I will be the first to say that my memories of “mall” dining are not all that great. Growing up, my dining experiences where limited to the overly crowded food courts that were flooded with cookie shops, wanna-be pizza parlors, and burgers joints out the wazoo. Times have clearly changed and so have my taste. These days, if you are looking for a quick bite to eat while shopping for the perfect black cocktail dress, you have choices like Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Chick-fil-A or a nice bistro for a soup and salad combo. And let’s not forget Starbucks which you can find on every corner…and I mean every corner!

Here in Houston, The Galleria, like many other world famous shopping destinations, kicks it up a notch (Emeril style). We have some pretty good eateries including The Cheesecake Factory, Gigi’s Asian Bistro and Dumpling Bar, and Oceanaire Seafood Room; just to name a few. Typically, I opt for a real dining experience and these alternatives provide a nice getaway from the hectic vibe of the mall and who doesn’t want the option to grab a nice cocktail or two before jump starting round three of an all day spree.

White Oak Kitchen + Drinks is located on the third floor of the Houston Galleria, conveniently located near Michael Kors. And no, that is not why I chose this place! “Food with fresh ingredients and a modern twist” is their mantra and I can agree that they sell and deliver on that quite nicely. With a very modern decor, dim lighting, and a combination of booths and square tables, White Oak Kitchen + Drinks is a great choice. The margaritas are great, and anytime I am tempted to order more than one, I send a personal praise to the bartender. You would be surprised at how often my margarita is royally screwed up. A+ White Oak!

The food is as diverse as the stores that line the floors of The Galleria and the prices are reflective of those found in the Galleria too; a bit on the pricey side. From Southern Crispy Chicken (served with mac and cheese), to Flat Iron Steak (served with roasted herb fingerling potatoes), to Pad Thai, the options are varied. The menu seemed quite limited in the number of options, but the regional cuisine made up for that. I thoroughly enjoyed the Pad Thai, served with shrimp, chicken, rice noodles, bean sprouts, eggs, scallions, peanuts, and cilantro. It was quite tasty and could stand up to my other faves around the city. However, my luck stopped at the mac and cheese. It was a bit on the dry side and bland (see the picture below; it is worth a thousand words). It was okay, but not something I would order again.

Overall, this cozy corner hangout was perfect for what I look for during a shopping escape. It was somewhat quiet, in comparison to your typical food court, the food was good and the drinks were even better. What more could you ask for! White Oak Kitchen + Drinks also offers a daily happy hour from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m, so plan accordingly!  In addition to the complimentary appetizer of the day, you can also enjoy $2 off domestic and imported bottled beer, $3 off cocktails (including premium brands), $4 off wine, and $16 off bottles of wine. Now those are the outlet stores prices we live for!

Shanna Jones

Shanna is the co-founder and editor of Urban Swank. She focuses on food and travel.


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