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What's great in Houston?

I need recommendations on the best Houston eats. I grew up in L.A., never been to Texas, all I know are the usual stereotypes about the heat, the hairstyles, the people, the guns... Here's the thing: my boyfriend is thinking of moving back to his hometown of Houston after his current job so I may have to consider LIVING there!


Kidding!! I'm open-minded, willing to check the place out. I'm visiting for the first time over Thanksgiving weekend. I want to find the BEST food Houston has to offer, particularly the typical Houston/Texas food that I can't find in L.A. I already know we're going to Hugo's cuz his family loves it. I browsed other posts, and I'll narrow it down if that helps:

* Nothing high-priced or super-fancy, I want to try the places that the average person would frequent rather than "special occasion" restaurants. Local-type places with lots of character.
* BBQ is definitely good in my book. If the place has great sides, that's even better. I'm a mac n cheese and cornbread fiend.
* I'm not a fan of chili or big steaks
* Desserts! The best homemade-style cakes and pies. Ice cream too.
* Seafood! But not Cajun seafood unless the sides are outstanding
* No Asian or Italian, I get enough of that here.
* No burgers, hot dogs or pizza, unless they serve something unusual.
* Best independent coffeehouse!
* Breakfast

I know for sure we'll be in the SW suburbs, Rice U., and wherever the touristy area is. But am willing to drive up to an hour for someplace really great. THANKS IN ADVANCE!!!

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  1. I live in Austin, but whenever we go to Houston I love Cafe Annie for a fancier night out with great Texas fusion and wonderful service. For something more ethnic try Indika, which is Indian inspired fusion. For something more casual maybe Cafe Red Onion.

    1. Interesting requests - great food that average people eat - you may be over-estimating the average Houstonian's taste (or the average person's taste anywhere) but I'll assume the 'great' is more important.

      BBQ - the best is Williams Smokehouse (ribs are best). Other places that are very popular and very good are Thelma's, Luling City Market and Goode Co. That's the order in which I would go for them. I'm afraid mostly sides at TX bbq places are predictable and mediocre but Goode Co. is known for it's jalapeno cheese bread. Thelma's will have soul food sides. IMO, great TX bbq is not about the sides, it's about the meat. I'd wager the average Houstonian has never heard of much less been to Williams; Goode Co. is the most famous and undoubtedly the most visited by out-of-towners.

      The good news is there's a new place opening that is very promising which should be open by Thanksgiving - Monica Pope, a local celebrity chef, is opening a place on the near West side called Beaver's and advance reports of samples made available at her farmer's market on Saturday mornings are very good. I'm really looking forward to it and expecting great things. Also expecting it to become a foodie place in no time short. Check back in on this board for reports -- I plan on being there within a couple of days of opening.

      For ice cream try Hank's on S. Main near Reliant Stadium:


      As for cakes and pies, I'm not too familiar with many places but I do know Blake's BBQ & Burgers, listed on the Hank's site, serves good home-made cakes as well as the ice cream. The bbq at Blake's is mediocre but the burgers are very good.

      For seafood my choices would be Tampico on Airline down from the Produce Market or Top Water Grill in San Leon on Galveston Bay.

      Touristy - as in the Kemah Boardwalk and Galveston???? You're going to encounter lots of restos in the Landry's, Inc. chains. Pappas is another very big local operator with above average chain food outlets.

      11 Replies
      1. re: brucesw

        Thanks for the recs. A great start to my list. I think what I really meant by "average" was non-upscale.
        I do tend to enjoy sides more than the meat - never been a big slab'o'meat eater. But I plan to get my occasional fix of slabs'o'meat there. It's the right city for it!

        I don't know exactly where I'm going to be taken for sightseeing. Is it like L.A., as in no one central tourist downtown area?

        1. re: CookieEater

          You have to try Thelma's. Her BBQ and pretty much every side are beyond scrumptious. It almost makes up for the killer humidity...Almost.
          Think Vietnam with big hats.

          1. re: CookieEater

            Thanks for the clarification. Have you seen the 'New to Houston' thread? That was started by someone moving to Houston from Los Angeles and several who have made the change chimed in with their advice; you might find a lot of good stuff there.

            I think you'll find Houston a very affordable place for average people to eat out compared to LA and we really excel in that category as well as what one local reviewer calls peasant food. Not to say we don't have excellent upscale dining, too, though. Hugo's is probably about as upscale as it gets re: Mexican food.

