New to Houston, what's your favorite restaurant in town
I'm moving to Houston from Los Angeles and could use recommendations for basically every type of food. So, where do you guys like to eat?
As a native Houstonian there are tons of restaurants to check out. Here are a few of my favorites that are reasonably priced.
Los Cucos - great tex-mex with wonderful salsa
Miako's - fresh sushi and after 9pm Monday-Friday all sushi is 30% off
Ciro's - fairly quick and well priced Italian
Cafe Meza - quick,great portions for reasonable price medaterainian. I haven't been disappointed yet.
Hugo's - the oil industry's place to be and be seen.
Lucky Dragon - Chinatown on bellaire. no MSG used and the place is always full of Chinese speakers, good price, good food.
Mai's - great downtown Vietnamese after club food
House of Pies - Houston's response to IHOP open 24/7
Hope that helped
Catalan - Spanish influenced menu - don't miss the pork belly appetizer - award winning wine list
Ibiza - Same owners as Catalan - Mediterranean cuisine - good wine list
Reef - Seafood with Gulf Coast, Mediterranean and Asian influences
Hugo's - Don't miss the lobster tacos
Indika – Indian fusion
Kiran’s – Indian
Lupe Tortilla - family friendly - great beef fajitas
Tiny Boxwoods - Cafe like you'd find in the South of France (breakfast/lunch)
Swirll - Frozen Yogurt (same concept as Pink Berry & Red Mango)
Those are just a few suggestions.
Himalaya for incredible pakistani food and my favorite naan.
Maryz med food for great mezza's like the baba ganoush, kibbi's, grape leaves and hummus.
Vieng Thai on longpoint for very good thai and BYOB.
Cafe Rebelaise for french bistro.
Indika for contemporary indian food in a hipish atmosphere.
Lopez for great cheap fast texmex.
Gorditas Aquascaliente for Huaraches, sopes and gorditas.
Tampico for fresh mexican seafood. The grileed snapper is one of houstons finest pieces of fish.
Great recs above! Have to put a plug in for some others:
Dolce Vita -- Really excellent pizza with high-end ingredients (think Mozza if you are from LA). Would also recommend Da Marco the higher end sister restaurant.
T'afia - previous F&W best new chef Monica Pope -- excellent New American cuisine focusing on local ingredients -- excellent cocktails and some excellent valued Texas wines.
100% taquito -- love this inexpensive taqueria. Great tortas. Get one almost every time I am in town from Dallas.
Goode Company BBQ-- the most renowned bbq in Houston (and many would argue the best though you could get some serious debate on that issue)
You've got some great recommendations listed above. I’m glad to see 100% Taquito among them! For a tasty inexpensive meal, quick polite service, It’s one of my favorites too. I love their spicy tinga tacos. However, their chicken mole tacos are not so good –mole is too bland & thin (IMO). I also love their spicy pickled carrots and tres leches cake. Hey! What about that other place that is near by… maybe even in the same strip mall as 100% Taquito? It’s called Rustika Bakey & Café. I love that place too. Excellent breakfast and coffee. They sell average-everyday pastries like cheese danish & apple strudel, but they also bake a lot of South American pastries and cookies – things you do not see in every bakery around town. Its all pretty good. For a savory bite, I like their chicken mole empanadas.
Native Houstonian also.
My favorite: La Griglia (amazing food + great value)
Another favorite: Benjy's
Very good sushi: Osaka
Very good cheap sushi: Oishii
Best Vietnamese pho: Tau Bay (on Bellaire Blvd) or Pho Saigon (midtown)
Vietnamese sandwich: Les Givral
Thai: Thai Gourmet
Pizza/Italian/Wine: Dolce Vita
Indian: Bombay Brasserie
Dacapo's (sandwiches, salads, soups, bakery)
El Rey (Cuban, fast & cheap)
I second the recommendation of Cafe Mezza-everything they serve is good, I especially love the buns on the hamburgers.
I disagree with air. We regularly go to Lupe Tortilla off of 59, and the fajitas taste the same as they did years ago when we went to Lupe's out off Hwy 6. We have occasionally had some trouble with service, but nothing worth not going again. I don't think it is overrated at all. You get a lot of food for the price.
I'm particularly talking about the Stafford St. location near Hwy 6/I-10. I wouldn't go out of the way to eat at any of their locations around town, but there are still plenty of reports about how bad they are.
Before you even get seated, the first thing you'll see is a sign at the hostess station that says "If you don't want to wait, come between 2-5:30 M-Th," or something to that effect. I can't remember, but nontheless, it's there, and that's just one piece of proof of the chain's inflated ego due to success. Why wait an hour when you can get that kind of Tex-Mex food anywhere in Houston, and on top of that, it'll probably be better.
There's a lot of hype going around that they've got such amazing fajitas, and I don't understand why such poor quality beef is being praised. It's like eating jerky. The salsa they serve is also extremely watery and it's no better than anything you can get at a grocery. As soon as you're finished being served your entrees, the only other time you'll be helped is when you ask for the check. No drink refills or anything.
Bottom line: long waits and bad service overshadow "good" food. They were an amazing place in the past, but they've gotten so big that they've quit caring about the quality of food and service. If I'm ever forced to go here, I just stick to the margaritas, at least they've got that right.
I'm also new to Houston. Last weekend I had a superb meal at Back Street Cafe. The restaurant is tops in my book. My first course was grilled Sea Scallops over watercress and my friend had a baked pear stuffed with cheese and nuts. The scallops were not only delicious but well paired with the champagne we ordered, which brings me to another point - the restaurant has a great wine list. Both these dishes were delicious and perfectly seasoned. I won't even try to describe how my tastebuds went into a SWOON IN OVERDRIVE when I wrapped my mouth around those big plump perfectly-grilled scallops. Lord there are few dishes on a menu like that. Anyway, the rest of the meal stood up to the first course. The red romaine salad was wonderful and actually looked like a work of art. For my entree I ordered their Seared Duck Breast (in a fig reduction), also terrific. Cannot wait for the next meal at this one.
Welcome to Houston. Most of these are not expensive.
Chinese: Fung's Kitchen, Hong Kong Food Street, but my list is really long
Chinese market: Hong Kong Market on Bellaire
Dim Sum: Fung's Kitchen
Vietnamese: Van Loc
Vietnamese fast, busy, & open late: Tan Tan
Vietnamese banh mi: Vietnam Coast for the $5 version, Nguyen-Ngo for the $2 deal
Sushi: Ginza is one option
Louisiana: Treebeard's for cheap, Brennan's for $$$
BBQ: Goode Company
Gulf Seafood: Goode Company Seafood
Mexican: Pico's, Hugo's ($$)
Mexican seafood: Tampico's
Steakhouse deal: Fleming's prime rib Sunday dinner special
Korean: maybe Arirang
Indian: Indika for expensive
Persian: maybe Kasra
Ice cream: start with Amy's
Wine store: Spec's downtown (for wine/liquor, not deli)
Bagels: NY Bagel
Falafel: Super Pita
Deli: Kenny & Ziggy's
Middle eastern: maybe Phoenicia Deli; check out the supermarket across the street
Breakfast tacos: Los Arcos
Tamales: Alamo or Donna Terra (spelling)
Burgers: Pappa's Burgers
Wine bar: Max's (for well-priced wine, lots of noise, people watching, food)
That's just a few...
There are just a few additions I'd immediately put on your list to try out: (these are locally owned and operated):
Bagels: Hot Bagel Shop (on Shepherd near Westheimer--cheap, fresh, awesome!)
Burgers: *Barnaby's (the original is on Fairview near Montrose--many wonderful dishes!)
Brunch: Empire Cafe (Westheimer @ Elmer--near Shepherd) and Baba Yega's (off
Westheimer at Grant)
Italian: Romano's Pizza (on West Gray near Shepherd)---it looks simplistic but is a great
restaurant-- try the awesome NY style pizza!!!
French: Cafe Rabelais (Rice Village---amazing! I recommend the mussels)
I've moved from Houston but whenever I return every few months, I make it a point to stop by these places. They stand apart and raise the bar for what great food should be.
You have to try James Coney Island for good old chili dogs and chili pie.
Stone Mill Bakers on Alabama has great breads, pastries and sandwiches. The breads have no-preservatives, no fats or oils, and there are many different varieties.
Doyle's in Oak Forest has great sandwiches and salads.
Java Java Cafe in the Heights has very good breakfasts - not just the typical.
Cafe Red Onion on NW Fwy is very good South American type food.
Charivari has great european food.
There are a lot of "hole in the wall" places that most food snobs would turn their noses up to but are very good. I try to go for the mom and pop places, or neighborhood standards before I go for the chains (like Pappas) that are not in the current radar. You should look at some of the local subdivision boards and see what the folks in your area like.
Your brother lives in Greater Uptown. I found my subdivision board through our Homeowners Assoc.
2 hole in the wall places that instantly come to mind are Kojak's Cafe (kojakscafe.com) on 18th street, inside the loop, and Thai Lanna off of N. Loop West by 18th, next to a Whataburger. By hole in the wall, I mean places that are buried in strip centers and easily bypassed my CHers. If I think of more I'll let you know.
Well if you are ever in Dallas the Escondidos on Butler close to Parkland....is my idea of hole in the wall....run down looking building serving great Tex-Mex and it literally has holes in the wall (not to be a smartie)! I think there was a Thai Lanna on Long Point when my brother used to live off Gessener & Hammerly in Spring Branch, could be wrong but I do remember Otilias on Long Point and a great Polish place off Bingle and Westview this was about 7 or so years ago. The pierogies were great and I believe it was next to a Randalls in that area....I just know it was in a stip center and it was Polish. Thanks for those two suggestions though
The Thai Lanna you mention is not the same as the one I mentioned. It was Vung Thai, then the chef sold it and it became Touch of Thai, then she re-bought it and now it is Thai Lanna. It's a little tiny, good place to eat.
I have heard Otillas has gone downhill but I don't know for sure, and the Polish restaurant is Polonia's and I have heard lots of great things, but the only time I ate their food was at the Tx Renaissance Festival. Couldn't get my DH to try polish food if his life depended on it. Sigh!
You know, most places in Houston hardly get a chance to get so old that there are literally holes in the wall. But there are a few neighborhood bars that have them! The original Doneraki's on Fulton, unless they have renovated it, is pretty darn close though. The floor slopes down as you go to the back of the place, and it feels like a good wind would knock it down! Another one is Mardi Gras Grill on Durham. Run down building, but tasty food.
Danhole ... Im glad you mentioned Kojacks, because I feel I need to add my recent experience there. This used to be a neighborhood family owned hole-in-the-wall for us, but our last visit a few weeks ago there seemed to be new owners, and our meal was very disappointing. I had a gyro that gave me heartburn for 3 days (discovered Zantac150s though -- highly recommended). I don't think we will be back to Kojacks..
And along the west loop you might be thinking of Thai Touch - formerly Vung Thai -- that was supposed to (re)open in January. I haven't been past there in the last few weeks, so Im not sure if their up and running again.
Indika is mentioned several times here; where the heck is it? I was visiting from Austin recently, and tried to find it; punched in the name on my GPS and it took me to some strip-mall sort of place with nothing that looked like an Indian restaurant. Is my database out of date? has it moved recently? I ended up having a really bad meal at some Italian place that I've apparently blocked out of my memory because of the trauma of the experience.
I have been waiting all day to write more on this as my husband and I lived in LA for almost a year and a half. Having no money while we were there we found it so frustrating not to be able to eat at some of the finer restaurants. We found great cheap Thai, but everything else in our price range was so depressing. Houston, on the other hand is a great place to eat out at many price points. Here's a link from the Houston Press to their picks.
My recommendations are places that I think have great food, nice atmosphere (for the most part), good service and offer items that I couldn't do better at home. Pizza is one of those items that I make at home, but love, so I have 3 favorites.
Special: Dolce Vita
Best Sauce, semi-dive, been there forever: Antonio's Flying Pizza
Close by and good: Star Pizza
Fast Cuban: El Rey, the best tortilla soup, has a drive thru and is inexpensive
TexMex: Cyclone Anaya's
Coffee: Catalina Coffee on Washington
Indian: Indika - fantastic atmosphere and the food is always great.
Sandwiches: Carter & Coolie in the Heights, it has everything from tuna melt to black forest ham and brie!
South American: Churrasco's on Westheimer and Shepherd
Wine and Dinner: Cova's Wine Bar
I've heard Catalan on Washington is marvelous but alas I haven't tried it yet. Happy eating!
I'm a native Houstonian as well...here are my favs:
Dim Sum: Golden Palace
Chinese BBQ: Sinh Sinh
General Chinese: East Wall/Golden Palace
Viet Sandwhiches: Lee's
Salad: Amazon Grill or Cafe Express
Bar Food: Armadillo Cafe
Sushi: Miyako on Westheimer or Oishi
Fine Dining: Tony's
Seafood: Kemah Boardwalk/Gaido's in Galveston
Late Night Eats: House of Pies
BBQ: Goode Company
Honduran: Cafe Red Onion
Upscale Dining: Glass Wall
Happy Hour: Benjy's Lounge
Lunch Special: Berryhill Fish Tacos ($1.99 each Monday and Friday)
Fun Dining Experience: Courses Restaurant at the Culinary Art Institue - They do an a la carte lunch 3 days a week, a 5 course tasting with wine 3 days a week, and they have a to-go area 5 days a week. The tastings are the best IMHO - $45ish/person, always good food and a lot of fun.
Native Houstonian, too. IMHO you're getting great advice except try Luling City Market instead of Goode Co. for a different style of barbecue. Mai's and Ninfa's Navigation THE ORIGINAL for Vietnamese and Mexican are our favorites. (Ask for the off the menu items at Ninfa's). (I like the food at Lupe Tortilla but unless you have two or more kids in tow, stay away). And, ibiza, catalan, gravitas and reef are all great locally owned, chef-driven restaurants, great food and even better wine prices. Have fun.
Finally, someone mentions the BEST barbecue in Houston - Luling City Market. Goode company is OK, but not real Texas barbecue. LCM does it right. Ribs, brisket, beans, cole slaw, white bread - all on butcher paper pay by the pound. Coldest longnecks in town. I also second Ninfa's on Navigation - none of the others, just the original. And WHY, Flemings? It is just another chain. For chains, Sullivans, for real Houston - the Hofbrau on Shepherd for great steaks done like you would get on a ranch.
Im a native Houstonian myself so i feel that i know good bbq and i agree with phneale. Luling strongly outweighs Goodes. I cant event chew the brisket its so dry and flavorless. Of course there are tons of better smaller places that aren’t in the heart of the city but if were talking about up,mid or downtown areas my vote is for LCM.
I like Fleming's more for atmosphere and the fact that the food and service is consistently good. I've never tried Hofbrau, but for me, going out for a steak isn't supposed to be a ranch experience - I own a ranch, if I wanted that experience, I would just go there - it is supposed to be a "nicer, fancier" meal than sitting at home and cooking a steak myself.
I'm sure if we get into a debate about the best steaks in Houston that The Taste of Texas and Pappa's Steakhouse will come up. To me, both of those are a letdown compared to Flemings. But that is just my opinion.
Gravitas! Gravitas! Gravitas!
Seriously, try Gravitas. Hugos, Backstreet, Cafe Montrose (about the only place in town I feel safe eating mussels) and many of the other recommendations are also great.
Also, Sushi King, which looks like a strip mall dud (of course what doesn't in Houston ...), is in my experience the hands down best sushi place in the inner loop area.
Hi, welcome to Houston! Sorry my list is so long, but eating in Houston can be a life consuming experience.
If you are feeling pretty flush in the cash dept, try:
Hugo’s (Mexican;not Tex-Mex) Excellent margaritas too ($$)
DaMarco (authentic Italian)
All places are on Westheimer in the Montrose Neighborhood.
For a more down to earth budget:
La Sani Restaurant, 9621 Bissonnet, (Pakistani)
Try the curried-stewed mutton, red-curried goat, Biriyani Rice, fried onion clusters for appetizers…cannot remember what those are called on the menu but they are excellent. Never had a bad experience there. Have been 4 times.
La Mexicana (Fairview & Montrose Blvd.)
