Another Day, Another Dress Code Dispute at Da Marco

Categories: Food Fight

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Photo by Kent Wang
Everyone: Da Marco has a dress code. Just so we're all clear.
Welp. It's been a solid eight months since someone last contacted us regarding a dress code issue at Da Marco.

Yesterday, we got an email from a reader who relayed the following tale of Da Marco dress code woe:

My family of four and my friend got kicked out of DaMarco last night...My son had a navy blazer, white oxford button down shirt, and khaki (below the knee) shorts--given the 100 degree weather. He also had dark sneakers since I discovered too late that he had outgrown his dress shoes. I had no idea there was a dress code, "no sneakers, no shorts" policy. It says nothing on the website other than "jacket attire preferred" and they never said anything while making a reservation. My husband was in a suit, my daughter and I were in nice dresses. The hostess let me in to discuss plans with my husband who was already waiting inside...This was my husband's birthday celebration, and my husband and friend had already ordered $400 worth of wine which was opened and decanting in the back room. But while discussing our options, the manager came charging back to the table, yelling "Did I not make myself clear??? I said you are not allowed in the restaurant."
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Food Fight: Grocery Store Pizzas at Phoenicia and Whole Foods

Categories: Food Fight

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Photo by Molly Dunn
Which specialty grocery store pizza will win this food fight? Phoenicia (left) or Whole Foods (right)?
You can always smell the fresh-baked pizzas at Phoenicia Specialty Foods located downtown when you walk by the prepared foods section. It's almost hypnotizing as you find yourself wandering over to the glass case with four different pizzas (BBQ Chicken, Cheese, Pepperoni and Vegetarian).

The same thing happens at the Whole Foods on Waugh. Sometimes during lunch there's an employee directing you to the back corner of the prepared foods section by the bakery saying, "Hot pizzas! You know you want one!" And other times the smell of a fresh-baked pizza is too much to resist and you end up taking home a large for only $13.99.

Both of these specialty grocery stores offer cheesy, gooey pizzas to-go, so we decided to find out which one is the best. Should you get your pie at Whole Foods on Waugh? Or should you head downtown for thick-crust personal pizzas at Phoenicia Specialty Foods? We decided to sample the BBQ chicken pizza at both locations as it has lots of cheese and requires distinct flavors to make it stand out among the rest.

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

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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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Food Fight: Gỏi vịt (Duck Salad)

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Minh T Truong
Thien An's version of Goi Vit
If you're looking for the perfect summer meal, something light, cool and flavorful, gỏi vịt, or duck salad, is the way to go. This Vietnamese dish embodies summer and is exactly what you'd want to eat on a hot day.

Shredded cabbage and red onions are the traditional base for the salad with tender duck meat topping it off. The dressing for the salad is a tangy concoction of nuoc mam, or fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. Along with the base ingredients, additional fixings such as carrots, bean sprouts and cucumber can be tossed in according to taste to make different variations of the salad.

For this food fight we take a look at the two different versions offered at Thien An and Huynh. Both distinctly their own and both very good.

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The Five Best Underrated Tex-Mex Restaurants in Houston (According to You)

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Photo courtesy La Tapatia
Your number five pick serves traditional Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine for the best of both worlds.
You know how we always say the Houston trifecta is composed of barbecue, burgers and Tex-Mex? Yeah, well Tex-Mex is clearly the victor, as more than 2,000 of you voted in our poll to determine the most underrated Tex-Mex restaurant in town.

And the same thing that happened with the barbecue poll happened again: The first and second place winners are separated by ONE VOTE. Madness! These two spots also got more than double the third place restaurant, indicating a clear preference.

Some of you took to the comments to argue that spots like Spanish Village are clearly not underrated and therefore shouldn't be part of the poll, and it seems like most people agreed, as even lesser-known spots received the most votes.

So who gets the dubious honor of being named most underrated among the best Tex-Mex joints in the country?

Here are your choices.

