January 23, 2022

Hermann Park, the Museum District and Lucille's Restaurant - A John Nechman Discovery

 Like John and Ricardo, I am a fan of Lucille's. As well as dining there, I've learned through our caring for an elderly friend that they do so much for the community, example being meals delivery to assisted living homes for the less fortunate. Here follows John's review of their recent explore of the Hermann Park, so called Museum District area of Houston.

“What a gorgeous crisp fall January day in Houston, with our deciduous trees just beginning to show fiery colors before the arrival of 2 grueling weeks of February winter, leading us to about a month--give or take--of spring, followed by 9 months of brutal summer.

"We spent this day with a walk through Hermann Park over to one of our favorite places to eat, Lucille's (5512 La Branch), where I've been dying to try their brunch only chicken fried steak, which has always sold out on past visits. We arrived at 10 am today to make sure we'd get some, and it was excellent, but no match for a new masterpiece from Chef Chris Williams--oxtail tamales with 2 sunny side up eggs. A starter of truffled brussels sprouts topped with a soft poached egg is one of the few brussels sprouts dishes I've really enjoyed in Houston. Our wonderful server Gabbi took such great care of us that we wanted to stay for the always awesome band in the backyard patio, but then I noticed on Facebook that one of our favorite wine bars was serving raclette at 1 pm, and we knew where we were headed.
We walked up to Montrose, stopping for coffee and a cannoli at the MFAH's Cafe Leonelli, and wandered through University of St Thomas up to Montrose Cheese & Wine (1618 Westheimer) a place that we love. 20 minutes before raclette service, almost all the outdoor tables were occupied, and we were lucky to get 2 of the last seats. By the start of service, about 30 people were on the wait list. Either we have a larger Swiss immigrant population than I realized, or Houstonians just love their gooey melted cheese...I think the latter.
The raclette here is excellent, served over roasted new potatoes, slices of fresh baguette, and gherkins. We paired ours with an amazing brisk Douloufakis "Dafnios" Vidiano from Crete. The best raclette service we've seen in Houston is at a Swiss restaurant where we dined with our friend Pablo Valqui in Cypress called Edelweiss, but for Inner Loop Houston, this is a pretty spectacular way to spend a magical afternoon like today."

Airline Farmer's Market - (Formerly Canino's) (Houston Most Authentic Farmer's Market IMHO)

Canino's on Airline. Created decades ago in the 50's as a cooperative for local farmers to sell their locally produced fruits and vegetables. Hempstead melons and more. I recently chatted with the owners who gave me the following information. They have been in operation since June of 1958. At that time, the Canino's complex was about 3,800 square feet and it is now grown to over 20,000 square feet. Over time the complex has evolved. Around the periphery on this part of Airline Drive just south of 610 are the wholesale produce companies. In back of Canino's are smaller vendors, individual stalls that are so reminiscent of the markets in Mexico. This is where you come for the harder to find products used in Mexican cooking. You can find guaje, epazote, huazontle, dried and fresh chiles, and more. There is one vendor who specializes in pineapples and their prices are always significantly lower than anywhere else. Here is where you come for perfectly ripe, ready to use the day of, fruits and vegetables. And Flores Spices has an outlet here for all of your spice needs. Next door, is another long warehouse of independent vendors. And back along the eastern side you will find even more as well as several excellent taquerias.

Canino's proper is a one stop shop for your fruits and vegetables. And worth noting is that, unlike most grocery stores that discard of their produce when the first hint that it is over ripe occurs, Canino's puts theirs out at extreme price reductions. Imagine. 4 lbs of bananas for $1.  A big bucket of perfect yellow squash also for $1. I find that I can come here and build the ingredients for a giant soup or stew for less than $5. The clearance section of Canino's is next door where they used to sell flowers, instead of directly behind Canino's as it used to be.

Photos for Canino's from Google Maps

Oh, and by the way. I offer free walking tours of the market for groups of three or more. No charge. If you want to meet up with me with your friends, contact me at ( houstonfoodexplorer@yahoo.com ) to arrange a date and time. If you would like, we can also add a lunch at Tampico Seafood or another place in the area.

Before we move on to your photo guided tour of this area, check out some of these typical bargains:

And now, on to the food tour. These photos were taken recently when chef friends and I hit the markets to buy goods for an upcoming cooking class. Photos to follow, including some shorts from El Bolillo Bakery and Reyes Produce, just down the street. Click on them to see a larger version.

January 21, 2022

Uncle Lee’s Cafe - A Michael Shum Discover

 With a thanks to John Nechman.

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. Additional Note: Even though the recommendations are supposed to be tailored to the Greater Heights Area, many responders ignore this and recommend places all over town, so, “caveat emptor” if you are looking for a restaurant specific to the Heights.

“On January 15, 2022, a person posted to the Group “I am always underwhelmed at the restaurants in the Heights”. There were over 175 responses to this query and from that query I have pulled together the recommendations that the group posted in response as follows:

Alice Blue

Al Quick Stop

Better Luck Tomorrow



Da Gama

Elliot’s Table

Field & Tides


Heights Bier Garten


Jus’ Mac & Cheese

Ka Sushi

Kin Dee Thai

Kolache Shoppe

La Lucha

Lai Thao Market

Maison Pucha

Mary’z Lebanese


Melange Creperie

Mico’s Hot Chicken

Noe Franco

Pinkerton’s Barbecue

Saigon Hustle




Street Food Thai Market


TJ Birria

Trattoria Sofia

Ume Sushi

Urban Eats

1751 Sea & Bar


“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


Caracol Mexican Restaurant

Cielito Cafe Mexican Restaurant

Christie's Seafood

Crawfish and Noodles (Vietnamese cuisine and spicy crawfish)



Himalaya Indo-Pak 

Hugo's Mexican Restaurant


Kata Robata Japanese

La Sicilia Italian Bakery

Nancy's Hustle

Pico's Mexican Restaurant

Shun Japanese


Tampico Seafood

Tiger Den

Truth Barbecue

Viola and Agnes (Clear Lake NASA Road 1)

Xochi Mexican Restaurant


Birthday Dinner (Note: many are not in Greater Heights)

Alice Blue







Da Gama



Joey Uptown

KP’s Kitchen

Melting Pot

Rainbow Lodge

Rosie Cannonball



Trattoria Sofia



Alice Blue

Alma Latina

Better Luck Tomorrow

Canary Café

Common Bond

Dish Society

Field and Tides


Homestead Kitchen & Bar (at MKT)

La Lucha

Local Table


Maison Pucha

Melange Creperie

Neo Baguette





Trash Panda

Urban Eats



Burger Joint


Hubcap Grill on 19th

Underbelly Burgers



Alchemy Bake Lab

Aliyan’s Sweets

Ashley’s Cakes

Becca Cakes in Garden Oaks

Butter Baby Bakery

Cakes by Gina

Common Bond

Elizabeth Smile

Fluff Bake Bar

Jody Cakes

Lane and Simple

La Tartine

Lene Sue Baggett

Leona’s Bakeshop

Cheese (Better Quality)

Central Market

Dairy Maids


Montrose Cheese and Wine


Railway Heights

Revival Market


Chicken Fried Steak

Barbecue Inn

The Branch (Spring Branch)


Jax Grill

Killen’s Heights

Mia’s Table

Monkey’s Tail (Tuesdays)

Rainbow Lodge (Sunday Night)


Comfort Food

Alice Blue

Barbecue Inn

Barnaby’s ( did their Heights location close?)

