I'll be in town next week for a conference and would like some rec's for can't miss restaurants, food trucks, etc.
I'm staying in the downtown area and would prefer things that are close by (either an inexpensive cab ride or a short walk). I'm open as far as type of food and $ are concerned.
a couple places i recommend is Pappas Steakhouse. To me its the best in the city. Ive had Vic and Anthony, Mortons, etc. All solid but Pappas beats them in all aspects IMO. Also for fine dining id recommend Marks. Its off Westheimer by the Montrose area. If you come to Houston you should try TEX-MEX. i think we have the best in the Country. 1308 Cantina around the Montrose area is great and for a slightly cheaper option thats a cant miss theres Pappasitos.
I'll second Niko Niko for cheap and cheerful Greek a short cab ride from downtown. Also a short cab ride or a long walk I'd suggest Indika for upscale Indian fusion - I particularly like the vegetarian sampler plate there - not your traditional Indian either in price or surroundings. For lunch, Treebeards at 1100 Lousiana (in the tunnel) is very passable. I'd skip most of the hotel eateries for the usual reasons.
Don't be confused by the "Farmers Market" name - at City Hall on Weds from 11 - 1:30 is a collection of food purveyors ready to offer you any kind of lunch item you might want. The food trucks are there too (as many as our silly regulations will allow). There are also booths selling flowers and food items you can take home (or back to your office/hotel room) for later. The Mayor occasionally makes an appearance, and there are always a few special interest groups there to entertain or inform (Recipe for Success, etc). Although there is a shortage of veggies and farm-type items, you usually dont have to dodge strollers or small children. There are a few (but never enough) shady spots to sit while you eat and a very friendly vibe.
I agree with brucesw on Phoenicia and Georgia’s Farm to Market but have not been to the others
The following are the restaurants we visit downtown usually before a game or concert so not looking for fancy.
912 St Emanuel Street
District 7 Grill
501 S. Pierce
I go to the Midtown location which is just outside of downtown
Flying Saucer; if you like beer
705 Main Street
Food is ok. I haven’t had anything bad but it’s bar food. When we go I get the pretzel, brat, & cheese. My husband has had the roast beef sandwich and Reuben and has been satisfied but we go for the beer.
Market Square Bar & Grill
Very casual. We’ve only had the burgers.
Quattro/Vinoteca @ the Four Seasons
1300 Lamar Street
We go here most often for Happy Hour; $4 wines and the antipasto platter. Service is great and food is good but it is pricey. Last time we were here we went to Quattro and I had the papparadelle and beef cheeks…so good. Nice wines too.
I forgot about Huynh. It's been on my list to try for a couple of years. Very good rep in a city with hundreds of Vietnamese restos.
Went to District 7 diner a couple of times; decent food, nothing to write home about.
Others: BB's Cafe (Tex-Cajun) on Louisiana and Niko-Nikos (Greek) in Market Square Park - two very popular casual places in Montrose, practically side by side, that have established downtown locations. I've been to the original locations, only.
Hubcap Grill - on Prairie - limited hours, limited seating, very good (huge) burgers in a city with lots of great burgers. I've been to a satellite location, never the original downtown.
Bombay Pizza - lots of buzz in the Press - unusual pizzas. Another place I'd consider if I was exploring downtown.
I've been to Calliope's a few times. East of 59 on Jefferson - kind of a blighted area, don't know if I'd recommend a walk. Katrina refugees doing the best NOLA style po-boys in town, good gumbo, too. I like the food better than BBs but like I say, the area is iffy.
There's no great bbq downtown but if you just must since many visitors to TX must do bbq, I'd recommend Pappas on Pierce, it's been there since the 50s.
All of these are casual.
I agree with you on District 7 I go here when I'm looking to have Mahi Mahi. They have a Mahi Mahi salad that I like. Is it the best Mahi I've ever had? No, but it does the trick. I've had the Kobe burger which is good. It has a bit too much carmelized onion so I just remove about half.
When we are looking for a foodie destination, Downtown never comes to mind but if we're going down there and want something quick and easy these are the places we would consider.
I'll have to check out Bombay Pizza & Hubcap Grill, neither of which we've been to
hi wagamama80 and welcome to Houston. I'm not very familiar with downtown restaurants as I don't live or work anywhere near. I do know Vic and Anthony's Steakhouse, near Toyota Center is highly regarded, top dollar. I think my # 1 choice for scoping out would be the new Georgia's Farm to Market place downtown; there is also a new Phoenicia's Deli downtown - Phoenicia's main location on the far west side is a very long cab ride for you but is one of our signature foodie destinations. BTW, many downtown eateries are open only for lunch.
Re: food trucks, though. You'll not find them downtown due to city regulations concerning their propane tanks. There is a cupcake truck that circulates through downtown weekdays and on Wednesdays, 11-1:30, the City Hall Farmers Market, in front of City Hall (west side of downtown) has been described as more of a food truck rally than a farmers market. I think Melange Creperie is usually there, a sidewalk creperie with some fantastic creations, plus, Buffalo Sean, the proprietor (if he's running the show) is a natural born entertainer and makes the wait very enjoyable. (He has two other regular locations in Montrose and Heights)
eatdrinkhouston ( http://twitter.com/#!/EatDrinkHouston... ) follows some of the most 'vocal' trucks, not necessarily all the best. It'll be a good place to check who's where and when. The local food truck community is very supportive of each other and you'll frequently find mentions on that site of trucks that aren't 'curated.'
Daily at lunch time there is a food truck in the parking lot of the Museum of FIne Arts, Houston, with free or discounted admission to the museum as a bonus. That would be a ride down the light rail and back but I don't know the stop. There is also several days week a food truck at the Menil Museum on W. Alabama in the Montrose section. No where near rail but I would consider that a short cab ride from downtown. Several days a week there is also a food truck for lunch at 2 or 3 places along Montrose Blvd, Inversion Coffee House and Soundwaves are two regular stops. Be advised however that regulations prohibit food trucks from providing seating so you'll be eating standing up - - - - then just turning around and going back?
Evening service by food trucks tends to be at bars, especially along the Washington Ave strip, west of downtown, also a short cab ride if you're into that scene.
Some of the best trucks are CoreanosHtx, HtownStreats, Oh My Pocket Pies (shrimp burger), Good Dog Food Truck (Ol' Zapata dog is the best hot dog in Houston), Bernie's Burger Bus, and L'es Car Go. I've also been impressed more recently with Happy Endings (Asian fusion hot dogs) and KurbsideEatz. Some of the ones that haven't lived up to their (self) hype include Phamily Bites (Come get Pho Cup'd, tee hee hee), Oh My Gogi, and Eatsie Boys. I was also (surprisingly) disappointed at The Modular - just my one experience - people I know whose judgement I trust have raved about it.
And then there are the loncheras, often serving as good or better food than the new food trucks and cheaper, but scattered all over town and not on social media.