Houston = Cultural Culinary Adventure

Houston’s dining scene is getting some major national attention. With 8,000 restaurants representing more than 35 cuisines, what’s not to love? But don’t take our word for it. This month’s issue of Bon Appetit asks “Is Houston’s multicultural dining scene the country’s best-kept food secret?” We challenge all AAM attendees to seek out the answer.

Houston boasts numerous diverse neighborhoods, many of which are anchored by ethnic restaurants and groceries. Explore key destinations that have transformed the city into a multicultural microsphere. Visit the palatial food court and grocery store inside Hong Kong Market inside Hong Kong City Mall—one of the largest Asian superstores in the region—on Bellaire Boulevard. Venture into west Houston-set Phoenicia (the downtown location opens summer 2011) for 55,000 square feet of international delicacies. Among the outpost’s more than 6,000 exotic offerings are freshly-baked pita breads, flakey baklava and tempting tabouli. Sample delicious, house-made pierogies at Polonia, the city’s only Polish grocery/restaurant and dive into a spicy plate of house-made som tum at Asia Market, a converted Thai grocery store. Don’t miss H-Mart, a massive Korean grocery store, which is just down the street from Chinese grocery 99 Ranch Market.

Prefer an expert to show you the ropes? The same culinary geniuses that have topped endless ‘Best Of’ lists, graced the covers of Food & Wine and Bon Appetit and helped put H-Town on the national map are now making it their mission to show residents and visitors the underbelly of the city’s food scene with the ‘Where the Chefs Eat’ Houston Culinary Tours.

Forget the upscale restaurants, for once—they aren’t the only things setting Houston apart from major epicurean cities like Chicago and San Francisco. This time around, the city’s top chefs—including The Next Iron Chef‘s Bryan Caswell and Top Chef Masters‘ Monica Pope—are teaming up to shift the spotlight to the small, independent, ethnic spots—whose recipes have been passed down from generation to generation.

With only 16 guests per chef-led tour, participants will gain intimate knowledge about the city: unexplored neighborhoods; undiscovered restaurants; and markets that contribute to the locally-driven menus of each chef.  Details at HoustonCulinaryTours.com.

We encourage our Houston AAM members to post your favorite ethnic dive restaurants and groceries in the city!

Attendees – flex the adventurous side of your palette and sample a dish you’ve never tried before!

–Laurette Canizares and Natalie Bogan Morgan,
Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau
www.visithoustontexas.com

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