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10 must tries for Houston Restaurant Weeks: Make the foodie holiday special

10 must tries for Houston Restaurant Weeks: Make the foodie holiday special

Cinq Courtesy of Cinq
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Looking for a different take on Italian? Check out what's coming out of Arcodoro's kitchen.  Photo by Gracie Cavnar
Haven has one of the best restaurant weeks menus in town. Photo by Barbara Kuntz
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Decisions, decisions. If too much of a good thing can exist (we have our doubts) then the myriad choices of Houston Restaurant Weeks has to be a contender. Whether you want an ambitious menu, a giant steak, gorgeous surroundings or top-notch people watching, the hundred-plus restaurants participating in $20 lunches and $35 dinners (now through Aug. 31) offer up a little bit of everything.

If it's all too overwhelming, start with our handy cheat sheet of don't-miss destinations.

1. Haven

Haven's prix fixe menu is as colorful and exciting as the fare offered nightly. Whether you're coming for the brunch, the plentiful vegetarian options or the patio, this is one of the best Houston Restaurant Weeks menus, top to bottom.

2. Américas

If you can't fit into a prix fixe box, make a reservation at Américas, where it's all about customization. Undecided on appetizers? Order the trio of ceviche, lobster corn dogs and calamari at dinner. Or if you're heading in for lunch, there's a "design your own salad" option with four choices of chicken and shrimp. Plus if the plentiful entrees available aren't enough, Américas is offering sides from $6 and wine from $9.

3. Arcodoro

Some of the Italian menus around town can be a little repetitive, but Arcodoro's Sardinian flair sets it apart, with options including carpaccio of branzino, Sardinian teardrop pasta, and traditional Sardinian "seadas di miele," or puff pastries drizzled with honey.

4. Brennan's of Houston

The HRW menus for Brennan's read like a greatest hits list. If you've heard of Brennan's turtle soup, shrimp and grits, or classic bananas foster but have yet to experience them, here's your chance.

5. Soma Sushi

Stuck in a French/Italian/Modern American rut? Mix it up with the East-West fusion done to perfection at Soma Sushi, with dishes like Thai soup with rock shrimp, crab, scallions, cilantro; crispy duck rolls with granny smith apples; and Akaushi short ribs.

6. Restaurant Cinq

Chef Jeramie Robison isn't afraid to tweak your expectations from the classically French La Colombe d'Or. For Houston Restaurant Weeks, the influence is decidedly more Southern with dishes like shrimp etouffee and deconstructed chicken pot pie, but the service and technique are just what you expect from a Houston grande dame.

7. Tony's

My first HRW experience ever was dinner at Café Annie — go big or go home, right? To eat alongside Houston's high society, you could make a reservation at Annie's successor restaurant RDG, or wear your finest monocle and mingle with the bold-faced names at Tony's.

8. Hugo's

You have to love Hugo Ortega for going the extra mile. Ortega hasn't just created one prix fixe dinner menu for the month, he's got two: One that's meant to be paired with optional agave cockatils, and another that goes with wine. And with dishes like a duo of pork with achiote-rubbed suckling pig, bacon-wrapped quail and braised oxtail, there's no wrong choice. Lunch looks delicious, too.

9. Feast

Feast is one restaurant that has been somewhat hampered by a fawning press. Yes, we love the nose-to-tail cooking, but if you aren't ready for braised pork cheeks, that's OK too. The Houston Restaurant Weeks dinner menu includes beef tongue and chicken liver paté, but there's also coq au vin, shepherd's pie, Moroccan tagine stew and sea scallops, so whether you branch out or stick to more familiar favorites, you're in for a good meal.

10. Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse

There are plenty of steakhouses participating in Houston Restaurant Weeks, and while most of them have at least one steak cut on the special menu, unless you want a petite cut or a seafood substitution, choices are slim. Del Frisco is the exception, offering a filet mignon, prime strip and and prime ribeye options at dinner (and that's in addition to chicken and snapper).