Thursday, April 11, 2013


File:Downtown Houston Skyline Night.JPG
photo by Bobby L. Warren, shared via Wikipedia Commons

Aaaahh, Houston, the nation is impressed that you can rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time.  Did you know you've been called "one of the country's most exciting places to eat?"  That may be a surprise to those cruising along the free-for-alls out to the 'burbs, passing ubiquitous fast food chains, Landry's permutations, and Pappas-what-was-that's on the feeder roads. Not that there's anything wrong with Tilman Fertitta's endeavors ('cause, really, who doesn't *get* the white tigers?) or the Pappas family ventures.

But it's the lovefest for Underbelly and Oxheart that has lured a New York Times food critic outside his home territory to here, where he has found "an instinct for the delicious that is rare in any city."

Before you get all soft and fuzzy about the freakin' New York Times, don't forget that Bon Appetit has already heralded Houston as the state's best and most diverse food city.  That sounds about what you'd hope from the country's most diverse city, right?  Anyway, Bon Appetit names Oxheart in the Hot 10 of America's New Restaurants for 2012.

Oxheart (along with newer Pass and Provisions) cracked into Opinionated About Dining's "coveted list" of Top 100 American restaurants.  This foodie-fight blogger is "America's most fickle food critic", i.e. Steve Plotnicki, a co-founder of Profile Records (signed Run DMC in the day) and rich guy who eats out too much.

Of course, Houston's made a great appearance in nominations for the Oscars of Food, the James Beard Foundation awards.  Two of five finalists for 2013's Best Chef Southwest hail from Houston:  Chris Shepherd of Underbelly and Hugo Ortega of Hugo's.  Local food critic Alison Cooke is a finalist for distinguished restaurant review (not hard to guess that her reviews of Oxheart and Underbelly are underscored).  Oxheart and its owner/chef, Justin Yu,were semi-finalists for Best New Restaurant and Rising Star Chef.  Anvil Bar & Refuge was semi-finalist for Outstanding Bar Program.  And the James Beard Foundation nods to Goode Company--semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur.

Frankly, I think all these folks need to high five Bryan Caswell of Reef, Little Bigs, El Real, recently-closed Stella Sola plus Next-Iron-Chef fame.  When he started making the national scene a few years ago, I think folks were scratching their heads in puzzlement about Houston being on anyone's culinary radar.  I remember watching the Las Vegas episode of Next Iron Chef and thinking, "Yes, yes, barbecue crabs!"  Plus, every contestant on Food Network after Caswell seemed to assemble a pain perdu after his charming little doughnut concoction.

Back handed compliments aside,* Houston lastly gets touted this week by travel writer David Landsel as an impressively creative and fun town, with plenty of good food, good music, good drink, and "best of all--fun-loving locals who are generally anything but uptight."  Hell, yeah, baybay.  So pat yourself on the head, Houston.  And after supper from our starry dining scene, rub your tummy, too.

Pat Your Head and Rub Your Tummy

*Guey, he called Houston so ugly that sometimes you may be tempted to put a bag over our head.  I'm just going to pretend I didn't hear that (and remind you to stay inside the Loop or just nap on the way to the airport, k?).

No comments:

Post a Comment