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Houston's

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    Score: 4.11. Votes: 9

    These days just about every casual dining chain has its version of this appetizer: spinach and artichoke hearts mixed with cheese and spices, served up hot with chips or crackers for dipping. Making the rounds over the years, I've tried many of them, and most formulas are nearly identical. That is, except for this one. Houston's makes their spinach dip special by using a blend of sour cream, Monterey Jack cheese and Parmegiano Reggiano—the ultimate Parmesan cheese. Parmegiano Reggiano is born in Italy and is usually aged nearly twice as long as other, more common Parmesan cheeses. That ingredient makes the big difference in this dip. So hunt down some of this special Parm at your well-stocked market or gourmet store, and you'll find out why Houston's spinach dip has been one of the most requested recipe clones here at TSR.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    This cold couscous salad side dish served at the 96-unit chain is very unique and seriously delicious. The secret is cooking the couscous with orange juice so that it is filled with flavor. Then you toss in some golden raisins, almonds, radishes, tomatoes, mint, green onion and parsley, and the couscous party is on. This is a great warm weather side for pool parties and picnics that can be made a day ahead. It’s easy. It’s tasty. It’s finally cloned.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.00. Votes: 3

    It's not your typical cole slaw. The sweet pickle relish and green onion is a nice touch, and all that parsley really sets this dish apart from other slaws I've tried. If you like cole slaw, and you've never had this version at the restaurant, you might want to give it a try.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.00. Votes: 2

    This 38-unit casual dining chain may be small compared to many of the other chains whose food I've cloned, but Houston's has a huge following of loyal customers throughout the country. I know this because for many years the restaurant sat at the top of my "most requested clones" list. I was finally ready to take on the challenge, but since there are no Houston's where I live in Las Vegas, it required a road trip—this time to Orange County, California. A couple plane rides, a bit of driving, some walking and a stumble or two later, I had a cooler full of Houston's goodies secured safely back at the lab. After a few hours of measuring and mixing this simple sweet-and-sour salad slather from Houston's was cracked.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.75. Votes: 8

    This delicious house vinaigrette is a Houston's favorite, and a home carbon copy is just minutes away. All you'll need are a few basic ingredients, plus tarragon-infused white wine vinegar. If you have trouble tracking down the tarragon vinegar, plain white wine vinegar will work just fine. Use a measuring cup with a spout or a squirt bottle to slowly drizzle the oil into the other ingredients while mixing. This technique will create a thick emulsion that won't separate as your dressing chills out in the fridge.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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