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Take A Delicious Trip To Houston's

By By Taylor Long

Considering the many reasons to dine at Houston's (pronounced like the city in Texas, not the street in Manhattan), it's difficult to pick one that stands out. An elegant bistro that serves what it calls "diverse American classics," Houston's has truly mastered the perfectly pleasing dining experience.

A recent addition to Roosevelt Field within the past couple of years, Houston's replaced an Italian bistro that sat next to what is now the equally fancy Legal Seafood. Operated by the Hillstone Restaurant group, this is one of 19 Houston's on the East Coast and one of 35 across the country.

The atmosphere is, in a word, dark. Intimately dim lighting graces the surfaces of deep wood tables surrounded by black booths. The all-black attire of the wait staff complements the feeling patrons will get that they are being waited on privately instead of eating in a crowded restaurant. This is also enhanced by the strategic seating-families and groups of friends sit towards the front; couples are placed in the back.

On the menu, all the dishes fall under three categories-burgers and sandwiches, salads and entrées. But don't be fooled by the lack of diversity these categories imply.

Houston's jazzes up old classics and has some not-so-average options, too. For example, there are three different kinds of burgers (Cheeseburger, Veggie Burger and Hickory Burger).

Entrées are largely meat, but include two fish selections and a chicken dish, as well as a seasonal vegetable plate. One can't go wrong when choosing between the succulent "Knife And Fork" Barbeque Ribs or the top notch Filet Mignon. The vegetable sides are always fresh, but the shoestring fries are more than worth the indulgence.

The salads, which range from traditional Caesar to more exotic combinations, offer as much enticement as the hefty entrées.

Though the Grilled Chicken Salad may suggest simplicity, the combination of tortilla strips, cilantro, honey-lime vinaigrette and peanut sauce results in a light, yet filling meal that will leave both your conscience and your tongue feeling satisfied.

For spicier cravings, the Evil Jungle Thai Noodle Steak Salad is sure to hoist your body temperature more than a few degrees.

The prices fall between $3-5 for a soup or starter, $10-14 for a salad and $11-27 for a sandwich or entrée. But if this seems high, it's only because you haven't had the food yet.

If all this sounds too perfect to be true, the incredible wait shouldn't come as a surprise. Unfortunately, the wait for seating tends to be sizable-and, like other popular restaurants in the same price range and type of cuisine, Houston's doesn't accept reservations.

But, unlike comparable establishments, such as the Cheesecake Factory-where the line for a table can be up to two hours, Houston's offers a more intimate setting and better cuisine for a similar price.

Should the wait be lengthy, the bar offers strong and well-made drinks (try a mojito-the bartender loves to make them), or the mall waits just a few doors down for younger diners.

Overall, Houston's is a first-rate establishment that provides a nice alternative to other staple restaurants of the upscale-Applebee's crowd. Perfect for a getaway from such stereotypical American-style eateries or a special occasion, a meal at Houston's is sure to bear repeated visits.

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