My Top 20 Restaurants in Houston


Super Bowl is just around the corner and my hometown, Houston, will be filled with so many welcomed guests! I’ve lived in Houston my whole life except for my college days in Austin. I’ve watched Houston have incredibly diverse restaurants and more recently, within the last 10 years, it’s become a “foodie” city.

I’ve always been into trying the newest restaurants though I stand by the tried and true favorites of mine. I’m providing you my top 20 list of restaurants. Though I could go on forever organizing by neighborhood and type of cuisine but I will keep it general. I’ll also provide certain dishes that I like to order on the regular. The following are in no particular order.

  1. Prego– This place has been my favorite for over 15 years. I always order the smoked duck ravioli the old way. (The waiters that have been there forever will know what you’re talking about) Make sure you put your order in for the strawberry shortcake right when you sit.
  2. True Foods Kitchen– I love how fresh the ingredients are and this is the style I love to eat on the regular. Get the harvest salad, the mulberries will rock your world.
  3. NY Bagel Shop– I’ve been coming to this neighborhood place since I was a toddler. The bagels are excellent and the breakfast special is on point.
  4. Snooze– This place blows me away. I’ve liked every single thing I’ve ordered and I can’t wait to go back again. The only drawback is the epic line.
  5. Buffalo Grille– Another tried and true place. Get the Cream Cheese and Chive eggs with potatoes and a biscuit.
  6. Istanbul Grille– One word. lahmacun.
  7. Garson– Amazing grilled meat with flavorful rice. I love the fresh veggies and pide they provide
  8. Raven Grill– Anything on their mesquite grill is perfection.
  9. Fadi’s– I love the endless selection of options. Hint* you can order half portions, you’re welcome.
  10. La Guadalupana– Breakfast tacos all the way and their chilequiles AND churros are the best in town.
  11. Killens– Everything is amazing!
  12. Les Baguette– I love their BBQ pork vermicelli bowl and their Vietnamese coffee
  13. Pico’s– First of all, I miss their original location because I have memories of going there when I was a baby. Their salsas are perfect and I love their spinach enchiladas.
  14. Goode Co. Seafood– Campechana!!
  15. Coltivare– Everything I’ve had is excellent from the drinks to the pasta.
  16. Pax Americana– Fancy, small portions, expensive but oh so flavorful.
  17. 100% taquito– I love their authentic options
  18. Pizaros Pizza– Perfectly thin crust with high quality cheese.
  19. Golden Palace– Dim sum all the way.
  20. Lai Lai Dumpling House– Best dumplings in town and super cheap.

This was incredibly tough and I could easily add 20 more. Though it really came down to my personal favorites and the places I frequently crave. Eat your heart out 🙂



Tour de Cali

Two weeks ago I met my husband in LA. I met him during his 2nd week working there (tough life) and we did a little traveling to central California. We rode along the PCH and I have to recommend it to everyone. It’s just so incredibly gorgeous. I want to live in Cali 🙂

The moment I arrived in LA I needed Sugar Fish. If you haven’t been, you need to go. It’s just the best sushi I’ve ever had. We each got the Nozawa Trust Me (I had a big appetite). The fish is simple itself but it’s about the warm sticky rice paired with the cold fish. Pictured below are just a snippet of the tasting menu. I dream of this place…


Sugar Fish Sugar Fish

The next day we drove through SLO (San Luis Opisbo). It’s all about their tri tip sandwich and we found the best and busiest place in town, Firestone Grill. I much prefer Texas bbq but it was worth trying.

Tri Tip Sandwich

The next day we visited Monterey. We went to the famous aquarium which was really cool but filled with little kids running around, ah!

Monterey Bay Aquarium

We got hungry and checked out Sea Harvest Fish Market and Restaurant. The area is dotted with plenty of restaurants but we went with the highest rated place on yelp.

The chowder and fried calamari were delicious but my favorite part were the grilled oysters. They were so delicious and fresh.

Oysters Clam Chowder

While the hubby was working, I took a walk down to Carmel Beach with a sandwich from Bruno’s. The little deli inside of the grocery store was just what I wanted. They made my egg salad fresh in the back while I waited. How can you not love a sandwich like that with this view?!

