Cook Like a Local: Flavors That Can Change How You Cook and See the World

By Chris Shepherd and Kaitlyn Goalen; Clarkson Potter; $35

DL: Arguably Houston’s most acclaimed chef (Georgia James, UB Preserv), Shepherd looks back on his career and the recipes that helped make him a James Beard winner. The book includes essays about essential Houston ingredients like fish sauce, rice, and corn, plus influential Houstonians Shepherd has learned from, such as the Patel family of London Sizzler.

Why to Buy It: So many reasons, but Shepherd’s explainer on the absorption method of cooking rice is necessary knowledge.

For Whom: The enthusiastic home cook who just bought a barbecue smoker.

Favorite Recipes: Pork belly and kimchi stew, Korean braised goat and dumplings, “lamburger helper.”

Houston Cooks: Recipes from the City’s Favorite Restaurants and Chefs

By Francine Spiering; Figure 1 Publishing; $32.99

DL: The local food and travel writer has pulled together quite a feat with this book, which features more than 40 acclaimed local chefs, including Justin Yu and Monica Pope. Readers learn a little about each chef and get a ton of recipes along the way; the result is a vital snapshot of Houston’s culinary scene.

Why to Buy It: Party hosts can now serve Eculent’s “gem stone” potatoes alongside Himalaya’s rainbow rice.

For Whom: The Newstonian wondering where to start with our food culture.

Favorite Recipes: Mala Sichuan’s Sichuan peppercorn rooster, Rudyard’s scotch egg with scallion mustard, Common Bond’s sweet corn bisque with crabmeat and crispy bacon.

Tex-Mex: Traditions, Innovations and Comfort Foods from Both Sides of the Border

By Ford Fry and Jessica Dupuy; Clarkson Potter; $29.99

DL: Houston-born restaurateur Fry owns three popular spots in the Bayou City, one of which is an outpost of his popular Tex-Mex chain Superica. If you love Fry’s queso, enchiladas, fajitas, and margaritas, you’re in luck, as he shares many of his Tex-Mex recipes and tells some stories, too. 

Why to Buy It: Fry not only dives into the history of Tex-Mex, but also suggests all the tools home cooks need to shine in the kitchen (buy a tortilla press already).

For Whom: The person who always suggests tacos and margaritas after a long week.

Favorite Recipes: Ox eyes (poached eggs in red chile sauce), Felix’s queso, grilled shrimp diablo.

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