Houston's "Most Popular Restaurant," serving its "Best Food" and "Top New American" fare, is Mark's American on Westheimer. That's according to Texas Restaurants, part of the Zagat Survey series, a consumer-driven restaurant guide that yesterday released highlights of its first guide to all of Texas.
Chef-proprietor Mark Cox said he was "overwhelmed, elated and excited. ... I went out to the dining room today and said, 'You'll have to excuse me. I'm a little lightheaded. I'm a little blown away.' "
Da Marco took second-place honors for food, followed by Brennan's, bistro moderne and Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. Other eateries receiving top-10 honors for popularity and food were Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Brennan's and Cafe Annie. It named Armadillo Palace, Black Walnut, Gravitas, Kiran's and Noé the Best Newcomers in town.
The Zagat Survey relies on customers to rate restaurants in cities around the world. From 1988 through 2002, it published books devoted to the Houston dining scene, as well as to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This guide marks the company's return to the Lone Star State. Restaurants are ranked numerically on a scale of 30 for food, décor and service. Mark's American received 28, 26 and 27, respectively.
According to Zagat findings, Texans dine out more often than Americans in any other state, with Houstonians leading the way; the Houston surveyors averaged four meals out per week, beating the national average by 30 percent.
Our favorite foods are Italian, Mexican and American, and when barbecue is on the menu, we prefer brisket to ribs or pulled pork.
The Texas Restaurants guide rated 1,176 restaurants with input from 5,000 surveyors. The book is for sale at bookstores or at www.zagat.com for $14.