Above all else, comfort food should taste familiar. Taqueria Taco-Riendo seems to embrace this philosophy wholeheartedly, filling the menu with faithful recreations of Mexican cuisine's best-known staples. However, familiarity doesn't make the flavors of chorizo, cilantro, and flour and corn tortillas any less hearty or more likely to share secrets. These ingredients appear throughout the menu, from tacos and tortas to fajitas and quesadillas. The taqueria presents diners with a selection of horchata, lemonade, and other drinks with which to wash down meals.
Brickhouse Subs shares a space with the Nestle Toll House Cafe, a brick and mortar peddle of the iconic cookies, ice cream, and candy bars. The sandwich side of the shop enhances the menu with a variety of savory ingredients stuffed between two slices of bread. These lunch-ready meals can be combined easily with cups of coffee or smoothies to get one's sweets fix, since requests to replace mayonnaise with vanilla ice cream are usually denied.
Specializing in regionally influenced international provender since 2000, Farrago World Cuisine presents worldly wonders with the help of a local network of farmers, growers, butchers, fishermen, and people to fact-check the fisherman. Awarded both “Best Posole” and “Best Brunch” by H Texas Magazine, the adventurous chefs prescribe remedies for bored palates such as chilaquiles, Cajun eggs benedict with crawfish cream, and Hawaiian sweet red crab cakes. Noteworthy dishes lurk between the pages of the other menus as well—Elizabeth Searcy of the Midtown Paper was enamored of the curried mussels, saying, “The marriage of basil, cilantro, and lime in the sauce is not spicy, but wonderfully fresh and aromatic,” while the reviewers at Guyot praised the grilled salmon with sweet potato puree and nectarine salsa.
The seasoned chefs at Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet whip up unlimited portions of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine seven days a week. Partnered patrons survey the robust buffet to plot their takeover of fresh, house-made bread sauced with hummus or baba ghanouj, a roasted and seasoned eggplant purée. Endless supplies of savory entrees silence even the chattiest tummies with chicken kebabs and baked-fish-shaped pacifiers. Diners not on speaking terms with salt may opt for Dimassi’s spinach baked with chickpeas, onions, garlic, and cilantro, and herbivores can nosh on an assortment of seasoned veggies or a greek salad with feta, olive oil, and aged balsamic vinegar. Dining duos toast to the possibility of falafel shot put becoming a common party game with unlimited glasses of iced tea or soft drinks. Fistfuls of jam cookies or ladyfingers with walnuts, sugar, and rose and orange water give meals a delicately sweet sendoff.
A lifetime in the kitchen informs the menus of Mia Bella Trattoria Sugar Land's owner and head chef Youssef Nafaa, a native of Morocco who has been honing his craft in stateside restaurants since 1988. After toiling his way up from busboy in Chicago to culinary consultant in Houston, Youssef opened the first branch of Mia Bella on Main Street in 1998, promising "Italian food with a twist." Today, the bistro has budded into a quartet of fine-dining establishments. In 2011, the Houston Press awarded the restaurant Best Brunch Restaurant for its Mediterranean-fusion take on the popular hybridized meal and its "'bottomless' mimosas and bellinis; exceptional service that puts you in a good mood even mid-hangover; tall windows that stream sunlight into the dining room; and, of course, delicious food."
Named for one of Spain’s most prominent wine regions, Rioja restaurant's extensive wine menu is merely the icing on a cake made of tapas. Voted the best paella in Houston by the Houston International Paella Festival in 2004 and 2005, Rioja enhances traditional hot and cold Spanish tapas with an array of exotic ingredients. Below intricate wrought-iron chandeliers, entrées of seafood paella and grilled baby-lamb chops pair with more than 50 wines. Stuffed piquillo peppers, prime-beef short rib, and white asparagus imported from Navarra pair up with Spanish paprika and sweet pear purée. After questioning servers about Rioja’s homemade chorizo, guests can study flags on the wall emblazoned with the Spanish crest, the silhouette of a bull, and the silhouette of an astronaut drinking a martini inside a black hole.