Visiting Houston: April, 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016
I love when people come to visit!

pool day in Houston, Texas

Not only do I get to spend time with out-of-towners who I love and miss dearly, but I get to show them what's so awesome about Houston! (umm, see above pic, re: going to the pool in April.). I started the "Visiting Houston" series in February, documenting the fun times we had (hint: there were lots of restaurants and LOTS of food involved) when my cousin Amber came down for a visit.

And now I have a new installment in "Visiting Houston!" Last weekend my visitor was none other than my best friend Courtney, who flew in from New York. We had a fantastic weekend of spending quality time together at fun spots around Houston and over awesome restaurant food. Here is how our weekend played out!


I picked Courtney up from the airport, and - with no time [and sunshine] to waste - we drove straight to La Grange to enjoy food and drinks on the restaurant's gorgeous patio.

cocktails and queso at La Grange - a restaurant in Houston, Texas

Pictured above is the Carlos Danger cocktail - aka the only margarita I've ever truly loved - and their gooey delicious holy queso with guacamole!

After we were finished, it was time to hit up another fun Houston restaurant patio!

(and eat more food).

Vietnamese fries at Boheme - a restaurant in Houston, Texas
truffle mushroom pizza at Boheme - a restaurant in Houston, Texas

If you haven't enjoyed food and drinks on the patio at Boheme yet, you are seriously missing out. Courtney and I sipped on some wine and shared the restaurant's incredible Vietnamese fries (topped with hoisin, sraracha, garlic mayo, cilantro, and crushed peanuts), as well as the truffle mushroom pizza. The fries - which I firmly believe are some of the best in Houston - were incredible as always. The pizza had a different more textured variety of mushroom from what I've had there in the past. I didn't like it as much this time, but it was still certainly enjoyable. Courtney liked both, but I think she favored the pizza over the fries.

Next up, we dropped Courtney's bags off at our apartment, and picked Jon up for drinks at Lei Low.

shark head cocktail at Lei Low - a tiki bar in Houston, Texas

If you are looking for a unique, strange, insanely enjoyable bar with fun drinks, Lei Low is it. This tiki bar is located in Houston's Heights neighborhood in a small, nondescript strip center that also houses a convenience store. The neon sign outside of the bar simply says, "RUM," and when you walk through the doors, you are transported to 1960s Hawaii. The drinks are always sweet, often on fire (literally), and sometimes feature a shark head eating a banana dolphin smoking a cinnamon stick cigarette (if you're lucky). I've had many messy nights there - one time I pretended to be a bouncer and carded everyone who walked through the doors, because I'm a classy broad - but it's always a total blast. Don't worry, I kept my 'ish together...this time.


Saturday morning, Jon, Courtney, and I grabbed a bottle of champagne, and headed over to Kraftsmen Cafe for a good, hearty BYOB brunch!

BYOB brunch at Kraftsmen Cafe - a bakery/restaurant in Houston, Texas
BYOB brunch at Kraftsmen Cafe - a bakery/restaurant in Houston, Texas

The quaint Houston Heights bakery/restaurant is adorable and homey, the food was delicious as always, and if it's BYOB it's always okay in my book! We loaded up on big breakfasts (I ordered the same thing I had last time, the woodsman omelet) to prepare us for the rest of the day!

After brunch, we snuck in some pool time, cleaned up, then headed out to Minute Maid Park!

Astros game at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas
Astros game at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas
Photo: Courtney

Courtney is from Boston and is therefore a huge Red Sox fan, so we were excited to find out the Astros were playing the Red Sox at home that weekend! <~~(Just kidding, we *sort of* planned Courtney's trip around it). Even though the roof was open and all of us got what was just short of third degree sunburns, we had a total blast!

Next up, dinner:

quesadilla at El Tiempo - a Mexican restaurant in Houston, Texas

Every time Courtney visits (and frankly, anytime anyone visits), we have to take her to El Tiempo because - as she says - their fillet fajitas have ruined all other fajitas for her. (I tried them prior to becoming a vegetarian, and I stand strongly behind her statement). We usually go to the restaurant on Washington Ave, but since we were downtown already, we ate at their EaDo location off of Navigation. The food (queso for the table, spinach quesadilla for me) was perfect as always!

