Fullsizerender 2  ss3zjz

So. Many. Restaurants. Serve. Brussels. Sprouts.

Image: Megha Tejpal

Is it us, or are a lot of menus starting to blend into one giant Ameri-Gulf-Fusion concept? We’ve even coined a phrase to cover that feeling when you’re trying to remember if you’ve had the [insert dish here] at a certain restaurant before: déja food.

But if we’ve learned anything from tasting and re-tasting these faves on offer at Houston restaurants (some currently, some recently), it’s that Mae West was right: Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.

Shutterstock 586828190 lywzi2

Image: Shutterstock

Kale Caesar 

Img 6326 irff3p

Image: Alice Levitt

Whole Fried Snapper

  • As seen at: Holley's, Peska, Songkran, Tampico
  • Evolved from: Whole snapper living in the ocean
  • Where to eat it: Tampico's old-school snapper a la plancha is a must-try.
  • Points for creativity: The version at Holley's masterfully blends Thai flavors and Southern technique.
  • To be replaced by: Whole fried tuna, recommended to feed 12.
Roost cauliflower1 qk1m47 kjalxs g2xxc8

Image: Amber Ambrose

Fried Cauliflower

  • As seen at: Coltivare, Edison, Fat Bao, Riel, Roost, Uchi
  • Evolved from: Corn fritters? Asparagus tempura? There's just too many fried vegetable dishes to say.
  • Where to eat it: Uchi and Roost have both made this dish a signature for the past five years.
  • Points for creativity: The similar, but slightly different, cauliflower steak at Backstreet Café
  • To be replaced by: Fancy fried okra 

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

  • As seen at: Eddie V's, Edison, Eloise Nichols, Liberty Kitchen, One Fifth Steak, State of Grace, Urban Eats
  • Evolved from: Roasted butternut squash
  • Where to eat it: There's a reason this is the most popular side at Eloise Nichols.
  • Points for creativity: Edison's version has a tangy vinaigrette, mint and pork belly — need we say more?
  • To be replaced by: Brussels sprouts with ... brisket? Why the hell not. 
Shutterstock 598897733 h1xczl

Never change, chicken-fried steak, never change.

Image: Shutterstock

Fancy Chicken-fried Steak

  • As seen at: B&B Butchers, Frank's Americana, Killen's STQ, Kitchen 713, Southern Goods, State Fare
  • Evolved from: CFS made from humble round steak, as God intended
  • Where to eat it: Want to go crazy? Try the CFS at Killen's STQ, made with wagyu ribeye.
  • Points for creativity: The bone-in CFS at Southern Goods, a surprising (and delicious) take
  • To be replaced by: Nothing. Ever.
Img 7747 bqkfx9

Image: Alice Levitt

Korean Chicken Wings

  • As seen at: Dak & Bop, Fat Bao, Hoodadak, Izakaya, Republic Diner + Sojubang, Plucker's (pick the gochujang sauce)
  • Evolved from: Fish sauce wings à la Portland's Pok Pok
  • Where to eat it: Katy's Hoodadak — Korean chicken wings are basically its reason for existence.
  • Points for creativity: Not ready to commit to K-wings? Order Plucker's wings and specify how many you want with their gochujang sauce.
  • To be replaced byKaraage, the Japanese version of popcorn chicken

Red Velvet Pancakes

  • As seen at: Barnaby's, Liberty Kitchen, Max's Wine DiveSnooze
  • Evolved from: The equally over-the-top bananas foster French toast
  • Where to eat it: If you're going to brunch this hard, you should be at Liberty Kitchen.
  • Points for creativity: Barnaby's version comes with cream cheese icing.
  • To be replaced by: Red velvet churros like Bosscat's
Shutterstock 584706862 ow2pq9

Image: Shutterstock

Grilled Octopus

Sticky Toffee Pudding

  • As seen at: Canopy, Hunky Dory, Peli Peli, Queen Vic, Riel, State of Grace
  • Evolved from: Molten lava cake — just puts the gooey sauce on the exterior
  • Where to eat it: People can't get enough of Peli Peli's classic take.
  • Points for creativity: Riel's version features non-standard ingredients like a foie gras torchon and blood toffee sauce.
  • To be replaced by: Something similarly retro, like baked Alaska or floating islands
Show Comments
In this Article

Editor’s Pick

The Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen

$$ Indian, Pub/Brewery 2712 Richmond Ave.

At The Queen Vic, chef/owner Shiva Patel serves Indian pub grub with a Gulf Coast bent—try the masala lamb burger with Texas blue cheese made from goat’s mil...

Editor’s Pick

Peli Peli

$$$ African, South African Multiple Locations

It’s tough to tell which is the biggest draw at the popular Peli Peli: the striking dining room anchored by a two-story “tree” that shifts colors throughout ...

Hunky Dory Closed

$$$ British 1801 N. Shepherd Dr.

James Beard-nominated chef Richard Knight did his time in more than one Michelin-starred restaurant in London. At Hunky Dory, he uses his carefully honed cho...