            The typical sides at bbq places are slaw, potato salad and beans and many are just so-so IMO. Thelma's as mentioned has some soul food sides but tend to be overcooked to my taste. Best bbq places I can think of for sides would be Lyndon's Pit BBQ on 290 @ Hollister - this is Carolina style pulled-pork bbq, not Texan, and very good non-traditional sides. Hinzes in Wharton (40 miles SW) is a small town bbq joint with home-made sides that are good and there's also a Hinzes in Katy but I've never been to that one. Hinzes uses pecan wood, a SE Texas regional variation on the oak-mesquite-hickory more commonly used elsewhere in the state. Pappas Brisket house has some better sides - yams, lima beans, dirty rice as I recall - but their Q is only so-so. I haven't been to Pappas in years so no hearty recommendation.

            There is no really touristy area - Houston is very spread out. Local attractions that draw tourists would include the Kemah Boardwalk, a sleepy bay village turned into a carnival like place by Landry's Inc., Galveston Island, NASA and, for history purposes, the San Jacinto Battleground and Battleship Texas. As far as the latter the Monument Inn is a good seafood place that your boyfriend's family probably knows about. Landry's Inc, which just about owns Galveston, seems to be based on the notion that what most adults want when they dine out is an adult version of a McDonald's Playground.


            I also second texnosh's recommendations of Goode Co. Texas Seafood.

            You really should take a drive out thru China Town on the west side, even if only passing thru. I know someone from SF who thought he knew a lot about Chinese food who was astounded shopping at the Chinese supermarkets there at the produce he found that he had never even heard of before.

            About breakfast - downhome or chi chi? I seldom leave home for breakfast so I'm not a good reference but I do know of the Breakfast Klub, a waffles and chicken place, but I've never been. Tel-Wink Grill is a very old fashioned diner that is hugely popular, especially on weekends, and claims to serve the best breakfast in Texas and has reasonable portions and very modest prices. Avalon Diner (River Oaks and Stafford) is very good old style diner food also. Kelley's Country Cooking (5 locations) is famous for humongous portions. Kelley's has good chicken fried steak but their sides are overcooked to my taste. They also have home-made cakes and pies but I've never even been able to contemplate ordering anything so I don't know how they are. Other hounds will have to chime in with more chi chi offerings.

          2. re: brucesw

            My family is from Katy so most of the places named in this thread are a good drive away, with exception for Goode off I-10 and Echo, that's not too far.
            Point is, I'd like to know if there are more places worth mentioning in the west side of town? Beaver's sounds great too, looking forward to hearing about your thoughts when they open.

            1. re: air

              I don't know much about that part of town but Marini's Empanada House on S. Mason at Westheimer Pkwy is excellent (there's a website) as is Capt. Tom's Seafood and Oyster Bar, on Katy @ Mason, as I recall, in the big faux shrimp boat.

              Along Mason headed toward Marini's, you'll pass Hinze's bbq. I haven't been to that location but the original in Wharton is one of my favorite Q joints in the area, pecan smoked, with great home-made sides.

              Along I-10 just outside the Beltway is a Dimassi's Meditarannean Buffet, excellent food for a buffet (I've only been to the Richmond location).

              If you're willing to come all the way in to Goode Co., try Empire Turkish Grill, just east of the Beltway on Memorial. If I remember correctly it's co-owned with Istanbul in the Village and so should be great:

              Come on down the Beltway to Westheimer and go out to Cafe Pita, 1/2 mile west, a Bosnian place I reviewed a couple of months ago. Everybody seems to like this more than I did but I'm not negative about it at all. Further out would be Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen.

              I could also mention Dozier's in Fulshear, 7 miles S of I-10 on FM 359 (Brookshire exit, just west of Katy). Used to be considered the best Q in the area but my most recent visits a year and half ago were disappointing and you almost never hear about it anymore.

              I know we've had some Katy hounds post here but it seems most Houston area hounds are practicing for the Olympic's Sitting-On-Your-Hands competition. Maybe you should start a separate thread?

              1. re: brucesw

                Thanks for all the information!

                I should've actually been more specific with my reply - I was mainly wanting to see if there's good Q in the west side. Most of my restaurant familiarity centers around Asian food in the Chinatown/Bellaire area. I still really appreciate your tips!

                I pass by Hinze's all the time, just never took the time to check it out. Will definitely give that a try when I'm home for the holidays.

