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My Favorite Houston Restaurants, yours?

All the review sites seem to be loaded with questionable fans, except for B4-u-eat.com. But that site doesn't provide much in the way of cumulative experiences (ex: stars). Here are my favs in Houston. I haven't been everywhere, these are just the places we go to over and over. All price ranges. What are yours?

Feast, for special day dinners, and bargain lunches, best everything, it's not all about the offal
Lopez Tex-Mex, since 1978 (best carnitas in Houston, without a doubt)
Rioja for tapas, no better anywhere, the garlic soup is a-freaking-amazing
Mexican Deli (of course) Poblano soup
Danton's Seafood for Louisiana style food, there is no equal, all of it
It's a tie for Thai: Thai Cottage on Westheimer and in Sugar Land (various locations) for the best pad thai and seriously crazy good "spicy wings of paradise", and the other one is Nit Noi (various locations) for whole fried fish. *Shudder*

There you go, start!

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Poblano's
6560 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030

Rioja
11920 Westheimer Rd Ste J, Houston, TX 77077

Nit Noi Cafe
4703 Richmond Ave Ste A, Houston, TX 77027

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  1. "Tie for Thai" ? Like it !

    I probably haven't been to enough Houston restaurants to come up with a list - and I don't mean to hijack your thread to discuss dead restaurants - but one of my favourites in town used to be Rotisserie for Beef and Bird. They did a great job with game and had a wonderful duck confit. Terrific wine list, too. One mediocre review from Alison Cook and they were out of business six months later. To be fair, the quality had dipped slightly in their final couple of years but I was still sad to see it go.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FarleyFlavors

      Next time you're in town, FarleyFlavors, go to Bistro Le Cep on Westheimer @ Wilcrest. It's the same owner/chef that owned Beef and Bird. Joe Manke. We recently got his new book, "Wanderlust: The LIfe of a Globetrotting Chef" as a gift. I didn't read the Alison Cook article, but we were there just before Beef and Bird closed. A friend visiting from London wanted to go, he had heard about it in the UK. We had dined there several times over the previous years. The food was okay, but we were puzzled to be the only party in the restaurant. The food at Le Cep is very good. Friday nights are often theme nights, such as "Maine lobster bake night" and on those nights, reservations are required.

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      Bistro Le Cep
      11112 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042

    2. I think I'd go for the "Telephone Thai" Kanomwan on Telephone Road. Now, for Indian, it has to be either Sabr Nihari i at Hillcroft anf 59 - cheap but delicious Pakistani - great $10 buffet - or Indika - more expensive and upscale but you could take a fancy date there - I love their vegetarian sampler plate.

      1. Ok, far from a comprehensive list, and in no particular order, but here goes:

        - Kata Robata - hands down my favorite place to go out in Houston
        - Uchi
        - Goode Company Seafood
        - Thien An
        - Chapultapec - can't be beat for late late night texmex munchies
        - Catalan
        - Max's Wine Dive
        - Beaver's
        - Mardi Gras Grill
        - Branch Water Tavern (they deserve that ranking by GQ for their toffee pudding!)

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        Mardi Gras Grill
        1200 Durham, Houston, TX 77007

        Kata Robata
        3600 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX 77098

        Goode Company Seafood
        10211 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024

        Branch Water Tavern
        510 Shepherd, Houston, TX 77007

        1 Reply
        1. Have you ever been to V's or Vieng Thai? You'll forget about Nit Noi after giving either of them a shot.

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          Nit Noi Cafe
          4703 Richmond Ave Ste A, Houston, TX 77027

          Vieng Thai
          6929 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055

          3 Replies
          1. re: air

            No, but I am pretty close to Vieng Thai, we'll try that next! We tend to go back again and again for specific dishes that places excel at. With Thai food, I get grumpy around curries that have dry white meat chicken chunks in it. This seems to be a common error in Thai places. What do you recommend there?

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            Vieng Thai
            6929 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055

            1. re: Lambowner

              Another common error is that everything is usually too sweet. Unfortunately travel for work has been quite busy and it's been over a year since I've been to V's, and at least 4+ for Vieng Thai. I can't comment on anything specific since the menus may be different compared to back then.

              kagemusha: I can see where you're going with that statement. Lotus of Siam has a few key strengths: Issan-regional cuisine, the wine program, and the overall refined dining experience. All of that considered makes LOS so different from a typical Thai restaurant, which makes it tough to make a meaningful comparison against say, Jitlada in L.A. or Sripraphai in Queens.

            2. re: air

              I agree that Nit Noi is a total waste of time. Still you ought to check out the telephone thai (kanomwan) - it is pretty darn good (the owner died a few months ago but his daughter is carrying on the tradition well) - it is not as good as Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas but then there is no Thai restaurant in the USA that can compare with Lotus

            3. Favs in Houston. Let's see:

              BBQ is Piersons, though I eat at Luling a fair amount due to their exceptional sauce. I'll never eat at Gaitlin's as the wait was absolutely insane the two times I've been. Which is a shame, as the que is very good, but no need in my mind to wait over an hour for togo barbque. Serious front of the house problems there. And a nod to Beavers for the great drinks, though I don't enjoy the food.

              Thai at Vieng Thai. The only thing I wish was that the menu ever changed. No specials, no additions in the five years I've been going.

              Burgers at Rockwell Tavern. Best I've had, though I haven't made it to Burger Guys yet.

              Breakfast tacos at Villas Arcos. A must do trip in my opinion for anyone out of town (along with Spec's). The bacon super really is super...

              Seafood: I'm still quite fond of Goode Company Seafood (the only Goode Company concept I like), as the things I enjoy there (Campechana, Flounder poboy) are exceptional. Reef is great as well.

              Italian: I tend towards Da Marco or Sorrento.

              Brunch: Hugo's. Best in the city in my opinion.

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              Sorrento
              415 Westheimer, Houston, TX 77006

              Goode Company Restaurants
              2511 Bartlett St, Houston, TX 77098

              Vieng Thai
              6929 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055

              Goode Company Seafood
              10211 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024