Stop for the Gas, Stay for the Grub
The Far East meets local ingredients at this dark, sultry (and underrated) treasure. With four courses for $35, this is easily one of the best dinner deals on the market. Start with Cantonese-style salmon crudo, black garlic ribeye tataki, or a ginger-miso Caesar salad; then pick from flash-fried brussels sprouts dressed with ponzu, pork and wasabi shumai, or tom yum-style blistered shishitos. Course three busts out the big guns with Texas sea bass & shrooms with truffled coconut cream, five-spice steak frites, and twice-cooked gangnam ribs with sambal chipotle gochujang glaze; and course four brings the sweet stuff -- Ghirardelli chocolate and chai tea mousse and kulfi, traditional indian ice cream flavored with either ginger or Kahlua and chocolate.
Cost: $35 for a four-course dinner (Mon 5pm to 9pm, Tues-Thurs 5pm to 10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm to 11pm, Sun 5pm to 10pm)
Evoking the old-school charms of New York City, B&B is part steakhouse, part bespoke butchery, and all class. The $45 price tag is hands-down as good as it gets at a steakhouse where the cheapest steak on the regular menu is $46, and the special menu offers an opportunity to discover some B&B classics that may normally fly under the radar. Dig into brisket ravioli, sizzling thick-cut bacon, Roquefort-crusted filet, or a chicken-fried pork chop with pork belly confit; and finish with a gargantuan slice of New York cheesecake or decadent bread pudding. Be sure to out the lunch menu if you’re looking to experience the steakhouse for a cool $20.
Cost: $45 for a three-course dinner (Mon-Wed 4pm to 11pm, Thurs-Sat 4pm to midnight, Sun 4pm to 10pm); $20 for a two-course lunch with optional $5 dessert (daily 11am to 4pm)
At $35, the three-course dinner menu at this elegant parkside brasserie is a steal. Channel your inner Parisian via Burgundy-style escargot, tartare de bœuf, duck leg confit in Cabernet syrup, steak frites au poivre and pot au chocolat with Chantilly cream. Afterward, walk off the decadence with a star-lit stroll through Discovery Green… it’s what the French would do, probably. Lunch and brunch menus are also available.
Cost: $35 for a three-course dinner (Mon-Sat 4pm to 10pm, Sun 4pm to 9pm); $20 for a two-course lunch (Mon-Fri 11am to 2:30pm) or brunch (Sun 11am to 2:45pm)
If you’re looking to finally cross this regal Houston institution (by-way-of New Orleans) off your bucket list, Houston Restaurant Weeks is definitely the time to do so. That’s when you can get a best-in-show smack of the Creole-kissed menu, from the shrimp remoulade and snapping turtle soup starters to the show-stopping bananas foster flambéed tableside with Caribbean rum for dessert. In between, there’s smothered and blackened Texas redfish, cast iron pork tenderloin with jalapeno-peach BBQ sauce, and -- if you have an extra $12 to spare -- a blockbuster sugarcane smoked beef rib. Lunch and brunch are also available.
Cost: $45 for three courses at dinner (daily 5:45 to 10pm); $20 for two courses at lunch (Mon-Fri 11am to 2pm) or brunch (Sat 11am to 2pm, Sun 10am to 2pm)
Seafood enthusiasts will want to check out the HRW deal at this chic coastal Mexican kitchen from the almighty H-town Restaurant Group (also home to Hugo’s, Backstreet Cafe and Xochi). Diners will have their pick of four set dinner menus, each offered with a beverage pairing that you should probably go for. The “Between the Waves” menu starts with a Mexico City-style ceviche of shrimp, octopus and oyster, then transcends through lime-cured Gulf red snapper and jumbo scallops a la Veracruzana before finishing with and caramel-cured roasted pineapple and banana mousse dessert. Meat eaters can get in on the action with the “Wines of Mexico” menu, featuring things like wood-roasted pork ribs and grilled beef filet with bone marrow sauce; and vegetarians can get down on courses that range from an heirloom tomato and squash blossom salad to deconstructed wild mushroom and cauliflower enchiladas. A special lunch prix fixe is also available.
