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An Outsider’s Guide to Houston’s Asiatown

One of the best things about living in Houston is experiencing the diverse cultures that make up the city’s population of 2.3 million people. Similar to other major U.S. cities, Houston has an area dominated by delicious Asian restaurants, exotic shopping and fun cultural experiences. This area, colloquially known as “Chinatown,” is by no means limited to only Chinese influence. Cultural influences in this part of Houston are from Vietnam, India, Pakistan, China, Korea, Malaysia and more. Plus…

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Bobby Heugel

Owner, Anvil Bar and Refuge James Beard-nominated Bobby Heugel has forever changed the way Houstonians look at libations. The native Houstonian bartended his way through college and developed a drink program that highlighted quality spirits and fresh ingredients while earning a Master's degree in Inter-Cultural Communication. After college, Heugel continued to pursue the craft, turning out creative cocktails at Benjy's and Beaver's Ice House, before launching Montrose's Anvil Bar and Refuge…

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Bryan Caswell

Chef/Owner of Reef, Little Bigs and El Real Tex-Mex Cafe Staying true to his Gulf Coast roots, Chef/Owner Bryan Caswell imparts his love for fishing and the ocean in his seasonally-changing, award-winning Reef restaurant. Diners love the spot's refined blend of locally-grown produce and use of Third-Coast-caught seafood, as do foodies on the national stage. He has expanded his restaurant empire with Little Bigs and El Real Tex-Mex Cafe. Caswell has been named a Finalist for a James Beard Award…

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Chris Shepherd

Chef/Owner, Underbelly Midwest-raised Chef Chris Shepherd spent weekends as a child scouring farms throughout Oklahoma in search of straight-from-the-vine tomatoes, fresh corn and peas. He left boundary-pushing Catalan restaurant to open Underbelly in March 2012, featuring locally-sourced food inspired by the ethnic diversity of Houston. The Art Institute-alum and former Executive Sous Chef-turned-Sommelier of Brennan's brings his farm-to-table passion to fruition at the new spot, which was…

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Grant Gordon

Executive Chef, Tony's In 2010, Houston native Grant Gordon took over as executive chef of Tony's at the age of 24-parlaying his experience and skills into the top job at one of the city's most venerated restaurants and earning him a position on Forbes' 30 under 30 list. Gordon graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and proceeded to hone his skills at restaurants in New York, Napa Valley and Austin before returning to his hometown. Clearly a quick study, the chef…

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Greg Gatlin

Chef/Owner, Gatlin's BBQ With a culinary family history, food has always played a prominent role in Greg Gatlin's life. But it took some time for the owner and pit master of Gatlin's BBQ in the Heights to discover that the restaurant business was his calling. The Rice University grad was a business consultant before starting a small catering company on the side. Demand for his delicious barbecue grew and when an opportunity to take over a small cottage in the Heights presented itself in 2010…

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Hugo Ortega

Chef/Owner of Hugo's and Backstreet Cafe Mexico City-born Chef Hugo Ortega is living the American Dream. He immigrated from Mexico to Houston and began in the restaurant business as a dishwasher at Backstreet Café. He moved to the kitchen, graduated from culinary school and is now its executive chef/owner. He also crated Montrose-set Hugo's restaurant and Caracol in the Uptown area. There, he's rediscovered the foods of his homeland, serving up Authentic Regional Mexican cuisine and gaining…

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Irma Galvan

Chef/Owner, Irma's It's not an exaggeration to call Irma Galvan a Houston culinary legend. After all, she has the James Beard Award to prove it. Born in Brownsville, Galvan moved with her family to Houston's Second Ward as a child and worked in local bakeries when she was young. After an early career in furniture retail, this spunky lady opened her namesake Mexican restaurant in a depressed part of Downtown in 1989. Since then, the quaint, funky Irma's has become a go-to spot for judges, bankers…

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Justin Yu

Chef/Owner, Theodore Rex Native Houstonian and Chef Justin Yu has crisscrossed the globe honing his culinary skills. He earned his bachelors in Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston and culinary arts degree from New York's Culinary Institute of America. In Houston, Chef Yu worked at *17 and The Grove, before heading west to man the stoves at the vegetable-focused, Michelin-rated Ubuntu in Napa Valley. In 2010, he ventured back to his hometown, teaming up with Seth…

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Monica Pope

Chef/Owner, Sparrow Bar + Cookshop Dubbed the "Alice Waters of the Third Coast," German-born, Houston-reared chef Monica Pope has been revolutionizing Houston's culinary scene since she opened her first restaurant in 1992. She shares her passion for connecting local farmers and consumers with weekly cooking classes, an online cookbook and Sparrow Bar + Cookshop and Beaver's restaurants. Pope has also enjoyed national recognition in the form of a James Beard award nomination and a spot competing…

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