Houston is only two weeks away from the annual dining frenzy known as Houston Restaurants Weeks. This year's event runs for five weeks: from August 1 until Labor Day on September 7, but unofficially kicks off today (July 15) when organizer Cleverley Stone publishes the menus of the over 200 participating restaurants.
As always, the premise is simple. Restaurants put together special lunch, brunch and dinner menus at fixed priced points ($20 for lunch, $25 for brunch, $35 or $45 for dinner). When a diner visits a restaurant and chooses the menu, the restaurant agrees to make a donation to the Houston Food Bank ($3 to $7, depending on the menu).
Last year's effort raised a record $1.6 million, which could be shattered given the additional week of dining.
Most of last year's participants have returned, including popular destinations suchs as Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse, Masraff's and the Cordua family restaurnts of Americas, Churrascos and Artista. While they're certainly worth patronizing, the list below takes a look at 11 of the over 20 new HRW participants. They range from established restaurants joining the event for the first time to new restaurants that diners may not have had the chance to try.
One thing to keep in mind is that the list of restaurants isn't complete. Organizers will be adding additional places right up until the event begins August 1. If a particular favorite is missing, keep checking back. Now to the list:
Amalfi Ristorante Italiano & Bar
The Briargrove Italian restaurant inspired by the Amalfi coast offers a three-course, $45 dinner menu. Starter options include snapper crudo and beef carpaccio. Main courses consist of three seafood options that include snapper ravioli and pan seared tuna steak; those who prefer entrees that walked can choose from paccheri pasta in veal ragout or pork tenderloin medallions with black truffles and mushroom sauce. Three dessert options complete the meal.
B&B Butchers and Restaurant
The white-hot Washington Avenue steakhouse is serving both a three-course, $45 dinner and a three-course, $20 lunch. The dinner menu includes the restaurant's signature sizzling bacon appetizer as well as an 8-ounce filet. Step up to a 16-ounce slab of prime rib for a $20 supplement. At lunch, entree choices include a burger, steak sandwich and salmon. For dessert, don't miss the cheesecake.
The Midtown seafood restaurant offers both a $45, three-course dinner menu and a two-course, $20 lunch menu. At dinner, choose from some of the restaurant's signature items like its top-notch gumbo, Thai curry mussels, blackened grouper, chicory-dusted beef tenderloin and spectacular coconut cake. At lunch, the fried oyster salad looks like the most compelling entree choice.
Jonathan's the Rub
The restaurant has been a well-loved neighborhood destination for residents of the Memorial Villages for many years, but Jonathan's is making its first-ever appearance in HRW. The three-course, $45 dinner menu includes starters like mushroom ravioli and mains like lobster salad and a 14-ounce Prime NY strip served with chimichurri sauce. Finish off with key lime cheese cake, apple cobbler or chocolate mousse.
The restaurant at the rapidly growing craft brewery offers a three-course, $35 dinner menu. Start with the popular Korean fried chicken or a riff on the Canadian classic poutine. Entree options include shrimp and grits and an 8-ounce steak. Finish with a beer milkshake or chocolate chile stout cake.
The Upper Kirby restaurant known for its use of high-quality local ingredients keeps things classic on its three-course, $35 dinner menu. Start with watermelon gazpacho, salad or chicken fried quail and waffles. Entree choices consist of shrimp and grits, steak frites or chicken with charred okra. For dessert, choices include lemon poundcake and blackberry cobbler.
Peska Seafood Culture
The stylish seafood restaurant near the Galleria offers both a three-course, $45 dinner menu and a three-course, $20 lunch menu that consist of only savory options: good news for people who aren't into sweets. At lunch, start with ceviche or an oyster trio before moving on to a shrimp taco or yellow tail crostada. Main courses include a pork chop or the daily catch filet. At dinner, start with chef Omar Pereney's signature fruit and flower salad, then move on to lobster capuccino or a soft shell taco. Finish with striped bass trainera or a braised beef short rib.
Prohibition Supperclub & Bar
The downtown restaurant that's home to CultureMap's Tastemaker Awards Bartender of the Year winner Lainey Collum offers a three-course, $45 dinner menu. One could start with something other than six chargrilled oysters, but it would be a mistake to do so. Entree choices include prime rib, pork chop and salmon. Peach cobbler and chocolate torta are two of the three desserts.
Skip the crowds at Coltivare by going to its sister restaurant down the street. The three-course, $35 dinner menu offers most of the recently-introduced menu that's already winning fans. The 13 starter options include both the pickled shrimp and Gulf by-catch salads, as well as buttermilk biscuits or Revival's country ham. Roasted half chicken and a Berkshire pork collar are two of the four entree choices. Dessert choices include lemon panna cotta and buttermilk pie.
The upscale Italian restaurant in CityCentre is serving three-course menus for lunch, brunch and dinner ($35). At dinner, start with lobster bisque or scallop crudo before moving on to risotto, beef filet or duck. Chef Jose Hernandez is well-known for his desserts, so choosing from the three options could be tough. Best to go with friends and share. On the brunch menu, black pepper spaghetti with rabbit ragu sounds particuarly intriguing.
This Rice Village newcomer in the former Bistro des Amis space offers three savory courses on its $35 dinner menu. Start with arancini (fried risotto balls) or a fritto misto of fried lobster, shrimp, calamari and vegetables. Three pasta choices are next, including a compelling sounding orecchiette pasta with sausage in pomodoro sauce. Finally, choose from one of three entrees including a stew of mussels, calamari and red snapper.