Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Getting Your Grub On: Houston

My favorite thing to do when I go back to Houston is EAT! I only had four days at home over the holidays this year, but I definitely maxed out my restaurant time. Here, I'll introduce you to a few places I visited.

First off is Tiny Boxwoods. I made my parents take me to lunch at this cafe which sits on the property of an architecture/landscaping firm. The time and day that we went was so crowded that we had to sit at a long table with strangers, so I wasn't able to whip out my camera. These photos are borrowed from the web, but as you can see, the restaurant is beautiful with great garden scenery. The food is a success as well. I ordered the three cheese & pesto grilled cheese with tomato soup pictured above while my dad (he's a veg) got the "Beet It" burger, made of beets and black beans. My mom had the Turkey Club sandwich with a side of fruit. Because of the small size of the dining room and the drizzly weather that day we had to wait a while before being seated so we had a white chocolate raspberry muffin as an appetizer. This muffin was so delectable we got a second (plus a chocolate chip cookie) for dessert to accompany our soup-bowl sized lattes and hot teas.

View from the Garden at Tiny Boxwoods

Driving to Tiny's you might just miss the building if you aren't paying attention. Look for Saint Street and rest assured--there is an additional parking area on the lot behind the cafe.

Dining Room at Tiny Boxwoods

I had lunch with my old college roommate at Ruggles Green. I ordered the Organic Vegetable Pizza. If you haven't noticed yet, I am a pizza fanatic. This pizza is topped with charred vegetables, pesto, several cheeses and arugula tossed in olive oil. The tastes and textures are incredible.

My friend got the Natural Meatball Panini on Sourdough. Like Tiny Boxwoods, Ruggles Green is a hot spot for lunch and we were forced to act like vultures pouncing on the next available table. Coincidentally, I saw a friend I hadn't seen since high school in line ahead of us! I am familiar with Houston because I went to college there, but I actually grew up in a small town near Houston, so its always a pleasant surprise to see my long lost home town friends in the big city.

Ruggles has an array of beverages and interesting desserts, plus a special of the day.

Small dining room with local art. Ruggles Green is Houston's first certified "Green Restaurant." In addition to using all natural foods, the to-go boxes, straws, napkins, etc are all made of sustainable materials.

There are a million other restaurants and cute coffee shops in Houston, but I only got to photograph one more: Empire Cafe, in Houston's Montrose area. The story goes that this coffee shop was an old laundromat that was converted when a Hollywood producer complained of the lack of places to get good coffee in Houston. Empire is a great place to meet up with friends, have all kinds of different coffee drinks, enjoy breakfast on Sundays, or grab some dinner/dessert.
View of the ordering counter.

I had a hazelnut latte and the most gigantic fruit platter with fresh yogurt and warm candied nuts. I ended up having to take most of the fruit home with me. My friend, Jeremy had a glass of white wine and a Margherita Pizza. Empire has a very spacious outdoor patio, but it was just too cold for us that day.

Agora is also a great coffee shop option down the street from Empire. There aren't as many food options, but the quaint old house turned coffee shop is a great place to meet friends, have drinks and enjoy belly dancers or board games.

Two other restaurants I didn't have time to visit, but you need to try:
La Griglia--great for special occasions and usually my family birthday dinner spot, except this year Grandpa (the ultimate restaurant explorer) wanted to try something new.

Istanbul Grill
--my favorite Houston restaurant. Delicious Turkish food, good price, good atmosphere, complementary warm bread. I get hummus and the Eggs Pide.

And since I spent an uncharacteristic stint in Dallas, here's a bonus. This was the second time I've been to Cuba Libre. A couple of summers ago my bf and I ate here with a friend of his for brunch. I can't remember what I ordered being amazing, but these Beef Tenderloin Quesadillas blew me away.

We had a minor altercation with the valet guys (although you have to feel bad for them due to the kind of uppity customers they are usually dealing with) but overall the night, and the pitcher of Mojitos, was great. Below are a few other dishes at my table.


Brigid said...

Yay! I'm so excited B is at Rice and I can now put all of your food knowledge to good use!!

Requests: Coffee shops in the area that are a more quiet, good for studying; and cheap, quick, delicious and unique lunch spots in the area. We've already tried Istanbul and I personally can't wait to try Ruggles Green!

Yasi said...

Sooo should we schedule my grand culinary tour of Houston now or later?!

mom said...

I think we have been to most all of your places. Thanks for broadening our horizons!

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