Houston Chef's Table: Robert Del Grande reveals his IHOP regular past & hisBaskin beginning
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.
Robert Del Grande has been synonymous with high-end dining in Houston for decades, ever since Cafe Annie put his elevated Southwestern cuisine on the map. Now Del Grande presides over RDG most nights.
In addition to working on his future West Ave duo, Ava Brasserie and Pizzeria Alto, Del Grande and his partners just opened Soleil, a Mediterranean cafe and bar in Austin with incomparable views of Lake Travis.
Restaurant to take out-of-towners to: It all depends where they're from. We usually see if they want to do the Texas barbecue thing and if so we usually go to Goode Company Barbecue, the one on I-10.
It was one of the first places I went when I came to Houston in 1980. I was like, "Wow this is good." I guess I've come to appreciate the local barbecue feel. It's fun to look for something you wouldn't find in Chicago or California.
Restaurant for a special occasion: I always end up going to the places of friends who are chefs. My buddy Dean Fearing up in Dallas — he'll treat you like a king. You know, Mark Cox's place, and some others too.
Favorite meal: I tend to be found with burger at Becks Prime hanging out under the tree (at the location on Augusta near Westheimer). I like the Bill's Burger with jalepeños and a bunch of stuff — kinda spicy is always good.
That's where I'd be today if I didn't have to work.
Breakfast/Brunch favorite: In the old days we used to go to IHOP. I always thought for breakfast those guys were amazing to have so many tickets in the window. And you could order anything with pancakes on the side. We'd try to figure out when the big churches would let out and get there before them.
You know you go there a lot when the manager knows your name. I like the fried pork chop breakfast, I'm more traditional, rather than go for the pancakes and eggs.
For brunch I like Gigi's Asian Bistro. It's one place that's actually gotten even better, even though we get there at 2 p.m. sometimes and miss the breakfast. But I like to eat whatever the waiter recommends and then we hang out in the Galleria for some shopping.
Dessert: It ends up being ice cream. [My wife] Mimi loves ice cream. My first job at 16 years old was at Baskin Robbins.
All these years later they still have Jamoca Almond Fudge and it still tastes the same, it's still good anytime. Sometimes even at the restaurant I'll come in and have an ice cream sandwich for breakfast. Ice cream is always good.
Other articles in the Houston Chef's Table series: