This week in dining

These are the 12 best food and drink events in Houston this week

These are the 12 best food and drink events in Houston this week

Mendocino Farms group food shot
Mendocino Farms arrives in Uptown Park this week. Courtesy of Mendocino Farms
Chris Shepherd Aaron Franklin Southern Smoke
Aaron Franklin returns to Houston for Southern Smoke. Photo by Catchlight Photography
Reef happy hour bites
Reef's new happy hour starts this week. Photo by Pop Studios PR
Mendocino Farms group food shot
Chris Shepherd Aaron Franklin Southern Smoke
Reef happy hour bites

This week sees the return of favorite events and a popular food series, as well as some great one-offs. Reef relaunches, and this year's iteration of the wildly successful Southern Smoke Festival promises to be fiery.

A Houston restaurant marks a birthday party by giving away gift certificates, and fundraisers feature everything from wine to gelato. Hello Kitty even makes an appearance in town this week.

Monday, September 30

Happy Hour at Reef
The Midtown favorite re-launches happy hour Monday, offering 10 new dim-sum style bites for $2 each. Look for selections such as turmeric-brined fried chicken with XO sauce, tempura 1015 onions with Russian dressing, plus lighter Gulf-inspired dishes such as a shrimp and radish roll. Chef Bryan Caswell's signature shrimp shooters are also on the list, as are his beef sliders — and both of those are $1 on Mondays. Guests can pair them all with $5 cocktails, $3 draft beers, and $5 wines. Happy hour runs from 3-7 pm.

Mangia Mondays at Grimaldi's Pizzeria
Pizza lovers rejoice! To celebrate National, all Grimaldi's locations are offering Mangia Mondays, featuring a 16-inch traditional cheese pizza for only $10, dine in or to-go. Diners are welcome to add additional toppings for an upcharge. The deal is available every Monday in October.

Tuesday, October 1

Live Fire Tuesday at Eight Row Flint
Coltivare sous chef Jonathan Ferguson pairs up with New Magnolia Brewing Co. for this popular series. From 5 pm until it's gone, grab pickled shrimp with cherries, fennel, and pretzels; smoked pork tenderloin with tostones, arugula, tomato jam, and roasted garlic; or Weisswurst with caraway sauerkraut, brown sugar, and mustard, each for $11, or get popcorn grits with sweet potatoes and fermented chilis for $8. Wash it all down with the brewery's selections.

Thursday, October 3

Mendocino Farms Grand Opening
The California import opens its second Bayou City location today in Uptown Park. The launch features seasonal fall offerings such as Nam’s Schoolhouse Charity Banh Mi made with grilled chicken thigh, lemongrass relish, spicy ginger pineapple slaw, cilantro and chili aioli on a panini-pressed soft roll, with a portion of proceeds benefiting a philanthropic project to build a school for underprivileged children in Vietnam. Also available are six curated wines and 10 taps of local craft beer.

Lunch on the Plaza at CityPlace
The fun outdoor series returns from 11 am to 2 pm with music by Jake Bush and lunch offerings from fusion food truck concept Coffee Q, which blends a menu of barbecue options and an array of specialty coffees.

Waltrip Lady Ram Soccer Fundraiser at SweetCup Gelato & Sorbet Originale
Houston Dash defensive player Amber Brooks gets in on the fun for this event to raise cash for the high school team. Thursday through Monday, guests can stop into SweetCup's Ella location and purchase a U.S.A. Red, White, and Blue gelato, made with SweetCup’s sweet cream base and chunks of house-made vanilla pound cake, mixed with raspberries; blueberries; and red, white, and blue sprinkles. Fifteen percent of the proceeds benefit the team. Brooks will be there to greet guests from 4:15-6 pm.

Grand Tasting at Czech Cultural Center
Women of Wine Charities hosts this event, spotlighting highly rated wines served alongside dishes from some of the city's finest restaurants. In all, 13 chefs and 43 wines are featured. There's also a silent auction and the opportunity to win even more wine. Tickets are $125, and the event benefits the Houston Area Women's Center.

Friday, October 4

Anniversary Party at Jonathan's the Rub Memorial Green
The popular spot marks its first anniversary with a party from 3-6 pm. There's live music, happy hour appetizers, drinks, and a chance to win a $100 gift certificate. Admission is $20 per person, which includes two drink tickets, buffet-style bar food, and automatic entry into the drawing. Weather permitting, the party will be held on the patio (it will be moved inside if it rains).

Saturday, October 5

Hello Kitty Cafe Truck at First Colony Mall
From 10 am to 8 pm, this all-pink cafe on wheels will be parked outside the entrance near Pottery Barn, offering up a celebration of the beloved character. Anyone who spends $25 on food gets a free Hello Kitty Cafe pink mini-tote (while supplies last).

Whole Hog Carolina Cooking at Roegels Barbecue
Starting today, the restaurant launches a monthly whole pig roast. From 11 am to 6 pm, they'll be crisping pig skin, then chopping it up to enhance the flavor of their pork dishes. It'll be topped with a Carolina vinegar sauce. Barbecue lovers know to arrive early.

Sunday, October 6

Sunday Supper at Paulie's

Bordeaux wines take center stage at this monthly partnership between Camerata and Paulie's. Sunday, the wine dinner highlights the food and wine of Aquitaine, France. Wine director Chris Poldoian pours wines big in flavor and value, to complement Paulie's chef Joseph Brozovich's cuisine of Périgord. Dinner starts at 6 pm and will be served family-style. Tickets for the four-course event are $100, which covers food, wine, tax, and gratuity. Guests can buy them online.

5th Annual Southern Smoke Festival 
Far more than a barbecue bash, this fundraiser has become one of Houston's must-do events. This year, pitmasters and James Beard Award-winng chefs Ashley Christensen, Aaron Franklin, Donald Link, and Sarah Grueneberg (among others) come to town joining Houston icons Hugo Ortega, Erin Smith and Patrick Feges, Justin Yu, Hori Horiuchi and more for a blow-out food and wine party. The $200 general admission covers entry to the party, as well as food and drink. $100 of that is a tax-deductible donation to the Southern Smoke Foundation, which provides assistance for those working in the hospitality industry. Buy tickets online