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[Houston] Best Of List

I thought it might be fun to get a debate going over the best restaurants in Houston by cuisine category. I'm leaving off the New American restaurants since it's hard to limit down to one or two. I'll start by posting in the categories where I have a clear favorite. Please enlighten me if I've missed a gem (especially in an unusual ethnic cuisine like Fillapino, Indonesian, Russian, Tibetan, Afghan, etc.).

Belgian - Cafe Montrose Westheimer
German - Charivari 2521 Bagby
Greek - Niko Niko's Greek 2520 Montrose Blvd
Mediterranean - Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine 912 Westheimer Road
Ethiopian - Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant 9400 Richmond Ave
Persian - Kasra Persian Grill 9741 Westheimer Rd
Indian - (southern) Pavani Madras Cuisine 10554 Southwest Fwy or (northern) The Bombay Brasserie 2414 University Blvd or (royal style) Khazzane Fine Dining 5711 Hillcroft St.
Thai - Nidda Thai Westheimer
Malaysian - Malay Bistro 8282 Bellaire Blvd
Jewish deli - Katz’s Deli and Bar 616 Westheimer Rd
breakfast - House of Pies 3112 Kirby Dr or Avalon Diner 2417 Westheimer Rd
tea - Te House of Tea 1927 Fairview St
bubble tea - Teahouse Tapioca & Tea
pastries - Andre's Pastry Shop and Cafe 2515 River Oaks Blvd
dessert - The Chocolate Bar 1835 W Alabama St
gelato - Paciugo Italian Gelato & Caffe 5172-A Buffalo Speedway www.paciugo.com
Sunday brunch - Baba Yega Restaurant 2607 Grant St
Tex Mex - Chuy’s Restaurant 2706 Westheimer
Creole - Brennan’s of Houston 3300 Smith St.
Cajun - Crescent City Beignets 3260 Westheimer Rd
English Pub - Red Lion Pub 2316 S Shepherd Dr

Here's the categories I don't have a sufficient sample size to decide the best yet but here are my current favorites:

Spanish/tapas - Mi Luna Tapas Restaurant & Bar 2441 University Blvd
Mexican - (upscale) Hugo's 1602 Westheimer Rd or (cheaper) La Mexicana 1018 Fairview St
Cuban - Latina Café - 1972 Fairview St.
Brazilian - Fogo de Chao Churrascaria 8250 Westheimer Rd http://www.fogodechao.com/
Italian - Perbacco Cucina Caprese 700 Milam St
French - Brasserie Max & Julie 4315 Montrose
Korean - Tofu Village Bellaire Blvd
Japanese - Azuma Sushi & Robata Bar-Rice Village 5600 Kirby Dr Ste 5
Vietnamese - Vietopia Vietnamese Cuisine 5176 Buffalo Speedway
Chinese - Kam's Fine Chinese Cuisine 4500 Montrose Blvd Ste C
pizza - (want to try Dolce Vita Pizzeria Enoteca 500 Westheimer Rd
)seafood - Pesce Kirby Dr. (want to try Reef)
coffee - still looking for someplace that roasts beans from single locations and sells them within five days of roasting them served by funky baristas alongside great pastries and fruit pies (this one in Seattle is my all-time fave http://www.caffeladro.com/ and 3 Cups roastery in Chapel Hill, NC is another http://3cups.net/)

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  1. For authentic street Thai food cooked to order for primarily Thai and Cambodian clientele - Asia Market. 1010 W Cavalcade St. The papaya salad and sticky rice are phenomenal. A tripe and "other stuff" laab is fantastic as well.

    I experienced mediocre food both at Blue Nile and Cafe Malay but they may indeed be the best that Houston has to offer in those categories.

    I second the Andres Pastry Shop nomination.

    Spanish/Tapas - Catalan
    Pizza - Dolce Vita
    Seafood - Reef

    1. A few amendments...

      Ethiopian? Addisaba
      Cuban? Cafe Piquet
      Korean? Nam Gang
      Vietnamese? Van Loc
      Chinese? Fung's Kitchen
      Thai? Asia Market is a great choice, as is Vieng Thai

      1. You might like Star Snow Ice on Bellaire better for Bubble Tea.

        and I have to vote Sushi Jin on Memorial for best sushi!

        I second the Hugo's nomination.

        1. LA Chowhound here, I just got back from Houston and I cannot stop thinking about the ice cream at Chocolate Bar. Truly amazing. The best, bar none.

          1 Reply
          1. re: amela

            Next time you're back, try some of the gelato at Raindrop Chocolates.
            It definitely beats the chocolate bar.

          2. french - le mistral
            mexican - hugo's
            spanish/tapas - catalan
            thai - vieng thai
            jewish deli - kahn's deli (need to try kenny & ziggy's which is the other one that is usually recommended)
            italian - da marco
            tex mex - el tiempo or teotihuacan
            sunday brunch - brennan's or hugo's, casual: dharma cafe
            dim sum - fung's
            mexican seafood - tampico
            steakhouse - pappas bros. or vic & anthony's
            seafood - reef
            pakistani-indian - himalaya
            pizza - dolce vita
            vietnamese - in midtown: mai's, but need to explore options in chinatown
            chinese - fung's

            i don't recommend katz's, la latina, or mi luna.

            4 Replies
            1. re: neverfull

              Hugo's New Year's Brunch was pretty amazing. I don't think I've had such interesting Mexican food and a pretty good value at $38 since that was all I ate that day.

              Funny that almost every one of your choices is a place that my foodie sense has told me would be good but I haven't managed to dine there yet.

              I've eaten at Mai's and what I had didn't wow me. What dishes are your favorite there?

              Is snapper ala plancha related to the plank roasted salmon of Ivar's Salmon house in Seattle?

              I will have to try Kahn's and Kenny & Ziggy's. I wish I knew where I could find a good bialy in Houston. I used to get one with ham and a egg cooked in the middle - it wasn't kosher.

              Dim sum at Fung's would be a great HoustonCH outing.

              1. re: Herithoth

                I have eaten at Katz's and wasn't that impressed. Kahn's is a little place in the Village but man is it good! Not a full blown Deli, though.

                http://www.kahnsdeli.com/

                I have Kenny & Ziggy's on my list, but haven't been yet. They have a huge menu.

                We are going to Mai's tonight, so I looked up a thread from last year about Mai's. Here it is, so you can see what the Hou CH's recommended:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/453070

                I also think that El Tiempo is a great place. Try the fajita and quail combo. Very good.

                1. re: Herithoth

                  the grilled whole snapper at tampico is scored a few times on each side of the fish (skin on), sprinkled with some seasonings and grilled until the skin is crisp but the meat is still juicy and tender. it's served on a comal with sauteed onions and bell peppers. the top side of the fish is good b/c the skin is so crispy, but the bottom side is so good b/c it's been sitting in the pile of onions & peppers. i doubt it is anything like the cedar plank salmon you are speaking of which is probably just a salmon filet, right? please please make your way over to tampico this weekend and check it out. bring a friend or two so you can order a larger fish to share. the larger the fish, the better the meat to bone ratio. get the fried rice instead of the fries. it's delicious with the fish and onions and even a little hot sauce (i like the red el yucateca). your server will tell you how big of a fish to order. don't even bother getting shrimp or other seafood on the side.

                  dim sum at fung's would be fun. let's organize something in the houstonCH group.

                  1. re: Herithoth

                    at mai's, i get the bo luc lac (shaken beef), fried soft shelled crab in butter sauce, and the shrimp hot & sour soup (vietnamese style with pineapples, okra, and bean sprouts in it).