Chef Jason Kerr likes Cheetos. At his popular food truck, Zilla Street Eats, his Dirty Burger was topped with macaroni and cheese, french fries, and the crunchy, cheesy puffs. After Kerr closed Zilla and went to work at Hollister Grill on Washington Ave., it was Cheetos crumbled on top of a dish of mac 'n' cheese. And here at the Menil-adjacent Lowbrow, where Kerr recently took over the kitchen after Hollister Grill on Washington closed, it's oysters battered in Flamin' Hot Cheetos before being fried and topped with a few slivers of green onion.
Not since the glorious Flamin' Hot Cheeto pie at Poppa Burger have the spicy cheese puffs been put to such good use. One might think the chips would be simply a gimmick, but Kerr has proven that's not the case with his past work. There's something about the texture—which never gets soggy, a mystery likely attributable to the cocktail of chemicals Frito-Lay fires into the chip mix—and the gleeful, unabashedly radioactive hue that makes Cheetos the ingredient equivalent of the loveable lug who, sure, still listens to Linkin Park and wears his fitted hat backward while he does, but also always shows up to the party with plenty of beer and a plate of brownies.
What I'm saying is that fried oysters battered in Flamin' Hot Cheetos absolutely and totally works. It's delicious and fun and you'll want to be its friend and drink beers with it on Lowbrow's rambling Montrose patio and maybe order a second bowl when they're all gone. Except you can't—at least not right now. The oysters were only a one-off special, but I have a feeling we can all cajole Kerr into making them again. After all, it's not as if he needs much encouragement to throw a bag of Cheetos at a dish and make it work.
Lowbrow, 1601 W. Main, 281-501-8288, lowbrowhouston.com