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High end dinner for 1 near downtown

You might be well pleased with Artisan's which is very near downtown. Kata Robata if it isn't too far to drive.

And then, there's always this:
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=the+ten+best+res...

Jan 26, 2014
Jay Francis in Houston

Houston Jan 25th - Coltivare?

I can tell you that the pizza coming out of their oven looked spectacular. Casual dress is fine. This place hit the ground running and was full of diners from the first day. I looked at the menu and the prices seem very fair for the quality of product they are putting out. A pizza (excellent) at Coppa Osteria will be about $18. Coltivare pricing is in the $11-14 price range.

Jan 26, 2014
Jay Francis in Houston

Diners in Houston

I would recommend Barbecue Inn on Crosstimbers as a go to place. Also, if you are looking for a very fine gumbo, make your way over to the LA Crawfish location inside of Ranch 99 grocery store on I-10.

Jan 26, 2014
Jay Francis in Houston

Houston Day Trip

Himalaya Indian restaurant at 59 and Hillcroft

Jan 07, 2014
Jay Francis in Houston

Fresh Roasted Coffee, Houston

A group of us is pretty much at Boomtown every Sunday now at 9:30 a.m. Always a welcoming hello from our group if you want to hang with us. All ages in our group depending on who shows up.

Jul 20, 2012
Jay Francis in Houston

Greek Gods Yogurt

Probably just a whole milk yogurt as opposed to a reduced fat yogurt.

Jul 20, 2012
Jay Francis in General Topics

Visiting From Los Angeles

I second Bruce's recommendation for biriani at Himalaya. You won't find better.

I have a soft spot for the following two places for Louisiana style food: BB's on White Oak and Esther's Soul Food on Yale.

Gatlin's is well thought of for barbecue brisket though it is too salty for my personal taste.

I am not a fan of the mesquite barbecue at Goode Co. but as a visitor to Houston I would say, "yes" you've got to have at least one meal at Goode Co. on Kirby. If you are in town on a Friday night you will have real taste of an old fashioned Texas honky tonk for live music, burgers, shuffleboard and pool at Blanco's on West Alabama. I always take my out of town guests here on a Friday night. I also always take them to Tampico Seafood on Airline for the snapper a la parilla.

Jul 20, 2012
Jay Francis in Houston

Guacamole!!!

An excellent source for guacamole (though I can't fathom why one doesn't just make it at home since it only consists of mashed avocado, salt to taste and garlic powder to taste) are the larger H.E.B. grocery stores, example, the one on Dunlavy.

Jul 20, 2012
Jay Francis in Houston

Fiesta Mart? also, Veg suggestions?

Because you will be staying in the Medical Center area, the closest Fiesta is a very nice one on South Main. You will also want to go to Phoenicia, either the new one downtown that you can get to by rail or the original larger one out side of the loop on Westheimer. There are excellent South Indian vegetarian restaurants along Hillcroft: Shiv Sagar, Sri Balaji Bhavan, Udipi, Raja Sweets, Neeta's Indian restaurant.

Jul 20, 2012
Jay Francis in Houston

Fresh Roasted Coffee, Houston

For those looking to roast their own beans, my guess is that Matt at Boomtown Heights Coffee might let you rent time on his in-house roaster. Call him and ask.

Jun 25, 2012
Jay Francis in Houston

Fresh Roasted Coffee, Houston

Here is a response to this question as of June 25, 2012. The best coffee can be had at the following places that all do roasting on premises or bring in freshly roasted coffee.

Boomtown Heights Coffee on 19th Street in the Heights. Also maybe the best breakfast taco in town. Matthew Dwight Toomey does the roasting. He brings in a single estate from the Nayarit region of Mexico, not typically thought of as a coffee region, that is very good. Additionally, lots of creative coffee option here. A group of us Houston Chowhounds meets here at 9:30 every Sunday morning.

Greenway Coffee in Greenway Plaza, soon to move to Haymarket/Underbelly. If the Greenway location is inconvenient, go to Revival Market to buy your coffee. Also, Revival has excellent barista(s) and a Faema E61 machine. David Buehrer and Ecky Prabanto are the magna cum laude of the Houston artisan coffee movement.

Catalina Coffee on Washington Avenue. Max Gonzalez is the summa cum laude of the Houston artisan coffee movement. Catalina is the gold standard.

I have not visited it but a friend whose opinion I respect speaks highly of Pearland Coffee Company.

