When you think of signature dishes for US cities, you might think of New York’s pizza, Chicago’s hot dogs, or Philly’s cheese steaks. However, Houston is quickly becoming one of the biggest hot spots for food tourism, due in part to its growing population and cultural diffusion. Currently, over 2 million people from many cultures and creeds call Space City home. Given the dynamically changing nature of Houston’s cultural scene, we’ve nominated the following as candidates for Houston’s signature dish.
The traditional vietnamese soup is taking hold in Houston in a big way. Although it’s an unlikely candidate for the humid southern city’s signature dish, it’s jam packed with all the things Houston loves about food: comfort, richness, and beef. We suggest checking out Pho Binh, a local chain that started in a trailer that now has 7 locations throughout Houston. Specializing in the Vietnamese comfort food, their Pho is often referred to as the best in Houston.
Talking about food in any area of Texas would be remiss without mentioning barbecue. A southern staple, barbecue is less of a dish and more like an artform of spices, aroma, and technique. Everyone knows that the best barbeque is smoked for hours on end for that soft, fall-off-the-bone factor. Ronnie Killen from Killen’s Barbecue knows this process intimately, specializing in a tantalizing barbecue brisket that needs nothing more than a salt and pepper rub. It’s certainly some of the best barbecue around.
While any dish in the tex-mex family could be considered a signature Houston dish, fajitas hold a special place in the hearts of Houstonians. First of all, grilled beef. Second of all, it’s proximity to Mexico ensures you’ll get as close to authentic Mexican cuisine as possible this side of the border. Credited with being the original fajita stop in Houston, Mama Ninfa’s has been serving up seared skirt steak and handmade tortillas since 1973.
A good old crawdaddy boil is the heart and soul of America’s gulf coast, and Houston is not immune to the craze. It’s messy, it’s savory, and most of the time you’re left chugging water with the outside edges of your palms; the only area not covered in salt and crawfish. Speaking specifically to the area, we’re expanding our palate by mentioning a true innovation and marriage of cultures, the asian-inspired cajun crawfish at Cajun Kitchen. Located on the outisde edge of Chinatown, Cajun Kitchen offers the choice to get your crawfish seasoned with Thai basil and adjust your spice levels.
- Fried Chicken
It might be a little basic for anyone else in the country, but fried chicken is absolutely no joke for Houstonians. For the authentic southern experience, we suggest paying a visit to flagship store of the chicken chain Frenchy’s, as it’s still considered the best in town. Located on Scott Street, it serves staples like jambalaya and gumbo, giving it’s chicken an authentic creole twist.