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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Top 10 Most Romantic Restaurants in Houston

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Photo courtesy Rainbow Lodge
Of course this place is on the list, but this year, it's not number one...
It's that time of year again, Houston! Love is in the air!

No wait, that's just the smell of the refineries surrounding our fair city. No matter. This year, Valentine's Day falls on a Friday, which means couples will be out in force all weekend jockeying each other for prime seats at one of the many local restaurants featuring three-day Valentine's Day specials.

For those of us who would rather not be surrounded by teens on first Valentine's Day outings at restaurants their parents are paying for or sit near that one couple from the gym whose PDA is out of control, the holiday is a day to stay in and nurse a bottle of wine with our cat someone we love. But once the crowds go home and the lovey-dovey feelings and gestures subside (until the next February 14), that's when I want to go out. All of the romance, none of the kissy crowds.

So grab your special someone (though please note that cats aren't allowed at any dining establishments) and check out some of Houston's most romantic restaurants, sure to recreate that lovin' feeling any day of the year.

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

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Photo by Molly Dunn
This salad features corned beef, fingerling potatoes and Maytag blue cheese.
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!

Among my friends and family, I am known as the salad queen. Almost every time I cook at home or go out to eat, I either make a salad or order one. To me, salads feature the freshest ingredients, and since I change my mind about what to eat as often as Katy Perry changes her hair color, a salad gives me a variety of foods to enjoy in one big bowl or plate.

While some see salads as merely bunches of lettuce with croutons and Ranch dressing, and maybe some cheese and shredded carrots, they are mistaken; salads are so much more than that. Kale, arugula, Bibb and Romaine, spinach, spring mix and everything else in between make one heck of a salad base. Toss in a variety of toppings to make whichever flavor you desire -- Mexican, Asian, Greek -- or use what's in season to make a fresh summer salad or comforting winter dish.

Just about every restaurant in Houston offers a salad, but we have scoured the city for the best ones and offer ten you shouldn't miss.

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Rest of the Best 2014: Top Ten Milkshakes in Houston

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Photo by Carla Soriano
Katz's cheesecake shake is on our list of the best in town.
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!

I won't even tell you how many milkshake jokes I heard while taste-testing shakes around town the past few weeks.

Thankfully, most of the shakes were good enough to make me overlook the lewd (though apropos) commentary from servers and other diners. Even during our (mild) Houston winters, there's something undeniably comforting about a good chocolate milkshake that makes you forget all your troubles for a while. Milkshakes remind you of your childhood, when time moved more slowly and the world was much more innocent. This list will tell you where to go to recapture some of that magic.

Of course, now that we're adults and we're stressed and the world is a crazy/terrifying place and you can't even get a damn milkshake without listening to a sexual joke, regular milkshakes often just don't cut it. And that's why there are boozy milkshakes. Those are represented in abundance on this list, as well.

You're welcome.

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Rest of the Best 2013: Top Ten Drive-Throughs in Houston

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Photo by Wesley Fryer
HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE?
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!

Here in Houston, it's usually really damn hot. Except for recently, when it's been too cold to move, and all we want to do is sit in our cars with our heaters on and let someone hand us food through a little window. OK, we want people to do that when it's hot, too. And when the weather is nice.

Look, we don't need a reason to sit in our cars like lazy bums. Drive-throughs are one of the best inventions ever. They save you the trouble of having to walk, except from your door to your car and back. They allow you to avoid human interaction by dealing mostly with a metal box from which a disembodied voice emanates. They make it okay to order a dozen tortillas and an extra large queso at 2 a.m. away from the prying eyes of the public.

And in our fair city, you can get just about any kind of food you want from a drive-through. That's a reason to hop in the car and celebrate.

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Rest of the Best 2013: Houston's Top Ten Pasta Dishes

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Photo by Troy Fields
Pasta, pasta and more pasta! This beautiful ravioli comes from 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'll be rounding up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories during the next several months. Bon appétit!

For me, as I suspect it is for many, pasta is the ultimate comfort food. My family isn't Italian, but I grew up eating a lot of pasta. On birthdays, it was fettuccine alfredo. For special events, it was linguine with shrimp scampi. On any given week night, it might be a mixture of roasted veggies and chicken with something imperfect from our pasta extruder, but it was always delicious and filling.

The first dish I ever learned to make was pasta alla puttanesca, and it's still what I make the best, and what I get requests for when I'm home. Trips to Italy opened my eyes to a whole new world of utterly simple but incredibly flavorful pasta dishes and unique ways to incorporate various vegetables and proteins into my pappardelle or conchigliette.

Of course, pasta isn't only Italian anymore. Pasta (not to be confused with Asian noodles) has found its way into Jewish, French, Cajun, American and numerous other cuisines. I'll argue that Italian is still the best, but there's no denying that pasta is perfect in just about any form. Here are some of the most perfect plates of pasta in Houston.

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The Top Ten Eating...Our Words Posts of 2013

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Photo by Joshua Justice
Bacon was prepared in every way possible at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
It's the end of another year, and here at Eating...Our Words we're looking back at all the great stories we shared in 2012, remembering some that weren't so popular and figuring out new ways to keep you coming back for more.

We've already looked at the best new restaurants of 2013, biggest scandals of 2013 and the most unfortunate food trends of 2013. Continuing our look back at the past 12 months of food writing, we bring you our ten most popular stories of 2013. This round-up doesn't include lists (that'll come later), just news, scandals, humorous opinions, rants, raves and everything in between.

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Rest of the Best 2013: Houston's Top Ten Breakfast Spots

Categories: Best of Houston

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Photo from VoicePlaces
The most important meal of the day at our No. 2 spot.
Our 2013 Best of Houston® winners have been announced, but in most 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'll be rounding up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories during the next several months. Bon appétit!

"I like to use 'I Can't Believe it's Not Butter' on my toast in the morning, because sometimes when I eat breakfast, I like to be incredulous. How was breakfast? Unbelievable."

- Demetri Martin, comedian

Demetri Martin is a funny guy, but he's wrong. You really, really don't need to use I Can't Believe it's Not Butter to have an unbelievable breakfast. Instead, why not try incredible homemade salsa? Preposterously good Hollandaise sauce? Divine saffron yogurt?

Seriously, skip the faux butter (unless you're at a greasy spoon, then, by all means) and hit up one of these spots for the best breakfast in town. Not brunch, mind you. Put down the mimosas and Bloody Marys for a second and focus on the early morning, when all you really want are some perfectly fried eggs or fluffy pancakes. We'll get to brunch later.

But for now, rise and shine! And eat.


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Rest of the Best 2013: Houston's Top Five Mexican Bakeries

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Photo by Molly Dunn
The pastries at our No. 3 spot are always excellent -- even the French varieties.
Our 2013 Best of Houston® winners have been announced, and in most 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'll be rounding up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories during the next several months. Bon appétit!

The second you walk into any Mexican bakery you are overwhelmed by the wide selection of breads, pastries and desserts. Every day, Mexican bakeries in Houston churn out an incredible number of bolillos, conchas, empanadas and cuernos, to name but a few. And that's not all. The bakers are also creating cakes, puddings, pies and other traditional Mexican desserts.

Whether you enjoy a fresh baked bolillo, or love diving into a slice of tres leches cake, Houston is home to some great Mexican bakeries that will satisfy your culinary needs.

So, without further ado, here are the top five Mexican bakeries in Houston. ¡Buen provecho!

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