Just last year, Houston was humiliatingly awarded the title of Fattest City in America for the third year in a row. Flabby gothams and lipo-obsessed zip codes everywhere laughed, and wheezed their own flabby sigh of relief because their big asses had dodged the overweight bullet. Say what you will, but we know the real reason our fair city can pack on the poundage. Houston boasts some of most delectably reliable—and adventurous—cuisine in the country. And, honestly, most of us are not as obese as the bell curve busters would have anyone believe. How can we be when we’re all too busy acrobatically hopping from favorite greasy spoon standby to dicing-edge James Beardworthy bistro? Ask anyone who’s moved from the Lone Star and they’ll agree, mourning our truly diverse fare. Even gastronomic epicenters like LA, San Fran, New York, and New Orleans salivate at our culinary prowess and headspinning examples of delicious, Texas-sized showing off in the kitchen. But sampling the bounty of our fair city is a big bite to try to swallow.
Helping you wade through cuisine both humble and haute is the latest edition of the Fearless Critic Houston Restaurant Guide. A phalanx of seriously qualified (but never snobby) foodies sample more than 450 local eateries and sum up their clever, shrewdly observed critiques to save you the financial heartache of an overpriced, under-seasoned meal and the cruel heartburn of a rank one. The writing is precise and vigorously entertaining, whether they’re slobbering over Marco’s or trashing Collina’s. You can skip the lengthy reviews if you like, but when each of the page-long summaries is this entertaining, that would be like eating the bread basket and ignoring the mouthwatering dinner to come. Why not enjoy the real dish which, in this case, is the zesty, tart analyses. Still, for the word dieters in the crowd, Fearless handily boils down their thoughts into a quick and easy diagnostic, rating food, “feel,” average bill, restaurant type, cuisine served, and even a log-line summary for the ADD diner.
Fifteen bucks might seem a lot to pay for a restaurant run-down. But if you’ve ever shelled out significant green to feast on a mediocre meal, this engagingly written meal bible is worth every penny. The manual will validate your discerning palate, warn you of cuisine gone wrong, and, like aromas wafting from an adventurous kitchen, entice you into exploring places your taste buds have yet to experience. —Steven Foster
Available at all major Houston-area bookstores, several grocery stores and specialty markets, and amazon.com.