Buffalo Grille, Houston

I absolutely love brunch. I already love each of the “normal” meals, but brunch is extra special because it is impossible to be in a bad mood while having brunch. Usually brunch time means you got to sleep in and/or it’s the weekend. And because it’s such a filling meal, with both salty and sweet elements, you’re pretty much set for the rest of the day until dinner. I could eat brunch every day.

Now, the Buffalo Grille in Houston is not a brunch-only sort of place, but I was in my brunch mood (which was heightened by the general happiness from being on vacation) and everything that touched my mouth was awesome. It kind of reminded me of Urth Caffé in Los Angeles, only with Texas-sized portions, a general embrace of fried elements, and of course real maple syrup.

Read more of this post

Advertisements

Chuys, Houston

I had the best steak fajitas when I was in Houston. They were so good that when I crave steak fajitas now, I am specifically craving Chuys’ steak fajitas. Chuys, a chain that started in Austin, is another one of Stephen’s top spots. Boasting a cantina vibe, deep margaritas, funky decor, and honestly fantastic Tex-Mex cuisine, this is a place that makes the Tio Lio’s or the El Torito I know a few miles away in San Diego as interesting and tasty as stale white bread.

Read more of this post

Becks Prime, Houston

One of the things that I find awesome and unexpected about traveling regionally in the US is the wide range of popular “chain-type” eateries to which I am completely oblivious. Californians are often cited for their self-centric tunnel vision in many areas, and I am not an exception. As a teenager, after having visited a Potbelly and a Soup Box (this was in Chicago), the experience was both eye-opening and left me wishing they each had locations somewhere in LA or San Diego (they didn’t).

These are the sort of chains that everyone nearby loyally knows and loves, but might not have national infamy (like McDonald’s or ChickFilA) or be so individualistic that they land on city culinary lists targeting visitors. Nonetheless, they warrant a mention and a visit because they are just good, solid places to eat. This is what a place like Beck’s Prime means to me.

Read more of this post

Mission Burrito, Houston

Earlier this summer I visited the great state of Texas. I was especially excited for this trip because Stephen, over the course of the past few years, has continuously extolled the virtues of authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, which is as delicious as it is ubiquitous in Houston, his hometown. According to him, Mission Burrito is the Mecca of his Tex-Mex belief system. We stopped by the Mission Burrito location that he dined at practically every day during high school right after our flight. The generous, Texas-sized portions, hearty, full-bodied flavor, and casual atmosphere was exactly what I needed.

Read more of this post

Lemon Ricotta Poppyseed Muffins

Happy Fourth! The best way to start a day filled with lots of quality family time and kitchen prep is to eat a solid breakfast. These lemon ricotta poppyseed muffins give you a little sweetness and tangy, zesty freshness on the go; just one muffin is substantial enough to get you going in the morning or to stave off your pangs of hunger before the grill’s ready in the afternoon. The ricotta is essential to its crumbly, scone-like texture and the light lemon flavor of each bite is bright and refreshing.

Read more of this post

Nobhill Tavern, Las Vegas

Having driven past Michael Mina’s XIV several times while on the Sunset Strip, I was disappointed to hear that the space is now for many private events and is no longer a fully functioning restaurant. Of course, I say this as though it happened yesterday, but it’s actually been almost a year. Thankfully, Stephen and I tried out one of his Las Vegas establishments, Nobhill Tavern, and had a delicious meal with excellent service. Unlike XIV, which was supposedly marred by an identity crisis in menu (and service), Nobhill Tavern shines in its creative interpretations of classic American fare.

Read more of this post

Small Tacos, Big Flavor

I’ll admit, I’m usually not that impressed with tacos. They are one of the least inspiring items on Chipotle’s menu, for instance. And unlike burritos, there is an awkward, head-tilting, neck-cramping, back-hunching, posture required so that gravity does not totally undo the taco’s unsteadily upright structure.

Now the way this story goes, I accidentally bought ground sirloin instead of ground chuck this past week. I was thinking that burgers might be a good dinner food, but I ended up with a package of meat I have little experience cooking. Because of sirloin’s leanness, I didn’t want to make burgers that would only turn out to be dry. So my boyfriend and I poked around his refrigerator a bit and ultimately decided that some kind of beef taco would be the most economic use of all the ingredients we consistently have.

Read more of this post