Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Max's Wine Dive and Niko Niko's Greek - Houston

As my first post on our blog I thought it would be appropriate to write about my trip down to my hometown, Houston, this past weekend. My husband, myself, and our two dogs made the 4 hour trek down there to celebrate my youngest sister’s birthday and her moving back into the cute old house that she and my other sister, NYC, used to share. (Just to make it a little easier, I will start posting my youngest sister as H-town). I think we are all ecstatic that she is back in this house for a few reasons. First, it’s in a very convenient location residing within walking distance to a Starbucks, several restaurants, a grocery store, gas station, etc. When you are slightly hung-over on a Sunday morning and need a little pick me up before the long drive back to Big D, you need that very important cup of coffee to be within crawling distance. Furthermore, the locality is fantastic because some of the greatest places to eat and drink are dangerously close. The house is also much larger in size inside and out than H-town’s former tiny apartment, so there is plenty of room for my small bunch to stay, or if she wants to have a get-together with a few friends, like this past weekend. Finally, it is quite a sturdy little house because it supposedly doubled as a bomb shelter back in the nuclear war scare days. Both of my sisters, my mom and step father rode out Hurricane Ike in that house, and everyone came out fine, so it’s a little sentimental.
On another note, I always come prepared with my list of restaurants and bars that I would like to try when visiting any major city. This trip I was able to scratch off a couple of places. Friday night we were able to eat at Max’s Wine Dive, which according to Bon App├ętit it is one of the top 10 wine bars in the US, so I had to make a stop there. We went in a good size group so we were able to try a few things on the menu. We started off with the Gator Beignets and the Pan Borracho aka Drunk Bread. I’ve really never liked gator because of its rubbery texture, and these were no exception to me, but they were a big hit among everyone else. The Pan Borracho came out in a gooey cheesy bubbly mess, which I was immediately excited to dive into, but it turned out to be nothing that amazing. It was exactly like fondue, but the texture of the bread was moosh and not very appetizing. As for the main course, we split the Sunchoke Gnocchi, which was incredible with a slight exception to the very large arugula salad on top. Less is more. No need to order our side salad when we had that mountain of a garden on top of our gnocchi. I can’t finish our night without saying that the wine list was impressive and not too pricey. They also had a great wine tasting deal going on that was quite hard to pass up. I definitely recommend stopping here for some late night munching and a few glasses of vino!
Max's Wine Dive on Urbanspoon

BV Wine at Max's
Sunchoke Gnocchi at Max's
                                                   


Saturday I reserved for trying this Greek restaurant that’s been on the show Diners Drive-Ins and Dives called Niko Nikos. For drinks, we all had to try the Niko Rita (not that spectacular) and we started our lunch with nothing other than the hummus with pita bread. It was everything that hummus should be, which must have a creamy, velvety texture, and sitting in a small pool of olive oil with a few garnishes of olives, cucumbers and bell peppers on top. Absolutely delicious! I had no idea that we were getting a small Greek salad as well, but I think it came with H-towns main course. It was your typical Greek salad until you got a chunk of the feta cheese, which was incredibly moist and had the perfect amount of that salty tanginess to it. My husband and I ordered the Gyro Sandwich, which I know is kind of unoriginal, but when visiting a Greek restaurant for the first time, you must find out what the Gyro tastes like before moving onto anything else. My sister, on the other hand, was a little more adventurous and ordered the Spanikopita, which I had a little bite of, and it was like lasagna on crack. Absolutely amazing! The Gyro was also impressive. I was amazed by the cooling effect that the tzatziki sauce had on top of the sizzling lamb and beef bits inside the warm pita bread. One note though is don’t order the rice. It’s fairly boring or maybe it’s because I’m not much of a rice lover. Overall though Niko Niko’s is definitely a repeater!
Niko Niko's Greek on Urbanspoon

                                      Hummus                                                                                    The Gyro




The rest of Saturday was mostly spent celebrating at my sister’s house and visiting with old and new friends and my family. We had a great time! Sunday, we slowly crawled out of bed, regretting the amount of alcohol we consumed the night before, but on a mission to have some grub before our drive back to Big D. I wanted to go to Avalon Diner in River Oaks, but we left after looking at the wait, so we ended up at one of my favorite spots for Brunch, Hungry’s in Rice Village. One of my old good friends from college met up with us as well. Congrats to her because she recently got engaged! She also had a great story to tell about how her family rented a catamaran sailboat and they basically island hopped throughout the Virgin Islands. It is something that I now have put on my list of things to do in the near future because it sounds spectacular! I know… my husband has made it quite clear that my aspirations are becoming relatively expensive! To end on a humorous level, during our drive back we witnessed a very large yellow truck pass us by with an especially classy sticker on the back of it. Only in Texas!


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