District of Columbia County, District of Columbia
September 1, 2004
Barnaby's has now been around long enough to become one of the true mainstays of gay and lesbian life in Houston. However, as the restaurant has grown in size and popularity, it has become less of a gay hangout and more of a favorite of all of inner-loop Houston. The original Fairview location (two other locations are also in or near Montrose; addresses and phone numbers below) is still probably the most gay and has the funkiest atmosphere of the three. The newest location on West Gray was pretty much all gay when it first opened in late 2001, but a glowing review in the Houston Chronicle and the restaurant's proximity to Midtown and Downtown have made it very popular with residents in those areas and the crowd has become more mixed. The "straightest" location is on Shepherd, near River Oaks. Still, the Montrose locations are both places where it's safe to hold your partner's hand in public, steal a kiss, and camp it up as much as you like. And best of all, the restaurants are owned by a local gay couple.
The food at Barnaby's is all very good. Menus are printed on the placemats and the focus is primarily on comfort foods. Portions are huge, and it's rare that I am able to finish everything. The prices are very reasonable, although price increases the last two years have resulted in Barnaby's not being quite the true bargain it was when I moved to Houston. Still, it remains a great value.
My favorites are the meatloaf, blue cheese bacon burger (served with a mountain of their wonderful fries), buffalo meat burger, chicken La Jolla (chicken breasts topped with green chilies and Monterrey jack cheese), and the lasagna. Salads and sandwiches are also good choices. I've tried nearly everything on the menu, and the only thing I was disappointed in was the chicken burrito, which had a filling that was too dry. The menu lists everything by name only, without descriptions but servers are eager to assist newcomers with their choices. Also, the salads are enormous; half portions are available but not listed on the menu. And while most entrees come with sides (garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli are my favorites), some like the lasagna do not. A side salad is available, but it is quite large and if you are not extremely hungry, you may be almost full from it before your entree arrives.
Barnaby's is an excellent choice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and a fun place for a casual date, get-together with friends, or quick meal before hitting the bars.
From journal A Gay Man's Guide to Houston, TX