I kept hearing about Kitchen 713, a southern food restaurant within driving distance of work. The description sounded interesting enough so I made a mental note and looked it up online. From my research, I found that Kitchen 713 is a fairly new restaurant that managed to make it onto the Houston Chronicle’s Top 100 Restaurant List this year. That in itself caught my attention because new spots do not receive that level of acclaim so quickly. Then I checked the location and saw it is in EADO/Second Ward or the hood as some would say. The location juxtaposed with the rewards made me say hmmmm. Let’s be honest. Restaurants in Second Ward typically do not offer the level of culinary sophistication that we see on the Houston Chronicle list. Call me judgy or snobby, but a quick look at the list and you will not see any of the Kitchen 713 neighbors included. That is not to say there are not great restaurants in these locations because there are! But they have to be pretty amazing to get the attention of the rest of the city. I figured I would head over to Kitchen 713 before the “urban tourists” really get ahold of it so I convinced a co-worker to go with me to check it out during lunch.
Kitchen 713 is nestled right in a neighborhood within a building that was probably a home at some point. The full parking lot is what alerted me to the restaurant otherwise I would have cruised right past it. We parked in front of a neighboring house and headed inside. The building is non-assuming, but that is part of the appeal and part of why I call it a hidden treasure. Once inside we were greeted by friendly staff and a simple cafeteria setup. Simple and no frills. I loved it. You order at the counter, grab an order number, pick your table and wait for your food to be brought to the table.
The “no frills” does not apply to the food though. The lunch menu only includes five main entrees including shrimp and grits. I grew up in Houston and somehow have avoided shrimp and grits, so I went with that as did my co-worker. Do not be fooled by the milky look from the picture! The “milk” was really a perfect cheese sauce with a great consistency. That, plus the green onions and bits of bacon made for a really good dish. The price point was a bit higher than I originally expected, but after I saw how big the portions were, I knew it was warranted. Also, while waiting for my food I gawked at the dishes everyone around me ordered. Based on presentation alone everything looked really good. The boudin balls were huge and quickly devoured by a couple sitting next to us, so those are definitely on my list for next time. The gumbo, burgers, and the jerk chicken also looked amazing. I only wished I had ordered more.
It is fancy food in a casual setting, which I really appreciated. I cannot wait to go back to try some other things on the menu.