The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Expense-Account Restaurants
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.
Wheelchair Jimmy says, "You fancy, huh?" If so, then you'll probably want to check out this list of fancy places.
The days of oil company executives spending a grand on lunch are over. Thanks to big auto execs taking private jets to big-bank bailout meetings and the whole Enron fiasco, downtown offices are spending more time in the tunnels than at places like The Coronado. To step inside this place is like stepping onto the set of Mad Men. Started in '56, The Coronado Club is still serving bacon-wrapped filet mignons and Cobb salads. If the dress code doesn't keep you out, then not being a member will. But if you're an invited guest for, say, a Christmas party, then bask in the extravagant dining room and its elegant fireplaces. You'll be reminded that there was a day when the boss could take you out to lunch, drink three martinis and drop a bill just for a tip with -- that's right -- an expense account.
Although Up owner Haidar Barbouti claims to "fight back against trendy food," there are still plenty of "trendy" dishes to be found at this Highland Village aerie. Perched two stories above Westheimer, Up provides some of the most stunning 360-degree views in town as well as trendier dishes such as a snapper carpaccio in yuzu with a fennel and dill salad or a short rib pizza made with 00 flour and topped with arugula, fontina and Roquefort. The biggest bucks come into play with its USDA Prime steaks, however, which hover near the priciest end of the menu.
8. Brasserie 19
Photo by Troy Fields
A playground for Houston's rich and famous, Brasserie 19 nevertheless has the food to match the crowds and the hype, turning out classic French and Belgian staples like steak frites and cassoulet and serving an impressive list of beers and wines to match. The sleek bar is the place to be if you're young and single, while the restaurant's main floor is a gathering point for socialites and food-lovers alike. The egalitarian patio is the most pleasant spot to dine, however, with far less noise and a pretty view of the brightly lit River Oaks Theatre marquee across West Gray.