Cadillac Bar is the Tex-Mex representative for the mega-enterprise chain of restaurants known as Landry's Restaurants, Inc. And I'm really commenting on one aspect of the restaurant itself: the Sunday brunch. Not that Cadillac Bar isn't a fine establishment to dine at the other 6 days a week, but living in Houston, and having the vast amounts of Mexican restaurants that we have here, I prefer other venues for that. Anyways, as far as the decor in the restaurant, nothing out-of-the-ordinary. They have a sort of fiesta, Cinco de Mayo party theme going on, with streamers hanging from the ceiling, Mexican flags and sombreros on the walls, as well as pictures of well known Mexicans Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata. Graffiti is encouraged, so you are permitted to write anywhere, the walls, the ceiling, the tables, wherever. Well, it is a "bar" as well, hence the ambience. The brunch is served from 11am - 3pm. Try to arrive as early as possible, because it starts getting packed after 11:30. The brunch is set up in serve yourself, line fashion. Plenty of food to choose from, including typical Mexican items like tamales, enchiladas, fajitas, and huevos rancheros. There also many American staples such as biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, grilled fish, and ham. They have a full variety of fresh fruits, and great deserts, including key lime pie, sopapillas, and chocolate cake. And of course they have mimosas to sip on if you so desire. Cost is $13.95 per person. Wait staff can be a little slow to fill up your glass of tea, but it's not for lack of effort. They always seem a little understaffed, but not immensely. So if you wake up one Sunday morning in Houston, and happen to be really hungry, this is a great place to take care of that!
Tucked away in a little corner of the Rice Village is Istanbul Grill and Deli, one of the few Turkish restaurants in Houston. The restaurant is an excellent place to have a true Turkish meal, and not pay an arm and a leg either! It is by no means a large place, maybe 12-15 small tables inside, a few more on the patio out front. A nice, Turkish style decor is present, with native paintings and photos on the walls, and Anatolian decorations all around the restaurant. The staff is excellent, very pleasant, but not in a hurry. Do not come here if you want a quick in and out meal. This is also a true to form Turkish style! The menu has many selections to choose from. Exceptional appetizers, such as humus and bread, and Turkish salads are great starters. Many of the entrees, especially the kebap skewers, are comprised of such things as lamb meat, eggplant, yogurt, and marinated with traditional Turkish spices. Most will run you around $10. They also have a great dessert menu, wonderful baklava, and a small selection of Turkish wines as well. Try some Ayran, a traditional yogurt drink, with a little salt added, during your meal. Or some Turkish coffee after.
Favorite Dish: iskender Kebap is without a doubt my favorite Turkish meal, and it is outstanding here! The combination of beef and lamb in traditional Turkish sauce and spices, with pita bread and yogurt is first-rate! I think many Americans may be hesitant to eat a meat dish with yogurt, as I know I was when I was first introduced to it. But speaking as an American, who is very accustomed to down-home American meals, you can't go wrong with the iskender Kebap! And be sure to finish the meal off with some Baklava and Turkish coffee!
This small, local chain of restaurants here in Houston bills itself as serving a "Latino Fusion" type of cuisine. Well, whatever you want to call it, it is good! The decor is very modern and chic, with many Latin American and Caribbean items adorning the walls. For starters, the tortilla chips they give you are some of the best in town, not to greasy or salty. The salsa is excellent, and they also give you some ground up chilled pineapple sauce for the chips, which is very simple, but one of my favorite things about the restaurant. Great appetizers, the empanadas are really good! Many of the entrees have an obvious Mexican feel, but here they add a little tropical twist that livens up the meal. Most dishes are of chicken or beef, and include black beans, plantains, papaya, or eggplant. They also have some strictly Tex-Mex meals, i.e. quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos. A variety of soups and salads as well. Add an extensive wine list and a latino inspired desert menu, and you got yourself 1 good "Latino Fusion" restaurant.
Favorite Dish: Chicken Tikal. Grilled chicken with black beans, queso, sour cream and sweet onions. Plaintains, grilled squash and zucchini on the side.