Cleburne’s Cafeteria (not the Heights)

Federal American Grill

Grace’s (not the Heights)

Harold’s Restaurant

Highline Park

Killen’s Heights

La Lucha

Max’s Wine Dive (fried chicken)

Miller’s (not the Heights)

Onion Creek Café

Ousie’s Table (not the Heights)

World Famous Foodie Barr

Cookshack on Washington

Gus's Fried Chicken on Washington

Just Mac

Max's Wine Dive on Washington


Urban Eats




The Boil House (when open…seasonal)

The Boot

Cactus Cove

Crawfish Café Heights

Onion Creek



Ashley Cakes on TC Jester

Awesome Bites Sawyer Yards

Becca Cakes on 34th

Bearded Baker

Crave Cupcakes (not in the Heights)

Leona’s Bakeshop

LSB Baking Creations

Marchese’s Kitchen

Nina Fitzhugh (Cake and Eat it Too in Sienna Plantation)

Pretty Baked

Red Dessert

Rose Bear Bakes

Rustika Bakery

Sally Delights Cakes

Semilla Baking

Small Cakes on Westheimer at Shepherd

Sprinkles Cupcakes

Sweet at Sugar Room

Suzies Cakes

The Caker

Three Brothers Bakery


Fire Pits

The Barking Pig


D’ Alba

8 Row Flint

FM Kitchen

Fuego’s Saloon

Heights Bier Garten

Liberty Station

Little Woodrow’s

Memorial Ice House

Platypus Brewing Company

Raven Tower

Shady Acres

Spring Street

Trash Panda Drinking Club


Fried Rice

Asia Market

Be More Pacific

Connie's Seafood

Ginger & Fork

Golden Seafood

Golden Wok

Hunan Bo


Jennie's Noodle House

Rice Box

Shokku Ramen


French Fries

Barnaby's on White Oak

Harold's on 19th

Maison Pucha


"Fun" Places and/or Parties

Bungalow Heights

FM Kitchen

Heights Bier Garden


King's Bierhaus

Onion Creek


8 Row Flint


Hot Pot

Chongqing Chicken Pot

Haidi Lao

Happy Lamb

H Mart


Niu Jiao Jian

Ramen Fun

Shabu House

Shabu Square

Shabu Zone

Xiao Long Kan



Amalfi Ristorante


Cavatore's on Ella




Da Marco






Nundini’s Chef’s Table


Port Vino



Roma Ristorante (West University)


Spaghetti Western

Trattoria Sofia



King Cakes

Artisana Breads

Central Market

El Bolillo

French Gourmet Bakery

Gambino’s via Boil House (when open)

Leona’s Bakeshop

Maceo’s (Galveston)

Montgomery Bakehouse (Conroe)

Red Dessert

Rios Bakery (Spring, Texas)

Three Brothers Bakery

Two Friends Bakery in Memorial


World Famous Foodie Barr


Late Night

Burger Joint

Katz Deli

Kin Dee Thai

Marco’s Pizza (Ella at 43rd)

Pink’s Pizza

Rice Box

Taco Stand (on N Shepherd)

Trash Panda

Voodoo Doughnut


Pho and Vietnamese

Local Pho on Sawyer

Pho Ben on Shepherd

Pho Binh on White Oak

Pho King on Washington

Nam Eatery and Vietnamese Café



Brother's Pizza in Garden Oaks on Shepherd

Buffalo Bayou Brewery

Cane Rosso



La Fresca

Luna on Yale


Mellow Mushroom


Pizaro's in Montrose



Po-Boy Sandwiches

Angeloz (OST)


The Boot

Flying Fish

Heads & Tails

Karbach (shrimp po-boy(

Paulie’s Po-boys (Bellaire)

Winnie’s Houston (Midtown)


Organ Meats (Not All Are in the Heights)


Café Piquet


Kenny and Ziggy’s

Mary’s Mediterranean

Naro mak

Phau Lau Vietnamese


Taqueria Tacambaro



Samurai on I-10 at Dunlavy

Shokku Ramen on Studewood


 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


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


Tony's on Ella



Asia Market Thai Lao Food (North Main)


Mint Thai (on Waugh)

Nara Thai

Nidda Thai (outside of the Heights on Westheimer)

Sao Lao Thai Café

Street Food Asian (Cavalcade)

Thai Lanna

January 20, 2022

Yogurt - Making Yogurt

 The important things to remember are:

More yogurt doesn't always make a better final product. I think that 1 tablespoon is enough.

180 F milk heated in the microwave. You can use a pot of course but you will get sticking. So I use a Pyrex in the microwave.

Cool to 105 F - 90 F.

You don't have to use your car.