There’s no shortage of Southern-cooking inspired restaurants in Houston. They run the gambit from drive-thru to sit-down, white tablecloth. No matter what your budget, time restrictions or personal tastes happen to be, you will find some venue to suit.
What makes Kitchen 713 different? Its menu is small and focused on a handful of items which they prepare extremely well. They are located deep into the new, scruffy IT neighbourhood of EaDo. In fact, they are so far into EaDo, it might be considered East Houston. They are extremely casual in atmosphere while serving items you could order from a much schmancier venue for half the cost. They are located in leased space from the adjoining church. This last bit you will want to know if you are thinking about alcohol. They don’t serve it and you cannot bring it; its part of the lease agreement.
Very casual; you’ll find most patrons are in shorts and flops. Order at the counter, table delivery. Don’t forget to pickup your silverware and self-service tea or lemonade at the counter in the back. Its basic, small (about 6 4-tops) and insanely popular, therefore it can be loud and chaotic but in a fun way. My advice is to try it on a week night but check their hours online before heading out; they are closed Monday and Tuesday, they also roll up at 9p.
Some of the best in the city. Breakfast Club has been the defacto Southern venue in Houston for a while now but Kitchen 713 is going to give them some competition. All items were extreme wins.
Boudin Balls: I’ve seen these made any number of ways in Louisiana but here they are chopped Boudin sausage mixed with breading then rolled in cornmeal then deep-fried and served with toast points. Of course they’re good, like a hush puppy with a sausage bonus. There was no accompanying sauce but you can roll your own from the large collection of hot sauces on the back counter.
Shrimp and Grits: Depending on who you ask ‘what is the most southern dish?’ in Houston you’ll likely hear Fried Chicken or this dish, Shrimp and Grits. Like Boudin Balls, Shrimp and Grits is prepared differently everywhere you go. Kitchen 713 prepares theirs with a lemon-cream sauce with a hint of garlic bite, which considerably brightens up a typically heavy bite. Grits are forced to share the bowl with a half-dozen or so squeaky fresh 11-count shrimp and the occasional boudin sausage round. Highly recommended for those seeking to escape the bacon-cheesy renditions.
Also featured in the photos, Lamb Belly with Potato Cake – a definite win for the birthday boy who ordered it. Will try next time.
You can steal a look at the kitchen as you walk by the front since its all glass front. You’ll see the two chefs who work tirelessly in the small space; usually they will briefly stop to flash a smile and wave. Considering the heavy traffic at Kitchen 713, the orders are up quickly, 20 minutes or less. For a no-frills venue, the service here exceeds expectations and the staff will ask you many questions about how often you’ve been, what was your favourite, how can they improve. They will also fill you in on any upcoming specials and they will be sure to note their hallmark fried-chicken lunch served only on Sunday – its a whole fried chicken, so bring a friend.
Frankly, given the quality of the dishes here, I think the prices are low – app, drink and entree will hover about $20-ish.
If you’re an urban pioneer willing to brave the what most Houstonians still consider a ‘bad neighborhood’ (it isn’t and ironically it has the lowest crime stats of any inner city zipcode) and you’re up for some classic Southern dishes spun with care and creativity, Kitchen 713 should be high on your culinary to-do list.
Dinner: June 2015
Kitchen 713 | 4515 Canal | HTX 77011