Houston’s Chris Shepherd is the James Beard Award-winning chef behind Underbelly Hospitality. He’s a tireless champion for local cuisine and Texas foodways, and his Southern Smoke foundation provides crisis relief to people in the food and beverage industry.
Today, his stable of restaurants includes Georgia James steakhouse and its offshoot, Georgia James Tavern. He also has a couple of newly opened spots at the Houston Farmers Market: Underbelly Burger and Wild Oats, which serves a fresh take on traditional Texas cuisine. And his Italian-American restaurant, Pastore, is slated to open this fall.
Clearly Shepherd knows his way around restaurants, so he’s a great resource on what to eat in the city. Follow his lead, and you will ensure a very successful day of food and drinks.
Breakfast: Hot Bagel Shop
“It’s just f’ing delicious! I especially like their bagel dogs—both the mini ones and full size.”
Lunch: Duck n’ Bao
“This restaurant just opened their first location inside the loop, and I’m really liking it. I love Peking duck and dumplings, and I love being able to order it just a few miles from my house.”
Snack: Montrose Cheese & Wine
“On our days off, my wife and I will ride our tricycles (yes, we bought adult tricycles during the pandemic) to Montrose Cheese & Wine for a great bottle of wine and a cheese plate. We’re members of their wine club, so we get to try a bunch of cool small producers every month.”
Dinner: Kata Robata
“This restaurant is 12-years-old, and it remains the busiest restaurant in Houston for a reason. It’s perfect every time. Chef Manabu ‘Hori’ Horiuchi flies fish in from Japan a few times a week. I’d put his sushi up against the best in the country.”
Drinks: The Front Porch at Wild Oats
“Our newest restaurant opened in the Houston Farmers Market back in February, and it’s my new favorite spot for a cocktail. I pull up a rocking chair on the ‘front porch’ and enjoy a Margarita. My staff is surprised by this — I’ve never been a Margarita guy before — but we’re serving the Tommy’s Margarita at Wild Oats, and it’s the best I’ve had. I also love to sit on the patio at Feges BBQ and enjoy one of the bottles of wine from chef/co-owner/wine buyer Erin Smith’s list. I’ve loved Soter Pinot Noir for so long, and she’s got it on the list. Pair the wine with some rib tips, and I’m a happy guy!”
This article was featured in the InsideHook Texas newsletter. Sign up now for more from the Lone Star State.