No one knows Houston restaurants better than the people who run them, own them, and work in the kitchens. In this continuing series, CultureMap is asking our favorite foodie personalities around town where they go for great eats when they're not working.
CultureMap caught up with Fleming's James Cole on Veteran's Day — fitting, as the executive chef served for four years, including during Desert Storm. Since Cole is staying stateside this year (last year he spent the holiday serving Fleming's food to 35,000 troops all over Afghanistan), we asked him about his favorite places in Houston — and what he makes for a perfect meal surfside.
Restaurant to take out-of-towners to: I'd go to Goode Co. Barbecue. I think it's the best barbecue in Texas, and they have those picnic tables so you can sit out there and drink and have a good time — my favorites are the jalepeño links and the smoked turkey.
Restaurant for a special occasion: You know, Mark's is my favorite since I came to Houston. He's a great guy, they have impeccable service, it's a beautiful room and it has special memories for me and my wife.
Favorite meal: You know, there's really not one place. One dish we do all the time is when we go surfing — mostly marinated shrimp and couscous salad.
I love it so much because I get to prep it with my wife and daughter and drive down with friends, grill on the beach. I make it with feta, cilantro, red onions, tomatoes — whatever we have in the garden.
Breakfast/Brunch favorite: Avalon Diner, I like the breakfast quesadilla and the Mexican omelette loaded with jalepeños. It's low key and it's close so I can skate over from the restaurant.
Dessert: The chocolate euphoria cake at Dessert Gallery. It's just a huge chunk of cake with chocolate in every way possible.
Other articles in the Houston Chef's Table series: