All the Best Meals & Deals for Houston Restaurant Weeks 2019
Guess who’s back, back again? Houston Restaurant Weeks is back, tell a friend… and after you tell said friend, lock down your reservation, stat.
Houston’s favorite annual fundraiser is upon us (running now through Labor Day on September 2), and it’s bringing prix fixe menus at restaurants across the city along with it. Founded in 2003 by restaurant correspondent and philanthropist Cleverley Stone, the citywide charitable effort has raised over $14.7 million for the Houston Food Bank over the years, providing almost 44.1 million meals for Houstonians who are food insecure.
Here’s how it works: Participating restaurants set prix fixe, multi-course menus for brunch, lunch, and/or dinner, making a donation for each meal sold. Lunch and brunch menus run $20, with $3 going to the Houston Food Bank; and dinners range from $35 to $45, with $5 or $7 going to the charity, respectively. This year, Houston Restaurant Weeks expects over 255 restaurants to participate, covering pretty much every nook and cranny of the city -- and while that’s totally awesome and all, it’s also a lot to pour through. That’s why we made you a Houston Restaurant Weeks cheat sheet, cherry-picking the best menus out there. We’ll also be updating it as the Restaurant Weeks roll on, so be sure to check back in for that.
All you have to do to help is eat (easy, right?), and the more meals you eat means the more donations made to the Houston Food Bank. So, like we said, start making those reservations.
With veteran chef Brandi Key becoming culinary director earlier this year, now is the time to revisit this cozy neighborhood bistro. Rich blues and cool tones give the space a calm, relaxed feel, perfect for sharing bottles of wine and noshing on New American plates like Dijon deviled eggs with pickled mustard seeds, or slow-roasted pork belly with sweet corn butter. Both are offered as first course choices of a two-course meal at lunchtime, with entrees including bacon chili bucatini and a smashed chickpea falafel sandwich with horseradish labneh. Dinner (three courses) brings choices ranging from chilled beets to jumbo shrimp cocktail, steak frites to classic chicken roast, and lemon pudding cake to milk chocolate mousse.
Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch Monday-Friday, $35 for a 3-course dinner daily
Order: Classic roast chicken, steak frites with maître d’ butter and silky milk chocolate mousse
Salerno-raised chef-owner Giancarlo Ferrara plans to start your HRW meal off right at his posh Italian kitchen and bar -- and by right, we mean with welcome appetizers and a frozen bellini. Next, it’s your choice of first courses like mousse di burrata with a light basil gelatin, black angus beef carpaccio, and imported parma prosciutto with fresh black mission figs. Ferrara then breaks out the big guns for the mains, from house-made red snapper ravioli with roasted Maine lobster and limoncello sauce to a Berkshire pork chop served gratin with Parmesan summer black truffle sauce. Dark chocolate mousse, lemon sponge cake, and caramelized peaches and cream close things out with a tasty bang.
Cost: $45 for a 3-course dinner Monday-Saturday
Order: The burrata mousse and big ol' pork chop (or the branzino we didn’t mention, because there were way too many good things to mention them all)
Transport yourself to the Big Apple with a prix fixe meal at this charming, New York style steakhouse. The flavors are all big and bold here, from the homemade ravioli with pork belly stuffing to the roquefort-crusted filet mignon. Both dishes are on the three-course dinner menu, along with sizzling thick-cut bacon, surf and turf with bacon wrapped crab stuffed shrimp, classic creme brûlée, and optional upgrades like scampi-style king crab and 22-day dry-aged bone-in ribeye.
Cost: $20 for a 2-course lunch and $45 for a 3-course dinner daily, with add-ons available
Order: The 22oz dry-aged ribeye
Set in a beautiful restored home with one of the most picturesque patios in town, Backstreet is a choice spot for date-night or classy brunch with the crew. During HRW, the American bistro will be offering five prix fixe dinner menus, including a vegetarian option (plus menus for lunch and brunch). Choose the White Wine menu to dine on scallop crudo, herb-crusted salmon with squash blossom sauce, and ice box banana parfait; or go for the Bourbon menu, which progresses from plum five-spice pork ribs to smoked chicken enchiladas then to peach-huckleberry cobbler.
