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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!

6560 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030

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.

      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!)

        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.

          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?

            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.

              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

              1. Feast's 3 course lunch. In general, I haven't found an experience comparable to what is offered there. I think I always have to eat there every time I'm in town.

                Vietnamese deserves its own header:
                Overall Vietnamese: Que Huong
                Pho: Pho Binh or Pho One
                Banh mi: Don Cafe or Les Givral's.
                Bun Bo Hue: Kim Chau

                HK Food Street
                Fung's Kitchen for Dim Sum
                Lai Lai for the clay pots

                Malaysian: Banana Leaf

                Lebanese: Arpi's Phoenicia Deli, Abdallah's

                Seafood: Captain Tom's boat in Katy. And of course, Reef.

                Burger: Spicy 2x2 at Tornado Burger. Nod to the burger at Petrol Station too. Honestly there are a lot of burger places I like in Houston.

                BBQ: Brisket at Boogie's.

                Watering holes for beer geeks like me: Petrol, Anvil, Katy Pub Hub.

                Les Givral's
                801 Congress St Ste 101, Houston, TX 77002

                Tornado Burger
                505 Murphy Rd, Stafford, TX 77477

                2 Replies
                  1. re: air

                    Have you had t'afia's three course lunch on Fridays? I and our mutual friend visited there a couple of weeks back - great food, portions a bit on the small side, but quite satisfying.

                    3701 Travis Street, Houston, TX 77002

                1. Christian's Tailgate has my burger love. I must have been to Burger Guys on an "off" day and It'll be hard to go back there. Definitely Fung's Kitchen for Chinese! How could I forget? And Branch Water Tavern is a new favorite for fish & chips and chicken fried oysters. I haven't found any BBQ in Houston that I like, but will drive to Richmond for the brisket at The Swinging Door.

                  Fung's Kitchen
                  7320 Southwest Fwy Ste 115, Houston, TX 77074

                  Swinging Door
                  3714 Fm 359 Rd, Richmond, TX 77406

                  Branch Water Tavern
                  510 Shepherd, Houston, TX 77007

                  1. I like a lot of variety so I tend to have favorite dishes rather than favorite restaurants; I like to move around a lot and sample a lot of different cuisines so I seldom hit any restaurant more than 3 or 4 times a year.

                    Burger - Oh My Pocket Pies! (Truck) - grass-fed beef burger on a fresh baked Krafts’men bun

                    BBQ - I'll have to pass - Boogie's isn't turning out Q as good since their fire, BBQ Done Right (trailer) up on Laura Koppe is too far away, too limited hours, and too depressing a neighborhood, Gatlin's isn't deserving of all the hype and buzz it's getting. Haven't been to Pierson's in some time - grew to dislike the mesquite smoked meats.

                    Indian/Vegetarian - Shri Balaji Bhavan on Hillcroft, Sweet n Namkin on W. Bellfort,

                    Pakistani/Northern Indian - Himalaya

                    Afghani - Afghan Cuisine on Hwy 6 - the cuisine shares a lot with Persian and Indo/Pak but I consider this in competition with our Persian restaurants and I like this one best. The room isn’t as nice, the staff not as polished (and it’s a lot farther out) than Kasra, Caspian, or Bijan, but I like the food better

                    Ethiopian - Sheba - for the wots and coffee, Blue Nile has better injera and the coffee ceremony

                    Taqueria - Gerardo’s on Patton, Huarache Azteca Express in Stafford

                    Gourmet food truck: Melange Creperie, H-townstrEATS

                    Food trucks not Mexican, not gourmet - El Punto Criollo (Venezuelan), El Mofongo Boricua (Puerto Rican), Tandoori Nite (Indo/Pak) - all on Highway 6

                    Food Store - Phoenicia

                    Fried Chicken - Just Oxtails on Reed Road, Friday and Sunday only; also for soul food generally

                    Brazilian - Emporio for the Feijoada, Empanadas de Cameron or Palmita and Xingu (Schwarzbier)

                    Banh mi - Tan Ba Le on Beechnut, Paris Sandwich Café on Bellaire

                    Filipino - Jonathan’s Grill, Pampanga’s

                    Birria de chivo - Trudi’s

                    Tamales - Tex-Mex - Alamo on Navigation
                    Mexican - Oaxacan Meat Mkt, Dickinson

                    Salvadoran - La Pupusa Alegre on Bellaire

                    Argentinian - Argentina Café on Hidalgo for sandwiches de migas, matambre, and chorripan more than the empanadas, Manana’s on Westheimer for the sandwiches de migas and alfajores. Maybe some of the other pastries at Manena’s deserve praise but I find it hard to pass up the alfajores. I did not care for their baked empanadas.

                    Turkish - Pasha in the Village

                    Paris Sandwich Cafe
                    8282 Bellaire Blvd Ste 137, Houston, TX 77036

                    Huarache Azteca Express
                    109 Avenue F, Stafford, TX 77477

                    Afghan Cuisine
                    11920 S Highway 6 Ste 1200, Sugar Land, TX 77498

                    La Pupusa Alegre
                    6209 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77081

                    1. Wow, no mention of some of my all-time faves in this thread! Okay, other than Feast, but that's a given!

                      Spanish Flowers on N.Main
                      El Pueblito
                      Maria Selma's

                      Vieng Thai & Nidda Thai. Done.

                      (RIP) Mai's
                      Van Loc
                      Les Givral's

                      Hickory Hollow

                      The Breakfast Klub
                      Berryhill on Montrose (food is pretty average, but it's gotta go on the list for bottomless mimosas and the party on the patio!)

                      The Heights (my hood, deserves its own category):
                      The Glass Wall (always a great experience here)
                      Zelko Bistro
                      Onion Creek Cafe
                      Haven't gotten to Stella Sola yet, but its next on my list...

                      Van Loc Restaurant
                      3010 Milam St, Houston, TX 77006

                      Breakfast Klub
                      3711 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002

                      Les Givral's
                      801 Congress St Ste 101, Houston, TX 77002

                      Glass Wall the Restaurant
                      933 Studewood St Unit A, Houston, TX 77008

                      Hickory Hollow
                      101 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007

                      Vieng Thai
                      6929 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055

                      Maria Selma
                      1617 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77006

                      Stella Sola
                      1001 Studewood, Houston, TX 77008

                      1. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites:

                        Berryhill Baja - incredible fish tacos
                        Kata Robata
                        Vieng Thai
                        Boogie's for BBQ
                        Rioja for tapas - one of my favorite restaurants in the city