Then we went home and watched The Incredibles because Jon had never seen it, and life's too short.


Sunday morning Courtney and I went clothes shopping to a few cute Houston boutiques, but not before getting some important nourishment.

breakfast tacos at Torchy's - a restaurant in Houston, Texas

Torchy's Tacos' breakfast tacos really are fantastic. I ordered two of my usual suspects from the restaurant - The Independant and the Dirty Sanchez. I'm telling you, I consistently see stars when I eat them.

After that, we grabbed groceries to prepare for a cookout at our apartment with my parents. I was having too much fun eating good food, drinking good wine, and enjoying my family and best friend, that I completely forgot to snap pictures! But I did get a shot of the yummy oatmeal raisin cookies my dad made next to some snarky napkins my parents gave Jon for his birthday a few weeks ago.

homemade oatmeal raisin cookies

It was a fun, awesome weekend, and I only wish it could have been longer! As I said, I love getting to show folks from out of town my beloved city of Houston and everything it has to offer - from fantastic restaurant food, to beautiful weather [ahem, most of the time], to fun events around town. Getting to do all of that with my best friend made it all the more amazing!

BFFs at La Grange - a restaurant in Houston, Texas
Snapchat: newishcityhou

^ Photo taken pre- the Houston sun turning my BFF into a lobster.

H.S. Green

Thursday, April 28, 2016
This post was done in partnership with Hot Pink Houston and H.S. Green, who provided me with complimentary food and drinks. I was not monetarily compensated for writing this restaurant post. All opinions are completely, 100% my own!

So before I had second dinner at Loving Hut last week, I had first dinner at the restaurant H.S. Green.

H.S. Green - A healthy restaurant in Houston, Texas

(I'll take "Things That Aren't Remotely Weird When You're a Food Blogger" for 500, Trebek!)

My friend Megha has an awesome Houston food Instagram account called HotPinkHouston (you should totally check it out, though let's be honest, you probably already follow her!), and she's also an editor at The Daily Meal. Last week, the folks at one of Houston's newest health food restaurants, H.S. Green, partnered with her to host a HotPinkHouston blogger event. And lucky me, I got to go! My Houston food blogger friends Erika and Sarah were also in attendance, along with a bunch of other new friendly faces!

Before delving into solid foods, we were presented with six of the restaurant's cold pressed freshly squeezed juices to sample.

juices at H.S. Green - A healthy restaurant in Houston, Texas

Don't mind if I do!

My opinions of the juices were as follows:

  • Watermelon Lime Mint (benefits: refreshing, low-cal, hydrating, skin health) - This juice WAS refreshing. I love watermelon juice to begin with, and this was no exception. Tart, crisp, and citrus-y, it tasted just like summer!

  • Pear, Cucumber, Ginger (benefits: rich in anti-oxidants, copper, and potassium; good for digestion, immune defense; anti-inflammatory) This drink was hearty, creamy, and had a rich pear taste. There was a hit of spice from the ginger, which was pleasant and incredibly complimentary of the other ingredients.

  • Carrot, Apple, Ginger (benefits: B-6 and B-12 energy complex; good for digestion, eye health, and skin health; detoxifying; immune defense) - Sweet, velvety, and satisfying, I felt like there was like a harvest gathering dancing all over my taste buds. It would probably taste really good with spiced rum? (#help)

  • Pineapple, Coconut, Vanilla (benefits: hydrating; bone, eye, and heart health; vitamin C and potassium) - No contest, this juice was hands down my favorite of the bunch! The light concoction tasted just like a piña colada with some added vanilla! (no really, #help)

  • Five Berry (benefits: rich in anti-oxidants, vitamin B, and vitamin C; heart health; high in fiber, immune defense) - This tart and jammy drink was perfect for the berry lover. It was probably my least favorite of the three, though admittedly I tend to shy away from berries in my juices and smoothies, so take that with a grain of salt. Other people seemed to really enjoy this one however!

