August is a pretty exciting month, and that is not because it is Goat Cheese month, Back to School month, or the month when the most babies are born; although that clearly could be the reason for many celebrations and parties around the Houston area. What we are talking about is Houston Restaurant Weeks, which started off as a 7-day charitable campaign (also known as HRW), aimed at fighting hunger in Houston (via the Houston Food Bank). The value is two-fold in that you can enjoy a great lunch or dinner, and at the same time, give back to those in need. In addition to supporting the cause by dining out, you can also "give back" with a $10 donation via text message (text "HRW" to 20222). Dinners are $35 and lunch is $20; some locations are offering a special brunch menu as well.
For us, this is an even more exciting time, and as we dine out frequently, we love that it supports a great cause. We look forward to the new restaurants, paying a visit to our tried and true, and even enjoying a few oldie but goodies. We select from various cuisines, locations, and atmospheres (required attire) and having a month to indulge is even better. Most importantly, we get to share all of this with our friends and family. The fun is in both the planning and the partaking. Every year, our friends ask, "where should we go for Houston Restaurant Week?" So, we thought instead of compiling a special list for each of our "special friends" (they are spoiled), we wanted to share our list with you (our readers) as well.
Hawthorn (American with a Mediterranean twist)
This is one of those places that you don't get to visit often, and that is not only because it was a "members only" establishment in its previous life. This place is pretty pricey so why not check it out when you can go for $35. If you love it, you will be a fan forever, and the money won't matter one bit.
Artisans (French "Eclectic")
This Midtown-located spot, that serves up French cuisine in a variety of ways, was a no-brainer. We figured if its' sister property, Le Mistral, has earned consistent acclaim, we are sure Artisans would not straggle far behind.
Since it's Houston debut in March, this Sushi and beyond restaurant has been a hot spot. They combine good food, great drinks and a scene for our party people. Katsuya has done very well in several cities including L.A. and South Beach, so let's see what they got.
Conception (Latin American)
This choice was simple...not only are they included in Eater Houston's "Places to Eat Right Now" for August, but we hear they serve some really "purdy" food. We are so there!
Tried and True
You can never go wrong with Pappa's and we have yet to miss one year of HRW without a visit. They offer regular menu items so this a great deal for an awesome steakhouse.
Sorrel Urban Bistro (American; Farm to Table)
Also known as our BFF, this place is not to be missed. You are sure to have great service, great cocktails, and a great meal. And let's not forget, since they are adopters of the farm to table concept, your meal will be made with the freshest ingredients possible.
Coppa Ristorante Italiano (Italian)
They are offering 4 courses this year and this place is amazing. A take on traditional Italian, the creativity of the menu is a draw, and the drinks look as good as they taste.
Oldie But Goodie's
Max's Wine Dive (Comfort Food)
We love it when the restaurants give you the HRW deal on their regular menu items. Max's will give you a bang for your buck - the scene is fun, and the food is plentiful and consistently good.
The food is amazing, and amazing, and more amazing! Chef Ortega's authentic Mexican dishes have made him one of our cities best and most loved culinary masters.
Le Mistral (French)
This restaurant proves that we have some great dining establishments outside the loop. This has been on our list for some time and as we say, "there is no better time than the present!"
If you are a HRW virgin or a veteran, we hope you make a few reservations and enjoy great food and great experiences. You can definitely roll with our recommendations and choose something from the list above, but don't take our word for it. If you are feeling adventurous, make sure you visit the HRW website, browse the menus, and make your reservations. Don't forget to come back and share your choices. We would love to hear what you thought of the meal and your overall dining experience. Bon appétit!
~ Urban Swank