What I Ate in Houston

For the past 22 years, I have happily called Houston home.  (Well maybe more like 15ish years due to lacking infant cognitive abilities).  Today I have packed my car and a moving truck to the brim with all my stuff to make the 9 hour trek to my new home in Lubbock, Texas.  As a farewell to my fair hometown, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite local eaterys (still with so many more to try, guess I will have to come back and visit).
Houston really is a great foodie city.  Due to its location

and its inhabitants, we have a huge range of cuisines to choose from.  Great Chinese, Greek, Cajun, Thai, Polish, Vietnamese, Argentinian, BBQ, steak houses, Tex-Mex, and more can be found within city limits. I am definitely going to miss Houston food (as well as a few other things in Houston too) while living in Lubbock.  Without further ado, to the food:

All photos are taken with Instagram,  my new favorite iPhone app.
Let me begin our culinary journey with one of my absolute favorite places in Houston.  Have you ever had an empanada?  If not, I am here to tell you that your life thus far has been incomplete.  An empanada is a personal sized hand pie with a flaky pastry crust wrapped around a warm filling.  While traditionally the filling is usually a ground beef, Marini’s has a long list of fillings to choose from. 
 My favorite savory emapanada is the Hippie Argentino- salami, raisins, onions, and spices.  It’s sweet, salty, and oh so yummy.  But the real show stoppers here are the dessert empanadas.  Yes, dessert emapanadas.    Often I will eat one savory empanada and then gorge on dessert. My favorite here is without a doubt the Snickers empanada. Melty peanut butter and dulce de leche with a warm melted snickers inside.  It’s a moment of pure ecstasy when you take that first gooey bite. And it’s a moment of pure sadness as you take that last bite and lick the remaining bits of peanut butter off your fingers. My other favorites include fig and blueberry & cream cheese. I always try at least one new empanada each time I visit but always return to the my few favorites.  So many good choices here.  Yummmmmmmm.

Houston has a million choices when it comes to Tex-Mex,and while I often enjoy a hole in the wall, non-chain restaurant for my Mexican food, I fell in love with Pappasitos. How could I not when the restaurant has the best frozen strawberry margaritas I’ve ever had?  My favorite dish here is the appetizer sampler where you can get a little bit of everything: queso, guacamole, floutas, quesadillas, and nachos.  It’s perfect for sharing. Their chicken floutas are some of the best I’ve had- inside the chicken stays moist and succulent with a crispy exterior tortilla.  And they also have an addictive mystery cream sauce that I always lick clean. And, of course, you are met with fresh tortilla chips and salsa to overeat before your even get to order your food.  If you ever stop by Houston (or anywhere in Texas), please do me and yourself a favor and have some Tex Mex.

You don’t have to go to New York to get great Asian food, you can also go to Houston.  Houston has a large Asian population ranging from Chinese to Vietnamese.  Drive down Bellaire and there are Asian restaurants as far as the eye can see.  It’s fabulous.

If you can’t tell that I like Tan Tan from all these pictures, then listen up: I love Tan Tan.  This Asian restaurant has a large menu (reminiscent of Cheesecake Factory length with numbered pages), full of all types of Asian cuisine. I love the peking duck, served with fluffy soft buns and hoisin sauce. Other favorites include crispy pan  fried noodles with black bean sauce, House Special Rice Cake, dumplings, egg rolls- basically almost everything I’ve tried.    But my absolute favorite is their congee served with fried “dunkers” (fried dough, come on people!).  Congee is a rice soup which doesn’t look super pretty, but trust me,  people, it’s deeeelish and Tan Tan does it best.

One of my biggest regrets about my culinary life is refusing to try Cajun food until a few months ago.  No gumbo, shrimp, crawfish, Po Boys, and more- what a fool I was.  Ragin’ Cajun has a fun, casual atmosphere (with zydeco music often playing), and if you love subs/sandwiches/hoagies, you must try the muffaletta.  This is where my love for the salty, cheesy sandwich began.  And the olive tapenade- to. die. for.  I have been meaning to try making my own tapenade at home, and now that I will be living 9 hours away from my muffaletta fix, I may have to.

The. Best. Donuts. Ever.

Forget any donut you have ever tried, these are better.  My favorite is any filled donut, especially the cream and bavarian cream.  Never had a bad donut here.

Because my parents are from the Philadelphia/Delaware area, I have been imbibed with an affinity for all things Philly, including cheesesteaks and subs.  While subs from the north are always going to be the best, it’s nice to have a great taste of Philly here in Houston.  Jake’s is a great place for any sandwich lover- with good meats, simple toppings, and soft bread it’s a winner. Fast, delicious sandwiches.  I personally recommend the cheesesteak and fries.  Add some cheese whiz if you are feeling daring.
This candy store has many locations across the country and is not only in Houston, but there is no store in Lubbock unfortunately.  I love, love, love their caramel apples here. The caramel is soft and sweet with almost any topping you can imagine on the outside. My favorite is the banana apple, which actually has a great banana flavor that goes well with the apple.  I always want to try new flavors, but I always return to my favorite.  There may be a location near you, so get going!

Favorites Not Pictured:
Ocean Palace– Great Dim Sum
Saltgrass Steakhouse– Fun Texan atmosphere and possibly the best cheesecake ever

One thought on “What I Ate in Houston

  1. Victoria says:

    Now that I'm starting my freshman year at Rice, a lot of my non-Houstonian friends want to know what's to love about Houston, and I definitely think the food is at least top 3. This is a quality post. I hope your move to Lubbock goes well!

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