Paul Bellow Jr. knows crawfish. For the past 32 years, the seasoned chef has been perfecting crawfish-cooking styles at his own restaurants, developing his recipe's signature blend of flavor and spice. To gauge the tastes of his diners, every year during crawfish season, Paul drives his trailer across town to conduct crawfish and shrimp boils for various special events.
At Cypress Station Grill—his latest restaurant conception—Paul pours the lessons of years of cooking into a menu of Cajun and American specialties. Live shipments of the plump crustaceans arrive at the kitchen during crawfish season, which Paul and his kitchen staff simmer and serve by the pound. As pots bubble with crawfish and shrimp, the kitchen crew grills thick steaks, fries seafood dishes, and weaves toupees out of hearty pastas. Behind the bar, mixters and mixtesses dole out colorful specialty cocktails, beer, and wine.
Housed in the historic Cypress Station building, the restaurant's towering ceilings and hardwood rafters still retain the grandeur of the former bustling railway hub. Hanging lanterns beam down on rows of wooden tabletops, and a towering outdoor brick fireplace crackles amid the two expansive outdoor patios. A separate game room keeps youngsters occupied, giving parents breaks from their kids' ceaseless rants about tax reform.
At the heart of every dish on Candelari's menu—including its signature thin- ($17–$22), thick- ($18–$23), and deep-dish-style ($19–$24) pizzas—are the famous Italian-sausage recipes of Alberto Candelari, all of which are made with choice meat, natural spices, and hints of liqueur. The T-Rex's spread of pepperoni, ground sirloin, useless forearms, Canadian bacon, and Candelari’s andouille and original Italian sausages lets you sample all of the finest meat-fruits of Candelari Sausage Company founders Greg Wheeler and “King of Sausages” Michael May (Alberto’s grandson). Build up to its bounty beforehand with a plate of sausage misto ($7), which features grilled Italian, turkey-jalapeño, and chicken-apple sausages piled atop provolone polenta. Diners that look suspiciously like flocks of seagulls inside a trench coat can find out what a grilled salmon ($14) tastes like when complemented by gulf shrimp, lemon-caper butter sauce, and veggies. Otherwise, avoid all the menu botheration and opt for the daily lunch buffet ($9–$9.50), which includes unlimited pizza, pasta, salad, and a drink.
Roberto Rosa first discovered his love of cooking at age 13, when he began learning recipes from his grandmother Antonia. Two decades later, the owner of Antonia’s Cucina Italiana shares his love of all Italian fare, transforming chicken, seafood, veal, and house-made pasta into colorful dishes during lunch and dinner. Across the three locations, décor and amenities vary, from outdoor seating to exposed brick walls and checkered floors where diners can settle arguments over who pays the bill with games of human chess.
Beneath the soft whirring of ceiling fans at all three Houston-area locations, chefs transform fresh ingredients into meat-centric and vegetarian Mexican dishes. Dark wooden beams hover over the sprawling, sunlit dining rooms, framing artfully plated seafood and steaks with dramatic architectural details. Spy conventions furtively crunch their nachos in private dining rooms, and visitors to the Cypress location can toast to tortillas on the outdoor patio.
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.
Every day, Tacoland dishes out more than 10 different tacos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some of the eatery's tacos are especially unique. Barbacoa tacos, for instance, feature slow-cooked beef tongue, and pastor tacos house pork marinated in an adobe sauce. Alongside many of its dishes, Tacoland includes authentic Mexican rice and refried beans.