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Hillstone/Houston's -- excellent service

Nor is it true of many other chains, mid or high range.

Just to name one...Hillstone/Houston's food and service is better than most privately run restaurants.

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  1. I completely agree about Houstons. I have nothing but praise about their location in Addison, TX, where I dined quite a few times and I recommend it.

    1. There is a Houston's called Rutherford Grill in wine country that has no resemblance to a chain. The food is outstanding and so is the service.

      1 Reply
      1. re: wincountrygirl

        I just looked at the RG menu....very similar and up to 20% off on similar menu items compared to my NJ location...very nice.

        I'd like to try a Bandera location myself.

      2. I ate at Houston's many times for lunch when I lived in Chicago. It was across the street from my office. Lots of good choices. I know any decent place can do a good salad, but theirs were great. It took me a few years to replicate their spinach/artichoke dip but I got pretty close and make it a few times a year.

        3 Replies
        1. re: KrumTx

          Regardless of cost...my favorites at Houston's are

          * The Grilled Artichoke

          * The Smoke Salmon

          * The Blue Cheese Dressed salad with Bacon

          * The Loaded Baked Potato.

          1. re: fourunder

            +1 on the grilled artichoke, and their filet with blue cheese is always cooked perfectly. Their in-house smoked salmon is over the top and a good portion.

            1. re: Veggo

              The Filet, Baked Potato and Salad used to be my Sunday Night Meal

              with regards to the smoked salmon....when they put it on hiatus...I thought about boycotting...

        2. I think Houston's is expensive for what you get, but the food is always good and the service is always impeccable. Their veggie burger is delicious, and I prefer it to a lot of actual meat hamburgers at a lot of places. Their buttermilk garlic salad dressing is awesome too, but my favorite thing there is their braised red cabbage with goat cheese. I've tried replicating it at home several times, to no avail.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

            it's very true about the menu prices at Houston's. I can't speak for other locations, but here in NJ...

            Spinach Dip............16
            Smoked Salmon.....16

            Traditional Salad.....12
            Thai Steak salad ....21
            Tuna Sashimi........21


            1/2 Rotisserie Chicken....24
            Barbecue Ribs.............32

          2. Last night @ Houston's with my son and nephew....luckily we had a reservation @ 8PM, sat down at 8:15. There was a 2 hour and 15 minute wait.

            4 cocktails
            Iced Tea
            2 Smoked Salmon
            3 Traditional Salads
            New York Strip Steak, Baked Potato and Cole Slaw
            French Dip
            Kale Salad
            Black Eye Peas....

            20% Tip

            $275 all in

            It is definitely expensive.

            4 Replies
            1. re: fourunder

              4under, you are a golfer, and you know the mantra...Ya gotta pay to plaaaay. I'm sure it was good, and a fun time!

              1. re: Veggo

                I'm a fan for sure....the french dip is prime rib...the steak was from Allen Brothers and it was excellent. There are no better sides anywhere.

                The only disappointments last night

                no artichokes
                no red cabbage
                No Pork Chop on the Winter menu.

                1. re: Veggo

                  btw...totally useless fact....my nephew's fiance used to work at this location and it is the busiest and highest dollar volume store....Riverside Square Mall, Hackensack, NJ.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    Maybe that's why they were out of artichokes!

              2. They aren't here in SoCal but one of my favorites when I visit Ft. Myers -- Bonefish Grill. Excellent service, very good food, great value.

                3 Replies
                1. re: nosh

                  Bonefish gets beat up on this site....but I think it's a very good Chain and very well run. Chris Sullivan is a genius in the restaurant business....and I have a standing invitation from one of his key employees to play @ his Old Memorial Golf Club....what's not to like about that.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    I wish you had said Pine Valley so I could round out the foursome...

                  2. re: nosh

                    Actually, Bonefish recently opened in Tustin. We've been a few times, and it's pretty good. It's definitely less expensive than Hillstone's restaurants, but is not nearly as good.

                  3. We live in southern CA and have 4 Hillstone restaurants within a 15 minute drive (Houston's, Bandera, Gulfstream, R + D Kitchen). We eat at one of them at least once a week, and don't think we've ever had a bad meal. The food is generally excellent, the service is impeccable, the drinks and wine pours are very good and the food is very consistent. It is expensive...and unfortunately because they allow their chef's very little flexibility, it can become very boring. I so wish that with all the wonderful ingredients they have in-house that they'd allow their chefs to create one special every night!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: josephnl

                      Then it wouldn't be a chain....doing the volume they do, variations really aren't possible. They have a formula and they stick to it.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        Actually, each Hillstone restaurant has a trained chef as their head guy in the kitchen. I've spoke to several of them, and many would love to have the freedom to create one special per night or even one per week. It would cost the company very little to do so (they have amazing ingredients in-house), and who knows, they might come up with some big hits that would make it onto their menu. Sure it's possible for a chain to do this, but I understand your point. Their formula is obviously working, they are packed every night, the demographic they serve can afford their rather high prices, and they don't want to mess with success. My point is that the chain can be boring for regulars, and many of their chefs would enjoy having the opportunity to be a bit more creative. (Actually we've noticed that they have gradually pared down their menu choices. The Gulfstream restaurants used to have at least 3-4 different fresh fish on the menu every night, and now is generally 2. And other choices have become more limited)…but obviously you can't argue with success, and there's a wait at all of their restaurants pretty much every night.

                        1. re: josephnl

                          We went to the Houston's in Century City (before they left in a dispute over the cost of the new lease that the mall owner was asking for) at least 175 to 200 times over the years they were there. We also go to the Bandera up at Barrington and Wilshire and the R+D Kitchen on Montana. One of the nice things about the little mini 2 person "booths" at R+D is how private they are by comparison to the typical banquet style 2 tops you find at most places these days. I love the prime rib dip and their service, as others have noted here, is always top notch.

                    2. This is why I love Houston's and will always patronize them....

                      Nanny Bloomberg is a dick and they outfoxed him.


                      1. I have always enjoyed my meals at Hillstone in San Francisco. Sometimes waitstaff will make a mistake but they've ALWAYS had a good attitude so I can easily overlook it.

                        Food is pricey but at least the portion is generous. Whenever they have the key lime pie, I order it. I was very surprised to learn they make the desserts at each location! And, they said they use real key limes, not the bottled juice.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: walker

                          Woe is me
                          said Joe and Nellie...:)

                        2. I've been frequenting the Irvine (Orange County) location these past couple of years and I've also had a couple visits at their Pasadena location. They are both amazing for solid American fare. Granted, I have an issue of calling them a steakhouse as they don't seem that exclusive towards steaks as some people have been considering Houston's as. Be that as it may, their food is always top notch and comes out quick for the price you're paying. Even though some people might consider it to be somewhat pricy, the quality you're getting, such as their steaks, beats out any other typical chain.

                          Houston's/Hillstone's business model is quite solid and efficient which is how it greatly transcends other chains in addition to serving high-quality dishes and offering impeccable service. They keep their menus short and simple, therefore eliminating unnecessary upkeep of wasted ingredients and effort of preparing them. Speaking of service, I love how they replace your cocktail glass with a freshly chilled one if it has been sitting out there for a bit. Only complaint is how they have you charge you for individual bottles of Coke or club soda instead of having a soda dispenser/fountain built into their bars.

                          I hope it's fine if I can provide a link to a YouTube video that isn't mine, of course. Here is a video of a Check, Please! Bay Area episode of Hillstone in San Francisco: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrpD_R...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mlbartender

                            +1 re all Hillstone's restaurants being very reliable for good food and service!

                          2. My husband's and my first date was at the Houston's location on Kirby in Houston Texas. Since then we've been to other Houston's (all Houston locations plus Irvine), the Rutherford Grill in wine country, Hillstone in San Francisco, R+D Kitchen in Newport and Gulfstream in Newport - all multiple times. I only recently realized that Bandera in Chicago is a Hillstone restaurant so that is on my list since our son is in college in Chicago.

                            I LOVE the grilled artichokes! I think for a chain their consistency can't be beat.