Beyond raising oodles of money for the Houston Food Bank ($1.9 million in 2015 alone), Houston Restaurant Weeks provides diners with the opportunity to visit restaurants at a fixed price point that’s typically lower than what a three-course meal at the restaurant typically costs the other 11 months of the year. Knowing in advance what a meal will cost (plus drinks, tax, and tip) encourages diners to try places they may have otherwise overlooked.
In that spirit of exploration, why not head outside the Beltway and try some of the great restaurants that have been popping up in the suburbs? These seven restaurants span a number of neighborhoods: Sugar Land, Friendswood, Clear Lake, Cypress, Katy, and The Woodlands. With options ranging from fried chicken to seared scallops, anyone can find something to enjoy.
Dolce Ultra Lounge
Former Davis St. chef Javani King has found a new home at this stylish Cypress restaurant, but his food remains the same global mash-up that’s won him legions of fans. The restaurant’s three-course, $35 menu starts with choices like filo-wrapped shrimp with pineapple-mango pico or a sweet potato flatbread topped with chopped brisket. Entrees include classic fare like a pork chop with mac and cheese and halibut with tomato compote and purple quinoa salad. For dessert, it’s hard to say no to bananas Foster bread pudding.
Former Kris Bistro chef Kristofer Jakob only opened his new restaurant in July, but it already may be the best restaurant in Friendswood. The three-course, $45 dinner menu starts with nachos topped with cochinta pibil (roasted pork shoulder) or a cornbread madeline. Entree options includes an eight-ounce hangar steak with wild rice pilaf, bacon-wrapped diver scallops, and spaghetti aglio e olio. Choose from tart tatin, creme brulee, or chocolate mousse for dessert.
Fielding’s Local Kitchen & Bar
Diners willing to push all the way into the Woodlands’ Creekside neighborhood will find that this CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Best New Restaurant nominee is one of the suburb’s best dining experiences thanks to its creative cooking and comprehensive array of craft beer, wine, and cocktails. Chef Edel Goncalves brings a Mediterranean flair to the three-course, $35 dinner menu; HRW lunch and brunch menus are also available. Starters include corn and crab gumbo and goat cheese served with charred avocado and fennel crackers. The mains include Chinese-style char siu pork belly with vegetables and salmon with pancetta and oyster mushrooms. As tempting as ricotta blueberry cheesecake may sound, go with the apple tart for dessert.
Another restaurant that’s serving lunch, brunch, and dinner during HRW, this restaurant’s that’s owned by former Tony’s maitre’d Jason Howard a little inside-the-loop flair to Cypress. The three-course, $35 dinner menu exceeds the event’s requirements by offering four or more choices per course, as well as a couple of tempting supplements to encourage diners to spend a little more money.
Start with a meatball trio, cauliflower carbonara or pay $4 extra for crab bruschetta. Entree choices include two different fish options (snapper or salmon) as well as classic chicken cordon bleu and a take on beef Wellington that uses crepes instead of the traditional puff pastry. For dessert, go gluten-free with a flourless chocolate cake or try a tiramisu crepe.
Grazia Italian Kitchen
With locations in both Pearland and Clear Lake, this Italian restaurant led by former Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse chef Steve Haug and veteran restaurateur Adrian Hembree is winning fans on Houston’s south side. The three-course, $35 menu includes the restaurant’s signature smoked short ribs over risotto that won the top prize at this year’s RodeoHouston Best Bites competition. Round out the meal with an appetizer (fried calamari, wedge salad or lobster bisque) and finish off with something sweet like white chocolate cinnamon creme brulee.
Songkran Thai Grill
This Sugar Land restaurant offers a more casual, street food-inspired take on Thai cooking than its sister restaurant in Uptown Park, which means diners can enjoy chef Junnajet "Jett" Hurapan’s cooking at the affordable $25 dinner menu price point. Each course includes both vegetarian and gluten-free options like crispy tofu with pineapple red curry sauce and turnip cake with kaffir lime peanut curry. Omnivores may prefer dishes like the grilled meatball with tamarind chili glaze sweet and sour chicken with vegetables.
Katy residents are flocking to the first Houston-area location of this New York-based Korean fried chicken chain. The three-course, $25 menu offers a hearty 10 wings or five drumsticks as an entree option and also includes two rounds of starters that include shrimp shumai, takoyaki (fried octopus balls), a kimchi pancake trio and potstickers. No desserts are offered on the HRW menu, but you probably won’t have room for it anyway.