Here is a fun article. Bill Addison is a food critic for the Dallas Morning News. He identifies 10 great restaurants that define Houston's diverse dining scene.
News Flash: Houston and Dallas are different
Addison says dining in Houston and Dallas is different. Yes, our restaurants are different. And our food writers are different. Addison writes that his "recent sprint through the gamut of Houston restaurants illuminated just how different its culinary canvas is from Dallas'." I can't see a pretentious sentence like that being written by Robb Walsh or Alsion Cook.
Despite his florid prose, Addison says some nice things about Houston, so I should say nice things about Dallas. Dallas has some excellent restaurants -- world class restaurants even.
I just have one complaint: when I am in most Dallas restaurants, there is nothing to remind me that I am in Dallas instead of New York or Chicago. That makes sense. Dallas likes to think of itself as a smaller version of New York or Chicago. It isn't. But it likes to think that.
Houston is happy to just be Houston.
Do these 10 restaurants really tipify Houston?
Addison concludes that 10 restaurants tipify Houston. Let's see how he does:
I seriously disagree with three choices:
1 - The Chocolate Bar is great. But how does it tipify Houston? Addison tries to explain, "A city as sultry as Houston needs a fantastical retreat." What in the heck is he talking about?
2 - Pizzitola's serves decent barbecue. But it does not tipify the barbecue of the region nearly as much as Thelma's, Burns, Goode Co., or even Luling City Market. Plus, I am not sure I would include any barbecue joint on this list. There are plenty of Texas towns better than Houston for barbecue. (Blame air quality regulations).
3 - Irma's is quirky. But I have been disappointed at my last several meals there. Houston has far better Mexican food, and plenty of restaurants that better tipify the local scene. For instance, I would pick a representative of the Ninfa's school of grilled Mexican food that began here in Houston. Probably the best current example is El Tiempo.
I have not eaten at Que Hong or Textile yet. But there is no question that some Vietnamese restaurant belongs on the list and that Scott Tycer's cuisine belongs on the list. So I'm cool with those choices.
The rest of Addison's list is excellent. There are few better examples of the diversity of Houston dining than Catalan, Feast, Hugo's, Indika, and Reef.
I might round out that list with a few suggestions of my own:
Fung's Kitchen or Szechuan Cuisine (representatives of the amazing area near Chinatown)
Vieng Thai or Asia Market (deeply authentic Thai and Laotian food)
This Is It or Alameda Cafeteria (East Texas soul food)
Frenchy's (fried chicken) or Barbecue Inn (fried chicken, chicken fried steak, and stuffed crabs)
Addison's list is pretty good, especially for a food critic from Dallas. Plus, I have to give him credit for recognizing the best aspects of Houston's food that set it apart from Dallas -- Houston's breadth and diversity.