Carmel by the beach

Before we headed back to LA we stopped for a quick breakfast at The Cottage. It reminded me of being in my grandma’s home with the old timey decor and sweet service. I got eggs, fruit and a Kathy cake with berries. The Kathy cake is a must! It totally hit the spot and I definitely recommend this comforting restaurant.


On our way to LA we stopped in Santa Barbara so my husband could do a little work. I ventured off and got this from McConnell’s.


First off, I want to drop everything and live in Santa Barbara. I’m so jealous of everyone living there. Second, omg this ice cream. I waited in a pretty long line in the middle of the day which means it must be an amazing place. I asked for half scoops so I could try as much as possible 🙂 Pictured here is Almond Brittle Chocolate and Double Peanut Butter Chip: worth the wait.

Peace out, Cali. Until next time!


Tuckers 1

Last weekend my husband and I went to Oklahoma City for a special college friends wedding. Neither of us had ever been to Oklahoma before but we got some advice before we left. Another good friend of mine is from this town and said hands down we needed to try an onion burger from Tucker’s. So, we made it our mission to try this burger, how ever and when ever we could make it.

Saturday morning we started walking from our hotel exploring downtown, the bombing memorial, and automobile alley (highly recommend).

Zach flying

(That’s my amazing husband, he’s training to be a River dancer, haha, jk!)

At that point, we worked up a pretty good appetite. I checked the map to see where Tucker’s was in relation to us and it was a good 1.5 miles. Uber was 4.5x the price (blah) so we decided to walk…. An hour later we arrived at Tucker’s…(regretting not taking that uber).

The menu was very simple, onion burger, onion burger with cheese, onion turkey burger, the choice of sides and fries. Pretty simple but that’s how you keep things good!

Tuckers 2 Tuckers 3

Man, that burger was so so yummy! I love grilled onions and they were perfectly thin cut and grilled to perfection. I could tell they handmade the beef patties there too, so fresh. Another unique item was the grilled jalapenos which were a nice spicy addition! We had no idea what to expect from Oklahoma and it was a pleasant surprise. Oh and we took an uber back to the hotel with our full bellies ’cause we deserved it! 🙂

Parmigiano Reggiano Tour in Parma, Italy

cheesemaking 4

I’m still dreaming about the most amazing honeymoon my husband and I went on 2 months ago. Halfway through our journey we dropped our rented car off in Parma and cabbed to our airbnb in the center of the city. We had zero expectations and nothing planned. Our amazing host, who happens to be a professional basketball player, helped coordinate a parmesan tour. She had never done this but apparently, all of the American visitors want to do all of these crazy food tours. There was a little miscommunication and awkward translation to describe how to get to the tour so our host drove us there.

We had no idea what to expect.  We were dropped off at a house in the middle of no where with a farm in the back filled with cows. There was a pretty bad stench of cow manure but we went with it. Not to long after, an energetic woman approached us, speaking in Italian, telling us to get in her car. We hopped in hoping we would end up at the factory tour. About 10 minutes later and a scary ride, we finally arrived at the factory, Ciao Latte.

We were warmly welcomed with a hot cup of espresso and small talk in Italian which we didn’t understand. The energetic lady who welcomed us turned out to be the owner of the small parmesan factory. Her sons work there, see the pic below. They really have the process down to a t and it was interesting to see the process happen before our eyes. The best part is that everything: cows, milk, butter, etc are all made/cared for in house. It’s tough to say this happens often in the US.

Cheese making 1


Cheese making 2

Have you ever wondered how the parmigiano reggiano name gets imprinted into the rind of cheese? The picture below is the official stamp that gets wrapped around each of the rounds. There was so much said but unfortunately it was hard understanding with the language barrier. Nonetheless, we successfully tried, bought, and toured a parmigiano reggiano factory in Parma, Italy. We had an interesting time getting back to our apartment but that’s a story for another time.

Cheese making 3

 ciao latte

Cooking Class in Bologna, Italy

Cooking Class Apartmen

After a year long engagement, my fiance and I finally tied the knot! It was a magical evening and everything we could have asked for surrounded by family and friends. A few days later, we embarked on our Italian honeymoon, #jankcation as we call it.

Our first stop was in Venice, the most romantic place possible. Unfortunately, George Clooney was getting married at that time and it was oh so busy in Venice. It was uncomfortably packed in this city 🙁 We made the best of it and wandered through the town peering out on canals.

Next, we rented a car and drove to Monte San Pietro, Emilia-Romagna which is about 15-20 minutes outside of Bologna. This was was absolutely breathetaking! The area was filled with Fattoria’s (agrotourismo) and unpretentious vineyards. We stayed at an airbnb that was decorated 70’s style named Cool Cat that looked out to other hill towns.

We arranged a market tour and cooking class for beginners (husband) and experienced (me). We started out by finding the teacher at a specific coffee shop. It was interesting finding it in a city we had never been to nor do we speak the language. After asking a few people and staring at our map, we found her!

She then took us to this amazing market that’s only held on weekends. Everything is grown locally and looked so fresh and beautiful. The market was surrounded by bakeries, meat stores, small grocery shops, convenience stores, and specialty stores. I was in heaven. After we gathered all of our ingredients and got all of my questions answered, we went to the teachers apartment to start cooking!

fresh produce Fresh produce

We started out making fresh pasta. The eggs that we used had bright fresh orange yolks.  If only I raised chickens in my backyard… I learned in school to make it by hand then roll it through a pasta machine. This time, we did it all by hand which took a bit of time but was worth it.

pasta we made M&Z with pasta

We then stuffed squash blossoms with ricotta and parsley.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Now it was time to get all of the sauces together: Bolognese, porcini marsala, and butter. Everything we made was very simple with simple ingredients but all were very fresh. The tomatoes, tasted like actual sweet and delicate tomatoes!  I feel like the tomatoes we get here in US are bland, picked before ripe and just have no taste.  This is really unfortunate.

We cooked up our pumpkin tortellini then sauteed it in butter then it got a fab drizzle of 25 year aged balsamic vinegar. Next, our over an hour simmering bolognese sauce was topped on our freshly made tagliatelle. Then of course we grated fresh parmesan from Parma.

pumpkin tortellini Bolognese

I’m pretty sure my husband and I agree on this, our cooking class in Bologna was by far the best meal we shared together in Italy. It’s no joke that Bologna is the food capital of Italy, it is the real deal.





Austin Foodie Adventures

Franklin BBQ

My fiance and I are lucky enough to have to visit Austin multiple times this year in preparation for our wedding there. On this particular trip, we had time to explore restaurants we’ve been wanting to try. One of which is the world famous Franklin BBQ. Especially since it made a juicy appearance in the movie Chef and Obama visited the restaurant recently.

We didn’t want to wait in line so we had two failed attempts of hiring someone to wait in line for us. The third time was a charm due to taskrabbit and it’s reliable people. In the meantime, we tried another bbq spot, Micklethwait, during the two failed attempts. The ribs and moist brisket definitely satisfied us for the time being.

Micklethwait BBQ

Finally, on our last day, we had success in someone waiting in line for us. No, we’re not lazy, we’re just efficient 🙂 We ended up waiting an hour on top of the taskrabbit person waiting 3 hours. It was well worth it, see below. We went a bit crazy and ordered something like 5 pounds of brisket, 2 pounds ribs, 2 pounds, sausage, 2 pounds turkey, small scoop of potato salad and a pint of cole slaw. We made a dent in this but we were able to take a lot home to Houston and share with family (lucky them!)

Franklin BBQIn comparing the two bbq places, they were pretty close. Franklin does have crazy hype for good reason but Micklethwait was pretty amazing too. Their ribs fell off the bone and the brisket was moist, juicy and had a nice smoke ring. I think both are worth trying. If you don’t mind waiting 4 hours, try Franklin BBQ. If you don’t care about the name and hype, definitely try the later bbq place. You won’t be disappointed.

Paloma at Josephine House

After having many wedding planning meetings, we needed to cool off with a refreshing drink. Josephine House was our pick and it was so adorable. Not only was the design perfect but the attention to detail with the wait staff and presentation was comfortable yet chic. I would love to go back and have a meal there but this time I got the paloma which was perfectly crafted and refreshing on a hot summer day.

I secretly (not such a secret) want a slate of this marble…. this would be perfect for future foodie chef pics.

Ramen Tatsuya

Since we had a reputation of waiting in lines on this trip, we thought, what the heck, what’s one more line?

I’ve been hearing about Ramen Tatsuya for quite some time now. A friend of mine raves that it’s the best ramen in the US, aside from Ippudo in NYC. I agree, Ippudo is hands down the best I’ve ever had.

The ramen was tasty yet it was missing something. Compared to a local place in Houston, Kata Robata, I liked theirs better. Kata’s creamy soup is just indescribable. Tatsuya was missing that umami flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I was full and happy but locally, Kata Robata, is more my thing.

Sugar Mama's

Lastly, we had our cake tasting. At this point we were just full of red meat and soup. Just a bite was enough for us which is not my normal mo. Sugar Mama’s was our place of choice and it is on point.

Having gone to pastry school, I’m really picky with my desserts. I don’t like them too sweet or dry and these were just right. They have a valrhona cupcake, I was sold immediately! They also have flavors named the elvis and baklava which I love the interesting variety. We quickly chose our cake flavors and can’t wait to enjoy them at our wedding!


:: Canada ::


 We planned our visit around food as we always do and set the bar incredibly too high. We started by getting smoked meat here at Schwartz’s. I usually don’t like a huge meat sandwich but my dear friend recommended we try it. The meat was not only smoky but moist. There were no tough pieces involved here, it was just smooth moist meat. Having grown up with delicious bbq smoked meat in Texas, this was the best I’ve ever had outside of my hometown.




I love bagels. I have high expectations for  a good bagel as does my fiance.  We took a bit of  a trek out of unfamiliar territory just to find this bagel shop, Boulangerie Bagel Shop on St. Viateur. The bagel was sweeter than a normal New York bagel. The shape is a bit different than I’m used to also. It was slightly more dense and chewey on the inside while being kind of crunchy on the outside. Apparently cream cheese is frowned upon, we asked the owner for some and he said “My bagels don’t need cream cheese but if you must have it, it’s in the cooler over there.” After taking my first bite, I just had to figure out what was different than what I was used to. Note to self: add sugar when making bagels!!
bagel shop



This was about when my mind was blown. We had reservations at Au Pied de Cochon for 2 months at this point. I was anticipating this night as I read and heard about how amazing this place is. Our first dish was the poutine with fois gras.  This poutine was so incredibly amazing that I could have eaten 5 more plates.

For those who don’t know what poutine is, it’s just fries with a rich gravy and cheese curds on top. This was definitely kicked up 10 notches with the fois gras on top. The gravy was salty and slightly sweet with a rich creamy white sauce smothering the fries as well. All of the flavors and textures melted together to create harmony in my mouth. Seriously, nothing compares. The next night I was craving it so much that we stopped at a neighborhood restaurant just to test it out. Gross. Nothing compares to Au Pied de Cochons‘ amazingly delicious poutine.


Why not? When in Rome, right? Immediately when I saw a pic of this canned duck concoction, I knew I had to have it.

duck in a can

duck in a can

out of can

So it seems a bit gross to have your meal come out of a can when you’re paying a pretty penny. I can almost expect that they cook everything, seal it immediately then serve.

Before the waiter poured this heavenly duck, there’s a rich potato puree with tons of cream slathered on the plate. It complimented the root veggies, duck, and tangy bold sauce. I was still thinking about another plate of the poutine…. We successfully gorged ourselves to feel sick. I hate that feeling but this time it was worth it.

out of can

duck in a can

We took a little trip to the Jean Talon Market where they had tons of fresh vegetables. If only I had a kitchen to cook in. I would love living around the corner from here. Having the freshest ingredients at my finger tips is more than I could ask for.

jean talon



We saw a crepe stand and immediately ordered one. This is filled with tart apples, salty ham, gooey gruyere and drizzled with sweet maple syrup, nuff said! Salty and sweet is my favorite combo, this  hit the spot. Until next time, Montreal!

