Trip to Houston, need recommendations
I'm looking for a variety of things
Chinese: tongue-melting heat needed
Wings: suicide or bust
BBQ: I'm sensing a pattern here; I want to try both dry-rub and sauced
Late night/24-hour: because man doesn't live by capsaicin alone, and I keep late hours
Mexican: are taco trucks the best like they are in CA?
Burger: the official state food, or so I've heard; not-frozen fries if possible
I just got back from my trip. Thanks for the suggestions!
Vieng Thai: Good stuff, but rather skimpy portions. And they didn't believe me when I said "thai hot". Sigh! I had to make do with those yummy green peppers in the spice rack.
Chaco's: So good I went twice. Those huge nacho plates are insane! Fortunately I only had a 1/4 plate.
original Ninfa's: I guess I don't understand the difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex, this seemed like regular Mexican food to me. Tasty though.
Little Big's: great chocolate shakes.
Pierson's: I have gone to heaven. Spicy sauce, tasty links. I like this way better than Southern BBQ.
Lankford's Market: great burgers. That Fire Burger is mighty hot, not disappointing like most "fire" burgers.
Little Bitty Burger Barn: Another good burger place. Fresh-cut fries. I had the jalapeño burger which comes with jalapeño-cheese bread. I nice change of pace from regular buns.
The "late night" places all seemed to close at 10. Is that late in Houston?
I noticed that all of these recommendations are on the West side of Houston. Is that a coincidence?
Actually Pierson's and Little Bitty Burger Barn are in the Near Northwest part of town, and you were pretty darn close to my house! Isn't Pierson's the greatest? I just love it. Chacho's, too. Good and cheap. The burger barn is a fav as well. Girl, you hit a lot of my favorites!
There were lots of places listed that are open past 10 pm. So, no, 10 pm is not late in Houston. If you had gone to a real mexican restaurant then you would get the difference between Ninfa's Tex-Mex and regular/real. Just for comparison look at these menus:
But I do have to ask - which Ninfa's did you go to? The original one on Navigation or one of the others? There is a big difference.
Glad you enjoyed where you went. Come back and try the 24 hour places next time. I know even more!
Many of the places are open past 10, but not on weekdays.
Northwest is still West of downtown. Is East Houston entirely industrial, so no restaurants there? From the 610 I did see some rather ratty neighborhoods in Northeast Houston.
I went to the Ninfa's on Navigation. Do all of the Ninfa's have the same owner? I even saw a Ninfa's in Louisiana.
I had the Tejas Combo. Minus the avocado and sour cream (California standard for Mexican), it seemed a lot like what I've been served in the SF Bay Area: refried beans topped with cotija, cheese enchilada topped with a red (Ninfa's was dark rather than bright) sauce and a bit more cheese, grilled chicken fajita meat. It was way different than the massive cheesiness of Chacho's.
East Houston is not just industrial. and has lots of good restaurants. I'm just not that familiar with them. Houston has restaurants EVERYWHERE!
That Ninfa's on navigation is more mexican thtn tex-mex. The others are more chain sty;e and under different management. Closer to Chacho's. And as far as late night, most 24 hour places are 24 hours regardless of the day of the week, but there are a few that close like on a Mon. or Tues., but you're right that most of the places are late night on Thur. - Sun. Now Mai's is always late night, though. It's to be found, you just have to know where to look!
I have three favorites on the east side, all Mexican, all with oustanding salsas. On Navigation close to Ninfa's is Merida, with some yucatan dishes. On the far east part of Harrisburg is El Jardin. They have excellent camarones empanizado, fried shrimp, as well as Tex Mex and Mexican. On Wayside just south of I-10 is Los Molcajetes-Mucho Mexico. Go on a weekend night for live music early, mariachis later. The place doesn't start hopping until at least 10, with lots of hispanic families. If you are gringo like me, you will be one of few. They have an oyster bar and have great coctels del cameron, oysters and octopus.
For Chinese food - your best bet is China Town on Bellaire close to the Bltwy. FuFu is pretty good and they are open until 2 a.m. daily. It is quite cheap as well. In the same center you will find a Asian Grocery, Korean Food, Japanese and Maylasian. I have tried both the Korean (Tofu Village- dont let the name fool you) and the Maylasian (Banana Leaf). They are very tasty and must contrast to basic asian food.
Mexican-Tex Mex- Chachos on Westheimer is wonderful for price and they are open 24 hours wil yummy margaritas.
Burgers- Try Kilburns www.kilburnstavern.com but it is a drive to this place. It is off of 290 and Barker Cypress.
If you are into Indian food- London Sizzler is pretty good. It is a British Indian place. In the same lot is Himalaya- which is Pakistani food. They have wonderful biryani. This center is located on SW Frwy and Hilcoft. NWC
I have to agree with some of the suggestions that fellow chowhounds have already made. Spicy Thai try Vieng Thai on Long Point. I also like the Thai suggestion Bornie posted: Nidda's on Westheimer. But you really do have to ask for it "Thai Hot"... and even then they may not believe you so tell them that you want to sweat and cry.
I see that Bornie also suggested Barnaby's (Fairview St , Shepherd Dr or West Gray) for burgers and fries, and I totally agree 100%. My fave is the bacon-bluecheese burger. You really get your money's worth too and it's delicious on top of that.
As for Tex-Mex, there are so many places to choose from. I would suggest re-visiting previous thread topics on this board (there are tons of tex-mex debates!) The late-night champ is La Tapatia- 1749 Richmond Ave, which has already been mentioned here. And yes, I agree, the food there is just so-so. A better late night choice, although a smaller menu, may be Tacos a Go-Go, 3704 Main St. http://tacosagogo.com/
The intersection of Montrose and Westheimer has a few places that are open pretty late: Little Big's, Aladdin (we love this place), and BB's Cajun Cafe.
