South Houston | 331 West Broadway (at Grand St.) | 212.431.0131 |

SOMETIMES, IT'S JUST that easy. Not even thinking about what I would PHUDE about early this morning, I received a forwarded email from my friend and fellow foodie, Stephen, about a spanking new place—down in the chi-chi neighborhood of Soho—offering, of all things, southern-style and southern-born dishes, such as chicken & waffles, bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and dirty rice.

This place is called South Houston—yes, technically south of Houston St., on West Broadway and Grand St.—and with the 21st century ability to get real-time directions from, again, Stephen, once I was downtown and forgot what streets the restaurant was on, found its modest-on-the-outside facade, belying the almost grand, and yet homey, decor of its interior.

I grabbed a seat at the bar, was handed a menu (by the very friendly and cool bartender whose name escapes me), and was reminded of which dish, mentioned in Stephen's email (from Zagats): the Hot Brown.

Embarassingly, the first time I heard of a (Kentucky) Hot Brown was during one of Bobby Flay's Throwdown. South Houston's comes with turkey, crispy proscuitto, fried egg, and monet sauce (cheese-based béchamel). I was impelled to try one for the very first time, finally being able to do so today, so I ordered one.

Hearty without being too heavy, this big sandwich was a small triumph. Fresh turkey was sliced thin, letting more air into each bite, which helped supply more of its flavor. Crispy pieces of porky, salty proscuitto accented the white meat turkey, nicely mellowed by the slightly sharp, cheesy sauce. Perfectly sunny-side up eggs oozed warm and silky over the whole yummy goodness, held up quite nicely by the sturdy Texas toast underneath and robust tomatoes. Ham, eggs, and cheese. Overall, it excelled with the depth of its simplicity.

I wasn't hungover, but enjoyed as much as I knew I would if I was. Surprisingly, even the handsome size of the sandwich was no much for my appetite (made stronger by running circles around Soho initially looking for the place!); I handily finished the whole thing.

Maybe by intent, but I still had the menu next to me on the bar. My curiosity was piqued again by the words CORN DOGS, and having recently had a conversation with another friend, Emily, about our mutual love for corn dogs—and how long it had been since we had one—I couldn't refuse the opportunity to indulge (again, with a cheese sauce).

Perfectly nostalgic in taste and texture, these (3 for $9!) likewise went down very easily. They didn't need to be overthought, and these had all the simple charm of a snappy, spiced and beefy weiner, coated in an aromatically rustic cornmeal batter, appropriately crunchy on its exterior without be remotely greasy.

As I told the guy who was there training, one of my metrics on the success of restaurant service is how much it removes me from the world outside the restaurant. I was so "at home" here that, knowing a food coma was well on its way, I could only want to grab a bourbon lemonade and relax in a backyard hammock. I spent 45 minutes not in Soho, or even the city of New York, but somewhere churches don't have air conditioning and complete strangers genuinely wish you a "good day".

And as I successfully turned down the advances of of the various whiskeys, bourbons, and sour mashes attractively attired on the bar shelves—including a Maker's Mark flavored with orange peel and a vanilla bean!—I made an effort to remember exactly where South Houston is located, since I definitely plan to return to a place that reminds me that simple pleasures may be, indeed, the best.

Bun Apple Tea!


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South Houston | 331 West Broadway (at Grand St.) | 212.431.0131 |