Oxtails in Cajun Coffee Sauce from Esther in Houston

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After moving to GOOF (aka Garden Oaks-Oak Forest) last year, I made it my mission to explore all the restaurants in the neighborhood that seemed way too far to travel when I lived in Montrose. And what a time to do so, as the neighborhood has exploded with new restaurants, bars and food-focused developments.

I recently tried Esther’s Cajun Cafe’s new location on North Shepherd. I had never dined at the old place so the restaurant was quite new to me. After striking up a conversation with Dru Evans, one of Queen Esther’s friendly daughters who is the company’s brand manager and architectural and interior designer, I was told I had to try the oxtails , the restaurant’s bestseller. Although all items on the menu are prepared daily, starting when the cooks arrive at 6 a.m., Evans said the oxtails took the longest to prepare.

A big box of Styrofoam oxtails with sides later, I was on my way. As I predicted, the meat melted from the bone and I enjoyed squeaky bite after squeaky bite, only taking breaks for dollops of mac and cheese and collard greens. The portion was enough for my husband and I to share, and thank goodness we did, otherwise I wouldn’t have had room for Esther’s very worthy banana pudding.

What else?

Esther’s is known for its hearty soul food menu, created from generations of family recipes. All offerings are homemade daily, using fresh, not canned ingredients. Every day you will find 16 objects behind the glass passing through the line. There are smothered pork chops, chicken spaghetti, and fried chicken, plus sides like okra, potato salad, yams, kidney beans, and jalapeño cornbread.

Know before you go: Weekend highlights include Cajun specialties like etouffee, blackened fish and gumbo on Fridays and Saturdays, and lamb chops on Sundays. Also plan to stay after eating – Esther’s has live zydeco music on the terrace on Saturdays and Sundays.

Esther’s Cajun Cafe (Garden Oaks)

Find it: 5007 N Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77018; (713) 699-1212
Hours: Every day, 11am-8pm



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