For grocery store coffee, Java Pura at Central Market and Lola Savannah Colombia Bucamaranga are recommended. For Italian coffees in vacuum sealed packages, Lavazza is recommended and can be found at Nundini's on N. Shepherd and Spec's on Smith Street.

In a pinch, Community Coffee is acceptable.

In a pinch, the Whole Foods on Waugh Drive does not over roast their coffee and you can find some acceptable coffee there.

Sean Beck who is importing coffee from Yemen will soon be opening a coffee shop on Montrose. I expect it to be excellent.

Jun 25, 2012
Jay Francis in Houston

El Real

Be sure to check out the Tex-Mex memorabilia upstairs in the cabinets.

Sep 07, 2011
Jay Francis in Houston

Does getting a Chinese cleaver make sense for me?

Absolutely you need one. But I don't understand the prices that you are quoting. If your intention is just to be able to hack through large squashes, then a Chinese cleaver is not what you want. You need a long fairly heavy knife like the ones we can pick up here in Houston at an Ace Mart Restaurant Supply for around $20. A Chinese cleaner is what you'd use for more finesse work with vegetables, etc. My $30 Dexter with its razor sharp edge is one that has given me service for over 25 years. That's a little more than a dollar a year. For more serious hacking, there are heavy Chinese cleavers available in a typical large Chinese grocery store here in Houston for around $18. They don't have the fine edge of the Dexter, and that's cause they're used for more heavy duty hacking. http://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch...

Sep 03, 2011
Jay Francis in Cookware

Galaktoboureko Recipe

I did run into problems with the recipe. It was nigh impossible to make cuts in the phyllo, due to the wetness of the center custard. I defaulted to kitchen scissors, but that didn't take care of the bottom. The 9x13 pan in my opinion is way too small. I couldn't get successful browning of the bottom due to wetness and the insulating properties of the pyrex.

Feb 21, 2009
Jay Francis in Home Cooking

Texas sausage makers - wieners

Good to hear you discovered Maeker's. My family is from Shiner originally and I grew up on Patek's hot dogs, but in recent years have gone over to Maeker's cause the skin is more to my liking. More crunch. So, I use their sausages instead of hot dogs.

Next time you're there, ask to see the round token from my great grandfather's saloon (August Schramm).

Also, I have found and enjoyed some very excellent sausages from (some small town in Texas) at Hebert's on Richmond. They carry them.

Dec 01, 2007
Jay Francis in Texas

Mole in Houston

The Houston restaurants will use a prepared mole. With the exception of Hugo's and I believe the following two places:

If you go to Felix on Westheimer, they used to have a cook from Puebla who would make a mole Poblano from scratch. If he is still there, you can check.

Also, I believe that the Panaderia Guadalupana on Dunvale also makes a mole Poblano from scratch.

If you are interested in one of the Oaxacan moles, you are probably out of luck.

I brought back negro, coloradito and rojo from our recent trip (Etla style moles) and I also brought back the three ingredients that one cannot find here in Houston to make a mole negro: chiles chilhuacles, chiles jalapenos mecos, and Oaxacan oregano. If you or any others reading this posting would be interested in sitting in while I make the mole negro (sometime soon, before Christmas) you are welcome to email me and come hang out when I make it. However, I am going to deconstruct it as I go, as I am theorizing that the chilhuacles and mecos have little effect on the end product except for color.

Here is a link to my weblog on all things Oaxacan:

http://journals.aol.com/jaypfrancis/o...

Dec 01, 2007
Jay Francis in Texas

El Naranjo....Oaxaca, Mexico

You're right. Oaxaca is definitely back. All that is needed is tourism, and I hope word gets out about how wonderful Oaxaca is again. The Zocalo is cleaned up and looks great (since previous visit in September of 2006, not that it was that bad in Oaxaca on that trip, but there were a lot of barricades and wacky things happening).

Also recommended, a favorite of ours, is El Escapulario Restaurant.

Did you try the awesome capirotada at El Naranjo? I have some photos of it here:

http://journals.aol.com/jaypfrancis/o...

Dec 01, 2007
Jay Francis in Mexico

OAXACA - El Naranjo is back!

What a pity that our paths didn't cross as we just arrived back from a week in Oaxaca. This trip we went out to quite a few towns. We, too, met Andrew and had a nice meal at El Naranjo. A lot of his recipes come right out of Daniel Hoyer's book. His mole negro recipe is an Etla style mole. The high point of the El Naranjo meal though was the capirotada, beautifully presented and very tasty.

