August 3, 2021

Houston's Best - John Nechman Reports

In 2019, my friend, John Nechman wrote an excellent article for OutSmart Magazine of his favorite places to dine in Houston. Some may be gone by now. Here is a link to his article.


OutSmart Article Link


Mutt City Masterpieces

John Nechman's 30 favorite dishes in the Houston Area.

Porchetta e Fagioli, Giacomo's Cibi e Vino

Does Houston match up to the Big Apple, Paris, and Tokyo as a global foodtropolis? It depends on how you compare them. We may not have Noma, Eleven Madison Park, or Sukiyabashi Jiro, but we can get to them quickly (thanks to our well-connected airports) and we have the same odds as everyone else in those cities to snag a reservation. And I wouldn’t trade our own Justin Yu’s Theodore Rex, Chris Shepherd’s UB Preserv, Kaiser Lashkari’s Himalaya, or anything from Ronnie Killen for any of those distant choices. (Try finding real-deal Tex-Mex, smoked boudin, crawfish pho, barbacoa tacos, carnitas siumai, affordable oysters, crispy fried catfish, East Texas hot links, CFS, and other soulful TexLaMex dishes in New York City!) 

John Nechman

Do we have mezes the equal of Istanbul’s? No, but no one else does, either—and ours are excellent. Does our gumbo or Creole compare with New Orleans? No way, but ours is better than anyone else’s outside of Louisiana, and New Orleans is a delicious five-hour drive away. Dining out in Mutt City is incomparable, undefinable, and more enthralling with every new restaurant opening. How people rank food cities is a matter of preference, but I prefer H-Town. 

Here are 30 of my favorite dishes that all reflect our mighty metropolis. (Whittling this down to 30 was like making Imelda Marcos choose her 30 most-favorite pairs of shoes.) So grab a drink (I suggest a potent blue frozen ’rita from El Patio on Westheimer), or if you’re behaving, Irma’s peerless lemonade, and celebrate 30 more reasons to swell with Houston pride.

BREAKFAST

1. Bò Né
Bò Né Houston, 11169 Bellaire (Bellaire Asian District)
Bò né—a great way to start the day. Few breakfasts satisfy more than this Vietnamese classic of creamy pâté and butter slathered on a fresh-baked Viet-French baguette, a side salad drizzled with soy-sesame dressing, and the all-important cow-shaped comal bearing tender, sizzling chunks of marinated filet mignon, onions, and eggs. Steak & eggs, H-Town style.

2. Katfish & Grits
The Breakfast Klub, 3711 Alabama (Midtown) thebreakfastklub.com
No matter how cold, rainy, or sweltering the weather is, our city’s longest breakfast line is at Marcus Davis’ Breakfast Klub. The dish I order every time is the Katfish & Grits, a perfectly flaky, crispy filet sided with the creamiest grits in town, buttermilk biscuits, and a duo of sunny-side-up eggs, all yearning to be doused in Louisiana hot sauce.

Morning Thali, Pondicheri

3. Morning Thali
Pondicheri, 2800 Kirby Dr. (Upper Kirby/River Oaks) pondicheri.com
With its progressive take on Indian dishes, Pondicheri draws crowds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One of its many brilliant dishes is the breakfast thali, a colorful medley of potato or carrot paratha, saag paneer, uttapam, chutney, curried potatoes, yogurt, lamb keema (I often ask to substitute the creamy dal), and a fried egg. If Chef Anita Jaisinghani is around, beg her to make her khichri (a hearty rice-and-lentils porridge).

4. Quail and Eggs
Goode Company Taqueria, 4902 Kirby Dr., (Lower Kirby/West U.) goodecompany.com/taqueria.asp
Goode Company has deep Houston roots and empire status, but many of its BBQ fans are unaware that they make some of the best breakfasts in town at their taqueria. My favorite is their two plump and succulent mesquite-cooked Bobwhite quails served with eggs, hash browns, and biscuits. It doesn’t get more Texas than that.