The Foodie Chef Travels :: New York

Chelsea Market

Every time I visit New York it seems like there is never enough room in my tummy to try all of the hip restaurants and food carts.  The key is to plan slightly. I never have an hour by hour plan because I feel rushed and pressured to complete everything. I always have a list of a few places I would like to try. One of which was Chelsea Market. I have been before but it was extremely crowded and hard to take in. This time, I went on a Friday morning at 10am and it was a ghost town.  I highly recommend going then. After walking through the entire place, I decided on my breakfast spot, Sarabeth’s Kitchen. I got this delicious savory yet slightly sweet chive muffin with an egg in the middle. I must figure out how to make this…..

egg muffin

My next stop was Momofuku Noodle Bar. The last time I was in New York, I believed I had the best bowl of ramen at Ippudo. I have yet to find anything comparable in my hometown, Houston. Finally, Momofuku filled my desire for a bowl of umani’d  love (is that a word? I’m make it one). The broth was the perfect balance of salty, sour, and sweet. My favorite part was not the oh so popular pork belly but the shredded pork. It melted in my mouth and had the best flavor. The egg was perfectly cooked and when I punctured it, the yolk oozed out and mixed with the soup. The noodles were doughy and not overly cooked. I ate as much as I could but had to stop so I could save room for the milk bar.

Momofuku Ramen


The next stop was Momofuku Milk Bar. I have been wanting to check this place out for far too long.  Last year I got my hands on their crack pie recipe. I’ve made it for a few dinner parties and people still rave about it to this day. With that being said, I had to find (taste) more inspiration to test more recipes! I bought the compost cookie which has butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, potato chips and more– yum!! I also got the blueberries and cream cookie which was to die for. Lastly, my friend got the cereal milk soft serve, O.M.G. Heavenly. Do you know the taste of the milk after you’ve eaten a bowl of frosted flakes? Well, this was it in soft serve form. It was so great that a few days after I came home, I searched for the recipe and make the custard.

Momofuku cereal milk

The next day we took a trip to Brooklyn and went to Smorgasbord. It’s pretty much a gourmet food market. Once again, I had to check all of the tents out before I made my decision. Between my friends and myself, I tried just about 6 different things. The one that stood out most was the lobster roll. Having been raised in the south, Texas, I haven’t really been exposed to a lobster roll. There were chunky lobster pieces, sliced iceberg lettuce, mayo, all in a buttery toasted bun. It was so good that my mouth is watering just thinking about it. See for yourself..

Lobsta Roll

Aside for the roll, I needed something sweet and came across a black and white cookie which was devoured shortly after being purchase.

Black and White cookie

Have you tried  Big Gay Ice Cream? They have some of the most unique combinations. The one I got was the salty pimp which had vanilla soft serve, sea salt, dulce de leche drizzled on top then dipped in chocolate. Wow, need I say more?

Salty Pimp

My last meal was a bagel because I had to.

Murrays bagel

//Mountain Love//

Two weeks ago my boyfriend and I went to Colorado for a vacation. After arriving by plane, we went on a little road trip that started in Denver. We met a good friend of mine at this awesome restaurant called Root Down where I had my first ever Moscow Mule. It was in a copper mug and all. I was in love. The sweet and tangy flavors quenched my thirst after our evening of traveling.

Moscow Mule

The highlight of our meal was the Green Chili Duck Tacos. A mound of duck was topped on a small flavorful blue corn taco with lemon creme fraiche, cotija cheese, and fried crunchy sweet potato. All of the flavors melted together with the salty yet sweet duck, the sour creme fraiche , and crunchy chips on top. The ambience was really hip with dimmed lighting which I really enjoyed. I would fly back just for the duck and mule.

Duck Tacos

As our road trip unraveled we landed in Boulder for a short weekend then onto Aspen. In the mean time we were surrounded by this..


