Over the weekend, a clever New York Times infographic provided some interesting insight into national purchasing trends across major US cities, including the amazing fact that San Diego leads the country in non-alcoholic beer purchases. How can a city possessed of both Ballast Point and Green Flash—two of the best breweries in America—purchase O'Doul's on the reg? It's a mystery for the ages.
Equally amazing though less mysterious is the news that Houston spends 338 percent more than the average US consumer on mutton, meat and game (other categories in which we also spent much more than the national average included "new motorcycles," "souvenirs" and "wigs and hairpieces"). "Why I love living in Houston: we value 'Mutton, Goat & Game' much more than 'New Watches' and 'Dating Services,'" wrote local food blogger Misha Govsteyn on Twitter.
That Houston should spend so much money each year on these meats should come as no surprise, since our port city is rich with the various cultures for whom mutton and goat are staples. Our South Asian population, for instance, has mushroomed over the last dozen years, leading to the official designation of the Mahatma Gandhi District in southwest Houston, where Indian and Pakistani restaurants are replete with mutton dishes. You'll also find plenty of goat on the menu at places in Little Nigeria and Koreatown, and it's increasingly favored in modern American restaurants such as Underbelly. Meanwhile, wild game and cabrito—grilled baby goat—have long been staples in southeast Texas, where we feast on venison in our chili and quail in our barbecue pits.
If you want to see for yourself why the rest of Houston is so nuts over mutton, goat, and game—and why goat is, in fact, the most-consumed meat in the world—we have a round-up of restaurants where you can try various twists and takes on the meats that sustain our great city.
Goat is often referred to as "mutton" on South Asian menus, though mutton is actually the meat of domestic sheep. This section deals with lamb (a young sheep) and mutton (a slightly older sheep).
El Hidalguense: Barbacoa de borrego estilo Hidalgo (seasoned lamb slow-cooked in maguey leaves, served with beans and corn tortillas)
Hugo's: Barbacoa (lamb marinated in chiles, onion, garlic, and avocado leaves, slow-roasted in agave skin, served with chopped onion, fresh cilantro, and corn tortillas)
Kasra Persian Grill: Khorake bademjan (lamb shank with fried eggplant, topped with a tomato, onion, and sour grape sauce, served with basmati rice)
Pasha Restaurant: Yogurtlu kebab (chargrilled lamb over toasted pita bread with tomatoes and garlicky yogurt sauce)
Bismillah Restaurant: Goat paya (goat feet slow-cooked in a spicy curry, served with rice)
Finger Licking Bukateria: Goat pepper soup (very spicy goat soup)
Himalaya: Goat biryani (goat cooked in a spicy curry blend, layered into a dish with basmati rice and fried onions)
Korea Garden: Yeom-so tang (spicy goat soup with vegetables, served with banchan)
Taqueria Tacambaro: Goat birria (goat slow-cooked in adobo and served with cilantro, onions, and warm tortillas)
Armadillo Palace: venison chili served with cheddar cheese, onions, and crackers
Brenner's on the Bayou: whole bacon-wrapped quail filled with andouille-cornbread stuffing
El Real Tex-Mex: two mesquite-grilled quail and beef fajitas, served with rice, beans, and flour tortillas
Rainbow Lodge: chile-rubbed Texas antelope tenderloin with poblano spoonbread
Sammy's Wild Game Grill: elk tacos, camel burger, python chili