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Need Houston dining recommendations

I'm going to be in Houston (visitng from NYC) for a few days early in December and would really appreciate some restaurant recommendations - breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tex-Mex and Steak are definitely on the list and anything else that is unique to Texas would be great. No chains, please.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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  1. Houston's a big place, in what area of town will you be staying? Also important to know, will you have a car and how far are you willing to drive? That'd help narrow down the list.

    1. I am going to jump in on this topic because I will also be visiting Houston from this Friday-Sunday and I would like for identical dining recommendations. I am staying near Rice University.

      Correct me if I am mistaken, I have heard that Pappas Brothers is the place to go for steak and Hugo's for upscale Mexican? Where is the place to go for Tex Mex? Or should I just go to Hugos?

      I would also like recommendations for BBQ. Thanks

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jeremy303

        Good tips below from bornie. Pierson's is totally worth the drive. Also here's a pretty relevant thread from just a few months ago with a couple churrascarias thrown into the mix if you'd be interested doing that to have some beef:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/636397

      2. Hugo's (on westheimer st) IS the place for interior mexican cuisine,, you will not be disappointed (the Sunday brunch is legendary).. For Tex/Mex i've taken a serious liking to a hole in the wall joint by the name of La Guadalupana Bakery and Cafe on Dunlavy St (between Westheimer and W. Gray St). The food is superb and the waitstaff is very friendly. I esp like the chicken enchaladas w/mole..

        For steak,,, Vic and Anthony's near the ballpark is terrific.. Tho I've not been,, Pappas Steakhouse gets high marks from those I've recommended too staying near the Galleria. I hear the wine list is over the top expensive.
        For true Italian pizza thats better than Otto's try Dolce Vita restaurant on lower Westheimer (prepare yourself for waiters/waitress' that try to hurry you tho).. I've recently visited Keste in The Village and Dolce Vita gives it a run for the money.

        Go to Indika's restaurant (next door to Dolce Vita) for terrific Indian food. Nothing in NYC that I've tried comes close. The Sunday brunch consisting of chaat bar and all you can eat indian tapas for $25 is absolutely crazy delicious and a terrific value!

        For BBQ,, Pierson's on TC Jester will be worth the drive (closed on Sunday). As a newbie, they'll serve you up a sampler dish of small portions to help you decide what to order.. They'll treat you like a king!
        Enjoy,, and report back on "hits or misses".

        Jack

        1. Thanks for the recommendations. I am definitely going to Pappas Brothers and Hugos. I would love to do the Sunday Brunch at Hugo's but I will not have time because I am going to the Texans Colts game. What about Rudys for BBQ?

          Coming from DC there are no good BBQ places unless you travel 1.5 hours outside of the city, I am looking forward to some delicious BBQ and Tex Mex.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Jeremy303

            Rudy's bbq is ok,, when I'm out that far from the downtown area I usually stop.. Know that its a long ride from the Rice/West U area up I45.. Looking at 45 minutes.. Something closer to try might be Lulling BBQ on Richmond/the 610 Loop (ten minutes up the road from Rice/West U). Pappas also has local BBQ food outlets that are pretty good. Closest Pappas location to Rice would be the hwy 59/Fondren (?) area. Goode Company BBQ is near West U on Kirby St. The best part of the bbq here is the retail store across the street.

            The Duck Mole at Hugo's is exceptional as is the carnitas, baby pork, etc. This is not your typical restaurant... Enjoy!

            1. re: bornie

              The best part of Goode Co. is the store. That says it all, the bbq is terrible. Go to Luling City Market and go early for the best bbq, say around 11 am. For TexMex, try El Tiempo, the fresh lump crab meat nachos are outstanding.

              1. re: bornie

                I'm with James on this one. All those bbq places are terrible. And actually, Luling is pretty terrible too.

                Try Beaver's, which is just west of Downtown. The barbecue has gotten much better, as has the whole menu, which I would describe as Texas gulf coast cuisine.

