Katharine Shilcutt's 10 Favorite Dishes in Houston

Categories: Top 10

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Photo by Troy Fields
8. Ten spice chicken wings at Bismillah Cafe

Bismillah Cafe is not your average chaat spot -- a casual cafe where one traditionally finds savory South Asian snacks like dahi puri and samosas. You'll find those here, but you'll also find a far broader and deeper menu than nearly any other offered in Houston's Mahatma Gandhi District.

It's a menu filled with chargrilled burgers, spicy chicken wings and homemade pizzas. Not your standard chaat dishes, by any stretch of the imagination, but ones that appeal to a wider range of customers as a result. For this reason, Bismillah is also that rare restaurant that caters to the two opposite ends of a spectrum: neophytes who need a familiar jumping-off point into South Asian cuisine and thrill seekers who are constantly in search of the next new thing.

For an extra shock to the system, I like to add a side of fries coated with Moghul's signature ten-spice blend to my bun kebab for an extra $2. Moghul -- who goes by "Inam" and breaks into a maddening Cheshire cat grin when you ask him about his special recipes -- won't reveal any of the ten spices that go into his "ten chicken" or "ten fries" or "ten chicken wings," but trying to coax out the individual flavors from the pleasant overall burn is half the fun of eating here.

The motto at Bismillah Cafe is simple: "If you can take the heat, we can dish it out." Onwner Inam Moghul will adjust the heat levels if you ask, but he won't reveal the 10 spices that go into his signature "ten spice" blend, which coats everything from his chicken sandwiches and tater tots to my favorite, the chicken wings. All you need to know is that the result is a blazingly, daringly hot blend that mashes up an American favorite with a Pakistani flare.


Location Info

Venue

Map

Hobbit Cafe

2243 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Roost

1972 Fairview St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bismillah Restaurant

5696 Hillcroft St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

LA Crawfish

1005 Blalock, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe

1511 Airline, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Spanish Village

4720 Almeda, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Thanh Phuong

3236 E. Broadway, Pearland, TX

Category: Restaurant

Oxheart

1302 Nance St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Gerardo's Drive-In Grocery

609 Patton St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Rainbow Lodge

2011 Ella Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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24 comments
texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

ahhhh, the #31 @ Spanish Village never lets me down....

adricas35
adricas35

Really good list! You'll be missed! Also, Sammy's WIld Game Grill Camel Burger and the Pheasant hot dog are to die for...so yummy. I've never thought that I would say "yummy" and "Camel" together lol

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

The one dish I emplore everyone to try, especially due to their departure in June, is the Scallops St. Jacques at Feast.  Truly one of the best dishes I've had in the past decade.  A very simple and decadent dish.  All it is comprised of is Scallops, mushrooms, Brandy and cream sauce.  

Don't miss getting to try this before it leaves!

BobbyFreshpants
BobbyFreshpants

No mention of La Macro? I thought you would have given them an honorable mention

HTownChowDown
HTownChowDown

Excellent list, Katharine. You're going to be missed here. Thank you for so many fantastic articles.

Loona_c
Loona_c

I choose the Gandalf at Hobbit Hole instead!  And I don't get the love for Spanish Village.  I know they are beloved by so many, but the margarita was melted and bitter, the chips were thick and chewy and the food overpriced and meh.

But others on the list sound interesting!

eudemonist
eudemonist

Thanks for all the good stuff in your time here, Katherine!  Found some great food because of this column.

Brazos
Brazos

Loved reading your articles. You'll be missed. 

I used to go the the Hobbit Hole back in the 80's as well. Thanks for  the trip back in time.

 Oh and thanks so much for the article on the lobster roll at Maine-ly Sandwiches.  It's a drive for me but worth every nickel. Their bread is perfect.

kagan34
kagan34

Some good stuff on here...gotta try it! You've done a remarkable and memorable job, and I will join in your farewell ceremony tomorrow when they cast your handprints in the cement adjacent to the Houston Press building.

conebaby
conebaby topcommenter

Great list--just totally rearranged my "top 10" (Urban Swank gals inspired me to get list-y with my must-trys) as a result. Good luck, Katharine!

ekhilton
ekhilton

Madame: you are so tremendously good at what you do. Thank you for all the education, enlightenment and insight.  I'll be following you still and wish you the best.

Houstess
Houstess

Nice list.  But I wish you had chosen a different format for your penultimate day.  It took forever to look at each page.

stgeorge4
stgeorge4

katharine...is the snapper at teotihuacan boneless?

mgaspard
mgaspard

This is a great list, congrats on the new gig!

VStilton2
VStilton2

@FattyFatBastard  

Sounds delicious! One of the best dishes I've had at Feast is something I rarely order at a restaurant: chicken. Theirs is truly amazing, roasted and served with a velvety sauce that's spiked with Pernod or Ricard, something anise scented anyway. Nearly as tasty as your Chinese Cottage Cheese I should think.

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

@Houstess No shit right?  Stop giving us actual content and information and just shovel a pointless useless list into our faces!  Reading is for idiots!

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