Sounds of laughter and clinking glasses resound through the colorful walls of Madres Restaurant’s expansive dining room, where families and friends convene over authentic Mexican dishes morning and night. In the kitchen, chefs tend grills that sizzle with fresh steaks, seafood, and vegetables, whipping up specialties such as tender carne asada or creamy chicken poblano. Pots simmer with more than 10 varieties of meat, seafood, and vegetarian enchiladas.
Out in the dining room, dishes are joined by fruity margaritas and imported Mexican beers atop numerous tables and cushy booths. Warm lanterns and lush plants dangle from the ceilings, and ornamental Mexican artwork adorns the walls. Outside, an awning shades a front patio from the sun, rain, and falling anvils.
Since its inception in 1974, Birraporetti's has melded Italian cooking with a traditional Irish-pub atmosphere, serving hand-tossed pizzas baked in their stone oven alongside robust Irish coffee and spirits. CBS Houston highlighted its oven-fired pizzas as some of the best in the city, specifically lauding the house bianco pizza for eschewing traditional ingredients such as tomato sauce and shredded copies of the Mona Lisa. The kitchen remains open until midnight to accommodate late-night cravings, yet the chefs still rise in time to serve Sunday jazz brunches replete with made-to-order waffles, omelets, and desserts served amid live jazz performances.
The East Coast pizza purists at Paparazzi pop from-scratch dough topped with house-made sauce into stone deck ovens shipped straight from New York. In true Big Apple fashion, Paparazzi Pizza's large custom pies stretch up to 16 inches across—the to-scale size of Barbie's pinkie were she to come to life. After disc molders shape pies and slather them with sauce, patrons can choose two toppings such as anchovies, canadian bacon, fresh spinach, or meatballs from a list of 20 pizza accessories. À la carte diners can leave the decisions up to Paparazzi with decadent specialty pizzas; try the Pappa's flavorful soirée—chicken, spinach, and roma tomatoes in garlic cloaks dancing on a golden-crust floor, or the Al Pacino, a white pizza decked with mozzarella cheese, no sauce, and eight Oscar nominations. Pasta dishes and borough-bred stromboli stuffed with steak, sausage, and street smarts round out the menu.
In 2011, King’s first year in business, owner Johann Sitter had to expand his space from a 40-seat dining room to a 200-seat restaurant and beer garden. The customer response aligned with the press response: That same year, Houston Press included King’s sausage sampler on their list of 100 Favorite Dishes and in 2012, GermanDeli.com voted King's the Best German Restaurant in America. They were excited to find the restaurant served “the kind of hearty yet fresh sausages and schnitzels that Houston has long lacked,” and singled out the weisswurst for having “the texture of sifted pate, light and airy.”
In addition to meals built from family recipes, patrons can revel in an extensive selection of German brews. Beer tour samplers allow guests to sip on four or all of the draft beers, but those ready to commit to a single draft can sign a marriage certificate for a 3-liter das boot. Thursday through Saturday, groups can listen to live music from German house bands on the beer garden.
The saying “writing on the wall” typically refers to bad omens, but at Fish Place, it takes on a positive, and literal, connotation. Words such as “salad,” “gumbo,” and “shrimp” appear all over the wallpaper, foreshadowing the Cajun-style cuisine to come.
In addition to stirring up signature seafood gumbo, Fish Place’s chefs fill baskets with cooked-to-order crawfish, catfish, oysters, and shrimp. The chefs accompany their fried or blackened entrees with hushpuppies, french bread, or red beans and rice, rather than the traditional seafood side, sand. Tacos and po’ boys round out the menu.
The portable snack, originally crafted back in 1960 in a 2,000-square-foot building in Houston, is the popular pick among discriminating Texans, including Mayor Annise Parker and Governor Rick Perry. Alamo tamales also make a mouthwatering gift for anyone who enjoys the sensation of brushing his or her teeth but would rather use shredded chicken instead of toothpaste.