It is that time of the year again! This month is the reason that many Houstonians mark their calendars. No matter your dining preference or palate, most of us use this time to get out and try a new restaurant or go back for a visit to one of our favorites. Houston Restaurant Weeks, which over the years has progressed from a week long campaign to a month long one, is aimed at fighting hunger in Houston with a percentage of all proceeds benefiting the Houston Food Bank. This year, the campaign runs August 1 through September 1, 2014.

Just like last year, there are four options. The lunch option is $20 and includes 2-3 courses, the brunch option is $25 for 2-3 courses, and dinner has both a $35 option and a $45 option for 3-4 courses. Donations of $3, $4, $5, and $7 will go to the Houston Food Bank for each meal, respectively. To add a little context, one $35 dinner will generate 15 meals from your donation!

For us, this is an even more exciting time, and as we dine out frequently, and 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. The fun is in both the planning and the partaking. Since our friends ask us every year , “Where should we go for Houston Restaurant Weeks?”, here are our top picks:

New Kids On The Block

Table On Post Oak – If you haven’t made your way to Table, HRW is the perfect time to check them out. We recently visited and LOVED it! Starting dinner with any of the three first course options will make you a happy camper (or would that be “diner”).

Punk’s Simple Southern Food 
– This place is like a Southern food lover’s happy place! Starting with the Pimento Cheese (Lola’s recipe served with Ritz crackers, celery sticks and carrots) or the Good Ol’ Boy Gumbo (braised bone-in chicken thigh, andouille sausage and rice) is a nice choice. Follow that up with the Shrimp & Grits (gulf shrimp and creole tomato sauce served over white hominy grits) and ‘Nana Puddin’ (banana-vanilla pudding with nilla wafers, fresh banana and cream cheese whipped cream).

Caracol – This beautiful new Mexican seafood restaurant by Chef Hugo Ortega is a must-try for seafood lovers and those seeking authentic Mexican coastal cuisine. This is one of HRW’s four course ($45) offerings, and the menu is set-up by type of cuisine: Vegetarian, Ocean Lover, On Dry Land, and Our Style. We say go for it and select the “Our Style” option.

Tried and True

Brasserie 19 – This sexy River Oaks restaurant is making our list for the second year in a row. Why? Well, not only do you receive a lot of bang for your buck, but it’s quite the scene. Good looking people, great drinks and even better food are what we call a “no-brainer” combination. Stand out items for this year include the House Cured Salmon Gravlax and the Rainbow Trout Almondine.

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood – Every year we hope that Eddie V’s brings a menu that is worthy of our top picks list and finally this year they have succeeded. This seafood and steakhouse has been one of our favorites ever since it made its way into CityCentre several years ago. No matter which location you choose (their two menus are somewhat different) do not, and we repeat, do not skip on the Bananas Foster Butter Cake with Butter Pecan Ice Cream.

Glass Wall Restaurant – This restaurant has been giving the people what they want for 8 years and we have been patrons of this establishment since the year it opened. You will be happy with anything you order and the wine selection is stellar for those that choose to indulge in a glass with their dinner.

Oldie But Goodie

Latin Bites – Chef Roberto Castre is one of the best in the game! Looking at the menu we are crazy excited about the Patacon Shortrib (72 hours kobe short ribs, served with avocado aioli, cotija cheese, mint foam, and citrus vinaigrette). He does a great job with seafood and purees, so the Emerald Fish (white seasonal fish, shrimp, octopus, squid, clams, and mussels, served on a mint-basil sauce, fava beans, green peas, seasonal baby vegetables, and carrot puree) is a must-try.

Americas – This place oozes sexy and tasty food! A few stand-outs on this year’s menu are the Lomo Y Mar (grilled beef filet, achiote shrimp, castelvetrano olives, mascarpone mashed potatoes, stilton blue cheese sauce) and Pollo Encamisado (plantain crusted chicken, roasted tomato, seared panela cheese and purée of spicy-smokey black bean sauce crema fresca).

Faud’s Restaurant – On a regular night in this upscale-posh restaurant, don’t expect to be greeted with a menu, since each meal is customized for the diners. For HRW they have, however, created and customized a remarkable menu for us all! If you were wondering, the Flaming Banana Fosters (that’s prepared tableside) is not to be missed!

Lunch Options

Harold’s at Heights General Store – A market, deli, restaurant and bar all wrapped into one, Harold’s is the perfect escape for a midday lunch. If your taste buds have been craving some Southern cuisine, then the Shrimp & Okra Gumbo and Texas Blackened Catfish will certainly be your “fix”.

60 Degrees Mastercrafted – No, the $200 Bistro Burger is not on their HRW menu but their HRW lunch menu is a great choice regardless. Chef Fritz Gitschner is one of 65 to successfully obtain the title of Certified Master Chef (CMC) with many more accolades under his belt. We have been pleased after every meal here and for the price, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Pico’s Mex-Mex – An upgrade to your traditional Tex Mex, Pico’s is adding a bit of Southwestern flare to their offerings. In addition, their new Upper Kirby location is more convenient for all which makes it a perfect choice for lunch.

Hold The Meat

Radical Eats – A newbie to HRW, Radical Eats is a great option for both vegans and vegetarians alike. Although they do serve meat dishes, you will find some pretty inventive options in their meatless section. The Carrot Risotto and the Peach and Fig Crepe are sure to wow and many of their items are gluten free as well.

Coppa Osteria – The fact that many of their pastas are house made is reason enough to pay Coppa Osteria a visit. They have plenty of dishes that skip on the meat and still deliver a ton of flavor, like their Ravioli topped with a tomato cream sauce and basil.

Kiran’s – The minute you step into Kiran’s you feel like you are at your home away from home. Serving upscale Indian fare, Chef Kiran’s HRW menu has many meatless options this year. The Chef’s Vegetarian Tasting is a top choice and includes paneer makhni, bagare bengan, daal makhni, english cucumber raita, saffron rice pulao & lachedar paratha or chickpea pancake.

 

Two quick tips: Let your waiter know that you would like the special HRW menu (sometimes they will hand it to you along with the regular menu and sometimes they won’t) and make sure to tip based on the value of your meal and not the bill itself (your waitstaff will appreciate it).

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