Houston Eats: Downtown and without a car?
- Terry Grunwald
My husband will be in Houston on business over the next few weeks. He will be staying at a hotel downtown (the Hyatt), but does not plan to have a car (gasp!).
What are some good dining choices for him? He is not real big on Mexican/ Tex-Mex but could be open to something terrific. He likes Asian and other ethnic. Price range: anything from cheapo to moderately pricey.
He'd rather stay away from chains and hotel food.
I think he can get shuttles from his hoel to the Galleria and Katy Mills Outlet area. I guess taxis are also a possibility -- if the locations are not too far away.
The bad news is that around the Hyatt, there's nothing special. The good news is that just north of the Hyatt by the Rice Hotel area, a number of new restaurants have opened, offering lots of variety and price. Names include Nova Bossa, Sambuca, Liberty Noodles, Tres Caballos, Massa's. Check Houstonpress.com for writeups.
There's a downtown trolley that stops in front of the Hyatt running during the day and early evening that can be used to get to eating area.
New York pizza is across the street, and has a decent happy hour and gourmet pizzas.
There is also a Benihana on Louisana. I had lunch there the other day and it was surprisingly good. Not sure if it'd be fun to dine there alone.
Mission Burritos under the Rice Hotel is worth a visit. Their burritos are HUGE! Good place to sit with a newspaper, beer and watch everybody walk by.
For Vietnamize, Van Loc on Milam and Kim Son (on the other side of downtown) are good bets. Vietnamize eggrolls at Van Loc are to die for.
Damians Italian on Smith is very nice, although it'd be boring dining there alone.
I also recomend Warrens Inn for cocktails, and The Brewery Tap for beer.
I agree with the posts of Pollo Pibil and Midtown Coog, with the exception of Midtown Coog's Vietnamese recommendations.
Your husband will be very near most of the best Vietnamese food in Texas. Vietnam Town is about 10 blocks South of the Hyatt, but I don't think the free trolley goes there and it is not a nice, or safe, walk.
Avoid Kim Son. The food there is adequate, but it is touristy. Van Loc is pretty good - their Mekong soup is excellent and they do have good Vietnamese egg rolls. He should also try Cali Sandwich on Main (at Elgin - I think) for great Vietnamese sandwiches, and Pho Cong Ly on Travis for pho soup of all varities. Pho Cong Ly is open for breakfast and lunch, but closes at 7 pm I think. Also while he is at Pho Cong Ly, he can wander through the Vietnamese mini-mall attached to it. The grocery store there has good smoked duck and other meats they sell as takeaway.
Tell him to catch some good movies at the Angelika Theater in Bayou Place (Louisiana Street - trolley access), but to avoid all of the restaurants in Bayou Place.
I think Van Loc is the best Vietnamese, but the others (not Kim Son) sound interesting, will try them.
Treebeard's- Outstanding Cajun. Sev'l locations. Only open 11-2 on weekdays. Most locations are unique, like one in a church. Cafeteria style, very clean, casual, inexpensive, everything is delicious. But my favorites are the vegetable plate (3 veggies, try the red beans and rice, greens with shrimp, and the corn dish), the corn bread, jambalaya. Some of the dishes you probably won't see outside of Cajun Louisiana. They sometimes serve, and I can't remember the exact name, a vegetable dish called machchoux. Even the desserts look great. If you're dieting, the salads look nice. Not a place to diet. The red beans and rice are also available with sausage.
Brennan's is very expensive and great.
Damian's is also great, haven't eaten there in years, also expensive.