The views are so beautiful but driving alongside those mountains make me oh so sick. The fresh air, views, and delicious food made up for it. 🙂 However, something else completely made up for my sickness…my boyfriend and I got engaged!! He surprised me while riding a gondola down from the top of Aspen mountain. He had both of our families awaiting our arrival. Our celebration continued for several days and another highlight was trying the tasting menu at Chefs Club.  If you’re not familiar with this restaurant, they’re partnered with Food & Wine Magazine. This is where some of the best new chefs showcase their top dishes.

Chefs Club

The whole tasting menu was pretty safe, nothing was too out of the ordinary. The cocktail menu was pretty exceptional and my favorite drink had lavender and fresh egg whites in it. I’m usually skeptical of raw eggs but this, this was frothy, creamy, tangy, and smooth. Oh, and beautiful too, see below!

Lavender Drink

The best tasting item on the menu was the cured scallops. They were light, creamy, sweet, and slightly salty. The texture was maybe the best part, the salmon roe provided a burst of fresh sea flavor.  The lovely pop of color from the carrots added a faint sweetness. Uh and that presentation, exquisite!


Next up was the Keffir Lime Custard. Although I was so full from the previous dishes, I couldn’t stop eating it! It was so creamy, sour and sweet that it was hard to stop! It was almost like eating the best limeade you’ve ever had in custard form. I.could.not.stop. Before I knew it, the custard was devoured.

Key Lime

Last but not least, we had to visit the farmers market on our second to last day. Peaches are at it’s peak so I just had to taste the peach sorbet. Look how cute and yummy they look (below). The mountainous background and painted sky aren’t too bad either.


::New Orleans::


Planning different foodie adventures excites my everyday life. I then have experiences to look forward to. The original plan was to check out Jazz Fest. After the unsuccessful hunt to find nothing but pricey hotels, we decided on going the weekend before the madness.  There are still amazing bands playing so why not? The last time I visited Nola was in college during Mardi Gras. It was an intense and crazy introduction to a lively city. This time, however, was much more modest. My boyfriend and I ate our way through the city (no joke) attending reservation after reservation. Perhaps next time, I’ll visit longer than a weekend, space out my large meals, and make more time to listen to local bands.

The first stop was Luke, a fabulous restaurant by the famous Chef, John Besh. Here’s to my boyfriend and my first time eating raw oysters…

I give you, the charcuterie platter! On the top left corner going the the right, we have: Foie Gras, Blood Sausage, Compania Pork. In the middle: Rabbit and Chicken pate next to it, Rillete of Pork. The sauces consisted of stone ground mustard, housemade pickles, pickled watermelons, sweet pickle relish, and pepper marmalade. My all were amazing but I could do without the blood sausage. My favorite was the rabbit and chicken pate, it was sweet, velvety, and rich. We tried every which combination to get the best flavor, see below…


Late night eats. This is a must. We don’t have a Krystal Burger in Houston, Texas…


Something to wake up to, Cafe Du Monde beignets.


Next stop, Commanders Palace. Way too much good food.. Below is a picture of the perfectly made gumbo. It has a dark roux flavor and color. Next to it, I’m smelling the turtle soup. It was rich in sherry and had tons of flavor. My first experience was excellent!

gumbo/turtle soup

As if I wasn’t full after the soup and killer bloody mary (ahem, heavily hand poured vodka and mixed table side). Below is a picture of shrimp & grits with pork belly. Needless to say, the pants were unbuttoned at this point. The flavor combination was a party in my mouth, from the sherry to the rich and buttery grits, I couldn’t stop eating.

shrimp and grits

Why stop there when dessert is coming? Bread pudding souffle you say? Eek, I’m so full but must. eat. more.

bread pudding souffle

Time for a nap.


 I was still incredibly full after our filling yet delicious lunch and much deserved nap.  BUT we had to attend our next reservation at Cochon.

fried alligator

Here you go, the oh so delicious fried alligator. Simply cooked to perfection without a tough chew.  Sriracha aioli was the perfect addition to these nuggets. Below is the rabbit and dumplings. I would love to describe the flavor but I couldn’t eat anymore at this point.

Rabbit & Dumplings


It’s safe to say that we had a successful cajun fix.