Crispy Rice Salad, UB Preserv

APPETIZERS, SOUPS, SALADS & SIDES

5.  Boiled Crawfish
Crawfish Shack, 5822 FM 2100 (Crosby) crawfishshack.com
To hell with groundhogs; spring begins when crawdad castles sprout! That’s also my sign to head out to Crawfish Shack in Crosby, the best spot for mudbugs this side of the Sabine River. Take a group and an Igloo full of booze. Add in andouille sausage, potatoes, corn, and mushrooms (truly scrumptious simmered in the boil). The feel is ice house, the music ranges from Journey to Beau Jocque to Waylon & Willie to Selena, and the crowd is everybody in the area who eats to the Bayou City beat.

6.  Carolina Gold” Rice and Butterbeans
Theodore Rex, 1302 Nance St. (Warehouse District) trexhouston.com
Chef Justin Yu’s creative yet approachable Theodore Rex is my favorite restaurant. One glorious night, a group of fellow foodies and I ordered everything on the menu, and every dish we had could have made this list. The menu changes regularly, but a must-order that always appears is the “Carolina Gold” rice and butterbeans cooked in soft butter with crushed garden leaves. Prepare to swoon. If Houston were a restaurant, we’d be Theodore Rex.

7. Crispy Rice Salad
UB Preserv,1609 Westheimer (Montrose) ubpreserve.com
A server at UB Preserv convinced me to order the bland-sounding Crispy Rice Salad. I ended up fighting my husband for every last pellet. Now, whenever we visit, right after ordering one of their stunning cocktails, that salad is the first dish I order. Nobody in town is more dedicated to the story of Houston food than owner/chef Chris Shepherd. Along with chef de cuisine Nick Wong, Shepherd has created a local classic here. For dinner or dim sum, every dish we’ve had has been a stunner.

8. Empanadas
Papio’s Fusion Deli, 11999 Katy Freeway (Energy Corridor) papios-deli.business.site
Deep within an obscure office building is Papio’s Fusion Deli, where chef Juan Carlos brings a background in science, a European pedigree, and Peruvian upbringing to his trade. His piping-hot beef empanadas, made with finely chopped olives and raisins and topped with a light dusting of powdered sugar, are without equal. Don’t miss any of his other Peruvian dishes, either—particularly his exquisite tamalitos verdes (green tamales) and mind-blowing chicharrón.

9. Oysters Shrimphooley
Gilhooley’s, 222 9th St. (San Leon) facebook.com/gilhooleys
Ramshackle Gilhooley’s is a smoky biker’s bar with a no-kids policy. It’s also home to one of the greatest dishes on America’s Third Coast—plump Gulf oysters grilled in garlic butter and parmesan cheese. What makes them transcendent is the smoky flavor they absorb from the grill’s pecan and oak firewood. If you want shrimp on top (and you do), order the Oysters Shrimphooley.

LUNCH

10. BBQ Brisket
Killen’s BBQ, 3613 E. Broadway (Pearland) killenssteakhouse.com
Area barbecue fans speak of the “B.K. Era” (Before Killen’s). In those days, we enjoyed our heavily sauced barbecue while begrudgingly admitting that the Texas Hill Country was home to the best Q. But then, Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Ronnie Killen started doing a weekend BBQ service at his Pearland steakhouse, and the rest is history. I’ve eaten at nearly every BBQ place on every Texas Monthly Best BBQ list since the first one came out, and my favorite brisket is at Killen’s. I’m addicted to the massive beef ribs, too.

11. Cheese Coney
JCI—James Coney Island (everywhere) jamesconeyisland.com
In the early ’70s, my dad would take my brothers and me to the original James Coney Island in downtown off of Main Street, and we would join the hungry hordes watching in awe as a line of servers would work their magic over a gigantic grill containing dozens of sizzling wieners. My go-to order then was three Cheese Coneys (a hand-cut steamed bun cradling one of their signature dogs, topped with mustard, “chili sauce,” cheese whiz, and minced onions). Fifty years later, it’s still my order. In fact, if I’m out of town for any appreciable amount of time, my first stop upon return is the closest JCI’s.

