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.
If the “Tortoise and the Hare” taught us anything, it’s that slow and steady wins the race. And at Tony's Barbecue & Steak House, slow and steady cooking has ordinary dinners beat with pork ribs and brisket that spend a good 12 hours sizzling over South Texas hickory. The barbecue meals are joined by hearty steaks, smoked ham and turkey plates, and quail dinners. Many of the menu items are cooked with one of founder Antonio Ruiz's secret recipes for dirty rice, barbecue sauce, and pork and brisket rubs. Before opening the first Tony’s Barbecue in Baytown, Ruiz spent 15 years developing his craft at a local barbecue restaurant in Houston.
The chef at White Oak Kitchen + Drinks—which opened in the Galleria Mall in April 2011—plucks fresh rosemary, oregano, mint, and basil from an herb garden he's cultivated on the roof, mixing them into a spread of contemporary dishes with international influences. He lightly breads calamari in panko breadcrumbs, adding a spicy sriracha aioli for some kick, and pan-sears mahi-mahi with grilled shrimp and a sweet red-bell-pepper coulis. Classic, southern-style crispy chicken gets extra flavor from Hungarian paprika and a creamy side of macaroni and cheese. For dessert, the s'mores bread pudding inspires stories of hard-won paranormal-investigation merit badges with toasted marshmallows and a graham-cracker crust drizzled with chocolate sauce. Staffers also serve up freshly baked pastries or farm-fresh eggs for breakfast.
The private dining area hosts up to 30 party guests in front of a 50-inch flat-screen HD television, and business-meeting presenters can place their laptops in a docking station to project a slideshow or a deadlocked game of solitaire. The restaurant's wood walls add texture and warmth to the ambience, as do the framed cross-sections of tree-trunk rings.
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.
With the majority of its locations sprinkled across Texas and Florida, it should come as no surprise that Truluck’s Restaurant has come to be known for two things: steak and seafood. What is surprising is the great lengths the chefs will go to in order to ensure each prime New York strip or stone crab platter meets high demands for quality, safety, and sustainability. For example, each steak is cut from all-natural, antibiotic- and hormone-free beef that has been humanely raised on family-owned farms and ranches. Stone crab, meanwhile, comes directly from Truluck’s own fisheries in Florida, where their journey from trap to table takes less than 24 hours. And because Truluck’s is committed to only serving the freshest crab possible, they'll only offer it in-season, and will never serve crab that has been frozen, no matter how cute its earmuffs may be. Of course, such attention to detail is worth celebrating, and, luckily, Truluck's boasts an expansive wine list to help guests find a perfect drink pairing to go with their elegant seafood or steak dinner.
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.