Cost: $45 or $35 for vegetarian for a four-course dinner (Mon-Thurs 4pm to 10pm, Fri-Sat 4pm to 11pm, Sun 4pm to 9pm); $20 for a three-course lunch (Mon-Fri 11am to 4pm)
From the minds of chef and James Beard Award winner Michael Mina and cookbook author and lifestyle expert Ayesha Curry, this newly-opened stunner was easily one of the most anticipated openings of the year. EJ Miller (formerly of Clark Cooper Concepts, Down House, and Riel) has been tapped as executive chef, highlighting a global approach to food via fire, grilling, and smoke. Grab your passport and feel why food is at the center of every community, beginning with some red Thai curry cornbread for the table. Next, choose from starters like wild-caught Gulf shrimp soup or avocado and quinoa salad; mains from achiote and chili-rubbed Sinaloa-style chicken to smoked St. Louis-style ribs and Gulf redfish with garlic fried rice; and desserts including key lime pie and Valrhona chocolate cream icebox cake.
Cost: $45 for a four-course dinner (Sun-Thurs 5pm to 9:30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm to 10pm)
You'll find global riffs on French traditions and a bright open kitchen at this eclectic, chef-driven spot, which opened at the turn of 2017. Here, chef Manuel Pucha (formerly La Table) showcases French cuisine with touches from his rich Ecuadorian heritage, alongside co-owners and brothers Victor (pastry chef) and Cristian (front of house). The HRW menu takes you through some of the restaurant’s best hits with options for lunch, brunch, and dinner. Dine on sophisticated classics -- seared foie gras with port reduction, petite filet with bourbon peppercorn sauce, smoked salmon and asparagus risotto -- and discover treasures like Ecuadorian-style shrimp ceviche, orange-ginger Peking duck, and an Ecuadorian chocolate, vanilla ice cream, and passion fruit crème anglaise dessert.
Cost: $35 for a three-course dinner (Tues-Sun starting at 5pm); $20 for a three-course lunch (Tue-Fri 11:30am to 2:30pm) or brunch (Sat-Sun 11am to 3pm)
River Oaks District
If your current vision of Vietnamese fare consists of cheap-as-hell pho and banh mi (not that there’s anything wrong with that), you may want to step outside the takeout box and into the elegant world of Le Colonial. Here, French fusion meets South East Asian cuisine in a sexy, 1920’s-style atmosphere. Make your way through the three-course HRW dinner menu and you’ll be treated to such delights as banh cuon, Hanoi steamed rice crepes stuffed with cage-free chicken and wood ear mushrooms which is finished with scallion oil, crispy onions and chili lime sauce; or bo luc lac, a meltingly tender caramelized filet mignon and farm greens dish that is a must-hit in my book. Finish with a coffee syrup-soaked opera cake layered with Valrhona ganache and coffee buttercream or a unique coconut and lemongrass panna cotta with rhubarb berry sorbet. A two-course lunch is also available.
Cost: $45 for a three-course dinner (4 to 10pm Sun-Wed, 4 to 11pm Thurs-Sat) ; $20 for a two-course lunch (11am to 4pm daily)
You may need to loosen up the belt to feel physical comfort after dining at this Museum District charmer, but at least you’ll feel Southern comfort of the spiritual kind throughout the experience. Here, chef Chris Williams gives a nod to the recipes of his great-grandmother, Lucille B. Smith, paying homage with her famous chili biscuits and riffing on Southern comforts with dishes like the Pork & Beans, in which a braised Berkshire pork shank is served over bacon-kissed three bean ragu and finished agrodolce. Both are offered up as choices in the three-course dinner menu, and you’ll find gems including shrimp & grits and crème brûlée battered croissant French toast at lunch and brunch (respectively).