Looking for Tex-Mex food? This is what Tex-Mex is all about! Houston is a mecca for Mexican food restaurants, many billing themselves as being glamorous, almost gourmet. But this local chain of taquerias doesn't hype up themselves, they don't need to. The food speaks for itself. Now usually it can be a little loud in these restaurants. Along with the usual large crowds, they tend to have norteno or cumbia music blasting out of the jukebox. But it kind of just adds to the whole atmosphere, in a good way. The menu is full of your standard Tex-Mex dishes, along with a few not-so-common items. They also have a nice selection of Mexican beers, i.e. Dos XX, Corona, Tecate, etc., as well as domestics. Another great addition is after you finish your meal. You find out that the bill is reasonable, heck, down right cheap. And this is also one of the rare places in town you can have a late night meal, as they are open until 3am during the week, and 5am on the weekends. Don't be suprised if you walk in after a night on the town to find this place packed way after 2am. Great food, good service, and excellent prices! My kind of restaurant!
Favorite Dish: Flautas, Enchiladas, Tamales, Fajitas, need I go on? Everything is great!
Frenchie's is a favorite among nearby NASA employees, including astronauts. Everybody seems to know everybody at this place. Reservation recommanded on Fri and Sat nights. Nice family atmosphere. Tons of autographed pictures of astronauts and shuttle crews on the walls.
Family owned, the cooking is inspired by that of the Isle of Capri in Italy. Very nice pasta and veal dishes. Be careful, ask for the price of the specials before ordering any, they can be very overpriced for what you get. Avoid the lunch buffet, it is not near as good as the evening meals and atmosphere.
The same family owns another restaurant in the area, Villa Capri. The charm of that one resides in the beautiful tropical garden along Clear Lake where the tables are set. The food is not as good as at Frenchie's and definitely overpriced. It is located 3813 NASA Pkwy, more to the East compared to Frenchie's.
This restaurant opened up in July 2004 just a couple weeks before my visit. The servers were friendly and the food was great, at a great price! I will definitely go back and try out some more dishes.
My brother and fiance love spicy food and both got the #2 in spiciness on their dishes. Mark could have handled a #3, but he likes things really spicy! There are a total of 5 levels of spicy, so I think #5 might make steam come out of your ears! =)
Favorite Dish: Pad See Ew - the only dish I've tried so far, but it was very tasty with some big, flat noodles stir-fried with little corns, broccoli, & chicken.
Spring rolls - were very fresh and tasty!
Buffalo Wings - were yummy and we had them at a #3 in spiciness, but it wasn't very spicy at all.
Buffalo Wild Wings, formerly known as BW3, is a great chain of sports bars found here in Houston, and throughout the country. An excellent place to drink some beer, eat some wings, and watch some sports! I usually frequent the one located in the Rice Village, but I have been to most of the locations here in town, and they are all equally good. They do have a full menu of food to order, but the place does have the word "wings" in it's name, so I would strongly recommend trying some. They also have a wide variety of beers, both domestic and import, and mixed drinks if you prefer. Big Screen T.V.'s, full glasses of beer, and lots of buffalo wings! What else would you want?!!!
Update August 2006: This restaurant moved since I went there (it used to be on Poast Oak Avenue).
It is now located at:
3755 Richmond Avenue, Houston, Texas 77046
Tony's is one of the most fancy restaurant of Houston, if not the most fancy, at least in terms of reputation. I just went there once to try it out for my husband's and my own birthdays. We were very dissapointed.
First, the food was not extraordinary. The crabcake appetizers were excellent but the duck dish was too dry, and the steak was not the best I have ever had. For the price, I expected better. Houstonian restaurants such as Ruggle's Grill, Rouge or Perry's Italian kitchen serve as good dishes for much cheaper (I call food extraordinary, even an art, at for example the Everest restaurant in Chicago).