Cost: $20 for 2-course lunch (weekdays) or brunch (weekends); $35 for 3-course dinner daily, plus optional beverage pairings
Order: Whichever menu tickles your fancy, but we quite like the Bubbly Menu with lobster chowder, crispy pan-roasted duck, and espresso cake
Houston’s social set can see and be seen at this highly Instagrammable bistro, housed in the oh-so-posh River Oaks District. But that’s not to say the food isn’t just as good as the scene. The HRW menu brings crispy duck spring rolls, crab beignets, branzino, bbq short rib and steak frites to the table, plus profiteroles, creme brulee, and spiced rum bread pudding for dessert. If anything, do it for the ‘gram.
Cost: $20 for a 2-course lunch Monday through Friday, $45 for a 3-course dinner daily
Order: Crab beignets and bbq short rib with cornbread, grilled peaches, and a Zinf reduction
Creole fine dining should always be on your bucket list (if it isn’t already), but now is perhaps the best time to get a taste of this stunner. A local institution since the way-back days of 1967, Brennan’s pulls out all the tricks with crisp white table cloths, superb service, and tableside finishes on dishes like the Shrimp Haute Creole and famed Bananas Foster. The icon is showing off its culinary fortitude with Restaurant Weeks menus for lunch, brunch, and dinner.
Cost: $20 for 2-course lunch (weekdays) and brunch (weekends), $45 for 3-course dinner daily
Order: Shrimp remoulade, sugarcane smoked short rib, and bananas foster flamed tableside with Caribbean rum
It’s all about no-fuss dining at this new American diner, where Houston native Benjy Levit has created the quintessential, effortless neighborhood spot. Here, classic dishes are elevated and properly executed, and during Restaurant Weeks that means you can go from summer gazpacho to local catch to Tang soft serve; from chicken liver mousse to red wine beef bourguignon and mom’s chocolate cake; and from tomato burrata toast to ricotta-stuffed crunchy chicken to a blondie a la mode. Grab one of the swivel seats in front of the open-kitchen to get the full diner feel, and tack on a Sidecar while you’re at it.
Cost: $35 for a 3-course dinner daily
Order: Beef bourguignon and mom’s chocolate cake
This “chef incubator” and bar may be Houston’s most exciting restaurant at this moment in time. Housed in the former Beaver’s space, the restaurant/bar/pop-up hybrid features rotating talent and first looks at new concepts, with chef Evelyn Garcia as the current chef-in-residence. The Restaurant Weeks menu delivers a taste of her distinctive approach to southeast Asian cuisine via the flavors from her Latina heritage -- think ceviche with ginger leche de tigre, Thai-style fried fish, roasted veggie green curry, and mango sticky rice.
Cost: $45 for a 3-course dinner Tuesday-Sunday
Order: Crispy sweet and spicy chicken wing, Thai-style fried fish with coconut rice, Thai tea milk cake
Chef Hugo Ortega’s original spot has been keeping Montrose cool for over 15 years. Here, the talented chef explores the roots of Mexico. No, for real: each of the five preset dinner menus starts with an amuse bouche dubbed “The Roots of Mexico,” a sandal-shaped masa boat with refried beans, Mexican squash, corn, and huitlacoche. That kicks off courses on the Menu De Mariscos, which features such goodness as tortilla ash-seared scallop over sweet corn bread, catch of the day Gulf fish over a chile de arbol-spiked stew, and mango sponge cake with passion fruit cream; or The Street Foods Of Mexico, with lobster tail tiradito, wood-grilled steak smothered in rajas, and dulce de leche churros. Each comes with an optional booze pairing.
Cost: $20 for a 2-course lunch Monday through Friday, $45 for a 3-course (plus amuse) dinner with optional beverage pairings daily
Order: The Street Foods of Mexico men (we’re suckers for surf n’ turf)
Agricole Hospitality (known for Coltivare, Revival Market, and more) has unleashed its latest stunner, and it comes with a bonus cocktail bar (Miss Carousel) next door. If you haven’t made it out to EaDo just yet, perhaps its HRW menus can entice you. Named after a Matagorda Bay ghost town that was once a historic port of entry for Texas, Indianola takes a modern approach to American food, looking at it through a worldly lens. Dine on gustatory treasures such as charred carrots and Moroccan eggs (brunch), butterbean hummus and chicken chop salad (lunch), and wood-grilled 44 Farms sirloin with corn puree, green tomatillo, and escabeche (dinner).
Cost: $20 for lunch (weekdays) and brunch (weekends), $35 for dinner daily
Order: Blue crab imperial, 44 Farms sirloin, and chocolate trifle
Chef Ronnie Killen has been killin’ it with his bbq, smoke, steak, and burger joints, and things are no differed at this “Mexican Inspired and Texas Fired” spot. Here, the fare has deep roots in both Tex-Mex and barbecue, with a thoughtful approach to our region’s most classic cuisine. During HRW that includes crispy-skin, chicharrones-style pork belly, wood-grilled, chile butter oysters, pecan-smoked and adobo-sauced barbacoa short rib, habanero camarones a la diabla, and a must-have tres leches cake. Oh, and there’s brisket queso (lunch) and brisket quesadilla (brunch), too.
Cost: $20 for a 2-course lunch (weekdays) and brunch (weekends), $35 for a 3-course dinner daily
Order: Wood-grilled oysters, the barbacoa short rib, and tres leches
Classic cheese soufflé, hanger steak frites, salmon in saffron broth, and pistachio cream mille feuille are all on the menu at this French tour de force -- but those are just some of the fancy HRW menu choices. There’s also crème brûlée, crispy prosciutto and shrimp risotto, and what may be the best beet salad in town. You’ll find it on both the lunch, brunch, and dinner menu as a first course option.
Cost: $20 for 2-course lunch (weekdays) or brunch (weekends) with a $5 optional dessert, $45 for a 3-course dinner Monday-Saturday
Order: The beet salad and roast chicken for lunch or brunch, and the cheese soufflé, steak frites, and crème brûlée for an oh-so decadent dinner
French traditions get a global twist at this eclectic Heights restaurant, the culmination of a 20-year dream for chef Manuel Pucha (formerly at La Table). Here, Pucha showcases French cuisine through the lense of his Ecuadorian heritage, with HRW choices including Ecuadorian-style shrimp ceviche, traditional coq au vin, and a lightly smoked duck confit à l'Orange (unlocked with a slight upcharge). Finish the sophisticated meal with pistachio vanilla crème brûlée, or add another $7 to get the Ecuadorian chocolate soufflé en noir.
Cost: $20 for a 2-course lunch (Tuesday-Friday) or brunch (weekends), $35 for a 3-course dinner Tuesday-Sunday
Order: Shrimp ceviche, coq au vin (or the duck), and soufflé en noir
Don’t count this Italian spot out just because it’s in the ‘burbs; the HRW dinner menu is a banger, offering from-scratch pastas like the purple potato gnocchi in gorgonzola cream sauce and delicate ravioli filled with butternut squash in a brown butter sage sauce (and those are just the starters). Move on to slow-braised pork shoulder over creamy polenta, coffee-crusted flat iron steak, tiramisu, and affogato.
Cost: $35 for a 3-course dinner Monday-Saturday
Order: Butternut squash ravioli, slow-braised pork, and tiramisu
If you want to dine on one of the city’s steaks on a dime (or really, 450 dimes), you’ll want to book a table at this masterclass steakhouse. The hometown hero is known for showing its guests the A-list experience with gorgeously marbled, in-house dry-aged beef, and impeccable service to match. Hit the whiskey cart as it whizzes by, or ask the inhouse sommelier for help with the colossal library of wines to level up your meal of steakhouse classics.
