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Dine on paella at El Meson.

Image: Alice Levitt

You look at the more than 200 restaurant locations (the number includes multiple links in chains) on the Houston Restaurant Weeks website. Overwhelmed, your eye goes to a favorite, likely somewhere you habitually frequent, or wish you did. Your choice is made.

But if you use that method, you'll likely be eating something you've eaten before. We've combed through the places that you're already familiar with and have tried to identify the hidden gems that, come August 1, may become your latest favorite place. 

Alexander the Great

Three courses, $35

This Greek spot is steps from the Galleria, but chances are, you've never noticed it. Now's the time. They're pulling out all the stops with entrées including a pairing of a lamb shank with creamy macaroni dish pastitsio, and surf-and-turf souvlaki with filet mignon and shrimp on the skewers.

El Meson Restaurant

Three courses, $35

Though our favorite dishes at El Meson are usually Cuban, for Restaurant Weeks, the Rice Village charmer is going straight continental. Entrées include paella (replete with chicken, shrimp, squid, mussels) and beef Bourguignon. But we're most enticed by one of the starters: piquillo peppers, stuffed with lamb, raisins and pine nuts in tomato-pimentón sauce.

Foundation Room at the House of Blues

Three courses, $45

House of Blues? Off-the-radar? Well, have you ever eaten there? Us, too. And for Restaurant Weeks, the globe-trotting offerings are not at all what we expected. Start with fried langoustine bites and plantain chips with chimichurri, then move on to ramen (albeit with soba noodles) in red curry broth. It's still a theme restaurant, so finish with Salty Stawberry Fields.

Kirby's Prime Steakhouse

Three courses, $45

There's a reason you probably haven't heard of this eatery—it's in The Woodlands, and meals there benefit the Montgomery County Food Bank. But this is no fusty, suburban steakhouse. Starters include crispy pork belly with a polenta cake and red pepper chimichurri or smoked tenderloin-Parmesan onion soup. Steaks are available in Wellington form or wrapped in prosciutto.

Marvino's Italian Kitchen

Four courses, $35

We're salivating for one app in particular at this Cypress restaurant. That would be the homemade ravioli filled with shreds of osso buco, served in Marsala cream sauce with peas and mushrooms. It's quite a deal, with a starter, soup or salad, entrée and dessert for $35.

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Sushi King brings Japanese cuisine and vegetarian options to Restaurant Weeks.

Image: Alice Levitt

Mezza Grill

Three courses, $35

Title for most head-spinning fusion definitely goes to this Westheimer Road spot. You can start with Spicy Potato Balls with cilantro-lime sauce, then move onto Middle Eastern mixed grill platter with three different kebabs. Got a sweet tooth? Options include tiramisu, crème brûlée and coconut tres leches.

Pasta e Pesto

Four courses, $35

The pastas are homemade at this FM 1960 Italian restaurant. Keep an eye out for the second course, then. There's ravioli alla vodka, gnocchi with pancetta in Gorgonzola cream sauce and lasagne with zucchini, bacon and ham in Béchamel. But save room for panna cotta with hazelnut cream sauce.

Prego

Three courses, $35

Too often, folks forget about Hugo Ortega's Rice Village pasta purveyor. This menu is a reason to remember. Options are largely Italian-American classics, but done at the level of a James Beard Foundation award winner. We're particularly enticed by the gnocchi with braised wagyu beef.

Sushi King

Four courses, $35

Japanese options are few and far between among the Restaurant Week menus, so we're stoked for the selection in Upper Kirby. Not only that, among the salmon poké and sushi and sashimi, there's a vegetarian option for every course, including broiled peanut-and-sesame tofu. Dessert brings... churros? 

Turquoise Grill

Three courses, $35

Sugar Land may be synonymous with big chains, but this Turkish restaurant is an exception. The Restaurant Weeks menu includes a meze plate and kebab platter, but it otherwise more broadly Mediterranean. Caprese salad and salmon-and-tiger-prawns over pasta with either arrabiata or Alfredo sauce.

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