New Restaurant Guides Show Off Houston's Greatest Grub

Categories: News

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New for 2011 and handy as ever.
Fearless Critic and My Table's Ultimate Food Lover's Guide to Houston are both roaring back onto the scene this year, updated and ready to guide Houstonians in their quest for the city's best.

The last edition of The Ultimate Food Lover's Guide to Houston was released back in 2008 by My Table, Houston's bimonthly food magazine. And with over 300 full-color pages of the not-to-be-missed restaurants, wine bars, ethnic grocery stores, bakeries, butchers and even pick-your-own orchards, it quickly became indispensable.

Sidebars from chefs like Bryan Caswell and Chris Shepherd on the best spots to purchase food made it interesting as well as useful, and the "personal favorites" lists from local big shots like Brian Ching and Anne Clutterbuck gave it a deeply personal edge. Hell, it even had a pull-out map featuring one of the most basic necessities for new Houstonians: a guide to the various alternate names for our freeways. Try finding any of that on a site like Yelp.

However, as anyone knows in Houston, restaurants open and close with the weather, and the book -- while still useful -- began to get a little stale.

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My own dog-eared copy is ready for an update.
But last week on its Facebook page, the magazine announced that it would be printing an entirely new second edition of The Ultimate Food Lover's Guide for 2011, due out this fall. Like the old book, the new one will also feature the ultimate of everything edible in town, from farmers markets to fishmongers. And it looks like My Table is starting a pre-sale list, which I recommend getting on as the last batch of books sold almost completely out.

And while there's a lot to be said for the printed word, Houston diners have become increasingly reliant on technology for restaurant recommendations, using everything from our own Best of Houston app to those from Urbanspoon and Yelp. And now the Fearless Critic guide has an app, too.

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Green means go, red means...
But what the Fearless Critic books and application have going for them that Urbanspoon and Yelp don't is a complete lack of bullshit.

Whereas you're never quite sure of the motives or even basic education behind so many Yelp reviews, the Fearless Critic reviews in Houston -- as in Austin, Seattle or Portland -- is composed by a carefully selected panel of hard-nosed, old-school food lovers and writers whose palates and backgrounds are nearly unassailable. I would personally vouch for every single one of them, in fact, and the yearly Fearless Critic guides are every bit as indispensable as The Ultimate Food Lover's Guide.

The app, which is free for the iPhone, is based on the guide's carefully cultivated reviews and has an incredibly user-friendly interface that's based on visual presentation of data: a map that shows you, with color-coded pins, where the best restaurants are within your vicinity. Filter the results to show only restaurant in a certain price range or that serves a certain type of food. You can even filter the results by categories like "brunch menu" or "good beer."

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Brand new and in stores now.
Fair warning: Although the app is free up front, you'll have to pay a $4.99 yearly fee after the week-long trial period ends, but $5 is completely worth it to have all of the Fearless Critic reviews in hand, at a glance, and plugged into a map.

The new app goes hand-in-glove with the new book itself, which you can purchase for just under $11 at Amazon (or, preferably, at a local bookstore). Whether you prefer print or a touch-screen map, it's a good (and increasingly easier) time to be an adventurous diner in Houston.



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17 comments
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Sunshine
Sunshine

Ap is not free if it costs 4.99 after a week.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Agreed. That's why I said, "Although the app is free up front, you'll have to pay a $4.99 yearly fee after the week-long trial period ends."

Culinary_Curmudgeon
Culinary_Curmudgeon

Nice piece.

I downloaded the Houston Fearless Critic app. If they're so independent, why is the only British food which comes up is eight (yes, 8!) Baker St/Sherlock's, all with the same rating/review and one independent, Feast.  I'm not going to bore you with the omissions.I know it could be argued that British cuisine is more endurance than flavor, but it's not a good start to earn my $4 subscription. Clunky, too.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Truth about to be preached: I wouldn't tout My Table - which is technically a rival publication of ours - if I didn't think it was a great magazine with useful, well-written articles. Like Taylor, I'm a little confused as to why the mag is always pigeonholed as being for the "older" crowd; a flip through any of their issues shows that their articles run the gamut of interest and age range. It does, however, cater to a different crowd than we do. Obviously. We're an alternative weekly. But that doesn't mean that both publications don't offer something interesting and useful to readers.

Look at it this way: Houston is a large enough city with a diverse enough dining scene to support a ton of food writing and coverage. Us, the Chronicle, Culture Map, My Table, Houston Entree, The Loop Scoop, Eater, etc...just to name a few. We should be happy about this. I know I am.

GlendaRadner
GlendaRadner

I am too! I love US magazine and I'm happy they've begun to cover food in Houston!

Flembot1
Flembot1

My Table is for the old and infirm. You are neither, I'm guessing.

Fearless Critic makes a big deal out of doing what a critic normally does: offer fair and honest criticism. What's 'fearless' about that?

Taylor
Taylor

Flembot1, why don't you email me your address and I'll send you a comp issue of our publication? We're neither infirm nor for the "old" -- whatever that means. I'm certain that you haven't read My Table in quite some time, you'd probably be pleasantly surprised. 

taylor(AT)my-table(DOT)com

Flembot1
Flembot1

Perfect example, right here: most publications could email a link to a flip-book or website, and I wouldn't have to give out my address for a snail mail issue of the mag. Decrepit, sadly decrepit.

Steph
Steph

just looking at ALL your other comments "dan" you seem like an angry prick. toodles!

dan
dan

OUCH this is published?  Waste of paper.

FergusMcMathers
FergusMcMathers

What's wrong with you flembot1? So it's an older, suburban crowd...get over it. Not everyone eats out every night and parties like it's 1999!

Taylor
Taylor

We've got a Zinnio version of our magazine on our homepage... which is hyperlinked to my name? 

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I'm kind of infirm. If "infirm" means "out of shape."

With regard to Fearless Critic, many printed restaurant guides in other cities aren't written by people offering fair or honest criticism; they're happy-go-lucky tourist guides with very little real criticism. They're more about promoting certain places than discovering real gems or reserving praise for those that truly deserve it. Fearless Critic specializes in those last two. But that's just my opinion.  :)

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