There are some fabulous dishes that aren’t even on the menu! But worry not, we’re here to tell you who is serving what and how you can eat like a true insider.

Simple Dover Sole

Tony’s Restaurant
www.tonyshouston.com
3755 Richmond Avenue
713.622.6778

Tony Vallone’s eponymous eatery is known for catering to customers. There’s a story of a local physician who wanted scrambled eggs one day and they couldn’t deliver. The next time he arrived, Vallone himself proffered fresh eggs and cooked them to perfection. Now that’s service. We’re guessing you can get pretty much anything you want at this legendary restaurant that has served everyone from presidents to Pavarotti with style. But we went straight to the source for the best off-menu eats. Tony Vallone says: “Fresh Dover Sole, simply and quickly sautéed, is the best off menu dish.” And who can disagree with Tony himself?

South Bronx Fried Chicken

Kenny & Ziggy’s Deli
www.kennyandziggys.com
2327 Post Oak Boulevard
713.871.8883

Fried chicken at a New York deli? You betcha! On Wednesday nights this summer Ziggy Gruber is whipping up an old-fashioned East Coast dish, the South Bronx fried chicken.

“I like to resurrect old recipes,” Gruber said. “This is a dish that a lot of kosher delis used to do in the 50’s. It’s our take on Southern fried chicken, but instead of flour we coat the chicken in matzo meal. It’s crunchier and keeps the chicken moister.” The dish is served with fried matzo balls and coleslaw. Cost is $16.95 (includes 5 pieces of chicken, which is a half-chicken). Of course, you’ll want to wash it down with a Brooklyn Lager. Gruber, known for his deli delights like milehigh pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, says if people really like this dish, he may add it to the menu.

A Dessert and a Steak

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
flemingssteakhouse.com
2405 West Alabama Street
713.520.5959

Likely you’ve tried the Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in River Oaks, where operating partner and hostess with the most-est Maeve Pesquera meets, greets and feeds the social set. Chef James Cole’s steaks and housemade breads are divine. But there are a few secrets to dining at this posh steakhouse and we’ll let Pesquera herself spill. “I love that carrot cake,” she says of a divine dessert not on the menu that includes carrots and pineapple. “But I also love the 20-ounce Cajun Bone-in New York Strip, marinated in Cajun spices and topped with blue cheese butter, and the mixed grill is another great one, a 4-oz filet mignon, one New Zealand lamb chop and three scallops in a lemon butter white wine sauce.” Aha, so that’s what we need to order next time.

BLT Tacos

Molina’s Cantina
www.molinasrestaurants.com
4720 Washington Ave
713.862.0013

Everyone hangs at Molina’s Cantina once in awhile. Particularly when you get a craving for the cheesy Jose’s Dip. But the Washington Ave. eatery has regulars who come almost every day and they sure don’t want to eat the same thing all week long. “It’s our bar customers,” says third-generation restaurateur Ricardo Molina. “They come in so often that they want a little something different sometimes. They’re the ones who came up with the BLT taco and they ask for it a lot.”

Ingredients: fried bacon, chopped tomato and lettuce on a flour tortilla. “No sauce,” says Molina. “Although, I add the sauce we use on the fish tacos and it makes a great, light lunch.”

Bacon in a taco? What’s not to like about that.

Filet Trio

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House
www.delfriscos.com
5061 Westheimer Rd., suite 8060
713.355.2600

You go to a steakhouse, you want steak. But, at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in The Galleria there’s steak and then there’s steak.

Insiders know to ask for two dishes not on the menu. First, there’s the filet trio: three four-ounce medallions, one topped with asparagus, jumbo lump crabmeat and a Béarnaise sauce; one topped with blue cheese and caramelized onions and the last topped with chipotle Jack Daniels BBQ sauce and shrimp. Now that’s one mouthwatering meat meal. But there’s still another steak that’s often requested. That’s the 16-ounce bone-in filet prepared with salt and pepper and broiled to perfection. This is a special cut of meat that can only be sliced twice per steer and it’s pretty pricey, but the flavor and tenderness are something you’ll gladly line up for.

“These are two of the most popular off menu items Del Frisco’s offers, because of the individual uniqueness and award-winning flavor each has,” says Arthur Mooradian, general manager.

Coffee-Rubbed Filet

RDG + Bar Annie
www.rdgbarannie.com
1728 Post Oak Boulevard
713.840.1 111

Many years ago, a bleary-eyed chef Robert Del Grande began to prepare the family’s Christmas feast and, by lucky accident, created a dish that is still asked for today, even though it’s not on his menu at RDG + Bar Annie. We’ll let him tell the story.

“I set out a cutting board to prepare the tenderloins,” he says. “I ground some coffee beans. I reached for the coffee filter and knocked over the coffee grinder. The ground coffee spilt on the cutting board. I tried, in my early morning low-caffeine blood level state, to scrape up the ground coffee but ground coffee has a great tenacity to stick to everything. It was the ‘sticking to everything’ thought while looking at the tenderloins of beef. Beef coated in ground coffee? Not beef with liquid coffee, but un-brewed ground coffee. I calculated the risk of disaster – only the relatives were coming over (and they weren’t paying). So I rolled the tenderloins in the ground coffee.” And a classic was born.

The coffee roasted filet of beef became an instant hit at the old Cafe Annie and even though it’s not on the new RDG menu, chef will still prepare it when asked, hopefully without spilling anything else.

Mint Juleps

Haven
www.havenhouston.com
2502 Algerian Way
713.581.6101

With its every changing menu based on seasonal produce, Haven’s guests rarely order off the menu. But chef Randy Evans says there is something that he’s been getting a lot of requests for lately.

“We get a ton of requests in the bar for mint julep made with Woodford reserve,” he says. “We did it on Derby Day and went through three bottles of bourbon and now people come in asking for it. I guess the crushed ice and great bourbon must have something to do with it.” No doubt, there’s also something about the fresh mint, picked right from the restaurants’ own gardens. Go ahead, make every day Derby Day, cheers!

By: Marene Gustin