Where the Chefs Eat: Chris Shepherd, Ryan Pera, Antoine Ware

Categories: Chef Chat

banh mi at Cafe Th.jpg
Photo by Danh Phan
Banh mi at Cafe TH, one of Chris Shepherd's favorite places for cheap eats.
Since 2010, the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau (GHCVB) has been conducting "Where the Chefs Eat" Houston Culinary Tours, in which chefs take a group of people to visit secret gems centered around a theme. Past tours have included world barbecue, Korean/Japanese food, Mediterranean food and more.

One of the most active chefs on the tour has been Chris Shepherd of Underbelly. This week, though Shepherd is not physically leading a group of 20 people to share his favorite eats, he and chefs Ryan Pera of Revival Market and Antoine Ware of Hay Merchant will be taking us on a virtual tour of some of their favorite eats.

chris sheperdhs.jpg
Photo by Alex Gregg
Chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly.
Chris Shepherd
Executive Chef/Owner of Underbelly

Standard go-to: Asia Market on Cavalcade in The Heights. The standard for us is the kee mow noodles, the green papaya salad, their chicken wings are delicious even though there's nothing on them, the fried pork is good, and if you're feeling really adventurous, ask them to do the black eggs because that's not on the menu -- you have to ask.

Cheap eats: Café TH outside of East downtown for their banh mi and other Vietnamese dishes. For us, we order a lot, so we call ahead. But just go in and talk to Minh (the owner), and it's just really tasty. Or just find the Rice Box food truck wherever they are, because it's always really good.

Other faves: For me, it would be anywhere in Chinatown, really. But one of my favorite spots is Lucky Pot for their Peking duck and duck wings.

Ryan pera hs.jpg
Photo by Mai Pham
Chef Ryan Pera of Revival Market.

Ryan Pera
Co-owner Revival Market

Standard go-to: Hugo's, where I always sit at the bar. Carlos is my favorite bartender in Houston, and he makes the best margaritas in town. Hugo's Vuelva La Vida seafood dish is one of my all-time favorite dishes.

Cheap eats: Fu Fu for soup dumplings, Saigon Pagolac for family-style Vietnamese -- their hot pot is great.

Other faves: For meatless Monday, I'll go to Pondicheri for dinner. I visit Cafe Rabelais for whatever classic dish I'm in the mood for -- it always reminds me of the great times I had when I was cooking in France. I also like doing lunch solo at Underbelly on my day off -- I have a large-format beer, kick back with Shepherd and let him serve me whatever he wants to cook.

antoine warehs-sm.jpg
Photo by Alex Gregg
Chef Antoine Ware of Hay Merchant.
Antoine Ware
Executive Chef at Hay Merchant

Standard go-to: Thai Lanna on 18th and 610. I get the fresh spring rolls, papaya salad and cashew ginger shrimp. 

Cheap eats: Spaghetti Western Italian Cafe. I order buffalo wings, but get the sauce on the side, it's better that way. The Italian Nachos are the sh*t! Oh, and the fried ravioli is pretty good, too. 

Chinese: The Flying Dragon on 18th Street. They have great Chinese food -- get the beef and broccoli.

If you missed our previous posts, click below to see more of Where the Chefs Eat:

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Location Info


1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cafe TH

2108 Pease St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Rice Box Truck

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Lucky Pot

9888 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


1600 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Fu Fu Cafe

9889 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Saigon Pagolac

9600 Bellaire, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


2800 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cafe Rabelais

2442 Times Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Hay Merchant

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Thai Lanna

1714 W. Loop N., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Spaghetti Western Italian Cafe

1608 Shepherd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Flying Dragon Chinese Restaurant

1710 W. 18th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Thanks, Ruthie! I'm having a great time with it. So many interesting responses, and you get a good feel for the chef's personal tastes/personality, right? Plus, my list of restaurants I need to try is just piling up...


O how do you do it, Mai Pham? Runnin on Gin and juice, laid back...got my mind on my money and my money on my mind...

Ruthie J M
Ruthie J M

Hey Mai -- I really like this weekly post. Always a fun and interesting read -- Thanks!

Collene  Tsai
Collene Tsai

Hugo's Vuelva La Vida seafood dish is one of my all-time favorite dishes.


Shepherd sends out his tabs at Underbelly wrapped in a list of recommendations for other great Houston places he likes (food and non-food).  It includes London Sizzler which is my fav Indian food so I am on board with his other recommendations!

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