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Jul 6, 2011 10:38 PM

Vacation in Houston

We stayed at the galleria and were definitely looking for good eats nearby. We went to UH for our undergrad so we had to hit a few college hangouts. Live in Austin now so good texmex is hard to find relative to Houston. Here's what we had:
El Tiempo: crab/bacon quesadilla was exceptional. none of the other dishes or margaritas were noteworthy.
Barnaby's: had burgers here, cooked as requested but not as juicy as I would like for a med-rare burger. Better then the lankford's we had last time but disappointed that it didn't live up to my expectations of years past.
House of Pies: definitely a college hangout @ 1 AM all the time! had CFS with eggs over easy, hash browns, biscuit and gravy (breakfast of champions!). Definitely brought back some memories but we're too old to eat this after midnight anymore.
Chachos: holy double sloppy burritos! I definitely understand why I came here after midnight so often to indulge in college. Nothing special, but damn cheap. I asked for a "skinny" margarita and they gave a large glass of tequilla on the rocks!
Phillipe:the duck confit was fantastic, though underseasoned. the crab/avocado appetizer was not what I expected but was fantastic. She had the "flame" which was very good and underpriced.
Ninfas on Navigation: the old lady grew up blocks away from here and this will always be her favorite. This place has the best tortillas I've ever had. She loved her mole enchiladas and while my fajitas were good, they weren't world class.
Chocolate bar: what an interesting place with lots of cool deserts. not a fan of the loud live music but some really tasty deserts (if not overpriced... >$60 for a cake?!)
RDG Bar Annie:wow, what a fantastic lunch. I ordered the crab/avocado app here and it was traditional and very good but I preferred the Phillipe version. I had the scallops, she had the chicken breast mole, and her sister had the salmon. everything was wonderful. Definitely have to hit this place up for dinner next time we're in town.
House of Pies: had to come again and had a strawberry malt and french silk. brought back some tasty memories :)

we had planned to hit up some viet joints for banh mi but were too full to stop so back home to Austin...

Any recommendations for our next trip to Houston?

6006 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77057

3601 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098

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  1. Chocolate Bar must have lowered their prices. It used to be $75 for a cake...or maybe I just get the "special price". Crazy good though & one heavy cake! It must weigh 10 lbs.

    Some places I'm enjoying now enough to recommend for your next trip are:
    BB's Cafe - great poboys New Orleans style
    Zelko Bistro - good "home style" cooking
    H-Town StrEATs Food truck - the short rib Mac n cheese is worth seeking them out (find them through twitter)
    Escalates - a little commercial, but I love their food anyway
    DaMarco - good dinner splurge or excellent $25 weekday business lunch
    Sorrento - be sure to have the mushroom & Parmesan risotto
    Crave Cupcakes - I recommend a Sunday or Tuesday to try their Key Lime Pie flavor - yum!

    Thanks for your report!

    415 Westheimer, Houston, TX 77006

    1. Great report. You hit some cool spots.

      El Real is a newish Tex-Mex with a pedigree of sorts.

      If you're into funky, I recommend Tejas on Alief Clodine. Great Tex-Mex and Gulf-Mex.

      You missed China Town on Bellaire. Close to the Galleria and so full of wonderful spots that sometimes I just drive down there and stop at a bakery or a grocery or tea shop to see what's new. And something always is.

      I just did a couple of days in Austin at the end of last week.

      Tejas Restaurant
      12219 Alief Rd, Houston, TX 77082

      1. Try the monday night special of meatloaf and yukon garlic mash, salad and bread) at Paulies on Westheimer (thurs night Osso buca should also should not be missed). They practically give it away... Their Cesar salad is one of the best in Houston... The grilled portabello mushroom sandwich with goat cheese, roasted pepper,,,hmmm.. Oh,, don't forget the shrimp blt sandwich here either.

        Go healthy with the Mezza Plater-sampler at La Fendee.. Tabouli, Greek Salad, Hummus, Baba Ganoush and pits,, $10 bucks or so... Best in town.. This place flys low on the radar screen..

        Head north for the best affordable Italian food you'll find, this side of Tuscany,,, Capri Restaurant off I45,, just south of the woodlands,, Hand made everything.. The 3 cheese Gnocci and Lasagna is as good as you'll find anywhere.... And desserts,,, forgettaboutit!

        For Indian "street food" open for breakfast, lunch and dinner,, try Pondicheri at the Kirby/Westheimer intersect. The palate popping meals are an experience you'll not soon forget.. Head over to Indika for happy hour bar food,,, truly a feast!

        Breakfast at Empire Cafe...

