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.
When you offer more than 40 wines by the glass and 150 by the bottle, it can be challenging to find the space to hold them all. But the staff at Cork Café Wine & Coffee have gotten creative––bottles fill hefty bookcases, towering so high that a library-style ladder is required to reach the top. The ones that can’t be shelved become wall art, slotted into wall-mounted wine racks above leather furniture. If the unusual placement seems over whelming, don't fret: the wine menu is neatly organized by type, origin, and vintage, and each varietal is accompanied with an artful flavor profile that details that wine's color, distinct notes, and favorite date spot. This makes it all the easier to pair a bottle with one of the café's signature salads, artisan flatbreads, and pretzel sandwiches.
For more than 30 years, Quiznos has toasted its submarine sandwiches to bring out the hidden flavors found in butcher-quality meats, cheese, and artisan breads. Its classic and signature subs take on a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles ranging from the peppercorn prime rib to the classic italian donning black olives, mozzarella, red-wine vinaigrette, and plentiful sliced meats. Those closely monitoring their waistlines can take unabashed bites of sandwiches that have fewer than 500 calories, such as the ultimate turkey club, basil pesto chicken flatbread or Baja-chicken. A selection of Flatbread Sammies, soups, and salads round out Quiznos' varied menu.
Hailing from humble beginnings in a renovated Mississippian gas station, McAlister's Deli has revolutionized the concept of fast food with healthy fare recognized by Parents in 2009. Premium ingredients, such as Black Angus roast beef and black forest ham, pile upon stuffed potatoes or artisan bread, sating hungers and silencing stomachs before they recite bank-account numbers. As patrons wait for servers to deliver meals, they sip signature sweet tea, swirled together onsite daily from pure cane sugar and a rainforest-certified black-tea blend as dictated by a closely guarded recipe.
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.
News of the gingery homemade broth, tender hand-cut brisket, and black peppery meatballs served at Pho Binh spread quickly, drawing diners to the tiny trailer in droves. It wasn't uncommon for chefs to run out of the coveted noodle soup before the lunch hour ended. Mercifully, the Nguyen family soon expanded their restaurant to four other locations throughout the local area, where their chefs continue to whip up the fragrant soup that writers from the Houston Press lauded as "perfection in a bowl."
To craft their pho's signature broth, the chefs simmer marrowbones with an array of spices, including anise, cinnamon, and ginger. After this mixture bubbles to a savory crescendo, they add in fresh rice noodles and onions before topping the soup off with slices of rare steak and crispy tendon. The chefs serve the simmering bowls alongside plates of crisp bean sprouts, fresh lime, jalapenos, and herbs. Once bowls arrive at the table, diners can personalize their soup by sprinkling on these garnishes, adding in squirts of sriracha, or nicknaming each one of the meatballs.