Second, in such a restaurant I expect perfect service. And all waiters were great, really, except... the one responsible for our table, unfortunately. He was snobbish, would ask a question and instead of listening to our answer would prefer to answer other waiters (I suppose this way emphasizing his leadership position as a head waiter or something), and there was a clear discrepancy of treatment between the "usual" customers, and new ones like us. Result: we won't go back. I am sorry, but when I pay this type of price, I want to be treated like a queen.
If you have money to waste, it is worth going for the decor, the wine cellar, and people watching (the posh gentry of Houston).
Appetizers $8 - $19
Entrees $25 - $34
Extensive wine list, count at least $40 for a bottle.
That means at least $100 per person if you take wine.
Favorite Dish: Crabcakes
This national chain of burrito restaurants, which is owned by the McDonald's Corporation, is a decent place to get a burrito for a meal. But I think that their selections as far as types of tortillas, which is 1, and ingredients for the burritos, are limited in comparison to other burrito places. They do offer different kinds of meats; chicken, beef, barbacoa, etc; and an okay selection of ingredients for the burrito. Tacos are available, as well as the "Burrito Bol", which is basically all of the insides of a burrito without being wrapped in a tortilla. The one reason why I come here though is for their guacamole, which is some of the best I have ever had, anywhere! It is excellent. I have tried to duplicate it many times, but I just can't get that same taste. So I come to Chipotle, and order several cups of the guacamole at a time, to satisfy my "guac" addiction. As far as burritos go, if you are in Houston, try Freebirds, a much better alternative, with a lot more options and better tasting ingredients. I have a review for it as well. But if you really like guacamole, stop in here and pick some up!
Favorite Dish: The Guacamole
Goode Company Seafood is another restaurant in the local Goode Company chain of restaurants. There are actually 2 locations, but I have only been to the one on Westpark. The restaurant building itself is quite interesting, as part of it is an old Amtrak train car, sitting on tracks (hopefully the brakes are locked, but I have never asked!). Inside you will find decor that reminds you of a local seafood kitchen found in a small town along the Gulf Coast. Lots of old pictures of fisherman on the walls, as well as fishing tackle and nets, even some fish (They are dead, and have been taken to the taxidermist). The part of the restaurant housed in the train has the bar, as well as tables. You'll find patrons dining at both. The other half of the restaurant is strictly tables. The food here is top notch Gulf seafood. Appetizers such as shrimp cocktails and shucked oysters make great starters. They also have excellent gumbo to begin with, or make a meal out of. The Poboy sandwiches here are also really good. Main entrees include a long list of various fish dinners, crab, shrimp, oysters, etouffee, and even steak. The Pecan pie will be sure to finish off your hunger quite nicely!
Favorite Dish: Catfish filet. Some of the best fried Catfish in town!
This Texas chain of burrito restaurants began in College Station, but has since opened stores in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. It can be compared to the Chipotle chain of burrito restaurants, but with more options such as different sizes of the burritos, different types of tortillas, and more ingredient options, Freebirds definately has the edge over Chipotle. The regular freebird size is enough for most people, and the monster can usually take on 2 people, no problem. Then they have the supermonster, which is frightening just to look at! But they have it, if you dare! :) Different types of meat are available such as grilled chicken or beef, several different types of beans, and an assortment of veggies and sauces. They also offer tacos, quesadillas, nachos, and salads. But to go to Freebirds and not have a burrito would be like taking a trip to Hawaii, and not going to the beach! Just isn't right! :) So if you are in the mood for a belly busting burrito meal in Houston, this would be the place to take care of that!
Favorite Dish: The burritos, of course!!! :)
The Pappas Restaurants chain, based here in Houston, is an extremely popular group of dining establishments with locations throughout the United States. After the family immigrated to the United States in the late 19th century from Greece, they opened up several restaurants throughout the south. Later in the 1900's the family got out of the industry, only to see later family members reenter the restaurant business. The first Pappas restaurant as we know the company today opened in 1976. Now there are nearly 100 establishments across the U.S. Pappasitos specializes in Mexican food, while Pappa Bros. Steakhouse is a fine dining steak and chops restaurant. Pappas Bar-B-Q has some mouthwatering BBQ served up, and Pappa's Seafood Kitchen serves up some of the freshest Gulf Coast seafood around. Yia Yia Mary's is a greek restaurant, a tribute to the family's Mediterranean roots. And of course we have Pappadeaux, my personal favorite, with some of the tastiest Cajun seafood you will find this side of the French Quarter in New Orleans! I have been eating at Pappa's restaurants all my life, and I have never had a bad experience at any of them! A well organized and run company, and excellent food!
