Ultimate guide to dining during Houston Restaurant Weeks
Houston, Texas Published by Houston Chronicle, Author: Mai Pham
It's the annual lament that befalls Houston foodies during the run of Houston Restaurant Weeks, now through Sept. 5. What to eat. Where to schedule lunches, dinners and brunches. Which menus entice. How to get the most from the dizzying variety offered by the city's prolonged dining extravaganza.
It's a lot to take in: More than 250 restaurants offering pre-set, value-oriented, fixed-price meals. But it's a culinary overload that Houstonians are happy to negotiate. After all, Houston Restaurant Weeks, founded in 2003 by radio and television personality Cleverley Stone, is a mammoth fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank. Participating restaurants donate a set amount from every HRW meal sold, directly benefitting the food bank and, in turn, the food-insecure of Greater Houston. The first restaurant week featured 16 restaurants raising $5,000. Last year a record-breaking $1.9 million was raised, enabling the food bank to create and distribute 5.7 million meals.
This year the event hopes to top that amount. And with your help, it will. You can go online at houstonrestaurantweeks.com to plan your $20 lunches and brunches, and dinners priced at $25, $35 and $45. But we've combed the list of participating restaurants and their menus and came up with these categories that hopefully will entice you - and help you with those dining decisions - to make the most of Houston Restaurant Weeks.
When you only have time for one Restaurant Weeks meal, make it count with any of these five menus. All offer excellent value, impeccable service and delectable food.
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House: For many years running, Del Frisco's has been the largest single donor to the Houston Food Bank thanks in large part to its winning combination of flawless service and stellar menu. From traditional Caesar salad to 8-ounce broiled filet mignon (with options to upgrade to better, larger cuts), and sublime desserts like warm banana bread pudding, a table at Del Frico's is a must. 5061 Westheimer, 713-355-2600; delfriscos.com; $45
Américas River Oaks: Food & Wine Magazine Hall of Famer Michael Cordúa's family of restaurants (Américas River Oaks, Churrascos and Artista) offer one of the best HRW meals. The $35 menu includes starters such as empanadas or ceviche, a choice of their award-winning 6-ounce butterflied tenderloin churrasco steak and the legendary tres leches cake. 2040 W. Gray, 832-200-1492; americasrestaurant.com; $35
Tony's: The king of Italian fine dining in Houston for more than 50 years, a night at Tony's is one to remember. Book a table to experience chef de cuisine Kate McLean's talents while indulging in Italian summer truffles (with $19 supplemental fee), fire-roasted hen, tiramisu or Grand Marnier or chocolate soufflé. 3755 Richmond, 713-622-6778; tonyshouston.com; $45
La Table: A stunning makeover has turned the former Philippe into one of the finest French dining destinations in Houston. Sumptuous choices include a colossal lump crab appetizer, Hudson Valley duck breast and the unforgettable Valrhona chocolate souffle with house-made vanilla ice cream. 1800 Post Oak, 713-439-1000; latablehouston.com; $45
Eddie V's: The steakhouse staple serves up a formidable steak-centric HRW menu, including Maine lobster and shrimp bisque to start, choice of 8-ounce filet mignon or 9-ounce filet medallions, choice of side such as au gratin potatoes, with sweet finish of Bananas Foster butter cake. At West Ave, 2800 Kirby, 713-874-1800; at CityCentre, 12848 Queensbury, 832-200-2380, eddiev.com; $45
Complex flavors and authenticity, a preference for all things locavore, grass-fed, organic and chef-driven are just a few of the qualities that millennials seek out. That generation knows what it wants and will find it at these Houston eateries.
