Houston, I’ve been told, is the most diverse city in the United States. More than 170 languages are spoken here, beating even Astoria, Queens as the biggest challenge for translators. This vast city is full of so many immigrants, that naturally, it would also be a top food destination.
Last night we fanned out all over Houston in a dine-around, groups were dispatched to a dozen different restaurants. I joined Houston’s tourism press rep, A.J. Mistretta, and climbed aboard the bus heading for Coltivare, where the name means cultivate in Italian.
Chef Ryan Pera makes the best use of local ingredients by shopping in the big kitchen garden in the restaurant’s own patio. Tall stalks of corn, towering tomato plants, and rows of lacinato kale join many other veggies and herbs that the chef uses in the simple dishes. “We don’t grow cauliflower,” we were told by GM Jeb Stuart, “but we grow a whole lot of everything else.”
We sat at a big long table out in the patio, and they brought forth dish after dish. We didn’t have to decide what to order, they just kept bringing out small plates of delicious Italian dishes, starting with a big board of salami, pepper spread, prosciutto, olives and warm bread. Then a tomato and feta basil salad, with unusually red ripe tomatoes, then their signature roasted cauliflower florets…and finally some of their wood-fired sourdough pizzas. It was truly the perfect way to dine and with their top-notch wine list, it was just about perfect. I love it when I don’t have to decide, it just comes.
Other Houston dining highlights are Underbelly, which has a great reputation for all things pork, with their own butcher shop and owned by famous chef Chris Shepard, an expert on the local food scene. Other kudos from Houston locals were directed at Nifa’s and the many great joints along Montrose Street. With more than 10,000 restaurants to choose from, it would take quite a bit of research to determine the best, but it would be a very delicious endeavor! Find out more at Visit Houston.