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Headed to Houston for Final Four. What's worth hitting and what's worth skipping?

I am headed to Houston in March for the Final Four. My husband and I are looking for three or four restaurants worth going to. We like anything from fancy pants spots to hole in the wall wonders. What are the can't miss spots and what is over rated and not worth the time or money?

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  1. I am not sure where you are staying, but I will give you a few places you should enjoy. I'm not keen on the fancy places.

    1. Lankford's Grocery - cool little place near downtown. One of the best burgers around. You'll need to bring cash (they dont take CC) and you may have to wait a while, but it's worth it.

    2. Goode Company BBQ - Off on Highway 59 and Kirby. Great BBQ place. After enjoying that go down Kirby to University Blvd (away from 59), take a left, then a left at Morningside and have a few beers at the bars there in Rice Village.

    3. Good steak houses - Vic & Anthony's or Capital Grille.

    Enjoy Houston.

    1. Houston has some of the best restaurants in the country.. As a frame of reference,, where ya coming in from and what kind of food r u looking for?

      High end=DaMarco-Tony's-Mark's-Cafe Annie
      Blue Collar(sort of)=Dolce Vita-Indika-Pondicheri-Carrabba's-Reef-Ibiza-Hugo's-Pesce
      No Collar=Barnaby's-Paulie's-Empire Grille
      need a reference from you to fine tune

      1. Can't miss if you are coming to Houston is Tampico Seafood on Airline. It's not fancy and it's not in a trendy area but it does have one of Houston's best snapper dishes in the city. It is not cheap cheap but it's 1/2 the price of finer seafood restauarants and it beats the pants off them. You can dine in the really casual part of the restaurant dowstairs and for a little more restauranty feel you could go upstairs. Get the grilled whole snapper. You don't need the extra shrimps etc but if you really want them go ahead.
        Mockingbird Bistro and sit at the bar and order from bar menu a great burger. Other items on the bar menu are a small casuelet and some short ribs. I think they are all under $9. Its a steal and the food is excellent.

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        Mockingbird Bistro
        1985 Welch, Houston, TX 77019

        Tampico Seafood & Restaurant
        2115 Airline Dr, Houston, TX 77009

        8 Replies
        1. re: jscarbor

          Why would you send someone visiting Houston to Airline Drive? Eh, stay away from that area.

          1. re: UHCoog05

            I was just thinking the same thing about Goode BBQ. Why would you send someone visiting Houston there?

            I'd suggest that's where she should "stay away from."

            So I guess everyone has a different opinion on the matter. Personally I love Tampico Seafood. And I've never felt uncomfortable there.

            1. re: Jaymes

              That is strange. What did you have at Goode that wasnt good? I've had great food at the Kirby location. To each his own, I guess.

              I just don't like sending people visiting Houston to ugly areas. I am sure the food is good.

              1. re: UHCoog05

                Reviews of the barbecue at Goode Co here on CH have been extensive and exhaustive. But to answer your question, the brisket was dry and tough and flavorless. Ditto the ribs, dry, tough and flavorless. The sausage was at least edible, but just okay, bland, with no snap or bite. Often, when the meat is dry or flavorless you can add sauce and at least turn it into a moderately enjoyable meal. At Goode, no such luck. The sauce was just odd. Not vinegary, not mustardy. More like some sort of weird salsa or pasta sauce - really tomatoey, with no snap, heat or tang.

                We went to Goode Co when I first moved here. In our party were several native Texans. We had heard about it and were looking forward to it. But none of us came even close to finishing our plates, and when we were asked if we wanted to take any of it home, we all screwed up our faces and said, "No thanks." And, I discovered later, in a recent CH Houston BBQ throwdown, Goode came in DAL (dead-ass last).

                Yes, the bread was good. Ditto the pecan pie.

                But I don't go to barbecue joints for bread or pecan pie. And all in all, I can honestly say that was one of the worst "barbecue meals" I've ever had, and I've had a lot of barbecue meals, all over the country.

