Business Casual? Man Turned Away From Da Marco for Wearing Sneakers

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Photo by Kent Wang
Today's specials are on the board. The dress code is not.
On Tuesday afternoon, a person who frequently interacts with Eating...Our Words on Twitter tweeted the following statement:

We went to the Da Marco website to search for a description of the dress code that had been violated, but we couldn't find anything. The menu is all there, along with the hours of operation, contact information and the location, all clearly listed. There's a link to make reservations on OpenTable. On Da Marco's Open Table page -- under "More Details" -- is a description of the dress code: Business casual. As far as we can tell, that's the only place the code is listed.

So we emailed the sneaker-wearing would-be customer to get the whole story.

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Woodlands Market Hubbell & Hudson to Close

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Photo courtesy Hubbell & Hudson
The gourmet market at Hubbell & Hudson will be closing in the next few months.
A beloved market in the Woodlands will soon leave residents without nearby access to dry-aged beef, farm-to-market produce and cooking classes -- at least until Whole Foods opens there in 2015.

Hubbell & Hudson market and cooking school will be closing, reported CultureMap's Eric Sandler, after rumors started swirling on Facebook over the weekend. Though the bistro and kitchen will remain open, Sander writes that the rest of the venture will be closed by March 12, if not sooner. An unnamed source provided CultureMap with documents proving the grocery store has lost millions since it opened, and consultants for the company did not believe it could compete with Whole Foods or nearby H-E-Bs.


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Tipping in Restaurants Reaches a Tipping Point...Will 2014 Be the Year It's Abolished?

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Photo by Marya
Tipping after meals is no longer as universally accepted as it once was.
Next time you hear a waiter or waitress complain about his or her tips, remember that the United States and Canada have the biggest tippers in the world (but maybe don't tell them that fact, 'cause it probably won't help). In many other countries, service is included in the bill, and tipping is reserved for truly exceptional service. People in the service industry also make higher wages than waiters in the United States, who rely on tips to bring their salaries up to minimum wage.

Lately, though, there's been a lot of talk about abolishing tipping in America altogether. A Slate article from last July called tipping an "abomination." The author, Brian Palmer, wrote, "Tipping is a repugnant custom. It's bad for consumers and terrible for workers. It perpetuates racism. Tipping isn't even good for restaurants, because the legal morass surrounding gratuities results in scores of expensive lawsuits."

He brings up some good points about the practice. So good, in fact, that others are starting to echo his concerns. In September, Pete Wells, restaurant critic for The New York Times, highlighted a number of restaurants that are moving away from tipping and toward surcharges or higher-priced menu items. The money made from these practices would then go toward paying servers a fair wage -- as in, more than $2.13 an hour, the amount many servers make before their "tip credit."

But what about our right as consumers to let service staff know we're pissed by leaving a small tip? How are we supposed to express gratitude if not monetarily? And how are misguided teenagers going to elicit donations after they're stiffed for being gay (but not really)?

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UPDATE: Is The Burger Guys Closing for Good? YES.

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Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
The sign on the door says it'll open after Sunday, but we're not so sure.
Update: Owner Jake Mazzu has confirmed that The Burger Guys is closed. See his statement on the next page.

On the heels of the shuttering of The Burger Guys' downtown location, today comes the rumor that the original location on Westheimer is closing as well, or possibly already closed.

We ventured out to the Westside burger shop and found it dark and locked up during the lunch hour when owner Jake Mazzu and chef Brandon Fisch are typically slinging burgers to hungry Houstonians.

A sign on the door reads "Closed due to technical difficulties. Will be open after Sunday."

Unfortunately, we're pretty sure the spot won't be open Sunday after all.

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Top Ten Houston Culinary Scandals of 2013: Lawsuits, Rude Restaurant Staff and Rats

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Photo from Scandal on abc.com
Some crazy things went down in 2013...which do you think was the craziest?
As the year comes to a close, we're taking some time to look back fondly on some of our favorite memories from the past 12 months. There were wonderful meals, exciting openings and heartwarming stories from some of our best chefs.

And then there were all the scandals, the shocking revelations, the feet in mouths. Without these folks keeping things interesting, 2013 would have been all about good food and good fun. And who wants that, really? We're a culture that savors schadenfreude, wrong though it may be.

So here, to sate your appetite for awkwardness, a list of 2013's best culinary scandals in Houston, in chronological order. Sit back, relax and revel in other people's pickles.