Facchia di Vecchio, Mandola’s Deli

12. Facchia di Vecchio
Mandola’s Deli, 4105 Leeland St. (East End) mandolasdeli.com
I had a near-epiphany the first time I tried the Mandola’s Deli faccia di vecchia (which translates to “old woman’s face”). It’s an offbeat take on Sicilian-style pizza—thick crusts topped with fresh tomatoes, spices, herbs, their famous house-made sausage, grilled peppers, and onions. It’s sensational—one of those dishes I can’t get enough of. And it should be a local law that any diner at this cozy, historic locale must save room for a slice of their sublime Italian cream cake.

13. Fiddler on the Roof of Your Mouth (with Swiss Cheese and Chopped Liver)
Kenny & Ziggy’s (Galleria area and Upper Kirby) kennyandziggys.com
You’d have to travel 1,500 miles to find a deli that compares to Kenny & Ziggy’s. Travel 10 times that far, and you still won’t find better pastrami. My favorite sandwich is my own custom creation: the Fiddler on the Roof of Your Mouth (a triple-decker of corned beef, pastrami, and Russian dressing), but with a smear of their decadent chopped liver and melted Swiss cheese added. I call it the “Nechmangabetzky,” a toned-down version of their notorious $85 Zellagabetsky, a sandwich that could feed six (or just me if I skip breakfast).

14. Grilled Pork and Egg Bánh Mì with ChA Giò
Cali Sandwich & Fast Food, 2900 Travis St. (Midtown)
The owner of Cali Sandwich is known by the not-very-original name “The Cali Lady,” and since she first opened many years ago across the street from her current location, she’s brought me the same meal (or told a server to do so)—a full order of her best-in-town cha giò and a marinated grilled pork bánh mi topped with a soft fried egg. I wouldn’t know how to order anything else at Cali, nor would I ever want to.

15. Grim Burger
Lankford Grocery & Market, 88 Dennis St. (Montrose) lankfordgrocery.com
The first time I ever came up with a Top 100 list of restaurants, Lankford topped it. I used to eat here when it actually sold groceries. Chef Eydie Prior is one of my favorite people in the local restaurant scene, and whether it’s her perfectly crafted breakfasts, some of the city’s best enchiladas, or her legendary burgers, she makes sure no one leaves hungry or unsatisfied. My must-have is the Grim Burger—a massive patty topped with gobs of mac & cheese, jalapeños, bacon, and a soft-fried egg. Throw on some tater tots and hope you’re not due for a yearly checkup afterwards.

16. Gulf Shrimp and Crab Sandwich
Local Foods (various locations) houstonlocalfoods.com
Few sandwiches get me drooling more than the Gulf shrimp and crab sandwich from the local chain dedicated to all things local, and appropriately named Local Foods. They stuff a home-baked ciabatta with the best from our coastal waters, topped with locally sourced pickled red onion, tomato, and homemade green-goddess dressing. l usually grab several of the fabulous sides and salads—this is a place where I gleefully eat my veggies.

Texas-Size Steak Sandwich, Champ Burger

17. Koshary
Adam’s Bite, 7919 Westheimer (Galleria area/Westchase) adamsbite.business.site
Adam’s Bite is a food truck run by Mr. Omar. If you want to see him beam with joy, ask for koshary, the national dish of Egypt and one that my husband and I fell in love with on a recent trip there. Mr. Omar’s version features the usual rice, lentils, and fried onions, but he adds layers of ground beef, chickpeas, pasta, and much more. Pour on the chili tomato and vinegar sauces, and you have my favorite food-truck dish in town. Also order the “Here We Go” rice pudding, topped with ice cream, hazelnuts, and chopped almonds.

 18. Smoked Oxtails
Ray’s BBQ Shack,3929 Old Spanish Trail (Third Ward/South Side) raysbbqshack.com
Thursday in Third Ward means one of Houston’s greatest dishes—smoked oxtails by pitmaster extraordinaire Rayford S. Busch. This man knows his smoke! I usually add a fat link of smoked boudin and a Lott’s Link (East Texas-style sausage only found around Houston and the Golden Triangle). And if I feel like eating healthier, I’ll throw on a side of grilled squash/peppers; if not, I get the fried corn on the cob.