There are way too many restaurants to choose from (our personal favorite is El Escapulario) and I don't know how they are all going to survive unless we get the word out that Oaxaca is back and perfect for a vacation.

We took a lot of photos and I am going to start dropping them here:

http://journals.aol.com/jaypfrancis/o...

Nov 18, 2007
Jay Francis in Mexico

Lunching in Houston

If you go just a little farther west on Richmond, just before Weslayan you will see the Pepper Tree Vegetarian Chinese Restaurant. Lunch is a buffet so you can time your lunch to suit your needs. Food is fresh, lots of choices will enable you to work around your diabetic needs. For those who can eat fried foods, the fried selections here are crunchy, fresh tasting and highly recommended.

Apr 13, 2007
Jay Francis in Texas

Espresso/Cappucino Machine

Granted, I got it from a neighbour at her garage sale for 40 bucks, but I have been very very pleased with the results of the standard Starbucks Barista amde for them by Estro. It costs around 300 dollars new. But you may be able to find a good deal on Ebay. Always always use distilled water in your espresso machine, not filtered or bottled water, and you will never have to deal with calcium deposits build-up. If you buy a used one, you run the danger of it already having calcium build-up. Clean it with citric acid, not vinegar as vinegar can attach the gaskets.

Again.......use distilled water which will also result in better tasting coffee, extra benefit.

Regards,

Jay

Apr 07, 2007
Jay Francis in Cookware

Korean BBQ in Houston?

Last Sunday, with the whole afternoon free I began a cruise up Long Point. I was in search of something I had read about in John T Edge's Fried Chicken book. KFC or Korean Fried Chicken. Seems to be popular on the west coast but I struck out at the Korean restaurants along Long Point. I ended up for lunch at my favorite place to eat Korean food (I like Arirang and Seoul Garden too, though). In the KOMART grocery store on Gessner near to I-10 they have four little 'fast food' places inside the grocery store that turn out terrific Korean food, each with its own specialties. I personally like to have the bibimbop at one and the crispy syrup dipped chicken wings at another.

Apr 06, 2007
Jay Francis in Texas

French-Fried Nirvana

I save my oil in the fridge, in a little stainless steel oil canniser with a filter screen on top. However, I filter it through a Chemex filter paper and my Chemex coffee maker. The re-used oil is only for vegetables frying, no meat products. My mother used to say that frying potatoes would clean up the oil, recently I've heard that frying some slices of apple help. I cna tell you that the potatoes trick doesn't really work.

I compost my used oil, actually I just pour it on the ground in the back yard. It isn't a petroleum product and will break down just fine without harming anything.

Apr 06, 2007
Jay Francis in Features

Tomatillo Salsa

For me, I wouldn't ever do a sauce with uncooked or unroasted tomatillos personally. Just too raw a taste for me, though I have seen this done by some cooks.

Apr 06, 2007
Jay Francis in Recipes

Guide to Mexico Cuisine - or, advice please?

That's a mighty tall question to be asking. Books have been written about this. My recommendation is that you get a copy (Amazon) of Eat Smart in Mexico or the Lonely Planet Guide to Mexican Food. When you are in Mexico, follow the restaurant recommendations of such publications as Frommer's, or Moon Handbooks. I can tell you, however, that Guanajuato, being a college town offers up some of the most delicious and inexpensive comida corridas that you will find. Querretaro has closed downtown sections to car traffic and has made walking areas that will take you past wonderful outdoor restaurants. The best tamal I have ever eaten was in the Querretaro central market. It was like eating cake. But I have no idea how to direct you to find the guy who sells tamales at breakfast time.

For a 10 day trip you really are biting off a lot. I could spend 10 days just exploring Mexico City. But, if you are set on covering this amount of turf, don't forget that you can get a bus to Querretaro that leaves directly from outside the Mexico City airport, thus bypassing having to go into town to the bus station. You could start in Querretaro, go on to Guanajuato (I am not a big fan of San Miguel) and then directions west.

In the bus stations you can pick up a Guia Roji 150 page map book called Por Las Carreteras de Mexico, which is my favorite map guide to Mexico.

Alternatively, you could take the bus from the airport to Puebla, stay at Hotel Colonial (excellent mole) and then in a day or so bus down to Oaxaca (stay at Casa Lidia, spectacular breakfast, in a quiet neighborhood with a comfortable walk to the San Domingo church). Then, bus back up to Puebla for a few days more.

Mar 29, 2007
Jay Francis in Mexico