Casa Colombia, Austin

Mi Colombia has changed its name to Casa Colombia, but the homey appeal that has made people fond of the little South American eatery remains intact. Interestingly, the restaurant’s signature dish—ropa vieja—is identified with Cuba, although the meaty stew is served, with regional variations, throughout the Caribbean and Spain. Casa Colombia’s version involves braised shredded beef plus green olives, capers, and a hint of red wine. It’s as delicious as it is humble, resembling (if you use your imagination) the pile of ;“old clothes” for which it is named. Equally spirited, the grilled chicken breast comes adorned with lemon butter and crunchy chunks of garlic. Oh, and don’t start without an order of arepas con queso de cab­ra—cornmeal patties topped with goat cheese and served with slightly sweet panela salsa; they are little bites of heaven. As you might expect at a Colombian outpost, black beans and plantains are ubiquitous; some folks come to satisfy a craving for them alone. 1614 E. 7th (512-495-9425). Open Tue–Thur 11–9, Fri & Sat 11–10, Sun 11–6. Closed Mon. $–$$$ W+

Grooves Restaurant And Lounge, Houston

What do you get when three NBA stars come together to open a restaurant? Size, for one thing: Grooves is ginormous. Glamour, for another. The place has a sleek dining area and lounge, as well as venues for live entertainment and music. Nick Van Exel (retired from the San Antonio Spurs), James Posey (Boston Celtics), and Damon Jones (Cleveland Cavaliers) have whipped up quite a showcase. Our twosome dropped by one night and polished off a cup of executive chef Charles Williams’s corn-and-clam chowder, followed by a butterflied “Cajun ribeye” and a tender roasted chicken breast with a dab of crawfish stuffing. We even managed a slice of sweet-potato pie. But we were most transfixed by the decor, from the gold fabric drapes and the art-glass chandeliers to the bodacious booths and the VIP dining room. Just two caveats: Be aware that a gratuity is automatically added to your bill and that the organizational skills of the valet parkers came in for some criticism early on. Bar. 2300 Pierce at Bastrop (713-759-9700). Dinner Mon–Wed 4–10, Thur & Fri 4–2 a.m., Sat 5–2. Sun brunch 11–5. Reservations accepted. $$–$$$ W+