Want to walk on the wild side without getting too crazy? Maybe you have a desire to try something daring, but you aren't quite ready to be as brave as the Houston Bucket Lister (aka me) and eat balut, cobra soup and crickets. If so, Sammy's Wild Game Grill is for you. They serve hamburgers, hot dogs, chili, sandwiches and salads but with an exotic twist. Instead of eating boring old cow and pig, you can excite your taste buds with glorious game meats such as buffalo, venison, antelope, elk, kangaroo, pheasant, lamb, and rabbit. I even found a couple of types of meat I had never tried before on their menu, the seasonally available camel meat burger for $11.95 and a side of Burmese Python chili cheese fries for $6.95. The owner mentioned to me that he'd looked into a supplier for mountain lion meat as well, which he said he'd not yet had the opportunity to try. He assured me if I liked their Facebook page, I could be updated as soon as they add new types of meat to the menu. Other menu items included fries (sweet and regular), onion rings, chicken breast sandwiches, apple cole slaw, picke chips and Guinness cupcakes. For the faint of heart, Angus beef is also on the menu. The restaurant isn't large, with as much, if not more, seating outside on the patio area as inside, and the parking lot is practically not existent, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with uniqueness. I tried the camel burger as it was the only type of meat on the menu I had not yet eaten, and I was pleasantly surprised at how juicy and moist the patty was. I've always felt some game meats, such as kangaroo, can be dry, so I wasn't expecting the juiciness when I took the first bite. I also noticed the buttery, garlicy toasted bun, impervious to the wetness of the patty. The burger was thick and filling, and they did not skimp on the camel meat. I also got a half order of the python chili cheese fries, as I was intrigued to try python. I have eaten snake before, including cobra, but never python. The taste of the snake meat was not strange, but tasted like a regular chili. I'm not sure I would've known anything was different about it, had I not known what I was eating. I have also tried their elk chili, at an event called Menu of Menus and it was also a hearty, cheesy, good enough for a Texan who has grown up on chili cook-offs, chili. You may think you have to sacrifice taste or quantity when dealing with exotic food, but this was certainly not the case at Sammy's Wild Game Grill. They are very reasonably priced with burgers starting at $7.95 for Angus Beef, $9.95 for most types of meat, and $11.95 for the camel. Hot dogs run about $6.75, tacos at $7.50, wild boar BBQ sandwiches at $9.50, and python chili fries at $6.75. For an extra $3.50 you can add drinks and a side to your meal making it a combo. They serve wine, beer and mixed drinks, though I had a soda myself. I would've tried the Guinness cupcakes, but I was completely stuffed after my meal. I will definitely be checking their Facebook page to see when they have new types of meat, and will return in the future.
Where else can you get a beef tendon noodle soup and a milk and raw egg soda for lunch? Granted I've never been to Vietnam (But I have been to China), however this feels like the real deal to me, folks. Pho Saigon Noodle House sits in a little shopping area with several other great Asian restaurants as well as the former Well Farm Asian Grocery store. The restaurant isn't huge, one large room with maybe 20 tables set up and a counter and kitchen area to the left and bathroom in the back. I always say you can tell how authentic an ethnic restaurant is by how many people of that country are eating there, and this place does appear to be popular with the Asian community. A very sweet waitress told us to sit anywhere we wanted and brought us some menus and took our drink orders. I like to always try the strangest thing on the menu, so I ordered a "#87 Soda Sữa Hột Gà" or soda whipped with condensed milk and raw egg yolk. The waitress said she wasn't sure if I would like it, but I assured her I've eaten balut, durian, cobra and scorpions so I could probably handle it. She laughed and agreed. My husband and I both got the #17 Phở Tái Nạm Gân or Beef noodle soup with eye round steak, well-done flank and soft tendon, which came with a drink (soda or tea), and our choice of spring roll or egg roll. We both chose Spring roll. We had two of our children with us, and they chose the shrimp fried rice platter. The portions were so huge that the kids (14 and 9) shared one plate. The pho bowls were also gigantic, and we were given a plate full of fresh herbs (basil and cilantro I believe), jalapenos, sliced onions and mung bean sprouts to add into it. If the tendon part makes you a bit squeamish, there are other varieties of pho that do not include it. To me, it was wonderful. The pieces of steak were tender and flavorful, and all the flavors together blended together perfectly. Soft noodles, tender steak, fatty tendon and crunchy bean sprouts all together are a real treat for the mouth. I couldn't finish my bowl (I'm not kidding when I say it's huge) so my son ate some of it after finishing his fried rice portion. He loved the rice, but thought next time he would order the pho. There were desserts on the menu, such as bean puddings, longans in syrup and soursop or durian smoothies, but we were all so full we couldn't have eaten another bite. Each meal was about $7 each, and the pho combo included appetizers and drinks, so all in all it was a great price for a very large amount of delicious food.
Austin may be the weird capital of Texas, but Houston can hold it's own in the odd department. Take the Annual Houston Art Car Parade, for example, which is hosted by the Orange Show (pretty awesomely odd in it's own right). People from all over the city transform their old volkswagon Beetles, vans, bicycles, and more into works of art and drive them down the streets of Houston for us all to admire. You'll likely see a car with a giant rabbit on top, one that looks like a guitar, various vehicles with things glued to them, people in costumes on roller skates, and more theme cars than you could count. I dream of someday having my own artfully decorated car in the parade, but in the mean time I will stand on the side of the street, wave and cheer, ooh and ahh over the creations of my fellow Houstonians and bask in the glow of the wonderful weirdness of my city. It's usually hot in Houston during the middle of May, so bring some sunscreen. There will be at least one area with vendors selling drinks and snacks, with port-a-potties near by. Bring the kids, and the video camera, because your out of town friends are never going to believe it unless you show them!