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Ceviche Throwdown: Cuchara and Latin Bites Duke It Out

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Image by Cecilia Beaven
The actual duel won't be quite so messy.
Mexican ceviche and Peruvian cebiche are two very different beasts, as Cuchara owner Ana Beaven and Latin Bites owner Rita Castre frequently find themselves explaining to customers.

"A lot of customers ask why doesn't our ceviche have tortillas, and we have to explain that we don't have tortillas in Peru," Castre explains. "And Ana has the same questions when she has customers in from South America. They want to know where are the sweet potatoes?"

It's hard to say which type of ceviche is superior--Mexican or Peruvian--so Cuchara and Latin Bites are putting their goods to the test. On July 22 and 23 (that's Tuesday and Wednesday), both restaurants are inviting guests to come decide for themselves before a panel of judges makes a final ruling on Sunday, July 27.

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Killen's BBQ Bans Negative Comments from Facebook: Censorship or Smart PR?

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Photo via Killen's
Ronnie Killen would like you to stop saying nasty things on his Facebook (as if there's anything mean to say about that awesome barbecue).
In case you haven't noticed, there's a new box on Yelp right above the comments that contains the following message:

Your trust is our top concern, so businesses can't pay to alter or remove their reviews.

While the business review website is making an effort to convince people that the commentary posted on the site is unbiased, Facebook makes no such claim. That's why it was not unexpected to see a restaurateur admit to editing negative responses on his business's Facebook page yesterday afternoon.

On the page for Killen's BBQ, chef/owner Ronnie Killen wrote:

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We've Narrowed Down the Most Underrated Tex-Mex Spots...Vote Now!

Categories: Food Fight

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Spanish Village is one of your choices for most underrated Tex-Mex joint in town.
I never thought I'd say this, but here goes: Maybe, just maybe there are too many Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston.

I know, I know, is too much of a good thing ever bad?

Probably not, unless you're trying to figure out which Tex-Mex restaurants Houstonians think are underrated, and you discover nearly every person who submitted a comment named a different restaurant. There's no majority vote here, just a whole lotta differing (but much appreciated) opinions.

So, as we do every time we seek out your opinion on underrated food and restaurants, we've narrowed it down with a poll. All of the restaurants listed in the poll got more than one vote. Out of the 50+ recommendations we received, only 13 of them were mentioned more than once. Madness!

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The Most Underrated Tex-Mex Restaurants in Houston...According to You

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Don Carlos makes some mean Tex-Mex and isn't always mentioned in critics' roundups.
We have a joke here at the Houston Press that if we want people to read our stories, we need only to put "burgers," "barbecue" or "Tex-Mex" in the headline. Houstonians are very loyal to the trifecta that makes up what's arguably our signature cuisine: Meat, meat and Mexican food.

We've already asked you to vote on underrated burgers and barbecue, so now it's time to complete the sacred triangle. With the incredible number of Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston, this is no easy task. Where to begin?!

I have a suggestion, if I may, that may sound strange. Houstonia Magazine just published a list of the 15 best Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston, and while I hate to direct you away from our charming site, it's a damn good guide.

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Are Restaurants That Don't Take Reservations Shutting Out Certain Guests?

Categories: Food Fight

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Photo by Troy Fields
Cotivare has been doing well in spite of being known for long waits due to a no reservations policy.
Recently, my editor posed a question: Why don't some restaurants that clearly get a lot of business take reservations?

I explained that individual restaurants likely have different reasons for that choice, but that it's becoming an increasingly popular option. First come, first served.

She went on: But could that be keeping a whole segment of the population from dining there. Young people are much more likely to wait a few hours for a table than older people, she reasoned. Young people stand in line for concert tickets or video games. Why not dinner?

While I can't personally attest to seeing a younger crowd at places like the uber popular Coltivare, which hasn't taken reservations since it opened, instead opting for a waiting list policy, I do think it's an interesting question. Though I get uncomfortably hungry, I have no problem waiting upwards of an hour if I know the end result (an awesome meal) will be worth it. My parents, on the other hand, would rather restaurant-hop until they find a shorter wait.

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