Happy reservation day, Houston. The Houston Restaurant Weeks website has officially gone live, which means people across the city are scoping out menus and making their plans for August.
To refresh, Houston Restaurant Weeks is a month-long charity dining event that takes places from August 1-September 6 (Labor Day). Participating restaurants serve prix fixe menus at set price points — $35 or $49 for dinner, $20 for lunch or brunch — and donate a corresponding amount of money per meal sold to the Houston Food Bank. As with last year, many participants are also offering to-go options.
The event has been wildly successfully, raising over $16 million for the charity since 2003, and turning August from a restaurant’s slowest month into one of its busiest. Participants run the gamut from Houston institutions like Brennan’s of Houston and Tony’s to top steakhouses like B&B Butchers and Vic & Anthony’s to more humble, family-owned operations aiming for attention from the HRW crowds.
Ultimately, over 250 individual locations will participate in the event, but today’s website launch doesn’t have the full roster; expect more to be added through August 1. For today, let’s look at some of the restaurants participating in the event for the first time.
Casa do Brasil
At dinner, the Galleria-area restaurant’s full menu of unlimited rodizio meats —including picanha, bottom sirloin, leg of lamb, and South American-style sausage — and expansive salad bar are available for $49. The three-course lunch gives diners access to the salad bar, side dishes, and choice of dessert.
The Yelp favorite has both lunch and a $35, three-course dinner menu available. Both offer many of the restaurant’s signature items, including hummus, labneh, pita sandwiches, bowls, and a half rotisserie chicken. Dinner adds a choice of dessert.
Chef Lance Fegen’s restaurant in the Heights has opened to raves from the neighborhood. At lunch, choose from dishes such as clam chowder, deviled eggs, grilled salmon, and a meatball and sausage sandwich. The $35 dinner menu includes beef carpaccio, chicken parmesan, chicken and portobello mushroom ravioli, and choice of dessert.
King Ranch Texas Cuisine
This casual steakhouse from Landry’s Restaurants has two things that are always good to see on a HRW menu: three courses at lunch and a steak option on a $35 dinner menu. Choices on the lunch menu include brisket queso, beef taquitos, a two-meat barbecue plates, and, of course, King Ranch chicken. At dinner, Kingsville chicken recreates the casserole’s signature components, but the eight-ounce sirloin will be hard to resist.
HRW provides an opportunity for more diners to learn why Kerry Pauly’s neighborhood restaurant has been earning raves on the Memorial Area Eats Facebook group. Lunch options include crispy Brussels sprouts, roasted barbecue chicken, crab cake salad, and bistro filet with salsa verde. At dinner, entree choices includes roasted chicken, baby back ribs, and the restaurant’s signature crab cake.
This downtown restaurant's $49, threee-course dinner menu begins with choices such as French lentil soup, wild mushroom toast, and yellowfin tuna crudo. Choose from five entrees, including seared snapper with parsnip puree, bucatini with shrimp, and an eight ounce filet with mashed potatoes ($10 supplement). Finish the meal with lemon olive oil cake, cheesecake, or chocolate banana cake.
NoPo Cafe, Market & Bar
As with its sister concepts such as B&B Butchers and B.B. Lemon, this new all-day cafe from Berg Hospitality Group offers diners an extensive selection of dishes on its HRW menu. Lunch options include six different starters as well as eight entrees such as Cobb salad, a cheeseburger, and four different pizzas. At dinner, choose from 10 different starters (soup, salad, pizza, and raw oysters all available) as well as 10 entrees that range from salads to pasta to steak frites ($5 supplement) and a choice of dessert.
White Elm Cafe
The West Houston restaurant’s three-course, $35 dinner menu starts with a choice of cheese fritters, sweet corn bisque, or heirloom tomato and watermelon salad. Pork ribeye, salmon with coconut rice, or an intriguing vegetarian dish make for appealing entree choices. Finish the meal with strawberry shortcake, lemon tart, or chocolate cake.
The Vietnamese restaurant’s three-course, $35 dinner menu includes some of the most popular dishes. Start with soft shell crab with tamarind gastrique reduction, “Not Our Ma’s Eggrolls,” or a salad. Entree choices include the restaurant’s take on classic bo luc lac, braised pork belly with crispy rice, and five mushroom congi. Xin Chào offers three desserts, but choose chef-owner Christine Ha’s signature “rubbish” apple pie that charmed Masterchef judge Gordon Ramsay.
Yi Peng Thai Dining
Located in CityCentre, this sophisticated Thai restaurant will serve a three-course, $35 dinner menu. Start with open-faced shrimp dumplings, chicken and vermicelli wraps, or crispy soft shell crab. Entree options consist of Bangkok-style grilled chicken, panang curry with sizzling shrimp, and baked garlic scallops. For dessert, choose from sticky rice with taro and coconut syrup, a chocolate mousse pyramid, or a baked apple crumble.