            2. La Guadalupana is the sort of small ethnic restaurant which Houston does well and is excellent but it is Mexican, not Tex-Mex. Made from scratch Mole Poblano is not a Tex-Mex dish, it is Oaxacan. Probably many of Houston's hundreds of Tex-Mex places are better than anything you can find in DC but El Tiempo is the best.

              Pappas BBQ is a chain with locations in other cities and is very mediocre, anyway. If you're going to consider Pappas for BBQ might as well consider Pappasito's for Tex-Mex.

              Pierson's for BBQ is best; if you're going to try Luling City Mkt follow the advice to go early for lunch. Might also consider Thelma's, very close to Reliant Stadium. Enough has been said about Goode Co.

              2 Replies
              1. re: dexmat

                Just found out that Pierson's will be closed through the 30th.

                1. re: dexmat

                  I really want to like El Tiempo but I've tried a half dozen times or so and it just doesn't grab me.. I know I'm swimming against the flow b/c the crowd of regulars fill this restaurant front to back.. I was there on the invitation of an assoc just a couple of wks ago.. Nacho's w/ beef and with chicken or it may have been pork were filling no doubt, but for me not very flavorful.. Maybe I'll try the crabmeat next time.. My assoc gave me a $50 off coupon as he barters his services to the owner and employees here for food. I'm always left with a very greasy aftertaste and diners remorse w/ea meal I try tho.
                  I'm also going to give Beaver's another shot.. Haven't been back since "the lights went out" as the last hurricaine put my home nearby in darkness for 13 days.. Always thought the portions of everything were small at Beavers and flavor,, unremarkable. Worth one more visit to see if the changes made with the menu are substantial to warrant more frequent trips there.

                2. What are your guys thoughts on El Tiempo?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Jeremy303

                    I mentioned the lump crab nachos, they also use it in sinfully rich crab enchiladas. They are known for grilled meats, I've been meaning to try the quail. Portions are large, an appetizer and a main are enough for two. They also have excellent margaritas.

                    1. re: Jeremy303

                      I dont know if you have already been here in Houston BUT beware there is a diffrence in Pappas and Pappas BBQ there is a whole chain of Pappas resturants out here there is aPappas seafood and BBQ which used to to be called Luthers. Just a FYI and welcome to houston and our STRANGE weather

                      1. re: goldie1102

                        Actually, Goldie, Pappas bought out all the Luthers and replaced the recipes with Pappas ones. No comparison, and I miss Luthers!

                    2. Thanks to everyone for the recs. I will definitely try Pappas and Hugo's and some of the others. I'm going to be staying downtown and will have a car. Definitely willing to drive for great food! If anyone else has recs, pls post 'em. WIll report back after my trip.

                      1. I consider anything Pappas to be a chain,,,as well as the Landry group of restaurants. Drive out to Fort Bend County for 'que at the Swinging Door.

                        1. Tex-Mex: El Tiempo (either original location on Richmond or new-ish one on Washington) is terrific. Get the mixed grill fajitas -- with shrimp, lobster, quail, short ribs. You won't regret it. For old school and still awesome Tex-Mex, you should head to Ninfa's on Navigation (the original near downtown).

                          BBQ: Thelma's for amazing brisket with a half inch smoke ring. The ribs at Goode Co. are also pretty good.

                          Steak: Vic & Anthony's for sure. Pappas Bros Steak is also very good, but not the best in my opinion.

                          Italian: Da Marco. Best in the city for sure. Marco's pizza place, La Dolce Vita, is also great.

                          1. For seafood I would pick Reef. It is downtown in a trendy neighborhood. You can google it, and I promise you will be extremely impressed.

                            1. I had lunch at El Tiempo on Washington today and it was excellent. The crab quesadillas were to die for and the beef fajitas were very good too. It's not reasonably priced though but it was worth it. It was not very crowded and the service was very very good. Can't complain about a thing there. We will be going back even though it's a bit of a drive for us.