Voted Houston's Most Romantic Restaurant, Mark's American Cuisine is located in a 1920s renovated church. The golden ceilings, hand painted deco walls and the candle lit tables provide guests with an intimate escape from the outside world. Mark's boasts three meeting rooms: two private-The Cloisters seats 32 to 40 people and The Alcove, a tasting room for 5 to 8 people, and a semi-private room, The Loft seats 20 to 24 people.
Dining at Mark's American Cuisine is a true epicurean adventure. Chef Mark Cox prepares not just one but four unique menus for his patrons. Houstonians and visitors will find food unlike that in any other restaurant.
Mark's wine list, recognized by The Wine Spectator, offers each customer the opportunity to pair the perfect meal with enhancing wines. Cathy Nguyen, Mark's Wine Director, selects vineyards and vintages by taste and value instead of by "brand name".
Under the direction of Mark's General Manager, David Dworsky, let your server treat you to the ultimate in restaurant service. "Eating" at Mark's is truly a memorable dining experience.
Chef Mark Cox emerged from humble beginnings in rural West Virginia. At the age of 12 his mother insisted he work at the local resort, Oglebay Park, where he began selling popcorn. This adolescent summer job would ultimately serve as the catalyst for his culinary career. Working summers at the resort, Mark spent his teenage years learning the fundamentals of the kitchen. By 16 he knew how to do everything, including the sauces and all of the prep work. Having found satisfaction and fulfillment in the kitchen, Cox ventured to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York to further hone his skills, where he would later graduate at the top of his class.
Following his formal education at the CIA, Cox undertook an apprenticeship at The Greenbriar, a premier luxury resort of White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia. Upon completion of his education and apprenticeship Mark found himself in Washington D.C. as part of the opening team for the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel. It was his time spent in Washington where he met his future wife Lisa. It was Lisa's career with The Four Seasons that prompted both to move to Houston. While visiting Houston, Mark saw the innate potential for fine dining in the city, and made his move a few short months after Lisa had settled.
Mark immediately took a position with Brennan's, and thrived in his new locale. He ascended quickly to the top of his profession, and by the age of 25 had earned the title of Executive Chef. After spending three years at Brennan's, Mark endeavored a new project with Tony Vallone. Together the team opened the original Anthony's, which became a runaway success from opening day. Mark committed himself to the Vallone Restaurant Group for 11 years. During this time he revitalized Tony's, the Vallone flagship restaurant, and he also became Executive Chef and Partner for Grotto and La Griglia.
In 1996 Mark left the Vallone Group to embark on his own journey. Mark and Lisa dreamed of having their own independent establishment, and soon after leaving the Vallone Group their dream would be realized. While preparing and planning for his own project, Mark taught as a professor for the Houston campus of the Art Institute. Mark's American Cuisine opened its doors in July 1997, and similar to Mark's own personal story, the restaurant grew and flourished from humble beginnings. Adhering to the principles of honest food from the finest ingredients and a superior level of customer service, Mark's has become an eponymous Houston establishment, recognized for the creativity and work ethic of its accomplished Owner and Executive Chef.
Lisa Cox comes from a traditional Italian family. Born and raised in Corpus Christi, TX, she was also heavily influenced by the Mexican culture in her hometown from a young age. Volunteering with youth programs through the YMCA encouraged her to pursue an education and experiences in foreign languages and different cultures. Her academic pursuits brought her on adventures in Saltillo and Mexico City, Mexico where she relished in interacting with the locals to completely immerse herself in the language and culture. She graduated college from Washington D.C.'s prestigious Georgetown University with a B.S. in Romance Languages and Linguistics.
After a brief time spent working for a non-profit dedicated to helping Americans of Latin American descent, Lisa found herself working as a part of the opening team for the Four Seasons in Washington D.C. After serving in an administrative role, she was promoted into a management training program that required she learn all areas of hotel operations. Her love of working with people persuaded her to continue on a human resources path rather than continuing with front of house duties. During her time at the Washington D.C. Four Seasons, Lisa met her future husband, Mark. Her career trajectory would lead her back to her home state of Texas where she would be serving as a part of the human resources opening team for a Four Seasons property in Houston.
