The 5 Best Happy Hours in Upper Kirby

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Photo by Troy Fields
Queen Vic's taps pour out some of Houston's finest pints.
If you love happy hour as much as we do, you'll love this new series. We're taking a look at the best happy hours in town, 'hood by 'hood. To narrow it down, we're focusing on the spots with the best deals on not only drinks, but eats, too. From upscale eateries serving bar bites and half-priced wine to dives with cheap beer and burgers, we've got it all. See the complete list at the end of this post.

This week, we're moving into Upper Kirby, where you'll find everything from top-notch sushi and sake to authentic British pub fare.

Note: For the purposes of this post, Upper Kirby is defined as west of Shepherd, east of Buffalo Speedway, north of Bissonnet and south of Westheimer.

Honorable Mention: Sorrel Urban Bistro (which we're losing soon), CRU Wine Bar, and Eddie V's "V-lounge" happy hour.


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Try these Five Absolutely Loaded Fries

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Photo by Robb Walsh
You'll never look at poutine the same way.
When it comes to smothered fries, we whole-heartedly believe that the more crap that gets loaded on top, the better. Try these five plates of cheese-drizzled, meat-laden, gravy-and-sauce-slathered fries.

What: Tex-Cajun Virgin Fries
Where to find them: BB's Cafe

Our love affair with BB's Cajun take on poutine began when food critic Robb Walsh waxed poetic about it in 2009. A year later, he went on to name the plate of crisp, shoestring fries -- which get a healthy smothering of chile con queso, tender roast beef, and gravy -- one of his top 20 "100 Favorite Dishes" in Houston. One taste and you'll know why.


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Eat This: The Salted Caramel Peanut Tart at Tout Suite

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Photo by Molly Dunn
The Salted Caramel Peanut Tart at Tout Suite is a work of art.
Before Tout Suite opened in East Downtown, I knew the cafe would be serving incredible desserts and pastries, like those delicate macarons and beautiful cupcakes sold at the sister bakery, Sweet in CityCentre, along with a savory menu served throughout the day. But, the tarts and treats were a surprise.

As I stared at the gorgeous display of bright yellow mango passion tart cakes, matcha green tea chiffon cakes and lemon yuzu tarts, one of the employees approached me asking if I had any questions about the offerings at Tout Suite. I told him I was interested in purchasing the "Paris Houston," a chocolate almond cake with a fruit filling and a generous topping of swirled frosting, but he advised me to choose a different pastry, the Salted Caramel Peanut Tart.

He said it is one of the best offerings in the display case, and that he was one of the chefs who makes the pastries at Tout Suite.

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First Look at eT Craft Burgers & Beer in Northwest Houston

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Photos by Molly Dunn
Customize your own burger at eT Craft Burgers & Beer in Northwest Houston.
Fans of the mini double-patty burgers from eT Premium Grill in the tunnels below the JP Morgan Chase tower now have a larger location to frequent in Northwest Houston. eT Craft Burgers & Beer opened in Cypress on September 25 and features a much larger space than the restaurant downtown. It's a welcome addition to this expanding shopping center.

Right off the bat you will notice that the newest location has a different name than the original tunnel restaurant (eT Craft Burgers & Beer instead of eT Premium Grill) and that's because the 3,040-square foot establishment not only serves up juicy double-patty burgers with specialty fries, but it's also got a stellar lineup of local craft beers. Folks can fill up a growler to take home (eT Growler glass bottles cost $6 and each fill costs $16). Choices range from 8th Wonder Alternate Universe, Karbach Hopadillo, Buffalo Bayou 1836 Copper Ale and Saint Arnold Santo (as well as the brewery's root beer!), giving Cypress residents an excellent choice of local craft brews that they might not otherwise get at other restaurants in the area.

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The 5 Best Happy Hours in The Heights

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Photo by Troy Fields
Cozy up with a craft beer and some wings at Witchcraft Tavern.
If you love happy hour as much as we do, you'll love this new series. We're taking a look at the best happy hours in town, 'hood by 'hood. To narrow it down, we're focusing on the spots with the best deals on not only drinks, but eats, too. From upscale eateries serving bar bites and half-priced wine to dives with cheap beer and burgers, we've got it all. See the complete list at the end of this post

This week, we're moving on to the bar and restaurant packed hood of The Heights.

Note: For the purposes of this list, "the Heights" is defined as south of Loop 610, east of North Shepherd, north of Katy Freeway and west of 45. That means standouts like Rainbow Lodge falls outside the borders. But look out; it just make another neighborhood's list.

Honorable mention: Half-price wine at Down House; bar bites at Glass Wall; and $7.50 pitchers plus daily food specials at Christian's Tailgate on White Oak.

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Eat This Stellar Chicken Parm Sandwich...At The Hay Merchant?

