Up North, very North…almost too North…North of 635, is one of my favorite restaurants of all time. Growing up in the burbs of North Dallas, my family’s “go-to” restaurant has always been Houston’s. Whether it is a special occasion, or a random Friday night, I can always remember the dimly lit dining room and freshly pressed table linens. I can also remember acting up, making a scene and being sent to the car….but that’s a story for another time. As an adult who’s lived in Dallas, true Dallas, for over 5 years, I’ve tried to be satisfied with Hillstone (Houston’s parent company) on NWHWY and Preston – but it just doesn’t feel….right. I feel like I’m cheating on Houston’s – and I’m no food adulterer.
The only word I can think of to describe Houston’s is, “classic”. They take classics and turn the volume way up. Their menu isn’t particularly inventive and It probably isn’t the most buzzed about restaurant in D Mag. But, every dish is consistent and you can taste the quality in their ingredients. My Dad’s favorite starter is the Ciabatta Cheese Toast (parmesan, Swiss gruyere and sharp cheddar), even though every time he insists, “There just isn’t as much cheese as last time.” Trust me, there is – it’s almost like they place the sliced bread on the flat top and let the cheese melt atop until it drips down and becomes crusty on the griddle. It’s just the right portion for a starter – and you’ll simply lose your shit over how tasty bread can be.
I can also remember carefully planning our visits around their daily soup specials. A particular favorite is the Red Beans and Rice or Potato Soup. Although, I don’t remember seeing soup specials the last time I visited – which is just a damn shame. Shame shame shameful. In addition, their sides are perfect. Their dirty beans and rice have been slow cooked and melt in your mouth with just the right amount of creole and BBQ balance. Their fries are shoe-string-thin and hand cut – served perfectly with house honey mustard (the dressing, not the dip). I’m sure they have fancier sides – but I’m down with fries no matter where I’m at.
As for the main dishes, I’ve tried many, but my favorite has to be the French Dip Au Jus. Thinly sliced roasted prime rib, house-made toasted French roll, served with au jus and creamy horse radish is a show-stopper. This occasion I tried the Hickory Burger – burger topped with cheddar, Canadian bacon, onion, and hickory sauce. I stepped outside of my comfort zone as part of my reverse New Year’s resolution to gain wait, rather than lose it. But, a family favorite (and perhaps the most nostalgic) isn’t even on the menu. Chicken strips. Yes, you heard that right. Every restaurant has a chicken strip. There are restaurants devoted entirely to chicken strips….but their chicken strips are the best in Dallas, hands-down. The breading is light, crunchy and in perfect proportion to the actual tender. It’s almost a tempura batter reminiscent of a fried shrimp you’d get at an Asian restaurant. I digress, but they’re that good. Order them!
Positive: Everything. Literally, every bit of food.
Negative: I’ve never had amazing service. It’s not bad, either. It’s just kinda…there. Like, I feel like they think their approach to service is elevated and minimalist….when in actuality, it comes off as cold and impersonal.