CULINARY THRILL SEEKING: Houston road trip: Cross Mai’s off our bucket list

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, June 19, 2019

I usually open the door to my aunt’s house and inhale deeply of a relaxing herbal scent. This time, I smelled bacon. She said she’d prepped for the next day’s breakfast. This signaled a good and tasty stay with her in Katy.

The Vincent Van Gogh exhibit in Houston was a secondary goal and our family had an amazing time “mingling” in dear Vincent’s art. The interactive display — that may or may not be geared toward children — captured everyone’s hearts as they posed inside his masterpieces at Museum of Fine Arts.

My husband and I crossed Mai’s Restaurant on Milam Street off our bucket list. For years I’d read that Anthony Bourdain said he’d make it his “one” meal in Houston should he return. I found that bold statement in a framed newspaper story near the bathroom. Hey, I’d have that front and center if I had a restaurant. They’re famous for pho, but we shared garlic beef, which was pretty outstanding in its freshness. The garlic cloves were not peeled, which was unusual, but maneuvering that simply made me slow down while enjoying this meal.

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Usual Suspects on a Houston visit include the Phoenicia in downtown Houston, where I explored spices and teas from the world over for as long as I could before emerging with nothing more than a sesame cookie and cold ginger ale. Resistance!

Bacon and toast (with bacon jam) at my aunt’s fueled me until a Niko Niko’s visit on Montrose. It was a perfect day for patio seating. In fact, those areas were full so we enjoyed sandwiches and their famous yellow rice and potatoes inside, where we could eye pastries for dessert.

After church we joined her friends for one of their favorite Katy stops, Los Cucos Mexican Restaurant and their green salsa.
Father’s Day began with more bacon and toast and our errands had us on a path to Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers with a fun diner theme. At this Katy stop, we got a bite of her patty melt and I liked that even more than the burgers.

Are you headed to Houston this summer? I don’t think you could try all the tempting Mexican and Asian restaurants if you had an endless bank account and no fear of a tape measure. But if you know any I need to get to, please do let me know.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who would head to Houston for just one lunch. But it would be more convenient if she stayed for dinner, too. Reach her at