What's Eric Eating Episodes 349 and 350
Talented team of restaurant experts draft the Ultimate Houston Date Night
On this week’s episode of “What’s Eric Eating,” it’s time for another Houston restaurant draft. This time, CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler has gathered a group of local restaurant industry experts to select the Ultimate Date Night.
Imagined as an evening with an unlimited budget and no time constraints, panelists selected restaurants and bars in five categories: Cold Appetizers, Hot Appetizers, Entrees, Desserts, and After Dinner Drinks. They also chose a Wildcard that could be either another eatery or an activity that would be fun on a date.
Sandler assembled an experienced group of participants. In order of selection, they are: local influencer Felice Sloan, Craft Pita owner Raffi Nasr, James Beard Award winner Justin Yu (Theodore Rex, Thorough Fare Hospitality), Avondale Food & Wine owner Mary Clarkson, and Top Chef finalist Evelyn Garcia (Jun). Sandler picked sixth.
The first round selections proceeded as follows: Bandista for After Dinner Drinks (Sloan), Pappas Bros. Steakhouse for Entrees (Nasr), 13 Celsius for After Dinner Drinks (Yu), Refuge for After Dinner Drinks (Clarkson), Navy Blue for Cold Appetizers (Garcia), and Katami for Cold Appetizers (Sandler). Listen to the full episode to hear all of the selections, including which drafter made the bold move of using the Wildcard category to select somewhere for breakfast the next morning.
The episode concludes with the drafters sharing the principles that guided their selections.
“I was trying to touch base on everything I enjoy in Houston and show off our city,” Garcia says. “Not just including the food but also the people behind the food. That was my strategy.”
“For me, I had to come back to the fact that it was a date. You want to have enough time with your person to show them a little bit of high, a little bit of low,” Yu says. “For me, I wanted to choose the things I thought would go first. For After Dinner Drinks, I think there’s only so many really beautiful spots where you want to finish a date night.”
In this week’s second episode, June Rodil, the master sommelier and CEO of Goodnight Hospitality, picks a winning team. She and Sandler also discuss some Wildcard options that would make for a fun date night activity.
Rodil offers her own picks for a fun date night. Sandler creates a seventh team with his top picks that weren’t selected by the other participants. Rodil shares some of the principles that guide a successful date night with her husband.
“It has to be fun. That’s the first thing. We work a lot. It’s also really hard to make sure you’re having fun when most date nights have a little bit of work involved,” she says. “There’s something that needs to be a surprise. I love going places we’ve never been before.”