carless in Houston
Going to be in downtown Houston (Smith & Pease to be exact) for a few days in early Nov for a conference. Will probably be carless, given the exorbitant price of parking around there. For lunches, can certainly do with longish walks, esp if the result is a decent, reasonably-priced meal. Willing to do bus, cab or lightrail for dinners if there is something reachable that is worth the trouble. Lived in Austin for many years and am a great fan of all Texas cuisine (Tex-Mex, BBQ, chicken friend steak, etc), but one friend who will be there is veg, so options along those lines are a plus. Would be much obliged if any of you Houston hounds have advice to offer. Thank you kindly in advance.
If you want Tex-Mex the original Ninfa's on Navigation is worth an inexpensive cab ride. Although I have been somewhat critical of the new menu on this board, comparing it to it's salad days, perhaps, it is nonetheless a noteworthy experience, especially for out of towners. Ask for Omar, he and his Father(no longer at Ninfa's), go way back to the old days. Put yourselves in his hands, and they can certainly cater to vegetarian requests.
since you won't be here for awhile, you have time to do a little research. Here is a link to that zip code that you will be staying in, which is 77002. This gives you a list of places, with reviews:
Out of this list I am familiar with, and like, Birraporetti's, Spec's Deli (which also has a fine selection of wine, beer, liquor, cheese and deli type stuff), Schlotzsky's Deli (which is a chain but has great sandwiches and fresh made bread), Mai's Vietnamese (get the Bo luc lo? a garlic beef dish) and the bbq pork spring rolls), Last Concert Cafe (tex-mex but darn good and fresh ingredients, but a hippie joint if ever there was one), James Coney Island for some great chili dogs or just a bowl of chili or a frito pie, District 7 grill has an assortment of food and daily specials that are really good, and El Rey Taqueria which is a cuban/mexican place but is cheap and good. Most of these places have websites so you can check them out.
Now there are other places on the list I have hear great things about but haven't tried. Maybe you could go to chron.com and look for Alison Cook's reviews or blogs to read more or check out the Houston Press for food reviews. The places I am talking about are:
Irma's, tex mex and a James Beard winner, but I think only open during the day . . .not sure
Voice, an expensive new place that is getting rave reviews by most everyone
17, another expensive place getting somewhat mixed reviews, depends on who you ask
Mama Ninfa's the original, You either love it or hate it, so . . . I have been to a Ninfa's but not this one, but I like Ninfa's for tex mex
Hubcap burger grill, a new place getting great reviews and only open during the day. Alison has a write up on her blog.
Now how close are these places to where you area going to be? I have no idea, but if you go to mapquest.com and put in Smith St. & Pease (in intersection spot) Houston, Tx 77002, get the map and the do a further search for restaurants in the area, and it will show you just how close or far they are. I am not familiar with the metro rail but my oldest daughter lives downtown and they get everywhere using the rail system. Good luck. Hope I helped.