Helen. Yes, she's the same one that had Cafe Singapore. Asked her why she closed that one down and moved out to Katy. She said that, really, that other location hadn't been the best for Asian food. Said there seemed to be a large Hispanic population in that area and that it was a struggle getting them in the door. She said that she and her family live in Katy so they were getting tired of the daily commute anyway, and tried to sell the business, but had no takers. Then, a short while back, they closed that restaurant just temporarily, for a month, to go on vacation to Singapore to see their daughter. While they were closed, ironically, somebody thought that they had gone out of business, and offered to buy it. So they sold, and have opened the new place in Katy, close to their home.

                                    She said that she is Malay by birth and that Singapore and Malay cuisines are very similar, so that was a given, but that she wanted to offer a wider variety of dishes in order to appeal to a larger demographic. She is Chinese by extraction, so that was the obvious choice. There are a great many of the Chinese "usual suspects" on the menu: Kung Pao, General Tso, Sesame Shrimp, etc.

                                    The place is pretty bereft of ambiance - like a strip mall coffee shop - small, with about a dozen or so 4-tops, and brightly-lighted. No booze, not even beer & wine.

                                    I had the chicken satay to start. It was very serviceable, but not my favorite. It had a slight hint of curry, which I usually love, but it turns out that when it comes to satay, I prefer the more traditional seasonings. And although a very nice peanut sauce came with, there was no little dish of that sweet/sour cucumber salad and I really love that. All in all, although it was good, I probably won't order it again.

                                    For the main, I ordered the Nasi Lemak, a sort of Malay combination plate. Included on it was rice cooked in coconut milk, beef rendang, sambal shrimp, and a fried egg. For garnish, there were peanuts, cucumbers, marinated carrot strips, and fried anchovies. The sambal shrimp was pretty spicy - not take-off-the-roof-of-your-mouth spicy, but perhaps one step down. People that carry around little bottles of high-scoville hot sauce and pride themselves on their ability to handle heat and are forever double-dog-daring others to join them would probably find it wimpy, but people that can't handle spicy food at all should probably order something else. I loved it, although it was at the top of my own personal heat tolerance index. It was perfectly-cooked shrimp in a hot chili-oil sambal sauce. Just excellent. The beef rendang was also excellent, tender pieces of beef in a traditional sauce. Although made with coconut milk, it's not sweet. The various chilies and spices can make it quite hot, but this wasn't. I think anyone would enjoy it.

                                    Those little fried anchovies were a tasty and crunchy and unusual (to me anyway) treat and they, along with the peanuts and cucumbers and carrots rounded out a very good dish.

                                    I'm definitely ordering this again.

                                    And sometime soon.

                                    1. re: Jaymes

                                      Sounds great. Thanks for the report and I'm glad you found it so interesting. I definitely need to get out there sometime and I have a good idea of what I'll be ordering!

                                      Interesting explanation of what happened to the other place; I think I've noticed the replacement is Mexican but I'm not 100% sure. She also had a visibility problem but so do many restaurants (and other businesses) in those strip centers where their only street-side signage is on one of those billboards that you can only glance at when you go by. You could pass the place repeatedly going west on Bellaire and never know it was there and even eastbound it was easy to miss. Businesses just don't get the casual, looking-for-something-new, customer when they have such poor visibility. You have to know it's there and be looking for it to find it.

                                      I've also heard several times that Malaysian food just never has caught on in Houston.