19. Texas-Size Steak Sandwich
Champ Burger, 304 Sampson St. (East End) champsburger.net
Since 1963, Champ Burger has been serving the East End with quality fast food. I love the family that runs it, and remember many years ago when the original owner, Mr. Saladino, told me to try their steak sandwich. Texans know that a steak sandwich is a CFS, and no one does a tastier version than Champ Burger. Add on an order of the area’s best onion rings and an orange milkshake (think dreamsicle), and you’ll know why I’d be 20 pounds lighter if not for my regular visits to this quintessential Houston stand.

DINNER

20. Crab Fried Rice
Tuk-Tuk Crab, 6128 Wilcrest Dr. (Bellaire Asian District) tuktukcrab.com
In a mostly deserted strip center far off the main Bellaire Asian District drag is Tuk Tuk Crab. On my first visit, a cheery woman suggested the crab fried rice, and when it arrived, I gasped. It was a mountain of fragrant, ham-studded rice that could have fed four, covered with gargantuan juicy crab parts and a chives omelet that appeared to have been made with at least four eggs. It was sided with a delightful garlicky, vinegary sweet sauce. Try to save room for dessert so you can order the best halo halo I’ve had outside of the Philippines. 

21. Hornado
Andes Café, 2311 Canal St. (East End) andescafe.com
Chef David Guerrero’s intimate Andes Café has introduced Houstonians to dishes and ingredients from all over South America, including delectable cuy (guinea pig) and lúcuma (a spectacular Peruvian fruit that tastes like creamy caramel). I crave many dishes on his menu, but my favorite is his hornado, from his native Ecuador and composed of savory roasted pork leg, llapingachos (fried potato cakes), and a sprightly mix of sautéed hominy, shredded greens, and avocado coated in a house-made vinaigrette.

22. Khao Soi Gai
Street Food Thai Market, 1010 W. Cavalcade St. (Heights) streetfoodthaimarket.com
This is the third or fourth reincarnation of a Thai business at this location, but it always ends up being my favorite Thai spot in town. Their khao soi gai consists of a massive bowl of Northern Thai noodles and chicken simmered in a rich coconut curry with the sharp tang of sour mustard greens and unexpected enhancements of fried shallots and diced red onion. There are days I can’t concentrate on anything but this spectacular dish—and also their marvelous mango sticky rice.

23.  Le Complet Belge
Café Brussels, 1718 Houston Ave. (First Ward) cafebrusselshouston.com
Those wanting to visit Europe without investing the time and money know the next-best option in Houston is chef Catherine Duwez’s Café Brussels. For over 20 years, I’ve followed Chef Duwez wherever she’s gone, and I still never need a menu. I always get Le Complet Belge, consisting of a pot of the finest mussels money can buy, simmered in white wine and onions and sided with her legendary frites (ask for a side of her homemade mayo, along with a draft Stella Artois, which I tend to have refilled often). 

24. Parathadillas
Himalaya, 6652 Southwest Freeway (Gandhi District) himilayasrestauranthouston.com
Chef Kaiser Lashkari is a local icon. His Himalaya is globally renowned, and I could dominate a Top 30 list with selections from his menu. The kitchen, led by his lovely wife Azra, makes some of the most creative dishes in town, blending Desi flavors seamlessly into Third Coast classics. Here, quesadillas are “parathadillas,” made with unleavened flatbread in place of tortillas and stuffed with spicy ground lamb, brisket, or chicken, and onions, masala sauce, cilantro, sour cream—unforgettable Houston fusion at its finest.

Porchetta e Fagioli, Giacomo’s Cibi e Vino

25. Porchetta e Fagioli and Tagliatelle
Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino, 3215 Westheimer (River Oaks) giacomosciboevino.com
Chef Lynette Hawkins’ passion for Italian has resulted in a trattoria that manages to be faithfully Italian, yet very Houston. The portions are generous, and everything I’ve had has impressed. I’ll cheat and do a two-fer here—one of my favorite meals is to order half-size portions of her unforgettable porchetta e fagioli and the tagliatelle alla Bolognese.

