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End-of-Year Openings, Cheap Lunch Spot and More

Les Givrals
Les Givrals
Photo: Photo: Gary Wise/Flickr

HOLIDAY WIREHoustonia's Robb Walsh tells us where to find a great buche de Noel; he discusses the differences between this traditional French version and the Louisiana king cake. "King cakes are associated with the Christmas holiday in France, and they're eaten from November until the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. In Louisiana, king cakes are associated with Twelfth Night parties that kick off the Mardis Gras season." [Gastronaut]

SECOND CHANCES— If you've been keeping up with the OKRA tournament that's giving charities a second shot at winning the month's profits, you know that they're now in week three, and there are eight charities left. To cast your vote, head to the downtown bar, buy a drink and circle who you think should move on to the next week. The last charity standing will receive January's profits. Here is the updated bracket sheet for week three. [Eaterwire]

LISTICLES— This end-of-year roundup lists the year's top restaurant openings. CultureMap's Eric Sandler lists Batanga among the top debuts this year. "Is a great patio a sufficient reason to patronize a restaurant? Maybe at Baba Yega, but recent arrivals need more than a scene to ensure their success. Thankfully, Batanga, a product of Atlanta-transplant Brian Fasthoff, his brother Hank and their wives, offers food that satisfies. The menu possesses a something for everyone utility with options that can please vegetarians, gluten-free type and committed meat eaters." [CultureMap]

ANNIVERSARY WIRE— Zagat Houston's Amber Ambrose finds a lunch spot where just $10 nabs you a great Vietnamese meal. "Last week we gave you ideas for a $15 lunch, but we wanted to take it even lower. What would $10 buy and would we still be hungry afterward? We're happy to report Les Givrals on Washington Avenue met all the criteria, and then some. First of all, it's got parking - tons of it - for free. Second, it's counter service for easy ordering and no need to split checks. Third, it's dirt cheap for large helpings of Vietnamese staples." [Zagat]