  • Green Juice (benefits: low-cal power house; detoxifying; replenishes electrolytes; heart health; vitamins A, B, C, and K) - This was essentially salad in a juice, and it therefore tasted very green tasting and grassy, but I mean that it in the best way possible. It tasted incredibly healthy, and I definitely enjoyed it!

After the juice portion of the evening, the restaurant brought out some foods for us, starting with the guacamame.

As the portmanteau <~~(I think this is my favorite word of 2016, even though it's been around forever. That, and the phrase "squad goals." hard are you judging me right now?) implies, the dip is a combination of guacamole and edamame, and was hella good. It was fresh, lime-y, chunky, and delicious! To be honest, I couldn't really taste the edamame, but I think it was in there more for texture, which was great.

Next up in the solid foods department was the restaurant's Thai salad with grilled shrimp, as well as the quinoa edamame falafel.

Thai salad with grilled shrimp at H.S. Green - A healthy restaurant in Houston, Texas
quinoa edamame falafel at H.S. Green - A healthy restaurant in Houston, Texas

While I didn't try the salad, it smelled hauntingly delicious. The falafel (WHY is spellcheck wanting me to change that to "fella"? Spellcheck, you are obviously not a part of my squad.) came with a dill sauce on the side. I could taste the edamame this time inside the baked, smooth, earthy falafel. The dill sauce added a nice tartness and brightened the dish up quite a bit. Because they were baked and not fried, the falafel balls were not of the weigh-you-down variety, but of the this-is-good-for-you-and-also-tastes-good variety.

After that, we were presented with a crispy duck pizza, as well as the restaurant's margherita pizza.

crispy duck pizza at H.S. Green - A healthy restaurant in Houston, Texas
margherita pizza at H.S. Green - A healthy restaurant in Houston, Texas

I didn't try the duck pizza, but the margherita pizza was lovely. It was insanely super duper thin, crispy, tomato-y, and light. Immensely flavorful, this was guiltless pizza at its finest!

Before Erika and I had to cut out to make it to second dinner (Y'ALL, #HELPME), she snagged a bite of their truffle infused roasted mushrooms and chicken pizza, eating around the chicken. She informed me that I HAD to go back and order this at some point. Challenge accepted!

The kind folks at the restaurant gave me a roasted vegetable wrap to-go, as well! <~~(...third dinner?)

vegetable wrap at H.S. Green - A healthy restaurant in Houston, Texas

The zucchini, bell peppers, and red onion inside the wrap were vibrant, silky, and packed with flavor. Creamy, garlicky hummus and a crisp, mint citrus vinaigrette added a wonderful layer to it as well. It was quite the tasty lil' sammy!

H.S. Green is a fantastic new addition to Houston's health food restaurant scene. Just because the food is good for you, doesn't mean that it's lacking in flavor, creativity, or the ability to satisfy. On the contrary, the food there is exceptionally tasty, unique, and gratifying! If you're in Houston's Galleria/Uptown area, and you're having a hankering for some high quality, delicious, healthy food, look no further than H.S. Green!

fresh juices at H.S. Green - A healthy restaurant in Houston, Texas


Loving Hut

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Well, we here in Houston have certainly had our fill of "April showers" haven't we?

Loving Hut - a vegan restaurant in Houston, Texas

Last Tuesday - the day after Houston's big flood day, to be exact - we were gifted with a bit of sunshine, and I met up with my Houston foodie friends Judy, Erika, and Isabel for dinner at Loving Hut. This all-vegan international chain restaurant has a location in Houston's Westchase area.

Loving Hut - a vegan restaurant in Houston, Texas

The vegan propaganda that adorns the walls of this bright, open restaurant obviously didn't phase me, and I encourage the vegan-hesitant Houston folks among us to not be put off by it, because the food is just that good! (And hey, who knows? You just might learn some interesting veggie facts!)

Feeling ambitious and adventurous, the four of us decided to split five of the restaurant's plant-based plates. The first course of food was the bun hue (spicy noodle soup).

bun hue at Loving Hut - a vegan restaurant in Houston, Texas

The incredibly large bowl of vegetables and broth came with a side of crisp, fresh ingredients to throw in (bean sprouts, Au Lac mint, and lemon). Judy set to work and ladled the soup into four small bowls. What we were presented with was a concoction of vermicelli rice noodles, non-GMO soy proteins (similar in structure and feel to seitan), non-GMO tofu, green and yellow onions, cilantro, mushrooms, and homemade vegetable-lemongrass broth. The soup was light, with a mild "beefy" taste, and it had a slight kick to it. The textures of the soup were nice and varied. Overall, I definitely liked this dish, though I did not find it to be as impressive as some of the other food we tried that night.

When I read about the restaurant online, I came across several glowing reviews for the golden nuggets, so ordering them was a non-negotiable.

golden nuggets at Loving Hut - a vegan restaurant in Houston, Texas

Oh, Y'ALL.

Y'all, I ate chicken that night. In actuality, they were crispy, non-GMO soy protein strips that were battered and fried and served with a homemade sweet and sour sauce - but I'm telling you, it was chicken. These wonderful, fresh, crispy childhood chicken strips brought me back to my youth and put me on cloud nine. They were crunchy, flaky, meaty, and absolute heaven when dunked into the runny, light, sweet and sour sauce. These golden nuggets were WONDERFUL and far better than anything I'd expected!

For our next round of food, we ordered the Saigon crispy tofu.

Saigon crispy tofu at Loving Hut - a vegan restaurant in Houston, Texas

Oh, Y'ALL, times two.

If the golden nuggets dish wasn't my favorite food offering of the evening (and believe me, it was a strong contender), the Saigon crispy tofu certainly was. The super crunchy non-GMO tofu was prepared in an organic flour mixture and combined in a homemade spicy seasoning with red bell peppers, green bell peppers, and onions. The batter that the tofu was coated in was outstanding - It was sweet and had a pancake-like feel and taste to it. The sweetness mixed with the salty/spicy combo of the vegetables and seasoning was absolutely unreal. I had thought the tofu might end up being dry, but I couldn't have been more wrong. I was totally blown away by this dish!

After that, we indulged in the ocean fillet.

ocean fillet at Loving Hut - a vegan restaurant in Houston, Texas

Oh, Y'ALL, times three.

This traditional Vietnamese dish was utterly flavor-packed, indulgent, and mystifying. It contained non-GMO soy protein wrapped in seaweed and was stewed with eggplant, onions, black papper, seaweed leaves, and non-GMO tofu in homemade sauces. And similar to how I had eaten chicken nuggets earlier, I was now delighted to be eating chewy, delicious fish. The flavors of this dish were bold, fishy, sweet, and wonderfully decadent. The use of seaweed masterfully created the illusion of eating seafood, and all of the textures and flavors blended together harmoniously. Once again, we had another crowd favorite!

The last dish we tried was the restaurant's guru fried rice.

guru fried rice at Loving Hut - a vegan restaurant in Houston, Texas

This dish contained a medley of steamed rice, non-GMO soy proteins, carrots, green peas, onions, bean sprouts, spicy curry, cilantro, and sesame oil. In my opinion, this plate sat on the same level as the bun hue. The ingredients were fresh and fragrant, but as a whole it didn't blow me away like the others. I found myself adding sauces to elevate the rice a bit. Overall, I enjoyed it, but it's hard to reach the same level of transcendence provided by the other food items we'd had that evening.

Loving Hut is a fantastic restaurant in Houston that many people would enjoy, regardless of whether or not they eat meat. The thoughtfully-prepared, vibrant, eclectic food is exceptionally delicious, and diners can feel good knowing their meals are created using healthy ingredients. I cannot believe it took me so long to eat at this awesome restaurant, and I'll be back soon!

Time for those May flowers! (And more tofu).

Loving Hut Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Orangetheory Fitness

Friday, April 22, 2016
This post was done in partnership with Orangetheory Fitness in Houston, who provided me with a complimentary workout. I was not monetarily compensated for writing this fitness post. All opinions are completely, 100% my own!

I like to eat food. Like, a lot.

But my health is also incredibly important to me, so I have learned that when it comes to food, moderation is key, and when it comes to fitness, working out consistently is necessary.

However, I have to admit that I am naturally lazy when it comes to working out.