                                      1. re: Jaymes

                                        We went to Rich Asian Cuisine last night for dinner, and we will definitely be back. For an appetizer, we ordered the pot stickers. They were good, but not anything better than any other pot stickers I've had. I ordered the Nasi Lemak also - you made it sound so good that I couldn't resist. The coconut rice was very good - slightly sweet, but not overpoweringly so. I really liked the beef rendang. Next time, I think I'll just order this as I thought it was the best thing on the plate. The sambal shrimp was also good, but there was some spice in there that I didn't like - either that, or it was the combination of the sauce with the coconut rice. Hubby really liked it, though, so maybe it's just me. In spite of my rule against eating food that stares, I tried one of the fried anchovies - the crunch was nice, but the fishy flavor was a bit overpowering. That was the first time I've eaten anchovies, though, so maybe that's just part of the experience. Hubby ordered the Thai Red Curry Beef (hot, rather than medium). I only had a bite, but it had some nice heat too without knocking you on your ass. Another nice thing was that, in spite of being the only people in the restaurant - this happens at Chinese restaurants in Katy a lot for some reason - I never felt uncomfortable. I usually hate being the only people in a restaurant, but it didn't bother me here.

                                        1. re: rhiamon

                                          I'm so glad you gave this place a try. I'm sure it's hard getting an independent restaurant established against the competition of the mighty chains and their unlimited advertising budgets. This woman is working hard to put out a quality product, and I think she's succeeding.

                                          You know, Katy has turned into quite the international food destination. It's pretty stunning if you think about it. We haven't lived out here long (about 2 years) but when we decided to move here, everybody told us that there were only chain restaurants. That's so wrong.

                                          1. re: Jaymes

                                            Finding new places is a lot of the reason that I joined Chowhound. We've tried using the review sites like CitySearch and Yelp, but we often find that we are .... pickier ... than many of the people who post reviews of those sites. I once saw a five star review for James Coney Island on Yelp, for crying out loud. We love good food and we love eating out, but we only eat out on the weekends so we have to be selective about the places we try. We've had a few weekends where we tried two new restaurants and hated them both - considering that's 2 of our 4 weekly restaurant meals, we were a bit irritated. So far, Chowhound is 2 for 2, so that's pretty awesome!

                                            Katy has lots of great food, surprisingly enough. Last year I took a Spanish class at the Katy branch of HCC, and during an off-topic conversation about restaurants, one girl made the comment that there was nowhere good to eat in Katy. Poor girl, I nearly jumped down her throat (I tend to speak with emphasis, and sometimes I overdo it LOL)! No, you won't find any of the best Houston restaurants in Katy, but you'll find many damn good meals.

                                            Another one of my favorite restaurants is Cornbread and Collins Greens ... it's a soul food restaurants on Fry, in the same strip center as Target. Have any of you been there? I don't have a lot of experience with soul food - just Cornbread's actually, but I really love the food there. I often get the chicken and waffles, which is a lot of work to pick apart the chicken, but is oh-so-tasty. And the service is awesome - all of the staff knows us now, and they always makes us feel welcome. If you go there around noon on Sunday, the place is usually filled with many black people who appear to have just come from church - I take that as a good indication of the authenticity. Being white, I will admit that I felt a little intimidated the first time we went there - I shouldn't have, but I did, plus it was my first trip to a soul food restaurant - but that was the only time. I took one bite of fried chicken, and I magically didn't care that we were the only white people there. At any rate, I'm rambling. If you haven't tried them, you should. The fried chicken is crispy, the waffle is fluffy and light. Hubby says the collard greens are damn good, though I didn't like them. They tasted very bitter to me, but hubby says that's how collard greens are and that they are an acquired taste. He's been to many soul food places, so I'll defer to his expertise on that one LOL. Let's see ... we've also had the ox tails (FYI, not actually ox tails, as it turns out), the smothered pork chops, the catfish, and the peach cobbler. I've never been disappointed there.

                                            1. re: rhiamon

                                              Cornbread and Collins Greens sounds great, and just like the sort of southern food I grew up on. We'll definitely try it. And that church crowd is often at Orleans Seafood Kitchen on Sundays as well. Partly because, in addition to the food being terrific, they give you a 10% discount if you bring in a church bulletin.

                                              And I may be a complete ninny, and may completely lose credibility, and may be sorry I said this, but I'm going to take issue with your statement that "you won't find any of the best Houston restaurants in Katy."

                                              For my money, Antonia's is as good as any of them.

