Chef Kiran Verma serves world-class Indian cuisine at her eponymous restaurant in Upper Kirby. Chef Kiran is a self-taught chef who has been guided by her Indian upbringing and a love of fine food. She defines her cuisine as a combination of cultures, philosophies and cooking techniques. The restaurant is known for serving up Indian hospitality with French sophistication and American informality. Kiran’s award-winning wine list of over 300 labels, along with monthly wine dinners, complements the delicate flavors of her food. Chef Kiran also has her own chai blend, available every Saturday at afternoon tea. Visit kiranshouston.com for information and reservations.
If you are longing for the Amalfi Coast, Chef Giancarlo Ferrara shares his native Campania’s exquisite cuisine every day in his restaurant, Amalfi. Ferrara’s inspired menu emphasizes fresh seafood, vivid citrus, and regional olive oil in addition to fresh pastas, meats, family-made cheeses, crafted cocktails, and an extensive, intelligently assembled wine list. Located at 6100 Westheimer in the Galleria area, Amalfi presents a sophisticated dining experience. Visit amalfihouston.com for information and reservations.
“Con pan y vino, se anda el camino” (With bread and wine, you will journey well). Angeles Dueñas, owner and general manager of Costa Brava, founded her restaurant on this simple principle. Dueñas and co-owner and executive chef, Kitty Baily, combine more than 60 years of top-end culinary expertise to offer Houstonians authentic Spanish and French cuisine. “La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin” (Life is too short to drink bad wine). Costa Brava is located in Bellaire at 5107 Bellaire Blvd. @ S. Rice, Suite 100, 77401. Visit costabravabistro.com for information and reservations.
Étoile Cuisine et Bar
One can pretty much assume from the name, Étoile Cuisine et Bar, that something very French happens inside this Uptown Park bistro. What one might not know is that a legion of Houstonian Francophiles dines here on a regular basis, drawn by owner and Master Chef of France Philippe Verpiand’s amazingly accessible, modern, and unassuming rendition of classic, seasonal, French cuisine. Gifted with a carefully crafted wine list and innovative cocktail bar, and housed within a farmhouse-inspired space, Étoile Cuisine et Bar is, as one review described it, “a fresh, pretty island of calm.” Étoile Cuisine et Bar is located at 1101-11 Uptown Park Blvd, Houston, TX 77056. Visit etoilecuisine.com for information and reservations.
Longtime Houstonians will remember “Ray Hay’s Cajun Po-Boys” as the premier purveyor of authentic Louisiana bayou cuisine in Houston. From its humble beginnings as a beer and po-boy joint to its present, more upscale but still “down home” restaurant, the Ragin’ Cajun, named for the University of Lafayette’s “Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns,” is a Houston institution. Like Ninfa’s, there’s more than one Ragin’ Cajun now, but the location at 4302 Richmond, owned by Luke Mandola, Sr., and son Dominic Mandola, is the original and still pulls in the old regulars for the best fried oyster po-boys and spicy crawfish in town. Visit ragin-cajun.com for information and to order online.