HAVING TROUBLE KEEPING UP with Houston’s busy restaurant scene? No worries—allow me to suggest some of my favorite recent experiences. Here’s where you should eat this month.
The new wine-forward restaurant from Brian Doke (formerly Tiny Boxwoods) and chef Micah Rideout has had an up-and-down first month. Just two weeks after opening in the Heights, and receiving some good press, the restaurant took in water from Tropical Depression Imelda. As a result, Savoir had to close for more than a week. But now that it's open once again, visit for well-flavored pizza, inventive appetizers like a curly fry flight and tortellini with beef and broccoli in a fragrant broth, and of course, a solid and growing wine list.
From Sambrooks Hospitality Group comes this Montrose Tex-Mex restaurant that doubles down on big honkin' plates and showstopping comfort food. Fun dishes like an enormous burrito stuffed with Frito pie, and the mouthwatering brisket nachos, are just the beginning, as Candente goes big on fajitas and rich enchiladas. I've been counting down the days until I return, and I'll absolutely be coming back when the weather cooperates and the side patio is hopping.
Choong Man Chicken
Out in Spring Branch is the first Texas location of a wildly popular South Korean fried chicken chain (that also has locations in the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia corridor). Choong Man does that double-fried bird just right, as I had a hard time putting down my helpings of crispy-as-all-get-out chicken recently. Inside a relatively unassuming space in a Spring Branch strip mall, I tried the garlic soy and curry fried chicken, both deeply satisfying and served with a bowl of pickled daikon radish to cool down the numbing heat. Other flavors include red hot pepper, spicy garlic, and chicken topped with "snow" (raw onions bathed in sweet aioli).
On a lazy Friday evening before a show at Miller Outdoor Theater, we visited Fia's Pizzeria, a new spot from HTX Restaurant Group (Bodegas Taco Shop, Park Grill). The fast-casual pizzeria has make-your-own and specialty pies, plus wings, salads, sandwiches, and pasta. The curious Montrose Spicy Pickle (yup, pickles on the pie with bacon, tomato, dill, crushed red pepper, sriracha ranch sauce) is surprisingly good. It's a nice option for a quick bite.
Finally, the popular salad chain has landed in Houston with two locations (Rice Village, Montrose). Sweetgreen offers lunch salads and bowls (and you can make your own with ingredients like shrimp, sesame tofu, and hard-boiled egg), in bright and chipper environs. I recently had the chicken tostada bowl—blackened thighs with spicy chickpeas, feta, tortilla chips, quinoa, spinach, hot sauce, and lime cilantro dressing. It was bigger than a typical lunch meal, and at 745 calories it felt just a little heavier than I needed, but I loved the roasted, rustic flavor with a dash of heat. Prices are a little high (my bowl was $11.50 before a drink), so I wouldn't consider Sweetgreen a daily lunch option.
In my year-plus as a guy who runs around eating everything in town, I've realized that no place has made me more consistently happy and full than Lankford Grocery on the edge of Montrose and the Fourth Ward. This isn't groundbreaking grub, just flaky, warm, and buttery biscuits served with a creamy pepper gravy. It's not a pricey breakfast or lunch, just good people, tasty breakfasts and burgers, and when it's not too hot out there, one of the best seats in the city: a red picnic table feet from the street. It's great for families and those looking to stuff their faces over a long weekend breakfast. Just remember: biscuits and gravy are only available on Saturday.