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About Josh

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    Lone Ranger
  • Birthday November 30

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    Houston, TX

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  1. I'm going to throw down the gauntlet and say that the unassuming storefront Shish Kabob Cafe in Katy puts out the absolute best kabobs in the Houston area (yes, even better than Bijan, though their rice is better). I've been a handful of times, tried lamb, beef, chicken in whole and ground forms, and not once have I had anything less than perfectly cooked meat. Served with buttery rice, grilled tomatoes, and plastic cutlery. This isn't fine dining, but it's really damn good. Start with a small serving of shirazi, and ask for a bit of the crispy tadigh.
  2. Houston chefs seem to have this thing where they get very successful and then try to blow it all up and start over...keeps things fresh I suppose. (See also: Justin Yu closing Oxheart in its prime and reopening as Theodore Rex.) Chris Shepherd is closing Underbelly, and reopening as a steakhouse named Georgia James. Underbelly will kind of reopen in a much smaller space, and be renamed "UB Preserv." Bold move, for sure. I happen to agree with the idea that Underbelly would work better as a smaller, more casual-feeling place. We shall see!
  3. I generally agree with Will's take here. We really enjoyed the food on our visit, with the atmosphere being the one downside. Ortega's cooking is top-notch, but at the end of the day, Xochi is a hotel restaurant, and that kind of kills the vibe for me. It's a very nicely designed room, but the giant TVs behind the long bar were an instant turn-off. The elegance of the food deserves something more. You really can't go wrong with any of the mole dishes. We had 3 different ones and each was rich and spicy in its own way. You might expect some palate fatigue, but each sauce is distinctive enough that you won't get bored.
  4. I'm way overdue in writing something about Field & Tides, considering it's become kind of a go-to for us. The food is vaguely Southern in inspiration. I've been 3-4 times, and honestly never had a bad dish. In general, I've enjoyed their starters a bit more than the mains, though that's my experience at most restaurants. Great brunch/lunch menus, and as befits a Heights restaurant, they have great kid options without pandering.
  5. I patiently waited for a legit bagel place to open near me in DC, and one did (Bullfrog Bagels)...less than a year before we moved away to Houston. Underwhelmed with what folks called the "best" bagels in Houston (Hot Bagel Shop), we began patiently waiting again. Reader, my wait is over. Golden Bagels is the real deal. Perhaps the realest deal I've had since Pick-A-Bagel. I've had both the everything and the sesame. My standards. Firm. Chewy, but not overly dense. These aren't shitty coffee cart bread circles. The spreads are all made in house, and more than get the job done. Sesame bagel + scallion is my #1, followed closely by everything + lox cream cheese. The bialy we tried was a little too puffy for my tastes, but YMMV. They recently launched lunch, which is sure to be popular among the Heights crowd as well. My "build your own reuben" with an everything bagel + pastrami + sauerkraut + mustard was delicious. The pastrami is sliced thin and griddled with melty Swiss cheese. The top/bottom of the bagel is sliced off to give a flat sandwich service.
  6. Cristina and I ducked out of a business cocktail thing early and took advantage of the fact that we had a sitter, and stopped into the relatively new Star Fish on Heights Blvd for a drink and snacks. The chilled seafood tower did not disappoint. Drinks menu is extensive, and will reward multiple return trips to make my way through the various martinis, gin & tonics, and sparkling wines. The "Saltwater" G&T, with star anise and "ocean water tincture" was delicious...a hint of brine, but nothing crazy.
  7. On my eternal quest to truly know tacos, I stopped in at La Fondita Michoacana a few blocks from my house in the Heights the other day and was not disappointed. Situated next door to Tortas El Angel (another place I need to explore), it ain't much to look at, but all of the middle-aged ladies working the kitchen and register were super friendly, even when my halting Spanish wasn't quite enough to meet their halting English. The standard taco fillings are represented, and served on freshly made flour or corn tortillas. The pastor and barbacoa were fantastic on flour, with a good red and green salsa available (I preferred the brighter verde). Enchiladas rojas were done well, with rather tossed-off sides of rice and refried beans. I'd put the tacos a few notches above Tacos A Go Go, a single notch above Chilosos (though I love Chilosos thick tortillas for breakfast) and on par with Unos Pinches. Tierra Caliente is probably still juuuuuuust a little better. That I can easily walk or bike to Fondita means I'll probably eat here more often than any of the others.
  8. The Semifinalists for this year's James Beard awards are out, and there are a lot of good Houston chefs and establishments listed...and one noteworthy exclusion. Xochi is up for Best New Restaurant. I've written here about Chef Hugo Ortega's flagship upscale Mexican, Hugo's, and @will_5198 shared his take on Ortega's new Oaxacan gem here. Tracy Vaught is nominated for Outstanding Restaurateur, for running H Town Restaurant Group (Hugo's, Backstreet Cafe, Xochi, Caracol). Finally, Hugo's is up for Outstanding Service. Anvil Bar & Refuge is up for Outstanding Bar Program, and with good reason. We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to cocktail bars, but that wasn't always the case. Bobby Heugel opened Anvil in 2009, and it remains the benchmark in Houston. I'm psyched to see Chef Martha De Leon from Pax Americana up for Rising Star Chef. She took the helm after Adam Dorris decamped to the Heights gastropub-ish Presidio, and has kept Pax rolling along as an upper echelon Houston restaurant. The Best Chef Southwest category is packed with a diverse group of Houston talent, as is appropriate for our city. Chefs Coleman and Haywood from Kitchen 713 put out an impossibly diverse menu of fusion dishes that are good enough to win me over despite my strong initial aversion to "fusion" as a concept. Their fried okra with bacon, tomato jam and picked chilies is one of my favorite Houston dishes, and I will also go to the wall for their Black Vinegar Braised Oxtails (with black-eyed pea fried rice?!?). Their brunch is way better than it needs to be as well (think: Thai omelette with nam prik ong, hoe cakes with cured salmon, labne, & preserved lemon, grilled oysters with red curry, etc.). Chef Anita Jaisinghani's Pondicherri has expanded to NYC, but her Houston original is still chugging along full steam as far as I can tell. We've been several times, and the quality hasn't suffered from the expansion. Her Gulf Shrimp and tomato dosa is another top Houston dish for me. Chef Ryan Pera, from Coltivare. Colitvare in the Heights is one of the 1st places we went to when we decided to move back to Houston, and helped convince us the Heights was the neighborhood for us. Ronnie Killen is probably best known for his Killen's BBQ, or maybe even his latest inner-loop Killen's STQ. He's listed as up for Best Chef SW for his work at Killen's Steakhouse, though. I've only been to the BBQ joint, and I try to go back whenever I have the time. The pork rib there is either the best in TX, or at least in the top 5. Tough to decide between the ribs I've had there and City Market in Luling, and more recently, Truth BBQ in Brenham. I'm getting off topic... Trong Nguyen from Crawfish & Noodles. WHAT. IS. UP. The season is back upon us, and you better believe we'll be over there ASAP. You're not going to find a restaurant like this anywhere else. Period. If you come to Houston, you have to go. It's so great Chef Nguyen is getting recognized. David Chang is obsessed with this place, and I wouldn't be surprised to see some versions of Chef Nguyen's dishes show up at a Momofuku near you. Pappas Bros Steakhouse is in the Outstanding Wine Program category. I haven't been, so not much to add there. And last but not least, Jillian Bartolome is up for Outstanding Pastry Chef, for her work at the controversial Aqui. Chef Paul Qui's widely-publicised domestic violence case has led to some intense discussions in Houston about the ethics of dining at the restaurant of a chef accused of beating his girlfriend in front of her child. I haven't eaten there (and very likely never will), but there are many valid ways to look at this (Alison Cook wrote thoughtfully about her decision to visit in the Houston Chronicle).
  9. Local Foods opened yesterday at the new Heights Mercantile development on Heights Blvd and 7th. If tonight's crowd of young cool Millennial kids, still-hip Gen-Xers with their families, dogs, and decrepit Boomers is any indication, they are going to do very nicely here.* I eat at LF more than any other place in Houston, so the fact that they've just opened within a 10 minute walk from my house does not bode well for my bank account. *Can you guess which demographic I'm in?
  10. The 2018 James Beard Awards

