Foodie Events / Restaurants

New Restaurant Week Highlights Houston’s Hottest Cuisine — and Some Overlooked Spots

Your Guide to Latin Restaurant Weeks

BY // 05.31.19

Houston’s foodie scene is about to get buzzier than ever, with tons of tantalizing restaurants set to participate in restaurant weeks. With pre-fixe menus galore, people will have more chances than ever to taste the flavors that make Houston what it is.

And now things are spicing up even more. An all-new restaurant week kicks off this Sunday, June 2. And like many of the restaurant celebrations out there, it’s lasting far beyond one week. For two straight weeks, you can enjoy the savory and sweet culinary stylings of Latin America.

Latin Restaurant Weeks is making its debut on the Houston food scene, and it brings compelling dining alongside three signature events geared toward foodies and restaurant industry folks alike.

Participating restaurants include Alicia’s Mexican Grille, Andes Café, Churrascos, Doneraki, El Pueblito Patio, Gauchos do Sul, Gran Colombia Restaurante, Gusto Gourmet, Honduras Maya, La Fisheria, La Vina, Los Cucos, Maison Pucha Bistro, Mastrantos, Mucho Mexico, Mi Pueblito, Montanari, Roko Grill, Sweets by Belen, Sofrito, Taqueria Arandas and Vida Mariscos.

“The inspiration comes from the diversity of the cuisine here in Houston, and a little bit from the late Anthony Bourdain,” Latin Restaurant Weeks founder Karinn Chavarria tells PaperCity. “He had made some remarks about how Hispanics were essentially the backbone of the culinary industry. And that really had me thinking.

“It’s true. Anywhere you go you can find a Latino or Latina working in the industry, whether it’s busers, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders, up to sous chefs and chefs. I thought we needed to really bring that to light and highlight their contributions to making Houston what it’s called, ‘The Culinary Capital of the South. ’ ”

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Latin food is undeniably built into the fabric of Houston’s cuisine.

“There’s a lot of Mexican influence here, and what’s even greater about that is there are different regions of Mexico — coastal regions, central areas. There’s a little bit of another country in Houston, making it the melting pot that we live in,” Chavarria notes.

“It takes something like this to make people discover all the flavors of Latin America.”

But the mission is not just spreading the word of the Latin culinary contributions and culture. Latin Restaurant Weeks also emphasizes the people behind the restaurants, with a focus on featuring eateries that are Latin-owned.

“We wanted to give them a platform they might not have otherwise had. This is a minority group that’s often overlooked in the underserved communities. And the food is amazing,” Chavarria notes.

The restaurant radius is not restricted to Houston proper. You’ll find restaurants participating in Katy and beyond.

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Sofrito keeps it real.

Celebrating Latin cuisines from all over means including both casual and more high-end restaurants. The more fine-dining establishments are stepping in as resources for the smaller concepts.

“The high-end restaurants serve as mentors. What a lot of these small places have expressed is that because they’re not in Houston, they’re not big yet, they’re not part of the culinary community. We feel that they should be,” Chavarria says.

“By having some of those successful restaurants on the platform, it really makes for a cohesive community effort. It’s very endearing, I think. Everyone can be involved, anyone can be involved. Good food, good restaurant, heart, soul — you could be a part of this platform as well.”

To that end, their first event of Latin Restaurant Weeks, La Mesa, is built to support Latin restaurant owners. The table discussion at Radio Morales Radio Hall on June 5 is a bilingual business panel by industry leaders to explore topics like marketing, finance, operations, social media and more.

The next event, Sabor, takes place on June 12. It’s an all-out catering and personal chef extravaganza, with 20 different participants showcasing the best of their eats, plus an on-stage bartender competition.

“It’s the foodie event, I would say. It’s the Hispanic community and their time to shine, and they’ll be sampling light bites for their guests,” Chavarria says.

Tickets start at $40, which includes all food. For $60, guests can enjoy the foods and the bartenders’ craft cocktails, plus access to the VIP area.

Sorpresa, or surprise, is the last special event. On June 16, you can explore a mysterious evening with a five-course meal, cocktail pairings and unique entertainment for $125.

The menus will be uploaded this Saturday, June 1. Latin Restaurant Weeks is just around the corner.

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