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Gayest & Greatest 2019: Dining Out and Drinks & Spirits

Husbands Eric Munoz and Levi Lucky Rollins offer tasty treats with a side of art at Urban Eats Bistro + Bar + Market.

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Urban Eats owners Eric Munoz (l) and Levi Lucky Rollins, Favorite Lunch Spot (Runner Up)

Hard to believe this fabulous eatery in The Heights has been around since late 2014, and it still packs them in for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. Husband-and-husband team of Eric Munoz and Levi Lucky Rollins (Lucky is a family name, not a nickname) commute from their suburban home seven days a week, so you’ll always find them here in this two-story former auto-repair shop cum bistro, craft bar, and marketplace.

Although Rollins, 44, comes from a line of restaurant owners and both of his grandmothers had eateries, he was working as vice president of sales at Laura Mercier when he got the idea to start a little bistro.

“I was traveling all the time,” Rollins says, “and I wanted to spend more time at home and have something Eric and I could do together. But the bistro idea morphed into an eatery with a bar and a marketplace. Urban Eats was a much bigger baby at birth than we thought!”

The couple has been married for a little over 14 years. They have two rescue cats, Molly and JoJo, but their real baby is Urban Eats. Downstairs you’ll find a casual spot for breakfast, along with the to-go market filled with the scent of fresh-baked pastries and grandma’s chewy ginger snaps. Many of Rollins’ recipes come from his family, and his mother and nonagenarian grandma come from California to visit several times a year.

Upstairs you’ll find a dining room and bar, and above that is a rooftop patio with a charming view of the neighborhood. The artwork featured in the space is by local artists (you’ll find Ernesto Guerra’s gorgeous paintings on display through December), and if you’re looking for unique holiday gifts, you can buy artwork and house-made foodstuffs here that will dazzle your friends.

But shoppers will also want to hang out here for the Sunday brunch. Grab a cocktail and settle in for some pancakes, waffles or French toast, or go for the chicken fried steak slider topped with a fried egg, or the Duck Fat Camper’s Hash.

“These are nice, well-rounded comfort dishes,” Rollins says, “but we do have some healthier choices! We have nine salads, including a very popular garden salad with goat cheese crostini and shaved grilled chicken.”

But Rollins’ go-to favorite is the fried green tomato BLT: a tart, fried green tomato with thick-sliced hickory-smoked bacon, cumin chili aioli, and peach pepper jam on a pretzel bun. The two sliders with fries are just $15—a real deal for the taste buds.

“It’s very popular,” Rollins says. “If I’m taking a slider home, that’s the one I take.”

Don’t pass up the fluffy pull-apart monkey bread with garlic, rosemary, and sea salt. Or for a sweet treat, try the lemon meringue tartlet.

But more than just food, Urban Eats is about people. “What keeps us going every day is the people,” Rollins says. “Most of our staff has been with us since the beginning. We wouldn’t have made it five years without them—and our wonderful customers.” – Marene Gustin

DINING OUT

Best 24-Hour Restaurant

House of Pies
Finalists: Katz’s Deli, Midtown Bar and Grill, Spanish Flowers

Best Bakery

Acadian Bakery (tie), Dessert Gallery  (tie)
Finalists: La Sicilia, Michael’s Cookie Jar

The Pit Room

Best Barbecue

The Pit Room
Finalists: Brookstreet BBQ, Goode Company, Pappas Bar-B-Q, Pinkerton’s Barbecue

Best Breakfast

Baby Barnaby’s
Finalists: Breakfast Klub, Lankford’s Grocery & Market, Snooze–An A.M. Eatery

Best British

Red Lion Pub
Finalists: Black Labrador Pub, McGonigel’s Mucky Duck

Best Brunch

Gloria’s Latin Cuisine (tie), Hamburger Mary’s (tie)
Finalists: The Classic, Urban Eats

Best Cafe

Barnaby’s Cafe
Finalists: Brasil, Common Bond Café & Bakery

Best Cajun

BB’s Tex-Orleans
Finalist: Ragin’ Cajun Restaurant

Best Central/South American

Gloria’s Latin Cuisine
Finalist: Tasty Arepa

Best Chinese

P. King Chinese Food
Finalists: Ambassador, China Garden,
Three Six Nine (3-6-9)

Best Cuban

El Rey
Finalist: Cafe Piquet

Best Deli

Katz’s Deli
Finalists: Kenny & Ziggy’s, New York Deli & Coffee Shop

Best Dessert

Acadian Bakers (tie), Dessert Gallery (tie)
Finalists: La Sicilia, Rita’s Italian Ice

