Soaring white columns crowned by a pediment beckon guests to the door of Fernando's Restaurant—and once they're there, the aroma of char-grilled steaks, Latin seafood, and chicken simmered in wine sauce brings them over the threshold. At cloth-draped tables set with red linen napkins, diners settle into leather seats topping cherry-toned wood chairs.
Servers bustle through several feet of open space in between tables, carting such dishes as the tender steak Fernando, paired with asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes, and the signature paella: yellow saffron rice with a bounty of clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, fish, crawfish, squid, chicken, and chorizo. Fernando himself often takes to the kitchen or waits on his guests alongside the servers.
The bar hosts both early and late-night happy hours, and a dance floor with music—sometimes live, sometimes blasted from a passing car outside—gets guests moving.
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.
The Burger Bar stockpiles fine meats, cheeses, and toppings so that diners can create their own sandwich masterpieces. The menu promises hunger-fighters the ability to load a bun with such patties as ground beef ($6–$9), buffalo meat ($8–$13) and portobello ($5–$7). Like a sloppy nacho-loving James Bond, burgers dress in a neat tuxedo of cheese (one slice included, $.75/extra slice), including smoked cheddar, texas goat, and pepper jack. Toppings such as jalapeños, bacon, and avocado (one topping included, $1.50/extra topping) crown majestic meat towers, only to be rained upon by torrents of garlic or bacon aioli, violet-mustard cream, or smoked-chipotle ketchup. Diners can pair a sirloin sandwich with grilled vegetables ($3.50) for a dose of daily nutrients so they don’t have to get their vitamins by devouring old tapes of The Flintstones.
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.
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.
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.