Houston foodies and restaurant connoisseurs love the month of August when Houston Restaurant Weeks runs from August 1 through Labor Day. Restaurants in the Greater Houston area participate in the annual event to help raise funds for the Cleverley Stone Foundation and the Houston Food Bank. For attendees, it helps attract business during a slow month in the restaurant industry. It also serves the restaurant public, giving them the opportunity to try a variety of restaurants at a reasonable price.
Recently I was talking with a Houston Press reader who expressed how much she enjoys HRW but she really appreciates when restaurants offer three courses for $25 lunch deals. While most establishments in the city offer two courses for lunch and three for the most expensive dinner, there are a few in Houston that offer a bonus third course at lunch.
While trying to find a restaurant in my part of the country that offered an HRW menu, I came across BB’s Tex-Orleans, a Houston-based restaurant that was founded in 2007 in Montrose and Westheimer. Since then, the Cajun-themed restaurant (with a Texas twist) has expanded to a dozen locations in the Houston area and one in San Antonio.
While there was a BB closer to my house, I was on a mission to find some bathroom tile, so decided to try the Cypress location near the Northwest Freeway more near my destination. BB’s cypress is a bit hidden, so GPS is a good idea. There are a dozen BB’s Tex-Orleans restaurants spread across the city and diners can expect some conformity in the menu and drink offerings no matter which location they choose.
Many of the BB’s restaurants offer outdoor seating and the Cypress location had a large patio shaded by a huge oak tree. Unfortunately for me, it was a triple-digit temperature day in the sweltering city, so I decided to sit at the bar instead. The young bartender greeted me right away. I asked about the HRW menu and she handed me a laminated list of options. I ordered a Texas Twister, which is an icy swirl of her signature Red Headed Wompus Cat and her version of a margarita, Bri Bri’s Creed. I’ve had the red-headed Wompus cat before, but I just find it a bit sweet. The frozen margarita swirl helps balance it out with a bit of lime.
The HRW menu for BBs is quite extensive. Many restaurants, especially the more upscale establishments, offer a fairly tight prix fixe menu. BB’s has three choices for the first course: Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo, Shrimp Gumbo or Kidney Beans and Rice. I opted for the Shrimp Gumbo. For the second course, you have the choice of three salads and for entrees you can choose between a Fried Gulf Shrimp Po’boy with fries, a Da’ Cheeseburger with fries, Fish Tacos or a plate of fried shrimp. For my salad, I chose the Madhatter and decided to make it a shrimp fiesta by ordering the fried shrimp plate.
With my ice cold drink and the explosive air conditioning of the bar, I had escaped the heat of Houston for a moment. The bartender brought out the shrimp gumbo and I was surprised it was a big bowl. I told him I thought it would be a cup of okra. She replied, “It is. It’s just in a bowl.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but it was a large serving of dark red okra with rice on the side. I have never had okra at BB’s and was impressed. It was spicy but not too much and had a thinner broth which I prefer. There were slices of okra, which I normally eat. The okra in BB’s okra melted in my mouth and before I knew it, that bowl of okra was gone. However, I did not eat the crackers. I have some restraint.
Next up was the Madhatter Salad. Again the portion size was larger than expected. There was a load of baby spinach topped with dried cranberries, feta cheese, pecans, onion and tomato with long, thin slices of green pepper. It was dressed quite heavily with the citrus vinaigrette, but I wanted more citrus pop and a bit more feta for a tangy sheet. Still, it was a refreshing in-between dish and I didn’t eat it all. I left a few slices of bell pepper.
With the idea of choosing bathroom tiles weighing heavily on me, I ordered a mango margarita to cheer me up. When I saw the bartender put mango syrup at the bottom of the glass, I knew I had made a mistake. I don’t like drinks that are too sweet and the mango syrup gave this margarita an off flavor. I fixed my mistake by drinking from the glass rather than the straw to avoid the dregs of the syrup at the bottom.
I was pretty full by the time my entree arrived. It was a plate loaded with super skinny fries, five large butterfly prawns, a slice of garlic bread and two hushpuppies. Also had a side of coleslaw in a ramekin. The coleslaw was good but nearly impossible to eat from a small metal ramekin which I believe should only be used for sauces and condiments. This is my opinion and I stick to it. In fact, maybe I’ll start a movement against coleslaw ramekins.
The prawns were perfectly fried and they were sweet but I only managed to eat two before my stomach told me it was full. The skinny fries were pretty decent and there was plenty to take home for anyone in my house rummaging through the fridge later that evening. The hushpuppies could have used a little more flavor, but I found the almost cake-like consistency of the puppies to be a nice change from the other onion and cornmeal versions. The garlic bread, well, it was garlic.
So for HRW foodies looking for a casual three-course lunch option, BB”s Tex-Orleans is a solid choice. The atmosphere is casual for a fun lunch with friends but still classy enough to be worthy of a date night.For those who indulge in frozen cocktails, the three courses can be more than one person can eat, as we found.The frozen drinks are very filling.
BB’s Tex-Orleans also offers three courses for its HRW dinner ($39). The dinner entrees offer a bit more food for the price and the third course is a selection of desserts. We think the lunch menu is a better deal, but it doesn’t offer rockdale rockfish like the dinner menu does and that alone may be a reason to go for dinner instead.
BB’s Tex Orleans
12 locations in Houston