Don't get me wrong, I will absolutely consistently work out 3-5 times a week. But do I push myself when working out on my own? HA. I am completely content chilling on an elliptical for 20 minutes with a magazine and calling it a day. Which of course is certainly better than nothing, but if I want to feel/see progress and truly push myself, that ain't gonna cut it.

I'm also not naturally competitive. If given a "modified" option in a workout, nine times out of ten, I take it (see above, re: laziness). All that aside though, I am a goody-goody, Type-A teacher's pet (I'm becoming more and more likable by the second, aren't I?), so even though I am lazy and non-competitive, I do well in a fitness class setting because at the end of the day, I'm going to do what I'm told to please the teacher.

Cue Orangetheory Fitness.

Last weekend, I was invited to experience a class at the Orangetheory Fitness studio located in Houston's Town and Country area. I brought my friend Jaimie along for the ride (errr run...and row...and weight lifting madness....HELP). Several other Houston food bloggers were in attendance like my friends Erika, Shanna, and Felice, and I also had the pleasure of finally meeting the gals from Its Not Hou It's Me!

Wait, pause for a second - How hilarious is it that they invited a bunch of Houston food bloggers to take a fitness class? WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL US, ORANGETHEORY FITNESS????

The classes at Orangetheory Fitness are unlike anything I've ever done before. When you arrive at the studio, you are provided with a heart rate monitor to strap around your chest-ish midsection (okay, I'll say it, under your boobs) to wear during the duration of the workout. It's all based on your heart rate, and pushing you into the "Orange Zone," which creates "Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption" (EPOC). According this philosophy, if you spend a certain amount of time in the Orange Zone, doing bouts of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), calories will continue to burn 24 hours after your workout.

I mean, isn't that the dream?

snapchat: newishcityhou

You want to spend as much time as possible in the orange or red zones (as long as the red zone isn't indicating you're about to pass out), but also reverting back the other zones (grey, blue, green) every now and then to keep your heart rate jumping around. Throughout the duration of the class, they have your "zones" displayed on a screen so you can see how hard you're pushing yourself.

Photo: Integrate Agency
I felt like I could not get out of orange/red to save my life!

The orange-hued room is set up with treadmills, rowing machines, and weights/props. With loud, bumpin' music playing in the background, your instructor guides you through each set - from treadmill to rowing machine to weights to treadmill to treadmill to weights to treadmill, and so on. You could choose to be a runner, jogger or power walker on the treadmill. I started as a runner and - due to some hip flexor issues - ended as a power walker on a steep incline. Which, newsflash? Still insanely hard.

Photo: Integrate Agency
The workout was incredibly intense, and incredibly fun! Even though it included burpees (WHY, ALWAYS WITH THE BURPEES.), because everything was constantly changing, it kept me motivated and on my toes. In the end, Jaimie and I survived, and we each burned over 700 calories!

After the workout, we were provided with nourishing food from Eatfitters, and an email was sent to each of us with our results from the class.

I had such an awesome time at Orangetheory Fitness, and I'm so glad to have gotten the chance to experience one of their classes at their beautiful Houston Town and Country studio. If you want a killer workout that is bound to give you noticeable results, I definitely recommend it!

Photo: Integrate Agency

^ Look at all those happy, smiling Houston food bloggers, blissfully unaware of the ass-kicking their about to receive.

State of Grace

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
I present to you: My final Houston restaurant blog post from my month and a half-long vegan stint.

State of Grace - a restaurant located in Houston, Texas

But first let me say, I sincerely hope that all of you made it through the epic Houston April 2016 flood safe and unscathed. I, for one, could not even get out of my parking garage because my street was flooded, so I had a snow day and stayed in with my favorite boys (Jon, Baxter, and Newton). All of us and our belongings are totally fine, thankfully!

I hesitated to write this restaurant post for a couple of reasons: 1) I don't want to come across as complain-y, and oh, "Poor Kim, she's so sad she's not a vegan anymore," because I assure you that's not the case! I am completely, 100% at peace and happy with my decision to switch back to vegetarian; and 2) I don't want to come across as disliking the restaurant I'm writing about, because on the contrary I actually think it's fantastic! And for that reason, I ultimately decided to write this post.

(end of disclaimer.)

