Author Archives: alisoncook

Author Archives: alisoncook

Alison Cook’s top 100: No. 1. Oxheart

1. Oxheart This tiny Warehouse District restaurant may just represent the future of Houston dining. Chef Justin Yu’s food is that personal, that precise, and that daring in its refusal to let major hunks of protein dominate its painterly plates. Three tasting menus are offered each evening — four courses for a modest $49; seven [...]

Alison Cook’s top 100: No. 2 Kata Robata

2. Kata Robata There is no Houston restaurant that inspires such sharp anticipation in me as this elevated sushi bar where chef Manabu Horiuchi (“Hori-san” to his acolytes) plies his impeccable trade. His carefully sourced, beautifully handled fish and shellfish rival the best anywhere, from shiny-skinned mackerel to crunchy giant clam. The gently sticky vinegared [...]

Alison Cook’s top 100: No. 3 Tony’s

3. Tony’s Yes, Tony’s. Legendary restaurateur Tony Vallone’s longtime bastion of fine dining and high society has had various incarnations — along with a few wobbly spells, one of them rather recent. Yet lately Tony’s is back in fine form, thanks to Vallone’s shrewd recruitment of young chef Grant Gordon, whose precise technique gives the [...]

Alison Cook’s Top 100: No. 4 Hugo’s

4. Hugo’s Chef-owner Hugo Ortega’s ode to the interior Mexican flavors of his youth just keeps getting better and more soulful as it approaches its 10-year anniversary. His is the one restaurant in Houston dedicated to exalting a strain of cooking that may be our most important and persistent culinary influence. And exalt it he [...]

Alison Cook’s top 100: No. 5 Feast

5. Feast Few local restaurants have the capacity to keep surprising even loyal fans. Yet Houston’s groundbreaking nose-to-tail restaurant does exactly that with its constantly revolving menu, wowing the adventurous with an unfamiliar species of Gulf fish; its roasted collar propped up like a Chardin still life; or coaxing pig cheeks into a strange delight [...]

Alison Cook’s top 100: No. 6 Underbelly

6. Underbelly This, at last, is the restaurant Chris Shepherd was born to run. There is no chef in Houston who has embraced the city’s kaleidoscopic ethnic food scene more wholeheartedly, foraging in far-flung neighborhoods and staging briefly in various Asian and South Asian kitchens. Now he brings that passion to bear in a big, [...]

Alison Cook’s top 100: No. 7 Uchi Houston

7. Uchi Houston This Austin import from celebrated chef Tyson Cole has turned the old Felix restaurant into a handsome, if somber, version of a Japanese farmhouse. It’s not just some clone of Cole’s Austin restaurants, although eclectic Japanese signature dishes like the elegant machi cure (smoked baby yellowtail combined with translucent yucca crisps, macron [...]

Alison Cook’s top 100: No. 9 Pondicheri

9. Pondicheri Anita Jaisinghani’s leap into casual Indian “diner”-style fare is both daring and distinctive, qualities all too unusual in restaurant openings from Houston’s high-profile chefs. Thanks to Jaisinghani’s sophisticated eye, the space looks splendid with its unfinished concrete greys, nickel tones and bright textile splashes. And the food, while it may not be rock [...]

Alison Cook’s top 100: No. 8 Hubcap Grill

8. Hubcap Grill In a city where burger culture runs deep, Ricky Craig is the high-strung, exacting face of our current hamburger Renaissance. As chef-owner and jack of all trades, he has made his original downtown slot-in-the-wall famous not with costly grades of beef and fancy fixings, but with straightforward ingredients handled with extreme care. [...]

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