Katharine Shilcutt's 10 Favorite Dishes in Houston

Categories: Top 10

rainbow-lodge-10.7993594.131.jpg
Photo by Mai Pham
1. Wild game burger at Rainbow Lodge

Like Hobbit Cafe, I have nothing but fond memories of Rainbow Lodge, both at its former home on Buffalo Bayou and its "new" location on Ella. My parents were married there; that's how much my family -- and I -- love this Houston treasure set on the lush banks of White Oak Bayou.

Rainbow Lodge is best known for its beautiful view onto the verdant, rolling banks of the bayou, its bountiful gardens and its menu of wild game and Gulf Coast favorites, dishes such as buffalo tartare with quail eggs or Southern-fried quail with cheese grits and a bourbon-bacon gravy. The timber-framed lodge is refined and business-friendly by day, while the fireplace and ski resort feel impart a deliciously romantic allure by night. This is my special occasion spot sine qua non.

It also happens to be where you'll find the best burger in Houston. And just as no list of Houston dishes is complete without Tex-Mex or barbecue, it's certainly not complete without a burger.

A lot of love goes into these studiously constructed burgers, which are only served on Fridays at lunch. Instead of being wasted, tasty scraps from all the wild game the lodge goes through for a few days' prior are saved and thrown into the meat grinder. The result is a patty that can be a blend of antelope, boar, buffalo, venison and anything else the restaurant uses that would taste good on the griddle. Onto each hand-formed patty go even more house-made ingredients: roasted garlic mayonnaise, whole-grain mustard and thick-cut pickles (all made on site) along with a blend of three Cheddar cheeses. Each burger is served on Slow Dough buns made specially for Rainbow Lodge.

The burger recently won the 3rd annual Houston Press Burger Bracket in a contest that could be politely described as a bloodbath. Those who'd had Rainbow Lodge pegged as just a fancy-schmancy date place were blown away by the arm-soakingly juicy burger and its lovingly made ingredients. What started as a way to use perfectly good wild game has grown from a few burgers at lunch every week to a stampede to get the 60 patties the restaurant turns out on Fridays.

As with Gerardo's, however, this limited availability ensures the highest quality and makes you appreciate the burger all the more. Familiarity breeds contempt. Trust me on this one, and on this: Get to Rainbow Lodge early on Friday afternoon before all those lovely burgers are gone.



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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 topcommenter

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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