Inspired by the artists living around him in Laguna Beach, Sid Fanarof sought to do something creative in the kitchen. The result was zpizza, which now has locations across the globe, each filled with bustling chefs experimenting with ingredients traditionally associated with Indian, Californian, and Mexican cuisine. Pizzas use organic vegetables and skim-milk mozzarella, and their organic wheat flour bakes over an open flame to a crisp finish. “If you don’t hear the crunch, it’s not a zpizza,” Fanarof says of the crusts on his website. Chefs first slather the crusts with sweet basil pesto, roasted-garlic sauce, or organic tomato sauce. Their hands flutter across, sprinkling on fistfuls of toppings such as MSG-free pepperoni, additive-free sausage, three types of mushrooms, roasted eggplant, and pine nuts. Vegan cheese and gluten-free crusts allow everyone to enjoy the pizzas except for those trying to hide the fact that they superglued their mouths closed.
Roots Bistro has no menu––at least not a finite one. Each day, executive chef German Mosquera crafts new dishes inspired by the fresh, organic, and locally sourced ingredients available to him. And ingredients aren't the only things that are sourced locally at this Green Certified restaurant. The eatery's décor shifts frequently with paintings for sale by neighborhood artists. Appetizers descend on bright white banquettes with ingredients such as local cilantro pesto, carrots, fire-roasted kale, and bigeye local tuna with spinach salad and a large contact lens. While noshing on house-made entrees of chicken, duck confit, and farm-fresh veggies, patrons can ask for a server's pairing suggestion from Roots's eclectic wine list.
Welcome to Groupon Houston! For our inaugural deal, $15 gets you $35 worth of grub and guzzle at Ruggles Green, located at 2311 W. Alabama St. You're probably thinking, "That sounds great, but I've never bought a car or a computer without first reading the Wikipedia definitions for car and computer—I'm not about to buy a Groupon either without a briefing." Well neither would we, and since this is everyone's first Groupon, allow us to briefly explain how it works.
Since opening in 1975, Baba Yega has won a number of "Best Of" awards: best burger, best vegetarian restaurant, and best brunch, to name a few. But in 2011, the Houston Press presented the restaurant with a slightly more interesting award: "Best Place for a He to Be a She." Baba Yega is indeed a favorite hangout for members of the LGBT community, but its cozy, welcoming vibe brings in what the Houston Press describes as "a happy, friendly mix of straight and LGBT couples, groups and families." That might be because the menu offers a bit of something for everyone, from hefty steaks to vegetarian sandwiches to mimosas and bloody marys, which flow freely during Sunday brunch. And, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't love the atmosphere––housed in a converted bungalow, the restaurant also features an award-winning patio lined with century-old oak trees.
Lenny's Sub Shop opened in the suburbs of Memphis in 1998, to bring the joy of philly cheese steaks to a new neighborhood. Over the years, the restaurant expanded to locations in 15 states, but the way Lenny's crew makes the sandwiches has remained the same. They start by taking a customer's order, then slicing the meats and cheeses that form the core of the sandwich. They throw the contents of hot subs on the grill, or pile their cold cuts directly onto their fresh-baked bread. They put about a half-pound of meat into their regular-sized sandwiches, doubling that for the large size, meaning each meal packs enough calories to banish a hearty hunger and also counts as a workout if you carry it around the restaurant enough times.
The icy blue walls that surround patrons at Shri Balaji Bhavan may soothe the mind, but they stand in sharp contrast to the vegetarian restaurant's fiery South Indian fare. Dosas, chaats, madras thali, and puri feature a mix of fresh ingredients and bold spices that enliven palates and heat taste buds with every bite. The authentic seasonings and steaming dishes have certainly impressed Voice Places, who awarded Shri Balaji Bhavan "Best Indian Restaurant" in 2008, 2010, and 2012.