26. Roosevelt Special
El Real Tex Mex Café,1201 Westheimer (Montrose)
Only in Houston do I regularly find Tex-Mex places that serve heated salsa (so much tastier than when it’s cold). And when I ask for eggs on my enchiladas, I never get the funny stares that I get in other cities. My favorite enchiladas with eggs is El Real Tex Mex’s Roosevelt Special (named for a dish at a place in Fort Worth that made it at the request of president Franklin Roosevelt, although they thought he was weird to order it). This special also comes with a chalupa and a taco. A second must-order dish at this temple to Tex-Mex is the Borunda stacked enchiladas—topped with an egg, of course.

Crême Brûlée Bread Pudding, Killen’s Steakhouse

DESSERTS

27. Bayou Goo
House of Pies (Upper Kirby and Galleria) houseofpies.com
Any time of the day or night (but best appreciated after the clubs have closed), the beloved “House of Guys” serves up splendid diner fare and eye candy as well as my favorite pie, the legendary Bayou Goo. How can anyone resist a pecan crust topped with sweet cream cheese, vanilla custard swirled with chocolate chunks, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings?

 28. Crème Brûlée Bread Pudding
Killen’s Steakhouse (Pearland and The Woodlands) killenssteakhouse.com
Chef Ronnie Killen makes a second appearance on this list because my husband calls Killen’s crème brûlée bread pudding his favorite dessert in the world. It’s complex without being overly sweet or dense. It’s fruity, flan-ny (if that’s a word), buttery, tart . . .you just have to try it. And make sure to order his best-on-earth carrot cake, too.

29. Grand Marnier Soufflé
Tony’s, 3755 Richmond Ave. (Greenway Plaza) tonyshouston.com
Throughout my five decades in Houston, Tony’s has been where the stars shine brightest. Impeccable service and food make this one of the worthiest splurges in town. The mandatory order is the Grand Marnier soufflé. Once you try this luscious, billowy, mini-Astrodome of a dessert, you’ll see why Shirley MacLaine orders one for herself every time she dines here.

30.  Maple Sweet Potato Cheesecake
Ester’s Cajun Café and Soul Food, 5204 Yale St. (Independence Heights) esterscajunsoul.com
Our proximity to Louisiana is why Houston has some of the tastiest soul food in America. We’re blessed with Creole-Cajun soul with a lot of Texas smoke mixed in. No one in America has what we have, and no one in Houston serves it better than Ester’s. If they’re serving their stunning Maple Sweet Potato Cheesecake, I’ll eat a slice and take a few more home—always graciously but reluctantly leaving some for the other diners.

This article appears in the April 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.

July 16, 2021

Heights - Houston Heights Foodies "Recommend"

 I live just east of the official Houston Heights in the Woodland Heights. Incredible growth in our neighborhood due to proximity to downtown. 

The Houston Heights Foodies is a Facebook group that I belong to, and, over the past few months I have been collecting recommendations for places to eat in the Greater Heights area from that site. (as you can probably guess, the same queries come up all the time, which has been great for providing me with this baseline of recommendations). Note: I haven't provided addresses at this time as many of these places show up in several categories and are easily searched for / located  via your favorite search engine.

Best Places To Take Out Of Towners To Introduce Them To Houston 

Barbecue Inn (For fried chicken and for fried shrimp)

Bayou City Seafood

Blood Brothers Barbecue

Bludorn

Caracol Mexican Restaurant

Cielito Cafe Mexican Restaurant

Christie's Seafood

Crawfish and Noodles (Vietnamese cuisine and spicy crawfish)

Cuchara

Grace's

Himalaya Indo-Pak 

Hugo's Mexican Restaurant

Kanau

Kata Robata Japanese

La Sicilia Italian Bakery

Nancy's Hustle

Pico's Mexican Restaurant

Shun Japanese

Soto

Tampico Seafood

Tiger Den

Truth Barbecue

Viola and Agnes (Clear Lake NASA Road 1)