Best Food Truck

Taqueria Adrian
Finalists: Bernie’s Burger Bus, The Waffle Bus

Best French

Bistro Le Cep
Finalist: La Table

Best Greek

Niko Niko’s
Finalist: Theo’s

Hamburger Mary’s

Best Hamburger

Hamburger Mary’s
Finalists: Acadian Bakery, Burger Joint, Lankford’s Grocery & Market

Best Hot Dog

Good Dog Houston–Montrose
Finalist: JCI Grill

Best Indian

Khyber
Finalists: Indika, Kiran’s

Best Italian

Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino (tie), Riva’s (tie)
Finalist: Maggiano’s Little Italy

Best Japanese

Uchi
Finalists: Oishii, Roka Akor

Best Lunch Spot

Jenni’s Noodle House (tie), Urban Eats (tie)
Finalists: Barnaby’s Café, Maggiano’s Little Italy

Best Mediterranean

Fadi’s
Finalists: Aladdin, DiMassi’s

Best Mexican

Gloria’s Latin Cuisine
Finalists: El Real, El Tiempo

Best Middle Eastern

Fadi’s
Finalist: Aladdin

Best New Restaurant

Bisou
Finalists: BCN Taste & Tradition, Nobie’s

Best Pizza

Bollo
Finalists: Pepperoni’s, Pi Pizza, Star Pizza

Rainbow Lodge

Best Place for a Romantic Date

Rainbow Lodge
Finalists: Eddie V’s, Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino, La Table

Best Place to Celebrate

Hamburger Mary’s
Finalists: Boheme, Pearl Bar

Best Restaurant for Cheap Eats

Jenni’s Noodle House
Finalists: Barnaby’s, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Urban Eats, Whataburger

Best Restaurant for Elegant Dining

Rainbow Lodge
Finalists: La Table, State of Grace, Tony’s

Best Restaurant for Outdoor Dining

Cedar Creek
Finalists: Backstreet Cafe, Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room

Best Seafood

Truluck’s
Finalists: Goode Company Seafood, McCormick & Schmick’s, Pappadeaux

Best Steak House

Perry’s Steakhouse
Finalists: B&B Butchers, Morton’s Steak House, Ritual

Best Steak Night at a Bar

Free Grillin’ at George
Finalists: Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon, Pearl Bar

Best Sushi

Roka Akor
Finalists: Kata Robata, Oishii

Best Thai

Khun Kay Thai
Finalists: Naam Khao Thai Kitchen, Rim Tanon

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Field of Greens
Finalists: Govinda’s, Tarka Indian Kitchen

Best Vietnamese

Thien An
Finalists: Cali Sandwich, Mai’s

Friendliest Restaurant Staff

Riva’s
Finalists: Barnaby’s, Gloria’s Latin Cuisine, Hamburger Mary’s

DRINKS & SPIRITS

Club or Restaurant with Best Happy Hour

Houston Eagle
Finalists: Crocker Bar, George Your Country Sports Bar, JR’s Bar & Grill

JR’s Bar & Grill

Club or Restaurant with the Best Margarita

JR’s Bar & Grill
Finalists: 1308 Annex, Hamburger Mary’s, Houston Eagle

Club or Restaurant with the Best Martini

Guava Lamp
Finalists: Hamburger Mary’s, Houston Eagle, JR’s Bar & Grill, Warren’s Inn

Favorite Brand of Beer

Bud Light
Finalists: 8th Wonder, Eureka Heights, Karbach

Favorite Brand of Liquor

Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Finalists: Crown Royal,  Deep Eddy Vodka, Don Anastacio Tequila

Sarah Tompkins Gutierrez

Favorite Female Bartender

Sarah Tompkins Gutierrez
Finalists: Kashmir Cortave, Mya Ross, Reyna Rodriguez

Favorite Male Bartender

Matthew Friar
Finalists: Colton Gaul, David Truong, Anthony Uncensored, Travis Webb

Favorite Wine Bar

Bacco
Finalists: Boheme, Postino

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Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and Gayot.com, among others.

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