Try the cheap offerings on the steam table. It’s great for a quick meal to go. Their large menu can be hit and miss. It’s a crap shoot, really. I do remember liking their chicken mole enchiladas. That was around $11. Stay away from the thin queso and their slick, glossy looking “guacamole”. However, the steam table is usually good.
Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine (lower Westheimer, also in The Montrose)
Try the tender lamb shanks and the hummus. We like this place better than Niko Niko’s, which is a Houston legend of sorts.
Fusion Café (Rice University area… “The Village”)
Good soul/ southern comfort/ Caribbean food. Fried plantains are good and their jerk-chicken was nice and spicy hot. It’s been a few years since we’ve been there… I guess it’s still in business.
Hong Kong Street Food, 9750 Bellaire Blvd
Authentic Hong Kong/Cantonese food. Popular in the Asian community. Try the bamboo-steamed crab with rice, clams in rich broth, fish maw & crab meat soup… I don’t know what else we had b/c my Chinese speaking friend ordered everything. It was so good. If you feel up for an adventure try the fried pig intestine (not really for everyone).
Pico’s Mex-Mex, 5941 Bellaire Blvd
Their chicken mole enchilada plate is my favorite. Their “Nachoes George” with pickled red onion is good too. Tasty house-margaritas that will not break the bank either.
Empire Café or Breakfast Club for big omelets packed with fresh meats and veggies. Harry’s (318 Tuam St) is also a reliable breakfast place… an old neighborhood cafeteria/diner that serves its purpose. Nothing fancy and the coffee is far from gourmet, but they keep those hot refills coming and the food is perfectly good & solid (not spectacular though).
Also agree with fellow CHOWHOUNDS who recommended Tampico (2115 Airline) for fresh mexican seafood. Order the whole-grilled snapper topped with shrimp and crab. Someone also mentioned Phoenicia Deli & their huge mega-market across the street (both are way out on Westheimer … 12116 Westheimer Rd). Yes, definitely visit both the small deli and the huge market – a real treat!
Also, please don’t waste your time at Lupe Tortilla. Been to 59 Frwy South and original locations. IMO, worst fajitas ever. Way too salty, super soggy texture, missing that beefy flavor. I think people think this place is good b/c they’ve had too many margaritas while waiting an hour or more for a table (this is common at Lupe’s). I fail to understand the popularity of this place.
Sadly Fusion is no longer in business. On the other hand its old spot is now Cafe Rebalaise, a great french bistro joint.
IMO I would skip the pricey add ons at Tampico and just get the grilled snapper. Sure the other stuff is good but it can turn the avg price per person into $30 per in a hurry?
Cafe Pita +, 10890 Westheimer. A Bosnian restaurant. On 6/27/07 for dinner, we had grilled sardines, and cevapcici (Bosnian sausages) with pepper & onions, with lepinga (homemade Bosnian bread), plus two "spreads" (kajmac and agvar) (sp?) , and for dessert apple stuffed with walnuts (not on the menu). All the food was served hot and delicious. This is authentic, carefully cooked- to-order, Bosnian food. The owner of the small restaurant is on the premises overseeing every detail and dreaming of expanding. Be sure to ask if they have anything that's not on the menu. It's inexpensive and VERY good. There is a review on the web at website of Houston Chronicle or Houston Post; that's how we found it.
So, what do you think now that you're here.
Is it wrong to assume you love sushi because you are from LA?
Try Azuma on Kirby and Nottingham.
I differ on Indika, I like it but wouldn't exactly call it Indian food.
A south indian standard is Madras Pavilion, a pricey / posh north indian standard is Kiran's.
I'm temporarily here in Houston (West U/Bellaire area) and have lived in SoCal for the past 30 years. I'm by no means an expert, but I figured I'd give you a couple cheap places to check out. At the end of your experiences here these might all be "middling" but cheap experiments nonetheless.
1) Go to Goode's Barbeque.
You can find addresses on the internet in 5 sec. If you want a place to sit, plenty of parking, and a nice atmosphere, go to the Katy Fwy location. If you're close to the Kirby area, stop by the Kirby location and grab a cheap but delicious sandwich to go.
This is a good exemplar of mesquite-smoked BBQ and the brisket is good and the sides are excellent. The brisket sandwich on the cheese jalapeno bread with sauce on the side is excellent. You must try their pecan pie. Just let it cool to room temp before you eat it IMHO.
2) If you ever eat Tommy Burgers in L.A., go to James Coney Island (chain)
If you don't eat a Tommy Burger, ignore. But otherwise, go to a James Coney Island location and get yourself some cheese coneys and onion rings. Sure, you'll regret it after you down your last bite and ask "why did I just eat this?" just like you do at Tommy's. But its a fun dog to eat.
3) Cheap and decent cajun at Boudreaux's (small chain)
As "Baja Fresh" is to Mexican food in L.A., I would call Boudreax's the equivalent to Cajun here in Houston. It's fast-casual in serving style, the place is clean (I only know the location in Galleria area near Pin Oak / 610), and the food is good and fresh. You'll know you're not in L.A. when you can get yourself an inexpensive fried oyster po-boy, or some cheap crawfish. Try their fried alligator -- it comes out great. The people here really understand how to deep-fry.
4) Find a good spot for a sweet kolache
I found a good place in the boonies on the way out here. Think of a King's Hawaiian Roll merged with a Danish minus the glaze. Not too sweet and quite delicious.
5) 100% Taquito - One slice of mex similar to L.A.
I enjoyed the food from 100% Taquito last week after reading a rec here. So try it. It's near Buffalo Speedway and Westpark off the 59. This is typical mexico street food style.
Side note -- I'm finding BBQ sauces and salsas here to be often different than the L.A. area. More "tomatoey" and sweet/fruity.
I was born and raised here so I have a few. Ijust give the short list. If you desire to the the detailed one just let me know.
Marks (marks is heaven)
Cava Bistro (the braised short ribs melt in your mouth)
Chez Georges (dive in and go for the degustation menu, this is the best french restaurant ive been to on this continent, every time)
Bice (fabulous gnocci and pasta)
Soul Food: Yo Mama's Soul Food ( a southern institution, until you've eaten here you havent eaten in Houston)
Latino Fusion: Cafe' Red Onion (love the mayan chicken! never had a bad dish in 10 years)
Greek: Niko Niko (get the pork chops or you miss a life experience)
Breakfast: The Breakfast Club (get the chicken and waffles with grits on the side, i dont care if you like grits just do it)
Brunch and Healthy Cuisine: Baba Yega (amazing fruit plates)
Vegetarian: Tien Ren 7549 Westheimer (for lunch its a korean vegetarian buffet, fresh cooked innovative dishes, you just might forget their meatless they're sooo good)
Southern: Buffalo Grill (also great breakfast, the chicken and dumplings has a little to much celery here though so be ware if you dont love celery)
Pizza: La Dolce Vita
Dim Sum: Ocean Palace (no one speaks english, a great adventure in gastronomy)
Puerto Rican: Isla Coqui Puerto Rican Restaurant and Bar (home cookin!)
Indian: Red Lion Pub (the curries rock)
Pan Asian: Mak Chins (everything is great but my fave is the mango sweet and sour chicken)
Gourmet American Fusion: Brasil (i love the salmon and hearts of palm sandwich and the goat cheese and sausage pizza)
NYC: Kenny and Ziggy (love the Noodle Kugel and classic Rueben)
Drinks and Snacks:
Wine: The Tasting Room -Uptown Location Only (talk to the Sommolier Tony when your there, tell him your new in town and Chef Natasha sent you)
Bubble Tea: Teahouse - tapioca and tea on wetheimer and shepherd (160 different flavors)
Pub: Ginger Man (hand pumped ale!)
Coffee Shop: Inversion (great coffe and daily creations)
Chocolate: Rain Drop Chocolate (amazing flavors)
Ice Cream: Amy's Ice Creams (the only ice cream to eat)
Ages ago there used to be an ice creame place on Westheimer at...Bellair? North side of the street, well, west of the Galleria anyway, and it had a three chocolates, or tres scalini (sp?) ice cream. Oh my goodness it was divine. My best friend and I used to go for a friday night movie and then hit them up for a cone and then cruise Westheimer in my mom's Le Sabre. Can anyone remember what it was called and if it has relocated or if there's another place with ice cream/gelato as good as what I remember?
My husband and I ate here last Saturday (the day before Valentine's) with another couple. We ate: Tom Yum Goong; Pork Toast apetizer; Yum Woon Sen; a green shrimp curry; a whole redfish (very spicy - believe it was #11; coconut icecream.
The four of us decided it was one of the best meals we have had in Houston and two of us have lived here for over 30 years.
Pricetag was around $44/couple including generous tip. The owner couldn't have been more helpful in ordering.
I reccommend the following:
Dolce Vita for amazing pizza and beef bracciola
La Vista for BYOB and great shrimp wrapped in procuitto and hot sauce (with creamy polenta)
Catalan for tapas (the BEST gnocchi in town)
Cafe Adobe for ritas and tex-mex (the stuffed avocado)
Rickshaw for sushi
Pappa Brothers for STEAK
Max's Wine Dive for fantastic spicy gator bites (sounds weird but sooo good) and champagne!
Timpanos for martinis
GOOD LUCK WITH THE MOVE!!!
sorry, cannot agree with you on cafe adobe or rickshaw. sage 400 is one of the best sushi joints in town, which makes sense as their fish is flown in on air japan daily. cafe adobe is just overpriced, overcrowded, and mediocre. for upscale tex-mex, el tiempo is much better. for cheap, teotihuacan on airline is awesome.
re: Mike C. Miller
Best does not imply high-end. Both Mark's and Cafe Annie are good restaurants but I view them more of special occasion types of restaurants. They serve high quality, expensive food with plenty of excellent wine to match. While Cafe Annie does serve cuisine unique to the Southwest, Mark's New American food is similar to a number of restaurants scattered throughout the major cities in the US. While I like both restaurants, I think Houston is unique in Texas in that it has a wealth of excellent ethnic restaurants (Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Thai, etc) that have already been mentioned above. Those restaurants are, IMO, what makes Houston such a great city in which to eat. I don't think Houstonians have any interest in competing with the style over substance "big dogs" that are so pervasive in Dallas.
And it's doing a fine job on not competing.
And if you can show me restaurants scattered throughout major American cities as good as Mark's, I'd love to hear it. Short of the SF Bay Area, Chicago, and New York (maybe Bayona in New Orleans), I can't think of any town that has a restaurant as good as Mark's, including (unfortunately) Dallas. Dallas has half a dozen restaurants that can come close, and one that can beat it on the quality of the wine list, but the food at Mark's is a notch or two above any in Dallas. And it is not style above substance, either at Mark's or at any of the top restaurants in Dallas any more than it is style above substance that makes Le Bernardin the best fish restaurant in N. America. It is impeccably fresh ingredients prepared with the utmost care by well trained chefs.
And if you are looking for the best, for good or for ill, it usually is high end.
re: Mike C. Miller
Le Bernadin is a Michelin 3 star restaurant and deservedly so. There are no restaurants in Texas that could come close to competing.
I think that, although many would argue, there are restaurants in several cities outside of the 3 you mentioned that could surpass Mark's. I am not going to bore you with specific names, but there are well-renowned restaurants in LA, Boston, DC, Atlanta, Seattle that could compete with Mark's. Some specific examples -- Luques, Patina, Citronelle, Clio, Dahlia Lounge, Herbfarm. Don't get me wrong, I do like Mark's a lot but I just think there are restaurants in Houston that are a better representation of Houston's uniqueness. I know you are way into wine Mike and would suggest you try either Reef or Catalan on your next visit to Houston. While not of the caliber of Mark's in quality or price, they both have fairly extensive wine lists that are very well priced. I love T'afia as well as it highlights local ingredients (much in the same way that York St. and Local do in Dallas).
I wouldn't put Mark's in the see and be seen category for Houston. When I made that comment, I was thinking of the upscale chain restaurants that are sprouting up all over Dallas (9, Nove, Craft, BLT Steak, Nobu, Charlie Palmer) where plenty are happy to pay inflated NYC or Las Vegas prices.
Citronelle is in the same class, if not better than Mark's, but much different cuisine. Much more French influenced than Mark's, but a great restaurant. Luques, to me is not of the same quality. Dahlia, same issues. The others I've not eaten at.
As for the "national chains," I've generally not been impressed, although I think Craft is the best of the bunch, especially in the summer when vegetables are fresh. But I wouldn't put it in the same class as Lola, Bijoux, Fearing's, York Street, Local, or even Stephen Pyles (which I've been modestly disappointed with).
I'd like to hear more about Reef and Catalan.
re: Mike C. Miller
I agree with you that Craft is the best of these new crop of upscale chains.
Reef's chef/owner is Bryan Caswell who was previously at Jean-georges' Bank in Houston. The menu is reasonably priced and has some of the best local seafood I have ever had. The wine list is fairly impressive and very well-priced. I wish they had a somm. to help guide but the staff is decently educated and I am more than willing to forgive them if they keep their prices where they are at. Here is the website: http://www.reefhouston.com/
As for Catalan -- this restaurant is from the people that own Ibiza. Charles Clark, the executive chef, was recently on Iron Chef America. The menu is small plate driven. Here is their website: http://catalanfoodandwine.com/ -- this one does have their wine list as well.
re: Mike C. Miller
The food is excellent. Absolutely excellent. However, after a few times one can tire of the attitude...from the person taking your reservation to the person waiting on you - you'll often have the "I'm better than you - how dare you expect me to do my job" stylings thrown your way. Perhaps I'm not too picky, but with so many good options in the Houston area we usually go elsewhere.
I'm thinking of taking a long enough layover through IAH to get in a few meals. When I think of Texas cuisine, BBQ and comfort foods like Chicken Fried Steak come to mind. I've seen Goode's mentioned several times for BBQ. Any great places for comfort food? Anything else that you think is "Texas"?
Best Thai - Kanomwan, 736 Telephone Rd
This guy has won awards from the Queen of Thailand for his food. The soup is to die for.
I live inside the loop near the Heights and prefer going to local places. Here are some of my favorite places.
The Glass Wall - They have some of the best steaks ever! Their menu changes with the seasons.
Burns BBQ on DePriest - It is in Acres Homes and is tucked away. There are just a few picnic tables outside to sit at. It has been packed every time I have gone there.
El Rey - Great tortilla soup. They also have really good food for a place with a drive-thru.
El Tiempo - They have tenderloin fajitas! Pricey, but they melt in your mouth!
Tony's Mexican Restaurant - Killer Margaritas! They get packed on Friday nights.
Mak Chin's - Chinese food with a twist.
Auntie Chang's Dumpling House - They have a variety of dumplings.
Vietnam Restaurant - Try the Vietnamese Beef. Let the waiter know that you have never been there before and ask for their suggestions.
Cavatore - Best Caesar Salad made at your table.
Dry Creek - It is a BYOB place with a patio and they have great burgers.
Lucio's - Another BYOB that has large portions at good prices.
Candelari's - I prefer their pizza over Star Pizza. My husband like's Pinky's on Heights Blvd.
Brother's Pizzeria - They are located at I-10 and Hwy 6 but they have NY style pizza sold by the slice. For the best crispy crust, you should share a pie with a friend. Always packed at lunch time.
I hope you enjoy some of these as much as I do!
I'm glad to see someone gave a shout out to El Tiempo-- Was raised by foodie parents, and this is our first stop every time I get back "home" to visit them (I moved to Boston about 5 years ago). We started going about 8 years ago, and it quickly became a mandatory weekend meal for us-- In fact, my parents still go religiously every Saturday. The staff is great and the fajitas are to die for-- Go for the tenderloin fajitas or the mixed grill (lobster, quail, ribs, chorizo, filet, and chicken. Also, be prepared to take some home for some great left overs [breakfast burritos anyone?]-- there's a tonnn of food in those orders) The tortillas are freshly made and delicious--both corn and flour. Don't miss the queso fundido or the calamari, either. Plus, order a gold margarita-- absolutely unparalleled, but watch out, they're pretty deadly.
