Houston Restaurant Weeks began Monday, and diners all over the city are scouring menus and making reservations. One of the most appealing aspects of the month-long event remains the opportunity to try some of the city’s best restaurants at a fixed price — one that typically represents a bit of a discount over the restaurant’s offerings the other 11 months of the year.
Bargain hunters will find a lot of appealing options with this year’s new, $25 dinner menu ($4 donation to the Houston Food Bank). Having covered restaurants like El Tiempo, MKT Bar and Midtown Barbeque in an earlier guide, let’s look at some of the other options for HRW’s least expensive dinner option.
Mala Sichuan Bistro
The Montrose location of the acclaimed Chinese restaurant is serving some of its most popular menu items during HRW. Start with red oil dumplings, pickled radish and peanut salad, or Coca-Cola wings. Entree options include the addictive spicy and aromatic chicken and green peppercorn fish. Wine pairings only cost an additional $15, which makes it one of HRW’s most affordable options.
Adding just $25 to the cost of a movie ticket will bring a three-course meal with dishes inspired by some of this summer’s blockbusters. Truffled parmesan buttered popcorn seems like the obvious first course, but fried alligator and avocado crostini are also available. Keep it healthy with a grilled salmon and avocado salad or indulge in a burger or hatch green chile mac & cheese. For dessert, don’t pass on the “adult” shake of choice. Best of all, diners will receive a free movie ticket to use for a return visit.
El Tiempo isn’t the only locally-owned Tex-Mex restaurant that wants to give HRW diners a deal. Available at four of its Houston-area locations, Cyclone Anaya’s menu includes classic dishes like chile con queso, the Del Rio combination plate, and tres leches. Those looking for something a little healthier can start with ceviche before moving on to fish tacos — just go easy on the chips and salsa.
With chef Alberto Baffoni back in the kitchen, this Italian restaurant is flying high. First course options include arugula and fennel salad and Baffoni’s signature octopus carpaccio. Braised beef cheeks, pappardelle pasta with pork belly, and roasted chicken serve as entree choices. For dessert, choose from chocolate souffle, cheesecake, or semifreddo.
The Barking Pig
This casual patio bar in Lazybrook/Timbergrove is winning fans with its comfort food and laid-back atmosphere. Flash-fried Brussels sprouts and a classic wedge salad lead the starter options. A grilled chicken salad would make for a light dinner, or diners can opt for something a little heartier with either a banh mi pizza or mozzarella-stuffed meatballs. A chocolate and cheese board would make for a savory dessert, but it’s hard to turn down fresh berries garnished with Bailey’s Irish cream.
Calabash Island Eats
Get a taste of the Caribbean at this downtown restaurant. Start with fried yam balls, hops bread with cheese spread, or split pea soup. Entree choices include grilled trout and baked pork loin. Finish the meal with grilled plantains, carrot cake, or spice cake. Those looking to enhance their experience should consider adding a rhum flight ($16 or $36).
The Memorial outpost of this family-friendly restaurant offers a diverse array of options on its three-course menu. Start with crab cake mac & cheese, mango salad, or spinach artichoke dip. Hungry’s signature kabobs lead the entree choices, but pesto pasta with grilled shrimp makes a good choice, too. Homemade bread pudding looks like the most appealing of the three dessert choices.
Ragu & Pesto
This Italian restaurant in Briargrove that’s popular with local bloggers exceeds expectations with four choices for both appetizers and entrees. At least one person at every table should order the fettuccine alla ruota just to observe the tableside presentation of seeing the dish finished in a wheel of Parmigiano reggiano. Other classic choices include caprese salad, beef carpaccio, and linguini with seafood. Passion fruit panna cotta and cannoli lead the dessert choices.