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Houston Restaurant Weeks must-try splurges: 5 high-end spots that are going all out

Houston Restaurant Weeks must tries: 5 high-end spots that promise wow

Rainbow Lodge, restaurant
Rainbow Lodge Photo by Julie Soefer/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
La Colombe d'Or Hotel and Restaurant, Restaurant Cinq, people dining, January 2013
Restaurant Cinq in La Colombe d'Or Hotel La Colombe d’Or Hotel and Restaurant/Facebook
news_shelby_ Up Restaurant
Up Restaurant Photo by Steve Chenn
Artisans Houston restaurant crowd venue
Artisans Photo by Debora Smail/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
Triniti, restaurant, diners, crowd, November 2012
Triniti Restaurant + Bar Triniti Restaurant/Facebook
Rainbow Lodge, restaurant
La Colombe d'Or Hotel and Restaurant, Restaurant Cinq, people dining, January 2013
news_shelby_ Up Restaurant
Artisans Houston restaurant crowd venue
Triniti, restaurant, diners, crowd, November 2012

Although the purpose of Houston Restaurant Weeks is to raise as much money as possible for the Houston Food Bank, the appeal to diners stems from the ability to try restaurants at a lower price point than one would regularly be able to. One of this year's changes is a new $45 option (with a $7 donation to the Houston Food Bank) that's allowed restaurants to serve dishes that are more representative of their typical cuisine rather than the endless parade of six-ounce filets and unappealing pasta dishes that have sometimes plagued Restaurant Weeks menus.

Alternatively, it should guarantee the end of "tasting menu" sized portions that leave one looking for a Whataburger drive-thru after dinner. While such venerated restaurants as Mark's and Tony's aren't participating this year, there are plenty of high-end places not named after a person that are offering intriguing menus.

Another perk of the restaurants on this list — all of them feature dining rooms that are among Houston's best looking. They're perfect for a date night or special occasion.

 Another perk of the restaurants on this list — all of them feature dining rooms that are among Houston's best looking 

As always with Houston Restaurant Weeks dining, remember that staffs, especially in the back of the house, are probably working harder than usual amidst the crowds. If the food doesn't come out as quickly as it might the other 11 months of the year, try not to make a spectacle. Also, tipping 20 percent or even a little better is mandatory when servers' incomes are being hit by decreased per person averages.

Finally, note the absence of steakhouses. While every non-vegetarian loves a great steak, this guide is geared towards those who see HRW as an opportunity to try something new. 

Up Restaurant

As a sponsor of Restaurant Weeks founder Cleverley Stone's weekly radio show, Up's menu better deliver — or the restaurant risks facing the Dining Diva's wrath. It appears that it will, thanks to top quality ingredients and house-made goodies.

Starting options include both a Caesar salad named after the dish's inventor with aged parmigiano reggiano and gazpacho that utilizes Spanish sherry. Entree options include Scottish salmon, free range chicken and braised short ribs.

Are braised short ribs seasonally appropriate for the August heat? No. Are they still delicious? Most definitely.

Finish with the over-sized macarons. If nothing else, Up's wood-paneled dining room, dramatic chandelier and third floor views provide the setting for a memorable evening. 


Chef/owner Ryan Hildebrand may have lost sous chef Dax McAnear to The Hay Merchant, but he and chef de cuisine Greg Lowry have still put together offerings that demonstrate Triniti's well-executed, ingredient driven dishes. Chilled English pea soup makes a good starting point on a hot summer day.

Normally a chicken dish wouldn't rate inclusion in a piece about splurging, but, when it features fat, smoky chunks of bacon and crispy skin, it doesn't feel like a compromise. Pastry chef Samantha Mendoza's selections are always well-made, so all three choices should be a good way to round out the meal. 

Rainbow Lodge

The Heights restaurant that looks like a hunting lodge sets itself apart from its HRW competitors in a few important ways. First, true to its reputation, Rainbow Lodge's menu includes game dishes in the form of rabbit ragout and a duo of wild boar and grilled beef. Second, there's a vegetarian, gluten free entree of summertime risotto that will satisfy animal lovers and trend-followers alike.

Starters include both the Lodge's signature duck gumbo and a tomato salad that will showcase the restaurant's philosophy of sourcing excellent ingredients and not messing them up. Of the dessert options, the lemon pie jar represents the biggest change from the usual chocolate or cheesecake offerings on other menus.

Cinq at La Colombe d'Or

Frankly, this menu makes the list for the intriguing sounding braised goat entree, but all of the choices from chef German Mosquera look worth sampling. There's filet mignon for the person who thinks fine dining means steak and tavola pasta for vegetarians.

 Mosquera even takes on this summer's hottest food fad with a cronut-inspired Dou-ssant. 

Lobster bisque with lump crab meat is the sort of decadent starter one expects to encounter in an old school, fine dining spot like La Colombe d'Or, but the kale salad gives the vegan chef a chance to demonstrate his skill with vegetables. Mosquera even takes on this summer's hottest food fad with a cronut-inspired Dou-ssant. 


Last year, each of the three courses were tasting menu sized, which might not have been a terrible value at $35 relative to the regular menu prices but still seemed a little chintzy. At this year's higher price point, Midtown's Artisans is offering five total courses, including an amuse bouche and after dinner mignardise.

Hopefully, only those with the heartiest appetites will leave hungry. It seems like the best way to enjoy what this restaurant does well is to stick to classic French dishes. That means starting with escargot, continuing with trout or chicken cordon bleu and finishing with chocolate mousse.