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A lucky menu? One of the top restaurants in town tries to tempt with small-bite specials

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News_Americas River Oaks, interior
Americas Photo by Julie Soefer/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
News_Buen Provecho Dinner_Corduas_April 2012_crowd_venue_Churrascos
Churrascos Photo by Frank Casimiro
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David Cordua, left, and Michael Cordua Photo by Shelby Hodge
News_Americas River Oaks, interior
Cordua, 25th anniversary, 88
News_Buen Provecho Dinner_Corduas_April 2012_crowd_venue_Churrascos
News_David_Cordua_Michael_Cordua

The number eight is lucky in Chinese culture, but it has also been auspicious for the Cordúa family. Michael Cordúa opened his first restaurant, Churrascos, on Aug. 8, 1988 — or 8-8-88 — and his restaurant empire has been growing ever since, now up to four concepts and seven locations.

The company turns 24 this month, but Cordúa is already counting down to its 25th anniversary. The "8/8 88" menu is now available at Churrascos and Américas, with specials on food and drinks at the bar as well as a special dinner for two.

From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., head to the bar at Américas for 8 bites, 8 wines by the glass and 8 cocktails for $8 each. Executive chef David Cordúa has created an incredible menu of small bites that includes steamed buns filled with juicy carnitas, yellowtail tuna tiradito served in three increasingly tangy citrus blends via a sextet of spoons, crunchy croquettes of shrimp and chorizo.

 There's even a Latin American-accented plate of poutine — skinny fries served doused in spicy chicken tinga, cilantro and onion. 

There's even a Latin American-accented plate of poutine — skinny fries served doused in spicy chicken tinga, cilantro and onion. It's kind of a shame that the poutine is only served until 8 p.m. because it's exactly the kind of dish one craves at 2 a.m. after a night of drinking, but that's nothing that a to-go box and a microwave can't solve.

At Churrascos, the $8 bar menu takes a more traditional approach, featuring beef tenderloin carpaccio, grilled arepas (corn cakes full of chorizo, black beans and cheese), beef short rib empanadas and a skewer of chicken with yucca and huancaina.

For cocktails at both restaurants, choose from the Coco Batida, a frothy mix of coconut milk, cachaca and coconut flakes that's so light and sweet you'll swear it should have a tiny umbrella, a traditional pisco sour, and the unexpected drinkability of the Bumpy, which combines scotch whiskey, pineapple, soda and lime.

For those who want to celebrate the anniversary with a bit more style, there's also a three-course prix fixe meal for two for $88. In addition to a 16 ounce signature churrasco steak to share, it comes with a choice of two appetizers and a dessert trio that includes Cordúa's famous tres leches cake.

What makes this deal extra-lucky? It will last all the way until August 2013.

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