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Review of Courses Restaurant at the Art Institute of Houston

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Photos of student chefs at Courses Restaurant at the Art Institute of Houston

Photos of student chefs at Courses Restaurant at the Art Institute of Houston

The Art Institute of Houston

Courses Restaurant is part of the Art Institute of Houston, located at 4140 Southwest Freeway, Houston, Texas. I had noticed the Institute before—it is a tall building on the north side of the Southwest Freeway—but I had not realized that the school had a culinary program. I had assumed that the school taught art and fashion, but I discovered that they teach many more subjects than that.

Interior of Courses

Interior of Courses

I Found It Through Groupon

I discovered this student-run restaurant when I noticed a discount coupon on Groupon. Courses Restaurant sparked my curiosity. My husband agreed to accompany me and check it out. We have now gone there twice, and we have enjoyed a three-course lunch for two for a very reasonable price. They offer those lunches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Also offered are four-course dinners for two or four people on Thursdays and Fridays from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Reservations are required. The menu frequently changes, which makes sense. It gives the aspiring chefs more opportunities to learn about different foods and how to perfect the cooking as well as the presentation of it.

Crawfish soup

Crawfish soup

Meals Prepared by Aspiring Chefs

This culinary school offers two- and four-year degrees. Subjects include the following:

  • Pastry and Baking
  • Culinary Arts
  • Culinary Management
  • Hospitality Food and Beverage Management

The student chefs learn to work in the front as well as the back of the house, studying all aspects of not only food preparation but how to keep customers happy.

Our First Dining Experience

My husband and I both selected the crawfish soup and the tilapia entree. Each of us chose different desserts on our first dining visit to the Courses Restaurant. Every bite of the food was delicious, and the student chefs in training were very friendly as servers. One young man was a retired serviceman, and he was now studying to become a chef.

In looking at the Art Institute website, it appears that there is a great deal of tuition assistance for honorably discharged men and women who have served our country in uniform. That is wonderful to know.

Student Artworks

The decor is minimal in this student-operated restaurant. The tables are widely spaced and have white linens and black napkins. According to their website, this restaurant space accommodates up to 45 people for meetings or special events. There are multiple views of the kitchen from the restaurant as well as the entrance hall.

As an artist, I am always interested in viewing art. We noticed that there was different art displayed on the walls from our first visit to the next time we decided to enjoy lunch there. A culinary instructor who was checking on us both times to see if we were satisfied with our meals informed us that students who study art at the Art Institute of Houston are the ones who create the art. Those white walls offer a splendid palette for the display of colorful art. I particularly liked the rabbit and butterfly pieces.



Our Second Dining Experience

The zuppa toscana may not have looked that pretty, but it was tasty, according to my husband. The soup had components of Italian sausage, potatoes, and kale plus other seasonings.

My first choice selection of the hummus platter was very visually appealing, as you can readily see. I ended up taking a sizable portion of it home with me. I could have easily made a meal of just that! It had not only hummus but also some tzatziki along with the pita bread and veggies.

My husband was happy with his chicken flautas served over a bed of rice. I thought that the shrimp and grits were so delicious flavored with diced red, yellow, and green peppers as well as roasted tomato and bits of bacon or pork belly.

All main selections were served in bowls on our second visit. The menu was designed by the students who were nearing the end of their term. The other entree choice from which we could have selected that day was a lamb kebob.

Usually, I do not order dessert. However, I took a few bites of the rice pudding as I had of the mixed berry parfait on our first visit. The show-stopper this time was the deconstructed tiramisu, which my husband ordered. He enjoyed it immensely for the visual effect as well as the flavor. Many people seemed to be ordering it that day.

Read More From Delishably

Chefs Extraordinaire!

The walls outside of Courses Restaurant have the faces of some of the graduates of this cooking school. Those featured have successful careers in Houston as well as in other parts of the country.

You may recognize Chef Charles Clark and Chef Chris Shepherd if you dine out often in Houston since they are chef-owners of local dining establishments.

If you visit the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, you might have seen or eaten one of the exquisite pastries made by Chef John Adams.

You may recognize Chef Sarah Grueneberg from her participation in Food Network, and other televised competitions or have eaten in her Chicago restaurant. She has received multiple awards as have other chefs who trained here.

If you are the type of person who likes to take chances with an ever-changing menu and enjoy eating the food of chefs who are still in training, who knows, you may meet the next superstar chef before they attain those accolades and fame.

