Updated at: 26-05-2023 - By: Craig Huey

As the 2011 Best of Houston® winners are announced, we will spend the next 20 weeks compiling a list of the runners-up. It’s not an easy task to determine an annual winner in many categories. We’ll be highlighting 20 of these categories where the victor faced stiff competition from other Houston eateries.

The Kenny and Ziggy’s Five

The restaurant that has won the annual Chicken Soup Cookoff at Congregation Emanu El for the past several years runs a close second on our list. Incredibly hearty and comforting, Kenny & Ziggy’s chicken soup with matzo balls is like a deli version of chicken and dumplings.

This is not your average chicken soup; instead, it has a base of eggs and lemon, making it silky, tangy, and almost creamy with a citrusy aroma. Great for a winter cold, but even better when chilled on a hot summer day. If you find yourself craving the food at Niko Niko’s, try your hand at making it with Dimitri Fetokakis’s recipe.

3 Pho Ga Dakao

Similar to the flavor of beefphoTo prepare chicken pho, a savory, fatty stock is boiled with chicken bones and other chicken parts for several hours. Pho Ga Dakao includes your choice of meat (light or dark), buttery chicken skin, and even organ meat for the truly daring. Soup is best with chicken hearts and gizzards due to their complexity and tangy bite, but regular chicken breast works just fine. Add some lime juice, cilantro, mint, or Sriracha to taste, and you have a bowl of chicken soup that is as effective against a cold as it is satisfying on its own.

Taqueria El Rey No. 2

Despite its unassuming exterior, this little Cuban/Mexican drive-thru serves the city’s best chicken tortilla soup. The chickens roasting on the rotisserie inside give El Rey’s soups their extraordinary depth of flavor, and you can watch them as you walk in. Tomatoes, chiles, chicken, corn, cheese, and tortilla strips are added to create a soup that can compete in flavor with the finest lobster bisque in town.

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1. Julio’s Taco Truck

In contrast to the normhot chicken soup or hot Xochitl, the Tlalpeo’s Hot Waterat Tacos del Julio, you must add chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, a crucial component. The dark red chiles are pre-seasoned with adobo and come in a small plastic cup, so you can add them to the broth at your discretion. Mexican Cheese (queso panela) bounce around the broth like a cork. Vegetables are similarly substantial, with chunks of ripe carrot, avocado, and potato poking out from beneath the broth. Caldo Tlalpeo is a revitalizing soup that costs less than $4 and is injected with large amounts of fresh lime.

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