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.
Craig Mallinson's Red Lion has walked the line between restaurant and bar for years — like a gastropub, without the fancy moniker or matching pretension. The Food Network's Guy Fieri is a fan — Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives made a stop at Red Lion in 2009. But as for Mallinson, his Houston favorites are decidedly diner-free.
Restaurant to take out-of-towners to: I'm a bit of a snob ... one of them would would be Tony's and another would be Mark's. For pizza I like Pink's Pizza and for Asian food my favorite is Qin Dynasty.
Restaurant for a special occasion: I just took my family to Tony's before The Nutcracker last Saturday. The service is probably the best service in the city.
I like what they do with the menu, and I'm generally a big fan of Tony Vallone, I like what he's done for the city. He's produced so many good chefs because he gives people a shot.
Favorite meal: I like to say Carrabba's on Kirby. They are always very hospitable, I like the way that Johnny runs it, but the best kept secret is that they have the best steak.
I believe it's Australian, it's the best steak in the city, bar none.
Breakfast/Brunch favorite: Without a doubt Backstreet Cafe. I don't know what it is about their brunches, but they have a chicken hash or pork hash they conjure up — I'm always like, "One day I'm going to steal this idea," but I haven't yet.
I like the feel when the weather is nice and it's a good place for the whole family.
Dessert: Dessert Gallery — I don't go for desserts often but when we do we go there, they've got some lovely ideas.
Other articles in the Houston Chef's Table series: