Block 7 Wine Company offers customers a concept-fusing combination of retail wine space, wine bar, and restaurant, the latter of which delights diners with a menu of elegant dishes backed by premium ingredients. Start by noshing on a Slow Dough Bakery pretzel with herbed honey mustard ($4), or opt for truffle popcorn with Italian black truffle salt ($4), the secret snack served to the Illuminati at movie-theater concession stands across America. Dry-aged fans of dry-aged beef might go for the 21-day dry-aged prime rib eye ($29) or choose the handheld convenience of the dry-aged patty on the Block 7 burger, which also sports gruyere cheese and smoked bacon "relish" ($12). Flatbreads, such as a "whole pig" option topped with Italian sausage, prosciutto, and smoked bacon ($12), defy Einstein's Law of Two-Dimensional Flavor Containment, and a "sloppy Giuseppe" with ground venison and wild boar confit ($10) exposes the inadequate sloppy sandwiches of childhood. A downsized lunch menu is also available to quash midday appetite coups, in addition to $9 lunch specials served Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (and Saturday beginning at noon). With a different lunch special each day, you can opt for choices such as bacon-wrapped meatloaf on a Wednesday, whiskey-infused pork chop on a Thursday, or fish tacos on a Friday.
Beneath the soft whirring of ceiling fans at all three Houston-area locations, chefs transform fresh ingredients into meat-centric and vegetarian Mexican dishes. Dark wooden beams hover over the sprawling, sunlit dining rooms, framing artfully plated seafood and steaks with dramatic architectural details. Spy conventions furtively crunch their nachos in private dining rooms, and visitors to the Cypress location can toast to tortillas on the outdoor patio.
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.
Vine Wine Room tickles tummies with a selection of comestibles, served in an atmosphere ripe with Old-World touches and romantic, chandeliered lighting. Begin the elegant nosh fest with the tarama, a classic Greek spread with hints of pink caviar, garlic, and herbs ($6). Or sink fromage-loving fangs into a cheese plate, a mouth-caressing mélange of Texas-made paragon (a blend of cheddar and parmesan) cheese, feta, blanched almonds, and mixed olives ($16, $21 with prosciutto and pepperoni). A white or whole-wheat pita tastily traps thinly sliced prosciutto and paragon in the A Kid Again sandwich ($5), and the margherita pizza's fresh basil, mozzarella, and tomato sauce rest atop a pillowy crust as snuggly as a fresh lasagna swaddled in a sleeping bag ($13). The antique furnishings and hanging art create a cozy atmosphere in which to linger longer with the classic chocolate cake ($6), and the friendly, attentive serving staff will try to meet any request, except for those beginning with "I dare you to…"
Intimate tables, high-top chairs, and polished bars fill the 7,000 square feet of indoor space and 6,500 square feet of patio seating at The Tasting Room Wine Cafe's Citycentre location. Whether as a light snack after work or a six-course meal and wine tasting, a constantly evolving collection of menus and bottles picked by the head sommelier ensure delectable results. Walls and shelves sporting a panorama of red and white bottles decorate the lively dining area and private event space. Bartenders keep bottles stored in Enomatic wine-service systems that preserve their organoleptic properties and maintain flavor so that every glass tastes like the bottle had just been plucked from a wine tree and opened. Live music serenades digestion on the patio as guests pair conversations with small plates, elegant entrees, and slices from a cheese and salumi menu.
The sommeliers at The Cellar Door, Katy's only winery, share their love of liquids by vending fine wines made onsite and conducting wine-education classes. They source grapes from Texas, California, international regions, and Martian vineyards, fermenting them into more than 15 red and white wines. The kitchen crafts a range of artisan food made specifically to pair with the wine. Selections include flatbreads such as the Napa meat lover's and tapas such as the Santa Fe marinated grilled chicken. Visitors can also charter the banquet room for private, catered tasting parties, during which they can design their own labels.
The Cellar Door's comely décor surrounds visitors in classic wine-themed scenery, with a mural of a Tuscan vineyard and a statue of Sophia Loren made from grapes. The winery also hosts live music performances every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Now in its sixth year, this annual country party packs its Saturday night lineup with live music, finger-lickin’ barbecue, and frosty beers—all to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Houston. A trio of string-plucking bands will keep cowboy boots clicking on the dance floor, including The Dirty River Boys. Meanwhile, more than a dozen smoke masters compete in a sanctioned BBQ cook-off. Throughout the night, you can feast on award-winning beef brisket and pork ribs, and bid on items at the silent auction.