Houston, TX

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[] Houston, the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States, is home to many cultures: over 90 languages are spoken within the city and it houses over 80 consular offices. Thus a wide variety of foods are enjoyed there with a high degree of authenticity. Houston also has an acclaimed and burgeoning food and wine industry: many are drawn to the University of Houston's renowned Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management, and Houston is the home of legendary Master Sommelier Guy Stout. There are many flavors permeating the city, ready to be experienced, whether you're looking for a tasty inexpensive taqueria or a refined white linen steakhouse with an extensive wine list. But where exactly should you go? Below are some of the city's best restaurants, reviewed by Houstonians, organized by type of food served, also including price range and area of the city. Bon appetit!


Mexican[edit]

A note; there are over a thousand Mexican restaurants in Houston due to the large and established Mexican community. Please feel free to add your own (Taco Cabana does not count)!

  • Ninfa's:
    • A staple; the original is on Navigation but there are locations all over town (1960, McKinney, Memorial, Westheimer...). Prices are moderate ($10-$15 an entree), the green sauce is exceptional, and we all have a duty to pay homage to Mama Ninfa, who made the fajita not just a peasant's lunch but a dish known everywhere. A dependable spot for delicious and well-done Mexican.
  • Chuy's (2000 block of Westheimer near Kirby, or I-45 in Shenandoah)
    • Wide selection of Tex-Mex. The food is high quality. Some of the best fajitas and salsa in the city. Patio dining is available. They have some interesting decor, especially the Elvis related items. Westheimer location has a small parking lot and is always packed. The food is moderatly price ($15-$20 per person).
  • ChaCho's (6000 block of Westheimer)
    • Drive thru, open 24 hours, although becomes 21+ after 10 or so on the weekends. Bar offers giant margaritas with many flavors, in addition to the full bar stock. Menu is extensive, food inexpensive and excellent for a counter service/drive thru establishment. Self-serve salsa and sauce bar. If you go there after 10 on the weekends, be prepared for a large, loud crowd of people just having come from the club.
  • Mission Burrito (Shepherd @ 1-10 or W.Alabama)
    • BYOT(equila) margaritas (handmade), more choices for meat/fillings than Chipotle or Freebirds, everything fresh and filling and accommodating. Inexpensive, with sideline fans on the patio for those wanting a breeze.
  • Escalante's (Beltway 8, Meyerland, Woodway @ Voss)
    • Reliable, more on the Tex-Mex side, and a little more expensive (especially the margaritas). The crowd is a toss-up - sometimes the after-work singles, sometimes families. Queso is white cheese, and the refried beans are non-fat. Worth a try, not for everyone.
  • Goode Company Taqeria (the Village)
    • Even though it has a BBQ baron's name on it, this place is the real deal. Both brunch and dinner are crazy authentic, affordable, and sought after. Usually there's some type of freshly-made aqua fresca (non alcoholic juice concoction) in large jugs on ice at the registers being offered; don't even ask what it is, just order it. Guacamole is chunky, flavorful and memorable in a city full of guacamole. Also offers burgers/bbq in the spirit of Jim Goode.
  • Lupe Tortilla's (original on Stafford, other locations)
    • Some might say overrated; original location is a tiny house with very little parking converted into a restaurant. A good place for visitors or a family, decent food.
  • 100% Taquito (59 near Buffalo Speedway)
    • A good authentic mexican (not tex-mex) taqueria with tacos, tortas, sopes, great agua fresca, etc. The food is inexpensive and the place itself is kitchsy but not too bad. Try the asada.

Italian[edit]

  • Romano's (W. Gray, Memorial)
    • Owner has a NYC type of attitude that puts some people off, but treat him right and he'll hit you back. Kitchen is a few stoves behind the counter, you can see everything made and it all tastes great. Offers a couple of wines, but is BYOB. Pizza is tasty (NOT Chicago style), wide array of dishes and will substitute meats/preparations if asked. Also 5-10 specials are available every lunch/dinner. Cheap and good.
  • Trevisio (Med Center, on top of a parking garage)
    • Hit or miss - delightful setting, interesting (changing) menu but service can sometimes fall short. Has all the trappings of fine dining, but sometimes doesn't deliver. Very expense account, and the prices reflect that.
  • Prego (the Village)
    • Responsive service, interesting wine list that (if you're a little savvy) pairs excellently with the decadent menu. Not a large restaurant, so expect a wait on the weekends, but there's lots of little shops etc. to walk around and see while you wait. Moderate to expensive, but worth it! I've gone there for three separate dates and each have been exceptional, unique and fabulous. (Details: get one half bottle of wine before the meal (perhaps the St. Supery Sav Blanc?) and then a half of the D-Cubed Zinfandel in the middle of your entree. The D-Cubed will finish off your entree well and then you can pair it with the chocolate souflee. Divine!)
  • Buca Di Beppo (Buffalo Speedway @ 59)
    • Get the kitchen table, bring friends to share all the food (family style), deal with the kitschy decorations. It's a good time when you're hungry and feeling silly.
  • Carmelo's (Memorial Dr @ Dairy Ashford)
    • The West side can only get so find dining, but Carmelo's does a good job. Flavorful, well-rounded menu and a middling wine list. Lots of couples, themed decor.


