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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Houston
Food
Feel
Price
8.9
8.5
$40
American, Modern
Casual restaurant

Hours
Tue–Sat 11:00am–10:00pm
Sun 10:00am–9:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Not accepted

www.zelkobistro.com

Heights
705 E. 11th St.
Houston, TX
(713) 880-8691
Zelko Bistro
This teeny spot is one huge move in the right direction for restaurants

Zelko Bistro exudes a humble sincerity, not only in service and food, but décor: natural light fills the wee space by day, and by night, Mason jar lanterns with green bulbs gently light the bar. The wine list of newer vintages and less-traversed terroirs is imaginative, sensible, and hospitable, with little over $40—precisely the food-friendly, small-production wines that flashier restaurants utterly ignore. Also unlike those restaurants, Zelko takes no reservations, and ingredients are farm fresh (so menus seasonally change).

Comfort food here is either modernized with a seamless marriage to French traditions—exemplified by fried gherkins served with homemade ranch—or borrowed from other cultures entirely (like much-lauded bruschetta with feta, roasted red peppers, and hummus: better than the sum of its parts). Fish tacos with caramelized plantains seem puzzling on the menu, but their wonderful flavor and texture are beyond convincing. Fried chicken is wonderfully crisp and juicy, its playful Cap’n Crunch batter spiced profusely. More inconsistent is “Homeless Joe” meatloaf, cooked—in true hobo fashion—inside of a can. It’s dense, but at best is still moist; sometimes it has come a little dry, but the sweet and tangy ketchup makes amends. Do finish up with an icebox pie or other nostalgic dessert that evokes the truck stop or county fair (thankfully in name, not execution).

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