Every Monday in “My Top 5,” we pass the spotlight to a notable Houstonian who makes things happen in, around and for our city. This week, we’re pleased to feature Chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly, recently recognized with the 2014 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest, who gives us a deep dive into his favorite haunts and neighborhoods around our great city.
My Top 5 Things to Do in Houston
by Chef Chris Shepherd
Walkable Montrose – I love Underbelly’s neighborhood. There are so many shops, bars and restaurants within walking distance… and if you’re lucky enough to live in the area, you never have to drive! Some of my favorite spots are Anvil, El Real and Catbirds. Camerata is new to the ‘hood – great wine selection, and their somms are well-versed and knowledgeable. I recently wandered into Pride and Joy Antiques – they have beautiful vintage bars. I want one.
The Blue Lot at Reliant Stadium – There’s no better tailgating in the country than in the Blue Lot in the fall during a Houston Texans game. This is where you can find true Houston pride. The smell of smoked meat and flaming grills in the air… there’s no better way to get psyched up for a game.
Chinatown – There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t drive down Bellaire for some delicious Chinese barbecue, Vietnamese-style crawfish or dim sum. My go to spots: HK Dim Sum, Saigon Pagolac, Crawfish and Noodles, Mala Sichuan. I’ve also been known to visit Vi’s Reflexology for the best $20 massage in town.
Market Square area – I can go down to Congress and Main after work, bounce from bar to bar and get some excellent cocktails. If you haven’t checked out The Pastry War, Bad News Bar, and the OKRA Charity Saloon, go now! Don’t miss the spots that started everything in Market Square – La Carafe and Warren’s. Stop into the Market Square Bar and Grill for a burger.
Urban Harvest Farmers Market on a Saturday morning – It’s the only sense of a town square that this city still has. I know I’m going to see the same people every Saturday. I love checking out what’s fresh and seasonal, and it makes me really happy to run into my customers.
About Chef Chris Shepherd
Midwest-raised Chef Chris Shepherd left boundary-pushing Catalan restaurant to open Underbelly in March 2012, featuring locally-sourced food inspired by the ethnic diversity of Houston. The Art Institute-alum and former executive sous chef-turned-sommelier of Brennan’s brings his farm-to-table passion to fruition at Underbelly, which sources ingredients from the Gulf Coast, surrounding farms and ranches. The in-house butcher shop, which only uses whole animal, supports Shepherd’s passion for butchering and charcuterie. The 2014 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Southwest, Shepherd has also named one of the Top 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine. Underbelly was named one of the best new restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit and Esquire and one of the 70 best new restaurants in the world by Conde Nast Traveler. In 2013, Chris opened two Underbelly kiosks inside Reliant Stadium to serve three signature dishes during Houston Texans home games.