Great food and wine spotted in Houston (who knew?): Public Services, Pastry War, Nam Giao, Helen, Camerata

THIS JUST IN: Tracie P’s Thanksgiving cookies went online a few minutes ago. Check them out here (Facebook).

From the department of “in case you’re worried that Tracie P and I are lacking in good wine and food”…

cote du py morgon lapierreSaturday night in Houston found me barside at the excellent Public Services where I enjoyed 2014 Donkey and Goat Claim Jumper rosé from Mourvèdre by-the-glass and a taste of the 2013 Beaujolais Morgon Côte du Py by Fouillard (the latter thanks to a dude named Chuck B. who happened to be sitting next to me).

That’s the amazing Justin Vann in the photo (above), author of the superb wine list there. His world-class and natural-friendly program features more than 30 “Sherry and Friends” by-the-glass and a tide of groovy wines, also by-the-glass (Saetti Lambrusco, anyone?).

The space is the renovated floor office of the historic and beautiful Cotton Exchange building (1885). Super cool place and super groovy wine list with snacks by Justin Yu of Oxheart.

I had moseyed over to Justin’s bar after a cocktail with friends at Pastry War, a Tequila-inspired high-concept cocktail bar, also excellent.

Both are part of an emerging strip of Main St. on the north side of downtown where there is an embarrassment of choice in hipster wine and food.

nam giao vietnamese restaurant houstonSunday morning, the family and I were at Nam Giao, a local favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Houston’s bustling Asia town.

We were there with food-minded friends — Austin restaurateur Steven Dilley of Bufalina fame and Caviar, Inc.’s VP Helen Springut — for an early lunch.

That’s the delicious beef soup (above). The place was kid-friendly and the service was great. All-in-all we spent $40 for our family of four with tax and tip (and we ordered way too much food). The bánh bèo chén were fantastic.

gift of dionysos greek wineSunday evening, cousins Joanne and Marty treated us to a belated-birthday dinner for Tracie P at Helen where we swooned over the 2014 Parparoussis Sideritis Gift of Dionysos. The wine wowed us with its gentle citrus, herbaceous, and mineral character and 12.5 per cent alcohol.

Owner and wine director Evan Turner has really hit it out of the park with his all-Greek list, which includes many of the now classic wines and wineries that we’ve seen emerge in the U.S. over the last five years but also many other wines that might be unfamiliar to some in the wine trade community.

greek octopusThe food was as thoughtful and pure as the wine list. I loved the raw purlane that garnished the octopus (above). It reminded me of my time in Crete.

I really dug this place and imho the list should be in the running for a Food & Wine “best new wine list” award (Helen’s only been open for three months as of the publication of this post).

There was so much good wine and food (and overeating) this weekend that I didn’t even get a chance to make it over to another favorite wine destination in Houston, Camerata, where owner and wine director David Keck has just launched a new Italian wine list and added a top expressions of Franciacorta.

Too much wine and too little time!

After all, weekends are really meant for my girls (below) and our outdoor activities (in case you missed this photo on social media, I just had to share it here).

Happy Monday, everyone! Have a great week!

kids soccer houston

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