                1. re: air

                  No problem. Happened to think of another one - Houston BBQ and Saloon on Eldridge Pkwy, between I-10 and Memorial. When this first opened Alison Cook in the Chron made much of the fact the owners were the original owners of Luling City Mkt on Rickmond and this was their new venue. I presume the Q is very similar but haven't ever been. If you get to either of these be sure to let us know if they're worth the trip.

                  1. re: brucesw

                    Thanks again bruce. I'll be home for Thanksgiving and Hinze's is gonna be one of the first places I'll try and check out.

                  2. re: air

                    If you like jerky try the jerky at Hinze's. It's better in the Wharton location, but you have to call ahead to make sure they have it. They make it there and transport it to the Sealy location, so it's a bit fresher in Wharton.

                    1. re: danhole

                      How's the Q on Mason Rd. compared to Wharton?

                      1. re: brucesw

                        I prefer Wharton, myself. Just seems to be smokier!

            2. Sorry ma'am, all we have are big steaks or big steaks smothered in chili. Seriously, check out:

              Goode Co. BBQ for great sides and pecan pie.
              Goode Co. Seafood for Texas Gulf seafood.
              Tampico's for whole red snapper served in a Mexican restaurant.
              Treebeard's (open only weekday lunches) for great sides.
              Amy's or the Chocolate Bar for ice cream (and the Chocolate bar for cakes if you like those)
              Coffeehouses: Empire

              Welcome to Houston!

              4 Replies
              1. re: texnosh

                Any other indie coffeehouses besides Empire?

                1. re: CookieEater

                  Bright and Early at Washington and Durham has reallygood coffe but its really only a drivethrough kind of place.
                  Diedrichs has a place on Montrose but the old place on Westheimer had a much better coffehouse feel.
                  Brazil is probably Houstons strongest Coffee joint. Its at Westheimer and Dunlavy.
                  In the Heights area there is a pretty cool coffe bar/liqour bar but I forget the name.

                  1. re: CookieEater

                    I went to Brasil one time a few years ago, liked the atmosphere wasn't particularly impressed by the coffee. My fav indie coffee house closed some years ago. A friend has been wanting me to meet him at Inversion on Montrose but I haven't gotten around to it yet. The place is quite new. I've also heard some good things about Taft St. Coffee from friends.

                    I've assumed you've discovered this other resource in your searches?:


                    You can search by neighborhood or zip code if you want to find something closer to where you're staying. The Heights and Montrose are probably where a good deal of the indie places are. Reviews can be quite unreliable.

                    I see Empire isn't listed, perhaps because it is more cafe than coffee house??? But Brasil serves food, too (they're very close to each other)???

                  2. re: texnosh

                    Went to Empire Cafe for the first time ever last night and loved it. Great desserts and drank some of the best hot chocolate I've ever had. Wish there were more excellent coffeehouses like this closer to Katy!

                  3. For
                    BBQ= I would say either Williams Smokehouse or Thelmas.Ribs at Williams and Brisket or catfish at thelmas.
                    Desserts= The gelato and other chocalate goodies at Raindrop Chocalates are the best in town. The blood orange choc gelato is really good. Hanks Ice Cream on Main St by Reliant stadium does really good ice cream like the banana pudding, or in the fall the sweet potato, and apple pie and the butter pecan are just a few other favorites.
                    Seafood=In Houston I would say Tampico on airline is my favorite. The whole grilled red snapper is one of my favorite foods in town. Try a michelada, it is a beer with lime and hot sauce. Another place in San Leon which is not real far from Kemah is Topwater Grill. The grilled oysters are great as is the other seafood. It is a little place on the bay surrounded by shrimp boats, its a little like Kemah used to be(cool).
                    Breakfast=Maybe Picos, Buffalo Grill, Breakfast Klub...Personally I go for a breakfast taco in the barrio at someplace like Villa Arcos on Navigation. The Bacon "Super" is my favorite.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jscarbor

                      Also, more often than not you get great tamales at Dona Tere Tamales on Beechnut. They ave other locations but this is the one I know.

                      You did not mention Indian or Pakistani but Himalaya is out of this world good. Its not the type of Indy/paki place with great vegatarian stuff but the meats are great and the naan is awesome.
                      One more thing that is worth mentionin is Maryz Mediteranean on Richmond for the baba ganoush alone really. I usually just eat appetizers here.