                                              -----
                                              Orleans Seafood Kitchen
                                              20940 Katy Fwy, Katy, TX 77449

                                              1. re: Jaymes

                                                One of my Katy friends adores Rocco's in Katy and eats there often. We went there once and it was pretty good, but not exceptional. That comment is probably in this string already somewhere. :0 This thread is rivaling Doobs' epic posts. I'm really interested in that soul food place, I didn't know we had good chicken and waffles so close to us. I agree on the collards though. I adore mustard greens, they don't have that bitterness. And the oxtails are beef, at least ?

                                                1. re: Lambowner

                                                  Yeah, we did have the "Rocco's chat" at some point. And I offered that when we first moved here, we went there several times, and were pretty sure it was going to be our "go to" red-sauce Italian place. But then we had several more experiences that varied from mediocre to unfortunate, so now it's Hasta La Pasta for us when we don't want to spend the money at Antonia's.

                                                  -----
                                                  Hasta La Pasta
                                                  1450 W Grand Pkwy S Ste E, Katy, TX 77494

                                                  1. re: Jaymes

                                                    We tried Antonia's once, but we weren't impressed. I don't recall specifically why, though, so maybe we need to give it another try. It's been about six months or so since we went, and all I can remember is that I thought Hasta La Pasta is better ... or was it that my lasagna is better? Hmm...

                                                    -----
                                                    Hasta La Pasta
                                                    1450 W Grand Pkwy S Ste E, Katy, TX 77494

                                                    1. re: rhiamon

                                                      It's quite possible, of course, that due to differing tastes, you would never like Antonia's as much as we do. Or it could be that they don't do lasagna as well as some other places. I honestly don't know because I've never ordered the lasagna there. Although it's my favorite (by far) red-sauce dish and I get it all the time at more-casual, less-expensive Italian restaurants such as Hasta La Pasta and Rocco's, I've never even thought to order it at Antonia's. They just have so many other tempting options.

                                                      Several members of our family (including me) have ordered the osso bucco at various times, and it's just wonderful. We also like the chicken picatta, veal saltimbocca, and both chicken and veal marsala (I like a strong marsala flavor so always ask them to splash a little extra into the sauce).

                                                      And, the fresh seafood dishes are real standouts. As I said elsewhere, chef Roberto keeps in close contact with his fishmonger and the fish specials are made with whatever fresh fish looks best that day. I mentioned the Snapper Rafael upthread, and I can tell you that despite the fact that I'm pretty old and have traveled the world and have eaten in a lot of mighty fine restaurants and have enjoyed a very great many mighty fine meals, I've had none more perfect than that meal on that night.

                                                      With a plate of cannoli and a cup of cappuccino to top it off.

                                                      And finally a glass of Roberto's house-made limoncello to linger over.

                                                  2. re: Lambowner

                                                    I believe so. Here's the link to their site: http://www.cornbreadncollinsgreen.com.... I think the oxtails are stew meat of some sort. Their menu is a bit light on the descriptions, and I don't know much about soul food - I just know everything we tried was tasty.

                                                    1. re: rhiamon

                                                      That fried cornish hen looks interesting. I wonder if it's served whole? Have you seen anyone order it?

                                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                                        Not that I've noticed. Hubby keeps talking about ordering it, but I don't think he has so far. I'll let you know if he ever gets around to it.

                                                        Oh, and I should clarify my earlier comment about the oxtails not actually being oxtails. I wasn't referring to the dish known as ox tails. When I first saw that on the menu, I literally pictured a plate full of tails from oxen. Hubby had a good laugh over that one.

                                                        1. re: rhiamon

                                                          Well originally they were oxen, but I think it's all just cow now, instead of castrated bull, although it could be that too. I would imagine it all looks alike in
                                                          stew.

                                                    2. re: Lambowner

                                                      I don't eat collards, mustard greens or turnip greens but I adore spinach and even kale. I thought mustards were bitter, maybe I'd better try them again because I haven't had them since I was a child and my grandmother grew them in her garden. Chicken and waffles sound amazing. We are going to Emerils in 3 weeks and I've already chosen that as what I am going to eat. I've never had it anywhere but am anxious to try it.