So go, but go to the one on Washington Street near Memorial Park. And don't forget to stop by the El Tiempo market next door to take home some great meats and mexican ingredients. And if you see my parents at the bar on Saturday, tell them I say hi. :)
You are getting good restaurant advice. You probably want to consider living inside the loop if you are coming from LA.
Mexican- Los Cucos, Mamacitas, Ninfas (not sure if its as good with new owners) Casa Grande, Gringos for a weird cajun/mex fusion but it's good,
Chicken Fried Steak- Hickory Hollow
Burgers - Fuddruckers
Wings- Wings N More
Sandwiches - Katz deli or ZERO's mmmmmmmm mmmmm good
Fried Chicken - man just old school mexicano it..Churches with some jalapenos, refried beans a slice of cheddar cheese some lettuce and a coke....orale guey!
Seafood Mexican Style- Mambos
Seafood Cajun Style- Landrys
Seafood American and Cajun Style- Pappas Bros
Late night or 24 hour - Aunt B's
SORRY NO IN AND OUT OR FAT BURGER THERE if you want something like that you gotta come to dallas...carrollton specifically
I'm sorry. I tend to believe everyone is entitled to their opinion of "best", but one of the challenges when moving to Houston (not necessarily highlighted when coming from LA but definitely from more urban east coast and midwestern cities) is seeing through the godawful suburban sprawl and discovering there really are some unique, great places (to eat and in general). And in spite of this, you've recommended almost nothing but mediocre (some upscale) chains.
Please! Do no think that this kind of list represents the best of Houston. If you live on the far west or north side, these restaurants may be what you see on the side of the highway, but they are not representative of the best of what what exists in and around the city. For that, lots of people above have made excellent suggestions.
it said list YOUR Favorites, I don't live in houston i just go there alot to visit family, and the mexican food down there is much closer to what my grandma used to make...still far off, but better than dallas (the valley is the best when it comes to food close to my abuela's) as far as the other stuff...it's what I know..and what I like. I know you are mainly referring to Zio's i put that because when I went it was good, I dont know of anything like a Cosa Nostra in Dallas, that exists in houston so I put what I know
I haven't lived in Houston since the mid-60s. But, I have to agree with you. "Fudruckers", for the best burger? Landry's for the best "Cajun Style" seafood? Look, I'm not an elitist, and I've eaten and enjoyed Fudruckers and Landrys. But, Houston has so much else to offer. These are chains. I remember, back in the '60s, when my dad worked downtown, and there would be a line a half-block long to get into James' Coney Island. And, now they are a chain, and I still love those dogs. I remember when LBJ was president, he'd have the James' Coney Island chili flown to the White House. I remember Brennans. I remember Gaidos seafood. I remember Alfred's Delicatessan. I remember some German restaurant outside of Houston, toward Galveston (forget the name). I remember Kolache's from some bakery in the village (forget the name). And, since I keep a close watch on Chowhound, I see that Houston has great Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Italian, etc............food. So, I guess my point is, search out the Great Food that is in Houston. There is so much there, and, frankly, my best food experiences have been in "low altitude", humid climates. No idea why that is.
I'm going to make it easy on you. Anything that has Pappas in it is going to be better bang for the buck than anything you've had in LA. Pappas Steak House in Houston just won the Texas Monthly award for the best steak in Texas. I travel most of the country. If there isn't a Pappas restaurant in town my trip is in dining limbo. Find a Pappasitos and order the Chicken with Rice soup - breast meat from at least a whole chicken, avocado, carrots, celery, rice and multiple garnishes on the side. It's the most delicious healthy meal ever. Find a Pappadeaux and order the Crawfish Combo at lunch. It's probably the least healthy thing on the menu but it's delicious. Pappas means quality and I've NEVER been disappointed in any meal I've had at any of their restaurants. Pappas started in Houston and the quality of their seafood there seems even better than in their other outstanding restaurants in other cities. My last trip to Houston was for a week and every meal was at a Pappas or back at the hotel loving the leftovers.
To each their own I suppose. I live in Houston and avoid Pappas restaurants like the plague. Everything they do, be it seafood, steak, mexican, hamburgers, whatever, is done better (and sometimes much better) by other restaurants. Pappas is many things -- consistently decent, offering good, if not great food; at a good, if not great, value. But it's still a chain. A home grown one, but a chain none the less. There are reasons I don't eat chain food: I want to be wowed, not fed. If all you ate in Houston for a week was Pappas restaurants, I feel like you missed out. Houston has more to offer than Pappas. A lot more.
In my opinion, anyway.
When you get in the mood for a really great burger find your way to Langford's Grocery. It's worth the effort to find. For an adventure take a road trip South on Hwy 59 to Rosenburg. Bob's Taco Station has some of the best breakfast tacos you will find, just get there before they close at 2 PM.
We are part-time residents of Houston from SoCal who have been searching for a decent donut for a while. Here is the closest match to a SoCal pink-boxed donut shop that we've found in the area so far.
1103 W Gray St, Houston, TX (at Gray/Montrose)
We've only tried them once and they were fine, and much more to SoCal style. We didn't try a buttermilk bar or a maple bar, so I can't vouch for them. But the raised w/chocolate frosting was good as was the raised w/crumb. Old fashioned w/chocolate was good too. My wife bought these at the store for our son and brought me back several a couple hours later -- so some freshness was lacking which I presume was our responsibility.
Our problem with the Houston donut examples we've tried so far, which includes a few Shipley's sites and a small donut shop near the Astrodome, is that they're too heavy for their size and rather small and dense.
I'm fond of raised donuts that give the impression of lightness that belies their fried cooking method. A donut that has nice raised-dough texture inside with a mouthfeel that balances fluffiness with density.