                      1. re: jscarbor

                        oohhhh, sweet potato ice cream! That sounds so good.

                        1. re: CookieEater

                          It was good BUT I have only seen it the one time.

                      2. For the best pies in town you have to go to the Flying Saucer Pie Shop on Crosstimbers. Around holidays you need to pre-order, because people line up before it opens to get those pies. They are the best pies in town.

                        PS _ Carry-out!

                        1. The Topwater Grill in the Shrimp Boat Marina in San Leon, about 30 miles from downtown Houston is great for super casual waterfront dining in a locally owned joint. Put on shorts and enjoy the deck, food and Jimmy Buffet music.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: jetlag

                            Jimmy Buffett? That might kill my appetite.

                            I forgot that i plan to bring my own homemade pies so I probably won't want to buy MORE pie, but the Flying Saucer Pie Company website looks so good.... I guess I could bring some back home.... hmm.

                            1. re: CookieEater

                              I didn't even know they had a website! So you can't pre order. Well, I have to say my favorite is the Coconut Cream, but I only eat them about twice a year! They are just too good, and I don't want to turn into a dumpling!

                          2. There are two new indie coffee shops that I love. Inversion on Montrose (near West Gray) and Catalina on Washington (between Sawyer and Houston Ave). I hate Taft Street Coffee--everyone who works there is incompetent.

                            For breakfast, I recommend Goode Co. Taqueria, Lankford's Grocery (They're a burger joint, but their breakfast menu is excellent.), Daily Grind (also a good coffee shop), Harry's Cafeteria, Barnaby's, and the Breakfast Klub. If you don't get to the breakfast club early in the morning, expect a very long wait.

                            1. I forgot about one of my favorite places for fresh bread and great sandwiches, Stone Mill Bakers. You have got to try their bread. It is so good and all natural. You used to be able to buy it at Spec's Liquors, but not sure if you still can. Here is a link:


                              Don't be put off over the pricing of the sandwiches, because they are worth it, very generous portions.

                              One more place for breakfast is Java Java Cafe on 11th St., in the Heights. They have very good quiches, and interesting breakfast combos. It's a family run place, and has a lot of local art displayed. Very eclectic.

                              P.S. Cookie eater - I don't have big hair or a gun, just an FYI! LOL!

                              1. Thanks everyone, I'll have a nice big list to bring along. Now an addendum to my original post: Will be in the neighborhood of Pub Fiction. Looking for best dinner nearby.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: CookieEater

                                  Ibiza, Reef, Chivari or Brennans. Brennans being the fairly pricey.
                                  Specs is a great big liquor store close by that is worth checking out. Really strong wine section in the midprice wine.

                                  1. re: jscarbor

                                    All of the above mentioned restaurants are pretty expensive. If you are looking for "local favorites" Last Concert Cafe has good Mexican food. Lots of old (and young) hippies hang out there. They have music too, but no sign on the door! It's a red door, though. http://www.lastconcert.com/index.htm

                                    District 7 Grill is also good, off beat, eclectic food and atmosphere. http://www.district7grill.com/m/index...

                                    More towards Montrose is Cafe Artiste. I haven't been in a long time, but it's a cool little coffee house. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. I haven't had the food but have heard it's good.

                                    Oh and do check out Spec's Liquor store. Amazing deli, and well as liquor, wines, and accessories.

                                    1. re: danhole

                                      I second Spec's. Screw NASA, the museums, or any of the other quasi tourist hangouts (and don't even get me started with that damned Aquarium). Spec's should be *THE* tourist desination in this city.



                                2. Welcome to Texas from a former LA girl. I was born in long beach but havent lived there since I was 9 (a looooonnnngggg time ago). I've been in Houston for about 13 years and I love it. One of my favorite places to eat is Pappa's Barbecue they have the best barbecue salad. I'm sure you'll love it. Also try their baked potatoes, they are loaded. You will also want to try out Pappasitos ( a tex mex restaurant) and Pappadeaux ( cajun seafood) yummy

                                  1. Seafood-Clifton By the Sea in Baycliff, don't bother with Kemah, was great but now it's a tourist trap
                                    Steak-Churrascos, Westheimer and Shepard or Westheimer at Gessner, they serve a steak you can cut with a fork
                                    Ice Cream-Hanks
                                    Salads, veggie, burgers-Baba Yega's, Grant near Westheimer in Montrose, also great brunch
                                    BBQ-Luling City on Richmond
                                    Bistro-Black Walnut Cafe, various locations including Rice area
                                    Breakfast-Buffalo Grill, there's one on Voss and one on Bissonet close to Rice

