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The It List: Houston's Secret Source For The Best In Food And Drink

By The Editors | January 13, 2020 | Food & Drink

A Madrid-inspired foodie funhouse, a socially conscious chef and a few wood-burning ovens are keeping Houstonians’ hunger at bay.

MIN26912.jpgIndigo’s chef, Jonny Rhodes

PONDICHERI
(Shops at Arrive)
At Anita Jaisinghani’s Upper Kirby resto, expect playful twists on Indian street food using healing ingredients like turmeric, ginger, ashwagandha and garlic.
Insider tip According to Jaisinghani, the second-floor Bake Lab, where all the menu items are tested, is the most exciting part of Pondicheri. “It’s truly our experimental ground,” she says.

ARNALDO RICHARDS’ PICOS
(3601 Kirby Drive)
For your tequila fix, Picos offers over 400 bottles of the Mexican spirit, from basic reposados to the rare Herradura Selección Supremo. It’s the latter that’s the secret ingredient in the restaurant’s infamous $75 La Billionaria margarita.

Insider tip In 2020, Picos chef-owner Arnaldo Richards and Beverage Director Monica Richards will take patrons on tequila tours in Guadalajara.

img1536.jpgRosie Cannonball’s Glass Cannon with bourbon, vermouth, apricot liqueur and absinthe, stirred and served up.

ROSIE CANNONBALL
(1620 Westheimer Road)
Rosie Cannonball, Goodnight Hospitality’s latest spot, features southern European fare, a wood-burning oven and adventurous veggies and wine lists.
Insider tip
There’s an entire section of the wine list dedicated to Beaujolais, featuring more than three dozen bottles.

RIEL
(1927 Fairview St.)
At chef Ryan Lachaine’s Montrose hot spot, Riel, look for millennial takes on traditionally fancy ingredients—bone marrow followed by a whiskey shot, tater tots with caviar and more.
Insider tip Lachaine makes a point of supporting local artists with murals by Donkeeboy and Lee Carrier in the restrooms and monthly events spotlighting artists.

Txistorra_a_la_SidraJulie_Soefer_2.jpg
MAD’s Txistorra a la Sidra—grilled Spanish sausage sauteed in apple cider

MAD
(River Oaks District)
At MAD, look for masterful takes on tapas, pintxos and paellas in a wacky high-design space.

Insider tip Ask for table 11. It’s next to the wine cellar and the open-flame grill where paellas are fired.

KATA ROBATA
(3600 Kirby Drive, Ste. H)
After 10 years, Kata Robata, the Upper Kirby resto that made diners clamor for omakese chef’s tastings, has only gotten better with age.
Insider tip
Three-time James Beard Award-winning chef Manabu Horiuchi travels to Japan multiple times a year to maintain his relationships at the fish markets. Fish can be on the table as soon as 16 hours after they’re caught!

8441190819Goodnight.jpgRosie Cannonball’s airy interiors were designed by Studio Robert McKinley.

CHRIS SHEPHERD
Whether cooking Korean braised goat and dumplings with Jimmy Kimmel, overseeing the kitchen at One Fifth Gulf Coast or tasting Nigerian food with chef Nick Wong, this Underbelly Hospitality frontman is always on the move.
Insider tip Shepherd’s explorations of Chinatown are documented in his new cookbook, Cook Like a Local.

TONY’S
(3755 Richmond Ave.)
After 54 years, Tony’s at Greenway Plaza is still the rule when it comes to Houston fine dining.

Insider tip Off menu, try the Chef’s Whim pasta tasting, a custom menu, for which Tony Vallone himself and chef Austin Waiter descend tableside and talk through your preferences and the seasonal ingredients.

Lamb_Tartare.jpgOuzo Bay’s Australian lamb tartare with baba ganouj, harissa yogurt, crispy capers and lavash

OUZO BAY & LOCH BAR
(River Oaks District)
Enjoy fine dining and fresh fish flown in daily from the Mediterranean at Ouzo Bay, then stumble over to its hip sister concept, Loch Bar, for an “it” crowd, whiskey cocktails and live music into the wee hours.
Insider tip Ouzo Bay has a strict dress code, so don’t roll in after your Equinox workout.

JULEP
(1919 Washington Ave.)
Five years in, Washington Avenue staple Julep led by girl boss and bar star Alba Huerta is known for its cozy environs and killer mint julep.

Insider tip Huerta’s favorite cocktail is the Cherry Bounce Sour—a classic bourbon sour with housemade Cherry Bounce.

MIN2988.jpgGrilled prawns on a two-prong skewer from Indigo

INDIGO
(517 Berry Road)
Counter seating and a nightly tasting menu are the game at Indigo, chef Jonny Rhodes’ hard-to-book neo-soul food spot in North Houston.

Insider tip Pick the 8:45PM seating for more face time with chef Rhodes.



Photography by: From top: Candace Moore; Julie Soefer; Julie Soefer;
Julie Soefer; Kirsten Gilliam; Candace Moore