Xochi Mexican Restaurant

Tex Mex (Note: I have removed recommendations from the group that weren't really "Tex Mex". Someone even posted Laurenzo's lol)

Alma Latina on Shepherd

Andy's

Chilosos

Don Teo's on 34th (technically Garden Oaks not Heights)

El Tiempo on Washington

La Carreta

Laredo's Taqueria on Washington

Mi Sombrero on 34th (technically Garden Oaks not Heights)

Puebla's Mexican Kitchen

Spanish Flowers

Studewood Grill (aka Studewood Cantine)

Superica / La Lucha

Taqueria Arandas on Shepherd

Teotihuacan

Tony's on Ella


Burgers

Burger Joint

Hubcap Grill on 19th

Preslee's





Italian

Cavatore's on Ella

Ricco's


Pho and Vietnamese

Local Pho on Sawyer

Pho (Vietnamese)

Pho Ben on Shepherd

Pho Binh on White Oak

Nam Eatery and Vietnamese Cafe






Vegetarian

Verdine





Brunch



Comfort Food

Cookshack on Washington

Gus's Fried Chicken on Washington

Just Mac

Max's Wine Dive on Washington

Shandy's

Urban Eats


"Fun" Places and/or Parties

Bungalow Heights

FM Kitchen

Heights Bier Garden

Hughie's

King's Bierhaus

Onion Creek

Postino

8 Row Flint




"Best Of"





Comfort Food

Cookshack



Lunch

Preslee's on 20th



French Fries

Barnaby's on White Oak

Harold's on 19th

Maison Pucha


Ramen

Samurai on I-10 at Dunlavy

Shokku Ramen on Studewood





Pizza

Brother's Pizza in Garden Oaks on Shepherd

Buffalo Bayou Brewery

Cane Rosso

Collina's

Coltivare

La Fresca

Luna on Yale

Nundini's

Mellow Mushroom

Pink's

Pizaro's in Montrose

Ricco's

July 4, 2021

Fried Chicken - Houston

Fried Chicken Houston – May 2021 – Houston Foodie Friends Recommendations


#1 Chicken – 4621 Almeda
Al Aseel Grill & Café – 8619 Richmond
Alice Blue – 250 W. 19th Street
Barbecue Inn – 116 W Crosstimbers
BB.Q Chicken Katy – 1519 S. Mason Road
Bonchon Korean Chicken
Breakfast Klub – 3711 Travis
Buffalo Grill – 4080 Bissonnet
Chicken Plus – 6210 N Wayside Drive
Choong Man Chicken – 1927 Gessner
Cleburne Cafeteria – 3606 Bissonnet
Dak & Bop 18th – 1805 W 18th Street
Frenchy’s Chicken – Multiple Locations
Goode Company Armadillo Headquarters -
Grace’s – 3111 Kirby
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken – 1815 Washington Avenue
Himalaya Restaurant – 6652 Southwest Freeway
Hotsome Chicken – 10020 Long Point Road
Jollibee – Multiple Locations
Jupiter Pizza and Waffle (Sugarland) – 16135 City Walk
Krisp Korean Fried Chicken = 9486 Long Point Road
La Lucha – 1801 N. Shepherd Drive
Loch Bar Seafood – 4444 Westheimer
Lucille’s Fried Chicken – 5512 La Branch
Max’s Wine Dive – Multiple Locations
Mico’s Hot Chicken – 1603 N. Durham
Soho Korean Fried Chicken – 9393 Bellaire Boulevard 
State Fare (Sugarland) – 15930 City Walk
Toreore – H-Mart – 1302 Blalock
Zydeco - Downtown Houston (call first as it is only on certain days)

Fried Chicken Houston - Houston Heights Foodies Recommendations
Barbecue Inn
Killen’s
Dak & Bop
La Lucha
Gus’s World Famous
Better Luck Tomorrow
Squable
Frenchy’s
Mico’s
FM Kitchen
Max’s Wine Dive
KP Kitchen