                As for "ugly areas," every city has them. There are indeed some folks that I wouldn't send to one. But it seems to me that people on CH are a little different from your average traveler. For one thing, they know that every city has ugly areas and that sometimes the best food is found there. I think when people specifically mention "holes-in-the-wall" when asking for a recommendation (as this op did), they're saying that ugly areas are fine, as long as the food is good.

                And I've followed jscarbor's posts for quite some time and trust him implicitly. In my view, if he says it's worth going somewhere, even somewhere ugly, it is.

                1. re: UHCoog05

                  Uh, not to hit you when you're down, but when was the last time you had a burger at Lankford? Yikes.

                  I do agree with you on locations though. The environment is part of the whole experience to me, and there plenty of good Tex-Mex places around in places that showcase Houston.

                  1. re: Lambowner

                    Had it about 2 months ago. It's a nice hole in the wall place, cool atmosphere and good burger. I do agree that the last time I was there it seems a bit too seasoned, but I was hoping it was just a one-time thing.

                    1. re: UHCoog05

                      Try Christian's Tailgate, two locations. You'll love the burgers.

              2. re: UHCoog05

                I regularly eat at Tampico and I visit that area frequently going to the farmers market. I have never had any problems.

            2. I didn't want to say anything about the person that touts Goode Co bbq and Lankfords but will. My guess is coog saw these two on some food network show and thinks they are good places? My first time to eat at Lankfords was about 15 years ago and it was very good. Today I could easily name 15 places where I can get a better burger. Here they are:
              1. Mockingbird Bistro at the bar.
              2. Bernies Burger Bus
              3. Burger Guys
              4. Zelko's
              5. Tornado burger
              6. Ninfa's on navigation
              7. Laurenzo's
              8. Petrol
              9. Love Shack
              10 Rockwell's
              11. Goode Co taqueria and burgers(actually a pretty good place)
              12. Block 7
              13. Smash Burger
              14. Sparkles
              15. Bubbas
              For BBQ I could name 5 places that I know are better than goode. There would be more if I were to really think about it
              1. Gatlins
              2. Pierson's
              3. Lyndon's
              4. Virgies
              5. Pizzitola's(ribs only)
              As for Tampico being in an odd area, that's what makes it even cooler IMO. You don't go for the Tex Mex you go for the tex/gulf coast food. I don't think there is anything like it around the country? The whole snapper is one of the best dishes in Houston bar none. Original poster said hole in the wall wonders...this is x mark the spot for that IMO.

              -----
              Mockingbird Bistro
              1985 Welch, Houston, TX 77019

              Burger Guys
              12225 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77077

              5 Replies
              1. re: jscarbor

                I would also recommend Christian's Tailgate to you, jscarbor, not to detract from your list (especially Tornado), but if you haven't had a CT burger, you haven't had all that Houston haves to offer.

                1. re: Lambowner

                  Christians is good and should have been in my list.

                2. re: jscarbor

                  The burgers at Barnaby's are my favorite in Houston and there all beef hot dogs, the best. They use natural, hormone free ground chuck for the burgers. If your looking for the greasy burgers of christians or smashburger and the like, this is not your place. Also, the ribs here are about as good as it gets.. the smokey flavor of there chipotle bbq sauce is just awesome and i prefer over Pierson's,, and wins head and shoulders over the overrated Pizzitola's..

                  1. re: jscarbor

                    I didn't see them on food network. It's a good burger imo. Both of these places have lines out the door, so obviously they have returning customers. If you don't care for them, so be it, to each his own..like I already said.

                    Pappa's has a great burger, I think that should be on your list and I agree Christian's Tailgate does too. I was at Petrol this weekend and the burger was pretty good.

                  2. I haven't seen anybody mention Armadillo Palace. I can't speak on behalf of their food, but it's always a fun place to take visitors for a "Texas experience"

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: thedomesticity

                      Most of their food comes from across the street, Goode Company BBQ, which many of here don't care for. I still think it's the best BBQ in that area. It's a cool little place and has live music many nights.

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                      Goode Company Restaurants
                      2511 Bartlett St, Houston, TX 77098