Six months ago, I listed my 10 favorite Houston restaurants. In half a year, so much has changed. Two of my four favorites closed. Some others seem to be coasting. Houston has some delightful new additions. And in some instances, I just changed my mind. So, here is my current top 10.
1. Da Marco. Although Da Marco is far too expensive, every dish I have had there has been creative and perfectly executed.
2. Mark’s. Mark’s may not be consistently creative, perhaps because it is too eager to please everyone. But I have had some of the most innovative dishes in Houston there. See my Aug. 29, 2006 post.
3. Noe. My recent visit showed a drop-off in creativity, but excellent execution. The wine list is greatly improved. See my July 19, 2006 post.
4. Indika. Despite some service problems, Indika is serving Houston’s most innovative fusion cuisine in its new, hip location on lower Westheimer. It blows away the best Indian fusion restaurant in New York. See my June 26, 2006 post.
5. Le Mistral. Still my vote for Houston’s best real French food, followed in a close second by Café Rabelais. See my December 17, 2005 post.
6. Benjy’s. From Sunday brunch, to incredible salads, to thin crust pizzas, to Asian fusion dishes, Benjy’s is a fountain of food ideas. The reasonable food prices and a mid-priced list of small production wines also helped boost benjy's into my top 10. See my September 23, 2006 post.
7. Pico’s. Still Houston’s best Mexican food. The interior dishes are the best.
8. Bistro Moderne. Hip and stylish French-American restaurant with a great chef.
9. Hugo’s. Houston’s most creative Mexican food. Hugo’s is a sister restaurant to Backstreet Café, which made my last top 10. Hugo's gets the nod this time because Backstreet seems like it is in a rut. Hugo’s doesn’t. The wine list is by the same guy, and it is great in both restaurants.
10. Pizzeria Enoteca. Yes, it’s just a pizza joint -- but an authetic Italian, gourmet pizza joint. I love the simple and unusual dishes, like truffle egg toast and shaved raw fennel with anchovy oil. I love the specialized, low priced Italian wine list. See my September 15, 2006 post.
Who fell off the list and why:
laidback manor. Houston's best restuarant closed. (whimper, whimper, sob).
Aries. Ditto. See "Mad About Aries" my June 22, 2006 post.
The Strip House. I came to my senses. It is just steak. Even if the steak is really good, the food is not that creative.
Backstreet Café. I love the wine list, but in my last few visits, the food has been a little dull, and the menu seems unchanging. See my September 23, 2006 post.
T’afia. This would have to be # 11. The restaurant is based on some great ideas, and I never turn down a chance to go there. But the food is a little too austere and lacking in big flavors. The creativity seems to be waning a bit. See my September 23, 2006 post.
Ibiza. The wine list remains Houston’s best value. The menu doesn’t change enough to stay interesting. And I’m tired of them serving my least favorite food -- brussel sprouts – as a side on over half the dishes on the menu. See my February 11, 2006 post. If they cut the brusel sprouts, they might make my next top 10.
25 others who come close: Kubo, Rouge, Bank, Pesce, 17, Gravitas, Cafe Rabelais, Mockingbird Bistro, Shade, Glass Wall, Simposio, Sorrento, Quattro, Arcodoro, Damian's, Nino's, Masraff's, Rioja, Cafe Annie, Saffron, Americas, Pappas Steakhouse, Fung's Kitchen, Mai's, Tony's.