Josh

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About Josh

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    Lone Ranger
  • Birthday November 30

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    Male
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    Houston, TX

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  1. Why on Earth were you eating at Hickory Hollow?
  2. Check out the San Sebastian thread for some recs on tapas places. La Cepa is a great place for "traditional" tapas...especially fried things. La Cuchara de San Telmo really shouldn't be missed either. If you're driving to and from Bilbao you will hate yourself forever if you don't book a lunch or dinner at Etxebarri. I've had the fortune to go twice and they are both the most memorable meals of my life. A prawn I had last year still haunts me. Another short drive from San Sebastian that is fully worth it would be to do a lunch at Elkano. Fish perfected. And do try to get a spot at Arzak. I waited too long on our first trip there and was really bummed that we couldn't go, but they worked us in after a cancellation. The folks there are incredibly friendly and would likely bend over backwards to get you in if you really express an interest.
  3. Houston is a haven for CFS, traditional and non. One of our neighborhood Vietnamese joints has a very respectable version that is served traditionally (as in cream gravy, mashed potatoes) or with spring rolls and fried rice. It's quite good, but what I really love, and suggest everyone who comes through Houston make a point of trying is the masala chicken fried steak at Himalaya. It's not on the menu, but ask and you shall receive.
  4. Oh...it's here in force now. I had a bowl at one of the "elders" of the scene here (Liberty Kitchen) and found it to be...eh. Probably my fault for sticking to a very plain mixture of ingredients, but for that setup, I prefer chirashi with really good rice as opposed to the plain-jane steamed variety. New Players in Houston's Poke Scene by Cuc Lam on houstonpress.com A Poke Tour of Houston by Beth Levine on houstoniamag.com Where to Eat Poke in Houston Right Now by Amy McCarthy on houton.eater.com
  5. Thanks for the report! Which location did you go to? Milam St. or the one on Washington?
  6. Apologies for the needlessly snarky reply, though the article does address that another traveler was the person who reported the events. As a man, I'm in a position such that my sartorial choices are not likely to be questioned or used to shame me. Yes, "rules are rules," and certainly United has the legal authority to dictate how their employees and the children/friends of their employees dress when using company benefits. And at the same time, the way they have written and enforced those rules is biased against women and, as @ktmoomau points out, a PR disaster. I would also say that what seems like a tempest in a teapot comes at a time when women in this country are feeling the pressure of their elected officials (many of whom are nakedly misogynistic) aiming to restrict their healthcare options and bodily autonomy. So I can understand the outrage over this seemingly silly episode of dress code enforcement.
  7. I'm guessing you commented without reading the article or anything related to the issue at hand. The publicity came from an unrelated bystander, not the people flying on the pass tickets.
  8. One of the problems I am beginning to understand from talking with my wife and hearing concerns from other women is that all-to-frequently, dress codes are not applied evenly to all genders.
  9. As much as I try to be a booster for neighborhood places, I can't go all out for Skinny Rita's. I'll admit to being put off by the name, but they were named by Thrillest as one of Houston's "Most Underrated" Tex-Mex joints, and called a "Hidden Gem" by Eater. They also have a multi-level patio with a nice view of downtown, and happen to be pretty close to my house. The margaritas are set apart by having only 150 calories...I prefer more calories apparently. These were unbalanced - too sweet, with no tequila edge that my favorite versions have. Cristina's carnitas tacos came with limp store-bought corn tortillas filled with a fairly dry roast pork any one of us could make in our home oven from a NYTimes.com recipe. If that sounds harsh, it's meant to be. Carnitas are an actual thing, and I get annoyed when people call any pork-based taco "carnitas." My beef fajitas (half off on Wednesdays) were passable, but suffered from sitting for over 5 minutes until the accompanying (store-bought) flour tortillas arrived. ' Queso was par for the course for non-Texas versions but way behind the curve for Houston. A trio of salsas were actually great: a mild tomatillo, smoky chipotle, and moderately hot habanero. The green-colored chips are apparently made from cactus rather than corn, but come off as standard tortillas. The bottom line I took away from Skinny Rita's is that this might be a successful suburban chain in the Midwest, but for a Tex-Mex joint in Houston, it is far from a gem, and certainly not underrated. If I'm in the Heights looking for Tex-Mex, you'll find me sticking to Teotihuacan from now on. (BTW, there are a number of claims on the menu regarding "organic," "healthy," ingredients, etc. but importantly, I saw no mention of sourcing for said ingredients. Caveat emptor.)
  10. One thing I've learned about the top tier Texas BBQ joints is that they have pitmasters who have dedicated years not only to the craft, but to a particular smoker setup and particular space. The interaction of equipment and environment have a huge effect on the final product in central Texas-style barbecue. I imagine that DC can't hope to have a "great" barbecue place until someone makes that kind of long term commitment.
  11. Agree re: Rittenhouse for cocktails. When I just wanna quick fix, Old Overholt works just fine. I also find that High West has some interesting offerings.
  12. Family dinner last night at Paulie's. A few things to know going in: It's counter-service, which is a surprising choice (to me) for a restaurant like this, but seems to be a fairly popular model in Houston. It is small and tables are first-come first-served. Portion sizes are mind-bogglingly big, and a half-portion of pasta will be enough for 2 meals. The panzanella salad in no way resembled any panzanella I have encountered before, and was essentially a spinach salad with a few croutons in it. Not bad, but not what we expected. Again, the portion size was crazy, and I would suggest a half portion to share between 2 or 3. The Caesar salad my in-laws got was the better choice, and perplexingly had a higher crouton to roughage ratio than the panzanella. The kids happily devoured spaghetti and meatballs. A couple small bites I had were good...a smooth, fairly sweet sauce with light and well-seasoned meatballs. At $8 for a "small" that 2 kids only finished half of, this is a ridiculous value. Cristina's creste di gallo was served with that same tomato sauce, kicked up with some red pepper, pickled onions and half moons of sweet Italian sausage. The sausage itself is nothing special, a finely ground and tightly packed version with a good dose of fennel and caraway (but not too much). My mother-in-law had the skirt steak served with a side of pesto gnocchi. The steak itself was described (by my MIL) as "a bit chewy, but hey, it's skirt steak," and the gnocchi I tasted were good - medium density and coated in a solid standard basil pesto. I think I won the night with my bucatini Amatriciana, which was smoky, and spicy, with a good amount of sweetness from the tomatoes. This is the must-order dish as far as I can tell. With prices that are $11 or less for "small" portions of pasta that are really enough for 2 people, the value at Paulie's can't be denied. The pastas are reportedly made in house, and were all decent, though I prefer a bit more al dente texture. Reasonable people may disagree though, as my wife thinks my "al dente" is too chewy. There are a number of well-priced beers by the bottle (local bottles priced at $5), and Italian wines by the glass ($10-15) and bottle (all in the $40 range). Paulie's is a neighborhood gem that I would compare favorably to Frank or Supper in NYC. Dinner isn't going to blow your mind, but it is solid, and perfect for a family-style night out.
  13. When crawfish are in season, it's tough to go a week without heading out for a few pounds, and this weekend we set out early for lunch at what may be the most well-known of Houston's Viet-Cajun joints, Crawfish and Noodles. C&N has hosted Zimmern, Chang, and god knows who else, and they are clearly aware of their celeb-status, with t-shirts for sale prominently displayed as you walk in. That kind of hubris is typically not a great sign, and I have to admit approaching the rest of my visit as though I were cross-examining a hostile witness. C&N held its own, and while I didn't leave with a "We've Got Crabs" t-shirt (I mean, really), I can dig the food they're putting out. We started with an order of honey-garlic chicken wings, as requested by the 4-year old. He fell in love with the "Viet wings" at Cajun Kitchen, and hasn't stopped talking about them for weeks since. C&N's wings were solid, though I think we should have ordered the "Fish sauce" version for a more direct comparison. These were a bit too sweet for my tastes, with no heat. There are a variety of noodles and soups to choose from, and we went with the stir-fried rice noodle with mixed seafood. This is a hefty portion, with onion, celery, carrot, and crispy shallots mixed with shrimp, (chewy) squid, and fish balls, with a peppery sauce on the side ready to be mixed in. Delicious, and devoured quickly, but if we had to go head to head, we all agreed the crabby garlic noodles from Cajun Kitchen might edge out a win. The crawfish delivered. Choices are limited to spice level (though an intriguing "ginger grass" option is listed as being available at some point in the future). Medium is Houston-medium, which is to say, probably "hot" if you're coming from somewhere else. We opted for medium with a side of "hot" dipping sauce, and I would heartily recommend this combo. For the spice-loving but not super-spicy friends, the medium mudbugs alone are perfect. For those of us who prefer to see God when we eat, you can drag the tail through the sauce and get it done. Compared to the purely Cajun versions I grew up with (and have had at Houston places like The Boot in the Heights), these have a more pronounced garlic and citrus flavor. Priced at $10/lb, these were also the most expensive I've had thus far. Note on wait times: We got there just before noon on Sunday, and were 1 of 5 or 6 tables there. 30 minutes later there was a line out the door.
  14. We were absolutely blown away by dinner tonight at Cuchara. A kind of last minute decision, with kids in tow, all we needed was a couple beers, a patio, and adequate food. What we got were aggressive, authentic micheladas, perfectly crafted, soulful Mexican dishes, and...a patio. We started with a trio of dishes to share (and the portion sizes really are ample enough for sharing): huitlacoche quesadillas, nopalitos, and tacos chero. The quesadillas resemble empanadas more than what I've become accustomed to, but were filled with delicious white cheese and huitlacoche. Drizzled with cream, these are served with a small side of a smoky and a bit more than medium spicy salsa. The nopalitos are served essentially as a salsa, the cactus paddles diced with tomato, onion, and cilantro, alongside a plate of crisp tortilla chips. The tacos cheer were my favorite of the starters, 3 crispy rolled tacos filled with mashed potato and topped with an eye-opening salsa verde and crumbled cheese. Addictive. The huachinango Veracruzano comes in a small cast iron skillet. A sweet plantain and amaranth cake is topped with red snapper in a rich tomato sauce with peppers (both fresh and pickled), olives, and onion. The perfect balance of all the flavors here reveals a kitchen that knows their game. Sweet met salty. Sour held hands with rich, and everyone played nicely without a cross word. Bravo. Finally, the mole verde won me over by avoiding the dullness I often find with the sauce. Many times, the pumpkin seeds round out any fun sharp edges of the sauce, but Cuchara's version had plenty of piquancy to compliment the tender cubes of pork tenderloin bathed in it. I love getting blindsided by a delicious meal, and Cuchara completely won me over tonight. We'll be back to explore more of the menu (and definitely to try the unique brunch offerings).