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Houston Food 101

Hi! I'm putting together a pitch for a local show strictly on Houston food and the surrounding cities. I'm looking for chowhounds (or anyone) who can show me around or make suggestions on food trucks, ethnic hang outs, pubs, fish shacks, whatever!

Or maybe you are doing something really cool with food/farming/eating. I'm all over these great posts trying to hit as many places as possible and canvasing the neighborhood for stories that celebrate how outstanding, diverse, and world class Houston eats are... if you only know where to go.

Help me whittle down my list of potential places for a 3 to 6 episode pitch. If you were watching a late night local show what places would you expect to see? What places have you been curious about? What food neighborhoods do you brag about to your friends in other cities?? Where do you always take out of towners?? I can't wait to hear your suggestions! Thanks ahead of time.

-Sarah

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    1. Airline Drive between the North Loop and North Main is an incredible collection of Chow-worthy stops that I drive about half an hour to visit every few weeks.

      Starting north and going south:

      Connie's Seafood. Never been there but I've heard good things. Soon.

      Triple A, (or "Trips"). Old Timey Diner with old timey waitresses. My mom says it's not as good as it use to be. (But what is?)

      Canino's Market - Fresh seasonal produce. The little stands in the back also carry dried beans and peppers, and some really interesting and unusual items.

      El Bolillo Bakery. Beautiful and colorful Mexican pastries as well as breads and tortillas.

      Flores Spices. They used to have a stand in the back of Canino's but opened this free standing store a couple of years ago. I've made the drive over there just for their dried Mexican oregano. If you like mole', try theirs. It's rich and complex. (Just like it's s'posed to be.)

      Houston Dairy Maids - Cheese shop with a focus on Texas and then domestic cheeses. No imports here. Say "Hi" to Lindsey and her crew. Really nice folks.

      Tampico - Haven't been there in years, (but it's been there for YEARS!)

      Chicago Italian Beef - Never been there but "DO WANT!".

      Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe - Always in the Top 10 Tex Mex lists. Been there once and it was good.

      All of this in less than a mile of really bad asphalt road in a decidedly, non-touristy, non-scenic area of town.

      I love it.

      Also, may I highly recommend a ten minute driving radius from my house. There's a thread or two around here somewhere...

      1 Reply
      1. re: DoobieWah

        Flores looks really interesting. Have to try there first. Houston Dairy Maids I am going to reach out to. I'll tell them you said hi!

      2. Another choice might be ethnic markets.

        I would suggest Phoenicia, 99 Ranch Market, Hong Kong Market, H-Mart, Nippon Daido, Patel Bros, Fiesta, La Michoacana Carneceria, etc. etc. etc.

        Good luck.

        6 Replies
        1. re: DoobieWah

          Fiesta, specifically the Bellaire and Hillcroft location.

          1. re: James Cristinian

            Ive been to Hong Kong.99 ranch. The rest are Mexican Markets right?

            1. re: DERECKSWIFEY

              Patel Bros - Indo/Paki
              H Mart - Korean
              Nippon Daido - Japanese
              Phoenicia - Med/Eastern Europe

              Also, Polonia - Polish

              1. re: DERECKSWIFEY

                Look, I love 99 Ranch as much as anyone. But it's not a "Houston thang." It's a fairly large chain that originated in Orange County, California. It's only had a Houston presence for, what, a couple of years?

                My son lives out in San Jose CA and we've been going to the one in Malpitas for a decade or so.

                1. re: Jaymes

                  True, but I was focusing on the vast variety and quality of ethnic groceries more so than them being "homegrown".

                  1. re: DoobieWah

                    Well, you're certainly right about that. And I do agree completely that any mention of local Houston "ethnic markets" should definitely include them.

            1. re: Jaymes

              You had me at the giant cup of espresso... fumbling to find shoes. GREAT FIND!!!!! I wish they had a bigger website. With pics.

              1. re: DERECKSWIFEY

                Hope you read the website closely enough to read about the two partners. When it comes to food purveyors, they're the very definition of "local."

                http://revivalmarket.com/about/

            2. Wow! Awesome. Has anyone been to the new Houston food truck park? I heard they had to close to get more shade. Did they work all of that out yet? What are your favorite food trucks? I know I want to devote a little time to the food truck scene for sure.

              1. Houston started chains. Papa....anything. Carrabba's Original Family vs Chain (concept bought by Outback).

                Local empires Goode Co. BBQ-Seafood-Taquiteria
                Mandola-Carrabba's various family enterprises

                Houston Legends Leo's, El Felix, Floyd Landry

                The many offshoots that sprang from Don's Seafood

                3 Replies
                1. re: txpickyeater

                  The Carrabba's on Kirby is still family owned, right?

                  1. re: txpickyeater

                    I dunno, I kind of want to to stay away from the big empires. I'm more into the local legends and OMG this is just like my trip to (fill in the blank). You dont need a television show to convince you to try papas. But you might need a show to inspire you to hit up Hong Kong market. Still, def a Houston icon. I love papas myself I just don't know if its compelling enough for television.

                  2. Here's a cute video about a little girl visiting the Russian General Store: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwsMRG...

                    1. The Mahatma Gandhi District, centered around Hillcroft and 59 on the SW side, mostly north of the freeway. Foodie favs (that will always have a crowd): Himalaya, Shri Balaji Bhavan, Shif Sagar. Many, many Indo and Pak restaurants, plus a couple of Persian (not to mention a Sonic and a couple of taco trucks), grocery stores, spice shops, clothing stores.

                      China town (or Asia Town) - a several mile stretch of Bellaire Blvd on the SW side, home to a huge # of Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants, plus some other cuisines, (where you’ll find Hong Kong City Mall, a must). Foodie favs include Fu Fu Café, Mala Sichuan Bistro and Don Café (banh mi shop). There are others here on the board who know much more about the area.

                      Food trucks - there is a twitter feed that ‘curates’ several of the most popular trucks but my computer crashed a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t been able to rescue the data and I can’t remember the name. I used to follow the food truck fad but haven’t for more than a year. There are far too many to keep up with. Some of the big favs are Bernie’s Burger Bus, Good Dog Hot Dogs, Coreano’s, Chilantro’s (these 2 are Austin based with units in Houston), Koagie Hots, Bare Bowls (vegetarian), the Rice Bowl (Chinese-American), Pi Pizza truck, Family Bytes (Vietnamese), and so on. International trucks: Bansuri Indian Food Corner (vegetarian street food of Mumbai) on the SW side and Tandoori Nights on the far west side are a couple of the best and will reliably have crowds. Sorry I can’t remember more.

                      My top resto favs to recommend to out-of-towners and friends these days: Maharajah Bhog, (vegetarian thali restaurant offering Indian style service), Al Aseel (Palestinian - for Chicken Musakan and fried chicken), El Real (classic Tex Mex), Radical Eats (currently strictly vegetarian and vegan Mexican, but moving as of next week to a much nicer facility in Montrose and adding some meat dishes to the menu).

                      BBQ - Gatlin’s in the Heights is very good but all the foodie buzz these days is about 2 newer places - Killen’s in Pearland, only on weekends. People are touting this one like crazy; I’m not convinced after a couple of visits but this is where you’ll find long lines (said to sell out quick). Also, Corkscrew in Spring, a long drive out to the north, also noted for long lines and selling out early. I think Gatlin’s is still best in the city

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: brucesw

                        I will have to try Gatlin's. I was just out in the heights trying a macaroni place. It was great but you can't eat that much macaroni without getting a little sick of the texture (and also feeling ill). I went to brother's taco shop today and it was excellent! Best 5 bucks I ever spent!

                        I kind of am beginning to think I need someone to show me around Asia town. What threads do you recommend?

                        If you find that twitter handle let me know. I am @chefforlife

                        1. re: DERECKSWIFEY

                          A couple of links:

                          Finally remembered this one:

                          https://twitter.com/EatDrinkHouston/f...

                          Can’t believe I forgot all about Melange Creperie.

                          And another regular place, always a big crowd; when I’ve gone, it’s been hard to find a parking space:

                          http://www.mfah.org/visit/fine-art-fo...

                          Just search the board for China town recs; it's a daunting topic and there isn't a comprehensive thread.