An intentional exploration of Indianola’s menu from start, to cocktail, to sweet finish will take you on a tour of what makes Houston and Texas great – a convergence of culture and flavor.
Fresh off a weeklong employee appreciation break when Indianola was closed to give employees “…an opportunity to decompress, spend time with loved ones, and focus on mental health after such a stressful and taxing year,” the atmosphere in the restaurant was full of energy. Music, conversation, and delicious smells wafting from the open kitchen greeted guests as they entered the EaDo location.
Showcasing Texas Cultures
Named after the Gulf Coast port city of Indianola, Texas, which ushered in many immigrant cultures in the 1800s, the restaurant highlights a variety of influences that are now commonplace in Texas cuisine. Part of Houston hospitality veterans Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber’s lineup of six popular concepts, Indianola focuses on showcasing all the cultures that make up Houston’s diverse population. Vietnamese, Mexican, German, Canadian, Cajun, South African and Southern United States flavors are all represented on the menu.
The confluence of these flavors can be found in one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes and menu staple, Iron Skillet Cornbread. Made with Hopi blue cornmeal, which is milled outside of Austin and shipped the next day, the cornbread tastes and smells as it should – of fresh corn. What makes the dish stand out, however, are the toppings which change regularly. The current iteration pays homage to early fall flavors and includes peach chili chutney, creme fraiche, poblano rajas, and orange honey. The earthiness of all the flavors works together for a perfect bite each time.
Not to be outdone however, the Beech Mushroom Toast is new to the menu and worth a try. Grilled sourdough is covered with Huitlacoche ricotta, sunflower sprouts, pepitas, and pumpkin seed oil – again, making for a wonderfully executed mouthful of flavors.
“We change out the menu constantly. We’re always trying out new flavors and switching things up seasonally,” says Vincent Huynh, Culinary Director. “Some of the dishes stay on the menu because of their popularity, but we change them up slightly just to keep them fresh.”
Although Indianola strives to make each dish a mashup of flavors, some menu standouts are the most simple. Take the Coal Fired Half Chicken, for example. Served with duck fat potatoes, caramelized onions, and herb salad, the dish is the number one selling menu offering because it is cooked to perfection. The chicken is well seasoned and cooked so that the moisture is sealed in making it not only delightful but deserving of its permanent spot on the menu.
Cocktails Hold Their Own
Indianola’s robust cocktail menu is just as well thought out and executed as its dining menu. Everything from the Smoky Old-Fashioned served with Instagram-worthy flair to the beautifully delicate Fleur De Kali, or aptly named Heavy Petting, is delicious. Just like the dinner menu, however, the cocktails are rotated out on a seasonal basis.
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Cover photo courtesy Photo Ralph Smith Photography
Gabi De la Rosa lives in Houston with her husband and three children. Visit her on Instagram @gabioftheroses_htx