                                                      1. re: texasredtop

                                                        I hear that the Breakfast Club has excellent chicken and waffles, but I haven't managed to make it out there to try them yet. Every time we go to Luigi's for lunch on Saturdays, there's always a huge line at the Breakfast Club so that's generally a good sign.

                                                        I went to Emeril's in New Orleans several years ago, and it was worth every penny. Aah memories.

                                                          1. re: texasredtop

                                                            Err ... I have no idea LOL. I remember that it was awesome and I stuffed myself stupid. I remember that it was the first time in my life that I spent more than $50ish bucks on dinner for two. I also remember that, after that meal, I stopped thinking it was stupid to spend $100+ on one meal because I suddenly understood that some meals are worth a little sticker shock.

                                                            I remember all of those things, and I could not tell what I had to save my life :( I think I went in 2003 or 2002, so I've had plenty of time to forget niggling little details like that! I doubt that it would still be on the menu anymore any way. I think someone got something that had foie gras on it, because my ex wouldn't shut up about how gross it was (it wasn't - he was a moron).

                                                  3. re: rhiamon

                                                    CORNBREAD & COLLINS GREENS -

                                                    Thanks to you, Rhiamon, for recommending this place. It's pretty wonderful. We've been a couple of times since your recommendation and just love it. My favorite main dish so far is the fried catfish. I thought it was among the best I've ever had. And the sides we've tried were also terrific: yams, string beans, collard greens. Regarding those greens though, if you are a big "greens" fan, and you know your greens, and can distinguish among collard, mustard, turnip, beet, etc., you should know that, although they're listed on the menu as "collard greens," in truth, they might be mixed greens, or even greens from a different root vegetable. I think that going on the theory that "greens is greens," they buy whatever fresh greens look best in the market that day and, since most folks can't tell the difference, just serve them up under the general heading of collard greens. Which is fine with us, since we like them all. But if you have strong preferences, I'd suggest you inquire as to which kind of greens they're serving before you order.

                                                    The sweet potato pie is also great. I think I'm going to buy a whole one to bring home on my next visit.

                                                    One caveat - The place is run by the Collins family (hence the clever play on words in the name) and the kids are waiting on the tables. While they are a delightful bunch, friendly and engaging and a joy to be around and visit with, the service here is pretty spotty. Just know that going in and be prepared. If you get pissy about bad service, this might not be your favorite dinner spot. But for us, it's more than worth it. We can just repeatedly ask for things like a water refill, salt, our basket of (delicious) cornbread, extra napkins, etc. Issues like that can be fixed, and as the kids continue to get the hang of waiting on table, it will be.

                                                    But dealing with bad food is a whole different basket o' chicken.

                                                    If your choice is bad food or bad service from a gang of bubbly, adorable kids, I know which one I'd pick.

                                                    Every time.

                                                    1. re: Jaymes

                                                      I'm so glad you liked it! The service can be a bit spotty, but it's a pretty casual place so we usually just shout across the restaurant when we need something LOL. Of course, it's a small place and generally quiet, so "ask in a slightly raised voice" would be more accurate. They usually get stuff right away when we ask, but they don't come by the table at regular intervals - just taking our order, bringing food, etc.

                                                      Have you met the mom yet? I think we met her once - sweet, no-nonsense lady. She asked us what we wanted for dessert. We told her that we had never gotten dessert there because we were always too full. Her reply: "Well then stop eating so you have room for dessert. It's not a meal without dessert." We ended up splitting a very tasty peach cobbler between the three of us.

                                                      1. re: rhiamon

                                                        Well, sorta sad news to report. Went by Cornbread & Collins Greens last week, and it seems to have closed. No note on the door about "Moved, see us at our new location" or anything along those lines. So guess it's well and truly gone.

                                                        Shame. The food was really great.