No one knows Houston restaurants better than the people who run them, own them, and work in the kitchens. In this continuing series, CultureMap is asking our favorite foodie personalities around town where they go for great eats when they're not working.
"Beachy" isn't really a word that comes to mind in Houston — not that that stopped L.J. Wiley
As executive chef at Yelapa Playa Mexicana, Wiley has created a menu and an ambiance that lures the imagination to a seafood shack in some unknown hideaway next to the Pacific — one that just happens to serve fresh, flavorful seafood and coastal Mexican classics. He talks to CultureMap about where he goes for a food escape, sandwiches, brunch and desert.
Restaurant for a special occasion: "I would probably go somewhere out of town. I've had some great meals at the Inn at Dos Brisas. I had lunch out there one time and the simplicity of it was just incredible — grilled chicken breast and a heirloom tomato salad from the garden."
Favorite meal: "You can usually find me out on the west side at this Vietnamese place called Que Huong out on Beechnut and Wilcrest. I'm always eating banh mi, the little Vietnamese sandwiches, and pho."
Breakfast/Brunch favorite: "I had a really, really great brunch recently at Branch Water Tavern. It was, again, really simple, clean flavors: Eggs benedict with a lemon hollandaise and a little salad."
Dessert: "Wherever Chris Leung is working! He's here [at Yelapa] now but he's about to head out to Tomball to work with Randy Rucker at his new place, Connate, as well as open up his own bakery shop. But he'll still be consulting here."
Other articles in the Houston Chef's Table series: