With over 200 participating in Houston Restaurant Weeks, diners have a wide variety of choices in terms of cuisine, location, ambiance etc. Despite all of those options, the number don't lie — Houstonians see HRW as an opportunity to get a good deal on steak.
Just look at last year's top 10 donations by restaurant to the Houston Food Bank. It's dominated by steakhouses like Del Frisco's and Mr. Peeples and steak-oriented restaurants like Churrascos.
Sadly, the only steak on offer at these places is typically filet mignon — prized by people who don't really like steak for its mild flavor and being really easy to cut. While my own mother typically orders filet (to my considerable embarrassment), most meat lovers find filet to be mushy and flavorless; that's why restaurants typically serve it with enhancements like bearnaise sauce or covered in peppercorns for steak au poivre.
Perhaps the most shameful example of this is at Vic & Anthony's, which offers a wimpy six-ounce filet as its only steak option on a $45, three-course menu. At least Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse delivers a more respectable eight ounces and gives people the option of spending an additional $18 to get a steak someone who likes meat would actually want to eat: a 16-ounce prime strip or ribeye. Vallone's deserves some scorn for not offering a steak entree without a $9 "supplement," but at least it serves four courses instead of three.
What follows are the most intriguing options for eating steak during HRW. Yes, that includes one filet option, but it's both compelling by itself and featured on a less expensive, $35 menu.
Pappas Meat Co.
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, the Galleria area temple of luxurious, dry-aged Prime beef, does not participate in HRW, but this more casual sibling on the Eastside does. For only $35, diners can choose from a 17-ounce ribeye, a 13-ounce strip or an 18-ounce T-bone that are served with a side of a baked potato. Of course, the beef is graded Choice instead of Prime, but it's still eminently delicious.
Frank's Americana Revival
Sadly, the celebrated chicken fried steak at this River Oaks comfort spot is not on the HRW menu, but steak lovers can still find a worthy entree in the 10-ounce strip from highly regarded local purveyor 44 Farms. Alternatively, the fried chicken and seared grouper also make for an excellent dinner.
Texas de Brazil and Tradicao Brazilian Steakhouse
Both of these churrascarias will bring an all you can eat parade of meat to your table for $35. The price even includes both a salad bar, because consuming a few vegetables prior to gorging oneself will help reduce guilt, and dessert. Just remember that the pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese rolls) are a delicious trick to try to fill you up on bread. Don't fall for it. One other tip: never say no to one last bite of garlic beef.
Arnaldo Richards' Picos
For those who insist on eating filet, Picos is the way to go. The Mexican restaurant in Upper Kirby not only covers the meat in either black oaxacan or red poblano mole, but it also serves it with a cheese enchilada, rice and choice of beans. Factor in that the menu also includes two other courses for $35 and rejoice in the value.
Admittedly, both the CityCentre and West Ave. locations of this chain are better known for their lively bar crowds and seafood options than steak, but the three-course, $45 HRW menu contains one worthwhile splurge. For $10 extra, diners can opt for a 22-ounce bone-in ribeye as an entree. The same cut lists for $49 on the restaurant's regular menu, which means that diners are essentially getting two other courses for $6.
The Upper Kirby newcomer has built its whole concept around serving akaushi beef, which is a Texas product that's related to Japanese wagyu. For HRW, choose from either a ribeye or braised short rib as part of its three-course, $45 menu. Not bad for beef that's even more marbled than traditional Prime.