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Who's your favorite food writer in Texas?

  • t

Okay, who's your favorite food writer in Texas? In Houston? And why?

I can tell you my least favorites. They're the writers who rave about expensive or "hot" restaurants, especially when those restaurants turn out to be nothing special for the money. Now, if they're raving about a truly great restaurant, whether cheap or $$, that's fine.

But who do you like?

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  1. Virgina Wood from the Chronicle for Austin, Dale Rice does decent reviews.

    Robb Walsh for cookbooks.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Peter Luger
      Howard Coone

      Favoite newspaper food writer is Bud Kennedy (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram) and best overall food writer is Robb Walsh for his spectacular book "Legends of Texas Barbecue". If you are a Texan that loves BBQ, this is a must read. Better yet, if someone outside Texas reads this book before coming here, it will save them a lot of time and money searching for great BBQ AND some bonus recipes from the pit,asters themselves...

      1. re: Howard Coone

        In case y'all didn't know, Robb Walsh writes an weekly restaurant review column for the Houston Press. It's always the first thing I check when it comes out.

        Link: http://www.houstonpress.com/issues/cu...

        1. re: Jesse James
          Howard Coone

          Thanks for the link. Can you believe a food writer actually "inspecting" the shrimp to verify their origin and then catching an owner admitting to serving "tilapia" but calling it "red snapper". Gee, I can't quite imagine either Dale Rice or especially Rob Balon (both of Austin) making this kind of effort for the benefit of their readers...

      2. re: Peter Luger

        You must be kidding! Dale Rice is joke (just ask any chef in town what they think of his food/restaurant knowledge). Virginia Wood only looks competent when contrasted with Mr. Rice. In any other city she would also be laughable parody of a food/restaurant critic.

        As for Rob Balon (mentioned in a post below), he doesn't even pretend to be a food/restaurant critic (which is his sole good point) -- he is simply a shill for his advertisers, nothing more.

        Ever since Robb Walsh moved to Houston, Austin has not had even a remotely competent food writer.

      3. I like Allison Cook, more so when she was with houston press, probably because she shares my disdain for Ruggles. Also because she turned me on to el taconazo on fulton and Lankfords in Midtown.

        1. The Dallas papers (including the Observer) have no good food writers. Of course, Chowhound has some superior ones...

          1. I trust Robb Walsh's judgment on most things (except Larry's). He seems genuinely glad to be here to take advantage of the enormous breadth and depth of food opportunities we have in Houston, and he seems knowledgable in many areas, not just BBQ.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Zorra

              I like Robb Walsh, too. But what did he say about Larry's?

              1. re: Zorra

                Was it about the Larry's Mexican Restaurant? He seemed, a long time ago, to really like it.

                EDIT - Oh, that's right Zorra. You don't care for Larry's do you? I've never been so I have no opinion.

                  1. re: DallasDude

                    I think it's Larry's. An old school TexMex restaurant in Richmond. My daughter-in-law's parents, native Houstonions of some 60 years, love it. I get the idea that if you were raised here in Houston on Larry's TexMex, you think it's terrific. It's gotten considerable mention over in the "cheese enchiladas" thread.

                    I've been several times, due to the fact that these in-laws always suggest it. It does have a kind of homey nostalgic atmosphere. I've found the food to be just okay, though. Not bad, but not great either.

                    I didn't realize that apparently it's famous for TexMex cheese enchiladas. Next time I am invited for dinner there, that's what I'm ordering. Everything else I've had is fine, but forgettable. It's not a place I'd ever choose to go if I were doing the choosing.

                    Perhaps that assessment will change after I've tried the cheese enchiladas.

                    Does anyone know what Robb Walsh said about the place?

                    1. re: Jaymes

                      No, Dallas dude - not Lanny's. We don't even have a Lanny's in Houston.

                      Jaymes, this is an old review but you can read for yourself how much he liked the place:


                      1. re: Jaymes

                        It was the cheese enchiladas, he loved them. I like alot of what Walsh does, but to me he goes off on too many tangents, to me the most infamous was his lengthy attack on the Taste of Texas owner over his political leanings. That one generated numerous responses from the readers.

