Food for Thought

The best lunch deals in Houston: High-end restaurants offer cheap gourmet steals

The best lunch deals in Houston: High-end restaurants offer cheap gourmet steals

Kenny & Ziggy’s, Brooklyn Big Boy, hamburger, burger, January 2013
The new Brooklyn Big Boy at Kenny & Ziggy's Photo by Paula Murphy
Up Restaurant, pasta, chicken
At Up, the elegant second-story eatery with a dazzling view, you can get a pre fixe three-course business lunch for $24. Photo courtesy of Up Restaurant
La Fisheria, Red Snapper Ceviche
Red snapper ceviche at La Fisheria Photo by Debora Smail/RealityPhotography.net
La Fisheria, Tacos de Langosta, lobster and black bean tacos with chipotle aioli
La Fisheria is featuring seafood tacos, shown here the Tacos de Langosta, lobster and black bean tacos with chipotle aioli. Photo by Debora Smail/RealityPhotography.net
Monarch, sautéed salmon
You'll also find hearty entrées of grilled chicken, sautéed salmon and Gulf Coast fish at Monarch. Photo by Debbie Porter
Monarch, deconstructed chicken salad
At Monarch, it's $10 for an amazing deconstructed chicken salad where the chicken is sous vided and mixed with egg whites, corn, celery, onion and chipotle mayo. Photo by Debbie Porter
Kenny & Ziggy’s, hamburger, burger, Kenny, Zigalicious, January 2013
Ziggy of Kenny & Ziggy's introduces the Zigalicious, a New York-style burger piled high with house pastrami, aged Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing. Photo by Paula Murphy
Up Restaurant, macaron sampler, January 2013
Top off your lunch with a macaron sampler at Up. Up Restaurant/Facebook
Kenny & Ziggy’s, Brooklyn Big Boy, hamburger, burger, January 2013
Up Restaurant, pasta, chicken
La Fisheria, Red Snapper Ceviche
La Fisheria, Tacos de Langosta, lobster and black bean tacos with chipotle aioli
Monarch, sautéed salmon
Monarch, deconstructed chicken salad
Kenny & Ziggy’s, hamburger, burger, Kenny, Zigalicious, January 2013
Up Restaurant, macaron sampler, January 2013

“In the new year people need to start eating lunch again,” says PR peep Mark Sullivan. “Seriously. People eating at their desk all the time and on the run it’s just not civilized.”

Sullivan admits he rarely had lunch out last year but his New Year’s resolution for 2013 is to eat lunch out more, with family, friends and co-workers.

“Life’s too short not to eat lunch!” he says, and I couldn’t agree more.

I love lunch, it’s my main meal of the day and I almost always go out to eat it. But even if you’re tied to a desk most of the time, it makes sense to get out of the office once in a while for your mental health. Take a break, eat like a civilized person, have some good food and maybe a glass of wine, and recharge yourself.

If you must justify lunch, than bring some work along with you. Or invite a coworker or a client.

 “Life’s too short not to eat lunch!” he says, and I couldn’t agree more. 

Depending on your budget, you can have a fabulous lunch at Tony’s, or a decent meal at any corner taqueria. You can go somewhere new (Brooklyn Athletic Club now serves lunch) or check out some old favorites that have brand new lunch menus.

Which is what I did recently with Sullivan when we had lunch at Monarch in Hotel ZaZa. I probably hadn’t been in almost a year. It’s one of the places I seem to forget about although when I return I just love the decor and the gorgeous patio overlooking the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s lawns and outdoor sculpture.

Last time I was here the food was excellent but I was anxious this time to see what Jonathan Jones, the new executive chef and formerly the driving force behind Max’s Wine Dive’s and Beaver’s Ice House foods, had done to the menu.

And let’s just say the lunch menu rocks. Get there in the next few days before January ends and everything on the lunch menu is $10 for the hotel chain’s 10th anniversary. That’s $10 for salmon tartare with a hint of red chile and topped with caviar. Ten dollars for an amazing deconstructed chicken salad where the chicken is sous vided and mixed with egg whites, corn, celery, onion and chipotle mayo.

There are salads like the arugula with the most amazing vanilla lime vinaigrette, sandwiches such as the smoked turkey club with applewood bacon and cranberry mayo, wheat crust pizzas and hearty entrees of grilled chicken, sauteed salmon and Gulf Coast fish.

And speaking of fish, Tony Mandola’s has a new lunch menu that features a blackened tilapia topped with crab meat and drizzled in cilantro lime butter while La Fisheria features seafood tacos and a Mexican-style fried fish sandwich on the new lunch list. All lunch items at both restaurants are under $15 and many are less than $10.

Burger City

You want a burger? No reason to hit a drive through! Take an elevator instead.

 Depending on your budget, you can have a fabulous lunch at Tony’s, or a decent meal at any corner taqueria. 

That would be the elevator to the second-story Highland Village restaurant Up. At this elegant eatery with a dazzling view, you can get a pre fixe three-course business lunch for $24 that might include asparagus soup, Maple Leaf Farms’ duck lettuce wraps and a macaron sampler.

But Up also has the Highland Cheeseburger on the a la carte lunch menu. It’s a 3/4-pound, house-ground beef patty with two-year-aged cheddar on a toasted brioche bun. See, you can’t get that from McDonalds. No you can’t.

Or, if you’re closer to the Galleria, swing by Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen Restaurant on Post Oak Boulevard where they’ve added New York-style burgers to the menu. Try The Boulevard Big Boy with smoked Gouda cheese, Black Label bacon, lettuce and tomato, topped with onion strings and housemade BBQ sauce; the Zigalicious piled high with house pastrami, aged Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing; Mike’s Mashugana with bleu cheese, Black Label bacon, sauteed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, crispy onion rings and bleu cheese dressing; or The Big Reubowski, that is somewhat of a marriage of a burger and a Reuben, with house-cured corned beef, aged Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing.

All are made with beef from the legendary New York (now located in New Jersey) Pat LaFrieda & Sons Meat Purveyors, which started in 1920s. And they come on a challah bun.

OK, now I’m hungry again.