In Edloe St. Café & Catering’s kitchen, staffers grind fresh burger patties and concoct dishes from owner E.I. Thomas’s farmer’s market finds. The eatery specializes in fresh, local food inspired by cultures on either side of the Mexican border; the kitchen whips up jumbo lump crab cakes and leafy Cobb salads just as deftly as they craft Southern-fried fish tacos and pile plates with chicken tamales. Upscale options such as Black Angus tenderloin are also available and lend an extra touch of superiority by the alumnus of Johnson & Wales College of Culinary Arts who helms the kitchen.
Despite the steak on the menu, the café's atmosphere is unpretentious. Patrons order from a menu handwritten on hanging chalkboards, and eat at simple wooden tables or retire to the outdoor patio for fresh air and a chance to spellcheck any recent skywriting. For large functions, hosts can also turn to the kitchen for buffet-style catering spreads, which offer everything from breakfast tacos to boxed lunches.
The Buffalo Grille sates starving stomachs with selections from a menu that boasts awards from the Houston Press and Houston Business Journal. Customers can appease meat-loving molars with the two 6-ounce peppered pork chops ($9.95) or the tender pecan-crusted chicken, delectably displayed over mashed potatoes and topped with a molasses-cream sauce ($9.95). The southwestern enchiladas beseech Texan tastes with a hearty filling of spinach and cilantro-cream sauce and an accouterment of jalapeño cornbread ($7.95). Breakfast is served all day, so favorites such as hot cakes ($3.65 for one), omelets (starting at $3.60), and pecan-smoked peppered bacon ($2.75) can be enjoyed in the evening hours. Diners can enjoy their toothsome entrees in a wood-paneled dining room decorated with mounted hunting trophies, or head to the landscaped outdoor eating area, fully furnished with an unlimited oxygen supply.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Pizza Fino's dough spends its entire existence under the watchful eye of its creators—from the moment it blooms from scratch in the restaurant's kitchen until it's time to leave for the plate of a hungry diner. During the in-between times, the dough is dressed in sauces crafted from Pizza Fino's own recipes, adorned with precisely aged Wisconsin cheeses, and—to ensure that it lives up to Pizza Fino's "Like No Other" motto—stone-baked to a golden brown. Similar attention goes into Pizza Fino's non-pizza dishes, such as the gourmet salads and crunchy calzones made at various locations across Houston.
Culinary connoisseurs May and Eddie Chan whip up their pan-Asian and Hunan-styled eats in a chic eatery adorned with modern lines, exposed brick, and exotic floral arrangements. Midday grazers can settle into the sleek dining room for lunch before slapping on a hardhat and constructing their meal from two courses served with brown, white, or fried rice. Kick off gastronomical jaunts with a choice of appetizer, including fried cheese wontons, a crispy Buddha egg roll, and miso tofu soup. Then pair starters with comestible choices such as sesame-crusted chicken or chinatown roast duck. Hot-tempered tongues are cooled off with a vietnamese iced coffee before getting riled up once more with pearl jasmine tea.
During dinner, diners can warm up for a marathon meal with wonton-dumpling soup. Giant plates of honey-walnut shrimp and grilled teriyaki salmon placate more carnivorous appetites and can be sacrificed to the family of hungry bears prowling the restaurant. Kick off a mouth party with beef chow fun or inspire taste buds to hit the flavor dance floor with Asian BBQ baby-back ribs and steamed Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce.