The Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau ran a promotion last week asking "What's on your Houston bucket list?" Of course, there were quite a few food and beverage-related responses: "Earn a saucer at the Flying Saucer Draught Emporium!" and "Get a seat on a Houston Culinary Tour!" (which are actually organized by the Houston CVB), "Eat a buffalo burger at Bubba's Burger Shack," and the list goes on.
Inspired by this sense of immediacy brought on by the Mayans and their cryptic calendar ending with the year 2012, here—in no particular order—are 10 Houston dishes that fit the "bucket list" concept.
Pho from the Pho Binh Trailer: One of the greatest things about Houston is its amazing Vietnamese food, which comes from the large Vietnamese immigrant community here. A staple dish of the cuisine is pho, a soup made with humble, yet fragrant ingredients served in a humble, but friendly environment. Bring cash and be open to meeting new people when you'll most likely share a table with strangers.
Any Steak at Killen's: It's a steakhouse, it's in Pearland and yes, it is very expensive. But this is a bucket list, right? Chef and owner Ronnie Killen is a master of beef, along with many other things, but when at a steakhouse in Texas the choice is clear.
Hot Dog at Revival Market: It is Chronicle critic, Alison Cook's job to critique food for a living, and she once called this dish, "Hot Dogs of the Gods." And honestly, that just about covers it.
Burger and Fries from Bernie's Burger Bus: They grind the beef, the buns are made locally, the condiments are worth the price of admission alone (and are house-made as well) and they're served out of a literal bus. And that doesn't even begin to cover the French fries and the most delicious ketchup of all time.
Crispy Skinned Snapper from Reef: It's one of the dishes that made Reef's chef and owner, Bryan Caswell, famous (along with that handsome face, of course).
Fried Chicken from Barbecue Inn: Old school at its finest. Sassy waitresses, a condiment tray full of sour cream, butter and cheese for your similarly old school foil-wrapped baked potato and the best fried chicken in town.
Fajitas at Ninfa's on Navigation: Some would argue that The Original Ninfa's is where the fajita was popularized to become the incredibly prolific dish it is now. No one argues that Ninfa's serves some of the best fajitas in the nation...that's just a fact.
Korean Braised Lamb or Goat and Dumplings at Underbelly: It's only been open since March 5 of this year and Underbelly is already capturing the hearts and taste buds of Houston with dishes that incorporate all that is right with this town's varied cuisines. Of all the dishes on the menu, this one seems to be a frontrunner.
Cheese Enchiladas at Spanish Village: With risk of triggering a bad flashback to the days of standardized test preparation, here is the best way to describe why these made the list: Ninfa's is to fajitas as Spanish Village is to cheese enchiladas. Now that wasn't so bad, was it?
Raspberry Tart at Mark's American Cuisine: Aside from some of the best service in Houston, Mark's is home to some of the best, classic desserts. Of those classic desserts the raspberry tart will take the cake. (Heh.)
Tomorrow: What our Twitter friends nominated for this list.