New and Noteworthy
Café Byblos, Houston and The Mighty Cone, Austin
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Houston There’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on at Café Byblos, and a whole lotta shimmying too. Belly dancers—live, onstage!—entertain weekend diners, who fortify themselves with the cafe’s excellent Mediterranean cuisine. The dining room is capacious, easily accommodating crowds, but on a recent weeknight, we and a few other serious eaters had the place to ourselves, allowing us to focus happily on one well-prepared dish after another. Plates bearing starters of baba ganouj and hummus were practically licked clean, as were those of batinjan el-rahib (eggplant with lemon and garlic) and grilled halloumi (a mild goat or sheep cheese). We then proceeded to attack equally fine kebab platters: marinated beef; minced lamb with parsley, onion, and pine nuts; and lamb in a spicy tomato sauce. A belly dancer would have just been a distraction. Bar. 6134 Richmond Ave (832-251-0505). Open Sun—Thur 11—11, Fri & Sat 11—2 a.m. Reservations accepted. $$—$$$ W+ Call ahead.
The Mighty Cone
Austin You no longer have to wait for a year and then queue up at the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival to score a crunchy chicken cone from Hudson’s on the Bend. Now you can get the savory treat—fried chicken tenders coated with crushed almonds and corn flakes, sesame seeds, and chile flakes, all tucked into a tortilla with spicy mango-jalapeño coleslaw, and wrapped in a paper cone—six days a week at a kitschy trailer with red picnic tables on South Congress. These cones are more addictive than crack, especially if it’s a summer weekend and you’ve been out in the sun drinking cold beer. The avocado and shrimp versions are almost as tasty as the chicken, and the menu also offers beef and veggie sliders, for those so inclined. Order any of these with a shake and a side of ultracrispy chile-dusted fries and you’ll be as high as a kite. 1603 S. Congress Ave, Lot #1 (512-383-9609). Open Tue—Thur 11—9, Fri & Sat 11—11, Sun 11—9. Closed Mon. $