At the end of last month, and at the end of my vegan journey (and not coincidentally, on the last day of my vegan journey), I went to Houston's State of Grace for dinner with my friends Kate, Danielle, and Chelsey.

State of Grace - a restaurant located in Houston, Texas

I had been hearing such rave reviews about this restaurant and their food for quite some time, that when I called ahead and was assured they'd be able to accommodate a vegan diet, I was over the moon excited!

I started off by ordering one of the restaurant's specialty cocktails, the fresa fresca.

fresa fresca cocktail at State of Grace - a restaurant located in Houston, Texas

This drink is a concoction of pureed Louisiana strawberries, mint, lime, and the diner's choice of  one of a few different liquors (I went with Waterloo Antique Barrel Reserve gin). Garnished with a fragrant basil leaf, this slightly slushy drink was subtly sweet and tart, and wonderfully refreshing.

Then we were presented with some beautiful complimentary dinner rolls.

dinner rolls at State of Grace - a restaurant located in Houston, Texas

Clearly slathered in butter, I tried to grab a piece from below and inside the roll, and it was light and fluffy.

Our server enthusiastically gave us an overview of the restaurant's history and the seasonality of the food. He then discussed my options with me. State of Grace's menu is a small but impressive list of unique, southern-inspired items. If I had gone in as a vegetarian, I would have been able to navigate it gracefully, with some minor substitutions. But as a vegan, I'm sure I was looking at it like a deer in headlights. This is the pinnacle moment that began my undoing. <~~(omg could I be more dramatic.) And this was in no way the restaurant's fault, and obviously something that had been percolating in my mind for some time. The server was so totally accommodating, in fact. He asked me what I was in the mood for - I had no idea - and I threw out some vague food terminology (vegetables? pasta? bread?). Needless to say, I got pretty stressed out.

But again, the restaurant staff was super helpful, and they brought me an appetizer of the burrata (without the burrata).

sweet pea hummus appetizer at State of Grace - a restaurant located in Houston, Texas

This dish consisted of sweet pea hummus, cured black olives, and snap peas atop toast, and it was seriously fantastic. The super crispy toast was crunchy and firm, the snap peas and sprinkling of greens added a wonderful hit of texture, the olives were subtle and welcome, and the sweet pea hummus was out of this world - perfectly salty, creamy, and decadent. Even though my girlfriends ordered the burrata with burrata (like you do), I did not feel like I was missing the cheese at all. This appetizer sufficiently calmed my nerves and gave me significant moments of food-lovin', euphoric pleasure.

Unfortunately I did not participate in any of the other amazing-looking appetizers my friends ordered, such as the "queso" oaxaca:

queso oaxaca at State of Grace - a restaurant located in Houston, Texas


For my final round of food, I was presented with a pasta dish consisting of spaghetti noodles, olive oil, fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, olives, asparagus, and peas.

AKA, spring in a bowl! This dish was also great. It had light, subtle flavors, from the salty olives to the juicy, citrus-y, bursting tomatoes. The textures were also very pleasing, and the end result was a light, yet satisfying dish.

So even though State of Grace was - and is - completely accommodating when it comes to stricter diets, it was this meal that was ultimately the turning point for me. On one hand, it is important to me that I live my life as peacefully as possible with all of the creatures of the earth (cue the lighting of the incense); and on the other hand, enjoying time with the people I care about while dining out in Houston is a part of who I am and what I love. If I'm stressed out the whole time over the former, it's hard to execute the latter, so that was how my breaking point came to be. I rarely have had an issue eating out in Houston as a vegetarian, and if I continue to eat mostly vegan/locally sourced/humane certified on my own while dining out as a vegetarian, I am a-okay with switching back to vegetarianism.

THUS. The food at State of Grace was outstanding, AND I cannot wait to go back as a vegetarian. Located in Houston's Upper Kirby/River Oaks area, the atmosphere at State of Grace is lovely, the service is fantastic, and the food I ate that evening was delicious. I really and truly cannot recommend it enough!

dinner at State of Grace - a restaurant located in Houston, Texas


The Great Doughnut Debate

Friday, April 15, 2016
It's that time again, and you know what that means.

