While fall in Houston is often fickle — here one day and gone the next — chefs still turn out a slew of comforting dishes suitable for warming up on a chill day or simply for those yearning for crisp air and scarf weather. Herein lies a sampling of the best of fall, Texas-style.
Credit: Julie Soefer
Suckling pig presse at One Fifth - Romance Languages
The latest reincarnation of Chris Shepherd’s ambitious 5-year restaurant project, Romance Languages (which replaced the flagship steakhouse iteration in late summer), presents dishes reflecting the cuisines of Spain, France and Italy. In a nod to the latter, the suckling pig presse offers diverse textures thanks to slow-cooked pulled pork set atop pork skin, all of which is then pressed, chilled and seared. The seasoned meat is offset by addictive creamy white bean puree and sweet and tangy red pepper mustarda.
1658 Westheimer Rd.; 713-955-1024
Courtesy of Yauatcha
Roasted duck pumpkin puff at Yauatcha
The swanky Chinese hot spot at The Galleria remains a popular destination for upscale dim sum and creative cocktails. Beyond the expected noodles and dumplings, the roasted duck puffs marry sweet and savory autumnal notes: Sticky pumpkin rice, rich roast duck and pine nuts are encased in flaky, pumpkin-shaped dough and bite-sized.
5045 Westheimer Rd.; 713-357-7588
Courtesy of Brennan's of Houston
Mesquite smoked pork belly at Brennan’s of Houston
When executive chef Joe Cervantes returned to Brennan’s earlier this year, he brought intriguing updates to this Midtown Creole restaurant. One such addition is the smoky-sweet pork belly that comes atop savory pumpkin Johnny cakes and is finished with indulgent bacon jam and Moonflower Farm micro greens.
3300 Smith St.; 713-522-9711
Credit: A.E. Scott Designs
Ravioli del Cacciatore at Potente
Cooler months bring forth earthy flavors like mushrooms and wild game. Find both with elegant Italian-meets-Creole flair in Danny Trace’s roasted pheasant and rabbit ravioli; tender meat is paired with woodsy Indian Creek mushrooms, black pepper chevre and gunpowder spice tucked into pillows of fresh pasta.
1515 Texas Ave.; 713-237-1515
Courtesy of State of Grace
Pan-roasted snapper at State of Grace
At this refined River Oaks locale, Bobby Matos is famous for flavor-rich dishes that reflect Houston’s culinary diversity, as well as Southern and Gulf Coast traditions. The pan-roasted snapper is no exception and is at once decadent and light thanks to earthy-sweet acorn squash, brown butter and forbidden rice. Available at dinner only.
3258 Westheimer Rd.; 832-942-5080
Courtesy of La Table
42oz Texas long-bone Akaushi ribeye flambé au Cognac at La Table
A date at this Galleria-area French stunner is synonymous with memorable experiences, from souffles to desserts, some made tableside. The 42-oz. Texas long-bone Akushi ribeye is first soaked in Cognac for 24 hours and seasoned with salt and pepper. Inspired by the French “au poivre” preparation, the boozy beef is bathed with butter, thyme, rosemary and garlic, then laid on a block of Himalayan salt and set aflame tableside. Caramelized maitake mushrooms, Cipollini onions and whipped potato puree come along too.
1800 Post Oak Blvd #6110; 713-439-1000
Credit: Clark Cooper Concepts
Bucantini all’amatriciana at Coppa Osteria
It’s always prime season for pasta at this Rice Village Italian wine paradise, but the garlicky-spicy bucantini all’amatriciana offers extra incentive for carb indulgence. A generous mound of thick spaghetti-style pasta is offset by crisp pancetta, Calabrian chilis and garlic-infused tomato sauce and crispy garlic.
5210 Morningside Dr.; 713-522-3535
Credit: Kimberly Park
Tandoori chicken salad at Killen’s STQ
While Ronnie Killen’s Briargrove outpost is famous for red meat meals like high-end steaks and barbecue, the tandoori chicken salad is also ideal for welcoming the cooler months. A complex combo of flavors and textures, it features chicken breast from local Two Sisters Farms, slightly crunchy grilled radicchio, sweet charred grapes, curry roasted cauliflower, BBQ chickpeas and smoked apple dressing. It's finished with a cucumber yogurt.
2231 S Voss Rd.; 713-586-0223
Courtesy of Field & Tides
Pork chop at Field & Tides
Gulf and game reign at this Heights bistro, which blends a relaxed neighborhood vibe with elevated southeast Texas cuisine. The double-cut pork chop is at once familiar and fresh, seared and roasted with a side of Hoppin’ John (Sea Island peas with Carolina gold rice) and a finish of tangy Creole mustard demi.
705 E 11th St.; 713-861-6143
Credit: Kimberly Park
Vegetarian tacos at Dish Society
A casual vibe belies the thoughtfully executed and locally sourced ingredients at these laid-back bistros particularly known for weekend brunch. The vegetarian tacos are a natural fit morning to night with fillings of sweet and earthy balsamic-roasted Brussels sprouts, crunchy cabbage, crisp pickled red onion, tart crème fraîche and salty cotija cheese on corn or flour tortillas.
Courtesy of Grotto Downtown
Butternut squash tortelloni at Grotto Downtown
This expansive Downtown eatery prepares virtually everything in-house. Tender squares of scratch-made pasta encase house-cured pancetta and roasted squash for the butternut squash tortelloni, finished with brown butter sage sauce and toasted pumpkin seeds.
1001 Avenida De Las Americas a; 713-658-0752
Credit: J.J. Savarino
Shrimp Creole at State Fare
From the group behind cult hits Pi Pizza and Lee’s Fried Chicken & Donuts is this Memorial City eatery popular for elevated Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana classics, from fried catfish to gumbo (and a killer weekend brunch). The shrimp Creole warms up cool fall days with plump Gulf shrimp in a rich and creamy spicy tomato sauce seasoned with red pepper and Louisiana Hot Sauce.
947 Gessner b190; 832-831-0950
Credit: Radio Milano
Pan-roasted pheasant at Radio Milano
Tucked into the mixed-use CityCentre complex in west Houston, this sleek two-story restaurant features a first-floor bar serving original cocktails and an intimate upstairs dining room. The pan-roasted pheasant draws the eye while enticing the palate with eggplant caponada chock full of veggies like red bell pepper, zucchini and onion. Micro greens and chicken jus complete the dish.
800 Sorella Ct; 713-827-3545
Courtesy of Beaver's
Brisket grilled cheese at Beaver's
While the original location of this laid-back comfort food and cocktail spot is undergoing a renovation, the second outpost keeps the literal fires burning inside and out (we love the spacious patio and fire pit). Settle around a brisket grilled cheese, which blends tangy sauce-soaked chopped brisket, white cheddar and American cheeses and crispy fried onions served between jalapeño cheese bread for a grown-up twist.
6025 Westheimer Rd.; 713-714-4111
Courtesy of Ristorante Cavour
Anatra at Ristorante Cavour
Lovely for a business lunch, romantic dinner and even afternoon tea, this luxe Northern Italian cafe inside Hotel Granduca prepares a fall-centric dinner entree of pan-roasted duck (anatra in Italian) with sweet caramelized butternut squash and decadent marsala-truffle sauce.
1080 Uptown Park Blvd.; 713-418-1000