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Moving To Houston - Need some recommendations

I'm going to be moving to Houston in a few weeks and would love some dining recomendations. I'll be staying near Midtown for the moment, but will definitely drive for good food. We like to eat all kinds of food - BBQ, Steak, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, etc so all recs are welcome. We've been to Hugo's and Pearson's and loved both! Thanks in advance for all of your suggestions!

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  1. My new favorite Mexican place is El Tiempo. There are three locations.

    http://www.eltiempocantina.com/

    I don't eat inside the loop a whole lot but Andre's is somewhere I like a lot. Their desserts are to die for and so much more reasonable than other French bakeries. I need to go pick up a galette de roi for Mardi Gras. Theirs is so wonderful. I go to the one on River Oaks Blvd and Westheimer. The one at Uptown is slow and snotty.

    http://www.cafeandpastryshop.com/

    Welcome to Houston!!! If you "luvtoeat", you'll love Houston. Where are you moving from?

    1. Definitely agree with the El Tiempo recommendation. Their lump crab quesadillas are delicious! The closest one to where you will be staying (I think, based on what you said) is the 1308 Cantina on Montrose. I was also going to rec Hugo's, but you since you've already been there, you know about it!

      As for Indian, I really enjoy Shiva in the Rice Village. I have also heard great things about Indika and Kiran's (both slightly more upscale and more modern twists on Indian food). Shiva is just good, basic, tasty Indian. There are tons of places out on Hillcroft, as well, but I am fairly new to Houston and so haven't been able to explore that area much yet.

      My two preferred pick for steaks are Vic & Anthony's and Del Frisco's. Vic & Anthony's is owned by Landry's, but it is just fantastic. Del Frisco's has a few locations around the country, but turned out the best true medium-rare steak that I have ever had. Both are definitely pricey, but worth it.

      I highly recommend Catalan, as well. It's technically Spanish-influenced, and serves a lot of small plates, but it is really not a traditional tapas place at all. I would actually describe it as a Gulf Coast-Spanish-French fusion type place. Everything that I have had here has been seriously delicious. You can do small plates or full-on entrees and you really can't go wrong. The wine list is great and has a lot of unique choices.

      I would also suggest checking out Feast. It's follows the nose-to-tail eating philosophy and there are always really interesting options on the substantial part of the menu that rotates daily. It's located in a house on Westheimer and has a very old-world feel. I know it has received a lot of positive press, and I can tell you that the 4 or 5 times that I have been, I and everyone who I am there with has loved it.

      For Thai, check out Kanomwan. Beware, try to review the menu before you go because when the owner comes by to take your order you need to be ready. He is notoriously temperamental but can get away with it because the food is that good.

      For sushi, my favorite is Kata Robata.

      Those are my thoughts for now, but I will post again if I think of more! Welcome to Houston!

      2 Replies
      1. re: mjust

        Good suggestions all around and strong second on Feast. I typically go for lunch but I'd love to try a sunday roast one of these days.

        My favorites at Kanomwan are the soups as Mr. Thai Nazi definitely goes all out on the spice.

        To add, Himalaya is also excellent for Indian/Pakistani
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/342193

        OP is already familiar with Pierson's, another good place for BBQ is Boogie's.

        1. re: air

          Agreed, love Kanomwan's Tom Ka Gai (S3 on the menu, I believe).

      2. Upscale, DaMarco for Italian and Reef for seafood. I too love El Tiempo for grilled meats and anything with the fresh, lump crab(nachos, enchiladas, quesadillas.) I like the Washington location. Romano's on W. Gray is a good local pizza place run by to New Yorkers. Mardi Gras Grill on Durham for everything oysters, fried, Louisianne (poached in butter and wine,) raw, plus some of the best crawfish in the city. Barbeque Inn has great fried chicken, shrimp, oysters, and chicken fried steak. I've only had the bbq rib appetizer to pass time during the 30 minute wait for fried chicken. You could try Thelma's for bbq, but stick to the rules, don't order anything not seen, and have your order ready, or get an extra helping of attitutde, and possibly sent to the end of the line. I'd stick to Pierson's, but for a little roadie head out to Richmond and hit Galvan's, to me it's better. For Greek, One's a Meal on Westheimer. There's a hole in the wall Chinese place in Bellaire called Hong Kong Chef, good, Americanized Chinese, I like shrimp kew, perfect fried shrimp in a light brown sauce with veggies, plus a tremendous won ton soup full of pork and vegetables. If you want more authentic Chinese, head out Bellaire to our sprawling Chinatown. I usually do my own steaks. Hit the HEB on I-10 and Bunker Hill for prime strips and ribeyes, usually 6.99-12.99 plus a really good seafood selection.

        4 Replies
        1. re: James Cristinian

          I love Hong Kong Chef. Hole in the wall is being kind :-) Their sweet and sour shrimp are wonderful. They actually use Gulf shrimp and not those yucky farm raised ones. I'll try the shrimp kew next time I'm there. You can't eat anywhere that good for that cheap that I know of.

          1. re: texasredtop

            The quality of the shrimp is amazing, it's been like that for years. I hope they never change. I like to eat some of the shrimp kew when they are not mixed with the sauce, fresh fried. They also do a fried shrimp appetizer, butr I've never tried it. Newcomers, they don't take credit cards, cash only, also checks I believe.

            1. re: James Cristinian

              Also, they only have about a dozen tables so by noon there is a line out the door. And parking is crazy too as there are only like 3 parking places in front of the restaurant. You just have to circle the parking lot until you find something. But the food is made to order and very fresh and service is pretty fast too.

