When the slow-roasted prime rib is cooked to tender perfection, a chef comes over, carves into it with a knife, and sends freshly loaded plates out into the dining room. That’s the way things have worked at Peppers Restaurant since it opened in 1995. The establishment's homemade take on hearty eats is evident in not only the hand-carved prime rib, but also the house-concocted sauces and seasonings, such as the chicken florentine’s white-wine-mushroom cream and the blackened redfish’s Cajun spices. The steakhouse revolves around USDA Choice cut steaks and deep-fried seafood, although the menu also features a worldly mix of pastas, enchiladas, burgers, and salads harvested from the rainforest.
Southern Italian dishes adorn white linen tablecloths inside both locations of Little Napoli Italian Cuisine. Chefs plate casual classics such as baked ziti and calzones as well as more elaborate entrees such as linguine pescatore, loaded with shrimp, calamari, clams, and mussels. The downtown location heats up its griddles for breakfast on weekday mornings, and the Westheimer location dishes out brunch fare such as omelets, waffles, and Napoli pasta on Saturdays and Sundays. Also on Westheimer Road, Friday nights entertain patrons with karaoke, and both locations host a VIP private-dining section that can seat up to 40 people or one very hungry velociraptor.
Towering palm trees, shady cabanas, and flickering tiki torches help create a distinctively Caribbean ambiance in El Pueblito Patio's outdoor seating area, distinguishing it from the rest of the dining area and earning the restaurant the award for Best Patio from Houston Press in 2007 and 2008. The chefs also look for inspiration beyond the borders, combining Mayan, Aztec, Spanish, and African culinary influences that typically characterize Guatemalan and Mexican cuisine. Fried plantains, fiery salsas, and a closely guarded blend of house spices help to lend iconic Latin flavors to the menu of grilled redfish, sautéed gulf shrimp, and roasted chicken. Large fronds and domesticated clouds shade the patio, which encourages diners to enjoy their meals out in the fresh air while savoring a drink with one of the bar's numerous tequilas.
At one table, guests valiantly attempt to slay the fried catfish, pico de gallo, and red beans that burst from a Cajun burrito. At another, a mix-and-match platter of shrimp tacos and stuffed jalapeños draws reverence from passersby as its creator digs in elatedly. Scenes such as these have taken place at Fish Place locations across Houston since 2005, giving Texans a taste of New Orleans without the trouble of traveling or holding a bayou chef hostage. For gaggles of empty bellies, Fish Place offers family packs that range up to 100 pieces of a chosen fried meat along with classic sides such as coleslaw, onion rings, and jambalaya rice.
Alberto Alfonzo, the chef and owner of Pesca World Seafood Restaurant, has spent the majority of his 21-year culinary career cooking seafood. His love for underwater edibles stretches to all corners of the world, including Spain, Asia, Peru, the coastal United States, and the Caribbean. “Our dishes are representations of different countries and continents as well as local,” Alfonzo says.
Pesca’s brunch and dinner menus are peppered with international specialties such as grilled red snapper veracruz, valencian black rice, and the chef’s personal favorite, portuguese seafood stew. A trio of turf selections includes New Zealand lamp chops, a center-cut fillet, and roasted pork carnitas. The menu also lists organic and gluten-free options.
Thanks to a special license issued by Dionysus himself, the restaurant offers a wide selection of wines at retail price. Guests can savor a fish and white-wine pairing out on Pesca’s outdoor patio, a romantic spot adorned with palm trees and water fountains.
Mop's Grill's hearty surf-centric menu features Southern-style seafood augmented with specialty burgers, kabobs, tacos, and wings. Split an order of 12 wings and fries with fellow diners to open a meal ($12.99). Mop's famous mahi-mahi burger ($10) furnishes exotic appetites with inventive eating alongside the other proteins that Mop's can mold into patty form—including fried catfish, turkey, grilled rosemary chicken, and even beef ($8 each). For foldable fare, Uncle Boone's tacos are stuffed with fish, shrimp, or chicken ($4.50) and left under the restaurant's pillow each night by the taco fairy. Mop's menu also contains aqueous entrees capable of quelling the raging tide of hunger, such as Burma Jean's fried catfish ($13.70).