Houston Restaurant Weeks: Tony's

Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg
After taking last year off, Tony's is back for Houston Restaurant Weeks.
What they're up to for Houston Restaurant Weeks: Three-course dinner for $45, including bread and amuse bouche. Some dishes require a supplementary fee. Tony's will donate $7 to the Houston Food Bank for every dinner sold.

Service/Atmosphere: Tony's Restaurant set the standard for fine dining service years ago, so it's no surprise that when you walk in, you're greeted by Tony Vallone's wife, Donna, and later by Vallone himself. Though Tony's recently underwent a small facelift, adding a mural and re-doing the floor in the bar, the atmosphere is still a little stuffy as befits the mostly older clientele, but the staff, like sommelier Scott Banks, will tailor their service to your level of ease and relaxation. The food comes out swiftly, and should you want it, there's always wine available to pair with any given course.

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The Most Underrated Greasy Spoon in Houston...According to You

Photo by Gina Pina
House of Pies: Always a classic.
Ah, the old-fashioned American diner.

The place where the servers wear uniforms with tarnished gold name tags, the coffee tastes like city tap water and the food is nothing, if not predictable. It's been the same since man first walked on the moon, and it sure ain't gonna change any time soon.

Alternately called the "greasy spoon," the classic American diner is known for cheap eats--often with little nutritional value--served with a smile and blue plate specials featuring regional cuisine like chicken fried steak or migas with extra oily cheese on top.

Here in Houston, a city mostly unconcerned with health food and haute cuisine, our greasy spoons are some of the longest-lasting culinary institutions. From House of Pies to Dot Coffee Shop, these are the places that feel like home.

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Houston Restaurant Weeks Announces Participating Eateries and Menus

Photo courtesy HRW
It's the best time of the year for many Houstonians -- Houston Restaurant Weeks!

From August 1 through September 1, Houston restaurants will prepare special multi-course menus that show off some of their best and most popular dishes for a low, fixed price. People wait all year to try out new restaurants during HRW because they know they'll be getting a great value and a portion of the money they spend will be donated to the Houston Food Bank.

Last year, Houston Restaurant Weeks raised more than $1.2 million for the food bank, while the estimated economic impact on the greater Houston area was more than $13 million. It's turned what used to be a slow month for restaurants into one of the busiest months of the year.

The dates for this year's event were announced last month, and just yesterday, HRW revealed the restaurant lineup for 2014.

Get ready, guys. It's gonna be delicious.

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Free Eats in Houston for the Enterprising Souls Among You

Photo by Catherine Gillespie
Food Samples from H-E-B.

It is tough to complain about the cost of living in Houston. Housing is fairly affordable and there is usually a food truck around the corner willing to sell you a filling taco dinner for $5 or less.

That being said, there are always those days when a meal out -- any meal out anywhere -- is out of your budgetary league. And that's where we step in. It is possible to fill yourself up here (and not by asking your more generous dates or friends to treat) for free. Eating out without your wallet can be a fun exercise too, but especially at the bars we recommend bringing a friend who might actually buy something or leaving before a half-hour is up.

If you have a membership, Costco or Sam's Club should be your first stop. I started my culinary scavenger hunt at the Costco on Richmond, where the portions -- though still served in Dixie cups -- are more generous than at your neighborhood grocery. The range is also staggering. There are food stands around the store promoting everything from frozen empanadas to lemon meringue cookies. I challenge you to make yourself a three-course meal.

This story continues on the next page.

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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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Voice Daily Deal: Special-Price Tickets to Menu of MenusĀ® Extravaganza

Houston Press will host the 12th annual Menu of Menus Extravaganza on Tuesday, April 8, from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. at Silver Street Station. And guess what? Ticket prices have DECREASED and will be available at these prices from today, Friday, March 21, until Tuesday, March 25. So, now is the time to purchase your tickets so you can feast on a bountiful amount of food from more than 40 Houston-area restaurants.

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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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$5 Fridays at Randall's: Discounts to Kick Off Your Weekend

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Flash just one Abe Lincoln for these deals.

When you hear "$5," you might think immediately of Subway's infamous January campaign for discount footlong subs. But I suggest you redirect your thoughts such that your association becomes "$5 = Randall's," at least on Fridays, when the supermarket chain offers a series of promotions that all cost $5.

The deli and prepared-food deals are particularly appealing, especially at the end of the week, when you do not feel like cooking but don't want to splurge on takeout. For example, on a recent Friday, rotisserie chickens (normally $8 each) were marked down to $5; other $5 options I've observed include family-size portions of meatloaf, fried chicken, and macaroni and cheese. (So far, no $5 lobster deals, but I still have hope.)

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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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