              1. re: texasredtop

                I wouldn't let the parking scare you off, the line, maybe. I just don't go at peak lunch. There is a large parking lot at HEB, you just might have a short walk. Another thing, the rib and sliced pork appetizer are very good. They're not the typical sauce and bone rib found at lots of places, the ribs have a lot of meat, plus the sliced pork uses the same delicious sauce.

        2. Thanks so much for all of the recs - can't wait to try these places. We're moving from NYC so we're really eager to see what Houston has to offer.

          4 Replies
          1. re: luvtoeat10

            Houston is a really great food town. Of course, New York is as well, and many of my friends and acquaintances that have moved away from New York tend to fall into the temptation of being too busy lamenting what they've left behind to really give the new place a chance.

            But if you keep an open mind and explore what Houston has to offer, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. The restaurants here range from very upscale celebrity-chef haute cuisine to eat-with-your-fingers Ethiopian. And the Mexican food here is much better than any I had in New York, at less than 1/4 the price. Houston is, after all, the fourth-largest city in the nation, and there's not much I haven't been able to find here.

            Except for truly great barbecue.

            But that's okay. Luling and Lockhart are not that far away.

            And us Texicans really love a road trip.

            1. re: Jaymes

              And according to "The Economist" (7/09 special report on Texas), Houston will surpass Chicago as the nation's third largest city in 2010. Agree that Houston really has terrific restaurants!

              1. re: apple342

                If you're staying in Midtown, I would suggest two places that might really give your palate something to smile about -- Reef (2600 Travis) and T'afia (2701 Travis). Reef is owned by Bryan Caswell (also a partner in Stella Sola and Little Bigs) and offers a meal you'll not soon forget. Do NOT miss the mac and cheese -- its totally, unexpectedly fabulous. Monica Pope's T'afia sources locally when at all possible, and her menu changes with the seasons and the availability of ingredients. Her Friday lunches (3 courses for $22) are awesome -- get on their email list to receive the menus on Thursdays.

            2. re: luvtoeat10

              Check out Teala's on West Dallas (just west of Mid-Town) for fajita nachos and margs on the patio when the weather gets a little warmer. Not a bad place for a Friday after work spot.

            3. Hi, welcome to Houston!

              I second Air’s recommendation for Himalaya. Please drive over to Hilcroft and give it a try. It is wonderful food (North Indian/ Pakistani). My Husband and I are addicted to this place. Our favorite things to order are : Dal Fry, Lamb or Goat Biryani, Balochi Resha Ghost (slow cooked shredded beef swimming in a spicy red broth), Haleem, Chicken Karhai (melt-in you mouth lemony-spiced bone-in slow roasted chicken!). Chicken Methi and their mixed kabab platters are tasty too. Oh, don’t forget to order some parathas and naan. OH! the sweet lassi drink too. I prefer it to the mango lassi there. Also, you may want to jot some of this down b/c their menu is just a white marker board (wipe on/ wipe off) offering no description --- it only lists the menu items. The place also gets packed after 8:30 or 9pm. If you want to avoid the rush, I'd go between 6 and 8pm. We tend to eat late and we do not mind the crowds too much --- hey, but I guess you are no stranger to crowds coming from NYC and all.

              An additional perk – an Indian sweet shop called “London Sweets” opened recently in the same shopping center as Himalaya. We have been there 3 times and I don’t even know the names of all the treats we purchased. We’re having fun just doing the random sampling thing. I do know that I liked their besan and cashew burfi. I also had a crumbly, nutty ladoo of some sort that was quite tasty.

              For South Indian food, try Sri Balaji Bhavan, 5655 Hilcroft, 77036. Each time we go, we are the only non- South Asians there… I don’t know how much cred that really gives the place, but it makes us feel like it must be “authentic” on some level – who knows? Anyway, we like to order the Idli and Vada, Bhel Puri, Masala Vada, Masala dosa, and the Madras Thali, which comes with little bowls of various sambars ( I think there was a yellow one, as well as a red sambar… cannot remember since I only ordered the Madras Thali once, but I would definitely order it again). You probably noticed this place is on Hilcroft too - that's where you'll find some of the best Indian and Pakistani food. I hear the Sugarland area also has good Indian food. Have not tried it yet.

              For simple, no-fuss, Mexican, we like La Guadalupana Bakery and Café, 2109 Dunlavy St, 77006. I usually order the chillaquiles with tomatillo sauce & fried egg or the pazole. Husband likes the barbocoa tacos and this dish with steak bits in a stew of red broth, onions, jalapenos, etc. I don’t know what this dish is called on the menu. The tres leches cake it good too.

              BTW – here’s a helpful link to even more restaurants here in Houston:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/422472

              This topic thread will also introduce you to the eternal “Lupe Tortilla” fajita debate. My apologies. For the record, I am not on team Lupe T (LOL!) . Oh that reminds me – the best nachos, another highly debatable declaration, are the Nachos Jorge at Pico’s Mex-Mex on Bellaire Blvd. They are topped with cochinita pibil and pickled red onions.

              If you like savory mixed drinks, as opposed to super sweet ones made with artificial mixers, you must try the cocktail menu at Beaver’s BBQ on Decatur St., or The Anvil bar and refuge on lower Westheimer. The same team had a hand in creating both drink menus. Also, Hugo’s has an excellent variety of tequila flights and “gourmet” margaritas. If you like bourbon, like we do, sample some of the selections at the Branchwater Tavern on Shepherd Dr. Let the bartender select for you. You will not be disappointed.

              have fun eating around town!

              1 Reply
              1. re: mashed potato time

                opps! i realized i made a mistake regarding one of the chicken menu items at Himalaya. It's the Chicken Chargha, NOT the Chiken Karhai, that is the dry-roasted (Lahore Style) melt-in-your mouth, lemony spiced bone-in chicken. However, the Chicken Karhai is equally delicious. Hope you get a chance to try both.