Houston's 10 Best BYOB Restaurants (Plus What to Drink)

Photo by Troy Fields
This charming spot has BYOB right in the name.
It's like a personal challenge: Pick the best wine or beer to go with the food at a local restaurant. Rely only on my own limited pairing know-how. Pay as little as possible for said booze. Enjoy meal immensely knowing you've saved money and made a match.

As much as I appreciate a great wine list or beer selection at a restaurant, there are times when I love a BYOB spot even more. It's exciting to me to peruse the menu then pick out a bottle of wine or a six pack that I think would best complement the style of food or a particular dish. I'm also guaranteed to have something I enjoy when I bring my own booze.

Lately, I find myself drawn more and more to BYOB restaurants in town, partially because I generally save money when I buy a bottle that isn't marked up to restaurant prices, and partially because the excitement of choosing a drink is surpassed only by the sense of accomplishment and discovery when I've made a good match.

This weekend, do some research and pick up a bottle to bring to one of these great BYOB restaurants. Then let us know what fine food and alcohol pairings we've been missing out on!

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Where to Get Food and Booze-a Near Comicpalooza

Chuck Cook Photography
All the ladies love a Stormtrooper, expecially if he's buying. (Shot at The Pastry War.)

One of the best ways to guarantee you enjoy any convention is to remember to take breaks away from it. After hours of being on your feet among thousands of fellow fans, it's important to get away for an hour or two, sit down for a while and get some nourishment. Besides that, do you really want to spend your money on overpriced "con food" inside the convention hall when there are plenty of good places to eat and drink within half a mile? (Okay, maybe you do if you're waiting to meet Stan Lee...but after that...)

The following places have confirmed that they welcome your business during Comicpalooza, even if you are in costume. In fact, some of these places really want you to show up if you're in costume. In costume or not, remember your dining-out manners. Just because you're dressed like The Joker doesn't give you a license to try and act like him.

As far as cosplayers walking to restaurants and bars, Houston hasn't reached the level of San Diego, where cosplayers essentially take over the area of downtown near the convention center. However, we'll never get that kind of environment without a few of us brave ones starting the trend. Walking with a few companions will likely give you the most comfortable experience.

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Eat and Drink Your Tax Day Woes Away With These Offers

Photo courtesy Boston Market
Winner, winner chicken dinner on Tax Day!
In the United States, April 15 ranks up there as one of the worst days of the year. Tax Day. The day by which everyone must file their individual income tax returns to the federal government. Bye bye, money.

In an effort to lessen the blow, many businesses offer freebies or discounts on and around April 15. They're all chain restaurants, of course, but every little bit helps, right?

Now who wants a cookie?

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Special Discount on General Admission Tickets to Menu of Menus® Extravaganza

The Houston Press Menu of Menus Extravaganza is going to be here before you know it. Seriously, it's less than a week away! In case you forgot, Menu of Menus is on Tuesday, April 8, from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. at Silver Street Station. If you haven't purchased your tickets to this incredible food and wine event yet, then you need to right now.

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Voice Daily Deal: Final Day for Special-Price Tickets to Menu of Menus® Extravaganza

Today is the last day to purchase reduced-price tickets for the 12th annual Menu of Menus® Extravaganza. This special deal will end at midnight tonight, so act fast.

The Houston Press Menu of Menus® Extravaganza takes place at Silver Street Station on Tuesday, April 8, from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., and this year, for the first time, the entire venue will be air conditioned. Pretty sweet, right?

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Zelko Bistro's Anniversary Gift to You: Half-off Your Favorite Comfort Foods

Zelko Bistro is celebrating its fourth anniversary with an exclusive offer for diners -- enjoy half off ($25 for $50) chef Jamie Zelko's award-winning menu with this Houston Press Voice Daily Deal.

Dive into Zelko Bistro's menu of delicious comfort foods, and enjoy the cozy ambience of its dining room, for half of the (already affordable) regular price and help the restaurant celebrate four years in the Heights. Here's the deal about the deal:

Vouchers cannot be redeemed until the day after the deal closes; limit one per person; redeem one per couple, per table. Dine-in only, vouchers not valid on Mother's Day, Father's Day or Easter; vouchers expire August 18, 2014.

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Cheap & Good Eats: Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Chinatown

Photo by Groovehouse
The crispy whole catfish at our No. 4 spot is topped with fried pork skin. Need we say more?
We've been rounding up our favorite budget lunch spots in different neighborhoods around town (See the complete list at the end of the post).

This week, we're moving to the dining mecca that is Chinatown. With its huge number of incredible and authentic restaurants -- from family favorites like Fung's Kitchen to younger, hipper joints like Mala Sichuan Bistro (where you'll want to spend more than $10) -- it was hard to narrow the list down. But, of course, we did.

With a focus on fantastic cuisine and even more fantastic prices, here's our list of the best cheap (less than $10) lunch spots that this area has to offer:

Honorable mention: Chicken pho at Pho Ga Dakao and Pho Thai Binh (for dry pho), the two lobster special at Confucius Seafood, sushi lunch specials at Sushi Miyagi.

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Cheap & Good Eats: Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Clear Lake

Photo by Dawn M. Simmons
Expect spiced lamb and authentic tandoori chicken at our No. 5 pick.
We've been rounding up our favorite budget lunch spots in different neighborhoods around town (See the complete list at the end of the post).

This week, we're moving toward the shores to the Clear Lake/NASA area. With plenty of old-time favorites and a couple of newer spots in the mix, here's our list of the best cheap (less than $10) lunch spots that this area has to offer:

Honorable Mention: Soups and sliders at Seabrook Classic Cafe and large-enough-to-split wood-fired pizzas at Boondoggles.

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Cheap & Good Eats: Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in Lazybrook/Timbergrove

Photo by Kevin Shalin
Don't be fooled by the plastic wrap; the sandwiches at our No. 5 pick are supreme.
We've been rounding up our favorite budget lunch spots in different neighborhoods around town. (See the complete list at the end of the post.)

This week, we're moving just west of the Heights proper to the adjoining neighborhoods of Lazybrook and Timbergrove Manor. Here's our list of the best cheap (less than $10) lunch spots that this area has to offer:

Note: The boundaries for this list are as seen on this map.

Honorable Mention: Po-boys with chow-chow at Antone's Po-Boys.

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Hungry? Check Out One of Houston's Many Eating Contests, Sure to Fill You Up

Photo courtesy Kenny & Ziggy's
Can you conquer the Zellagabetsky?
They say everything's bigger in Texas, including our burgers, pizzas and bowls of pho. OK, so the pho thing might be unique to Houston, and that's just one of the reasons that Houston eating competitions are the best: They're incredibly diverse. From Bellaire to Baytown, Sugar Land to the Woodlands, Galveston, Downtown and everywhere in between, restaurants have created challenges to test the stamina of local eaters and tourists alike.

Just the other day, I received an email from a new restaurant called Fat Boy's Bar and Grill (opening in February), which claims to have the biggest burger in Houston and quite possibly the biggest burger in the state. Weighing in at 15 pounds, the burger will be the headliner in Fat Boy's eating competition: If you can eat the behemoth in less than three hours, you'll win your photo on the Wall of Fame, a Fat Boy's T-shirt and a free meal. Unfortunately, you'll lose your dignity.

But eating contests aren't about dignity. They're about eating the biggest, the spiciest, the most calorically outrageous items bored restaurateurs can dream up, often under a time limit and with the stipulation that you can't, you know, let the food come back up when it's all over.

Here in Houston we have more than a dozen contests. These are some of the most popular.

Happy eating, friends. And remember, no vomiting.

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