Cost: $45 for a 3-course dinner Monday-Saturday
Order: Turtle gumbo, New York cheesecake, and the prime dry-aged New York strip (duh)
With locations the The Galleria, Vintage Park, and Cinco Ranch (plus a soon-to-open spot in the Woodlands), this high-end South African kitchen is slowly taking over the city. Lunch, brunch, and dinner menus are in the Restaurant Week lineup, with highlights from traditional South African bobotie and a Portuguese-inspired chicken espetada to rich, homemade sticky toffee pudding (including an affogato take on sticky toffee pudding).
Cost: $20 for 2-course lunch (weekdays) and brunch (weekends), $45 for 3-course dinner daily
Order: Chicken schnitzel & waffles at brunch, chicken espetada, South African filet medallions or pan-seared kingklip at dinner, and bobotie all the time
Treat yourself to Malaysian street food in a fun, hip setting at this totally cool young gun, sitting over in the new Katy Asiantown. The 4-course HRW menu takes you on a culinary journey through Southeast Asia, from traditional roti canay, salt-and-pepper calamari, and "one bite" kerabu prawn to beef shank rendang, Malaysian chicken curry, and coconut prawn. Finish with coconut French toast, pandan ice cream, or an Indian pancake infused with condensed milk.
Cost: $35 for a 4-course dinner daily
Order: Roti with chicken, kerabu prawn, beef shank rendang in coconut curry, and the French toast dessert
You can start with a wedge salad at this Southern-kissed high-end haunt over in Arts District Houston, but who are we kidding: there’s also a first course of roasted bone marrow. Here, it’s served with a grilled baguette, crimini mushrooms, and peppercorn jus -- and chef Dominick Lee’s HRW madness doesn’t stop there. Dine on delights such as bone-in pork with peach and jalapeño chutney, blackened salmon over summer squash, and a vegan jambalaya, and finish with elevated sweets like lemon-tarragon custard cake and hot butter cake a la mode with peach compote.
Cost: $45 for a 3-course dinner daily
Order: The bone marrow and the hot butter cake, then dial 9-1-1
The classic Italian steakhouse gets a super luxe makeover at this dark and romantic Downtown jewel, where chef Danny Trace (formerly of Brennan’s) pulls out all the bells and whistles. During HRW, those bells come in the form of charred octopus with squid ink fettuccine, and the whistles mean your cacio e pepe is getting finished with summer truffle. Those looking to put the steak in steakhouse can go for the filetto di manzo, perfectly tender beef in espresso calabrese sauce. Desserts can be fruity (pavlova with tropical fruit and meyer lemon curd), chocolatey (hazelnut torta with sea salt caramel mousse), or both (pistachio cake with white chocolate pineapple mousse).
Cost: $45 for a 3-course dinner (plus an amuse bouche) Monday-Saturday
Order: The steak, or shell out another 10 bucks for the decadent truffle spaghetti
Not only did this Bryan Caswell winner just return from the dead after being dealt a “salty hand” from Hurricane Harvey, it’s also one of the best restaurants in Houston to eat at right now. See why the 10+ year old seafood restaurant was an icon to begin with, and taste where it’s going today. The kitchen seafood-focused Restaurant Week menu starts with an amuse bouche dubbed “Oysters Ghutz” (a Tex-bohemian roasted Gulf oyster with pickled okra and beer-bathed sauerkraut), and things only get more exciting from there. Slurp up fresh-caught jewels from crispy-skin snapper to salmon and risotto with Thai basil, and finish with sour cherry pistachio pound cake or boozy milkshake for dessert.
