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A view of EZ’s Liquor Lounge bar area, with a pool table and neon lights indicating “cold beer.”
2023 was a special year for Houston’s dining and drinking scene.
Mikah Danae

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Here Are 2023’s Eater Award Winners for Houston

The Prsrv, Little’s Oyster Bar, EZ’s Liquor Lounge, Tatemó, and Trill Burgers are among Houston’s 2023 Eater Award-winners

Each year, Houston’s dining and drinking scene seems to grow almost exponentially, with new restaurants and bars striving to give Bayou City’s locals and its many visitors an unforgettable experience. And within the past year, Houston has not disappointed. Chefs and restaurateurs have put their ideas to the fire, offering dishes and dining experiences that are both innovative and timeless. With that, it’s only right to offer some recognition. The Eater Awards have returned, this year honoring the many restaurants and individuals bringing dining experiences vested in cuisine histories, inventiveness, and just plain delicious food done right in H-Town.

This year’s awards honor a new seafood restaurant that has become an instant classic, two thought-provoking tasting menu restaurants, a burger joint that has evolved from its pop-up roots, and a new dive bar that has quickly become a local legend. Please join us in celebrating this year’s group of winners, who will also receive a traditional Eater tomato can trophy.

Best New Restaurant: Little’s Oyster Bar

Pappas Restaurants has long been one of the most dependable and beloved local chains in the Houston area, providing diners with a combination of the city’s favorite cuisines, including Tex-Mex, barbecue, burgers, and Cajun restaurants. The restaurant group’s newest destination, Little’s Oyster Bar, is a wonderful reminder that such restaurant groups, especially those that run local chains, shouldn’t be underestimated or counted out. The new restaurant, which replaced the iconic Little Pappas Seafood House in Montrose, is an unmissable new addition to the Houston food scene. With California native Jason Scott Ryczek as chef, Little’s merges Gulf Coast cuisine with sustainable West Coast techniques, featuring a standout caviar service fueled by Ryczek’s harvested white sturgeon, tempting cocktails, and balanced seafood dishes like tender grilled octopus pocked with sesame seeds and swiped with a bright schug, and a buttery, flaky Yellow Edge Grouper served with both beurre blanc and caper-flecked brown butter. And, above all, diners can enjoy the friendly, familiar, but still impeccable service that the Pappas family is known for.

Fried fish served with a green sauce and a glass of wine at Little’s Oyster Bar.
Little’s Oyster Bar is a welcomed addition to Houston’s dining scene.
Arturo Olmos

Best Tasting Menu Restaurant: Tatemó

Chef Emmanuel Chavez and partner Megan Maul offer an invigorating take on Mexican cuisine, inviting diners to slow down and savor masa-centric dishes while considering exactly where their meal comes from. Hosted in a modest, dimly-lit space in the Spring Branch area, the multi-course experience features an ever-changing menu for $125, during which corn or masa, sustainably sourced from companies in Mexico and California and nixtamalized in-house, is the star of nearly every dish. Standouts have included delicate ceviche with leche de tigre made with corn, tender gorditas, deconstructed tacos; masa cakes topped with airy corn mouse and freeze-dried corn bits; and its mainstay dish, a crimped, deep-fried quesadilla stuffed with piping hot cheese and complemented by crema fresca and caviar.

A crimped quesadilla served with a side of guacamole, crema. and caviar.
Tatemó offers a tasting menu that feels like a celebration and true appreciation of Mexican cuisine.
Brittany Britto Garley

Best Collaboration: Th Prsrv

Some of the best collaborations are sparked by a combination of curiosity and friendship, and Th Prsrv is no exception. James Beard Award-winning chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter, better known as Chef G — the culinary prowess behind Thai restaurant Street to Kitchen — and Choctaw chef David Skinner of eculent have teamed up for an unlikely pairing — Thai and Native American cuisine. The Kemah tasting menu restaurant features a stimulating lineup of dishes that takes guests on a culinary “archaeological dig:” the chefs examine ancient techniques, colonialism’s impact on their respective cuisines, and how technology influences the ways disparate communities eat. Skinner, a molecular gastronomy mastermind, infuses memories of his grandmother and heritage in plates of pickled ferns; bowls of smashed black beans, salmon, and corn with hints of vegetable ash; and a decadent bowl of butternut squash preserves, Tonka bean ice cream, and snow. Chef G offers a beautiful juxtaposition of Gaeng soup with tamarind and palm sugar and a heat-packed Pad Ped curry, harking to Thailand’s introduction to chiles from trade with the Portuguese.

Street to Kitchen chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter, Graham Painter, and Eculent chef David Skinner pose with lanterns in their tasting menu restaurant, Th Prsrv.
Kemah’s Th Prsrv is showcasing the evolution of two seemingly different cuisines in one tasting menu.
Annie Mulligan for Eater

Best Pop-Up Turned Permanent: Trill Burgers

Helmed by Houston hip hop music legend Bun B, the smash burger joint has taken the city — and the country — by storm. These crispy patties, which come in single, double, and triple stacks topped with cheese, a special Trill sauce, and pickles piled on a potato bun, have captivated diners around the country since its initial launch as a traveling pop-up in August 2021. They’ve made their mark in Vegas and at festivals like Coachella and Rock the Bells, and even won Best Burger title on Good Morning America before making a somewhat permanent stake in Houston’s food dining scene in June. Lines have been out the door since at its Montrose location, with celebrities like Drake, Shaquille O’Neal, and Ludacris making pitstops. Star power aside, the burger lives up to the hype: packing flavor and offering an experience reminiscent of waiting in line for one-night-only concert tickets. And you’re likely to run into Bun B, the face of the restaurant. The rap mogul has made an effort to have a warm, consistent presence in the restaurant — even waiting in the lines himself.

Houston hip-hop legend Bun B holds two smash burgers in front of the new Trill Burgers location.
Bun B and his team are on to something with their smash burger hit Trill Burgers.
Dylan McEwan

Best New Bar: EZ’s Liquor Lounge

The city’s drinking scene is rife with exciting new watering holes, but in a town filled with trendy speakeasies and vibe-dining establishments, sometimes the simplicity of a stiff drink and good conversation is key. Agricole Hospitality group’s bar EZ’s has emerged just as its name describes: a compellingly no-frills bar that harnesses the feeling of a small hometown dive with its emphasis on ice-cold drinks, muted neon lighting, and old-fashioned brand logos that fuel feelings of deep nostalgia. Sure, there’s actually good bar food to soak it all up, like crispy tacos, hot dogs, and Frito pies. There are TVs and a pool table hosted in the middle of the room where bargoers can strike up some friendly competition. But much of the allure is focused on the conviviality between strangers, and, of course, the drinks, which include buckets of beer; a “Hillbilly Highball,” a peanut-infused whiskey coke mixed with real peanuts; and the Colorado Cool Aid, EZ’s version of shandy made with Makers Mark, Amaro Montenegro, lemon juice, a dark sugar syrup, and Coors Banquet.

The view of the entrance of EZ’s Liquor Lounge.
EZ’s Liquor Lounge has established itself as one of the city’s favorite dive bars within a year.
Mikah Danae

Little's Oyster Bar

3001 South Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX 77098 Visit Website

EZ's Liquor Lounge

3302 White Oak Drive, , TX 77007 (713) 485-0214 Visit Website

Trill Burgers

3607 South Shepherd Drive, , TX 77098 (713) 364-2284 Visit Website

Tatemó

4740 Dacoma Street, Suite F , Houston, TX 77092 Visit Website

Th Prsrv

709 Harris Ave, Kemah, TX 77565 Visit Website

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