Free parking is available in a parking garage to the back of the Art Institute of Houston.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 28, 2020:

Hi Dale,

You would be surprised at all the delightful places to visit in and around Houston. Hopefully, travel will be less dangerous to do by sometime next year.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on July 27, 2020:

I keep hearing really good things about Huston so I guess it has to get put on the list for next years travel destinations.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 29, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

It is fun showing off what makes Houston the special place it is in which to live. Glad you like this article and others.

FlourishAnyway from USA on February 29, 2020:

How nifty! I think everyone needs to do articles like you do about what makes their hometown or region special. I’d be first in line to try this place and I’d love to see the art on the walls too.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 17, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

Yes, the food is fresh, nutritious, presented beautifully, and less expensive than in typical restaurants. It is quite a bargain as well as a nice experience.

manatita44 from london on February 17, 2020:

Nicely presented meals and good food. Glad you enjoyed it. I like the idea that one can buy there a bit cheaper and the food is still health and delicious.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 15, 2020:

Hi Rochelle,

Your son must love living in Houston since it has such an active art scene. Thanks for sharing the information about Courses Restaurant with him.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on February 15, 2020:

OK, another one I have to share. He's also an artist and art teacher so maybe he should check this place out for more than one reason.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 15, 2020:

Hi Audrey,

Houston would welcome you with open arms! As Bob Barker would have said: "Come on down!" Over, in your case. (Smile)

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on February 15, 2020:

I'd be first in line, waiting to discover these tasty recipes, created by the students at Courses Restaurant. (Love the name.) Your photos make my mouth water, especially the tilapia and the hummus platter.

I think I need to move to Houston.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 13, 2020:

Hi Nyesha,

The food not only looked great, but it was tasty as well. The young chefs are well on their way in their studies before they start serving the public in this restaurant.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 13, 2020:

Hi Liz,

Sorry about making you hungry. Haha! If this restaurant was closer to our part of town we would probably dine there more often.

Nyesha Pagnou MPH from USA on February 13, 2020:

Thanks for this interesting and informative hub. The food prepared by the student chefs looks great!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 13, 2020:

Hi Linda,

This Courses Restaurant is a great place for diners and the students who are studying all the aspects of becoming chefs. Each time we have been there, the art on the walls is different. It is an excellent place for art students to have their work hung and showcased.

Liz Westwood from UK on February 13, 2020:

This is a fascinating account and a glowing recommendation for dining here. It sounds like you have found a great place to dine out and the photos have now made me hungry.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 12, 2020:

This sounds like a place that is well worth visiting. The photos and your descriptions make the food look and sound very appetizing. I like the rabbit and the butterfly in your photos, too.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 12, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

Not only can we eat the food by the student chefs, but with windows into the kitchen from the dining room, we can also watch them work. It is a unique place and one that was for us a delightful discovery.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 12, 2020:

Hi Nancy,

It is wonderful that you have personally experienced the good food, service, and ambiance of a similar restaurant in Chicago for your daughter's engagement party.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 12, 2020:

Hi Bill,

It truly was a fun discovery for us, and with a discounted Groupon coupon, an excellent bargain. So happy to hear that your impression of Houston is getting better and better. Except for the sizzling days of summer, we really like it here.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 12, 2020:

Hi Nikki,

I hope you get to experience eating the food of student chefs someday in your part of the world. It makes sense that they have to practice their skills on someone. Thanks for your comment.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 12, 2020:

This sounds like a wonderful opportunity for want-to-be chefs and an opportunity for you and your husband to have a reasonably price delicious meal. It sounds like you and your husband had delicious meals twice at this good chef school. I enjoyed your article.

Nancy Hinchliff on February 12, 2020:

Nice article, Peggy. The art institute in Houston, with its amazing restaurant, reminds me of the one in Chicago which also has incredible art and an amazing restaurant. When my youngest daughter first became engaged, I gave her an engagement luncheon there (in Chicago). They did a beautiful job with the food and the service. The atmosphere was top notch.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 12, 2020:

This is so cool! I wish Olympia had a place like this where aspiring chefs could learn their craft. I'm liking Houston more and more with each of your articles.

Nikki Khan from London on February 12, 2020:

Good enlightening article, Peggy. I haven't experienced any food cooked by the student chefs. Yet, I would love to if I ever come across such an experiment.

Thanks for sharing such a valuable hub with us.

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