Archive for category The H-Town Review

The H-Town Review: Simo’s Diner

Monthly Feature
Mike reviews a Houston restaurant each month!

Tucked in an industrial strip of Shepherd Drive in Northwest Houston sits Simo’s Diner, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it slice of old school Americana. Simo’s is most definitely a no frills kind of joint, where blue collar workers mingle with hipsters and retired folks who’ve been going there for years.

Primarily known for their daily steam table specials (which are generally fantastic), they also serve Greek favorites. But on this day, I was geared up for the bountiful offerings from the classic steam table.
Simo’s gives you a choice of an entrée, two sides and salad (or three sides) and bread, all for between $5.95 and $7.95. You can’t beat that price for a home cooked meal these days. Daily offerings include baked chicken, fried fish, roast beef and chicken fried steak. There is a different special each day, and includes chicken and dumplings, spaghetti with meatballs and turkey with dressing.

I decided on the chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, green beans and rice with gravy. I’ll start off by telling you that the portions are huge. Like, won’t fit on one plate huge. I couldn’t even dream of finishing everything, but I damn sure tried.

The chicken fried steak was delicious, perfectly breaded and not tough – I didn’t even have to use a knife to cut through it. And it was dense, but in a hearty and not unbearable way. The gravy was bland, but I was okay with it as long as there’s salt and pepper to correct it. Better bland than over-seasoned…

The gyro...see you next time!

The vegetables were also on the bland side, but again, not something I would complain about. I’m not opposed to doing a little doctoring to get it the way I like it. The green beans were tender, but not canned tasting, and served with a tomato sauce/onion accompaniment. The mashed potatoes were above average and I tried the brown gravy with them. It definitely had a more complete flavor than the cream gravy that came with the chicken fried steak. I also had the brown gravy on the rice, and it was even better alongside that. The mushrooms were not overpowering, but actually brought a nice balance (and I HATE mushrooms).

I’ve actually had their gyros and French fries here in the past, but I’ll save that review for another time. I will say that they are solid, if unspectacular. Overall, you can’t go wrong at Simo’s.

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The H-Town Review: Nino’s

Houston Feature
Stacy, our resident Houston critic, visits Nino’s!

Nino’s has to be my favorite Italian restaurant in Houston. I first fell in love with it when I was about 13 and started hitting the bar/bat mitzvah circuit pretty hard. One of my friends had a “rehearsal-type” dinner there for the out of town guests. How very Kosher. And while we had a set menu, one dish was fortunately included that changed my life forever – the Veal Vincent.

Since then, I’ve frequently dined at Nino’s, the Mandola family’s flagship restaurant, which has two sister restaurants (Vincent’s & Grappino di Nino) within the same triangular lot, which forms to create a sort of makeshift Italian village. It’s quite charming, and quite delicious. And though there are differences between the menus at all three, they’ll gladly bring you over something from one of the others.

It’s no surprise that for my 25th birthday, I decided to indulge in a meal from Nino’s. Normally, I order their Aglio Arrosto (on the menu at Vincent’s) for an appetizer. Whole roasted garlic with creamy cambozola cheese and warm focaccia bread. Pop out those cloves of roasted garlic, spread it on your bread with some of that cheese, and ingest! Pure heaven. This time though, my brother-in-law suggested we order a pizza. I don’t stray too often from my usual favorites, but this time, I’m glad I did. Fresh tomato, mozzarella, olive oil and basil made this margherita pizza simple but delicious. And though I could have used it a bit more crispy throughout, the dough was soft, crisp on the edges, and perfectly tasty.

The Veal Vincent is a house favorite at Nino’s, and like I said above, it changed my life. I’d feel sorry for the baby cows if they weren’t so fucking delicious. And words can’t even describe how good Nino’s Veal Vincent is. Tender, thin slices of veal breaded in parmigiano, sautéed in a lemon butter sauce, and served with artichoke hearts and a side of their equally amazing fettuccine alfredo. Surprisingly, I always find the veal richer than the fettuccine. Rarely do I finish all 3 pieces and gosh darnit, I try my damndest! But holy hell if it isn’t incredible. Melt-in-your-mouth-like-buttah good.

And talk about generous portions! $19 for 3 veal medallions and a heaping side of fettuccine. Which, I must say, is hands-down the best fettucine I’ve ever had. It’s so rich and creamy but at the same time, very light. I find no difficulty in consuming the entire side plate they give you. Although I wish I did.

If I don’t order the Veal Vincent (which is rare), I get the Penne ala Vodka – short tube shaped pasta and lump crabmeat in a tomato cream vodka sauce that’s so perfectly done, I wish they would bottle and sell it! Like the fettucine, it’s rich yet light so again, you can eat a lot of it without feeling stuffed.

And although this pasta could stand on its own, the crab is a nice addition – cooked perfectly and generous in amount. It still might be a little overpriced at $15 dollars, but I’m telling you, it’s worth every penny.

I don’t order dessert too often here because I’m usually full by the end of the meal, but it was my birthday after all! And Nino’s lets you pick any one of their made-fresh-daily desserts for FREE on your special day. They also sing to you which is a little Olive Garden-esque for me but nice nonetheless. I picked the raspberry chocolate tart; it was good, but nothing special. Still, its light, flaky crust and fresh fruity berries were the perfect ending to my carb heavy meal.

Nino’s never disappoints. The food is amazing, the service always accommodating and friendly, and with two other restaurants on the premises to choose from, you really can’t go wrong! Plus there’s also Pronto Cucinino a little ways down the road which offers curbside service and easy take-out options. If you haven’t yet made it to any of these Mandola eateries, I highly suggest you start with Nino’s. Order the Veal Vincent, close your eyes, and prepare for ecstasy.

Nino’s
2817 W. Dallas
Houston, TX 77520
713-522-5120

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Food Bound in H-Town: Hughes Hangar

Stacy is The Mighty Rib’s new Houston restaurant critic!

When I stepped into Hughes Hangar, a new speakeasy-style gastro lounge on Washington, it was as if time slowed down. With Frank Sinatra playing in the background and elegant dark furniture surrounding two center bars, I felt just like Ava Gardner in 1940′s Hollywood, only not as beautiful or well-dressed. Despite what my mother says.

The place is named for Howard Hughes (i.e. The Aviator), who’s actually buried in Glenwood Cemetery, conveniently located just outside, behind the bar. Which, I should also mention has a 3,000 square foot patio with couches, canopies, and a giant film screen – a very open area they haven’t quite decided what they’ll do with yet. Movie nights, weddings, private events, even putting in a pool have all been discussed. I’m eager to see how the place will shape up. The only thing on the spacious, 3,500 square foot interior to drag you out of your Rat Pack fantasy daze are the large flat-screen TV’s that adorn the walls. But hey, you’ve got to have some modern touches somewhere if you want to attract people in this day and age. A problem Hughes does not seem to have as it was packed.

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There are some negatives of course – you’re pretty much forced to valet (for $7, mind you), and there’s a dress code which is strictly enforced. Although I did see some women in shorts. Plus, they were out of a few things on the menu (like dessert) and the waitresses were hardly knowledgeable about the drinks. But with good food, a decent happy hour, and a fantastic list of libations, this upscale establishment shows a great deal of promise and makes for an alluring and glamorous evening. Oh, and I can’t not mention the bathroom! Be sure to bring a dollar or two with you to tip the attendant who’s there to kindly offer you a hand towel, as well as a variety of toiletries – even cigarettes!

As for the food, my companion and I decided to order a few of their happy hour options – $5 each. We ordered the shrimp cocktail, kobe sliders, and mushroom flatbread. The menu advertises that the sliders come in threes; however, we only got two – though they were larger than your typical slider. And quite tasty. The bread was soft and fluffy, the meat juicy and flavorful, and the portion itself quite generous, even coming with a handful of shoestring fries. The fries were a little soggy but the taste was still outstanding. As for the mushroom flatbread which had mozzarella, onion confit, and truffle oil, it was completely delectable. The bread was very thin and crisp, almost like a cracker. And though the menu claims it’s topped with mozzarella, I tasted some parmesan in there too. The shrimp cocktail was average; the shrimp were a good size and the sauce was spicy so if that’s your thing, then go for it. And you’ll have to forgive me on these food pictures. I didn’t bring my good Nikon with me and it was dark in there!

I did also order one of their signature libations, The Constellation – Tru Organic Lemon Vodka, sweetened by a FruitLab of Hibiscus & air mailed with fresh squeezed lemon juice. It was a sweet, girly drink and I liked it, but it wasn’t very strong and it came in a teeny tiny glass. And you know how that irks me as I like my drinks like I like my men – tall and strong!

The crowd at Hughes Hangar was mixed, although I would say the majority of folks there were in their late 20’s/early 30’s. Which was kind of nice to see – the old world feel of this swanky lounge isn’t lost on a younger audience. Music became a bit more contemporary as the night went on but it never lost its 1940’s charm.

If you want a nice evening and are looking for an escape from the typical “party corridor” bars of Washington, check out Hughes. Hours are Wed-Fri 4:00PM-2:00AM and Saturday 8:00PM-2:00AM. They also serve brunch Saturday and Sunday mornings from 11:30AM – 4:00PM.

Hughes Hangar
2811 Washington Ave
Houston Texas 77007
Ph : (281) 501-2028
Website
Email : info@hugheshangar.com

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