On the regular lunch menu at Cafe Annie, a shrimp burger with chorizo and remoulade is $18. It comes with sweet potato fries and it's absolutely delicious, but for only $2 more, you could get two additional courses of chef Robert Del Grande's signature Southwestern cuisine at his newly rebooted restaurant.
Throughout August, Cafe Annie is encouraging Houstonians to reacquaint themselves with the pioneering restaurant that first opened in 1979 near the then-still-young Galleria. When Del Grande took over the kitchen in 1981, he helped define a new cuisine alongside Dallas chefs Stephan Pyles and Dean Fearing, putting Cafe Annie on the map in the process. In 2009, construction forced the restaurant to move and Del Grande opted to change its name, debuting the new, two-story RDG + Bar Annie just a few blocks away on Post Oak Boulevard. But earlier this year, Del Grande sought a return to his roots, and Cafe Annie was reborn—complete with many of his signature dishes.
It's those dishes you can find on Cafe Annie's summer lunch special menu, where $20 gets you three courses of Gulf Coast gumbo with crab, rabbit, snapper, shrimp and sausage, or a wood-grilled ribeye with adobo sauce and fries (pro tip: don't miss Cafe Annie's tartly sweet homemade ketchup). Go all in and get the tortilla soup—perhaps one of Cafe Annie's most beloved staples—for your appetizer, close yours eyes, and pretend it's the '90s all over again (the fashionable young women wearing chokers and Birkenstocks at the next table will help).
If you're feeling charitably inclined, opt for the Houston Restaurant Weeks menu, where you'll find an entirely different line-up of courses—and, again, will only pay $20, $3 of which is donated to the Houston Food Bank. Our choice here? The salmon maki rolls to start (you'd never guess an otherwise totally-non-Japanese restaurant could make such exceptional sushi rice) and the brisket enchiladas as your main; Cafe Annie makes a killer chile gravy.
And if you happen to miss the summer lunch special menu, which runs through August 31, don't despair: You have until September 5 to enjoy Cafe Annie's Houston Restaurant Weeks menus at lunch or dinner.
Or if you'd rather learn to grill a steak as perfectly as that ribeye on the lunch menu, sign up for Robert Del Grande's upcoming chef talk this Friday at 7 p.m. The master class on steaks is free, but reservations are required.