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First Time Visit to Houston!

Two friends and I are visiting Houston for the first time (March 7-10) and I'm really excited! But I'm at a bit of a loss in trying to get my restaurant list together. Any suggestions are appreciated! Here's the essential information:

1. I've never been to Texas

2. I'm from Los Angeles and Sacramento so I'm familiar with west coast Mexican and our interpretation of Tex-Mex but I'm looking forward to trying the real deal.

3. I'm hoping to get some BBQ at some point but Tex-Mex is higher on my priority list (unless someone tells me it shouldn't be). A good steak house is something I'm also thinking about. Someone told me the beef quality in Texas is really superior to the stuff we get out in LA. Also burgers! We love a good burger.

4. The general areas we'll be in (but I'm willing to drive but not too far east) Generally, west of 59 and 288:

- IAH airport (of course)
- TC Jester Park
- Fairbanks/Hudson
- Spring Valley / Hunters Creek Village
- rodeo

5. We'd prefer local, places with unique to Houston/Texas/Southwest dishes, would rather avoid fast food chains, and price wise I'm open to anything from taquerias to nice lunch/dinner places. And any "must haves". We're also pretty adventurous!

6. We have 3 breakfasts, two lunches, and one dinner that we need to find places for, (and we're always open to snacks, desserts and Ice cream)

7. I'm particularly interested in a good breakfast place though. (Either Tex-Mex or otherwise.) Especially for the first day since we arrive at 6 am and we'd like a somewhat relaxing breakfast (but a crazy scene is worth it for great food),

8. Here's what my limited research on the boards has said I should try (but I have no real concept of geography, I'd rather go to the almost best that's closer over the best and deal with traffic for too long)

Taqueria Aranda's
Lankford's Grocery
Miller's Cafe
West U
Williams Smokehouse
Thelmas
Goode Company

Any other tips and thoughts are appreciated! Chowhounders are always the best tipsters! Thanks!

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  1. I'm totally confused by what part of Houston you're going to be in.

    Regardless, you can get good Tex-Mex breakfasts at Goode Company Mexican and Buffalo Grille. I also like breakfast at Empire Cafe. And drive-thru Mexican-Cuban breakfast at El Rey on Shepherd. El Rey has good fish tacos, ropa vieja--everything good.

    Goode Company BBQ is good.

    My favorite Mexican food is at Teotihuacan and Pico's. Teotihuacan is more Tex-Mex, and Pico's is Mex-Mex, and both have good fish, too. Pico's has great margaritas. I love their spinach enchiladas. Both places have good fajitas. Red Onion is more Central American, and I like it, too. The original Ninfa's on Navigation is another possibility.

    Check all these out on www.b4-u-eat.com. Also, you can put in the zip code where you are and/or type of food you're looking for, and you can get reviews and maps.

    Hope this helps.

    1. My brother lives in Houston and he took me to a place about 10+ years ago and we go there everytime I am in Houston, La Mexicana on Fairview @ Montrose. They have the best Jumbo Burrito filled with Beef or Chicken Fajita meat. It is enough burrito for two people but everything in it is fresh....sour cream, beans, cheese, fajita meat all in a fresh flour tortilla. They also happen to have a great powerful margarita!!
      http://www.lamexicanarestaurant.com/

      I would also recommend Thelmas...all I can say is awesome!

      Forget Goode Company (IMHO) and wait until you have time to go to Austin area on a second trip....that is where the best BBQ in Texas is!

      Ice Cream is a no brainer at Amy's Ice Cream off Shepard. Excellent flavors some alcoholic!!
      http://www.amysicecreams.com/

      If you pack light you can stop off at Phoenicia Specialty Foods (middle eastern market) and get all the spices you need for cheap also the Phoenicia Deli across the street has some awesome Shawarmas. Or stop in Cafe Caspian...perhaps the best Persian in Houston
      http://www.phoeniciafoods.com/
      http://www.phoenicia-deli.com/
      http://www.cafecaspian.com/

      I guess I could throw out the recomendation for House of Pies if you are in the mood for anytime pie (late night
      )http://www.houseofpies.com/

      I would go to Lankfords Grocery also....great burger

      1. I live across the street from TC Jester Park, so I can tell you what zip codes to look in at the B4UEAT site: 77018, 77092, 77008. This area is just a tad past the loop, called Near Northwest, and is close to 610 & 290, the Heights, Garden Oaks, and has a lot of good places nearby.

        Tony's Mexican Restaurant on Ella is very good Tex-Mex, but gets crazy busy, so you need to go early or be prepared to wait. Watch out for the margaritas! El Tiempo Cantina on Washington is also very good tex mex but more expensive than Tony's. Taqueria Arandas is a chain here, but they have good food that's pretty inexpensive. Try the Tacos Al Pastor, or a burrito with Pastor meat. It helps if you know a little Spanish ;-) We go to the one on Shepherd Drive. There is an El Rey on Ella, too.

        Miller's Cafe, on N. Shepherd is a good place, but not really outstanding in my opinion.

        Lankford serves breakfast, and have good burgers, and I have heard the daily specials are awesome, especially the Enchilada night. I have had a burger there, but no other items, but I know a lot of people that hang out there and love all meals. It's close to downtown, and a little tricky to find.

        West U is a neighborhood, and not in my area, so can't help you there.

        Williams burned down :-( Never been to Thelmas. Goode Co is a bit pricey for what they offer, so we don't go there much. It's okay, just not exceptional. We like Hickory Hollow, on Heights, but the big draw there is the Chicken Fried Steak. The ribs are very good too. My DH likes the Chopped brisket sandwich, but not if it has been sitting in a vat. Gabby's, on N. Shepherd has good BBQ, and live entertainment on weekends, if you are into Cowboy music.

        I would recommend Cafe Red Onion on Hwy 290 for some unusual South American/Mexican type food. People on this board either love it or hate it, but I have never been disappointed. Great food, beautiful presentation and a wide variety. The Chef is a local who started in a strip center at 290 and 43rd, and grew from there.

        I'm going to have to think about the steak. Nothing pops into my mind off hand.

        Have fun!

        1 Reply
        1. re: danhole

          All these suggestions sound great! I'll definitely report back where we end up.

          Location wise, sorry for the confusion! I kind of just looked at a map to find our general areas.

          I've still got a week or so before the trip so any other thoughts would be great. I'll probably compile a nice neat address book of your suggestions and thoughts and take it along with me. I'm excited!

        2. Also, any suggestions fo a good place for chili?

          1. Can't help you with chili suggestions. I make my own chili or else buy it from Whole Foods. When you figure out your schedule, check back. The places you've said you'll be are very far apart. You mentioned the rodeo, and several of the places I mentioned earlier are not far from Reliant Park.