June 23, 2024


Built General Tough

Your 10 Favorite Food Stories of 2020

What, fair reader, did you read at our website in 2020? We looked at the analytics and found the top-10 foodie stories (published in 2020) that you perused the most this year.

1. The 2020 Houston Restaurant Weeks List is Live

The day the Restaurant Weeks list publishes is always a high-volume day on our website. It’s not unusual to see an iteration of this piece on this list. But this year, the Restaurant Weeks list story ended up No. 1, and I imagine there’s a perfectly understandable reason for this.

This was back in late-summer, when we were deep in pandemic-caused quarantine and everyone really wanted to just eat out. Plus, I have to think many Houstonians wanted to support their favorite spots during the most trying year in a long time. It speaks to the connection we have to our restaurants.

While Restaurant Weeks was different for a few reasons in 2020, chiefly it had a new leader. HRW founder and personality Cleverley Stone died in May, and the reins were handed over to her daughter Katie. Under her guidance, HRW was extended through the end of September, making it a two-month-long celebration of local restaurants.

2. Thanksgiving 2020: Your Dine-In and Takeout Guide

Here’s another one that I attribute to Covid-19. With the virus upending our holiday traditions, some of us opted instead to support a local restaurant and grab some turkey dinner (or an alternative) to-go. We got a big spike in traffic on this piece in the days before Thanksgiving.

3. 10 West African Cuisine Spots You Definitely Need to Try

Back before the pandemic, I spent a couple weeks touring the West African restaurants around Houston and fell in love with a number of dishes. I’m elated that people read about the groundnut (peanut butter) soup at Afrikiko, the fisherman’s stew at Safari, and the aggressively spiced and delicious suya at Suya Hut. At the very least, hopefully it spurred a few folks to sample jollof rice for the first time.

4. Local Pub Petrol Station Closes Shop

Several popular restaurants and bars closed in 2020, some having to do with the pandemic and some not. In the summer, Petrol Station ended its long run as one of Houston’s premiere beer bars; soon, the folks behind Monkey’s Tail will open a new spot in the same location.

5. Best New Restaurants 2020: Our Favorites of a Strange Year

In the fall I usually put together a best restaurants list for our print publication. This year, I was all jazzed up to produce my definitive list of the top spots in Houston, bar none, but the pandemic shifted my course. In November I posted a piece highlighting some of the best meals, single items, and experiences I had with new restaurants in 2020. I hope it helped you when choosing a place to visit.

6. How You Can Eat From Restaurants, Help Local Establishments

In March, when Covid-19 forced the suspension of all inside dining and drinking at restaurants and bars in Harris County, I started a list of establishments doing whatever possible to get food out to people. Every day for about two months I was adding information, resulting in a long list that hopefully served as a guide to some. 

7. 6 Tex-Mex Spots For Takeout, Curbside Pick-Up

Another specialty of those early pandemic days: takeout lists, as a way to inform people where they could still get their favorite foods during the pandemic. In this article’s case, it also gave me an excuse to have more enchiladas.

8. So Long Disco Kroger, You Charmingly Unpretty Sight

We found out later in the year that Disco Kroger, aka the one at Montrose and Lovett boulevards, will close in January. To honor this special place, Craig Hlavaty typed a remembrance in his own distinct way. And you read it.

9. Houston Restaurateur Tony Vallone Dies at 75

H-Town’s king of hospitality died in September. Anyone who’s ever been to Tony’s and met Vallone could feel the loss—his charm and wit affected countless diners from across the world. Just as important, he was a mentor to and friend of several talented chefs and restaurateurs who spoke at length about his legacy in the wake of his passing.

10. What To Order At The New Houston Voodoo Doughnut

Ah, the simpler times before Covid: when we could go to the trendy pink donut shop from Oregon and try a bunch of sweet yeasty treats. From the moment Voodoo opened on Washington Avenue, the car lines at Voodoo would back up into the street. Maybe some of the folks abided by my ranking of nine Voodoo items. Me? I could use another bacon maple bar.