    Lotta good Houston joints on that list.
  11. 🚨NOW SERVING TROMPO🚨 (I haven't tried it yet, but I saw the sign as I drove past this week.)
  12. I guess it depends on how "well-regarded" the restaurant is. If it's a casual place, I would probably roll with it, but voice my irritation that they came out too early. In a fine dining situation, I would send back and ask for a manager to explain why we were sending them back. In my experience, in a fine dining restaurant, this would (should) never happen.
  13. I wholeheartedly agree with your conclusion here. We liked it, but weren't blown away as one might expect from the longstanding and loud fanfare. The iconic Korean braised goat (essentially ddukbokki with goat) was quite delicious (and liberal with the heat, as you noted). Great wine list and knowledgeable bartenders. We paired the spicy goat with a Peter Lauer Riesling that complimented it perfectly.
  14. @Mark Dedrick & I were lamenting the loss last night, and like @DaRiv18, we will miss he tremendous range BR had. So many family meals with my kids there. So many out of town guests. And yes, so many late nights at the bar. My oldest would often ask to go see "Chef Brad," and we were always happy to oblige. If you look at one of my early posts in the Houston forum, you'll see me describing my search for a BR replacement. Everyone should be so lucky to have a place like Boundary Road.
  15. I hear from my H St. NE friends that Boundary Road has closed. Sad news. BR really was our go to spot when we lived in the neighborhood.