Lisa resigned from the Four Seasons in order to marry Mark and return to school. She entertained becoming a teacher, but quickly learned the profession was not right for her. Returning to hospitality, she took a position working as a headhunter, and found out soon after she was going to have her first child. Two months prior to the birth of her son, she left her job, which turned into the beginning of a 10-year hiatus from working to tackle the role of full-time mother.
Lisa pushed her husband to open his own restaurant, and serendipitously they were able to find the perfect location with the character, charm, and overall feeling they had been searching for. They settled into the renovated 1920s church in 1997, and began converting the building into their dream destination restaurant in stages.
Mark and Lisa now make up the ultimate team. Mark serves as the creative director for the delicious creations that come from the kitchen, and Lisa performs all of the back office duties for Mark's including accounting, marketing, and human resources. She holds tight to the values she learned through her hotel experience, and she treats her staff as family. She appreciates the time-honored traditions of service and having a high employee to customer ratio. She finds happiness in being able to provide a place where her employees are happy, and enjoy working together.
David joined the Mark's team as General Manager in 2007, and delights in his current position, ensuring that your expectations are exceeded rather than simply met. David and his wait staff of experienced professionals make certain that every time you visit Mark's the team offers an unparalleled level of service that will complete your culinary adventure.
Interview with David Dworsky
How would you describe your management style?
I like to take a very laid back hands off approach. I feel comfortable doing this because I know what my staff is capable of. It all stems from hiring the best professionals, and we have the best here at Mark's. I know that they will always perform to the highest standards. As for my interaction with the guests, I will always try my hardest to visit each and every table that gets seated; we like to form personal relationships with all of our customers, and to me that's more than just saying "hello."
What lengths are you willing to go to accommodate guests?
I am willing to do just about anything to accommodate special dietary needs and preferences. Chef is adept at coming up with exciting and creative dishes for people with special dietary needs such as vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free diets, especially gluten free desserts. Many places when you ask a restaurant for special menus, they only give you some kind of salad or basic vegetable dishes, but I've had customers with special requests comment that their dish was one of the best they have ever had. Essentially, it's difficult to make accommodations on the spot, but we'll do what we can, but if someone calls in before to let us know when they'll be dining with us, we can accomplish really special things for that party.
How do you want people to feel when they visit Mark's?
"Wow" is always good! It's really the small details that make the experience. I really enjoy when a customer comes in for the first time, and seeing their eyes light up when they see the menu or when their dish arrives. I also like being able to "wow" returning customers over and over again.
David hails from Cape Town, South Africa with a degree in Hotel Management from the Cape Town Hotel School. He spent the early years of his career in management positions at prestigious resorts in South Africa including the Sun International Hotel in Sun City, and the Peninsula Hotel of Cape Town. David's impressive resume includes management positions with the Watermark Hotel and Spa, Las Canarias Restaurant at the La Mansion del Rio Hotel, and Pesca on the river all located in San Antonio, Texas.
Living in San Antonio, and unsure of which career path to take, Miguel found himself in the hospitality industry working at a resort, where he was tasked to do each function of the operations. Working at the Springhill Café, Miguel was promoted to supervisor at the age of 19. It was at this time that he learned the fundamentals of good management, one adage being never to ask someone to do something you wouldn't do yourself.
In order to progress in his hospitality career, Miguel went to University of Texas, San Antonio to pursue a formal education. During his professional internship he learned the differences between the various aspects of hospitality and ultimately decided that his passions were with food and beverage. Using this discovery he began as a server at the famed La Mansion del Rio of San Antonio, where he advanced through the ranks to become an Executive Trainer. It was his time at La Mansion where he met Mark's General Manager, David Dworsky, and Mark's Lead Bartender, Chris Ruiz.
