This year marks the 10th anniversary of Houston Restaurant Weeks, the annual ritual in which Houston restaurants give diners a lot of bang for their buck—and donate even bigger bucks to charity. All week long, we're rounding up the best restaurants from the nearly 200 participants in which to catch brunch, enjoy a romantic dinner, treat the parents, and more.
In 2012, HRW was able to donate $1.2 million to the Houston Food Bank thanks to the participation of 169 restaurants—and that amount is only expected to rise this year. To date, HRW has raised nearly $3 million to feed hungry families across Houston. For its 10th anniversary, HRW has an array of menu options for every price range: a $20 lunch/brunch, of which $3 is donated to the Houston Food Bank; a $35 brunch/dinner, of which $5 is donated; and a $45 dinner, of which $7 is donated.
Today, we're looking at the best spots to treat your parents to a nice meal out—even if you may still have to borrow a few bucks from them from time to time.
Treat Your Folks
1103 S. Shepherd, 713-521-2239
As with its sister restaurant, Hugo's, the venerable Backstreet Cafe has assembled an amazing assortment of HRW menus for lunch and dinner. Evening is the time to go, however, when you can choose from a four-course vegetarian menu for $35, a three-course red wine dinner (wine pairing $25 extra), a three-course white wine dinner (another $25 for the wine), a three-course cocktail dinner (with cocktail pairings for $26), or a beer dinner paired with three beers for an additional $19. As is always important when dining out with the parents, there's a choice to please every member of the family.
Whether you're dining at the original Benjy's in Rice Village or the elegant new Benjy's on Washington Avenue, there's something for everyone on the $35 dinner menu: Dr Pepper-braised short ribs or pork chops with succotash for Dad, saffron risotto or blackened salmon for Mom, an Atkinson Farms tomato salad for anyone who loves the taste of Texas in the summer. And for dessert: Benjy's own mother's cake, served with vanilla ice cream.
10911 Katy Freeway, 713-465-2901
The old Brenner's Steakhouse on Katy Freeway just outside the Beltway was always a special occasion spot for my family growning up. But even if it wasn't for your own family, it's still a lovely little spot to treat the parents to a nice night out. The charming, old-school steak house is serving some of its long-time favorites on its $45 HRW dinner menu, including a 6-ounce filet mignon and weiner schnitzel with anchovies, capers, and a fried egg on top.
1802 Shepherd, 713-862-2020
Take your folks lunch or dinner here—Cadillac Bar is offering a two-course lunch menu for $20 and a three-course dinner for $35, and both are full of festive favorites. At lunch, the carnitas enchiladas and the cantina nachos are sure to please. And at dinner, you can choose between generous portions of mixed fajitas with grilled shrimp, a parillada with roasted Cornish game hen, grilled shrimp, pork ribs, and more, or a lighter mahi mahi topped with sweet and spicy habanero salsa.
2521 Bagby, 713-521-7231
The attentive European-style service matches the classic Continental fare at this gloriously old-school Midtown restaurant, where chef Johann Schuster serves updated twists on German, French, Austrian, and Hungarian food. The be-curtained and white-tableclothed dining room means you can actually have a conversation without yelling (perfect for the parents), and they'll love Schuster's dishes such as foie gras-stuffed schnitzel and homemade apple strudel with vanilla ice cream on the $35 HRW dinner menu.
The Federal Grill
510 Shepherd, 713-863-7777
Once known as Branch Water Tavern, the newly repurposed restaurant on Shepherd near Washington is now The Federal Grill, but still spots a few old Branch Water favorites. The renovated interior and attentive service lend a quiet, dignified air to the Grill, but the fun food and cocktails keep it from being stuffy. Whether you choose the $20 lunch menu or the $35 dinner menu, look for favorites like the eggplant napoleon with homemade saag paneer and raita (one of the best vegetarian dishes in town), chicken-fried oysters with hot sauce, or the amazing Akaushi burger with white Cheddar and Berkshire bacon.
Frank's Americana Revival
3736 Westheimer, 713-572-8600
The old Frank's Chop House has been renovated as Frank's Americana Revival under the watchful eyes of father-and-son team Michael and Christopher Shine, and now sports a fun yacht club vibe mixed with Rat Pack swank. In other words, it's perfect for Dad. You'll find food to match the mood on the $35 HRW dinner menu, including some of the best gumbo in town, chicken-fried steak, and a maple-brined 16-ounce pork chop.
2502 Algerian Way, 713-581-6101
Chef Randy Evans's farm-to-table mecca lets you enjoy summer's bounty without the sweat-producing labor of picking it yourself. (In fact, much of the produce and herbs served at Haven comes from its own gardens on site.) You'll find such seasonal favorites as Haven's whole-roasted tomato with ratatouille, quinoa, and purple hull pea hummus on the menu as well as meatier choices like fried chicken livers, wild Gulf head-on shrimp, and free-range chicken with bacon spaetzle.
4412 Washington Avenue, 713-880-5111
This clubby steakhouse from the Laurenzo family (they of El Tiempo) mixes steaks with Tex-Mex classics, so there's a little something for both sides of the table here. The incredibly warm, welcoming service will make you feel right at home—but that's only one of the things Laurenzo's is known for. The other is prime rib, which is served every night on the $35 HRW dinner menu (or inside a wrap at lunch) along with other choices like crab etouffee enchiladas and an amazing chocolate bread pudding.
1985 Welch, 713-533-0200
My own parents adore Mockingbird Bistro for the fun, funky architecture inside the old Montrose building that houses the bistro, which keeps the place spirited and spunky in spite of its carpeted floors and white tablecloths. Chef John Sheely's food is the other main attraction, and his talents are on display in Mockingbird's $45, three-course dinner menu with choices such as roasted cauliflower souffle topped with shaved truffles, braised Colorado lamb shank, and Chicken Veronique: a roasted half-chicken with saffron-tomato couscous and broccolini.