Indian[edit]

  • Ashiana (Briar Forest)
    • Recognized by Wine Spectator for their list, which is extensive and pairs well with the authentic dishes. Offers tasting/couples menus, but whatever you order you're going to pay a good bit. Go for the wine list.
  • Nirvana (Memorial Dr)
    • Service is acceptable, food decently priced and good. Has a lunch buffet.
  • Shiva (the Village)
    • Wine list is alright, food in large quantities and affordable with perhaps a smaller menu.
  • Himalaya (59 near Hillcroft)
    • Pakistani cuisine, essentially Indian but with many specialties on the whiteboard. Atmosphere is small and dingy, but the food is cheap and very good, particularly the goat and lamb biryanis. BYOB.

Chinese/Vietnamese[edit]

  • Chinese Cafe (Bellaire)
    • No frills, authentic, fresh, spicy when you want it, inexpensive. Menu is Mandarin characters on a dry erase board, or a backlit picture menu; plates are from a school cafeteria. Try the whole fried fish, sauce is great!
  • Mai's (Milam)
    • Open late (3 or 4am), large Viet/Thai menu, not expensive and delicious. Service is table or to-go at the counter, but don't expect conversation if you speak English. Mai's has recently reopened for business after a large fire a while back, with a slimmed down menu. Still open late, still great food!
  • General Joe's Chopstix (Montrose, Westheimer, Memorial, Kirby...)
    • Drive-thru, really cheap, dependable, portions are large and tasty. Pretty simple.

American[edit]

  • Ousie's Table (San Felipe)
    • Catering mostly to the River Oaks crowd, Ousie's has an inventive menu that still can call itself upscale comfort food. Patio has both covered and uncovered areas with a garden, atmosphere is romantic without being stifling. Wine list is standard with some surprises, overall a cute tucked-away spot.
  • Brennan's (Smith, downtown)
    • Not to be confused with Brenner's on the Katy Freeway, Brennan's is well known and frequented. Food is good, with a Gulf Coast flair, but is maybe "slipping" with regard to their atmosphere in favor of opening up to a lunch and family crowd. Might be overpriced. In any case, the food is still high-end.
  • Bonfile Grill (Tomball)
    • Small well executed menu with a constant stream of new and interesting specials based on whatever was good at the market. This is a place you would expect to find downtown rather than in the burbs. Service is laid back (not exactly slow but certainly not on the fast end of the spectrum) so expect to take your time and enjoy. Staff is friendly both front of house and back. Expect to pay more than your typical chain place but not so much as you would downtown.

Burgers[edit]

  • Bubba's Burger Shack (Galleria area, on Westpark near Chimney Rock)
    • This is a small shack underneath the Westpark Tollway that serves some damn fine burgers. The hook here is that they have burgers made from buffalo as well as your standard beef fare. If you aren't ordering the buffalo burger, you aren't doing it right. No fries here, if I had to guess I'd say that it's because they don't have enough room in the tiny building to fit a fryer. In lieu, they have a jalapeno potato salad that is amazing, with just the right amount of kick. Reasonably priced and delicious.
  • Tornado Burger (Stafford)
    • This little treasure is not located in Houston proper, but in the nearby suburb of Stafford. Fresh chuck beef ground on site, small fast-food style patties, and an amazing spicy twist on the burger sets this spot apart from the other burger spots in Houston area. The famous spicyburger features patties with jalapeno, garlic, and onions ground in with the meat, giving the patty itself a unique flavor which is incredible. The fries are fresh, greasy, and awesome. One thing to note - as stated previously, the patties are the smaller fast food style ~3oz patties, so you probably want to order a double meat double cheese burger if you are pretty hungry.
  • Lankford Grocery and Market (Montrose)
    • First things first, this place was a bit difficult to find. If you want to check it out, definitely make sure to take a peek at the street view to get an idea of where exactly you are looking for. Featured on whatever that Food Network show about diners and dives is, this place manages to be delicious despite having a signed picture of that guy from Smash Mouth who talks about food now hanging on the wall. Service was prompt if minimal in my experience, though I've heard a couple horror stories - to be safe, I wouldn't recommend coming here if you're in a hurry. I had a burger called the Grim, which consisted of the standard oversized beef-patty, in addition to a fried egg, macaroni and cheese, bacon, and jalapenos. Luckily, it turned out awesome. Another burger on the menu that caught my interest is the Red White and Bleu - Bleu Cheese, Red Onion and bellpepper, and ranch. Prices are reasonable and the food is tasty enough to be worth the calories. If you are unable to tell from my description, you should stay far, far away from this place if you are dieting. Or burgers in general, but this place in particular.


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