Welllllll.  I have to admit.  I don’t know how you people do it, really I don’t.  If I had to decide on a place to eat out every night, I’d probably starve, since most places would be closed by the time I came to a decision.  But pressure looms, the cupboard is barren (we’re even out of ramen!) and if I go home after work no studying takes place – the couch is just too inviting.  Therefore, more sampling than ever of local Houston eats has taken place in the past week, but cheapskate me has tried to stick to places $20/under ($15/under?!) if possible.  Below, a listing:

Croissant Brioche: If this place were open until 11pm, it would be the place to study.  Quiet, pleasant environment.  Delicious baked goods.  I was really pleasantly surprised by the krab salad (usually get tuna and decided to change it up this time).

Vinoteca Poscol: I really had a pang of regret upon walking in the door here with my backpack.  So obviously a sit down dinner place, not a sit down and take a table for the whole night place, and I steeled myself for the inevitable “telling the host yes I am all alone” moment.  But she handled it with true grace, seated me by the window, and the waitstaff was patient and generous.  When I had finished my meal, they waited until I had completed a study section before asking if I needed anything else – in fact, I asked for the check.  I didn’t feel right taking up a table that could have had 2 people eating two meals during the time I was there, but I’ll definitely be back.  The fried spaghetti was too much for just me, but the beets/hazelnuts/goat cheese was wonderful.  I’d love to bring friends here for a long, enjoyable dinner.

CoffeeGroundz: The caffiene in the coffee here almost killed me.  I can’t concentrate with the TV and the awesome music.  When I don’t actually need to work, I’ll be here all the time.

Antidote Coffee: Hit or miss on the music.  I really need to start carrying my iPod.  The cajeta latte is always a win – great coffee.  What I don’t understand is why the baked goods are always such a mystery.  Could they be labled once in a while?  Surely the baristas get tired of explaining them every time.  Gotta get there early to find seating, too.

Taco Milagro: The sensation I get when sitting on the patio, especially with the redevelopment of Upper Kirby, is of being in Epcot.  You know, if Epcot had a “Mexico.”  It’s just so faux Mexico.  But the tacos are fine.

Connie’s Seafood: Here is the other end of the spectrum.  Here I really am in Mexico.  I can’t study here, but I can bring home enough leftovers to study at home for two meals.

Star River: This is a new Chinese take out place in the Greenway Inn & Suites on 59.  It is seriously cheap – their “all day special” is 6 bucks for lunch, 7 bucks for dinner, and includes the entree, fried rice, soup and an egg roll.  Portions are so big they last me three meals.  I can’t make this much food for myself even if I don’t pay myself for labor.  I have no idea how they do it, and I love it.  Twice in our take out order they’ve thrown in something we didn’t ask for.  I’m going to live off of them next week.

Beaver’s: I seriously missed the boat on this one.  Every other day they seem to have an amazing lunch special – fish and grits, fried chicken, chicken fried steak – and I went the day it was a Beaver burger.  The burger was fine but undercooked (RAW?) and when I asked the server she told me, “It’s pork.  Pork doesn’t get as brown as beef.” which wasn’t… the most reassuring answer ever.  To her credit she did offer to bring it back, but I’d taken a few bites, so I declined.  However, the chips were amazing and the pie was sooooo good.  I’ll be back for one of the other specials.  For burgers, I’ll be going to Lankford grocery…

Aladdin: I love the lamb, cauliflower, and eggplant here.  If anyone knows how to make that eggplant, you’ll be my personal hero.  The lamb shank just falls apart when you touch it and the sauce is wonderful on rice.  Otherwise, the sides are hit and miss.

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