                                    1. My list is already too long, but just in case.....
                                      Any great breakfast or coffeehouse in Sugar Land?
                                      I get the feeling it's some kind of suburbian chain-store wasteland, but have any good places popped up?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: CookieEater

                                        On the 59S feeder just before US 90-A, on the border between Stafford and Sugar Land, is Avalon Diner, It's a local institution; the mover's and shakers of Houston used to cut their deals over breakfast at the original location. Good breakfasts (or any diner food) but not sure about the coffee. Further up the road at Kirkwood is 59 Diner - not recommended! New location and I've never been but the original location has some of the most abyssmal service I've ever experienced, everytime I've been, and there's nothing special about the food. Sorry, don't really know anything in right in Sugar Land but I think you're right about chains.

                                      2. * Desserts! The best homemade-style cakes and pies. Ice cream too.

                                        Ahh. Desserts. The stuff that dreams, and sansabelt slacks, are made. I just had some killer sopapillas at Ninfa's on Navigation, which I would recommend to be one of the must see places in Houston. The sopapilas were awesome, with a hibiscus sauce and some great vanilla ice cream. Couldn't believe it was only $4.99.

                                        Sure, there might arguably be better fajitas out there. Certainly better margaritas. But for a combination of qualities (*very* good mexican food, *very* good margaritas, damned fine queso fundido, a great atmosphere, and the realization that all this is coming from the same DNA that was bastardized into the evil generic food that is all other Ninfas), it may well be one of my favorite places in Houston.

                                        Carrying on with the desserts: I'm fond of Churrascos. It's worth a trip for a drink and the coconut ice cream. In fact, I do this all too often. The tres leches is great as well, but it's everywhere now. The coconut ice cream isn't. Go. I don't even like coconut usually, unless it's in pina colada form, and I love this.

                                        * Best independent coffeehouse!

                                        Be on the cutting edge: try Antidote, which just opened up on Studewood in the Heights, (ear 9th street maybe?). The same folks that own Poison Girl (which I consider a must visit bar if you find yourself in the Montrose), it features damned fine coffee. Plus, they need your business: they've only been open a week or so.

                                        Aside from that, I like Brasil, Empire, and all the usual suspects.

                                        * BBQ is definitely good in my book. If the place has great sides, that's even better. I'm a mac n cheese and cornbread fiend.

                                        Take a day trip to the Hill Country. II know, I know: It's more than an hour a way. But still: it will get you to move to Texas, and then you're (much) more than halfway to Houston. Nothing in Houston can compare to the real Luling, the Lockhard trilogy, or Louis Mueller's in Taylor, but very little can. That said, I'm fond of Williams Smokehouse and the fake Luling at 610 and Richmond.

                                        Good luck, and good eating.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Mikeflan

                                          My dear Miss Cookie Monster (sorry, couldn't resist!), I must second Mikeflans recommendation for barbecue in the Hill Country. Louis Mueller's in Taylor is as good and as genuine Texan as it gets. Coopers in Llano and the Salt Lick near Austin are also incredible, but now we are REALLY ranging far afield. Closer to home, the County Line and Rudys are also excellent, although neither is that close to Sugarland, if memory serves me correct.

                                          1. re: Thefoodczar

                                            I will try it when I have a longer trip back there.

                                        2. bbq- houston bbq, doziers, lyndons
                                          deserts-59 diner, ana's pie & doughnut shop
                                          local places....try a quality, clean taqueria, there are tons in this town. it's a shame you don't want asian flare; houston has the best pho' anywhere
                                          seafood-new orleans po boys(just opened)- it's the REAL DEAL
                                          UNUSUAL...shish kabob cafe; get a gyro or live on the edge & order a persian stew...you will rave afterwards
                                          coffe-hmmmmm...depends what you like,...euphoriam dietrich, daily grind,
                                          breakfast-depends on your mood.....empire cafe, 59 diner, franks, la strada

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: horsecockenyermouth

                                            How does the pies at Ana's Pie & Doughnut Shop compare with Flying Saucer Pie Shop? I won't ask about the doughnuts - I just can't get my mind off of Shipley's at the moment!

                                            1. re: mialebven

                                              Actually nevermind... I'll just stick with Flying Saucer since it seems that more people recommend it here in Chowhound and only one person recommended Ana's - and I think that person has since disappeared!

