Houston Restaurant Menus Got You Experiencing Déjà Food?
You're not alone—though who can argue against the merits of fancy chicken-fried steak or red velvet pancakes?
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.
- As seen at: Bayou & Bottle, Bosscat, Field & Tides, Krisp Bird & Batter, Liberty Kitchen, Ruggles Green, State of Grace, Underbelly
- Evolved from: Boring caesars made with boring, untrendy lettuce
- Where to eat it: Field & Tides serves a version enlivened by fried Gulf oysters.
- Points for creativity: State of Grace's easy-to-love, you-call-that-a-caesar caesar with manchego and chorizo
- To be replaced by: Kale wedge salad (don't think too hard about the logistics)
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.
- 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.
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.
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 by: Karaage, the Japanese version of popcorn chicken
Red Velvet Pancakes
- As seen at: Barnaby's, Liberty Kitchen, Max's Wine Dive, Snooze
- 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
- As seen at: BCN Taste & Tradition, Café Azur, Coltivare, Helen Greek Food and Wine, Killen's STQ, La Fisheria, Oporto, State of Grace, Xochi
- Evolved from: Calamari
- Where to eat it: Xochi, or anywhere Hugo Ortega serves his masterful pulpo
- Points for creativity: Anise is a surprising addition in the popular octopus app at Café Azur.
- To be replaced by: Fried geoduck
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