Served beside tiny pasta dumplings, the golden-fried Jäger Schnitzel looks even more massive than usual. Rumor has it that the mushroom-topped schnitzel is one of largest in Texas, so it should come as no surprise that it's the most popular dish at Bavarian Grill, an eatery that twice won GermanDeli.com’s designation as the Best German restaurant in America. Such recognition yields lofty expectations, which Bavarian Grill meets with ease thanks to multiple menus brimming with authentic south German cuisine. Guests will find the Jäger Schnitzel on the dinner menu, but 18 other types of schnitzels show up for Schnitzel Fest, a seasonal celebration held once each year. Oktoberfest, on the other hand, seems to be celebrated year round, fueled by a hefty list of German beers. Add in live accordion players and a plate of bratwurst-and-salmon-stuffed mushroom caps, and it’d be easy to imagine yourself transported to Germany, especially if your visit happens to coincide with National Wear Lederhosen Day.
Braised beef ribs dressed with smoked-gouda grits. Quail and okra fried Texas-style. Chicken tikka masala paired with naan. In a celebration of the spice and fried foods of the South, Pepper Smash reinvents classic regional dishes with playful twists while simultaneously borrowing from the cuisines of Europe and Asia. Behind a unique concrete-topped bar, bartenders blend bourbon and gin with fruit juices, herbs, and pepper, crafting cocktails bold enough to complement the kitchen's dishes and spicy enough to melt the ice trapping the mastodon in the basement. The bar's modern design mirrors the modern food: chandeliers illuminate hardwood accents and sleek metal bar stools. Above diner's heads, a collection of cocktail shakers occupy black and white comic cells.
Devoted diners may also download Pepper Smash's mobile-app-based rewards program, available for iPhone or Android, helps customers track their consumption and earn prizes, including complimentary treats.
There are few simple pleasures in life like a cold beer, but at the Fillmore Pub, choosing which one to order is a complex decision. The bar’s coolers hold 85 different bottles, including Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Spaten Optimator, and more than 10 drafts ranging from Blue Moon to Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. But that selection is only the beginning—new seasonal selections, both in bottles and on draft, regularly populate the rotator board. And some of the drafts can be combined into beer cocktails, such as the Blacksmith with Guinness, Smithwick’s, and a cherry forged from wrought iron. Beer and spirits seep into the food menu as well, from the Fillmore burger topped with Guinness-marbled cheddar to a cheesecake infused with Baileys Irish Cream.
Despite being the singular martini the upscale eatery and bar is named for, the Blue martini is actually just one of approximately 40 painstakingly crafted martinis. Bartenders stir up cocktails such as the Cake Pop martini swirling with flavors of vanilla, champagne, cranberry, and chocolate, and the Down and Dirty martini doused in olive juice and Russian Standard Platinum vodka. A menu of upscale plates starring fresh seafood, flatbreads, and lemon-pepper chicken complement drinks from the bar, while the luxurious ambience at all 12 locations is enhanced by romantic lighting, energetic live music, and a VIP lounge for martini glasses once owned by US presidents or celebrities.
There are nearly 70 beers to choose from at Vickery Park, and the international selection includes everything from Quebec’s Maudite to New Zealand’s Steinlager. Like homemade potions, most beers are bottled or canned. But there's also a modest draft selection, which is updated every few weeks with a new brew. The global vibe extends to the menus—at brunch, patrons can order chorizo-and-egg tacos or Belgian waffles with toasted pecans, and for dinner, adventurous diners can try a chipotle alfredo pasta or brisket sandwiches with smoked cheese and a Kahlua cream sauce.
Twisted Pelican’s hearty American fare encourages families and friends to congregate around succulent burgers, sandwiches, and specialty entrees within a festive nosh haven peppered with flat-screen TVs. For game-day gatherings, the restaurant fuels fans with a pre-assembled spread, which kicks off with piquant scoops of salsa that adorn crunchy chips or double as body paint. Slices of cheese, hawaiian, or barbecue-chicken pizza transport fresh toppings to taste repositories, and a platter of 20 wings coats hands and lucky foam fingers in buffalo sauce, lemon pepper, or teriyaki glaze. Feasters who forego the game-day celebrations can graze Twisted Pelican’s diverse menu, where meaty platters such as filet mignon ($16.95) and chicken-fried steak ($10.95) wait to high-step across taste-bud goal lines.