No one makes good decisions on an empty stomach, and in a town with a culinary scene as booming as this one, the poor choices can extend far beyond merely "not saving room for dessert." Beware these 19 Clutch City restaurant pitfalls:
1. Overestimating your spice tolerance at Vieng Thai
Don’t be fooled by the gentle mom-and-pop atmosphere. These guys make what just may be the best Thai food in the city, including some truly bomb curries. Just know that when you ask them to bring the heat, they bring the heat.
2. Not bringing a six-pack to Himalaya
Speaking of hot things, you’re definitely going to need that hoppy IPA to cool off your tongue after all of those incendiary Pakistani spices.
3. And not bringing a bottle of wine to Just Dinner
It’s called Just Dinner. That means that not only does this intimate eatery not serve you breakfast, lunch, or brunch; it also isn’t serving you a hangover. That is, unless you bring it in yourself.
4. Tackling your own sandwich at Kenny & Ziggy’s
Ordering a single sandwich at this authentic Jewish deli means you’re getting a turkey-pastrami-and-corned-beef-stacked triple decker that’s bigger than someone’s already freakishly giant head. Don’t be a hero. Split one sandwich with a friend so you can also relish in the crazy-good matzo ball soup.
5. Getting anything but the Big Ol’ Bloody at Down House
Thinking about that brunch punch? Be prepared to be supremely jealous when you’re all pinky up over a miniature teacup while your buddy is taking down one of the best Bloodys in the city. It has a beer backer and is adorned with a fried chicken wing. Don’t be a fool.
6. Letting Coltivare's no reservations policy defeat you
Sure you may have to wait up to an hour for a table on a Saturday night, but since the restaurant texts you when your table is ready, that’s just another hour to enjoy some tasty beverages at Onion Creek down the street (this is assuming Coltivare’s bar is packed -- which it will be).
7. Dismissing the vegetables
From the roast cauliflower dancing with bonito flakes at Roost to the beautifully conceptualized six-course Garden Menu at Oxheart, Houston has way more to offer than just big-as-Texas steaks, briskets, and burgers. (Though those are pretty good, too.)
8. Forgetting Lankford Grocery is cash only
It’s like you want to be drooling as you watch others smash their juicy 1/2lb mac & cheese-, bacon-, and jalapeño-loaded burgers right in front of your dumb face.
9. Casually trying the LA Crawfish pho challenge
Think you can take down a 2ft-wide, 4lb bowl of extra-spicy crawfish pho in 30 minutes or less? Did we mention that extra spicy means it’s made with ghost peppers? Good luck.
10. Being intimidated by Killen’s line
First of all, if you go on a weekday, you may not even hit a line. And secondly, even if the wait is pretty bad, the crowd will be friendly, the beer will be flowing, and the smoke-kissed, meltingly tender meat patiently waiting for you at the end of it all will be worth it. Also, you don’t have to drive to Austin or Dallas for seriously awesome BBQ, so consider that a win in and of itself.
11. Not ordering the fatty end of the brisket
Spots like Corkscrew will ask if you want you’re brisket lean (dense with less fat) or moist (slippery and marbled with fat). Though you may hate the word, you always go moist. And don’t forget about the burnt ends (an amalgamation of smoky bark and caramelized fat), either.
12. Eating before you get to Karbach
Karbach’s recent facelift included the addition of a full kitchen, which you’re going to want food from even if you did grab Whataburger on the way. Save yourself the expense of a double lunch and enjoy a nice meal made with beer -- think mixed greens with Rodeo Clown vinaigrette, Hopadillo poutine, and Weisse Versa-battered fish & chips -- alongside your beer.
13. Never hitting up The Pass
As much as we enjoy the more laid-back dining experience and delicious fare atProvisions, the cherry-picked tasting menu at Pass is something that begs to be tried. Treat yo’ self at least once.
14. Filling up on chips and salsa
Hit any of these Tex-Mex spots and you’ll be tempted to knock out three baskets of chips and salsa before you even decide how many pounds of fajitas you’re ordering. But if you want any chance of finishing said fajitas, stick to two rounds of chips or less.
15. Going at it alone at Underbelly
You’ll regret not giving in to the restaurant's family-style system when you see the rest of the dining room joyfully sharing plates of crispy whole fish, smoked pork roast, heirloom tomato salad, and Korean-braised goat & dumplings.
16. Saying no to dessert at Brennan’s
It’s like, why even live if you’re not going to finish off a full Southern meal with things like tableside flambéed bananas Foster, Creole-style bread pudding, and dark chocolate Mississippi mud pie?
17. Going to Mai’s right when the bars close
Satisfy your late-night munchies at midnight, 1am, or 3am, but don’t even try to step foot into the place in the 30-minute window of the bars closing if you want your pho and bo luc lac anytime soon.
18. Not having a cocktail with dinner at Triniti
You may think wine is the way to go, but the cutting-edge cocktail program at Triniti’s Sanctuari Bar is highly touted as one of the city’s finest for a reason. Find out why.
19. Having “just a salad” at Beavers
This is when you choose to be nutritious? When there are things like Frito pie mac & cheese, chorizo-loaded jalapeño poppers, and sloppy BBQ chicken sandwiches pimped out with crispy onions, coleslaw, and an oozing fried egg on the line?? Really?!?!?