I love restaurants and grocery stores…something about the thrill of the hunt and discover. Silly, I know. However, when you’re traveling or whatnot, please do check these places out. Many of them have healthy options on the menu, including vegan/vegetarian. And if you must indulge, please do so at a tasty place, not at a fast food wonder.
- Hop Doddy (on Congress): A burger bar with tasty drinks and creative dishes; try the Janis Joplin
- Round Rock Donuts: Donuts the size of your head; Man vs. Food filmed there
- Stubb’s (most go for the bar-b-q, I love the side dishes; you can buy Stubb’s sauces, marinades, liquid smoke and rubs nationwide in Kroger-owned grocery stores as well as others)
- Wahoo’s Fish Tacos
Whole Foods on 5th & Lamar (the flagship! Hug a pastry chef every time you visit.)
Wheatsville Co-op (great sense of community, good deals)
- Atlantic Fish Co. (Back Bay): My favorite clam chowder, hands down. Chunks of clams, piping hot fresh bread to dip in your bowl, and casual yet sophisticated environment.
Bombay Cafe: Tasty Indian cuisine.
Fire & Ice: A chain, but I love this place! Pick what you want, watch the dudes grill it up, get stuffed on (usually) healthy stuff! A special occasion place for poor college students.
J.P. Licks: Ice cream I’d even eat in snow (and have in a blizzard).
Little Stevie’s: Pizza and subs…open really late…enough said.
Places I’d go now, if I didn’t live there as a poor college student: Back Bay Social Club
Trader Joe’s on Boylston (a basement store)
Whole Foods on Mass. Ave. (a circular grocery, very convenient)
Malai Kitchen: wow, what a menu! lunch and brunch for $10 and beautiful, flavorful happiness. thai/vietnamese fusion
Rusty Tacos: $2 tacos, breakfast all day, simple and relaxing vibe, absolutely no frills
Society Bakery: Red velvet peppermint whoopie pie. Enough said.
Velvet Tacos: Tacos are beautiful, unusual, and a little more ($3.50-5 each). The eye on detail is amazing and -caution- the hot sauce on the tables will kick you into tomorrow. Try the Cornmeal Crusted Oyster, the Fried Paneer or Cuban Pig tacos.
Central Market (beautiful indulgence)
Dallas Farmer’s Market (open every day ’til 6, great deals on local produce and legumes, etc.)
Sunflower Market (very affordable organic; a cheaper Trader Joe’s(!), great produce deals)
Amazon Grill: fast, delicious, Latin
Americas (Galleria): Latin fusion, beautiful dishes, gorgeous and whimsical architecture; one of my favorites
The Breakfast Klub: A local family-owned, busy breakfast/lunch place with pancakes so good, I swear, there must be something illegal in them! (maybe just filtered water and high-quality ingredients) Go here for good anything, including a place that opens its doors to local politics/discussion/music/artisans/community issues. The environment is comfortable, diverse, and there are plenty of ‘wings and waffles’ to go around. MMM!
Cafe Brasil: I’m fairly certain the total hours I have spent at Brasil equal or surpass the total hours spent at home during my college years. It is warm, inviting, has live music sometimes while it is so quiet other times. It is very Montrose-y and the fruited almond tart and iced coffee with a shot of mint are my regulars. Conducive to banter and patio breezes.
Cafe Red Onion (multiple locations…I loved Kirby’s): Latin fusion, fresh ingredients, beautiful presentation; cooking classes offered; try the Mayan chicken Salad, Chicken Tikal, Cuban Pork
Hobbit Cafe: Yes, a cafe in honor of the hobbits of Lord of the Rings, complete with huge portions, locally grown food, and rustic charm. A must-see!
Kanomwan: Amazing Thai…I can’t even describe it, you just have to go there yourself! The ginger soup and spicy cashew chicken. They don’t do bland, so bring a big appetite and chapstick for your burning lips. 736 1/2 Telephone Rd, Houston, TX 77023; (713) 923-4230
Katz’s Deli: Never Kloses, and no 3-hour wait time for food like in the NYC location; try the latkes or the breakfast menu…it will blow your mind and your belt buckle.
