In August, President of H-E-B Houston Scott McClelland—you'll know him from the ubiquitous commercials and his tendency to be spotted strolling along the aisles in one of his many Houston-area stores—shared some of his top foodie picks in town with us as part of our Best of the Bayou City feature.
Today, we're sharing a few more of those picks with you, because some recommendations are too good to keep to yourself:
Best Small Grocery: “Phoenicia’s pita bread, and seeing it come through the conveyor belts, makes it a destination. It’s the most interesting niche grocery store for what they do.”
Best Houston-made Product: “I’m a fan of Pita Pal hummus. I think it’s wonderfully creamy.”
Best High-End Restaurant: “I think you’d be hard-pressed to pass up Da Marco. It’s quaint and delicious.” His order? The chianti-braised short ribs with burrata risotto.
Best Local Produce: "I don’t think there’s anything better than eating blueberries from East Texas. This year, we pretty much contracted to buy the whole crop." McClelland is also fond of the fruits of Cooper Farms in Fairfield, as well as peaches from Parker County and Fredericksburg. “People have an affinity for peaches,” he says. "And Poteet strawberries. We make an ice cream with Poteet strawberries in them—we make all the ice cream we can."
Best Farmers Market: McClelland thinks Eastside Farmers Market has the most interesting purveyors. And he should know. Each year, H-E-B runs Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best, a contest that allows small producers to compete to be included on store shelves. "A lot of these folks get their starts in farmers markets," McClelland points out. In particular, he recalls one woman who makes salsa from a recipe she found belonging to her father who is now affected by Alzheimer's. "The stories are sometimes more interesting than the food," he says.
Best Casual Restaurant: "Frankly, I love to go to dive restaurants," says McClelland. He thinks London Sizzler, on the corner of 59 and Hillcroft, has the best Indian food in town. But he holds Thai restaurant Kanomwan on Telephone Road especially dear, though he describes it as "the Thai version of the Soup Nazi." Diners must find their own bills on the counter manned by the owner's grandson. "He's like 12 years old," jokes McClelland. Child labor aside, he adds, "That's the great thing about Houston. The great, family-owned ethnic restaurants make it such a special place to live."
Best Part of Town for Dining: "It ebbs and flows over time. I think the Heights is really coming on right now, with so many new restaurants coming up," he says, adding that Montrose was his favorite previously. "One of things you really have to respect is how collaborative not competitive the food scene is. As a result, the tide has just lifted for everyone. I think it’s helped to put Houston on the map as a food culture and I think it’s really benefited the entire city."
Best Thing About Being Recognized From TV: "I’d say the best thing is all the interesting people I get to meet," he says. "The best part is looking in people's shopping baskets and asking them what they’re having for dinner." And the J.J. Watt factor? "Everyone is convinced I live next door to J.J. Watt," he says, despite the fact that each series of commercials has been shot at a different home. "On my headstone I'll put 'Scott McClelland: One degree removed from J.J. Watt.'" Still, even McClelland admits he's been won over by the defensive end's charms.