The raised donuts we get by our home in SoCal (just a typical asian donut shop) are gigantic in comparison to the biscuit sized circles you'll find at a Shipley's.
When I'm trying to be fair, I think that SoCal and Houston people simply conflict in what they expect of a donut from the experience of their childhood. And so what I think are inadequate lumps are instead perfect exemplars to Houstonians. At other times, I don't think the Houston market knows a good donut, period.
Great thread, and officially a year old. Loads of my favorites have been covered, and I see a bunch of others I want to try (and it reminds me over and over that I can't believe I haven't tried Indika yet).
But a few of my faves haven't been covered yet, so I'll throw them on the list:
-- Balaji Bhavan (Hillcroft): South Indian (veg) "fast food". Yum dahi puri! Not my absolute favorite dosas (that would be the now-defunct Anand Bhavan), but very good.
-- Artista (inside the Hobby Center): Upscale, South American-influenced. My favorite of the Cordua restaurants (the Churrascos people), although I like them all. A wonderful location/decor to enjoy a meal, and I can't resist their Churrasco (very lean, as I prefer, and basted in chimichurri; it's ruined me for all non-basted-in-chimichurri steaks).
-- Reggae Hut (Almeda): Jamaican. The jerk chicken is wonderful, go for the dark meat. Far outpaces the only other jerk chicken I've tried in Houston (Fusion Cafe, which is apparently gone now).
-- Chuy's (Westheimer): Tex-Mex. Yes, it's a Texas chain but it's my guilty pleasure (and a major reason we transplanted to Texas a second time after a year away). It's all about the creamy jalapeno dip they serve upon request with the chips; I could eat two bowls (but try to restrain myself).
-- This is It (Gray): Soul food. Great oxtails, surly service. Haven't been there since they moved from the run-down box to the nice place next door.
Other places that have already been mentioned but I feel deserve a second:
-- Thelma's for barbecue - for me it's all about the brisket (sides are a bit disappointing)
-- 100% Taquito for Mexican - Mexico City street food, in a very pleasant, clean spot in a nicer strip mall. Love those quesadillas de tinga. (Also interesting in that it was started as a project by UH b-school students, who started it as a taco truck trying as an "authentic" alternative to all the Tex Mex).
-- Dolce Vita - Great to just get a wide array of apps and other small plates and share, tapas-style. Best example of what I think of as "European pizza" (very thin, served uncut, uses mozzarella di bufala) because it reminds me of what I got while living in France (although I prefer Dolce Vita, guess I'm very American).
-- Barnaby's (actually, I prefer Baby Barnaby's on Fairview): Great breakfast in a beat-up little place with rainbow-flag style. The "green eggs" are awesome and their little potatoes just rock.
-- Les Givrals: Great banh mi sandwiches, and the bread they use for them qualifies as the best baguette I've had in Houston.
Plus a ton of others listed above, but I've got to stop writing at some point.
Tex Mex- El Patio-I prefer the Westheimer location but Midtown is also good; also Chuy's for the cilantro jalapeno ranch dip, Guadalajara, Cafe Adobe on Shepherd
Greek-Niko Niko's, Fadi's, Zabak's, Skewer's--but Niko Nikos is by far the best (try the Spinach Chicken Pita--and if you like spicy food request their hot sauce--it's phenomenal!)
Japanese-try going to Sushi Hana in Katy-the rolls are amazing and the selection is unsurpassed. also Kobe, Miyako, Blue Fish House
Italian-Josephine's downtown, Palazzo's, Lasagna House III
Asian Fusion-Mo Mong
Upscale/Steakhouse-Brenner's on the Bayou, America's
Upscale but good value- Backstreet Cafe-wonderful atmosphere, great patio, romantic dining inside, fantastic food
Pubs-Flying Saucer-great beer choices, good food--Gingerman
Seafood-Joyce's, McCormick and Schmicks
24 Hr-House of Pies, Whataburger-you haven't lived til you've tried their breakfast taquitos :)
American-Barnaby's, Black Eyed Pea
Pizza-Barry's, Star, Fuzzy's, Antonio's Flying Pizza
Burger's-Prince's, Fuddruckers, Beck's Prime
Deli-Kenny and Ziggy's-expensive but worth it
Houston Traditions- Goode Company BBQ, Rajun Cajun
Quick Grab and Go-Central Market-Cafe on the Run
Not food but a fun Saturday afternoon for beer-St. Arnold's Brewery
Grocery Stores-Whole Foods, Central Market
Crawfish and Noodles Restaurant
10613 Bellaire Blvd. A-168
Houston, TX, 77072Phone:281-988-8098Mon:3:00 pm - 11:00 pmWed - Thurs:3:00 pm - 11:00 pmFri:3:00 pm - 12:00 amSat:12:00 pm - 12:00 amSun:12:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Super delish. Pictures on facebook. I want to just take a fork to the pictures, it looks that good. The food is Vietnamese and really good. Portions and price are very very reasonable, also includes children dishes. Enjoy.
My new favorite discovery is Jeanine's Bistro for a taste of Belgium. located near downdown on Westheimer. Wonderful pomme frites. Mussels are their specialty but they have other typical Belgium fare. The mussels come in many different sauces. Save room for crepes for dessert especially the Crepe Normande.
I live in Lake Charles,LA. Me and my husband go to Houston every couple of weeks and every time we go, we eat at Shawarma King on Richmond/Hillcroft. It is Mediterranean and not expensive.