where to eat potatoes
Houston's 10 crunchiest, gooiest, and creamiest potato dishes transcend simple sides
Consider the potato. The humble tuber can be prepared in such a wide variety of ways that suit just about every class of restaurant.
A burger joint would feel incomplete without french fries or tater tots. Dining at a steakhouse wouldn’t be the same without a baked potato or mashed potatoes. Of course, Houston’s restaurants go above and beyond those more ordinary preparations with a number of potato dishes that show elevated technique or use the potato as a basis for creative toppings.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 10 of Houston’s most creamy, crunchy, and gooey potato dishes. What sets most of them apart is that multiple techniques are typically used to make them — everything from searing to baking to confit to frying. However they’re made, it’s a win for Houstonians.
Note that this list doesn’t include traditional french fries. We’ll consider them another time.
Andiron - Pommes Anna
For his new steakhouse, restaurateur Michael Sambrooks wanted a statement making, destination worthy potato side. He found it in the Pommes Anna, a classic French side made of overlapping layers of thinly sliced potatoes. Simply seasoned with butter, salt, and diced onion, it’s crispy on the outside and soft in the middle — giving it the texture and flavor necessary to stand up to the restaurant’s wood-fired steaks.
Feges BBQ - Money Cat Potatoes
Inspired by a dish Justin Yu created for his famous, pre-Oxheart, brunch pop-up, Feges roasts the potatoes, smashes them, then fries them to order. The dish is then tossed in the restaurant’s signature gochujang barbecue sauce before being topped with Duke’s Mayo and green onions. More than being delicious, the dish is also an homage to a person who contributed to both the love story of husband-and-wife chef-owners Patrick Feges and Erin Smith and the evolution of their business.
“I fell in love with the Money Cat potatoes at Morningstar while I was working down the street at Southern Goods,” Feges explains in an email. “We were planning on doing patatas bravas but switched to honor Morningstar [Editor’s note: a coffee shop in the Heights that closed in 2020], who used to buy brisket from me to make kolaches. Erin and I met because David [Buehrer, one of Morningstar’s owners] hired Erin as the chef of Blacksmith, and David connected us with the people at Greenway [Plaza, where the first Feges BBQ location opened in 2018]. We owe a lot to him.”
El Topo - Papa Costra
The West U. restaurant confits potatoes, then smashes them on a griddle to get them crispy. After that, they’re wrapped in a blanket of melted cheese for a dish that’s a little salty, a little crispy, a little gooey, and utterly decadent. Even better, this dish will be one of the El Topo classics to appear on the menu at Teshica, its new concept that will open in the coming weeks.
Squable - Bacon Fat Hash Browns
CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Chef of the Year winner Mark Clayton created this dish for Squable’s brunch menu. Described by the chef as his take on pommes paillasson, it’s made by poaching shredded Kennebec potatoes in bacon fat. After being coated in potato starch, they’re fried twice then topped with hollandaise, smoked trout roe, and chives. Crispy, crunchy, and rich, it helps alleviate any lingering pain from Saturday night
Riel - Truffle Pierogi
Riel pioneered the wave of caviar tots that have popped up on menus around town, but that’s only one of its potato masterpieces. Rather than try to explain what makes the truffle pierogi so compelling, we’ll turn it over to Riel chef-owner Ryan Lachaine.
“I f—ing hate using the word ‘elevated,’ but we took the potato and cheddar pierogi I grew up eating and kinda jazzed them up. We slowly sauté leeks in butter and combine that with same potato mixture that we use in our regular pierogi. They’re poached in a mixture of butter and water then quickly sautéed on the plancha. We cover them in a beurre blanc with some caviar mixed in.”
Burger-Chan - Loaded Tots
Just like its burgers, this Galleria-area restaurant lets diners customize its tater tots by letting them add chili and cheese, Spam-chi (Spam, kimchi relish, scallion aioli, and green onions), or“loaded” — a nod to loaded baked potatoes that’s topped with sour cream, cheddar, chopped bacon, and green onions. The result is a creamy, crunchy, gooey, delightfully messy twist that’s way more satisfying than just about any french fry.
Kenny & Ziggy’s - Potato Knish
People know about the latkes at this Jewish deli, but true potato obsessives seek out the round potato knish. Yukon Gold potatoes are seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper, caramelized onions, and other spices and then wrapped in a laminated dough that’s baked until golden brown. Crispy on the outside, soft and warm in the middle, the Kenny & Ziggy’s knish is pure comfort on a plate. Like everything else at the restaurant, it’s served in such a hefty portion that just about anyone will have half to take home.
Ostia - Crispy Potatoes
Chef Travis McShane’s signature side takes three days to make since the potatoes are allowed to dry after being steamed on day one and blanched on day two. On day three, they’re fried to order to bring out the crispiness of the uneven edges. Rosemary, sea salt, and very garlicky aioli further enhance the thick cut wedges.
Steak 48 - Hasselback Potatoes
Every steakhouse serves potatoes in a variety of forms, and Steak 48 does its part with five different options that include double baked truffle potato and potatoes au gratin. Still, the hasselback potato stands out. Skewed, sliced by hand, steamed, and fried, the process produces oversized potato chips that are crispy, fluffy, and completely irresistible.
Truth BBQ - Tater Tot Casserole
Inspired by one of his grandmother’s recipes, pitmaster and owner Leonard Botello IV combined frozen tater tots with a range of ingredients that includes cream of mushroom soup, rotel tomatoes, cheddar, sour cream, and bacon. Like all of Truth’s best dishes, channeling a little nostalgia makes for a memorable bite that’s creamy and gooey enough to be a decadent alternative to the potato salad served by most barbecue restaurants.