Canopy

$$ American/New American 3939 Montrose Blvd.

Keeping in line with its older sibling in the Heights, Shade, this Montrose restaurant's decor is contemporary and clean. Canopy is most popular for brunch, ...

Xochi

$$$ Mexican/Tex-Mex 1777 Walker St.

This elegant eatery on the ground floor of the Downtown Marriott Marquis isn't your average hotel restaurant. It's Houston's first upscale Oaxacan restaurant...

Editor’s Pick

Oporto Fooding House & Wine

$$ Mediterranean, Spanish 125 W. Gray Ave., Ste. 500

While this Midtown hot spot gets attention for its creative small plates and bar scene, aficionados know the restaurant’s second location as one of the few p...

Editor’s Pick

La Fisheria

$$ Mexican/Tex-Mex, Seafood 213 Milam St.

By day, La Fisheria’s vivid ceviches and equally vivid dining room evoke a breezy vacation spent in Veracruz. At night, the lights dim and the coastal Mexica...

Editor’s Pick

Helen Greek Food & Wine

$$$ Greek 2429 Rice Blvd.

Helen is fascinated by the shared passions of Greek and Texan cuisine—and there are many, it turns out, including a love for such ingredients as quail and ok...

Café Azur

$$$ Continental, French, Mediterranean 4315 Montrose Blvd.

Modern Côte d'Azur cuisine from chef Sidney Degaine is worlds away from boeuf Bourguignon. Instead, start with a fishbowl filled with potato foam and a perfe...

Editor’s Pick

BCN Taste & Tradition

$$$$ Latin, Spanish 4210 Roseland St.

Anyone lucky enough to have spent time on Spain’s Mediterranean coast will immediately recognize the energy inside BCN’s renovated Montrose bungalow. It’s no...

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

$$ American/New American 3217 Montrose Blvd., #100

This Colorado-based chain is known for its elaborate line-up of morning foods and cocktails in addition to servers outfitted in superhero costumes and capes....

Editor’s Pick

Max’s Wine Dive

$$ American/New American, Cajun, Creole, Southern Multiple Locations

Max’s Wine Dive sells 150 wines by the glass—the bartender will open any bottle in the house if you order at least two glasses. Along with champagne and frie...

Barnaby’s Café

$ American/New American Multiple Locations

Named for the owner's childhood dog, Barnaby's has a little bit of everything: queso, baby back ribs, hot dogs, lasagna, veggie burgers and even a meatloaf b...

Pluckers Wing Bar

$$ American/New American, Pub/Brewery 1400 Shepherd Dr.

Wing fans flock to this Austin import, which sports 23 different versions of the Buffalo-based favorite. If there's a big game going on, plan to get there ea...

Republic Diner + Sojubang Closed

$$ Korean 1221 W. 11th St.

Old-fashioned comfort food to satisfy any ajumma rubs elbows with gastropub grub at this petite Heights soju bar. Pair a shot with galbi and bulgogi, or go m...

Izakaya

$$$ Japanese 318 Gray St.

Thanks to chef Manabu Horiuchi’s partnership with chef Jean-Philippe Gaston, the eatery boasts interesting Japanese-by-way-of-Houston fusion dishes—chicken-f...

Editor’s Pick

Hoodadak

$ Korean, Pub/Brewery 1645 Winding Hollow Dr., Ste. 205

Much has been made of South Korean franchise Bonchon opening a Texas location in Katy, but it’s met its match, and then some, in locally owned Hoodadak, whic...

Editor’s Pick

Dak & Bop

$$ Korean 1801 Binz St., Suite 120

This is one of the only places inside the Loop where you can consistently find Korean fried chicken—which makes sense, as KFC is their specialty. What makes ...

Editor’s Pick

State Fare Kitchen & Bar

$$ Hamburgers 947 Gessner Rd. Ste. B190

A recent visit here found the place packed, with many tables enjoying the same dish we were: a classic bacon cheeseburger stacked with heaps of crispy shredd...

Editor’s Pick

Southern Goods

$$ Southern 632 W. 19th St.

At Lyle Bento’s restaurant, the most successful dishes are those that take Southern standards and give them a little twist. For example, he brines his chicke...

Editor’s Pick

Kitchen 713

$$ American/New American 4601 Washington Ave.

We need a whole new category to describe the modern soul food/New American Creole cuisine that chefs James Haywood and Ross Coleman are serving at their Wash...

Editor’s Pick

Frank’s Americana Revival

$$$ Cajun, Creole, Southern, Steak 3736 Westheimer Rd.

When you slide into one of the restaurant’s dark wood booths, you travel back a few decades, to an era when Houston food was simply Southern. The fried seafo...

Editor’s Pick

B&B Butchers & Restaurant

$$$$ Steak 1814 Washington Ave

At lunch, the old-school deli slings swoon-worthy sandwiches like Hungarian salami and liverwurst on a warm Kaiser roll; at dinner, B&B’s swanky dining r...

Editor’s Pick

Urban Eats

$$ American/New American 3414 Washington Ave.

Part grab-and-go gourmet market, part restaurant/bistro, this place tries to be many things to many people. Downstairs, the market features bread from Krafts...

Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors

$$ American/New American, Southern 2400 Mid Ln., Ste. 100

Katie Adair Barnhart and Nicholas Adair, the sister and brother behind Adair Family Restaurants, pay homage to their Texan grandmother with the creative Gulf...

Eddie V’s

$$$ Seafood 12848 Queensbury Ln., Ste. 200

Eddie V’s is where Houston goes to splurge on seafood, whether at the super-swanky West Ave. location or the more laid-back (but no less elegant) one at City...

Editor’s Pick

Uchi

$$$$ Japanese 904 Westheimer Rd.

The original Uchi in Austin earned chef Tyson Cole a James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest. The Houston location of this Japanese gem resides in the stil...

Editor’s Pick

Roost Restaurant

$$ American/New American 1972 Fairview St.

From quinoa-stuffed poblano peppers with red beets and chocolate mole to jerk duck breast with mung bean slaw, the culinary mash-ups at the fun-loving little...

Riel

$$$ American/New American 1927 Fairview St.

Ukrainian-Manitoban chef Ryan LaChaine named his restaurant after Louis Riel—the first and last president of the provisional government of Saskatchewan and f...

Fat Bao

$ Pan-Asian Multiple Locations

While its quirky name is a nod to the wide variety of steamed buns (bao) available on the menu, this casual cafe offers one of the best selections of ramen i...

Edison

$$ American/New American 4203 Edison St.

Sit inside beneath the eponymous lightbulbs or outside around the fire pit, but whatever you do, order plenty of the creative cocktails and bar food. The Duc...

Editor’s Pick

Coltivare

$$ Italian 3320 White Oak Dr

Morgan Weber, who, along with chef Ryan Pera, also owns Revival Market a few blocks down the street, designed Coltivare’s handsome worn-wood interior. Outdoo...

Editor’s Pick

Tampico Seafood

$ Mexican/Tex-Mex, Seafood Multiple Locations

At Tampico—like neighbor Connie’s—you choose your fish from the ice-filled display cases inside the clean, efficient, neon-trimmed dining room and pay by wei...

Editor’s Pick

Songkran Thai Kitchen

$$ Thai Multiple Locations

If you’re looking to shake things up on a Friday night, look no further than Songkran, the newest addition to Uptown Park, where chef Junnajet Hurapan’s menu...

Editor’s Pick

Peska Seafood Culture

$$$$ Latin, Seafood 1700 Post Oak Blvd.

A seafood sommelier for the crustacean-challenged? A wunderkind chef? At first, Peska seemed too contrived to be charming. Yes, there were literally dozens o...

Editor’s Pick

Holley's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar

$$$$ Seafood, Southern 3201 Louisiana St.

Not since Bryan Caswell’s Reef opened in 2007 has there been so much buzz about a new seafood place, and justifiably so. Having captained Pesce for many year...

Underbelly

$$$ American/New American, Hamburgers 1100 Westheimer

The top of the menu at Underbelly reads in part: “We hope you will enjoy Chris Shepherd’s refined take on Houston’s New American Creole Cuisine.” The menu at...

Editor’s Pick

State of Grace

$$$ American/New American, Southern 3258 Westheimer Rd.

Diners may know James Beard Foundation award nominee Ford Fry as an Atlanta chef, but he grew up in River Oaks. His high school is across the street from Sta...

Ruggles Green

$$ American/New American, Vegetarian Multiple Locations

Ruggles Green may just have the most user-friendly menu we’ve ever seen, with a color-coded system to tell you at a glance if a dish is gluten-free, dairy-fr...

Editor’s Pick

Liberty Kitchen

$$$ American/New American, Seafood Multiple Locations

With an inviting concept, expansive menu, adroit cooking and a smart contemporary design, Liberty Kitchen provides a fine example for other casual dining res...

Krisp Bird & Batter

$ American/New American 5922A Richmond Ave.

Craving a chicken sandwich but want it ethical, too? Chef Ben McPherson's fast food is a cut above with pasture-raised, humane-certified, non-GMO-fed birds a...

Field & Tides

$$ American/New American 705 E. 11th St.

The heirloom vegetables that fill plates at this friendly restaurant come from chef Travis Lenig's in-laws. The menu is just as welcoming to other families—d...

Bosscat Kitchen & Libations

$$ American/New American, Pub/Brewery 4310 Westheimer Rd.

The owners may be fitness-minded, but this restaurant that has its original location in Newport Beach is all about indulgence. You might be surprised how man...

Bayou & Bottle

$$ American/New American 1300 Lamar St.

At the Four Seasons' lobby bar, the day begins with coffee, pastries and sandwiches at the grab-and-go counter. Lunch and dinner feature cuisine from interna...