It's Time for You to Do Your Part With the Readers' Choice Awards

Categories: Best of Houston

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It's time

We're getting ready for our annual Best of Houston issue which will hit the stands in early October.

This year's theme: We're gamblers willing to take chances and roll the dice. As a result, Houston has prospered and even when the pot gets low, we double down and rebound. And so do the people who live here in every category from restaurants to government to health to sports. Houston is holding a winning hand and we're going to tell everyone so in this year's Best of Houston.

The other important part of BOH -- besides our writers' picks -- is our Readers' Choice awards. That's where you tell us what you think the best places/people are in 99 categories as well as the category we forgot.

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Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's Top 10 Margaritas

Categories: Best of Houston

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Photo courtesy Hugo's
The classic margarita at Hugo's is a summertime must.
Our 2013 Best of Houston® winners were announced a while back, but in many cases, picking the best item in any category was no easy task. In order to show off all the culinary greatness Houston has to offer, we're continuing to round up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories. Bon appétit!

We usually do a margarita round up every February to coincide with National Margarita day. But as much as we love margaritas, February isn't usually a time of year we want to sit outside on a deck and sip something frozen. Whoever decided that a holiday celebrating chilled tequila and lime should take place during the winter is dumb.

But enough about arbitrary food holidays. We drink margaritas year-round in Texas, though we're especially inclined to indulge during the blisteringly hot summer months, when few things can cool you off like a frozen marg and a bit of a buzz. So now that the season calls for 'em, we're rounding up the best margaritas in Houston. It's a tough job (they're all pretty damn good), but someone had to get drunk conduct a scientific taste test.

You're welcome, Houston.

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Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's Top 10 Breakfast Tacos (and One Burrito)

Categories: Best of Houston

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Photo by Robb Walsh
These hot tacos come from our No. 7 pick.
Our 2013 Best of Houston® winners were announced awhile back, but in many cases, picking the best item in any category was no easy task. In order to show off all the culinary greatness Houston has to offer, we're continuing to round up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories. Bon appétit!

Chicago has deep-dish pizza. Philadelphia has cheesesteak. Boston has baked beans. New York has coneys and slices and all sorts of other goodies. Kansas City has barbecue. So does Memphis. And Lockhart.

And Houston has...well...burgers? No. Brisket? Not exclusively? Fajitas? Yes, but they're so universal now...

Wait. BREAKFAST TACOS.

If there's one food that Houston does better than anywhere else (sorry, Austin), it's the breakfast taco. We are wild about dem eggs and meat in a tortilla first thing in the morning. In any neighborhood and -- thankfully -- just about any time of day, you can get yourself a fine breakfast taco, often with atomically hot homemade salsa to go with it.

Who needs deep-dish pizza or coneys? We have breakfast tacos, baby, and we're damn proud of it.

Here are the best of the best in town.

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Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's Ten Best Hot Dogs

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Photo by Troy Fields
The dogs at this spot are gooooooood.
Our 2013 Best of Houston® winners were announced a while back, but in many cases, picking the best item in any category was no easy task. In order to show off all the culinary greatness Houston has to offer, we're continuing to round up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories. Bon appétit!

'Merica, man.

It's Independence Day. We've got patriotic pride coursing through our veins and an ache in our bellies for some classic American food. Enter the hot dog.

I know, I know, technically the frankfurter is from Germany and the wiener is from Austria, but the hot dog as we know it today--sandwiched in a bun and topped with condiments--is a distinctly American invention, no matter which origin story you believe.

So in honor of the overwhelming sense of pride we're feeling for our fair country (and because on the Fourth, you eat hot dogs...it's just a thing you do), we're rounding up the best dogs in the city. Due to a surge in the popularity of what one might call "gourmet hot dogs," there are a lot of those on the list. But don't worry. We haven't forgotten the classic dog either.

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Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's 10 Best Chicken-Fried Steaks

Categories: Best of Houston

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Photo by Jessica Spengler via flickr
Chicken-fried steak is a classic Texas dish.
Growing up, chicken-fried steak was my favorite meal. I always requested it on my birthday and when my family dined at Luther's BBQ (may it rest in peace), there was no doubt in my mind I would order the CFS with crispy onion strings, corn and Texas toast.

Ask any Texan what they think about chicken-fried steak, and they'll most likely respond with enthusiasm and joy while describing the battered and fried thin steak, served with a creamy gravy, an array of vegetables and mashed potatoes. There's nothing healthy about this meal, and that's why it is so good.

If you're going to spend your calories on a CFS, it might as well be an awesome one. Here are the ten best chicken-fried steaks in Houston. Happy eating, y'all.