Maggiano’s: Yes, it’s a national chain, but they have the best chicken piccata I’ve ever tasted and I’d be lying if I said I’d never stuffed myself with cappuccino and tiramisu/creme brulee/profiteroles on more than one occasion. Cibo e cosi gustosi che potrei baciare un pollo! (Food so tasty I could kiss a chicken!) Perfect for rehearsal dinners the night before you get hitched, too!
Niko Niko’s (Montrose): Greek, fast, tasty. The owner does a lot for the community, an added bonus. Hummus, kabobs, soup…all good. *A huge bonus of the Mini Niko Niko’s at HEB in Pearland…wow, I’ve never seen so many Greek desserts in my life. Amazing!!
Palazzo’s: darn good Italian; I’m pretty sure my mom and coworkers kept them in business with their frequent patronage. Nothing wrong with that.
Star Pizza: My high-school hangout, one of them. I love the simplicity of Margherita pizza, but they have lots of meaty ones for carnivores, too. Rustic and low-key, very Houston.
Kansas City, MO
The Flea Market : No worries, no insects around, but great pub food and a fun atmosphere.
Hereford House : Steaks.
The Peanut : The city’s oldest bar and grill. Good, hearty meals.
Free State Brewery
The Mad Greek
Emilie’s Dessert Cafe: Emilie’s is walking distance from our house. The desserts are beautiful, but the sandwiches, soups and coffee drinks are equally as delicious. And Emilie is around a lot, except when she has to go to school. Emilie is 9 or so.
Laurelwood Public House
Paadee Thai: Thai comfort food. Warm soups, gooey pork belly with noodles, and beautifully steamed veggies. Great cocktails. A rustic, beautifully simple restaurant with Thai wooden tables and benches and an intimate feel with lovely birdcages hanging from the ceiling.
Pine State Biscuits
They’ve got lots of awards for giant biscuits and creative sandwiches. Worth the long lines.
Stumptown Coffee: Tasty, freshly roasted happiness that started in Portland and is now also in Seattle, NY, and now LA! And the designs in the foam are so fancy! A little roastier than I usually prefer, but still good. Iced coffee is a gem.
Personally, their espresso tastes like Moka, but I know better. It’s a preference thing!
Voodoo Doughnuts: Have you seen the Voodoo wedding clip on Food Network? That pretty much says it all. This place is a tourist’s delight and a local’s happy sugar place. Bacon maple bars are big here, but I like the vegan donuts, too. There are a couple of locations if you don’t want to wait in line.
San Diego, CA
- Sandbar Grill (Mission Beach): 50 feet from the beach, fun happy hour, tasty Shrimp TKO tacos (with cotija-crusted flour tortillas, yum) and margaritas
- Lolita’s Mexican (multiple locations): beloved by neighborhood families, comfort food, biggest bfast burrito I’ve devoured
- Lucha Libre: a wrestling-themed taco shop–can you resist it? Call ahead to reserve the Golden Booth (complete with costumes!); Queso Taco and the Surf & Turf are awesome. The cilantro sauce is delish, and the horchata is refreshing.
Trophy Cupcakes: Chocolate Peanut Butter – simple, buttery, the bomb diggity.
Bangkok Royal-Thai-ish, finally in this small city. Yummy.
Cafe Cappuccino-Pancakes the size of your face! (or plate)
Casa Ole-A Pasadena, TX based chain of quick, cheap Tex-Mex. Reminds me of childhood.
Rudy’s Barbeque-A Texas chain, but still tasty. Creamed corn and ribs…mmm.
Vitek’s Barbeque-Warning: if you enter Vitek’s for even 30 seconds, you’ll exit smelling like a bar-b-q pit. This mom and pop shop has heavenly aromas and foods that you crave when you move away.