Fried Chicken Houston - May 2021 - Chowdown in Chinatown Recommendations

BB.Q Chicken - 1519 S. Mason Road and 8383 Westheimer 
Choong Man Chicken - 1927 Gessner Road
Dak & Bop - 1805 W. 18th Street
Dream Wings
Fire Wings - 8401 Westheimer
Hoodadak - 
Hotsome Chicken - 10002 Long Point Road
House of Bowls
KRISP - 9486 Long Point Road
Seoulside Wings - 10090 Long Point Road
Soho - 9393 Bellaire Boulevard
Sticky's Chicken - 

Jay's Current Favorite - Cookshack - 4015 Washington Avenue

July 2, 2021

Gumbo - Viola & Agnes NASA Road 1 in Clear Lake

I had some dental work done and for the past two months, it's been off and on just defaulting to soft foods. And I realized that gumbo was the perfect meal to have out. As of July 2021, I've hit about 13 places, and, with recommendations coming in all the time from friends, I can see that this little project is going to be my fun project for 2021.

I was at Art of Coffee in Clear Lake, planning to check out Abe's Cajun Kitchen, but the barista said "Go try Viola & Agnes".

And he was right. The gumbo here was excellent, possibly the best that I've in the greater Houston area. I was surprised by the amount of oil in it. And this "could" be a deal breaker from some people. I was to learn that Chef Aaron (from Lake Charles) renders chicken fat in house and adds a dollop just before serving.

The $7 "cup" is a meal in itself. Their "cup" is like someone else's bowl. I've paid more for less interesting gumbo around town. It was full of chicken, a crab claw, and a boiled egg. That broth. Just delicious. I'm already dreaming about when I can make my next trip out that way.

I also ordered his riff on a classic Jamaican vegetable curry stew. Again, a bargain, as it comes with two sides, and some pretty spectacular cornbread. Just delicious. If someone put a gun to my head for constructive criticism, I might tell Chef Aaron that if he tempers his curry powder in a little oil and onion to take the raw-ness away... but, this is just fine tuning a really good dish. My sides were rice and beans, and, grits with butter. Carbo load.

Since I was eating lighter, I asked others if I could photograph their entrees. Sticky chicken. Chicken and strawberry waffles. Etc. An added bonus. The shelves are stocked with cookbooks and I ended up hanging out for an hour and a half just eating and reading from them. Let the photos begin:


















April 19, 2021

Coffee in Houston - Great Artisanal Coffee Places in Houston - Many of Which Do Their Own Roasting


Click on the map in order to enlarge it:



1. Here is the actual link to the map so that you can explore it in greater detail:


2. Here is a link to an excellent blogpost by Carrie Colbert on her favorite coffee spots in Houston:

3. On January 11, 2018, there was a terrific show on Houston Public Media with Eric, Gwendolyn and David on their favorite coffee shops. Here is a link to that show. 





















2nd Hand Stores - My Favorite 2nd Hand Stores in Houston


The Google Map (Click on any of these in the sidebar to get full address)

Favorite 2nd Hand Stores in Houston

Screenshot of the map:




















































Coffee - Brewing Coffee - Your How-To Guide































Along with cooking, baking and music, another of my passions is coffee. I have built up an impressive collection of ways to brew coffee in the home. And if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. Additional note: The Katy location of Bed, Bath and Beyond has an extensive coffee section. I've added their address to this blog.

Recently, I loaned a Chemex, Sowden, and some other brewing devices and grinders to a friend who is just starting to take her coffee making to the next level. While putting together some favorite instructional videos for her, I decided it might be fun to create a blog with links to some of these.

Rule of Thumb. I weigh my coffee (medium grind, ground with a burr grinder...blade grinders are okay for spices but not for coffee...in the Chemex video below he is grinding with the Baratza, the same one that I use as my default grinder which is a Baratza Virtuoso Plus) and start out with the SCAA recommendation ofa ratio of 16:1, essentially 6 grams of coffee per 100 ml of water (I use a very accurate digital scale, the Pearl 
by Acaia, that I treated myself to a few years ago). I boil my water in a Hario electric kettle that I recently got from a friend. Gooseneck type spout design. 

