January 18th, 2011

Ziggy’s Bar and Grill: A Helping of Healthy Hubris

In 4 Words: Healthy, Happy, Artisan, Indulgence

If the month of January were a week, right now we’d be halfway through hump day. As far as we’ve come, we’ve got just as far to go. Our fingers tease the pin on the hand grenade that holds everything together, but it also holds the potential to blow our limbs off, which would ruin all those resolutions of running a marathon and that continued streak of being able to feed ourselves.

For two weeks I had not touched the sauce. I had eaten four small meals a day that weren’t covered in chili and cheese. I had even committed myself to dropping a few pounds the good old-fashioned way, so I had ditched the trusty sauna suit and amphetamines (Primarily because my Hydroxycut (original formula) mule had gotten jammed up in Laredo, but maybe that was for the best.) I had also done everything the P90X program had prescribed for 14 straight days. While Tony Horton was flying around his little pain cave doing 300 incline pushups at a time and having full conversations with the camera crew mid-pullup, I was staving off stroke at half the numbers. Time for a cheat day.

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Driving a roundabout way to Hubcap Grill to get my meat-fest on, the sight of Ziggy’s Bar and Grill stuck out in my periphery like the icy stare you get when your mom catches you lighting a cigarette. Get your own pack, mother. Still, I stayed the course for burgerville. Halfway there though, the guilt set in. Was it really the grub I was yearning for, or the chance to eat something prepared by the careful hand of another? Was it a french-fried frenzy I was pining over, or the opportunity to avoid a 15 dirty dishes: 2 people fed ratio? Only one way to find out. In a fit of rage-like resolve, I whipped the car around, screeching the tires and inducing awesome, ninja-killing explosions and stuff. My dog Maggie nearly flew out the open window, but she had been warned to stay in her seatbelt many times before.

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The Ziggy’s in Montrose is a revamped, canary yellow, two-story home typical of that area. It sits right across from Boheme and near that place that your girlfriend goes with her friends to plot your death when you’ve been accused of not listening. Peanut Palace? Pinot’s Palette? Something like that. Ziggy’s has a quaint, gravel patio, shrouded in shrubbery, but completely useless in this disgusting weather that feels like you’ve been dunked in gazpacho. When it’s sunny out though, it should be noted that it’s one of the best people-watching venues on the planet.

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The inside of Ziggy’s strays little from its homey roots, which lends itself to an atmosphere reminiscent of a B&B sans one of the B’s. Cutesy paintings line the walls that always remind me of George Rodrigue’s work of Blue Dog Café fame. On this particular excursion, the wait staff had performed musical chairs with the iPod, and instead of the usual bouncy jazz or eclectic alt-rock, bass-pumping turbojams blared away, redolent of a “You Got Served” dance-off. Whatever. I didn’t come to eat the music. I came to cheat without cheating. I was that guy with the badass mustache, off the leash at Plato’s Retreat in 1982.

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It’s amazing what Ziggy’s can do with ground chickpeas. Add the pesto to their hummus and serve it with mounds of pita chips that crumble and melt away in your mouth and you’ve got a top-notch, appetizer. Their sandwiches are served with artisan wheat breads, and my favorite, the lamb burger, is lean and seasoned to perfection- complemented nicely with fresh onions and feta. Not exactly a Dirty Burger, but it rides that perfect line between something delicious and something you can taste the healthy in.

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Side orders of fresh, steamed veggies and sautéed spinach and mushrooms are as “clean” as you can get. Hearing the terms “mac-n-cheese” and “low fat/cal” usually sends a red flag up for this guy, but the dish is savory and gooey nonetheless. Splurging on one of Ziggy’s low-cal confections like sugar free carrot cake ala mode should be no impetus for guilt either. A Ziggy’s happy hour, full of delicious, handmade cocktails, and daily specials like fried chicken, should certainly be viewed as a small indulgence, but the good news is that Ziggy’s makes everything by hand with ingredients that are local, or at the very least, organic. Their breakfast includes a delicious array of health-ified classics like multigrain pancakes and turkey bacon, plus some zanier fare like sweet potato hash and buffalo omelettes. Served every day until 11, or ‘til 3 p.m. on weekends, forget face-planting on the couch in a grease coma, and get energized to face your day.

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Maybe I’ll never have six pack abs. Hell, I may never even be able to find that television remote I lost under belly fold three that started this whole resolution revolution. Despite the uncertainty of my physical aesthetics going forward, I can’t help feeling like I’m a little better off today than I was at the beginning of the year, and that’s what reaching a goal is all about. Even if you have to cheat.

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Where – 302 Fairview, Houston, TX 77006 [Google Map]
When – Mon thru Friday 9AM to 10PM; Sat 8AM to 10PM; Sun 8AM to 9PM
What – Healthy food to take your mind off those unhealthy cravings
How Much – Healthy price
Web - WebsiteFlickr; Twitter

— Tea Jones

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