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Heading to Houston - What to eat?

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I am heading to Houston the first week of April and staying near the convention center. I won't have a car but don't mind cabs or public transportation. I have three dinners to enjoy. Where should I go? I prefer to eat something that highlights regional cuisine. Budget is not an issue. I like fine dining but I also like a little hole in the wall if the food is special. I would like to have barbecue at least once, but I might be able to swing a lunch in that direction.

Some of the places I know of (though not much about):
Hugo's
Underbelly
Tony's
Kata Robata
Oxheart

Looking for feedback on these and hopefully a bunch of others I have never heard of. Thanks

www.hungrytommy.com

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  1. I haven't been to Tony's in some time, but it's old school dining. Execution is very good, but it's certainly not cutting edge. Borders of stuffy, or at least it did the last time I was there.

    If you want an upscale meal that is a bit more modern, less stuffy, etc., I'd recommend Mark's. Very good seasonal, ingredient driven cuisine. Pretty good wine list that's broader than it is deep. But the chef is very talented. Variety of dishes, and techniques is much broader than Tony's and I think the food is ultimately better. Not too far from downtown for a cab ride.

    Mark's
    1658 Westheimer Rd.
    Houston, TX

    You might also look at DaMarco's for dining in that price range. Italian, so nothing particular to Houston about it, but it's quite good. Pretty good wine list, too, for an Italian restaurant outside of on of the major cities. Again, breadth is greater than depth, especially if you want older vintages, but all the big names are represented, albeit with younger vintages.

    DaMarco
    1520 Westheimer Rd.
    Houston, TX

    Last time I was in Houston, I had lunch recently at Indika, a local "nouvelle" Indian restaurant. Very, very good. I liked it quite a bit. If you are a fan on upscale Indian cuisine, I recommend it highly.

    Indika
    516 Westheimer Rd.
    Houston, TX 77006

    Houston also have a very good Thai restaurant, Thai Gourmet. However, it's quite some distance from downtown. It would be at least a $15 - 25 cab ride. But the food is very, very good. I have the basil duck for lunch and it was amazing. Kind of in the middle of no where. You might have trouble getting a cab to come pick you up. Not sure. But if you could get somebody who is at the convention that had a car and bum a ride, it's worth the trip.

    Thai Gourmet
    6324 Richmond Ave.
    Houston, TX

    1. Good choices imo for some of the best of Houston right now but you'll probably have trouble getting into Oxheart if you don't already have reservations.

      Re: bbq - nothing of note downtown, nothing of note for evenings and nothing of note within a reasonable cab ride. Better bbq places aren't open in the evenings.

      Possibilities are two locations of local chain Pappas, the original on Pierce, a smaller one on Smith. Probably better than where you're from but us bbq snobs and chowhounds don't like to recommend it. The Pappas family is a huge operator here and their chains are above average for chains, though.

      Not too far from DT would be the original location of Goode co. BBQ on Kirby in the West U area, which is probably the place most tourists go (not necessarily chowhounds). Again, not a fav of snobs or ch'ers but Goode Co. has made it into TX Monthly's Top 50 in the past (or at least honorable mention). That would be a reasonable cab ride. Note it is illegal to hail a cab on the streets of Houston so there are none cruising for fares; there'll be a cab stand near the GRB and your hotel but you might want to make a note of the cab co # or use their app.

      Both Pappas and Goode will be open into the evening.

      If you want to take a chance, Gatlin's in the Heights is considered some of the best in town, not open in the evenings and known for glacial service so not good for a quick lunch.

      Might be possible to phone in and order for pick-up?, kind of expensive for the taxi rides, or maybe the Take-Out Taxi service?

      You might consider Tex-mex for local cuisine - El Real, in the same neighborhood with Hugo's and Underbelly, classic old Tex Mex dishes, or the Original Ninfa's on Navigation and the new El Tiempo next door.

      Ninfa's was the little cafe where the fajita craze was launched in 1973; Ninfa Laurenzo is long gone and the restaurant is owned by others now. El Tiempo is the Laurenzo family, just setting up next door to challenge them. Pricey for Tex Mex.

      Cajun is another regional specialty. For lunch you might try one of the Treebeard's locations downtown. For Creole, Brennan's, south of downtown.