Good Food near Reliant Arena
I'm going to be in Houston for my first time next week. I'll be downtown working at Reliant Arena and will not have a car so I would prefer some where in walking distance. I don't mind walking three miles one way though.
Also, I'll be on my own so I am looking for casual places. Nothing real romantic or expensive, unless its an absolute must try spot.
Near Reliant and within a reasonable walking distance is DiMassi's buffet on Kirby. There is always a good, fresh selection of food, it is vegetarian-friendly, and as with all buffets, you can have as much as you want. Lunch will cost you about $10, including beverages. The hummus & za'atar bread can be a meal itself. I used to work nearby and my colleagues and I visited at least once a week.
I guess there are a few places you could walk to, but not many.
You might try catching the Metro Train, though. That would open up a lot more possibilities. I've never taken it, so I don't know about timing, but it runs up through the Med Center and into downtown.
Here's a link to a map and schedule.
Great call on the Metro Rail. I've taken it to a couple of Texans games, plus seen it run around Reliant and downtown, and they run often, and there won't be a long wait. One suggestion I have is Specs Liquor on Smith near downtown. It has a large deli and fine food section, pretty much anything you can want to eat or cook with. The place also has a great liquor and wine selection.
I must also say that this Specs is a destination for food and beverage lovers from across the city, and it's an easy trip up the Metro with a stop a few blocks away.
Here's some non national chain food to fall back on, nothing earth shattering. The best around in my opinion is Frenchy's Fried Chicken, a knock off of the original, but still quite good. Get their creole fried chicken, red beans and rice with andouille sausage, some greens, and a biscuit. This puts Popeye's to shame, especially the beans and rice. Frenchy's is on Kirby near Old Spanish Trail. Another, this one on OST, is Luby's Cafeteria. It takes some flack from locals after the Pappas clan bought them, but other than higher prices, I still find the food to be good. I recently had some classic Luby's fried fish and mac and cheese, and it was just as good as the old days. Get an entree, two sides, skip the tea/cokes and the overly sweet desserts, save five or six bucks, and you should be out in 10-12 dollars.
What kinds of food do you like? On Holly Hall, less than a block east of Reliant (just past Fannin) is a reliably good restaurant called Indian Sizzler. Typical but very well-prepared buffet lunch during the week. We went there one Sunday and they only had table service that day; my chicken biriyani was so beautiful I took a picture, and I don't often do that. (There was a cricket match in progress on the big screen TV, and I was very disappointed when they switched to a football game. That, I can see anytime!) Appears to be run by a pleasant couple; he's in the kitchen and she's out front. There are two Indian restaurants in that shopping center; my DH says the other one, A Taste of India, is good too.
I assume you mean you'll be staying downtown and working at Reliant Arena. Reliant Arena is not downtown. There is Pappasito's and there is Pappadeaux's on the South Loop just south of the Arena. There does appear to be a sidewalk there. That's all I can come up with within walking distance. I have been disappointed with Pappasito's the last 3 times I've been but it was a different location. My favorite dishes there were the seafood enchiladas and the beef fajitas.
The last time I ate at that particular Pappadeaux's I had to send my creme brulee back as it wasn't "set". The entire meal seemed a little off and I haven't been back since. Not because of the meal but because I just am not over that way much. I love the shrimp and crawfish fondeaux. It's an appetizer but more than I can finish. It used to come with oysters too but you have to pay extra for them now.
Red, I'll add a place I think you like, Captain Benny's on South Main. It's the tail end of raw oyster season and they usually have the best deal in town. I also like the boiled shrimp, fried oysters, and whole fried catfish. The gumbo is more of a soup, good on an infrequent cold winter's day.
When I used to go to Pappadeaux, I liked the oysters Baton Rouge, and the fish Pontchartrain, but I'll add that Pappadeaux can be a little pricey but like most places in Houston, the portions are huge. They were also showing 5.95 oysters on the half shell on Thursday, a nice price with this years poor oyster season, plus the criminally high 7.95 for one and a quarter pounds of crawfish, Mondays and Tuesdays, both shown on their website. I know it's early for crawfish, but the price seems to go up a buck or so a pound every year, and I refuse to eat them in a restaurant. I do them at home now and have for the last three years. An edit, I just called Captain Benny's, and the oysters are 7.95 a dozen, more than I like to pay but not too bad.