The Great Doughnut Debate - bakeries in Houston, Texas

(assuming you understand "It's that time again" = "time to watch a bunch of Houston food bloggers stuff their faces silly with something terrible for you but insanely delicious.")

Welcome to The Great Doughnut Debate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Great Doughnut Debate - bakeries in Houston, Texas

Last weekend, my friend Erika (read her way more eloquent review of the event here) organized a blind tasting of Houston's finest doughnuts. The local food bloggers and social media all-stars sampling from the selected bakeries were Judy, Emily (my sister, who was in town from Fort Worth), Isabel, Renee, Lisa, JulieMorgan, Jenna (her witty and insightful write-up can be viewed here), Erin, and me. This group of awesome women has gotten together before to determine the best chocolate chip cookie in Houston, as well as the best holiday cookie in Houston.

So we're basically experts at shoving large quantities of food down our throats and making major life decisions like "which doughnut is best."

The Great Doughnut Debate - bakeries in Houston, Texas

13 Houston-area (local and chain) bakeries were nominated to be a part of the tasting, which included a glazed round and a "specialty" round. They were as follows:

The Great Doughnut Debate - bakeries in Houston, Texas

Needless to say, we had an important and difficult task ahead of us. With our score cards and stretchy pants ready, we set to work!

(snapchat: newishcityhou)

(Also Judy and Erika made some amazing "palate cleansing" appetizers which were equal parts incredible and life-saving).

Doughnuts from each of the bakeries were given scores based on flavor and texture which were judged on a ten point scale, as well as appearance which was judged on a five point scale.

And the winning bakeries of the glazed round were.....

The Great Doughnut Debate - bakeries in Houston, Texas

1) Christy's Donuts and Kolaches

2) The Grove Do-Nutz & Deli

3) TIE! Shipley Do-Nuts and Queen Donut Shop

I was in agreement with the rest, and I ranked Christy's as my #1 because it had the perfect texture (not too cake-y, not too dense), just the right amount of sweetness, and a flaky, lovely glaze. My #2 was a tie between The Grove Do-Nutz for having a fantastic texture, and Glazed for having nice, subtle flavors and a beautiful glaze. And my third place choice was Fresh & Best Donuts for having a good, standard glazed doughnut.

The Great Doughnut Debate - bakeries in Houston, Texas

The winning bakeries of the specialty round were:

1) The Grove Do-Nutz & Deli (strawberry cheesecake)

2) Le Donut (blueberry cake)

3) TIE! Glazed (caramel/chocolate glazed) and Hugs & Donuts (blueberry cake with lemon glaze).

My top choice in this round went to the blueberry cake with lemon glaze doughnut from Hugs & Donuts. It had the perfect amount of blueberry flavor, and a wonderful, drippy, tart lemon glaze. I am admittedly not a doughnut person, but this one was FABULOUS. My #2 went to Fresh & Best Donuts' apple fritter, which contained fresh apples, and was wonderfully cinnamon-y. For third place, I chose Le Donut's blueberry cake doughnut (I guess I was in a blueberry mood that day?), which also had fantastic blueberry flavors, and an awesome glaze.

The Great Doughnut Debate - bakeries in Houston, Texas

Whew! I survived! You survived! We survived!

Shall we celebrate with another....?

The Great Doughnut Debate - bakeries in Houston, Texas

In summation, <~~(who even am I.) when it comes to doughnuts, Houston has some prrretttttty stiff compe-tisch <~~(did I redeem myself, or did I make it worse?) between its awesome bakeries. I never knew that you could find so much flavor diversity and character in different glazed doughnuts, as well as so many different creative types of specialty 'nuts.<~~(you can take my blog away from me now.)

The Great Doughnut Debate - bakeries in Houston, Texas

For the sake of research - and as Julie says, "in the name of science" - I hope that our day of face-stuffing might help you in your future doughnut life decisions. But really, you can't go wrong with any of the Houston bakeries we sampled from that day. Each one has something different to bring to the table, and they are all definitely worth a visit!

(for a sampling of 500 different varieties).

The Great Doughnut Debate - bakeries in Houston, Texas

Can we eat some salad now, pretty please?
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