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.
Guard and Grace
Sure, people may deride the idea of a $400 fajita with gold leaf, but that's the point of Guard and Grace, the first Tag Hospitality Co. restaurant to come to Houston. It wants to attract the folks who have the guts (and I suppose the gall) to pay for a $400 fajita that may not be as soul-comforting as one you can get at, say, El Tiempo. But it also wants you to ask, "Why? Who do they think they are?"
Well, Guard and Grace thinks it can compete with the big boys for your steakhouse money, and after a media tasting as the One Allen Center restaurant was about to open, it certainly has a case. Besides the flavorful and juicy New York strip and wagyu filet, there's whole-grilled snapper with a snappy Laotian tomato curry, a fun Texas-style snack of chicken-fried quail, and an elegant riff on a trendy starter: carrots. Moreover, it's just gorgeous and worth the kind of money you'll put down when sitting down to dinner. There's a lot of hope here.
Cochinita & Co.
On the other end of the spectrum is a tiny counter at Rice Village food hall Politan Row. Cochinita & Co. from Victoria Elizondo focuses on just a few bites—a couple tacos, a couple ceviches and seafood dishes—but there's plenty of care in these plates. I'll declare her la cochinita taco (traditional pulled pork marinated on achiote and citrus, paired with pickled onions on soft blue corn) as one of the city's best single tacos, while the pollo poblano taco has just the right pinch of heat.
I've written about my nachos expertise in the past, and while the plate at Wilcrest Drive vegan Tex-Mex joint Veegos looked odd to me at first, I forgot all about that after diving into the rich and creamy cashew cheese and sour cream combo with those crunchy corn tortillas. For hardcore meat-eaters, Veegos may not be a first or second choice for Tex-Mex (seriously, I get it), but I recommend a visit because this place really tries to get the textures and depth of flavor just right.
I also dig the enchiladas here (I highly recommend the pastor over the jackfruit), which come with classically smooth refried beans and rice that looks a little more like pilaf but is no less delicious. Honestly, whether or not you like your Tex-Mex with a honkin' piece of beef (or pork), you'll find something to love here.
Speaking o' vegan, Third Ward cafe Doshi House got a sparkling new look, and it's really cute and worth your time one of these afternoons. Doshi House specializes in vegan lunch grub and locally roasted coffee with plant-based milks. I enjoyed the artisan grill panini with artichokes (an underrated vegetable that needs to be utilized more often), and washed it down with a delicious smoothie. Big tables for working, lots of light, and a very chill vibe make this a must-hit for creatives.
The hype was high when Rosie Cannonball opened back in late August, and after dining there, I'll admit it's warranted. There are some seriously outstanding dishes being served by Felipe Riccio and his kitchen team (start every meal with the focaccia di Recco), including desserts that are already cycling out, much to my sadness, but are nonetheless incredible.
But forget the food for a second (I know, it's hard). What I've enjoyed most about Rosie is the look and attention to detail. I adore the restaurant's cool southwestern vibe— accentuated with just the right number of cacti—and the overhead lighting is just superb. Also, getting a complementary splash of Lambrusco to open my meal is just wonderful. It's evident there are some serious pros working this restaurant, and that's refreshing in a city where dining out is the thing to do.
This established spot for celebration dinners (formerly Danton's) recently moved across Montrose (it's now at Welch and McDuffie), but a relative newcomer like me wouldn't have known it by walking into the new digs. With a lot of wood, a dimly lit ambience, an awesome bar straight from the old Joske's, and snappy service, Eugene's feels like home. It also helps that plenty of the Danton's dishes came along for the change. Look for oysters Montrose, especially.