Before joining the Mark's team, Miguel also opened other properties including the Hyatt Hill Country resort and Westin properties, and a Champps Americana. He realized the difference between clientele in hotel properties and chain restaurants, and made his way back to the fine dining arena. Including previous jobs and now Mark's David and Miguel have been working together for 8 years, and the two have been the managing team since. Their relationship provides for a dynamic and collaborative work environment for all of the employees, and they have implicit trust in one another and their staff of qualified service professionals.
Cathy heads the wine program at Mark's, and just like the food at Mark's the wines contained within the list and the list itself are handcrafted with comparable attention to detail. At Mark's she tries to maintain a balanced wine list with a healthy selection of old and new world offerings. The list consists of many interesting options from small boutique wineries that you can't find elsewhere in Houston while still intermingling the cult classics cherished by many. Seasonality also plays a large part in the composition of the list, with the selections changing appropriately throughout the year.
Regardless of your budget or your experience with wine, Cathy can help enthusiasts and novices alike in wine selection through her intimate knowledge of both the wine list and the flavor profiles of Chef Cox's culinary creations. The wine list runs the gamut from aperitifs to dessert wines, and although quite comprehensive in nature with hundreds of selections to choose from, with Cathy's assistance you can find the perfect complementary pairing for every occasion and food selection.
Holding a Certified Sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers, Cathy is also a certified Spanish wine educator and a specialist of Sherry.
|Mon - Thurs||:||5:30pm to 10pm|
|Friday||:||5:30pm to 11pm|
|Saturday||:||5pm to 11pm|
|Sunday||:||5pm to 10pm|
|Mon - Fri||:||11am to 2pm|
Business Casual | No Shorts
Chef Mark Cox, Winner
“Hall of Fame” Award
Nation's Restaurant News
Zagat “Best Restaurants of the World”
#1 in Houston from 2001 to Present
Zagat Houston Restaurant Survey 2001-2012:
#1 Food Spot in Houston
Zagat Restaurant Survey 2006-2007:
Top 10 Restaurants in the U.S.
Food 28 (extraordinary to perfection)
Décor 27 (very good to excellent)
Service 27 (very good to excellent)
Golden Service Crown Award 2008, 2009, 2012
Wine Enthusiast Magazine:
“Award of Unique Distinction 2008″
Voted “Houston’s Most Romantic Restaurant”
Voted “Reader’s Choice: Favorite Restaurant”
2002-2007 “Five Star Award of Houston”
North American Restaurant Association
DiRoNa 2001 to Present
(Distinguished Restaurants of North America)
My Table Magazine
2001 – 2006 “Top Ten Wine Lists in Houston”
2001 “Outstanding Wine Service”
2000 “Service Person of The Year” Tino Escobedo
1999 “Restaurateur of the Year” Mark Cox
1997 “Chef of The Year” Mark Cox
Gourmet Magazine “The Restaurant Issue”
Winners of Annual Reader Poll: “America’s Top Tables”
Mark’s voted four out of five Houston restaurants
“Exceptional, innovative American cuisine. Refreshingly informal. Unique seafood dishes. Extremely good desserts. In an old church that’s been well converted.”
Winner, Annual Reader Poll: “America’s Top Tables”
- Mark’s voted nine out of 20 Houston restaurants
Food & Wine
Mark’s – “Best New Restaurant in Houston”
"Award of Excellence" 2001 to Present
Chef Cox: “One of the finest cuisiniers in the nation.”
August 2001 – 2008 “Award of Excellence”
One of the 20 best new restaurants nationwide
Mark's is our favorite restaurant in Houston! Since the first time we visited this extraordinary place, we have been dining there almost every week. Last night we had the kobe ribeye which (if you like meat) is the best thing on the menu! No wait, I think it's a toss up between that and the alaskan king crabs (when they have them) and the salmon which is served with coconut risotto that melts away in your mouth like cotton candy. The waiters (most have been there for years) never let one minute go by without making sure you have everything you need. It's not cheap. But I always say you get what you pay for! It's also one of few places where you can actually enjoy conversation without being drowned out by other restaurant noise. It's a hit! Rest assured we'll be back soon!!
— Tom and Gail