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The Best Ethnic Eats in Houston

My mom's boyfriend sent me this article which I think is indicative of his good taste. Not just in the publications he reads (Conde Nast Traveler - how stately!) but his taste in women warrants recognition as well. I mean, he's dating a woman with my same genetics, DNA, modesty, etc.
Below is the CN Traveler article about Houston. I actually haven't heard of a lot of these places but want to try them out asap.

The Chef:

After stints at Catalan and Brennan’s, chef Chris Shepherd struck out on his own, opening Underbelly in 2012. The restaurant quickly became a hotspot, and Shepherd not only won Food and Wine’s Best New Chef award, but also received James Beard Award nominations the past two years. Thanks to his Texas locale, Shepherd has something working for him that many chefs don’t. “People outside Houston think it’s really hot here, but we have air conditioning, which is better than New York can say in the summer,” explains Shepherd. “More importantly, we have the extended growing seasons that allow us to get really cool things year-round, like strawberries from December through May.” Shepherd’s daily changing menu also sets Underbelly apart. “I never wanted to just buy a box of anything,” the chef notes. “We’ve managed to stay pretty true to that.”

The City:

“Houston is a beautiful city to be in right now with all the upscale dining and this ethnic explosion, especially of Vietnamese, Chinese and Hispanic cuisines, in the past 20 years,” says Shepherd. “Before, I’d go to Chinatown and not know anybody, but now I go and I see my customers. People are more open to trying things, and ethnic food doesn’t get watered down because they’re cooking for their community.

The Picks:

Houston’s best restaurants according to Chris Shepherd:
  • “If it’s a special occasion, you can find me at Hugo's—they’re on their 12th year and it’s the standard of consistency. Oxheart is also pushing the limits; it’s just 36 seats, tasting menu only, and it’s very seasonally driven. [Chef] Justin Yu uses pretty much the same produce as I do, so it’s neat to see the same product but done with a different mentality.” 
  • The Pass & Provisions is great, too. It changes all the time, but Provisions is just one of those places I always go and just say ‘I want ham,’ and they’ll serve the ham of the day with mustard and rye puree.”
  • Asia Market is one of my favorites. It’s this little grocery store in the Heights that seats maybe 20 people, but it’s the best traditional Thai cuisine there is. It’s really true to the flavors. The papaya salad is the best, and they do a dish with preserved duck eggs, like a curry, and it’s absolutely amazing.”
  • “For Vietnamese, I go to Saigon Pagolac, a very classic, interactive experience with seven courses of beef that you cook at the table. I love taking groups: We sit and roll our own spring rolls and lettuce wraps, with whole caramelized catfish, veggies and herbs. It’s overwhelming to the senses but so awesome.”
  • London Sizzler is this traditional British curry house owned by the Patel family, who have done such an amazing job of keeping the food very true to Indian flavors.”
  • “If you want Sichuan, Mala Sichuan is so true to form. I always see my customers there. Justin Vann is a sommelier who helps places like Mala with their wine and beer lists, so you can go and get a really good bottle that’s supposed to go with their food. I love drinking Grüner Veltliner with mala fish with Szechuan peppercorns.”
  • “I can’t not mention Reef. Bryan Caswell, one of the most important chefs in the city, has transformed how people think of seafood—he brought them away from just getting snapper and grouper; now people are ordering cobia and trigger fish. What he’s doing for the city is changing the whole landscape.”
Korean braised goat and dumplings

Best Kept Secret:

“There’s a little place right around the corner from me called Aladdin—it’s like a Mediterranean café of a Southern meat and three. You walk in, there’s a cafeteria-style line, they’re pulling warm bread out of the oven, and for $10 you get this huge five-pound plate of goodness. You pick your hummus, a salad, a protein, and all these different vegetable sides. It’s like the Houston version of Nashville’s Arnolds.”  * I love this place too incase anyone cares. - Megan

Signature Drink:

“I’m a bourbon drinker. If I want something really good, I go to Anvil and they’ll create something for me. They’re so good at what they do; it’s a wonder wall of bourbon. If I were forced to have a cocktail, I would have an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan, and I’d go to this speakeasy with the worst name ever: Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar.”

Where to Stay:

“I really like the Houstonian. It’s out of the way, right next to the Galleria, but it’s on its own land. It’s kind of hidden and eloquently done and just beautiful.” 
What do you guys think of this list? No Papa Murphys on there. Just saying.



  1. I feel cool because I've been to one place. Aladdin. Haha. I've really been wanting to try Pass & Provisions!

  2. Cafeteria Houston: Welcome to the leading Cafeteria Houston and Bbq Caterer offers various varieties in Meals Service and Box Lunch at affordable price to delivered at your home.


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