Every Saturday night at the Sheraton Suites Houston, someone gets murdered––while dinner guests watch. Mystery dinner theater may not be a novel concept, but it's safe to say that the crew at Mystery Cafe does it right, as evidenced by their 2009-2013 streak of winning the United States Commerce Association's Houston Award for Dinner Theatres. Forks clink and brain gears whirr as theatergoers dine amid the action, where one of the cast members gets killed and the rest of the off-the-wall characters try to figure out whodunit. As the plot twists and turns like a Slinky on a waterslide, audience members take note of the evidence and submit their suspect and motive on a solution sheet. Whoever sniffs out the culprit is named Super Sleuth and garners a prize. The dress code is dressy casual, meaning anything from a prom dress to jeans is okay, but the mermaid tail should stay at home.
With 40 TV screens lining its walls, Junction Bar & Grill is very likely playing your favorite team’s game inside. Stocked with NFL Sunday Ticket and game-day necessities such as fried pickles, barbecue ribs, and 36 styles of beer, the bar creates an ideal atmosphere for getting in the tailgating spirit. Junction’s chefs put their own sophisticated twists on regular sports nibbles as they cook gourmet options such as bacon-wrapped quail, bananas foster bites, and a full menu of customizable options. Tacos, wraps, sandwiches, and salads can be made with 14 meat and vegetarian options and come with a choice of cheese and other toppings. On warmer days, guests can enjoy their eats on the patio, where crowd-friendly dogs and properly trained sports fans are welcome.
In 1997, friends Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz set out to create a luscious, melt-in-your-mouth bundt cake. What began as an endeavor in their own home kitchens soon blossomed into a bustling business with bakeries in 21 states. Rich cocoa browns and soft pastels lend a nostalgic feel to each bakery, where every day ovens warm up cake batter made from fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese. Flavors such as chocolate chocolate chip, red velvet, and white-chocolate raspberry are favorite staples, and a new seasonal flavor makes a guest appearance each month. Cakes come in several sizes, from the standard 8- or 10-inch bundt to the single-serving bundtlet and the bite-size bundtini, all crowned with signature cream cheese frosting.
The chefs at Crave Sushi construct pieces of edible Asian art in a sleek lounge with accents the ruby-red hue of ahi tuna. Owner Linny Hoang's chefs give maki a makeover at a sushi bar, slipping blades through inventive ingredients and twisting soy paper or seaweed into creations including the Cheetah roll, a bundle of surimi crab mix, cream cheese, and cucumbers dusted with Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Diners stroll past, crowded bento boxes tucked beneath their arms, or linger postmeal over homemade fried-banana wontons and electrically hued drinks. Bubbies mochi balls are imported from Hawaii to draw grins, much like a long-lost cousin on a confusing sitcom, and happy chatter fills the lounge late into the evening on weekends.
Each time the door to Mancuso's Hola swings open, staffers welcome visitors with an eruption of enthusiastic holas. Before 10 a.m., guests are also greeted with complimentary cups of coffee, which can be served alongside breakfast tacos and sweet plantains. The menu also includes Central and South American dishes such as citrus-infused Peruvian ceviche with whitefish, rich tamales wrapped in banana leaves, and tacos cooked on the open mesquite grill and brimming with barbacoa and cilantro. Alternatively, diners can try American cuisine, such as Scarlett's southern fried chicken and a char-grilled red, white, and blue burger, which comes with french fries that can be stacked to look like any one of the Founding Fathers.
Nominated twice by the James Beard Foundation for Best New Restaurant and Best Chef Southwest, Feast populates its rotating menu of European fare with local and seasonal ingredients from nearby farms, including freshly picked vegetables and quality cuts of meat culled using humane practices. Feast's founding trio of tastesmiths catalogs a wealth of past culinary incarnations, including as a chef at St. John Restaurant in central London, named one of the top restaurants in the world by Restaurant Magazine. Well-seasoned dishes emerge into the restaurant's European farmhouse ambiance, accented by wooden floors, exposed beams, and walls bedecked in paintings and vintage portraits.