Wednesday, April 23, 2014

God Bless Texas: Houston!

I love having friends who live in cool cities. I really didn't know much about Houston (like the fact that it's the 4th largest city in the US!) but I'm pretty much obsessed with it now. In 3 days, I had more meat and hot sauce than I've had so far this year, and loved every bite. My fellow North Carolinian Kelsey and I fell prey to the allure of the city, thanks to our fantastic tour guide (and North Carolinian at heart), Kate.

With my girls!
Our first meal had to be "Tex-Mex," if you will, at Lupe Tortilla. We were treated like royals - samples of their Beef Burritos (spoiler: they're OUTSTANDING), free Flan, two types of Salsa - I was in love already. For lunch, Local Foods has killer fresh ingredients. Truffled Egg Salad is the only egg salad I've ever enjoyed - and I would eat this on a flip flop. It's ridiculously light and fluffy, and the fact that it's served on a Pretzel Roll totally takes it over the top.

We made our way to Rice Village (by the University) for some shopping. It's comparable to Friendly Center or Thru-Way, but way, WAY bigger. At Torchy's Tacos, my eyes fixated on the words "Jalapeno Sausage." If the Truffled Egg Salad blew me away, the Jalapeno Sausage Taco put me on another planet. I was excited to try the Barbacoa Taco, but the Jalapeno Sausage totally took first place. Kate's friends were doing "bar golf," and we tagged along, enjoying Moscow Mules and local Texas beers at several different stops. This was an incredibly fun way to explore the humongous, diverse city.
Macaron heaven!

After exploring the Farmer's Market where we sampled Pecan Wood-Smoked Brisket with Raspberry Sauce (though I gotta admit - I'm an NC BBQ gal - the more vinegar, the better!), we made our way to what's best described as Whole Foods on steroids. Houston's Central Market has everything you've ever dreamed of and more. I almost lost it when I saw a carton of fresh squeezed WATERMELON juice - delightful! I had to sample a Goat Cheese and Honey Macaron, Buffalo Blue Cheese Popcorn and a Caramel Apple Praline Cookie. I just kept seeing my favorite words. What's a girl to do?

I'd like to swim in this Vermicelli bowl.
Thankfully, the humidity and heat were extremely low, so we were able to be outside and ride around the gorgeous neighborhoods without melting our faces off. At Mai Vietnamese, you'll find the most fantastic Vermicelli Bowl of your life. Mongoose versus Cobra is a happening spot to sit outside and enjoy a craft beer. (Or 4.) For an unparalleled dinner, the Red Lion British Pub does up some of the most tender Scallops atop an insane Black Truffle Mash.

Prior to catching my flight, I had to get one last Mexican Food fix at Pappasito's Cantina. A $2 Bloody Mary special sealed the deal. The trio of tacos - Grilled Shrimp, Pork Carnitas and Brisket - came with an appropriate Salsa for each meat. Non-Texas tacos bore me now. I can't wait to go back and explore more of Oil Country. If I've learned anything, it's that Texas loves Texas. And so do I.
God Bless Texas.

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