Not only was it a great year for restaurant and bar openings, it was a great year for food. Our favorite bites ranged from the humble Brussels sprout to the meat candy otherwise known as the brown-sugar pork chop from Roost. In no particular order, here are the best things we ate in 2013, and may there be many more in the coming year.
Brown-Sugar Pork Chop at Roost
This bone-in chop was coated in brown sugar and served with braised mustard greens and a side of tangy green tomato chow-chow. As we described it earlier, it was meat candy of the tastiest kind - and a combination of textures and flavors that will have us heading back to Roost as soon as possible.
1972 Fairview St.; 713-523-7667
Shrimp and Grits at Down House
It was everything we love in a single bite. This Vietnamese version of the Southern comfort classic combines stone-ground grits, plump Gulf-caught shrimp, a fragrant pho broth, scallions and bacon into one mega-version of shrimp and grits that just so happened to be one of the best meals we had all year.
1801 Yale St.; 713-864-3696
Squid Risotto at Restaurant Cinq
Chef German Mosquera treated us to a daily special that he created after receiving a shipment of fresh baby squid. The delicately grilled squid combined with the truffle-laden risotto quickly became one of our favorites after only a few bites.
3410 Montrose Blvd.; 713-524-7999
Brussels Sprouts at The Pass & Provisions
Coming from the more casual Provisions side of the restaurant, this rich dish of Brussels sprouts gets its oomph from kimchi and an over-easy duck egg. When the yolk is broken, it glazes the whole package with an unctuous magic that brings this hearty vegetable to life.
807 Taft St.; 713-628-9020
Seafood Gumbo at Gumbo Bar
It's hard to find a decent gumbo, or at least one that compares to the bowls we ate growing up in a Cajun household. Galveston's Gumbo Bar proves itself worthy with a dark, rich roux and plenty of shrimp in their seafood version. Add an order of garlic bread to sop up the last few drops that won't fit onto your spoon.
2107 Post Office St.; 409-744-8626
Ceviche at Latin Bites
Surprisingly, it's tough to find a good ceviche in Houston, but the Peruvian version at Latin Bites is always a win. The citrusy, piquant dish pairs shrimp with sweet potato puree, ginger, mint and crunchy toasted corn kernels for a symphony of flavors and textures.
5709 Woodway Dr.; 713-229-8369
Green Dosa at Pondicheri
Breakfast is our favorite meal to eat out, especially when it's something outside of our usual go-to of pancakes, eggs, bacon and hash browns. Pondicheri keeps things interesting with dishes like the green dosa, a fermented lentil and rice crepe filled with fresh vegetables and a coconut chutney. The spicy sauce called sambhar that comes on the side is the finishing touch.
2800 Kirby Dr.; 713-522-2022