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Not to be missed restaurants in Houston!

I will be in Houston for a week in August and want to eat the best Houston has to offer. I need recs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
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  1. Da Marco's ( (Italian), lunch & dinner
    Le Mistral (french), lunch, dinner & brunch
    Rainbow Lodge (new american, wild game) lunch dinner and brunch
    Voice (new american) breakfast, dinner
    Reef (seafood) lunch, dinner
    Catalan (spanish?) lunch, dinner
    Hugo's (mexican-not tex mex) lunch, dinner, brunch
    Textile (new american) dinner
    Feast (british) lunch, dinner
    Charivari (european) lunch, dinner

    Off the top of my head, and all pretty upscale.

    7 Replies
    1. re: danhole

      Thanks for the recs, now on to the websites to check out the menus.

      1. re: Bayareafoodiei

        Here's the website for Mary'z - excellent Lebanese food:

        http://www.maryzcuisine.com/

      2. re: danhole

        Danhole,

        Since I know most of the CH Houston crowd Twitters and has their own website. Here is a requirement for you.

        Not to be missed restaurants that are on the cheap ($20 and less). I don't care about libations as my wife and I always drink water.
        I have all the taco trucks from Robb Walsh.
        Phoenicia Deli

        What are some others?

        1. re: LewisvilleHounder

          Marini's would easily fit that bill. I love their empanadas and haven't gotten a chance to hit Don Panza yet, so been curious to see how the two compare.

          1. re: air

            Is there a Marini's in Houston proper other than the one out in Katy? Also is tthe Katy the one to go to for the best empanadas. I believe you know I am after quality over convenience. I would drive to Katy if the quality and flavor is better. I have always wanted to go but never had the chance.

            I believe this weekend we will hit up a few tacos trucks (on Robb Walsh's list), Cafe Caspian, Phoenicia Deli, Marinis, and perhaps V's Thai. I would love to go to Indika but our budget just isn't having that. I would rather blow it on Cafe Caspian....I have a very good source for Indian in Dallas and it is not a restaurant.

            1. re: LewisvilleHounder

              Marini's opened an additional location in the Westchase area, around Westheimer and Briarpark. I've only been to the Katy location though. I have heard that family members have been seen operating both locations, and I'd hope both are exactly the same.

              I know this is a bit out of budget, but if you're at V's on a friday night, you should get the buffet. Most of the dishes there aren't on the menu. V will make anything much spicier if you ask.

          2. re: LewisvilleHounder

            Ha ha! I don't twitter, but I can give you a couple links to blogs that have some recs. Not saying I agree with all of it, and haven't eaten at a lot of them, but FWIW here are a couple:

            http://foodinhouston.blogspot.com/200...

            http://www.examiner.com/x-3259-Housto...

            Also if you go to the Eating Our Words blog on the Houston Press they have a category for $7, $13, and recession tips.

            Hope this helps.

            Dani

        2. What kind of food are you drawn too? What part of the country are u coming in from? What part of Houston will u be staying?
          Jack

          1. Himalaya for sure. I don't care if you have a good source, it is awesome IMO.
            I would do Vieng Thai on Long Point instead of V's.
            For breakfast La Guadalupuna on Dunlavy I believe? Or Huarache Azteca in stafford. Both are mex breakfast.
            Little Bigs burgers for awesome fries and good burger.
            Xiongs on Bellaire for great Dumplings.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jscarbor

              So how was your experience like? There is only one reason I can see someone disliking the food: you happened to eat there when V wasn't in the kitchen. Rare occasion though.

              Also I have yet to see anyone else share their thoughts on V's besides myself, the regulars who have posted on B4-U-Eat, and Robb Walsh. And another anecdote: My friend who first brought me to V's lives closer to Vieng Thai. We used to go there whenever we craved Thai and after finding out about V's, we haven't been back ever since.

              1. re: air

                I didn't say I disliked it...I just think Vieng Thai is better. The penang is the best I have ever had, the salads have more kick, and they have some more funky selections like sar tor.
                Isn't b4-u-eat kind of like Zagats?

              2. re: jscarbor

                Tampico on Airline is a musty as well. The whole grilled snapper. Skip the add on's like shrimp unless you really want it because the fish is the main attraction.

              3. Here's my two cents, as someone who moved from NYC a year ago. Italian here, on the whole, is very average. Da Marco's is good for Houston, but likely much better in San Francisco. My recommendations:

                Breakfast (besides the breakfast taco stands that others will know about far more than me):

                1) Empire Cafe -- pretty good brunch fare in an excellent atmosphere
                2) Whataburger's potato taquitos --- I might get a lot of flack on this board for recommending this fast food, but the potato taquitos are one of the best breakfast items I've had in my dozens of brunches in New York and Houston. The difference in textures, salty, and sweet, with the tortilla, eggs, cheese, and fried (this is key) hashbrowns is otherworldly in my opinion.

                Lunch/Dinner:
                1) Mark's -- Excellent New American and the Fleur de Lys of Houston (not as good as the best of San Francisco, but excellent nonetheless)
                2) Hugo's--Fantastic Mexican Food
                3) Indika's-- Truly innovative and unique Indian. The top-flight Indian chef uses southwestern ingedients to make authentic Indian cuisine. Great atmosphere to boot.
                4) Kanowan-- One of the best Thai restaurants I've ever been to.
                5) China View on Katy Freeway-- Okay, this one is special. I think New York City, despite it's large Chinatown, has largely inferior Chinese food. I know from San Francisco, you are spoiled, but this place is fantastic. The chef, despite it's shared parking lot with a La Quinta Inn, is a true master, with a very unique take on modern Chinese cuisine-- my favorite: salt and pepper-baked tofu with an apple cider soy sauce.
                6) Ninfa's on Navigation--Lots of people on this board will say that it's not the same as it once was--which is likely true--but coming from New York City, where Tex-Mex is non-existent, this place was a revelation, and head over heels above any other Tex-Mex I've tried in Houston. Others might have their own Tex Mex favorites, but I'd go to at least one Tex-Mex on your trip.
                7) Goode & Co. BBQ---excellent BBQ in a central location--I especially like their smoked duck. Pecan pie is fantastic there too

                Other places I'd look into:
                Ibiza
                Van Loc --for excellent Vietnamese (Houston has a large Vietnamese population)
                Grimaldi's --a bit of a trek in Sugar Land, but one of New York's best pizzerias just opened its first outpost in the country in Sugar Land, and it's just as good as the original.

                7 Replies
                1. re: sethnavajo

                  I have to agree that China View is an excellent choice.

                  I have never had the smoked duck at Goode Co., but I don't like the BBQ at all. Go to Pierson's & co, on T C Jester.

                  1. re: danhole

                    I had the duck at Goode Co. and I think it suffered from the same problem the rest of their barbque does, dried out and too much mesquite "flavor." To the Barbecue Inn post below I'll add fried oysters and the chicken fried steak. They sure know how to fry there.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      I really think the chicken fried steak at Barbecue Inn is one of the best I have ever had - but add lots of pepper to the gravy. It's a bit sweet. The pepper takes care of that, though! I have heard Triple A is actually better but I haven't tried it yet.

                      James, thanks for the heads up on the duck at Goode Co. I really like duck, but I don't like dried up poultry in any form!

                      1. re: James Cristinian

                        I'll have to try to oysters next time I'm there. Too bad I'm not a fan of cfs. I also recommend the fried oyster or shrimp po/boy at Jazzies Cafe on 19th. Like it better than B&Bs on Montrose and it is half the price! I hear they have a soft shell crab one now too, in season.

                    2. re: sethnavajo

                      I tried to go to China View but I could not stoop to actually order anything. I took one glance of the dining room and one glance of the menu, Americanized. My wife and I have been eating our way around the authentic Chinese restaurants in Dallas for quite some time. Our favorite and still unbeaten is Little Sichuan in Plano. Little Sichuan does have spicy dishes but also very light dishes as in fresh sauteed vegetables out of a restaurant owned garden. They also have seasonal white board dishes that rotate every few weeks.

                      We ended up going to Sichuan Cuisine but it is on par with Sichuanese in Plano. The dishes are a bit greasy but the flavors are almost a dead match. I like the idea of the Sichuan All You Can Eat Hot Pot. My wife and I ordered Dragon Wontons, Ma Po Tofu, Vegetable Trio in a Spicy Garlic Sauce and Fried Pig Intestines in Dried Chilies.

                      The Ma Po Tofu was a fairly common Sichuan dish and had the exact same flavors of Sichuanese. The serving size and price are a bit better as it is served enough for about four people in a Pyrex pie dish.

                      The Vegetable Trio in a Spicy Garlic Sauce had a well balance of sweet from the eggplant, spicy from the chili oil and savory from the garlic. This was our favorite dish.

                      The Dragon Wontons were ten small pork filled wontons in a light sauce of black seasame oil, black vinegar, and soy sauce.

                      The pork intestines had a nice crisp to them but had somewhat of an odd flavor as some offal meats do. The intestines were fried up with about a full pound of dried chilies, green onions, Sichuan peppercorns, chili oil and garlic. The amount of chilies was really unnecessary as no person would actually eat that many chilies. I am a chili head and I didn't eat half of them.

                      1. re: sethnavajo

                        Interesting to see the city from the perspective of a New Yorker. I'm making a note of your favorites for Chinese, Thai, Indian and Italian.

                        And I also appreciate the tip about the duck at Goode Co. As a Texan, I think their brisket, ribs and sausage and "sauce" are embarrassingly awful and it's my fervent hope that I never have to go there again.

                        But if for some reason I am forced to, I'll definitely try the duck.

                        So thanks.

                        1. re: sethnavajo

                          Cafe 101 on Westheimer has really good "Americanized Chinese." And they deliver!

                        2. As a fairly recent transplant from the Bay Area (and on the poorer side of the income scale), I highly recommend some of my Houston favorites:

                          Barbacoa and huevos rancheros: La Jaliciense on Yale and 14th.
                          Lengua tacos at El Ultimo Taco truck on Antoine and Long Point
                          Jellyfish/seafood salad at Vietnamese resturant Que Huong on Wilcrest and Beechnut
                          Palak Paneer and naan at Himalaya on Hilcroft and 59
                          Fried chicken and fried shrimp at The Barbeque Inn on Crosstimbers and ?
                          Quiche and biscuit with red eye ham at T'afia Sat morn market

                          You won't find better good pizza outside of the SFBA so I wouldn't bother. But the above restaurants have kept us going for the last year. Have fun! Love it for what it is!