Water for coffee. Good water is critical to great tasting pour over coffee. You need the right concentration of magnesium, calcium and sodium to make a "slippery" water to extract all the flavor. I make my own water using formulas from the web. There are lots of recipes there but you need epsom salts, baking soda, distilled water and calcium carbonate and a very good digital scale. But there are some other ways to have better water for your drip coffee. Some people speak highly of the Crystal Geyser brand water one can pick up at Dollar Tree. I've used it and like it. Smart Water brand is excellent for coffee. Matt Toomey of Little Dreamers Coffee likes Glacier brand bottled water that one gets at the Kroger locations. I've also made excellent coffee doing a 50/50 of filtered Houston tap water and distilled water, probably the most economical route to go other than Crystal Geyser which is a buck at Dollar Tree.

Here is how to test a digital scale that you may be considering. A dollar bill weighs 1 gram. If your scale accurately reads out 1 gram when you drop a dollar bill on it, it's a good one. 

If you want an easier method for making good coffee (but still want more control over your coffee making), consider the immersion method and a Clever coffeemaker. It has a valve that won't release the coffee until you set it on top of your cup or carafe. This allows you to steep your coffee for four minutes before extraction. Currently, I recommend the James Hoffmann YouTube video for the Clever.
















Brewing with the Clever Dripper

More Instructional Information:

One of the most popular pour over units is the Hario V60. Personally, my first choice is the Kalita, followed by Chemex. For me, at least, the V60 is not a preferred method. It's for people who really want to fine tune their morning brew (like the golfer who spends a lifetime trying to improve his swing). The Kalita has a flat bed.

James Hoffman's Technique for the Hario V60 (Recommended)

The Scott Rao Hario V-60 - The "Rao Spin" (Read This First)
Hario V-60 Instructions and the Rao Spin

(Chemex Video : Baratza setting 18.      24 grams of coffee.    400 ml water)

Seattle Coffee's Guide to Pour Over Methods

Seattle Coffee - Chemex

Stumptown Coffee - Chemex

Kalita versus Hario versus Chemex

(I have switched to the Kalita 185 for my daily coffee making. I do a 300 ml to 18-25 grams extraction with it, which is enough coffee for my wife and I to enjoy in the a.m.)


My Kitchen in my Home:



My new, beloved, Acaia digital scale (awesome). Bluetooth. Programmable. iPhone app. My Chantal pour over electric kettle (I came into possession of a Hario gooseneck electric and that is now the one that I use 100%). My Javelin digital thermometer (also highly recommended). And my Kalita 185.









A new option for shopping for coffee makers and other coffee related products is Wish dot com. The stuff is really cheap. Your purchases mostly ship from China so be prepared for a slightly longer delivery lead time. Hasn't been a problem so far. Having said that, I have had no problems with anything that I have ordered. Recently, I bought this adorable little mini Chemex knock-off for around $11. It works perfectly with Hario V60 filter paper, and it does come with a metal filter that works pretty well too (I was surprised). I've also picked up a laser digital thermometer for a couple of bucks there and it works great, too. I've seen a Hario V6 knock-off on the site, too (for not much money). Use 'coffee maker' or 'glass coffee maker' as your search words.

The can is here to give you a size perspective. Wish is downloadable as an app or on the web.





The Sowden SoftBrew (as good as a French press) is a favorite method, especially for cold brew. Note: The coffee is a little thinner than with a French press so you will probably need to adjust by adding more coffee.

Note and Update: I recently played around with one of my numerous French presses and found that I needed to revise my previously lower opinion of this method. The coffee silt in the bottom does not annoy me as much these days and I enjoyed my French press brew. If you buy a French press, consider one that is double walled in order to keep the coffee warm. French presses show up ALL the time at 2nd hand stores so don't pay retail.




The Hario product line (V60), et. al. I go to 2nd hand stores a lot and recently found a V60 carafe and filter at the Goodwill on 20th for only $8! You never know where you will find something good!






(More coffee making photos for your viewing pleasure)