                        1. re: James Cristinian

                          I missed that! Will have to do some digging to find it. I hadn't noticed the tangents but then again when I read him, if it's not about the food I generally just skim over it. Write about food and leave the rest to the news section.

                          1. re: danhole

                            That happened before I moved to Houston, so I, too, had "to do some digging to find it."

                            Wow. Really unbelievable. Loved the responses.


                            1. re: Jaymes

                              Odd that when you go to the Houston Press site and look at the original review, there are NO comments. Guess they did some censoring, which is especially odd since I have seen some pretty foul things in the comments section on a lot of topics.

                              1. re: danhole

                                Actually, the comments were in the letters section, not the review. I don't recall if there were comments with the review, but I can assure you he took alot of flack in the letters to the Press.

                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                  Well, he should have. I like him, a lot. But that was really awful. And even throwing in the bit about the child molester? Inexcusable.

                1. I like all the folks on Chowhound who write about bbq.

                  1. Not Allison Cook!

                    1. Allison Cook, especially when she was at Houston Press.

                      But also, Robb Walsh.

                      Both of them love food in all its forms, they know their stuff, and they tell a good story. For what it's worth, both have also written for national food mags.

                      1. Robb Walsh
                        Ken Hoffman/Houston Chronicle-Really look forward to reading everything he writes but especially about his food stops,, so funny and honest!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: bornie

                          Ken Hoffmann is a columnist, but I wouldnt consider him a food writer. He's admittedly a junk-food junkie, and although I read his "reviews" they usually have the opposite effect -- I really DONT want to try anything he's writing about.

                          Best local Houston writer who is regularly published has to be Robb Walsh. He does his homework, speaks his mind, and is never boring. Im savoring his latest release "Sex Death & Oysters" and even gave a copy to my brother as a gift.

                          I also enjoy Alison Cook. Her reviews are eloquent, and a pleasure to read. Sometimes I have to stop and ask... she is writing about the FOOD, right??

                          1. re: Cheflambo

                            I agree about Ken Hoffman. I enjoy reading his reviews, but the very few times I have actually tried something he raved about I have been disappointed. But he is very funny!

                            Robb Walsh is a winner in my eyes. I bought his Tex-Mex Cookbook, which is half history and the other half recipes. It is a great book, just to read. One of these days I may even try a recipe ;-) I also like Alison a lot. And other than food bloggers that's all we really have, isn't it?

                            1. re: danhole

                              Ken Hoffman has a radio show on 1560 AM from 1 to 3 pm. The station also has a food show on Saturday mornings at 11 am. Brian Caswell of Reef is a co-host along with Jenny Wang, aka imneverfull. Gail Simmons of Top Chef was a guest a couple of weeks ago, and they also have some of Houston's best chefs as guests. You can listen to past shows if you go to Jenny's blog at imneverfull.com.

                        2. My personal fave is Nancy Nichols of D magazine. Good mix of insider knowledge, diversity, and wit.

                          1. I agree with kahunasteve . I really enjoy Nancy Nichols from D magazine.

                            1. Thanks to Ken Hoffman's recommendation I visited Da Baffetto Restorante in Rome and had the BEST pizza with friends a couple of years ago... Just last year I was sitting in Lombardi's Restaurant in Little Italy, NYC when I looked up on the wall next to me and saw a framed picture of Ken Hoffman and the owner! When I asked my waiter how and when the picture was taken,,,, they regard Ken just a notch below saintly! I was blown away by his celebrity. Agreed,, his fast food,, Wendy's, Pizza Hut rants wouldn't motivate to visit but I sort thru the funny stuff and look for the real deal.. He's been spot on when he's serious.. Terrific read,, esp Sunday's.....

                              1. Noone can hold a candle to Dallas own Leslie Brennar. She writes food history books and novels on top of her reviews in the Dallas Morning news. Nancy Nichols is a close second. She's in Dallas too and won a Beard award for one of her articles two of years ago.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: OCNC

                                  I agree. Leslie Brenner is tops in my book! I also like Nancy Nichols and Kim Pierce.