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Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's Top 10 Italian Restaurants

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Photo by Troy Fields
A decadent dish from the number four spot on our list.
Our 2013 Best of Houston® winners were announced a while back, but in many cases, picking the best item in any category was no easy task. In order to show off all the culinary greatness Houston has to offer, we're continuing to round up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories. Bon appétit!

"The trouble with Italian food is that five or six days later, you're hungry again."

-Comedian George Miller

Ah, Italian food: One of the most recognizable cuisines in America, encompassing pasta and pizza, arguably two of best culinary inventions ever. Italian food is easy to get horribly wrong, though. Fortunately, for a city so proud of our Tex-Mex and seafood and so wild about barbecue and burgers, Houston has some truly great Italian restaurants.

This is thanks in large part to the port of Galveston, which saw wave after wave of Italian immigrants arrive on its shores and settle in the cities surrounding the east Texas coast. Not knowing what else to do and longing for the food of their homeland, they began to open restaurants. We wrote about some of these pioneering restaurateurs in our First Families of Houston Food feature back in February, detailing their histories and how far they've come.

Their awesome culinary legacy is alive and well in Houston at these top ten Italian eateries.


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Rest of the Best: 10 Best Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Houston

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Photo courtesy Radical Eats
Who knew vegan food could taste so good? Check this dish out at our No. 2 pick!
Our 2013 Best of Houston® winners have been announced, but in many cases, picking the best item in any category was no easy task. In order to show off all the culinary greatness Houston has to offer, we're rounding up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories during the next several months. Bon appétit!

When many people hear the word "vegan," their minds immediately rush to all the things that are not a part of a vegan diet, all the things a vegan can't eat. It's all about the negative--the lack of meat, the dearth of dairy, the absence of eggs.

If you're one of those people (just admit it) who turns his or her nose up at veganism as a fad or an unpleasantly restrictive diet, I encourage you to look at it from another perspective: Think of all the things a vegan can eat.

In a recent post about his own dabbles in veganism for Lent, Nicholas Hall wrote:

"When I dabble in faceless food, I always prefer to approach it from a different angle. While there are certainly challenges in moving from an omnivorous diet to a vegan one, I see those challenges as something to embrace. I see it as an opportunity to try new ingredients, ideas, and techniques."

So, thankfully, do all these restaurants. They may not all be completely vegan, but they all embrace the lifestyle and keep "faceless food" as interesting and delicious as possible.

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10 Best Reasons to Visit Down House

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Photo by Troy Fields
Welcome to Down House, the best Heights neighborhood spot.
Down House was named our 2013 Best Neighborhood Spot in the Heights for Best of Houston. There's no denying that this establishment from Joey Treadway and Chris Cusack has become popular among many Houstonians, especially Heights residents, despite its rocky start.

In 2011, Katharine Shilcutt reviewed Down House, and wasn't quite sure what the restaurant was going for when it opened; it offered coffee, cocktails and meals throughout the day, and seemed to have too much going on at the same time, causing it to have sloppy and inconsistent service.

But now, Down House has come into its own. It still offers an incredible cocktail and coffee program, and dishes up tasty food. If you have yet to visit Down House, please reconsider. And check out these ten reasons to stop by for a cup of coffee, a cocktail during happy hour or for a casual weeknight dinner.

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Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's Top 10 Patios

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Photo courtesy Brenner's on the Bayou
Bayou view? Check. Comfy seating? Check. Great drinks? Check.

With unusually cool and sunny April weather, who can resist lunching on a patio and soaking up some sun? This time of year, it's usually getting too hot to bear, but we've been incredibly lucky to have had sunshine and cooler temperatures the past few weeks.

For me, better weather means lunch under the shade of an umbrella, dinner under the stars and possibly some bocce and stiff drinks at one of these spots, which feature the ten best patios in the city.

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Will You Be My Valentine, Houston? 10 Reasons to Fall in Love With the City's Food Scene

Categories: Best of Houston

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Original photo by Alex
I love you, Houston.
Yes, yes, we've all bitched at some time in our lives that Valentine's Day is an arbitrary holiday created by greeting card companies to make money while simultaneously forcing single people to re-examine their sorry existences, and because of this, we've all become huge grouches. Until, that is, we actually do have someone to share the holiday with. Then it's totally a worthwhile endeavor.

The thing is, I don't think you need an actual person to get you giddy about love on Valentine's Day. This year, I'm declaring my love for something else. I'm declaring my love for Houston.

I moved here about seven months ago, and in that time I've totally fallen in love with this city. I honestly didn't expect to enjoy Houston as much as I have, but the food, more than anything, has won me over. This year, I'm thrilled to have Houston as my Valentine.

Here's why.


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