        Barnaby's remains my first choice for burger's,, actually the turkey burger with mushrooms, melted swiss, grilled onions is a five napkin meal! Order with sweet potato fries and a side of the chipotle sauce (best bbq sauce in town,, i use for moppin up..

        Carrabba's on Kirby, between Alabama and Richmond... sit at the food bar in front of the kitchen for a great show... Order the OTM (off the menue) shrimp/crab appetizer.. that and a bottle of white will be all u need!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        516 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006

        11 Replies
        1. re: bornie

          You had me until Carrabba's. BLECH! Overcrowded, overpriced, fresh off the Sysco truck.

          1. re: DaTulip

            Not the one on Kirby, I don't think.

            1. re: DaTulip

              i'm tellin ya,, sit at the food bar and watch them cook and prep the dishes... Fresh made pasta,,,, try the off the menu crab/shrimp app,, thats all you need to know.. If you're disappointed with it,, I'm buyin! In fact,, I'll refer you to an eye, nose and throat specialist because it'll indicate that there is something seriously wrong with you! Enjoy!

              Forgot to mention and add on my list earlier the terrific duck mole' dish at Hugo's,, really most everything on the menu there is awesome and lets not forget the Sunday brunch...

              Try the Iskander dish at Istanbul Rest in the Village.. The lamb shish sandwich is pretty awesome as is the lentil soup. The bread here is to die for.

              Cafe Lili on westheimer for the chx kabob sandwich.. the garlic spread melting on the huge and flavorful chunks of hot chx and pita is awesome..

              Cafe Lili
              5757 Westheimer Rd Ste 112, Houston, TX 77057

              1. re: bornie

                You are certainly entitled to your opinion.

                1. re: bornie

                  I agree with Bornie. I too like to sit at the bar at the Kirby location, and have seen the fresh pasta plus, crab cakes mixed from scratch. Get there early , around five are so and watch them prep, this is good food made fresh.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    James, I thought you might chime in... The Carrabba's open seating at the food bar lends to full disclosure regarding the freshness of the food this kitchen produces, the cleanliness of its kitchen,, and how well trained and committed this group is at delivering palate pleasing meals.. Certainly the restaurant is always packed when I go,, any night of the wk.. Most of the waitstaff are old timers and for good reason. This family is good to their employees and the employees are rewarded by delivering consistently great service and food (especially the specials) at reasonable prices (All the "fresh" ingredients for success). Da Tulip,, it might be time for another visit to Carrabba's on Kirby.. Pull up a seat at the bar and watch these guys and gals work like a finely tuned Swiss watch..

                    1. re: bornie

                      While I appreciate that you have a different opinion, many lackluster meals at several locations (including repeated visits to the Kirby location over the years) have guaranteed that I won't go back unless I have no say in the matter. We have several friends who seem to be devotees like you and always say similar things..."Oh, you just haven't tried the X. It is to die for."

                      I just have never found it to be true. Life is too short to keep giving a place another chance when there are many places I do enjoy.

                      Think of it this way, more room at the bar for you!

                      1. re: DaTulip

                        Great news,, less jockeying for position at the food bar,, love it!!

                        For those who DO enjoy the Carrabba's foodie experience,, the Carrabba's family and extended family have spent time at my friends villa in the Siena area,, actually, in the chianti region of Italy.. My friend has a working vineyard and produces terrific chianti classico that the Kirby location is stocking.. Its chianti from Serravalle and its wonderful, tho on the pricey side. The grapes are processed at another friends vineyard in Montalcino, I've stayed here and visited several x.. Their Gea bottles I've found at Spec's on Smith, tho I typically will by a mixed case thru a distrib (if anyone is interested will provide contact info). Enjoy!

                        1. re: bornie

                          Remind me to invite you to my next dinner party.


                          1. re: bornie

                            Right Bornie, and I'm Mickey Mantle. That chianti is really cheap lambrusco sourced at Sysco. Just kidding.

                            1. re: James Cristinian

                              too funny James! we gotta get together for some Franklin's BBQ in Austin!!

              2. Regardless of anyone's opinion on the quality of Carraba's, Im not sure I would recommend a national chain as a destination restaurant for visitors from out of town.

                2 Replies
                1. re: twyst

                  I had to look it up. I had no idea that they had expanded so far and wide.

                  Nevertheless, the store on Kirby and Rose Carrabba's on Voss are clearly not a part of the "chain", in the sense that they do things a little differently. While it never would have occurred to me to recommend any of them to a visitor, I do "get it".

                  Just my unrequested $0.02.

                  1. re: twyst

                    The KIrby location is not part of the chain. It was retained by the family that started the concept. The food there is different. As in better.