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.

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


Burger Joint

Hubcap Grill on 19th


Cavatore's on Ella


Pho and Vietnamese

Local Pho on Sawyer

Pho (Vietnamese)

Pho Ben on Shepherd

Pho Binh on White Oak

Nam Eatery and Vietnamese Cafe




Comfort Food

Cookshack on Washington

Gus's Fried Chicken on Washington

Just Mac

Max's Wine Dive on Washington


Urban Eats

"Fun" Places and/or Parties

Bungalow Heights

FM Kitchen

Heights Bier Garden


King's Bierhaus

Onion Creek


8 Row Flint

"Best Of"

Comfort Food



French Fries

Barnaby's on White Oak

Harold's on 19th

Maison Pucha


Samurai on I-10 at Dunlavy

Shokku Ramen on Studewood


Brother's Pizza in Garden Oaks on Shepherd

Buffalo Bayou Brewery

Cane Rosso



La Fresca

Luna on Yale


Mellow Mushroom


Pizaro's in Montrose


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
Dak & Bop
La Lucha
Gus’s World Famous
Better Luck Tomorrow
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)

January 1, 2021

Tex Mex - The Greatest Combo Plate in Texas - El Ranchero in La Porte

Is it possible? I'm tempted to call this the greatest Tex Mex combo plate in Texas. But there are too many restaurants vying for that title. So, if I call it the 2nd greatest combo plate in Texas, I'm probably safe. But seriously, it was perfect. Big scoop of delicious guacamole. 

Perfectly realized Mexican rice (with just the right hint of cumin). Excellent frijoles refritos (made with manteca). A mild and perfectly seasoned chili gravy covering cheesy enchiladas. 

And, as you'll see from the photos, they make their own leche quemada, and it is chock full of pecans. 

Highly recommended. It's worth the road trip. You can have fun visiting all of the antique shops on Main Street and then having your terrific Tex Mex lunch.