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Monday, February 6, 2023

Food

Houston restaurants grab three top spots


After Café Annie closed its doors last year, restaurateur Robert Del Grande opened his eponymous After Café Annie closed its doors last year, restaurateur Robert Del Grande opened his eponymous RDG/Bar Annie. | Courtesey of RDG/Bar Annie

I was sitting down to dinner late one evening with a few friends at Café Annie and news came to us that the iconic establishment would be closing its doors and reopening across the street as RDG/Bar Annie.

Those of us who ate there on a regular basis were in an uproar. There was even a rumored petition that was e-mailed around by a local socialite to keep the name as it was. How could the name that had made the restaurant so popular change on a whim? It was blasphemy.

Nevertheless, owner and uber chef Robert del Grande, whose company is also responsible for Taco Milagro and Café Express, had other plans for his restaurant. Plans that would place the revolutionized eatery on top of this month’s Texas Monthly’s “Where to Eat Now 2010.”

When it hit stands this month, it was no surprise to those of us who were going through Annie withdrawals that Del Grande’s eponymous RDG/Bar Annie in the Uptown/Post Oak area took the premier spot.

Patricia Sharpe describes RDG as “smart and sexy, RDG pulses with an energy that its predecessor had not enjoyed in ages. The crowd, always a bit bipolar in its division between haute and hip, has definitely expanded in the direction of the latter, as young Turks, stiletto wobblers, and other scenesters pack in nightly for drinks and nibbles in Bar Annie.

“Incidentally, the restaurant’s odd name becomes clear once you’re there; RDG is the expansive, quieter rear area with gilt-framed mirrors; Bar Annie is the more casual space, with warm western-red-cedar walls and a fabulous bar made of Persian onyx,” Sharpe said. I could not agree more. Most Thursday nights, you can find me sitting out on the balcony having a gin and tonic.

Rounding out Texas Monthly’s list at number nine was the newly opened Valentino of award-winning Italian restaurateurs Piero Selvaggio and Luciano Pellegrini at the Hotel Derek. The Daily Cougar was at the opening some months ago and, not only was the food delightful, but the atmosphere was retro with a modern twist. Our compliments to Chef West for his superb buffalo burger, a must-have for anyone deciding to indulge in a night out on the town. This location is number three for Valentino. The others, located in Santa Monica and Las Vegas, are each award-winning and met by high praise.

Sitting last (but certainly not least) at number ten is Vintoeca Poscol by Marco Wiles. “Like Spain with its tapas, Italy boasts a similar tradition with a wide array of dried sausages and cheeses. The mix-and-match possibilities are appealing, although there are so many combinations, that we gave up and asked the manager for suggestions,” Culturemap.com said. “At Poscol, the fun is in trying and coming across something you really love, like the house-made salumi.”

Recession or not, as Houston continues to grow, the city is emerging as a major player in the national food scene.

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