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David Chang Has Declared Houston ‘A Global Food Mecca’

With the best Vietnamese food in the USA

New York Times 'TimesTalks' With Celebrity Chefs And Food Personalities Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The New York Times
Amy McCarthy is a reporter at, focusing on pop culture, policy and labor, and only the weirdest online trends.

It all started as a joke, says David Chang. After basketball player Jeremy Lin signed with the Houston Rockets, the NYC-based chef (jokingly) told the world that he was heading to Texas to open up his newest restaurant. As it turns out, though, the joke was on Chang, because Houston is awesome.

It’s a fact he now realizes. Writing for GQ, Chang declares Houston to be the “next global food mecca,” which comes as pretty high praise from a chef that has definitely eaten the planet’s best food.

If you live here, that doesn’t come as any surprise, but New Yorkers (think the Times and Anthony Bourdain) have slowly been catching on to the trend that Houston, in fact, is an excellent place to dine. Check out the five best lines from Chang’s almost sappy love letter to Clutch City.

On Houston’s diversity: “By some measures, Houston is the U.S.A.'s most ethnically diverse city (a bunch of New Yorkers just choked on their halal kebabs reading that, but it's true), and when you get a collision of immigrants, the food scene is guaranteed to be bonkers.”

On the logistics: “Houston also has cheap commercial and residential rents—oh, and no state income tax—which means broke-ass cooks and chefs can afford to live and open here. Zoning laws are more permissive than an Amsterdam brothel. And customers have cash to spend.”

On the city’s Vietnamese cuisine: “Houston also has America's best Vietnamese food. Pho Binh Bellaire is Justin Yu's favorite spot, and now it's one of mine. Even great ramen can't hang with the soup they're dishing up.”

On the movers & shakers: “Two chefs at the forefront of all things Houston are Justin Yu of Oxheart and Chris Shepherd ofUnderbelly. These guys would be successful anywhere, and it's amazing what they've done in two very different parts of Houston.”

On the future: “If I ever leave New York, I'm moving to Houston. This time I'm not joking.”

Aww, Dave. We love you too.

Watch: Vietnamese-style crawfish boils