Down House: At Down House, HRW diners will find Korean fried cauliflower tossed in spicy gochujang sauce, Vietnamese-style marinated skewers, a corn-dog-style braised and grilled pork belly, vegetarian ricotta stuffed ravioli with carrot butter and bread pudding with bourbon caramel. 1801 Yale, 713-864-3696; treadsack.com/downhouse; $35
Ritual: Highlights at this Southern-infused, meat-centric new restaurant include crispy boudin with house remoulade, chicken lollipops with creamed dirty rice and a dessert of Fat Cat Creamery peach ice cream with house-made sugar cookie. 602 Studewood, 832-203-5180; ritualhouston.com; $35
True Food Kitchen: How about edamame dumplings with Asian herbs and truffle oil? Or organic Tuscan kale with sustainable steelhead fish? Or perhaps a grass-fed burger and chia seed pudding? Here you'll find healthy options without sacrificing flavor. 1700 Post Oak, 281-605-2505; truefoodkitchen.com; $35
Benjy's: Both Benjy's locations will offer heirloom tomato toast with smashed avocado, crispy harissa-spiced catfish and Mom's Chocolate Cake for the win. Upper Washington at 5922 Washington, 713-868-1131, and Rice Village at 2424 Dunstan, 713-522-7602; benjys.com; $35
Hunky Dory: For British pub fare that spans country ham and summer melons, chicken tikka masala (vegetarian option available), braised and grilled short ribs with heirloom tomatoes and sticky toffee pudding, no one in Houston does it better than chef Richard Knight. 1801 N. Shepherd, 713-864-2450; treadsack.com/hunkydory; $35
Date night for parents with kids at home
Need to escape for a night of grown-up company? You'll want a place that offers the full experience: white tablecloths, fab wine list, great service and gourmet fare that goes far beyond macaroni and cheese or chicken strips. These menus are for you.
Rainbow Lodge: Twinkling lights set the tone at this rustic, romantic retreat set in a century-old log cabin, where options like seared North American elk medallion with pickled blackberries, lobster and summer corn risotto and Texas peach semi-freddo are on offer. 2011 Ella, 713-861-8666; rainbow-lodge.com; $45
Masraff's: You'll be hard pressed to decide among the numerous choices at this HRW favorite. Do try bacon wrapped quail, duet of caramelized diver scallop and Hawaiian bigeye tuna or a trio of traditional, berry and chocolate creme brûlée. 1753 Post Oak, 713-355-1975; masraffs.com; $45
Le Mistral: French-born chef David Denis and his team's menu boasts enticements such as eggplant caviar with tomato confit, roasted chicken with Provencal couscous and dessert of raspberry Marie Antoinette. 1400 Eldridge, 832-379-8322; lemistralhouston.com; $35
Sud Italia: Proprietor Shanon Scott's wonderful hospitality will make you feel like you're in Southern Italy, as will his menu consisting of burrata with tomato, pastas such as strozzapreti tossed with calamari and garlic, and fileto di manzo con porcini (grilled tenderloin with porcini mushroom). 2347 University, 713-664-7571; sud-italia.com; $35
La Griglia: Old school fine dining rules at this River Oaks staple, where chef Luis Rubio's cuisine delights with choices such as wild mushroom polenta, seafood capellacci and strawberry cheesecake. 2002 W. Gray, 713-526-4700; lagrigliarestaurant.com; $35
See and be seen
Love going to a restaurant full of buzz, filled with people-watching and packed with Houston's A-list? Enjoy a night on the town at these Houston hotspots.
Brasserie 19: Beautiful décor and people notwithstanding, the French brasserie fare here always delivers. Choices such as Burgundy escargot toast, rainbow trout almondine and warm chocolate cake with toffee and Chantilly creme are as scrumptious as they sound. 1962 W. Gray, 713-524-1919; brasserie19.com; $35
Toulouse: Star sightings are de rigueur at this gorgeous French newcomer in the ritzy River Oaks District, which offers a delightful HRW menu with options such as roasted beet salad, duck leg confit and apple tart tatin. 4444 Westheimer, 713-871-0768; toulousecafeandbar.com; $45
Peska Seafood Culture: Chef Omar Pereney's worldly seafood menu is a regular draw for Houston's jet set. For HRW, a menu that includes shrimp aguachile tostada, paella and housemade doughnuts adds to the allure. 1700 Post Oak, 713-961-9229; peska.us; $45
B&B Butchers & Restaurant: B&B is packed nightly with Houston's high rollers. Its HRW menu features items such as Chef Tommy's Bacon and 22-ounce dry-aged bone-in ribeye, both available for a supplement, but still an incredible deal. 1814 Washington, 713-862-1814; bbbutchers.com; $45
Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette: This River Oaks player goes above and beyond with a four-course, Southern-inspired menu with sweet corn hushpuppies with crème fraîche and Louisiana caviar, smoked tomato bisque, 6-ounce broiled lobster tail and white chocolate bread pudding. 4224 San Felipe, 713-622-1010; libertykitchenoysterette.com; $45
For many of us, a steakhouse meal is an expensive treat. Thanks to HRW, you can enjoy a great steak without breaking the bank at these meat meccas.