Cost: $35 for a three-course dinner (Tues-Thurs 4pm to 9pm, Fri-Sat 4pm to 10pm); $20 for two courses at lunch (Tues-Fri 11am to 4pm) and brunch (Sat and Sun 10am to 3pm)
Downtown (& Galleria)
The masterclass crew at this Houston-bred steakhouse knows how to pamper guests properly; and they do so via gloriously marbled, intensely flavored, in-house dry-aged beef, plus impeccable service, a seriously cool whiskey cart, and cherry-packed wine list. Treat yourself properly by splurging on a budget (at least in steakhouse speak) with the super reasonable HRW menu, with offerings including sherry-spiked turtle gumbo, filet mignon, live Maine lobster, Prime dry-aged New York strip, and key lime pie.
Cost: $45 for a three-course dinner (Mon-Thurs 5pm to 10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm to 11pm)
At their two-faced restaurant, Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan put out some of the most thoughtful and inspired fare in the city. The more casual half (Provisions) got in on the HRW action last year; and this year, it’s sophisticated sister (The Pass) has joined the ranks. Choose from a more refined experience at white-table-clothed The Pass -- from tuna belly in black sesame béarnaise and burrata raviolo to chocolate ganache with chocolate puffed rice and smoked peanut ice cream; or a more relaxed one at the rustic Provisions -- think chilled English pea soup, pork schnitzel with pickled shrimp & cabbage, and ricotta-stuffed donuts alongside honey-lemon ice cream. Special lunch and brunch menus are also offered at The Pass.
Cost: $45 for dinner at The Pass (Tues-Fri 6pm to 9pm, Sat 5pm to 9pm); $35 for dinner at Provisions (Sun 5pm to 9pm, Tues-Thurs 5pm to 10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm to 11pm) with $20 lunch (Tues-Fri 11am to 2:30pm) and brunch (Sat 11am to 2:30pm, Sun 10:30am to 2:30pm)
Galleria (& other locations)
The espetada at this fiery South African spot is a thing of beauty. The Portuguese-inspired hanging dish (beef, pork, chicken, bacon-wrapped kingklip) comes complete with a ‘gram-worthy drip of garlic butter drizzling down its length. At least one variety will be on the HRW menu, and guests can also expect cross-pollinated delights like the chicken schnitzel and deep-fried waffles (available at brunch), traditional South African bobotie, and rich, homemade sticky toffee pudding. Make your reservations, because this hotspot is usually among the most popular spots on the Houston Restaurant Weeks ticket.
Cost: $45 for dinner (Sun-Thurs 4pm to 10pm, Fri-Sat 4pm to 11pm), $20 for lunch (Mon-Fri 11am to 4pm) and brunch (Sat-Sun 11am to 4pm)
Those looking for a cosmopolitan Italian steakhouse should run straight to this grand slam from Astros owner Jim Crane, and with chef Danny Trace (of Brennan’s fame) at the kitchen’s helm. The dark, luxe interior sets the mood for an evening of top-notch service, superb wine, and thoughtful fare that pays respect to local ingredients. Start your night with a beautiful burrata and farmer’s tomato caprese or charred octopus with squid ink fettuccine, and choose from mains like the fire-roasted branzino, gorgeous filet, or truly special cacio pepe, dressed with Italian black truffle shaved tableside. Desserts are a tropical vanilla buttermilk custard, hazelnut torte with sea salt caramel mousse, or pistachio pound cake and ginger macaron.
Cost: $45 for a three-course dinner (Mon-Thurs 5pm to 10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm to 11pm)
It’s great news when one of the city’s sexiest new restaurants gets in on the HRW action. Executive chef Dominick Lee (formerly of Kiran’s) is showcasing his diverse palate with globe-spanning, multi-course menus for both lunch and brunch. Start lunch with za’atar-spiced hummus with pulled lamb neck, chef’s soup of the day, or a bright late summer crudo, and move onto choices like the Tiger’s Cry Marble Ranch wagyu or daily-prepared fish. Brunch brings delight in the form of Southern biscuits and maple butter whip, the most blueberry of pancakes around, and a house Benedict with boxty cakes, pulled pork, cabbage, and whole-grain mustard Hollandaise.
Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch (Mon-Fri 11am to 2:30pm) or brunch (weekends 11am to 2:30pm)
Dining at this historic, century-old log cabin set on the banks of the White Oak Bayou is worth opening up the wallet anytime, and especially so during the month of August. The rustic restaurant’s HRW menu boasts impressive fare to match its setting -- things like smoked duck gumbo, herb-almond-and-apricot-stuffed venison loin, Gulf snapper with butter lump crab, and a whiskey-sauced croissant bread pudding. Lunch gives you reason to smash a braised short rib and Texas Redneck cheddar grilled cheese, while brunch is all about that buffalo short rib eggs benny.
Cost: $45 for three courses at dinner; $20 for two courses at lunch and brunch with optional dessert for $3 (Tues-Fri lunch through dinner, 11:30am to 10pm; Sat dinner only, 5:30pm to 10pm; Sun brunch 10:30am to 3pm, dinner 4pm to 9pm)
When you can get a full taste of the menu at one of Houston’s best neighborhood restaurants for a very reasonable 35 bucks, you do. Begin with chef Kevin Naderi’s famous fried cauliflower, which comes to the table hot and crisp with dancing bonito flakes, and convince your friend to order a different starter (perhaps Gulf shrimp hush puppies or hot house tomatoes and feta) so that you can get an even deeper dive. Second-course options include a cast-iron wild salmon in coconut and corn broth, wild grain risotto with confit portobello mushroom, Angus beef short rib and wilted greens lasagna, and a churrasco-style pork loin chimichurri. For dessert, it’s coffee n’ donut holes, seasonal fruit cobbler, or a cookie dough brownie with vanilla bean custard and boozy cherries.
Cost: $35 for a three-course dinner (Mon-Thurs 4pm to 10pm, Fri-Sat 4pm to 11pm)
You’d usually need to take several deep breaths before checking the bill for at this high-class, Milan-inspired eatery; but not August through Labor Day, when you can get an old-school fine dining experience that rivals any in the city for $45 bucks (or $20 at lunch). Dine on timeless Italian classics like the saffron cured salmon crudo, squash-filled pansotti pasta, and truffle roasted chicken. Throw another $19 out and you can begin with Umbrian summer truffles over pasta or risotto. A lunch menu is also available.
Cost: $45 for a three-course dinner (Mon-Thurs until 10pm, Fri-Sat until midnight), $20 for lunch (Mon-Fri beginning at 11am)
Hugo Ortega -- James Beard Award winner, chef, restaurateur -- lets his creativity shine at his latest head-turner, set in the magnificent Marriott Marquis. Explore the flavors of Oaxaca with your choice of five pre-set HRW menus: the Menu de Mole, with offerings from stuffed plantain cakes, braised mole beef cheeks and mole syphon cake; the Menu de Vino Mexicano with scallop crudo, spice-crusted beef filet and Oaxacan chocolate mousse; the Menu de Mezcal with tuna crudo, crispy pork belly and roasted fig pavlova; the Menu de Masa, offering duck confit taquitos, criollo corn-crusted Gulf red snapper and queso fresco Mexican cheesecake; and the Menu de Vegetales, a vegetarian option rocking elote with huitlacoche “corn truffles”, roasted rainbow heirloom carrots and cauliflower with squash blossom mole, and chocolate tart. Add wine or cocktail pairings to complete the experience. Lunch is also offered.
Cost: $45 for a four-course dinner, $35 for vegetarian (Mon-Thurs 4pm to 10pm, Fri-Sat 4pm to 11pm, Sun 4pm to 9pm); $20 for a three-course lunch (Mon-Fri 11am to 3pm)