Best Restaurants 2019

The Perfect Heights Food Crawl

Four new restaurants in one night? Oh, it can be done.

By Timothy Malcolm September 25, 2019 Published in the October 2019 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Image: Amy Kinkead

In recent years no area of town has seen as many stellar restaurant openings as the Heights, most of them comfy spots where people from the neighborhood congregate—people like me on a recent Wednesday night, when I made an evening of it and hit a few standouts:

6:10 p.m. Not long after Houston-raised, Atlanta-based restaurateur Ford Fry opened an outpost of Superica, his ode to Tex-Mex, in the Heights, it already felt lived in. When I belly up to the bar, families already dot the dining room, getting in an early meal.

6:13 p.m. Warm corn chips arrive with two full salsa containers: a spicy roja and a cilantro-infused verde. I start to relax.

Queso fundido at Superica

6:30 p.m. I’m dipping steaming flour tortillas into a velvety queso fundido and savoring my spicy, smoky My La Parilla margarita with its chile salt rim. The dining room is calm. I’m calm. It’s perfect.

6:53 p.m. It’s a short drive to Squable, the new offering from revered duo Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel (Better Luck Tomorrow), where co-chefs Mark Clayton and Drew Gimma are positively killing it with their eclectic, flavor-packed cuisine.

6:58 p.m. Oliver at the bar suggests an Aligoté, a somewhat acidic, briny French white. The room is full of happy diners. The turquoise accents and vintage wood remind me of Superica.

7:05 p.m. There’s one dish I crave above all others: sourdough topped with a rich aioli-like spread, mussels, and calico beans, hands down one of my favorites of the year. I can’t eat too much as I must continue, but every bite is heaven.

Sourdough topped with a rich aioli-like spread, mussels, and calico beans at Squable

7:30 p.m. I walk out, already plotting my return.

7:39 p.m. As I enter Neo Baguette, Karim Kasri’s Mediterranean-style all-day spot, a couple passes by. “We saved some food for you,” laughs the gentleman. The counter-service restaurant is full of folks enjoying quiet, lazy dinners.

7:43 p.m. I peruse the menu and order rigatoni with grilled shrimp and olives in a hearty tomato sauce with parmesan and pecorino Romano. I sink into a comfy banquette and relax.

7:57 p.m. Dinner is served, and it’s delicious. I’m slowing down now, but I must persevere.

Rigatoni from Neo Baguette

8:20 p.m. I box up my leftovers and head back to the car. It’s a five-minute drive to Mastrantos on Studewood.

8:28 p.m. Owners Mari and Xavier Godoy welcome me into their restaurant, which offers a global-inspired menu with chef-driven small plates, skillfully executed meat and fish entrées, and homemade pastas and pastries. The nightly rush is slowing down here. I grab a bar seat and ask for the dessert menu.

8:37 p.m. A cappuccino arrives, and just as quickly, a peach cobbler made by pastry chef Eliu Palacios is set in front of me.

Peach cobbler from Mastrantos

8:43 p.m. The cobbler’s buttery, brown-sugary streusel sends me to a happy place, its caramelized peach slices warming my soul. Rich vanilla ice cream cools it off. I have chosen well.

9 p.m. I bid Xavier goodnight and sincerely wish him the best—this is my kind of neighborhood restaurant. All of these places are

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