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Alison Cook / Restaurant Reviews

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Houston Chronicle's food critic Alison Cook guides you to the top dishes, desserts, and drinks of the Houston area.
The El's nachos solamente: individually composed with thin layers of refried black beans, asadero cheese, fresh jalapeño chiles, pico de gallo and the counterintuitive ingredient that puts them over the top: a cool sharp grace note of cilantro ranch dressing.

Tongue-in-cheek Tex-Mex brings the fun at El Cantina Superior

The El's nachos solamente: individually composed with thin layers of refried black beans, asadero cheese, fresh jalapeño chiles, pico de gallo and the counterintuitive ingredient that puts them over the top: a cool sharp grace note of cilantro ranch dressing.

Roegels sails high on Houston's rising barbecue tide

Roegels sails high on Houston's rising barbecue tide

Houston Restaurants, Restaurant Bar, Texas Caviar, Loaded Mashed Potatoes, Cook, Dill Weed, Pinto Beans, Pork Ribs, Potato Salad

Spanish fare hit Houston at BCN Taste & Tradition.

Spanish fare hits Houston

Bistro Menil brings life to a sleek but hungry arts mecca in Houston

Bistro Menil brings life to a sleek but hungry arts mecca in Houston

Restaurant Bar, Houston Restaurants, Mecca, Eggplant Fries, Sea Scallops, San Antonio, Mascarpone Cheese, Egg Sandwiches, Cordial

The Chicken Ranch's fried chicken passes the toughest test: Leftovers are still crunchy after spending a night in the fridge.

Chicken Ranch fare shows beauty of simplicity

The Chicken Ranch's fried chicken passes the toughest test: Leftovers are still crunchy after spending a night in the fridge.

Seeing Shiva Patel juicing behind the counter, then tending the breads going into the wood oven while her husband filled in on cocktail duty for a missing bartender, I felt almost philosophical about the ponderous "Oporto Fooding House & Wine" name that made my eyes roll when I first heard it.

Oporto Fooding soars in unexpected ways

Seeing Shiva Patel juicing behind the counter, then tending the breads going into the wood oven while her husband filled in on cocktail duty for a missing bartender, I felt almost philosophical about the ponderous "Oporto Fooding House & Wine" name that made my eyes roll when I first heard it.

Middle Eastern flatbread rolled around classic Venezuelan shredded beef, sweet-plantain chunks, black beans and sesame tahini? I knew it could go either way, but I had to have it.

Gusto Gourmet, where Venezuela meets Mideast

Middle Eastern flatbread rolled around classic Venezuelan shredded beef, sweet-plantain chunks, black beans and sesame tahini? I knew it could go either way, but I had to have it.

Weights + Measures surprises, bite by bite

Weights + Measures surprises, bite by bite

The fig gorgonzola dolce gelato with whipped cream, candied walnuts and honey at Weights & Measures Thursday April Rossman photo) Photo: Dave Rossman, Freelance / Freelalnce

Alison Cook declares Amalfi a new Italian star in Houston. 2 stars, actually.

With Amalfi, an Italian star is born

Alison Cook declares Amalfi a new Italian star in Houston. 2 stars, actually.

Tout Suite invites diners to nibble, stay a while.

Tout Suite invites diners to linger

Main Kitchen: Quirky food from -- of all places --  a J.W. Marriott!

Main Kitchen brings quirky touch to hotel food

Moderno Tacos + Tex Mex isn't so modern and, honestly, isn't all that good.

What's so modern about Moderno Tex-Mex?

Moderno Tacos + Tex Mex isn't so modern and, honestly, isn't all that good.

Cubed avocado added a bit of welcome richness, and a welter of tiny, glassy kelp noodles contributed a poppy, near-subliminal crunch that marches up your cranial bones when you bite down. About True Food's organic produce: they are central to Weil's philosophy, which is not so much diet in the pop-culture sense as a sensible eating plan that shuns processed foods, rather than eliminating whole categories of food.

True Food Kitchen has virtue

Cubed avocado added a bit of welcome richness, and a welter of tiny, glassy kelp noodles contributed a poppy, near-subliminal crunch that marches up your cranial bones when you bite down. About True Food's organic produce: they are central to Weil's philosophy, which is not so much diet in the pop-culture sense as a sensible eating plan that shuns processed foods, rather than eliminating whole categories of food.

Part of Vallone's genius was to make Houstonians feel that the world was at their feet at a time when the city was increasingly staking its claim on a national and international stage.  Nothing was too much trouble.

Tony's celebrates five decades

Part of Vallone's genius was to make Houstonians feel that the world was at their feet at a time when the city was increasingly staking its claim on a national and international stage. Nothing was too much trouble.

Radio Milano's chef Jose Hernandez blossoms

Radio Milano's chef Jose Hernandez blossoms

Restaurant Bar, Houston Restaurants, Basil Oil, Polenta Cakes, Potato Cakes, Radios, Blossoms, Egg Yolks, Entertainment

David Chang, the impossibly famous New York chef who founded the Momofuku empire, was sitting at my dinner table Monday night, dressed in a Houston Astros T-shirt. It was the kind of unexpected meeting that helps to draw more than 30,000 people together each spring for the Interactive portion of South by Southwest, the Austin music, film and digital festival. Anyway. There was Chang, parked between Jonathan Gold - the Pulitzer prize-winning restaurant critic from the Los Angeles Times - and…

Foodies converge at Austin festival

David Chang, the impossibly famous New York chef who founded the Momofuku empire, was sitting at my dinner table Monday night, dressed in a Houston Astros T-shirt. It was the kind of unexpected meeting that helps to draw more than 30,000 people together each spring for the Interactive portion of South by Southwest, the Austin music, film and digital festival. Anyway. There was Chang, parked between Jonathan Gold - the Pulitzer prize-winning restaurant critic from the Los Angeles Times - and…