If you have ever experienced any tailgating event, you know that food and football have always gone well together. The fans who orchestrate this great tradition around the Houston Texans home games at NRG Stadium have been recognized for creating one of the best tailgating environments in the NFL.
That’s no surprise, as Houston is also well known for having some of the top dining options and chefs in the world. Many of us know thism of course, but did you know that Whitney Mercilus is active in the local food scene as both an investor and a connoisseur?
Eater Houston provided the following during their recent interview:
Mercilus dipped his toe into the business for the first time this year when he invested in Chris Shepherd’s ambitious One Fifth restaurant.
Now a newly-minted restaurateur and awaiting football season, Mercilus sat down with Eater to share his picks for the city’s best spots for brunch, barbecue, crawfish, and cocktails. He also dished on his involvement with One Fifth, and the super-special “baller board” that he orders every time he goes in the restaurant.
Eater Houston: Talk about the experience of opening One Fifth. How did you decide that you wanted to get involved in the restaurant business?
Whitney Mercilus: I was looking for a different type of investment and this was a fun thing to get into. I’ve been a really longtime friend with Chris and last year, sometime around last Spring, we had a little private meeting and talked about it and he wanted to open up a new restaurant with five different concepts over five years.
He said it was a stupid idea, but as soon as he broke it down for me, I wanted in. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else but him. I honestly believe he’s the only person who could have pulled this off. With everyone he has on board, who really know how he thinks and exactly what he looks for, they’re the perfect fit for this concept.
What do you eat when you go to One Fifth?
The cooks will tell you that any time I’m in the building, there’s what’s called a “baller board,” and it’s just one big long wooden board. If you order it, it comes with just about everything - two cuts of beef, the longbone or the ribeye, then with two or so sides, everything you can fit on that board. Another one of my go-tos is the “Bigger” seafood platter. It has uni panna cotta, which goes great with the bread.
What kind of steak do you order, and how do you have it cooked?
I get the longbone or the ribeye every time. Of course, I just love steak and the cooks do a damn fine job cooking up the steaks however you want it, and I want mine medium-rare.
What’s your favorite sushi restaurant?
That’s an easy one — Kata Robata. It’s so good. The chef there knows his stuff, and I can see it in his dishes that he’s a perfectionist. Each dish that comes out just blows your taste buds out there. If you don’t like sushi, that spot will turn you into a lover. The ingredients are so fresh, it’s like it just jumped out of the water.
What’s your favorite spot for barbecue in Houston?
Killen’s is really the only barbecue I’ve really had. I’m very selective. I know exactly what barbecue is going to be. As soon as I eat that barbecue, I’m going to go to sleep. I know, it just happens instantly. That food coma is real.
You can read the entire interview HERE to see Mercilus’ other favorite dining suggestions around Houston.
It’s great to see him sharing his passion for food. Perhaps he’s setting up his next career after he’s done with the NFL.