TONY MANDOLA’S GULF COAST KITCHEN
1212 Waugh Drive Houston, Texas 77019
One Appetizer (each) — Soup or Salad (each) — One Entree (each) — One Dessert (each)
Ceviche Veracruz — Sicilian Salad — Chicken John Kim — Coconut Creme Pie (substitution) — Maker’s Mark on the rocks (added)
Calamari ala Mama — Lobster Bisque — Snapper Phyllis — Philly’s Banana Key Lime Pie — Moscow Mule (added)
The Atmosphere: Tony Mandola’s definitely walks the line between fine dining and casual eats. The feel of the decor seems like somewhere where old money (both in wealth and age) come to have a drink and a good meal with their friends. The parking lot (valet prevalent) was filled with Mercedes that probably have 5000 miles on them collectively. The attire lends to smartly casual. Jai and I had planned to dress up for date night but business errands ran over. I was worried at first we would be under dressed but we were right in line with everyone else… except the one girl wearing workout tights.
Food: From the first taste of my Calamari ala Mama, at the suggestion of our amazing waiter Spencer, I knew the food would be good… but it was gooooood. The lightly fried squid and tang of the pepperoncini peppers made me shimmy in my seat. Jai said her ceviche veracruz was light and fresh. They had her avocado.
I was going to write about Spencer in the experience portion but that wouldn’t be fair. Everything that we ate was with his direction and trust. We were in absolutely the best hands.
Ok back to the food…
The soups and salads course was ok, though I regret not selecting the Mama’s Gumbo… Mama always knows best.
For the entrees we hit the jackpot. If Jai could marry the Chicken John Kim (another Spencer choice), she would leave me in a heartbeat. She raved and raved about the taste. Even though I was full and reveling in my calamari, the blackened filet of the Snapper Phyllis was so amazing I almost lost it all. It was such a decadent meal topped with shrimp, oysters and jumbo lump crabmeat. My eye literally just rolled to the back of my head thinking of it. Tony Mandola’s did that!
Finally we ended up with banana key lime pie and coconut creme pie. The creme pie isn’t on the menu but we peaked at someone else who was eating it and were able to substitute.
Experience: So I have to say the best part of the experience at this restaurant was spending time talking to Jai. We were able to laugh and talk about the future and enjoy our food together. We were there for hours together. It never felt rushed or that our waiter was just waiting for us to release the table. We left enjoying it immensely on all parts. I am sure we would definitely come back on our return to H-Town.
Here is a boss move, take a scoop of the key lime pie and the coconut creme pie. It will change your whole life.
Valet seems required but it isn’t. You can park on the right side of the lot.
 Well I implemented because Jai gave me a raised eyebrow the first time.
 I am thorough thorough.
 It was only love that had me offer Jai a bite.
 If you all see that on the menu one day, make sure I get a check.