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Torchy's Tacos' Suit Against Texas Taco Co. Alleges Theft of Food-Prep Bible

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Photos from Torchy's Facebook and Texas Taco Co. Facebook
Taco wars, not brought to you by the Food Network.
Back in August, we reported on the anticipated opening of a new taco joint in Houston called Texas Taco Co. The Friendswood location was the third store set to open in Texas -- the other two are in Baytown and Magnolia -- and though it sounded like a delicious addition to the Houston-area restaurant scene, we and Eater noticed a striking similarity between the menu at Texas Taco Co. and the menu of another much-lauded Texas taco spot: Torchy's Tacos.

Apparently we weren't the only ones.

As soon as the first Texas Taco Co. opened, in Baytown, diners started sending messages to Torchy's asking, essentially, what's up with your new restaurant? People assumed, because of similarities between the two menus, that Texas Taco Co. was somehow affiliated with Torchy's.

For example, the Torchy's menu offers a breakfast taco called the "Monk Special," which is described as "'Hold the potatoes.' Eggs, bacon, green chilies & cheese. Served on your choice of tortilla."

Texas Taco Co. offers an "Alamo Special," described as "'Hold the potatoes.' Eggs, bacon, green chilies & cheese. Served on your choice of tortilla."

You see the issue?

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Food Porn: 12 Houston Instagram Accounts To Follow

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Photo from Instagram
Food Porn Alert! If you've been trying to completely ruin your diet or you just like to spend your time trolling and salivating over pictures of food, have we got the list for you!

We've rounded up some of the most drool-worthy Instagram accounts in Houston for your following pleasure. Commence #foodenvy.

Here they are (and in no particular order):

12. @PONDICHERI

Bask in the glory of Pondicheri's "vibrant and innovative Indian cuisine." Then head over to the restaurant to bask your face in some of it.

11. @EATSIEBOYS

If you're ever confused as to where to get brunch on Sundays, just follow the Eatsie Boys. They post photos of their Trust Us brunch menu each and every Sunday to get your mind dancing with thoughts of Eggman Sammys and Disco Biscuits. Plus, they fill their feed with shots of the food-truck-turned-cafe's fun food and antics.

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Photo from Instagram
10. @FEMME_FOODIE

Our own Mai Pham chronicles her life and travels through food under the handle femme_foodie. And my what a life that is. Pham's photos of food are some of the best in town. She probably says it best -- "I work hard to make people hungry."

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"Club Apple" Rocks Applebee's Late Night Around the Country, But Not in Houston...Yet

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Photo from clubapplebees.com
These people cannot be old enough to club. Thank God for Club Apple!
If you're one of the connoisseurs of fine cuisine people who eats at Applebee's on a regular basis, you might have noticed that they remain open until 2 a.m. all over Houston. Why would a family dining establishment stay open that late? Because at night, Applebee's transforms into a lively bar scene with black light parties, karaoke and some pretty risqué dancing. Or at least, it's rumored to.

A few years ago, some rather scandalous photos began circulating the Internet of a late-night party at Applebee's. This, the photos seemed to announce to the world, is not your mother's Applebee's. There were scantily clad women spraying whipped cream all over their bodies and making out with each other while dancing on the bar. It seemed like a good time, but, according to Applebee's representative Dan Smith, not indicative of the Applebee's late night concept across the country.

Locally, I couldn't find any Applebee's that transform into party scenes after dinner hours, but I was assured that something akin to a Club Applebee's might be in Houston's future.

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Restaurants Behaving Badly: Maggie Rita's Calls Houston Woman "Fat" on Facebook

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Screenshots courtesy of Amanda Newman
Although Maggie Rita's has now closed all but one of its Houston locations, the flagging Tex-Mex chain continues to redefine the phrase "can't win for losing." Seemingly looking to get in a parting shot...anywhere...at anyone...Maggie Rita's lashed out at a Houston woman this week on Facebook.

Amanda Newman is a northwest Houston resident who posted last Thursday on Maggie Rita's Facebook page that she was glad the restaurants were closing. "Insulting Houston before we tried your food," she wrote, "was kinda 'dee-de-deee' of you."

Maggie Rita's responded to Newman the following Tuesday with this gem: "I thought fat people were suppose [sic] to be jolly!"


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5 Fast Food "Secret Menu" Items: Sides Edition

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Fries + Rings = Frings...get it?
Remember the McGangbang? Yeah, we brought it up again -- sorry! But it got us thinking: Surely there have to be other "secret menu" items lurking out there, just waiting to be discovered. And because we live in a sick, sick world, there are. So we dug them up for you, because we're just as sick.

Check out these 5 "Secret Menu" Fast Food Sides:

Disclaimer: You may not be able to order these items by name, but if you seek mediocre thrills in life and want to give it a go, don't forget to document it on YouTube for the rest of us.

See also:
- 5 Fast Food "Secret Menu" Burgers You Probably Shouldn't Try
- 5 Fast Food "Secret Menu" Items: Sandwich & Wrap Edition


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