Pho Nga 2's spread of rich pho noodle soups, stir fry and vermicelli dishes, and hearty banh mi sandwiches introduces diners to the diverse, delicious flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. Thin rice noodles mingle with charbroiled shrimp and pork, while morsels of tender chicken and ladles of curry sauce rest on beds of steamed rice. Like a sculpture made of melted hard candies, each bowl of piping hot pho is a blend of intense tastes and textures and bright colors, with rare steak, chewy noodles, and savory broth mingling with fresh vegetables and sprigs of cilantro.
Anothai Cuisine's chefs grind their own fresh herbs and spices to awaken patrons' tongues with each bite of their Thai dishes. Pungent curry coats seafood, chicken, and noodles, and on the other end of savory-to-sweet spectrum, mango imbues shrimp with flavor that evokes the tropical drinks of which ice fishermen's dreams are made. Artfully arranged garnishes complement colorful dishes to excite the eyes, which can scan the bright red and white accents between bites.
HoustonPBS, the country's oldest educational television station, beams critical knowledge, entertainment, and news into households in more than 30 counties in southeast Texas. Support by members, which makes up more than 60% of the station's budget, sustains their varied schedule and offers viewing alternatives to the bloodsports and commemorative bloodsport-plate sales that dominate commercial channels. In addition to celebrated programs for adults and children, including Frontline, Arthur, and Austin City Limits, the schedule brims with locally produced fare such as InnerVIEWS, which has featured illuminating discussions with Edward Norton, Arianna Huffington, Dan Rather, and other notables.
Hofbrau Steaks hogties hearty appetites in a classic steakhouse milieu. The brawny menu muscles up high-quality meats including the Hill Country rib eye ($19.99–$23.99), which is cooked in lemon butter and seasoned with the restaurant's secret seasonings, dubbed "Magic Dust". The hand-breaded chicken fried steak ($9.99 lunch, $10.99–$14.99 dinner) comes topped with country gravy and the emotional baggage of growing up as two meats. In pig in a tater, pulled pork hides from hungry eaters in a potato cave ($7.99), and bacon-wrapped Texas shrimp wraps itself up into a jalapeno-and-smoked-bacon cocoon ($12.99–¬¬$18.99, dinner only). Midday eats—such as the Hofbrau Hamburger steak, topped with brown gravy and grilled onions ($9.99, lunch only)—sate workday cravings.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
The Veranda's owners cultivate an intimate ambience punctuated with both upscale dishes influenced by American and European flavors and live musical entertainment. The extensive menu puts a unique spin on fine-dining starters, such as roast duck with mango chutney ($10) and seafood cheesecake, a savory shellfish filling embraced by a pretzel crust and parmesan-horseradish cream sauce ($10). Electrify appetites with an ancho-marinated tilapia accompanied by cilantro cream ($18) or satisfy succulence cravings with seafood-stuffed quail that, like an apple on the clearance shelf, is semi-boneless ($23). The lunch menu, available Wednesday through Friday (reservation required), features a Herculean selection of paninis (starting at $10.95) and salads.