Pappasito's is the Tex-Mex representative for the Pappas Restaurants chain. You can get some mighty delicious food here, but it can be quite pricey compared to other Mexican restaurants around town. They have great appetizers, the ceviche and shrimp quesadillas are great to start off things. If you are craving a Margarita with your meal, they have a variety of diiferent kinds to choose from. The menu is very extensive: they have some traditional Tex-Mex items such as enchiladas, tacos, and fajitas. And some not so standard items like quail, but prepared with a "south of the border" twist! Usually the best, and most tasty thing to get is a "platillo combinado", or a combination platter. Pappasito's pretty much has any combination of items you could want on the menu already, but if you don't see what you want, you can substitute to make it just what you are craving. They also have a great lunch menu, with prices that are a little more reasonable. As I stated though, this is a wonderful place to dine for Mexican food, and I recommend it highly. But in Houston, where there is a Tex-Mex restaurant practically on every corner, this is by far not the cheapest place in town!
Favorite Dish: Beef & Chicken Fajitas al Carbon! Excellent flavor, and comes with a slew of sides like guacamole, sour cream, red beans, and pico de gallo.
The Carrabba's family immigrated to the United States from Sicily in the late 19th century, and settled here in southeast Texas. Years later, the family would begin to share some of the cuisine that their homeland is so noted for. The Carrabba's chain of restaurants has it's roots in the Houston area, although now it has locations all over the United States. The owners Johnny Carrabba and his uncle Damian Mandola have installed the slogan "not your average Italian" to thier restaurant. And on many occasions this is the case. But the big problem I have personally experienced at these establishments is a lack of consistency. On a good night, you can taste some of the best Sicilian food anywhere around. A great selection of appetizers such as calamari and bruschette bread, excellent salads and a wide variety of fresh pizzas such as the Margherita. The pastas and entrees like the eggplant parmesan can be stellar. And a decent wine list can bring out the flavor of the food. But several times I have dined here. the food can be way below par. Sometimes the seasonings and/or spices seem to be totally different than before, giving the food a completely different taste. And the staff, while generally very friendly, tend to let service lag when it gets busy. So with Carrabba's, it can be a sort of a roll of the dice. Sad, because as stated, when they are on, they offer a great dining experience.
Favorite Dish: Chicken Bryan - Grilled chicken breast w/ goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil sauce
Landry's Restaurants is a huge American corporation that owns and operates several different chains of restaurants across the United States. The company has it's beginnings here in Houston and surrounding areas, when in 1980 CEO Tilman Fertitta bought his first restaurant in Katy, a suburb just west of Houston. Being raised in Galveston along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, Fertitta initially focused the company mainly on seafood cuisine. But as the years went by and his business grew, he branched out into several different types of food. He opened up many different restaurants in and around Houston, including Landry's Seafood, Joe's Crab Shack, Willie G's, and Saltgrass Steakhouse just to name a few. Since then, the Landry's corp. has grown into one of the biggest companies in the country, now not only focusing on the restaurant buisness, but also the entertainment industry as well. Places like the Kemah Boardwalk, the Downtown Aquarium, and the Rainforest Cafe not only serve up food for patrons to eat, but also have entertaining and fun things to see and do at their respective locations. Many Landry's establishments can be a little over-the-top in trying to create an authentic atmosphere for whatever the style or type of cuisine a particular place specializes in. But generally speaking, most Landry's spots provide a good atmosphere, fresh food, and in many cases, good fun. I have my opinions about every place I have visited, both good and bad. But one thing is certain, Mr. Fertitta has a great company on his hands, and can be proud of the corporation that he has created. With locations now all over the United States, it is indeed a "restaurant empire"! :)
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