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Where's the hotter food scene - Dallas or Houston?

Hello Texas,

I'm a fellow 'hound from NYC and I work for a magazine that does intense, city-focused tastings across the country for editorial features as well as our up-and-coming chef award.

We have yet to hit any cities in Texas, but myself and several
others in the office have lobbied and won for a Texas event. There's only one problem....we can't decide which city.

Half the office is calling for Houston, the other half says Dallas. We're looking for a city that's got a hot dining scene that's not all about looks but about taste. The food doesn't have to be fine-dining, but it's got to be fantastic. Think Abacus in Dallas or Cafe Annie in Houston (as reported by friends).

So if anyone has an opinion...I'd love to hear it.(The idea of San Antoinio is great too, but at this time it's got to be Dallas or Houston.)

Many thanks for any advice that you all have to offer - and if anyone need NYC recs, feel free to ask.

Cheers!

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  1. In the aggregate, I would say that Houston has better restaurants than Dallas. And there is definitely more variety in Houston, especially in ethnic restaurants.

    At the level you've indicated, though, I would say it's a toss-up. You can find great food at top restaurants in either city. And there are better places in Dallas than Abacus, and better places in Houston than Cafe Annie (unless, of course, you are seeking chicken-fried steak ... and then Scott recommends Cafe Annie).

    1. Not to be harsh, but I think Kirk is nuts. At the top levels, Dallas has Houston beat hands down. Houston has Cafe Annie and Mark's that I've eaten at personally. Both very good.

      Dallas has York Street, Lola, Bijoux, Local, Aurora, Stephen Pyles, Osteria Danielle, and the Mansion. And that's the just the restaurants that are better than Abacus that I can think of off the top of my head that I've eaten at in the last six months. (I should caution that I'm not the biggest fan of Aurora in the world. Menu is too schizophrenic for my tastes.) Any one of those can run with Cafe Annie and Mark's (although only Lola has as deep a wine list as Cafe Annie).

      And Dallas has some great spots in the good by not great category. Not real foodie places, but fun and interesting restaurants (that aren't a chain) where you can get a very good meal. I don't know many of those spots in Houston.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Mike C. Miller

        You're not the first -- nor will you be the last -- to have questioned my sanity. And not to belabor the point, but your two posts, taken together, say pretty much the same thing mine did.

        1. re: Mike C. Miller

          I think that I have the background to speak intelligently on this subject having been raised in Houston and having lived in Dallas for the past 5 years. I definately give the nod to Houston in all realms. The one fact that speaks volumes about the lack/or perceived lack of culinary talent in Dallas is the number of upscale "chains" setting up shop in Dallas (i.e. Craft, Nobu, BLT Prime). Houston is also a victim in some regards (like Jean Georges' Bank) but not nearly on Dallas' scale. Mike C. has some good Dallas suggestions (esp. Local of which I am a big fan, and Stephen Pyles). Houston has much more in the way of local-grown high quality cuisine. I also agree that Houston runs much more of the gammit from high-end to great neighborhood BYOB-type places.

          Some Houston suggestions that have not been mentioned: Indika, Hugo's, The Glass Wall (there a number of up-and-coming restaurants in the Heights like Catalan, whose chef, Charles Clark, will appear in an upcoming Iron Chef America episode), and T'afia. I also hear very good things about the re-encarnated Tony's but have yet to try.

          Other facts that illustrate that Houston is a better dining town -- one of the few cities in the US with its own culinary magazine (My Table)/Houstonians eat out more on average than any city in the US (somewhat dated info but still may hold true)/Houston is the fattest city in the US (not something that Houstonians advertise but does say something). I could go on and on but I won't bore you guys any longer.

        2. Despite being much smaller, Austin has better sushi, Tex-Mex, and BBQ than either city.

          If forced to compare between the two, I think Houston beats Dallas. (However, if you include Fort Worth while considering, D/FW might turn the tables.)

          4 Replies
          1. re: tom in austin

            While I conceed whole-heartedly that Austin tops Houston in BBQ (and is itself topped by the surrounding hill country), I'm not convinced about Tex Mex. While Austin is great at affordable TexMex, I believe Houston has some better/less affordable spots that go toe to toe with what Austin offers (Hugos, the Original Ninfas, Picos, and El Tiempo come immediately to mind).

            Off topic, but barely, is that Houston gets thoroughly pounced by just about any breakfast place in Austin or Dallas. I have no idea why this is the case, but it is...

            1. re: tom in austin

              I'll agree with the BBQ assessment but otherwise Austin is severely lacking in ethnic variety.

              1. re: tom in austin

                I get to Austin trequently and spent over 40 years in Dallas and although I made trips to Houston, I cannot comment on it. Austin just doesn't have the depth or depth in variety save Tex-Mex and Q. We ate at a number of top places recently, while in Austin and I think, while a few were excellent, they can't compare to Big D. And yes, if you consider the "Metroplex" or include Plano or Frisco, there is no contest! There are some super places out in the 'burbs!

                1. re: tom in austin

                  Austin has the only Tex Mex place (in Westlake) that Ive eaten at that charged for an extra basket of chips and hot sauce(salsa) please Austin get a grip Im a life long Texan with family roots dating to 1832 in Texas so Im no yankee outsider, But this is the most outrageous thing Ive ever experienced, in this type of dining.

                2. I honestly admit that I don't know very much about fine dining because I can't really eat at that level on a college studen't budget. However, in terms of ethnic food and dives (hole in the wall), Houston's *much* better than Dallas.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: air

                    This is great - thank you guys so much for your replys. And thank you to Tom who reminded me that "Dallas" can also include Dallas / Fort Worth.

                    Austin's awesome...but we're looking at just these two cities. As much as I eat at ethnic and divey places in NYC, these articles will focus more on a fine-dining bent.

                    I'm sad to hear Abacus is not so great - the chef's brother is a friend from Atlanta. Bummer.

                    Anyone else care to weigh in? It seems like I need a tie breaker.

                    Thanks again! You guys rock.

                    1. re: jordanbaker

                      Well, I may have been too harsh. Many really like Abacus. The craftsmanship in the food is quite high. My complaint is that the menu as a whole (at least the last time that I ate there, which is admittedly a few years ago) is eclectic to the point of being schizophrenic. It's neither fish nor fowl as it were. World cuisine was the moniker that it went by at one time, but to me, it just was all over the place without any common thread or narrative. But there are many who would argue that it is one of the better restaurants in Dallas.

                      And I guess that sort of makes my point about Dallas. You can have a preference and not like one of the top restaurants in town, and still have at least a half a dozen more to pick from. By the way, I thought of one other top restaurant in Dallas although it is a chain of sorts -- Craft. Some would also include Hattie's in the top tier. The one time I went there, it was awfully loud, but the food was quite good. Nana might also qualify, although I haven't personally eaten there in many years. Chef is from Spain and allegedly worked at El Bulli for a time. Been meaning to go, but just haven't made it.

                      I also think Air is correct that at the lower levels, perhaps Houston is a bit more eclectic. However if Dallas excels at nothing else, it certainly does excel at excess. So perhaps high end places are more naturally it's metier. As to Tom in Austin's claims, I'm not a big Tex-Mex fan, but Dallas has some good places, and it can hold it's own in sushi although I'd appreciate his thoughts on where to get sushi near downtown as I'll be in Austin a fair bit over the next few months. But mentioning BBQ is not fair. If you're willing to drive out side of town for forty-five minutes, no city on the face of the earth has better BBQ than Austin. Period. It's just a fact.

                      What is Kent's brother these days? Keith or Kevin, maybe? Can't remember the name for sure. He had his own restaurant here in Dallas at one time. I enjoyed it more than the brother's frankly.

                      1. re: Mike C. Miller

                        It's Kevin. He owns Rathbuns and Krog bar in Atlanta, which is where I lived before New York. I see someone posted a barbecue comment below; uh-oh, I don't want to start a fight.

                        1. re: Mike C. Miller

                          Mike, you're missing loads of homegrown spots that are worth the effort.

