Houston, the largest city in Texas and fourth largest in the United States, is home to one of the most underrated culinary scenes in the country. While it's New York, LA, Chicago and San Francisco that all the publicity, it's Houston that Eater called, "the most dynamic and diverse food and drink scene in the nation."
With the NCAA Tournament in town, this weekend is the perfect time to check out all the amazing restaurant Houston offers. Between the final four games on Saturday and the National Championship game on Monday, there will be plenty of time for the Syracuse, UNC, Villanova and Oklahoma fans to visit the city's top restaurants.
Let’s start with the man that is THE chef of the Final Four, Chris Shepherd. When you aren’t at NRG Stadium, you have to stop by his restaurant, the famous Underbelly. This amazing restaurant tells “the story of Houston” through its culinary excellence and is mainstay on the city’s “Best Of” lists. Plus it landed on Eater’s Essential 38 in the nation. Book a reservation for this one Sunday evening between games, it is not to be missed.
What started as a food truck, now has added two brick and mortar stores in Bellaire and Katy. All the burgers are made from scratch using only Black Angus Beef and Bernie makes his own condiments too. To go along with the “school” theme, the burgers are appropriately name “Detention,” “Study Hall,” Class Clown,” etc. Try out my favorite, The Mascot – a bison burger topped with goat cheese, baby arugula, pickled red onions and chipotle blackberry BBQ sauce. We haven’t even talked about the fries and shakes….
Located on the southeast side of Houston in Pearland, Killen’s is a must for BBQ lovers. It has been named one of the Top 10 places to visit in Houston by the Food Network and received a perfect review from the Houston Chronicle, no easy feat. Depending on how hungry you are, you can order by the sandwich, plate or by the pound. Go when you have a little more time on your hands, because there will likely be a line out the door. It’s that good.
Chef Chris Shepherd has his hands all around the city of Houston including his own pub. Located directly next door to Underbelly, it’s part of a deadly combo for any foodie visiting Houston. You can order twists on the classics like PB&J wings, but you can also try Shepherd’s family style dishes like “Half a Pig Head” (because the other half would just be too much food).
With locations all around Houston, it won’t be hard to find one close. Little Woodrow’s is a great place to have casual beers, watch a game and have a good time. If you happen to be in Houston on a Thursday then go to the Midtown location for an amazing night of Turtle Racing.
For this year’s Final Four, Aramark, NRG’s Stadium food vendor, has partnered with Shepherd, the 2014 James Beard award-winning chef, to create two new sandwiches.
BC’s Korean Sloppy Joe: 44 Farms beef tossed in Korean BBQ sauce, served on a Hawaiian roll.
LC’s Buffalo Chicken Club: Chicken tossed in buffalo sauce and topped with bacon and bleu cheese slaw.
Not to be outdone by the action on the court, the two sandwiches will go head to head and compete for a spot on the final food roster for the Houston Texans 2016 regular season at NRG Stadium.
On top of that, Aramark is helping fans feel at home with a little taste of their hometown with these new sandwiches:
Wildcat Cheesesteak: Villanova University – Traditional Philadelphia cheesesteak served on a classic Philadelphia Amoroso roll.
Carolina Pulled Pork: University of North Carolina – Carolina pulled pork, topped with a vinegar based barbeque sauce and slaw, served on a potato roll with a side of chips.
Sooner Fried Steak: University of Oklahoma – Chicken fried steak served with potato chips, created by award-winning chef and Aramark partner Grady Spears.
Syracuse Sausage and Salt Potatoes: Syracuse University – Syracuse’s own Gianelli sausage and onions sandwich served with a side of homemade Central New York salt potatoes.