Cost: $45 for a 3-course dinner plus amuse bouche daily
Order: Pickled shrimp scallion pancake and crispy skin snapper with Champagne nage
Manitoba-born chef Ryan Lachaine (Underbelly, Reef) shows off his global palate at this stylish neighborhood spot, which houses a show-stopping open kitchen. Show up during Houston Restaurant Weeks, and you can dig into tempura cauliflower with kimchi hot sauce, mascarpone and mushroom empanadas, market fish with pea coulis, hanger steak with horseradish cream and cheesy potato pierogi, brown butter cake with honey ice cream, and sticky toffee pudding with foie gras torchon.
Cost: $45 for 3-course dinner Monday-Saturday
Order: The steak and pierogi one-two-punch
During Houston Restaurant Weeks, this Italian stunner takes you through three courses without even messing with dessert (you can add that on later, if you have room). Opening acts include supplì alla Romana (rice balls) and polpette di manzo (meatballs), while the next course ventures into pasta, in true Italian style. Go for smoked gnocchi with shrimp in a saffron sauce, spaghetti carbonara, or fiery orecchiette alla arrabiata. To finish, it’s mains like short rib stew, zuppa di pesce, and salmon with citrus braised cabbage.
Cost: $20 for a 2-course lunch and $35 for a 3-course dinner Monday-Saturday
Order: Suppli, smoked gnocchi, and zuppa di pesce
Chef Kevin Naderi’s quaint neighborhood bistro delivers next level everyday fare this HRW. Appetizer ribs are of the lamb varietal, here, smoked and finished with tamarind chili sauce and pickled chilies; a Gulf shrimp ceviche starter gets a gazpacho twist; and then there’s the famous fried cauliflower, which comes to the table with dancing bonito flakes. Second course options run from modern chicken ‘n ricotta gnudi dumplings and Sicilian-style fish roast to an oven roasted wagyu (for a $5 supplement). Finish with blackberry cornmeal cake, or coffee n’ donut holes, as is tradition.
Cost: $35 for 3-course dinner Monday-Saturday
Order: Smoked lamb ribs, Sicilian-style roast fish, and dont holes with dulce de leche caramel and coffee ice cream
This longtime pub recently got a kitchen refresh with the addition of Pi Pizza OG Anthony Calleo, who turns up the volume on what could be standard pub grub by incorporating a mosh pit of flavor bombs. The grungy neighborhood spot may not be on your HRW radar, but it should be. Start with a light hami melon salad, hit with Meredith Dairy marinated sheep’s milk cheese, mint, and serrano; or go big on house meatballs with smoked tomato sauce and Hungarian goat horn peppers. Mains include coffee-cured duck confit enchiladas, chicken parm (with bucatini from the new BOH Pasta Co.) and a “really fancy sandwich,” featuring things like housemade black currant bread, prosciutto di parma, robiola cheese, and calabrese peppers; and there’s sweet tea pickled peach pie, Campari ice cream, or turkey fat caramel ice cream for dessert.
Cost: $35 for a 3-course dinner daily
Order: Coffee-cured duck confit enchiladas with smoked cherry mole, and the turkey fat ice cream
Power lunch doesn’t get more powerful than it does at this brand new business dining destination, which sits 43 stories up in Downtown. At 20 bucks, the double-course HRW lunch is a damn good deal, with Mediterranean-style eats from grilled artichoke and burrata to semolina gnocchi with spring peas -- and that’s just to start. Mains include market fish with capers and pickled peppers, chicken tagine with pistachios and lemon preserve, and a big, fat lamb chorizo burger.
Cost: $20 for a 2-course lunch Monday-Friday
Order: We’d go lamb chorizo burger all day.
Sushi junkies probably already know of this whimsical sushi bar, thanks to it being helmed by the ever masterful chef Mike Lim (who made a name for himself at Roka Akor, and Morimoto in Napa before that); but the general public may not. That’s because Lim’s brought his skills to what was once the most unlikely place in Houston: Katy. Today, the suburb is becoming a dining destination, and Tobiuo is a big part of that. During Houston Restaurant Weeks, Lim will show off classic Japanese dishes with a few surprises -- think tuna crudo with Japenese “pesto,” sous-vide pork belly hit with honey miso and almonds, and pan-seared halibut finished with an applewood-smoked wine sauce and caviar.