                                              1. re: mialebven

                                                I went to a baby shower at My Dee Dee's Pie Shop and the pies that were served were very good, but NOTHING can compare to Flying Saucer! But at the shower she had this cheese spread for crackers that was like a cross between a pimento and a corn relish, or a pimento with corn in it. It was addictive, but I can't put my finger on what was in it. We asked her but she was very vague . . .

                                          2. the taco trucks in spring branch are gold mine finds. look for the jarro cafe on gessner. they have dine in or order out in th parking lot from the trailer for .25 less a taco. it's a tastey time....

                                            1. The Egg and I is a great place for breakfast and there are several in the Houston area. Bayou City Seafood on Richmond just inside of the loop is great and Pappas, The Goode Company and Rudy's are the best Bar B Que in the city. Rudy's is the best value for the money.

                                              1. TRIP REPORT
                                                This is short. Due to Thanksgiving dinner and leftovers, I really wasn't in the mood to eat out too much. But I still made room for:

                                                * Hugo's - excellent! I tried a little of what everyone was eating, plus the plantain empanada and crab tostada appetizers. When BF's mom complained her entree was cold, they brought her a salad while they heated it back up! Very nice.

                                                * Mi Luna in Rice Village - this was supposed to be for drinks, but ended up eating a few appetizers. Not so great. And never, ever order the sangria as it's bottled. To make up for the lack of fresh fruit, they add 2 lemon wedges and a maraschino cherry. Gross. Looks like their specialty drink was the mojito, people were ordering pitchers. Very odd for a Spanish restaurant. The oxtail was just ok. The quail was pretty good. The jamon serrano and manchego were tasteless. However, I did have a martini made with their pineapple-infused vodka, and that made up for the "sangria."

                                                *Amy's Ice Cream - had to go here, as Hank's was closed Thanksgiving weekend :( Not fabulous, but the pumpkin ice cream was pretty good.

                                                *Goode Co. bbq - I was hoping for better sides :( The ribs and brisket were good, though the sauce was a little too tomato-ey for me. I preferred the bbq I've had in TN. I had wanted to go to Williams Smokehouse or Thelma's, but they closed too early for our schedule. Lots of visiting to do for the holidays. I liked Goode in general (preferred the ribs over brisket), but I don't know what the big deal is about the jalapeno cheese bread. It was basically thick-cut white bread, which I don't have a problem with, but I don't know why they call it jalapeno cheese bread when it's not spicy and only barely cheesy.

                                                *Cafe Brasil: Excellent coffee! The building was cold (literally) for such a cold and rainy day, but the coffee was really great.

                                                *Katz's: decent for a late-night snack. Those fried pickles were really yummy. The hot chocolate was made with water instead of milk.

                                                Next time I plan to try everything I missed. But what was REALLY great about Houston was the respite from my allergies. As soon as I came home and stepped off the plane in L.A., I sneezed about 5 times immediately. If only Houston could have that chilly fall weather ALL the time. I tried to imagine everything in 90-percent humidity, and it did NOT look good.
                                                I noticed that things seemed cheaper in general.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: CookieEater

                                                  Did you happen to see, on the Houston news, the ridiculous long lines at the Flying Saucer Pie Shop? It was a scream. Blocks long! The first person in line showed up the night before at 9:30 pm! Really good pies! Must be, huh?

                                                  I think Goode Co. BBQ is highly over rated. I would rather go to Gabby's myself! They have some really good dirty rice.

                                                2. Hello,

                                                  If you ever find yourself in Houston again, you may want to check out this thread:

                                                  (topic: another person from Los Angeles moving to Houston


                                                  As for small coffee houses, try Inversion Coffee on Montrose, Taft Street Coffee, and The Coffee Groundz at 2503 Bagby. Coffee Groundz also has gelato made here in town by a man from Argentina. We like it!

                                                  1. Okay, after revisiting Houston and trying to hit all the restaurants in my list (I failed miserably, I must report), I've had some surprises and a lot of misses.

