Barnaby’s serves well prepared, comfortable American food. Though the menu items might be described as diner-esque, the delivery, presentation and range of the dishes, plus the feel of the restaurants, won’t be confused with anyone’s idea of a greasy diner. The food is generally better, and the restaurants are nicer and cleaner, and the service is unfailingly more friendly and cheerful than any diner.

Barnaby’s creates very satisfying (and often very large) versions of familiar dishes. And, some twists to liven up those familiar plates. The menu is neatly divided among salads, cold sandwiches, hamburgers, dinner plates and desserts. There are no appetizers. But, given the healthy-sized portions, these are not really necessary. There are no soups, either, which might be another matter. The salads include a Caesar, both with and without grilled chicken, a chef’s salad, the Chinese Chicken Salad, Chicken Mediterranean Salad and the California Salad.

The handful of cold sandwiches is not what you will find at most diners. There is Turkey Breast with Cranberry Mayonnaise, Honey Baked Ham with Honey Mustard, Albacore Tuna with Pecans, Pesto Chicken Salad and Artichoke Hearts, plus a comparatively boring club sandwich. The hamburgers, made with hormone-free ground chuck, are cooked to a tastier and juicy medium, and the toppings include an interesting array: guacamole, green chile and hickory barbecue sauce. For those trying to contain their waistlines, there are also the non-traditional turkey burger, a grilled chicken sandwich, a buffalo burger and a vegetarian burger. All come with fries.

The various dinner plates are recognizable mainstream regional fare. Among the nearly twenty choices include ribs, meatloaf, steak, a variety of chicken breast preparations, salmon, pork chops, a stir-fry, a couple of different lasagna dishes, other pastas, tostadas and a burrito. If you have room for dessert, the selections are the pie du jour, available with a scoop of Amy’s ice cream, carrot cake, cheesecake, Italian cream cake, a chocolate dish and the old soda fountain classic Black Cow, a vanilla ice cream soda.

Barnaby’s CafĂ©
602 Fairview (between Taft and Montrose) Houston, Texas 77006, (713) 522-0106
1701 S. Shepherd (south West Gray) Houston, Texas 77019, (713) 520-5131
414 West Gray (between Taft and Montrose) Houston, Texas 77006, (713) 522-8898
5750 Woodway (between Chimney Rock and Bering) Houston, Texas (713) 266-0046

Copyright Mike Riccetti. Adapted from Houston Dining on the Cheap, and used with permission.

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