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Need help to find best Houston has to offer!

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Looking for a restaurant with relatively inventive cuisine using fresh local ingredients

I'd prefer high quality American, Texan or Southwest not French, Italian, Japanese, thai, etc. We are spoiled New Yorkers so we want to taste the best of Houston, not branches of places we have in New York.

The closer to downtown the better as we won't have a car and don't want to spend too much on cabs.

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  1. Haven

    http://havenhouston.com/

    1. Local things that would be different here are the seafood offerings from the Gulf of Mexico. For good fresh seafood close to downtown, try Mardi Gras Grill. Oysters have been unbelievably small so ask before ordering them. Something else that might be different for you would be Mexican food at El Tiempo on Washington. We love their shrimp/crab nachos/quesadillas.

      1. Brennan's or Mark's would be a good bet.

        2 Replies
        1. re: DaTulip

          Thanks. These sound good. Will be there for 4 days...any others? Forgot to mention, we don't want to do BBQ (I'm not meat eater)

          1. re: DaTulip

            +1 on Brennan's (shrimp and grits!!)

          2. Reef sources local Gulf fish not usually found anywhere else. I've provided a link to the restaurant and it also has a New York Times link to Reef and other places you might find interesting.

            http://reefhouston.com/

            1. Here's some more seafood places courtesy of Houston Press.

              http://blogs.houstonpress.com/eating/...

              1. Haven, Stella Sola, Reef, Samba Grill.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bhoward

                  i would not recommend samba grill even for my enemies. been there twice. the food was SLOW and below average twice. not we're-too-busy slow, but unbearably and unexplicably slow. service was good.

                  2nd time, service was horrible. no settings, no utensils, waiter absent and dismissive, even though the restaurant was not busy. misplaced orders. and the food that did come was again SUB PAR.

                  not the worst food in houston, but by far the most disappointing

                2. Haven, Haven! Also, Phillipe: upscale Texan. Be sure to affix the longhorns on your Caddy before valeting there. It's French/Texan, doncha know.

                  http://www.philippehouston.com

                  For Italian/Texan Stella Sola, Lone Star's take on Tuscany. Seafood: Danton's on Montrose is the Gold Standard IMO.

                  http://stellasolahouston.com/

                  http://www.dantonsseafood.com/

                  Please please report back!

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Lambowner

                    Thanks, Lambower! Their menu sounds great. We're going at the end of the month so I'll definitely reserve this.

                    1. re: Lambowner

                      Just found out that some of the suggestions will be $75. taxi rides. What are the very best I can do that are CLOSE to downtown - NOT steah houses.

                      Thanks

                      1. re: nyperr

                        Mardi Gras Grill and El Tiempo are only a few miles out of downtown. I can't imagine that costing much for a taxi. Brennan's is even closer than those two.

                        1. re: nyperr

                          $75 taxi not possible to the locations suggested. Unless you are leaving Houston proper, you have been misinformed.

                          1. re: Lambowner

                            Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. You could rent a car for the day for a lot cheaper than that.

                            1. re: Lambowner

                              I was told $35. each way not including tip by the concierge. I'm a New Yorker who is really terrified of having to drive a car. I prefer to use taxis but would rather put that money into the food or better wine. Wanted to try some suggestions as Haven, Stella Sola, Philippe, etc.

                              1. re: nyperr

                                I would call the taxi company because that sounds ridiculous. It's not but maybe 5 miles to the closer ones and no more than 10 miles to Philippe. Then again I've never taken a taxi. Everything here is a lot cheaper than it is in NY though.

                        2. Head to Westheimer, near downtown, for a string of restaurants that will satisfy-Hugo's (Mexican), Mark's (Amer Contin housed in a converted church), Indika (unforgettable Indian). Houston's own Pappas Steakhouse (near Galleria)or Vic and Anthony (near downtown ball park) for meat/seafood. If you get homesick for a pastrami on rye or matza ball soup, head over to Kenny & Ziggy's on Post Oak. For lunch downtown, try Irma's Southwest Grill on Texas St (only open for lunch-no menu-specials only** not to be confused with Irma's Rest on Chenevert St)

                          Enjoy!

                          1. Since you don't eat meat I am oing to say, hands down, your best bets for both food and location are Reef and Brennan's. Do a google search on Reef and chek out their website for reviews and accolades. Brennan's is amazing and stunning and fits the bill for local cuisine. Both are in Midtown less than a $10 cab ride away.

                            I'm a little surprised at some of the suggestions. Stella Solla and Haven do feature local ingredients but in general have such mixed reviews (including my own, I was underwhelmed at both) and as a frequent NYC visitor, I can tell you not up to those standards. I also would not suggest Indika nothmg local about it and definitely do not travel all the wy out to the Gallaria for Kenny and Ziggys. While the best we have to offer, any New Yorker wold be extremely disappointed.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Andybfk

                              We all have our own opinion of these places depending on the experience we had and there are certainly lots of variables to be had. I think Haven does a fantasic job, but I have been to Mark's many times and it has never impressed me, and yet it gets raves here. At Indika, Anita does indeed use local fish and veg where possible, but her prices have gone above the cost benefit for me lately.

                            2. Check out Ibiza too which is downtown. Also Pesce, but not downtown.

                              1. I am shocked to see that no one has mentioned Feast! Feast is one of the best restuarants in Houston if you a) want a menu comprised entirely of locally sourced dairy, veggies, seafood, poultry, steak, etc. and b) are looking for a place close to Downtown. Even if those are not your considerations, Feast still falls into the top, top tier of Houston restuarants. Feast is on Westheimer close to the intersection of Taft and Westheimer.

                                Someone mentioned Hugo's earlier (also on Westheimer in the Montrose area of town). I have never eaten there, but have heard nothing but great things. I am a huge fan of Hugo's sister restuarant (again, also on Westheimer, walking distance from Feast) Doche Vita. Go for dinner, have some Pinot Nero with pizza or one of the dinner specials. Good times. Oh! Also ask to be seated upstairs.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: NightMan

                                  Dolce Vita is unrelated to Hugo's, but it does have some of the best pizza in town. Dolce Vita is the younger, hipper sibling of the white table-clothed Da Marco down the block, both owned by Marco Wiles. Hugo's is familial with Back Street Cafe and Prego Italian food in the Rice University Village. Hugo's is Mex-Mex food and known for its Sunday brunch. It is not one of my favorite places. The last lunch I had there was remarkably unremarkable, except for the bad service. Really bad.

                                  1. re: Lambowner

                                    You are correct, sir. Thank you for pointing out that Hugo's and Dolce Vita are not affiliated. I wonder how long I've been confusing Hugo's and Da Marco's (I've not eaten at either, so they're just names to me).

                                2. Where did you dine while in Houston last month, nyperr?