Three-sided tables house massive hot griddles at Koby Japanese Steakhouse, where chefs deftly dance with blades and flames to transform food preparation into a show. During dinner, they dice meats, juggle knives, and drum rhythms against the tabletops. They sculpt fried rice into massive hearts before slicing portions off and delivering them to guests’ waiting plates. For the finale, they prepare different proteins—from chicken to lobster—in signature sauces before they disappear in puffs of steam from their freshly cleaned griddles.
Just as the gauchos of southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina slow-roasted meats over log and coal fires, so to do the chefs at Pradaria Steaks & Churrascaria. It’s a time-honored tradition of South American cooking that sears a smoky flavor into meat seasoned only with salt. Patrons can enjoy cuts of sirloin, filet mignon, pork loin, and leg of lamb roasted in the kitchen and sliced tableside in the rodízio style, or they can order from the à la carte menu of meats. They can then complete plates with trips to decadent salad and sides bars stocked with such selections as seafood cocktails, Brazilian-style steamed rice, yucca fries, and fried plantains.
Fernando's menus showcase South American ingredients and flavors amid an elegant supper club atmosphere, where weekends herald live music and dance-floor tours. An appetizer sampler ($8 for one, $14 for two) relieves decision-making anxiety with a bundle of favorites: golden-fried battered shrimp, shredded yucca crab cake with black bean sauce, and ceviche de pescado (diced marinated snapper, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro lime). Make good on your promise to eat the entire ocean with Fernando's classic seafood paella (saffron rice, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, fish, crawfish, calamari, chicken, and Spanish chorizo, $27), or dress your plate in a juicy steak Hickl, 12 ounces of char-grilled marinated rib eye served with mashed potato and asparagus ($28). For carb-fueled feeding, experience the signature mind-meld of European and American cuisine exemplified in the pasta Michelle, which graces angel-hair pasta with tomatoes, black beans, garlic, basil, cilantro, and grilled chicken breast ($15.95).
An air of mystery, scented with garlic and herbs, fills Fuad's Restaurant, where head chef Joseph conjures recipes that are never listed on a menu. Instead, diners simply request the dishes they desire, such as Fuad's house specialties of lamb and duck, or recipes such as stuffed chicken breasts and fish fillets topped with crabmeat. Beneath twinkling chandeliers, Brenda, the head bartender, shakes cocktails or plumbs the vast wine cellar for bottles to match any entrée or diner's outfit—so long as that outfit is red, white, or aged in a barrel.
Dubbed “a carnivorous extravaganza” by the Houston Chronicle, Angus Grill Brazilian Churrascaria serves all-you-can-eat feasts of skewered meat prepared in the churrasco tradition of southern Brazil. Servers run the piquant pageant, carving slabs of Angus beef at tables lined with crisp white linens instead of the stolen Little League rain tarps that some restaurants prefer. Filet mignons borrow crispy texture by donning strips of bacon, and top sirloin, the house specialty, flavors succulent juices with a hint of garlic. Treats such as fried bananas and papaya cream conclude meals on a sweet note.
A swanky ambiance defined by an elegant decor, including stained-oak mouldings and maroon drapes, complements the high-caliber steakhouse cuisine served at Post Oak Grill. The Houston bistro has been around for 23 years, so it just got out of college. The restaurant’s chef, Polo Becerra, pairs bold flavors in starters such as duck-confit crepes with blackberry sauce and melted gorgonzola. For a main course, he might grill Gulf Coast red snapper or cook a center-cut steak and augment its juiciness by adding a port-wine-and-fig reduction. Chef Becerra and his team can even bring their culinary services to homes and offices with their catering.
At a jade-green bar, servers pour a long list of international wines. Nearby, a pianist tickles the ivories during happy hour. On Thursday–Saturday evening, musicians perform classic songs or melodic readings of the newspaper fine-arts section.
Bistro 829's chefs create modern variations of familiar, homestyle staples by incorporating an assortment of regional and international flavors. Corn grits lend a distinctive Southern twist to the sesame-crusted yellowfin tuna entree, and the signature chicken-fried prime rib comes coated with cream gravy with a uniquely Southwestern-style blend of bacon and poblano peppers. Bartenders spend their evenings mixing specialty cocktails and uncorking bottles of wine to complement entrees and make sure they're prepared in case their crush wants to play spin the bottle.
Beyond the eclectically inspired menu, the dining room embraces a more casual elegance with its décor. Crisp cloths cover the tables, animal-print fabrics adorn the seats, and the walls remain blank to accentuate abstract paintings of jazz ensembles that circle the room.