The newest addition to CityCentre in Houston, the ultra-chic International Smoke, offers diners a twist on the traditional steakhouse experience.
Bestselling cookbook author and lifestyle expert Ayesha Curry and celebrity chef Michael Mina debuted the restaurant in July with an expansive menu mixing flavors that highlight not only the different ethnicities of the duo, but also their expansive travels. Why choose Houston? “Houston’s incredible diversity and love for dining out put the city at the top of our list for expansion. A prime location at CityCentre cemented our decision,” said Mina.
The core concept behind the restaurant is highlighting different ways of preparing meat using fire, grilling and smoking. Executive Chef E.J. Miller has an extensive background in Houston’s culinary scene and the connections to go with it. His partnerships with 44 Farms, Blackhill Farms and Dewberry Hill Farms among others ensure the finest, freshest ingredients are served daily.
The atmosphere of the restaurant is urban with graffiti art, neon signs and a color palette of warm tones. A large three-sided bar offers great views of the kitchen, and there is an expansive landscaped patio next to CityCentre’s large outdoor area.
The cocktail menu is extensive and intriguing. I tried one of the seasonal favorites, Watermelon Crawl and was treated to a sweet taste of summer. I also tried the Issa Gin & Tonic, which is a flowery take on the traditional drink. The bar also offers Punch Bowls that are perfect for larger parties. The Punch Bowl is actually a drink dispenser complete with spigot for easy pouring.
Let’s get down to the business of food at International Smoke. Oysters, clams, lobster, shrimp and crab make up the not only beautiful, but tasty Shell Fish Platter. The platter is large, perfect for sharing and enjoying the smoky flavor of the dish. Also on the appetizer menu, you won’t want to miss the Kalua “Instant Bacon,” flavored with Hawaiian teriyaki and pineapple salsa – your taste buds will fall in love with this tasty bun.
The most popular item on the menu is the smoked pork ribs. These ribs are so juicy and tender, the meat falls right off the bone and the taste is superb. There are three flavors to choose from: American BBQ, Al Pastor and Sesame-Gochujang. I ordered a combo rack, so I could taste all three and my clear favorite was the Sesame-Gochujang – I loved the Asian spices and sesame taste.
International Smoke checks off all the boxes for a great dining out experience in Houston. It has a prime location within CityCentre, the atmosphere is edgy and fun, cocktails are abundant, and the food choices are so varied and delicious you can have a different experience with each visit.
Cover photo Shannon O’Hara
Gabi De la Rosa lives in Houston with her husband and three children. You can usually find her at a great local restaurant or out exploring HTX with her family.