                          *Yutaka - it could be the best sushi in Texas
                          *The Landmark - I don't know how Joel Harloff leaving affected the quality, but when he was there, I loved it. I had arguably the best cioppino is history there.
                          *Suze - I went to a dinner party with Jeff Hobbs the other nite, and that fool can cook his arse off.
                          *Lanny's in Fort Worth is absolutely amazing. It may be the finest restaurant with the most surprising flavors in all of Texas.
                          *Lola's - the finest wine program in Texas? The Tasting Room is absolutely top notch.

                          1. re: Mike C. Miller

                            "But mentioning BBQ is not fair. If you're willing to drive out side of town for forty-five minutes, no city on the face of the earth has better BBQ than Austin. Period. It's just a fact."

                            I am assuming the drive you refer to is to the Salt Lick in Driftwood. The BBQ there is still pretty darn good, but it has become so much of an "in" place that the little joint we used to go to is lost in the crowds of yuppies and soccer moms. Iron Works BBQ on Red River isn't bad, but essentially suffers from the same fate with not as good fare.

                            Fact is that average BBQ in Texas is so much better than that of other places we're almost talking standard deviations here. But between Lockhart, Luling, Llano and a few others, saying Austin has the best BBQ is pretty unsupportable. I go to those places to judge my efforts at home and contesting. Usually, I come out even or better. But there's lots of good BBQ cookers in Texas with pits out smokin' in their yards...

                            1. re: mgwerks

                              Lockhart and Llano are about 45 minutes out of Austin...

                              (but the best bbq in the world is actually cooked in the Ozarks in NW Arkansas)

                          2. re: jordanbaker

                            i'll cast a vote: i think houston ranks better in mid-level and ethnic places, and has greater variety as well as a higher standard of quality overall (IE, even the cheaper places meet a certain level of competence, unlike dallas, where cheap is pretty much = crappy).

                            but if you're looking specifically for high-end, i think dallas has more and better.

                            1. re: jordanbaker

                              Although based in Dallas, since my firm has an office in Houston I dine there fairly often. I think most of these posts are pretty much on target. Houston is probably better in terms of variety (more and better Chinese places, for example), and I just don't eat Dallas barbeque (other than an occasional plate of ribs at Baby Back Shaq). At the high end, though, I agree with Mike C. Miller that Dallas has the edge (especially if you include Fort Worth's best spots, like Lanny's). He's also right that Dallas has a pretty pretentious restaurant scene.

                              1. re: jordanbaker

                                Jordanbaker, looks like your original post is quite dated so I'm interested to hear what the decision was btw Hou and Dallas (if one has been made). SInce I didn't see the original in Dec, if it is still of interest to you my thoughts are a mix match of what you received above. But I would like to clarify your focus as it seems the above blog trailed off into a discussion of BBQ, ethnic spots, and Tex Mex. From your original message you referenced Abacus and the spots in Atlanta as well. If those "type" restaurants are indeed the focus, the nod goes to Dallas rather handily.

                                Several spots were mentioned above, and by the way I'm one of those that thinks Abacus is still near the top in Dallas. I would also throw in Suze and Mercury Grill, as local chef driven spots that set us apart from Houston. The Beard House is always a good gauge in my mind as far as who has more chefs and therefore restaurants that have been nationally recognized. The last list I saw, Dallas had many more than Houston.

                                Finally, someone pointed to the number of high end chains, NOBU, N9NE Steakhouse, Craft, Bice, etc that have opened here as an indicator that the dining scene in Dallas was lacking. I totally disagree. To me, that says the dining scene in Dallas is hotter and these companies wanted to jump in and get a piece of it. It is also worth noting that all of those spots mentioned above are either part of hotels or new real estate developments and were HEAVILY recruited here by the developers and city.

                                Dallas has long suffered nationally being labeled as a spot for Tex Mex, BBQ and steakhouses (and considering the above discussion quickly went in that direction, it is no wonder). Glad to hear your publication agreed to a TX spot. Pls update everyone on the final decision and where we can read the reviews.

                            2. So who does barbeque better, Dallas or Houston?

                              1. Houston wins by default. Dallas bbq is mediocre at best and don't anybody even mention Sonny Bryans.

                                1. Dallas has better Chinese than Houston. There at least two restaurants where you can get xiaolongbao in Dallas.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Kent Wang

                                    Please tell us your favorite places!

                                    1. re: Scagnetti

                                      Shanghai and, I believe, Caravelle both make fine xiaolongbao. I visited them on advice from GuideLive. I'm sure you can find more and better places by reading this forum.

                                    2. re: Kent Wang

                                      I grew up in Houston and spent the last 3 years living in Dallas. Houston outdoes Dallas by far when it comes to the variety, quality and quantity of asian restaurants (as well as bakeries, snack stores, drink cafes, etc.). Houston has traditionally been popular with the immigrant population, so you've got tons of asian immigrants opening restaurants serving foods that represent the vast variety of backgrounds they come from, many of them having been well-known chefs in their home countries, cities, regions. This also explains why Houston is well-known for it's ethnic variety in food. (Dallas has a few places that rival the Houston market, but they are indeed rare.)

                                      1. re: Kent Wang

                                        you can get xiaolongbao at Sichuan Cuisine in Houston.

                                        1. re: Sahel578

                                          XLB at a Sichuan place? Sounds fishy, I guess I'll have to try it to see.

                                        2. re: Kent Wang

                                          You've got to be kidding... Houston definitely trumps Dallas in both quality and quantity!

                                        3. As far as eye-brow raising chefs, who does Houston have besides Robert DelGrande? I don't mean to say this in a competitive or confrontational way, but does Houston have any chefs that are regularly talked about on the national level? Who are the Beard nominees/winners? Sorry, totally ignorant when it comes to Houston and their dining scene.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: adkim

                                            Look, I'm a Dallas partisan all the way. At the top end, I don't think that Houston can match Dallas, and I'm a big Robert DelGrande fan. But do not overlook Mark Cox at Mark's 1658 in Houston. He is as good a chef as is working in Texas right now. Mark's (along with Cafe Annie) would easily fit in amongst the top five in Dallas. In fact, he might be in the running for the number one spot. Top notch all the way.

                                          2. Isn't Monica Pope at T'afia big? I've only dined there once and thought it quite good. If it was in Austin, it'd easily be in the top five best restaurants. Of course, I understand that Austin is well inferior to both Dallas and Houston.

                                            1. As far as well known Houston chefs, there are a plenty. F&W magazine has a total 7 best new chefs in previous year (1 from Dallas and 3 from Houston. Michael Cordua is a well-known/respected chef, as is Scott Tycer (now of Pic, formerly of Aries).

                                              While Kent does make a good point about Monica Pope, he has no basis to say that Houston's Chinese cuisine doesn't stack up to Dallas. When you compare China towns (I cannot even say Dallas has a true China town), Houston absolutely dwarfs Dallas. There are probably a dozen restaurants that serve Dim Sum that are larger and have more variety than any place in Dallas (like Ocean Palace, Fung's Kitchen, Kim Son).

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Bhutani

                                                I really only know enough about xiaolongbao and can't comment on Chinese restaurants at large.

                                              2. For a post from elsewhere on the limitations on Houston's restaurant scene, see:

                                                http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/s...

                                                1. Isn't Abacus "fine-dining"? You ask about good places then only list really expensive places...I'm just confused.

                                                    1. The winner should be Houston. A random sample of food at a random restaurant in Houston is more likely to win praises than a random sample of food at a random restaurant in Dallas. The same can be said of the high-end restaurants even though Houston may have less "notable" high-end restaurants, but who said that all or most high-end restaurants in Dallas are good?

                                                      I rather be safe and know that I'll have a good experience whenever I'm out having fun with the mystery and adventure that comes with dining out in Houston.

                                                      1. For food quality, there's no comparison. I've lived in both. There are few restaurants in Dallas "worth a detour." Houston has a huge variety of high quality, ethnic restaurants. Not only is the food great but the scene is alive, fun, and authentic. Go to Tan Tan at 2 am on a weekend, or Fung's Kitchen for dim sum mid-day on a weekend. These places are packed and lively.

                                                        Perhaps you're talking about expensive, flashy, "be seen" places. I'm sure Dallas has plenty, with a high ratio of price:food quality or flash:food quality. You're posting on Chowhound, so I'm talking food quality here, not bling, and there's no match. Houston wins.

                                                        Oh, if you want looks and not taste, then maybe Dallas competes. Dallas has great shopping, plenty of good clothing stores, and not that much to do except shop, so people dress better. But Dallas is influenced by Midwestern food values, while Houston is built on US and foreign immigrant food values, so Houston's the place to eat.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: texnosh

                                                          Can't believe Da Marco in Houston has not been mentioned on this string. I think it gives Mark's and Cafe Annie a run.

                                                          1. re: Phil W

                                                            DaMarco is consistently phenomenal: clean, inventive flavors, perfect execution.

                                                            I don't know whatever ended up happening with this query, but Houston gets my vote hands down. Indika, T'afia, Da Marco, Mark's, Cafe Annie, and those are the bigger names. Houstonians know and appreciate good food (the palates here are sophisticated) - for flavor and substance, not flash and big names.

                                                            1. re: TexFoodie

                                                              Wow, that kind of generalization destroys any credibility in your statement. Are we to think that "flash and big names" are mutually exclusive with quality, that there's no flavor and substance to be found in big name restaurants? Do you assert that this is true across the board, in all styles of restaurants? of food? And should we infer that Dallas palates are crude compared to Houston palates? Get real. For the record, I live, work, and dine in both Dallas and Houston. I think this whole thread is silly, but I'm not going to let a generalized diss, with nary a discussion point to back it up, go by.

                                                              1. re: guttural

                                                                Casting my vote for Houston. I agree with the previous posts about Houston having more ethnic variety and Dallas being more of a chain town (just a generalization... I know there are exceptions).

                                                                1. re: guttural

                                                                  I agree with guttural, at least on one point, that this topic is fairly stupid. What is "hot" is so disparate from what true CH's should be concerned with. If you replace "hotter" with "better" (IMO, referring to depth and diversity of cuisine), then Houston is flat out in a different league than Dallas. One fairly consistent trend in these posts is that people that have lived for any period of time recently in either city give the nod to Houston.

                                                          2. Reading the various posts, and self categorizing myself as a food critic that travels the country just to eat... Here's my 2 cents.
                                                            1st, let me say that I am from NY, moved to Dallas 20 years back, so have some partiality to foods I got there that just don't quite exist here...

                                                            But my favorite picks (and dislikes) for Dallas:
                                                            CHinese --Don't "approve" of anywhere here that measures up to places like NY, Vancouver, San Fran, etc. There is no good dim sum here, so dont' even bother.
                                                            I did just learn of a Shanghai Restuarant in Dallas named "Shanghai Restaurant" that is supposed to have great "Xiao-Long-Bao" (Shanghai soup dumplings), but I haven't yet tried it. I don't expect the quality of Ny or the Din Tai Fung chain (LA and Asia).
                                                            But you never know...
                                                            There's actually some decent Chinese/Japanese Buffets (though nothing like the absolutely amazing set of "East Buffets" in NY). In Dallas, I recommend trying Osaka (#1 choice) CHinese and Japanese buffet and sushi/sushimi/hotpot) (Plano), Tokyo 1 (Addison), Best Buffet (Plano) (Go on a week night which includes Lobster), Lee's Firepot (Vietnamese. Grand Prairie/Arlington). Do NOT go to Todai (Plano). Quality has dropped well below TOdai's of other cities!
                                                            Pizza --a few new places recently opened, that come closer to NY, but no cigar.
                                                            When I eat pizza in Dallas, my favorites are Campania (West Village area), Cole Vines (West Village area), Pastazzios (Addison location). THere's a few more decent places, but again, nothing like NY. A few more with "honorable mention" are Angelo and Vinnys, Brothers (Forest Lane), Cafe Amore (make sure the owner cooks it if the Coit Rd. location), Sals (Dallas and North Plano) and Goodfellas (Carrollton).
                                                            THere's also a handfull of CHicago style places that are surprisingly authentic.
                                                            NO! Not BJ's or chain places liek that. Try "CHicago's Finest" (Plano), Chicago St. Pizza (Plano) or Chicago Ricks (Carrollton).
                                                            BBQ --Hnads down, Baker's Ribs for the style I like. Especially good pork ribs and sausage. CHicken usually good, and brisket is a crap shoot, but when it's good, it hits the money.
                                                            Ricks BBQ in Carrollton is prob my 2nd choice.
                                                            THere's a lot of other famous places, such as angelos, the railhead, and the list goes on. These are OK, but the above 2 are my favorite, and in my opinion, equal or exceed "Austin" standards.
                                                            Mexican: THere's a lot of new places. I still prefer Javiers in Highland park for the best upscale, mexico city style foods. There's a lot of #2 choices in my books. Too many to mention. One that comes to mind is Mercado Juarez off NW Hwy and I35. Blue goos is usually decent for Beef and Pork Fajitas. Monicas (Dallas) is good on Ues and Wed nights for 1/2 price or drink specials, plus Monica is a treat to meet. lol
                                                            Jewish Style Deli. haha. good luck. THer's a handfull of places, but nothing to write home about. Ironically, the best corned beef/pastrami I found here is at Central Market from their hot deli section. Seriously --if you like this type of food, try there.
                                                            Country/Fried Chicken: We usually hit "Babes CHicken House" (Garland, Carrollton or Ft. Worth) about twice/month. Oviously, get the chicken (fried). THe ribs are also decent "most" of the time. Somethime, they are a bit chewy though, but always tasty.
                                                            (Note that Baker's rins is always both tasty and super tender).
                                                            Fine Dining and Steak: Probably have to go with Bob's CHop House. THere's so many places here. Many of which (such as the super celebrated 3 forks) that I jsut feel are over priced, and frankly, very good, but just not that out standing.
                                                            THe Keg Steak house (Plano) was my favorite for several years. Had outstanding seasonal lobster (for Dallas), and a bone-in rib eye to die for. Unfortunately, they recently replaced the bone in rib eye with a "normal" non-bone ribeye onthe menu.
                                                            THe Keg is actually a Canadian chain which I 1st tried in Montreal about 15 years back. So it seems the marching orders come from there. Too bad.
                                                            Cheese Fries: Snuffers.
                                                            Burgers: Snuffers and Red Hot and Blue. I know. RH&B is a BBQ, not a burger place. I actually don't think that much of their BBQ. But they have some of the best burgers (and catfish) around. lol

                                                            OK, enough. :)

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: leeb

                                                              There is now good Chinese, and it goes by the name of Yao Fuzi. it is in Plano two doors down from Blue Goose. They serve the soup dumplings there, and they far superior to Shanghai Restaurant. As a point of reference I moved here from NYC, am originally from Philly and I am Jewish, hence born and bred on Chinese. So I can say w/ authority and knowledge that Yao Fuzi is delicious Chinese that I would travel to eat.

                                                              1. re: hhshames

                                                                I am of similar background (Jewish from NY).
                                                                But I'll ou 1 level because I married a CHinese woman! haha
                                                                Ironically, I would probably eat asian food every day, but the CHinese wife is generally tired of it, and prefers burgers. ...the irony.

                                                                BTW --she reminded me that we DID try Shanghai Restaurant in Dallas in the past, and it did not meet our standards.

                                                                ANyway, thanks for the tip.
                                                                I look forward to trying Yao Fuzi in Plano (I'll probably have to pre-screen it myself before my wife will be willing to try though...lol)

                                                                1. re: leeb

                                                                  I hope you enjoy the restaurant as much as I do. I highly recommend the fried halibut and the soft shell crabs in sar char (spelling is poor). They also have a Chinese menu if you and your wife are interested. And of course don't forget the reason I went in the first place Xiao-Long-Bao. I try to go at least once a week. I am addicted to them.

                                                              2. re: leeb

                                                                Just for reference, the Todai location near WIllow Bend in Plano closed a couple years back.

                                                              3. Jordan,

                                                                Although I love a lot of Dallas restaurants I woudl suggest going first to Houston. I have grown up in Dallas and I would say the embracing of ethnic foods has been slower than in Houston. Houston Hounds and non-hounds all look to B-4-U-Eat.com for recommendations and I browsed one night for over 3 hours looking for a place to have Chinese, on a recent trip to my brother's. They have a very large Chinese and Vietnamese (2nd only to California) population in Houston. I also believe that the Middle Eastern communites are better represented in Houston. I believe you all are looking for the great food not necessarily the great scene or atmosphere. Dallas has better "looking" restaurants but I would say Houston has the better of the two on taste. Hopefully, I won't be shunned from the Dallas boards now, but I would highly recommend y'all come down again for a tour of Dallas!!

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: soulslinger

                                                                  Looking back on this post a year from when it was originally created, I agree with your point that Dallas restaurants "look" better, and this upscale trend is pretty easy to notice throughout Dallas. Atmosphere is nice, but bottom line, I'm not going to go somewhere to eat for sake of being seen. I'll be somewhere because I want to enjoy some good food!

                                                                  1. re: air

                                                                    Put me in for Houston. I lived in both cities for over 5 year apiece and currently reside in Dallas. What Houston restaurants lack in pizazz and flair, it makes up for in variety, number of restaurants, and originality. It's difficult to articulate my last point, but for some reason, I feel like you can actually taste that secret ingredient in Houston's food scene. That secret ingredient being the love and care the great chefs of the city put into their food.

                                                                2. People are also forgetting that Houston has the best Vietnamese food outside of Vietnam, that's a definite bonus, plus, Houston has an overall better quality, in my experience, the best food in Houston is from small hole-in-the-walls that no one would notice. Dallas has none of these, it's either incredibly expensive and very good or very cheap and utter crap. Houston has good, cheap food everywhere. I suppose it depends on perspective, if you have the money to shell out for high end cuisine, Dallas has a better food scene, but if you're a normal every day average guy, Houston's definitely better.

                                                                  As for the people that are saying Austin, really now, there's no decent Indian restaurants, the BBQ at The Salt Lick is good but too out of the way to be convenient, the high end dining is sub-par, and there isn't even one decent place for Tapas. Austinites don't really like the food scene in Austin, people that do like it because they're tourists, got drunk on 6th street, and can't really tell the difference. Sure, the Tex-Mex is amiable, but the best I've had is a little outside of Austin in a small town, the main redeeming quality of Austin is the Sushi, I'll give it that.

                                                                  Oh, and Dim Sum, I've found it quite difficult to find any decent Dim Sum places in Texas, I've tried Chinatown in Austin's Dim Sum and it was horrendous, very Americanized. Fung's isn't particularly great in Houston, it''s more of quantity over quality but you'll be able to find some good, rare stuff here, the really popular places like Ocean Palace still aren't that great but better than anything I've had in Dallas. I've yet to be able to see anything even worth mentioning in Dallas, nothing great, nothing bad.

                                                                  1. This thread is super interesting for me, I just moved to Dallas from Montreal, temporarily. I'm going to print out your suggestions, thanks everyone.

                                                                    So far, we've tried Bengal Coast for indian and that was very good, Green Papaya for korean, Amici for italian, and I've taken out a lot of prepared food from Eatzi's.
                                                                    I love Dallas and am pleasantly surprised, I had no clue it was so nice.

                                                                    1. honestly, it's funny that we have to even argue this ...do any of you know the number 1 dense city in the all of America in terms of restaurants? It's Addison, a suburb of Dallas. It has pretty much everything. The whole city is owned by restaurants, and many are actually pretty darn good. At the end of the day though, Dallas is Dallas and Houston is Houston...Dallas is good for a majority of things, Houston is good for a few. So it's in the eye of the beholder haha...good day