Raising the Bar
For Houston's sports-loving foodies, watching a game no longer has to mean chowing down on sub-par snacks. On the Kirb opened a few months ago in the West University area, and has since completely redefined the idea of what a sports bar can be with a diverse menu of fresh, organic, and expertly prepared meals — in the company of multiple TVs, of course.
Owner Joe Arbeely had long lamented the lack of healthy options available when he'd head out to watch a game with friends, and figured others would welcome better-for-you and better tasting culinary choices too. The overwhelmingly positive response coming from On the Kirb's diners has proven his hunch.
"I love kale salads, and wanted that option when I went out," Arbeely says. "Now people have the option of not only kale salads, but also a shawarma wrap with fresh greens, an all-natural free-range chicken breast, or a brick oven pizza made with authentic Italian ingredients."
The menu is far more extensive than your typical burgers-and-beer fare (there are burgers, they just happen to be made with hormone and antibiotic-free organic beef). It spans appetizers such as housemade hummus and shrimp cocktail with mango-avocado salsa to entrees that include wild-caught grilled salmon and all-natural filet mignon topped with a garlic-herb butter sauce. And that pizza? It's formed with artisanal Caputo flour that's imported from Napoli, Italy, and then fermented for three days to ensure an authentic taste.
There are also several vegan and vegetarian options that go above and beyond the norm — think a black bean burger that's topped with cactus relish, queso fresco, and housemade avocado ranch; or the OTK wrap: that famous hummus, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, avocado, fresh spinach, and alfalfa sprouts, all rolled in a wheat tortilla and served with a side salad.
To wash it all down, there are local draft beers and a cocktail menu that contains only fresh fruits, juices, herbs, house-infused syrups, and raw cane sugar. Over-processed ingredients or artificial sweeteners don't get a spot at the bar.
Diners are discovering that On the Kirb has the best of all worlds, with traditional sports bar staples such as fried chicken wings offered alongside a more health-conscious baked version. But whether baked or fried, all wings are tossed in the guest's choice of buffalo, barbecue, lemon-pepper, chipotle, or garlic-parmesan sauce.
"It was my goal that people would no longer be forced to eat bad food just because they wanted to get out and watch a game," says Arbeely. "They have a choice now."