#89 - Ruggles Green, Houston TX

I love Houston, but don't think there's any way I could live there.  It's blazingly hot and humid half the year and the traffic is an absolute nightmare every single day.  When I first started going to caravans down there I was shocked that we didn't have huge crowds, considering Houston and Dallas are our largest alumni bases outside of OKC & Tulsa.  It only took driving down there myself just once to understand.  No chance I would drive to the other side of Houston to an evening event.  What should be a 10-15 minute commute would take well over an hour during rush hour, which seems to last until late at night. Not even worth it.  

The past 2 years the caravan has been at Houston Texans Grille in CITYCENTRE, so I try to find a hotel nearby so I'm not fighting too much traffic.  I found a great Courtyard just a few miles away, and it was perfect because I could get to the venue in under 10 minutes. The hotel isn't too far from the Galleria area, but just driving around there can be even more ridiculous.  

After doing some searching online and consulting with my friend JJ who lives in Houston and has never steered me wrong when it comes to food, I decided to try Ruggles Green. It's located in CITYCENTRE, right in the center of the shopping/dining area.  I love all the shops and restaurants in the area, but parking kinda stinks.  There are a couple of garages, but getting in and out of them really isn't a whole lot of fun.  And a lot of the spaces in them are reserved during the day.  But eventually I found a parking space and walked over.

The restaurant is located pretty much in the middle of the area, right next to a big open air plaza.  Ruggles features a large menu with a lot of gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian items, and they also focus heavily on local and organic foods.  Thankfully I don't have food allergies or restrictions to deal with, but I love places that cater to that population. And I'm also a fan of places that do local.  The inside has about 20 tables & booths, and there's a nice outdoor patio facing the plaza with about 15 tables.  You order at the counter, and then they bring the food to you. The menu was huge.  In my opinion, too huge for ordering at the counter.  It's one thing if you've been there before and know what you want. But for a first-timer like me, it made it even more overwhelming than I already feel with a really big menu. And I felt a little rushed to make a decision.   I must say I do appreciate that they encourage guests to not take a table until after they order. I'm sure that would be a big problem in a place like that around lunchtime, when people are saving tables for friends.  But then those that have already ordered have nowhere to sit.   All the condiments, drinks, and serving utensils are along a huge wall.  I'm sure this cuts down on inventory, as they don't have to order condiments for every single table. And they can refill items faster that way too.  

I finally decided on the spicy chicken tacos and sweet potato fries

All-natural Zaatar-crusted, roasted chicken, topped with sauteed red onions, red and yellow peppers, fresh avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, and spicy Sriracha-peach chipotle sauce on corn tortillas; with a side of house-made habanero hot sauce

The tacos were delicious but definitely had a serious kick!  Sriracha, habanero, and chipotle all in one dish.  It was hot, but not overpowering.  Thankfully the habanero sauce was on the side so I was able to use it very sparingly.  The avocado was yummy and creamy and helped tone down the heat.  The first taco I ate with the tortilla.  The second, I just ate the filling.  I did use the habanero sauce for my sweet potato fries, and really like the combination of flavors.  I had originally picked up some mustard to eat with them, but I liked the taste of the habanero better.  I was a little disappointed because they weren't screaming hot; however, they were still really good.  These fries have been voted "best in Houston".  I haven't had them anywhere else, so I can't compare.

I enjoyed sitting on the patio, but after a little while the screaming kids became a bit much.  So I wasn't able to relax and enjoy as much as I would have liked.  But then again, I needed to get back to the hotel to watch the Thunder game, so I guess it all worked out.

Will I go back?  Definitely!  They had so many unique and interesting items on the menu, and I really had a hard time deciding what to get.  Next time I'd like to go with someone, spend more time, and maybe enjoy one of the local beers or wines.