If Houston Restaurants Weeks had an official menu item, it might be the six-ounce filet. The ultra-popular cut is a staple of most of the menus for steakhouses that participate in the event.
And yet, true beef lovers tend to regard filet’s mignon’s strengths — specifically its soft texture and mild flavor — as detriments. That’s why chefs boost filet with a pepper crust (steak au poivre), cover it crab meat and Hollandaise (steak Oscar), or rub it with coffee grounds, a technique first made famous by Houston chef Robert Del Grande that's still served at his restaurant, The Annie Cafe.
Thankfully, charitably minded, carnivorous Houstonians will find lots of meaty, non-filet options among this year’s participants in Houston Restaurants Weeks. Pursuing this year’s menus reveals a meat lover’s delight that includes lamb, ribeye, and even porchetta. The list below also notes some of the tempting beef options at the less expensive, $35 price point.
As a reminder, the annual charity dining event that raises money for the Houston Food Bank has tweaked its format this year; restaurants are only required to donate $1 per meal sold to the food bank, which allows them to keep more of the revenue at a time when seating capacity has been cut in half to help slow the spread of COVID-19. For the first time, restaurants are also offering their menus to-go.
Chef Giancarlo Ferrara’s Italian restaurant may fly a little under the media radar, but it has become a favorite of diners in neighborhoods like Briargrove and Tanglewood thanks to its elegant decor and precisely-crafted dishes. Meat lovers could begin their meal with either beef carpaccio or imported prosciutto di Parma. Entrees include veal short ribs with risotto and porchetta (rolled, roasted suckling pig) served with scalloped potatoes.
Ben Berg’s Washington Avenue steakhouse reigns as the king of HRW donations because it packs a lot of value into its three-course, $45 menu. Start with meatballs or sizzling bacon. Entree choices include a hearty, 10-ounce filet (a whole quarter pound more than other restaurants), pork chops or, for an extra $25, a dry-aged, bone-in, 22-ounce ribeye. The menu is available for to-go Tuesday - Sunday or for dine-in Tuesday - Thursday and Sunday.
Field & Tides
The Heights’ restaurant’s $45, three-course dinner menu features both a double-cut pork chop served with white cheddar grits and a chili-rubbed hanger steak that comes with both white cheddar-lobster potatoes and smoked carrots. At lunch (two courses, $20), opt for the restaurant’s signature burger that’s topped with bacon.
The legendary Chinese restaurant may primarily be known for dim sum and seafood, but its $35, three-course HRW menu has two appealing meat entrees. For those who insist on filet, the restaurant offers it seasoned with honey and black pepper; the same seasoning also gets used on lamb chops. Starting with fried, chili-garlic pork spare ribs seems like the obvious move.
Gauchos do Sul
At both its original location in Vintage Park and its new outpost in Highland Village, this Brazilian steakhouse serves 10 cuts of meats on its three-course, $45 dinner menu. They include top sirloin, bottom sirloin, leg of lamb, pork ribs, and pork sausage. Yes, that excludes the beef ribs, lamb chops, and ribeye that come as part of the 15-item, $60 regular menu, but the value of the HRW offering makes the trade-off worthwhile.
The downtown restaurant’s three-course, $35 HRW menu includes an 8-ounce teres major — a cut from the shoulder that’s similarly tender to filet but has more beef flavor. Served with fried potato salad and asparagus, diners can enjoy the steak on The Grove’s patio that looks onto Discovery Green.
Jonathan’s the Rub Memorial Green
The restaurant offers a number of meaty entrees on its three-course, $45 HRW menu. They include a braised Denver roast (a tender section of beef shoulder), Jonathan’s signature, 10-ounce cheeseburger, or a ribeye with chimichurri for a $10 supplement. Starting with a classic wedge or Caesar salad will add to a steakhouse-style experience.
Osso & Kristalla
Astros owner Jim Crane’s casual, Italian-inspired restaurant’s three-course, $35 HRW menu includes a riff on steak frites that swaps the usual filet for a grilled ribeye cap. Start with the restaurant’s signature meatballs for the full carnivore experience or lighten things up a bit with a summer tomato salad.
The Lodge’s signature smoked duck gumbo should be a sufficient reason to visit this Houston classic, but the three-course, $45 HRW menu includes some other tempting dishes. Entrees include a slow-cooked duck leg with green tomato chutney and a 44 Farms tri-tip steak that’s served with “foie creamed spinach” and crispy, crushed fingerling potatoes.
Sal y Pimienta
For those who prefer filet, the South American steakhouse serves it topped with crab, shrimp, and beurre blanc. Other meaty options on the three-course, $35 dinner menu include grilled pork tenderloin, veal chops, and a hearty, 10-ounce picanha (top sirloin) that’s served with black beans and basmati rice. Take the 4 leches cake that’s included with the meal to-go and have it for breakfast the next day.
Diners will find a butcher’s cut of Gyulais beef, a wagyu hybrid with a high level of intramuscular fat, on the menu at this Woodlands’ restaurant. Chef Austin Simmons tells CultureMap the cut will vary from night-to-night but will include the chuck flat, Denver cut, sirloin cap (coulotte), flank steak, outside skirt, and tri-tip. Those who prefer filet will have to spring for a $15 upcharge, but it does come with the chef's signature kimchi mashed potatoes.