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 ($7 for one, $12 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, $28), 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 Fernando's, which graces angel-hair pasta with tomatoes, black beans, garlic, basil, cilantro, and grilled chicken breast ($12.50).
A lonely fire flickers in the night, punctuating the vast expanse of Brazil’s southern plains. A spitted side of Nelore beef roasts over the flames; from that famed beast and this timeless fireside scene, Nelore takes its name, recipes, and spirit.
Nelore’s chefs draw inspiration from the gauchos of South America, piling plates high with carvings of 16 spit-roasted meats. The spirit of the southern plains remains alive and well in the dining room, where wrought-iron chandeliers and a dark hardwood floor evoke rustic elegance as a warm breeze filters in through the front doors. Veggies, fine cheeses, and pastas fill more than 40 basins at the salad bar, whose glistening glass protects the trays from grazing cattle and errant horseshoe tosses.
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.
Frank's Chop House has menus full of soulful offerings at both lunch and dinner, allowing the taste buds to nestle into flavors as familiar and enveloping as a well-worn beanbag chair. Do Frank proud with a lunchtime pork chop and potato, green beans, and a tomato salad ($15.95), or have the local favorite, a chicken-fried steak ($15.95). To start a dinner right, have a jumbo lump crab cake ($12) or ahi-tuna tartare ($15). Then dive into some home cookin' with fare such as the Chop House burger and fries ($12) or a fried gulf-shrimp and oyster platter ($24). Comfort food isn't complete without a side of green beans or mac ’n’ cheese ($7 each).
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.