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Photo by Julie Soefer
This is no ordinary chicken parm...
The Hay Merchant is known for craft beer and even craftier fare, serving everything from sweet and spicy pig ears and gochujang-spiced chicken wings to a plate of taco-meat-smothered nacho fries that is kind of like something you'd come up with in college when you were drunk, only with way better ingredients.

So when the brewhouse started serving a chicken parmesan sandwich this summer, it seemed just a little too...ordinary.

Of course, this being The Hay Merchant, the sandwich is nothing like the sub you'd get from your local pizzeria.

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Pre-Theater Dining at Damian's: Spaghetti & Meatballs and Complimentary Shuttle Service

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Photo by Mai Pham
Spaghetti and Mama Mandola's Meatballs at Damian's make a perfect pre-theater meal.
Going to the theater district should be an occasion. Maybe you have tickets to the Houston Grand Opera or the Houston Ballet. Maybe you're getting dressed up to see the Houston Symphony's new music director, Andrés Orozco-Estrada. Occasions like these make for a perfect date night -- especially if you start the evening with a great meal.

These days, however, the options for pre-theater dining near the theater district are limited. Within walking distance of Wortham Center, the choices are The Hard Rock Cafe, The Blue Fish for sushi, Biraporetti's for pasta, the Bistro at The Lancaster hotel, and Sambuca or Azuma at the Post Rice Lofts. Closer to Jones Hall, there is Perbacco. The Hobby Center has Artista -- and that's about all one can find within a two-block radius of the major performing arts venues in town.

A less obvious choice for pre-theater dining is Damian's Cucina Italiana in Midtown. Their pre-theater program is pretty hard to beat. Though it's definitely further out than the above mentioned restaurants, dining there will actually get you closer than driving into downtown because their complimentary shuttle service will drop you off right at the entrance to your show.


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The 5 Best Happy Hours in the Galleria

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Photo by Troy Fields
Recognize this bar? We'll give you a hint: free pizza.
If you love happy hour as much as we do, you'll love this new series. We're taking a look at the best happy hours in town, 'hood by 'hood. To narrow it down, we're focusing on the spots with the best deals on not only drinks, but eats, too. From upscale eateries serving bar bites and half-priced wine to dives with cheap beer and burgers, we've got it all. See the complete list at the end of this post

This week, we're moving on to the bar and restaurant packed 'hood around the Galleria.

Note: For purposes of this list, the Galleria is defined as anything west of Loop 610, south of Woodway, east of South Voss/Hillcroft and north of Richmond Avenue.

Honorable Mention: Craft cocktails and small plates at RDG Bar + Annie, fresh and bold Peruvian flavors at Latin Bites, and 7 for $7 at Table on Post Oak.


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Filling the Gaps: Tel-Wink Grill

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Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
My wife only gave me one bite of this waffle. That says something.
I've lived in Houston for 22 years. It took me 16 of those to visit the Rothko Chapel for the first time. I didn't eat at Ninfa's on Navigation until I'd counted myself a Houstonian for nearly a decade. I still haven't eaten at Frenchy's. The list of glaring omissions goes on and on. Before you boot me from the city for civic negligence, or at least refuse to continue allowing me to write about Houston food, let me assure you that 2014 is the year I start fixing this problem. I'm making a list of places. Places I should have been by now. Places even I can't believe I haven't visited. This is the year I get (re)acquainted with my city. Maybe you'll find a few from your own list in these posts. I encourage you to follow suit.

I've almost gone to Tel-Wink more times than I care to count. Once, I accidentally went to Triple A when I'd meant to go to Tel-Wink, somehow confusing the two famed breakfast haunts, neither of which I'd been to. More often, the mission was aborted on account of kids, and their often staunch insistence on sticking in a rut, and to a known favorite. While we had one such tiny person with us when we finally made it out to Tel-Wink, he has not yet developed the ability to speak, making his only possible veto one of all restaurants. Thankfully, he abstained.


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Try These Seven Non-Burger Sliders in Houston

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Photo by Brooke Viggiano
Little Big's does sliders right.
These days, there's way more to sliders than just burgers. And while we of course love the mini beefcakes, we're pretty excited to see some new kids on the block. From a breakfast treat to mini dogs, here are five new kinds of sliders to check out in Houston:

Chili Cheese Dog Sliders
Where to find them: Little Bigs

Little Big's has long been the king of sliders, offering the tiny sandwiches in burger, pulled pork, and fried chicken form. But last year, the almighty trio got an upgrade when the restaurant added Nathan's slider-sized hot dogs to the menu. They're almost too cute to eat....almost. We love them smothered in slow-cooked chili, shredded cheese, and jalapeños from the toppings bar.

Pancake Sliders
Where to find them: Union Kitchen

If breakfast appetizers aren't a thing that you participate in yet, they totally should be. UK proves that with these miniature pancake sandwiches, which get the royal treatment with a Canadian bacon, breakfast sausage, and fried egg filling. Share these with friends and thank us later.

This story continues on the next page.


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