Top 10 Restaurants on Washington Avenue
After last week's Top 10 Restaurants in Rice Village kerfuffle, we've made extra-double sure that this week's list is wholly and completely intact. Now, that doesn't mean your favorite restaurant necessarily made the cut -- that's a whole other conversation for the comments section.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt Honorable mention: Wabash Feed, where you can buy fresh yard eggs as well as vegetables, fruit trees and herbs to grow yourself at home.
What did make the cut this week, however, were some of the city's best restaurants in an area that's increasingly going two ways. Washington Avenue was briefly the center of all things nightlife-y and clubby for a few short years, before -- as always happens in Houston -- the scene began to mutate and evolve into other areas of the city. Some nightlifers have moved back to Midtown, while others have set their sights on the East End as the next great party scene.
What's left on Washington Avenue are two things: (1) the husks of once-popular clubs gone south and (2) bars/restaurants that have either seriously stepped up their food game or are still serving the same great food that made them popular in the first place. At this point in time, Washington Avenue could go the way of the Richmond Strip and become a ghost town. But I think it's far more likely that as the cruising crowds move away, the historic street will become even more of a food corridor and destination than it already is.
In order for that to happen, however, we have to support the restaurants that are currently there -- great places like Soma Sushi, El Tiempo, J. Black's Feel Good Lounge, The Counter, Candelari's, Molina's Cantina, The Blue Fish and Patrenella's. Or you can start with one of our top 10 picks below.
Disclaimer: For purposes of this post, "Washington Avenue" has been defined as the strip of Washington running from Westcott to Studemont, with a few blocks north or south on either side. Anything further west of Westcott and you're running into Rice Military; anything further east of Studemont and you're running into the Old Sixth Ward (which has its own, unique scene with places such as Catalina, Star Pizza, Beaver's, Liberty Station and the upcoming Julep and Cottonwood).
10. Sammy's Wild Game Grill
Photo by Troy Fields
Although the Moon Tower Inn guys have been stymied in their attempts to get up and running again over the past year, you can get your wild game hot dog fix at Sammy's -- and more. Depending on the season, the chili-cheese fries could feature anything from rattlesnake to elk in the chili on top, while wild game sliders see antelope, venison, buffalo, elk and kangaroo in between their buns. And if you're a spice-hound, you'll want to buy some of Sammy's wonderful ghost pepper sauce to take home with you.
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
I still think that TQLA's name was a mistake -- it leads people to believe that TQLA is only a bar, or only serves tequila -- but the food and the drinks are certainly not. Chef Tommy Birdwell is still turning out the same high-quality food that made me fall in love with TQLA when it opened in 2010, dishes such as crawfish corncakes with lime butter, pumpkin seed-crusted salmon with fried green tomatoes or blue corn-fried oysters with chorizo cream. Southwestern food has never tasted better nor more updated, even in simple adaptations like TQLA's green chile-laced burger with jalapeño cheese and avocado.
8. Sushi Tora
Ken Tanagi rules the roost at his sushi restaurant, backed up by his mother -- Mami -- of the infamous, now-closed Coco's Yakitori. The pair run a tight ship, making excellent rolls and serviceable sushi to a packed house nearly every night. But be warned: It's very loud inside, not only because of the music Tanagi plays but also because of the amount of screaming at his co-workers he does on a nightly basis. It's all in good fun, though, and you'll always get dinner and a show at Sushi Tora.