Hope you enjoy your visit to Houston!
Thai,, go to Nidda's on Westheimer,, near the Montrose intersect... I've been to the others,,, this is the real deal.. Ask for "Thai Hot",, then get your towel ready!
Burgers and Fries,, go down the road to Barnaby's,, West Gray or Shepherd location.. Damn tasty and it takes both hands to hang on to!! Try the Hot Dog there too! All beef,, its crazy big!
I like the Wings at Beavers and the BBQ is good too, but a lot more expensive than most places.
Of course, i'm sure you are going, how do i know we have similiar tastes? You dont know and that 's the problem. But at the very least, if the weather is good, Beavers is nice to site outside.
For Chinese, try Sichuan Chinese 3758 S Gessner; as is the case with many of the Asian restaurants in the area, you'll probably have to ask for the full menu.
Thai: Vieng Thai is about as hot as you can get. Thai Gourmet on Richmond can also make it as spicy as you can handle.
Wings: I'd probably avoid it here.
BBQ: Dani's suggestion for Pierson's is right on. Just so there is no confusion, Texans rarely smoke with a sauce. All meat should be dry rubbed, most places (outside of Central Texas, which have NO sauce) serve a sauce that is usually tangy, never KC sweet. I always get mine on the side everywhere.
Late hours: this isn't a late night food town. On Montrose, Little Big's (burgers) and BB's (po'boys) are open late.
Mexican: Taco trucks are good, but for Tex Mex (a must have if you're here), the original Ninfa's, El Tiempo, or Teotihuacan are good bets.
Burger: Hubcap, Christians on I-10, and Lankford.
Happy eating. Diet when you get back.
". . . I presume that meat meant to be served without sauce is spiced differently than meat intended to be served with sauce."
Don't believe that's true at all. That would be too much work making 2 sets of meat. Even a chopped beef sandwich starts out as a dry cut of brisket that is chopped up and then sauce is added. Otherwise it is just a sloppy joe, IMO! ;-)
Thai food: I prefer V's over Vieng Thai. I've just had an easier time being more adventurous at V's because of the buffet.
If you go on the right night, they sometimes have a buffet with an assortment of scorching hot dishes that you may not find in a typical menu. Give 'em a call if you wanna be sure. Otherwise order off the menu and have V cook your food to however spicy you like
Check out this blog for info about Taco trucks around town. We've got lots of great ones:
For really spicy Thai go to Vieng Thai on Long Point. The place that Asticat recommended gets great reviews, too, but I think you have a larger menu at Vieng Thai. There is also Thai Lanna on N. Loop West which comes out tame normally but if you want it spicy Chef Pim will make it that way for you. It is a BYOB place.
Chacho's on Westheimer is Tex-Mex, pretty inexpensive, good and open 24 hours. WIld place, and great people watching as an added bonus.
Christian Tailgate on Washington is a great Burger, but get the onion rings. It's a bar, too.
There are so many great burger places in Houston, so you may want to go through the best burger thread and check out the places mentioned.
My favorite BBQ place is Pierson's & Co. on T C Jester. It is good smoky bbq. I get it with sauce on the side because the meat is so darn good on it's own. Only open Tues - Sat from 11-7pm. There's more than one mention of them on here as well. Just avoid Goode Co. Not so good, IMO, okay, but there is better to be had.
Not food related, but who knows? It is named after a pastor. We live on this street and we joke it stands for "the court" jester.
Now back to restaurants - there is a good po-boy place on the corner of W. T C Jester and Loop 610 named Antoines. It's a local chain. There is a tex-mex place next door named Juanita's but I don't care for it, even though I have tried it 3 times, and a different meal each time!
Don't let it throw you if you come out this way, though, because at that end (by the fwy) it is West T C Jester but once you pass a certain point it goes back to just being T C Jester. Houston is a bit screwy that way. Streets change names all the time, so be aware.
Late night places-
La Tapatia- 1749 Richmond Ave. Lots of people love this place, it's open late and has great people watching. I'm not one of them that likes their food that much ( i can be picky) but La Tapatia does seem to thrive and be busy. They are doing something right.
Mai's- 3403 Milam. Vietnamese food. Open late, good, cheap, great people watching in the early mornings on the weekend. I eat here regularly. The seasonings are good, however, for vietnamese, the meat is better at Les Grivals down the street, only they aren't open late.
If it's late night sushi- avoid, unless you want to go look cool and drink cocktails and not eat sushi. Late night sushi spots in Houston is all about hanging out, not eating.
House of Pies- typical diner food and a large selection of pies and cakes. Good people watching, food isn't much to write about.
Try the BBQ Inn at 116 Crosstimbers. It's great (not necessarily the"best" since that's so subjective) but the restaurant hasn't touched its interior since the late 50's or early 60's and that in itself makes it worthwhile. Plus, the waitresses are always friendly and have big hair. Here's the number- 713-695-8112
Great Thai, but maybe seeming a little scary considering its being served out of the back of a grocery store. There's a Thai grocery store on Calvacade. Stop in for lunch and there's a woman in the back cooking up Thai food for about $5. Tell her you want it spicy and she will accomodate. You'll probably have to take away to eat it, as they have two tables set-up for lunch. They have a website now! http://asiamarket-hou.com/menu
I don't know, you may be looking for upscale places though.
Best burger I've had in Houston has been at the Wildcat Golf Course.
You have to try Tex-Mex but there's so many places its hard to recommend just one.