Cost: $35 for 3-course dinner daily
Order: That halibut or the robata-grilled ribeye
It doesn’t get classier than this timeless fine dining standby, which has wined and dined the likes of Tony Bennett, Oscar de la Renta, and seven sitting presidents. The blockbuster HRW menu takes you through three courses, with elegant starters from citrus-cured fluke and Roman artichoke salad to butternut squash pansotti setting the pace for the next transcendent round: truffle aged hen confit with foie gras jus, Gulf redfish with jumbo lump crab, and a Colorado lamb porterhouse that can be had for an extra $12. Tuxedo cake, Texas peach crostata, mixed berry pavlova and cannoli cake close out the ceremonious occasion.
Cost: $20 for a 2-course lunch Monday-Friday, $45 for a 3-course dinner (with some supplements you may want to take advantage of) Monday-Saturday
Order: The house-made butternut pansotti, truffle aged hen, and Texas peach crostata
This swanky resto sits at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, rocking an extensive wine program and custom Wine Room that stores over 3,500 bottles (plus a wine bottle waterfall). Paying tribute to Texas and the region just north, south, east and west of the border, its HRW menu features wood-fired Gulf oysters dripping in chorizo butter, smoky chicken tortilla soup, wood-grilled redfish with roasted corn and lime oil, Post Oak grilled chicken with charred lemon, and desserts from tres leches to bourbon pecan pie.
Cost: $35 for a 3-course dinner daily
Order: Chorizo butter oysters, wood-grilled red fish, and bourbon pecan pie
Fact: There is good reason to drive to the Woodlands, even if you don’t live or work there. That reason is Tris, a recharge of the old Hubbel & Hudson bistro helmed by chef Austin Simmons (Cureight); expect an eclectic dining experience that mixes worldly flavors with classic technique, with HRW choices for both lunch and dinner. At lunch, that means you can pair a very non-grandma-style potato soup (it’s got Iberico ham, btw) with an Akaushi beef French dip. At dinner, things get even more serious with courses from sea bass ceviche tostada starter to a caramelized banana bread pudding closer.
Cost: $20 for a 2-course lunch and $45 for a 3-course dinner Tues-Sat
Order: The Beef Tournedos “Steak Frites” with peppercorn demi and truffle frites
You can explore the masterful flavors of Oaxaca and get to know the inner workings of one of Houston’s most elite chefs, Hugo Ortega, in a one-two punch by visiting this cultural paradise set in Downtown’s Marriott Marquis. Houston Restaurant Weeks brings you five prix fixe ways to do so (plus one more at lunch!). Mole fans can discover a labyrinth of the stuff on the Menu De Mole, which grooves from a masa pancake with rich confit duck and black mole to a fiery Colorado mole and slow-smoked short rib before finishing with a chocolate tart. Or perhaps you’d prefer to pair your meal with agave and dig into the Menu De Mezcal, featuring braised pork shank and flan de horchata. Did we mention all five come with an amuse bouche and optional drink pairing? As the great Pauly D once said, “yeaaaaaaaaah buddy.”
Cost: $20 for a 2-course (plus amuse) lunch Monday-Friday, $45 for a 3-course (plus amuse) dinner daily, with optional drink pairings available
Order: We can’t really tell you how to do you here, so… just listen to your heart.
You’ll never look at dim sum the same way after dining at this top-end Chinese tea house. That’s because the London import (which has a Michelin star, by the way) offers a more opulent experience than pretty much all other dim sum places in town. Since that experience comes with an uptick in price, HRW is the best time to dine without breaking the bank. Shell out $45 of your hard earned cash, and you can be treated to delicate pieces of edible art from a perfectly crispy mushroom and black truffle spring roll to a beet red, rose-shaped raspberry delice.
Cost: $45 for a 3-course dinner
Order: Crispy mushroom spring roll and Singapore vermicelli with prawn and squid
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