III Forks Prime Steakhouse: Hard to believe that you can find a three-course Prime steak dinner for $35 - but that's what's on the menu at III Forks in downtown's GreenStreet. Lobster bisque or salad, 6-ounce petite filet with shrimp scampi and Texas pecan cake are nothing short of winning. 1201 Fannin, 713-658-9457; 3forks.com; $35
Capital Grille: Do 8-ounce filet mignon, 14-ounce bone-in dry-aged New York Strip or 8-ounce porcini-rubbed tenderloin sound good? All of these options fall under the $45 HRW menu at both Capital Grille locations. The meals are a steal of a deal when you add in a starter and dessert. 5365 Westheimer, 713-623-4600, and at CityCentre, 840 W. Sam Houston Parkway N., 713-463-5051; thecapitalgrille.com; $45
Perry's Steakhouse & Grille: All six Houston-area Perry's locations are in on the HRW game, making it easy to have a night on the town whether you live in Memorial City, Katy, Champions, Sugar Land, Clear Lake or The Woodlands. Start with a wedge salad, feast on an 8-ounce filet or a Perry's famous pork chop and conclude on a sweet note with white chocolate cheesecake. perrysteakhouse.com; $45
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar: For HRW, all three Houston-area Fleming's (River Oaks, Town & Country, The Woodlands) are serving up enticements such as roasted portobello mushroom ravioli, choice of 6-ounce Newport filet mignon or 8-ounce Scottish salmon and dessert classics such as carrot cake and cheesecake. flemingssteakhouse.com; $45
Morton's: Both of Morton's Houston-area locations (Galleria and Downtown) are offering fantastic menus for steak lovers. Start with an ahi tuna tower or baked five-onion soup, mains such as 6-ounce center cut filet mignon or 16-ounce double-cut prime pork chop and end with Morton's legendary hot chocolate cake. 5000 Westheimer, 713-629-1946, and 1001 McKinney, 713-659-3700; mortons.com; $45
The value proposition is the one of the obvious HRW attractions, but the following places go beyond what's expected with value-added benefits such as take-home entrees, movie tickets and extra courses.
Maggiano's: This year is the first time that Maggiano's is participating in HRW, and to commemorate the event, the restaurant is making sure you get your money's worth and then some: For $25, not only will you get a three-course Italian meal, but you will get to choose a bonus entrée of spaghetti with meat sauce, Fettucini Alfredo, or eggplant parmesan to take home. 2019 Post Oak, 713-961-2700; maggianos.com; $25
Alamo Drafthouse: Getting into the spirit of charity, Alamo Drafthouse, in addition to making a donation to the food bank, will give guests a return movie ticket with the purchase of a three-course HRW dinner menu that includes truffled parmesan butter popcorn, "Another Cow Burger" and a boozy "adult shake" of choice. 114 Vintage Park, 713-715-4707; and 531 S. Mason, Katy, 281-492-6900; drafthouse.com; $25
Main Course Cooking School: When a sit-down dinner just won't do, head to Main Course Cooking School in Spring for a hands-on lesson on how to make your own gourmet three-course meal. Classes are offered Tuesday through Sunday, with different themes each night, from Tastes of Texas Steakhouse to Brazilian Churrascaria to the Best of Culinary Classics with Julia Child. 18750 Interstate 45 N., Spring, 281-825-4440; mccooking.com; $45
The Tasting Room, CityCentre: All Tasting Room locations are participating in HRW, but the CityCentre location is the only one offering the incredible value of a four-course lunch for $20. Start with a cheese-and-charcuterie board, followed by soup or salad, a main course such as a bacon cheeseburger and bread pudding or chocolate cake to finish. 818 Town and Country, 281-822-1500; tastingroomwines.com; $20 lunch
Tokyohana Grill & Sushi Bar: How does five courses for $35 sound? This Rice Village hibachi restaurant impresses with a menu that includes a soup or salad to start, appetizer, sushi roll, choice of hibachi (peppercorn steak, teriyaki beef, sesame chicken) and dessert such as banana tempura with vanilla ice cream. 3239 U.S. 59 S., 713-838-9527; tokyohana.com; $35