                                                    The most disappointing was Tampico Seafood on Airline, probably because I had hyped it in my head. The snapper was NOT cheap, and the raw salmon in the display had cracked flesh (meaning it's old). The food was alright, although it was a bit heavily seasoned. If you like that, that's fine, but in my book, it's bad form to heavily season fish unless if it's a thick filet - and a snapper's flesh is not as thick as a salmon's. The ceviche was okay, nothing spectacular - and it was done in a Central American / Mexican way, with ketchup. For seafood in this area, I heard Christy's (?) is a better option, just a few blocks north on the same street. Overall, Tampico was good, but nowhere near offering the best seafood in Houston. It's just mediocre in my book and it is definitely not worth the drive.

                                                    The biggest surprise was a bakery find in Katy. Sweet & Salty Gourmet Bakery on Westheimer Parkway just close by Mason was a wonderful find. It's an Argentine bakery that serves some European goods, and having several bites, I can say it's far surpasses the quality of Manena's Argentine bakery on Westheimer in Houston. While it is not cheap, and the size is small, the taste was wonderful - it has become one of my favorite bakery in Houston, if not the favorite.

                                                    Los Cucos (Sugar Land) is a good old standby of mine, and I'm pleased to report it's still good - and still my haunt for fajitas.

                                                    Black Walnut Cafe (Sugar Land) was nice, and new to me, but I consider it a mix between Cafe Express and Olive Garden. Really not top chowhound worthy, but decent enough to go with friends, family, or whatsoever for some good and tasty grub.

                                                    Ocean Palace dim sum was good, same as it was before, although I am still not sure if it would be the best in Houston - some stuff doesn't look high quality. But I would return regardless, on the assumption other dim sum places offer similar dim sum of similar quality.

                                                    Kim Son (Sugar Land) had a fantastic fried hen dish, much to my surprise, and I would order it all the time from now on whenever I go to Kim Son again. The black pepper crab was a good deal, but I didn't like the fact that the crab meat stuck to the shell even after cracking it open - thus making for an extremely messy meal with countless of times of having to take pieces of shell out of the mouth. Not fun at all, and I would not recommend black pepper crab for this reason. The sauce that came with it tasted fishy in a not so good way.

                                                    Carrabbas (on I-10) was the crappiest meal I've had during my revisit - even worse than Taco Cabana, and that's saying much. I had remembered the Sugar Land location impressing me, and making me think that it is better than Olive Garden. The Carrabbas on I-10 did the exact opposite. I definitely would not return.

                                                    Fratelli's on 249 was a wonderful find. Kudos to the female chef from Veracruz (it's not often we have a female Hispanic chef, even in Houston) for being extremely skilled with her sauces. I had a new years eve dinner here and everything was flawless. My only complaint was the dessert - I had found the chocolate cake a bit too sweet for my tastes. But the rest of the 5 courses meal was right on the spot. This place has become one of my favorite affordable Italian restaurant in Houston. I would definitely return.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: mialebven

                                                      Fratelli's is on 290, unless they have a new location. They last time I went I was a bit disappointed. What did you have? I had Saltimbocca alla Romana - Veal rolled and sauteed with prosciutto & sage in a butter sauce, and the veal was a bit tough. Odd, huh? It may have just been an off night. I really want to try it again.


                                                      1. re: danhole

                                                        It is on 290, not 249. Sorry, those Northwestern highways confuse me often since there's a 2 and a 9! ;-) I have not yet been to Fratelli's outside of its New Year's Eve dinners (I've been twice now).

                                                        The well made 4 courses that I had at the last dinner consisted of:

                                                        Crostini Misto (a medly of toasted Italian bread slices rubbed with garlic and topped with fresh tomato (Bruschetta), eggplant, olives & pepper (Caponata) and goat cheese, green olives and sliced tomato (Mediterranean).

                                                        New Year Salad (mixed salad greens with oven roasted fruit and nuts and topped with Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil dressing)

                                                        Gnocchi con Gorgonzola (Hand made potato and spinach dumplings topped with a creamy gorgonzola sauce)

                                                        Lomo di Maiale Ripieno (pork tenderloin stuffed with sweet gorgonzola cheese, raisins and spinach, slow roasted, and sliced into rounds for serving. Topped with Marsala wine and orange reduction sauce. Served with oven roasted vegetables) This year, the pork was a winner, in my opinion. It was very flavorful and perfectly tender. It's a marked contrast to two years before, when the seafood was far noticeably better than the pork.

                                                        I also sampled the Dentice Marina di Ravenna (fresh red snapper filet baked with tomato slices and large caper berries in extra virgin olive oil. Served with cheese filled ravioli) and it came out delicious as well. I was wowed more by the pork but it is a heavier meal.