Once again, Kaitlin Steinberg is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes as we work our way toward our annual Menu of Menus® issue and culinary extravaganza. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most delicious, most creative and, of course, most indicative of our ever-changing food scene. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that are uniquely Houstonian.
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg Re-think calamari at Lillo & Ella.
Though it's only been open a few months, Lillo & Ella is already drawing a crowd to the space that was formerly El Gran Malo in the Heights. The colorful building is now a "Pan-Asian" bistro of sorts featuring the same thoughtful food that made a name for chef Kevin Naderi at his other restaurant, Roost.
Because I love Roost so much, I was reluctant to go to Lillo & Ella for fear that I wouldn't enjoy it as much as Roost. The two places are so different, though, that they're hard to compare. Roost is small, dim and intimate, serving creative riffs on classic comfort foods. Lillo & Ella is bright and airy and focused on the type of Asian food that Naderi likes to eat, having grown up with a wealth of Asian cuisine here in Houston.
The dish that, to me, most clearly straddles the divide between Roost and Lillo & Ella is the calamari--a traditional dish with a unique Asian flair.More »