clock menu more-arrow no yes
Cliff's Old Fashion keeps it real.
Cliff's Old Fashion keeps it real.
Ellie Sharp/EHOU

Restaurant Underdogs: Houston's 12 Best Hidden Gems

Where to dine under the radar

View as Map
Cliff's Old Fashion keeps it real.
| Ellie Sharp/EHOU

Here at Eater, you can reliably find Houston's hottest restaurants, the city's essential eateries, and pretty much all the food news you can chew on. But some restaurants, namely those that have been around for a while or don't employ a massive staff of publicists, can fly under the radar.

It's no surprise that Houston is chock-full of hidden gems that don't get the same fanfare as Houston's James Beard Award-nominated restaurants or those helmed by celebrity chefs. With so much ground to cover – Houston is a massive city, after all – and all the great restaurants in the 'burbs, you could probably eat at a solid new (to you) restaurant every single day for at least a year without any repeats.

So without further ado, scope out Eater Houston's first-ever guide to the city's Restaurant Underdogs. For inclusion on this map, restaurants must not be on the Eater Heatmap or Eater 38, and must not have publicists.

Is your favorite hidden gem missing? Passionately make your case in the comments.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Nidda Thai Cuisine

Copy Link
1226 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 522-8895
Visit Website
A Montrose staple for years, this is the place to come for curries, soups, and noodles. Play it safe with the ever-popular red chicken curry or branch out with Fish in the Garden – hot crispy fried fish topped with cashews, shredded green mango, and lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and mint in a spicy lime sauce. Everything about dining at Nidda is casual-yet-formal, quiet-yet-bold, comforting-yet-invigorating.
Ellie Sharp/EHOU

2. Red Ox Bar & Grill

Copy Link
811 Collingsworth St
Houston, TX 77009
(713) 227-3369
Visit Website
Tucked into the neighborhood of Northside is one of the best-kept secrets in town where every dish is made from scratch in a space that exudes a homey charm. Try the signature prickly pear margaritas, mojitos, and sangria and stay tuned for loteria – aka Mexican bingo – starting in August.
Ellie Sharp.

3. Zydeco Louisiana Diner

Copy Link
1119 Pease St
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 759-2001
Visit Website
Hit this Midtown classic for poboys, gumbo, jambalaya, and all sorts of fried seafood from catfish to oysters that’s a popular business lunch stop now open for dinner. Either way, the hoppin’ tunes of zydeco music keep the atmosphere lively.
Ellie Sharp/EHOU

4. Shiva Indian Restaurant

Copy Link
2514 Times Blvd
Houston, TX 77005
(713) 523-4753
Visit Website
Serving the Houston community since 1990, this favorite Rice Village and Sugar Land locale showcases Indian dishes for heat-lovers and subtle palates alike. Order extra hot-from-the-Tandoori (clay oven) naan for soaking up the rich sauces and fluffy Basmati rice.
Ellie Sharp/EHOU

5. Hobbit Cafe

Copy Link
2243 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 526-5460
Visit Website
An expansive patio deck hidden behind lush foliage encourages lingering over meals with friends and family while the cool, dim interior is cozy and cave-like. Don’t miss the overstuffed burgers, savory enchiladas, or fresh tropical chicken salad. Wash it all down with draft beer or luscious homemade smoothies.
Ellie Sharp/EHOU

6. Andy's Cafe

Copy Link
1115 E 11th St
Houston, TX 77009
(713) 861-9423
Whether for an early morning taco run or calming a middle-of-the-night craving for caldo de pollo, this Heights gem has you covered. Diner classics are also on point with BLTs, burgers, and grilled cheese. Take advantage of the $1.39 breakfast burritos available from 5am-9am daily.
Ellie Sharp/EHOU

7. Bamboo House

Copy Link
540 Waugh Dr
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 522-3442
Visit Website
Fried prawns with garlic and spicy Singapore Noodles bursting with shrimp, chicken, and vegetables share company with inventive fried rices like pineapple or Thai basil. Enjoy in-house or with convenient online ordering for a taste of Montrose wherever you dine.
Ellie Sharp/EHOU

8. Istanbul Grill & Deli

Copy Link
5613 Morningside Dr
Houston, TX 77005
(713) 526-2800
Visit Website
Enjoy freshly made Turkish dishes including appetizers of tabuli, humus, and red lentil soup plus flavor-rich sandwiches, kebabs, and Turkish pizza on a shady tree-lined street in bustling Rice Village. Save space for the decadent desserts like baklava and rice pudding.
Ellie Sharp/EHOU

9. Joyce's Seafood and Steaks

Copy Link
6415 San Felipe St
Houston, TX 77057
(713) 975-9902
Visit Website
Come for the award-winning menu of Gulf Coast favorites, stay for the hospitality of a well-oiled dining machine owned and operated by siblings Francisco Ruiz and Martha Lopez. Don’t miss the juicy steaks or crowed-pleasing oyster shooters – served on tortilla chips no less!
Yelp/Tonia K.

10. Cliff's Old Fashion Grill

Copy Link
1822 Fountain View Dr
Houston, TX 77057
(713) 780-4010
Burgers, shakes, and massive onion rings keep loyal patrons returning to this Galleria-area eatery year after year. When the weather’s nice, sit on the front patio for or bring a crowd to sit around the large wooden tables inside. Ask for extra napkins because you’ll need them.

11. Christy's Donuts & Kolaches

Copy Link
1103 W Gray St
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 524-4005
Houstonians love the sweet and savory morning fixes at this time-honored locale on the corner of W. Gray and Montrose. Get the goods to go or take in the charm of the dining space great for watching the steady stream of customers and the busy streets outside.
Ellie Sharp/EHOU

12. Skinny Rita's Grille

Copy Link
4002 N Main St
Houston, TX 77009
(832) 831-6895
Visit Website
Multiple patios including a rooftop deck plus a main dining room with bar, tables, and booths ensure ample space to enjoy Latin flavors with a healthy twist. Features include grilled pollo en mole and the quinoa chile relleno – neither skimp on flavor or fill-factor. Don’t fret, cheesy diet-busters are on offer too as is a full lineup of liquid libations.

1. Nidda Thai Cuisine

1226 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006
Ellie Sharp/EHOU
A Montrose staple for years, this is the place to come for curries, soups, and noodles. Play it safe with the ever-popular red chicken curry or branch out with Fish in the Garden – hot crispy fried fish topped with cashews, shredded green mango, and lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and mint in a spicy lime sauce. Everything about dining at Nidda is casual-yet-formal, quiet-yet-bold, comforting-yet-invigorating.
1226 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

2. Red Ox Bar & Grill

811 Collingsworth St, Houston, TX 77009
Ellie Sharp.
Tucked into the neighborhood of Northside is one of the best-kept secrets in town where every dish is made from scratch in a space that exudes a homey charm. Try the signature prickly pear margaritas, mojitos, and sangria and stay tuned for loteria – aka Mexican bingo – starting in August.
811 Collingsworth St
Houston, TX 77009

3. Zydeco Louisiana Diner

1119 Pease St, Houston, TX 77002
Ellie Sharp/EHOU
Hit this Midtown classic for poboys, gumbo, jambalaya, and all sorts of fried seafood from catfish to oysters that’s a popular business lunch stop now open for dinner. Either way, the hoppin’ tunes of zydeco music keep the atmosphere lively.
1119 Pease St
Houston, TX 77002

4. Shiva Indian Restaurant

2514 Times Blvd, Houston, TX 77005
Ellie Sharp/EHOU
Serving the Houston community since 1990, this favorite Rice Village and Sugar Land locale showcases Indian dishes for heat-lovers and subtle palates alike. Order extra hot-from-the-Tandoori (clay oven) naan for soaking up the rich sauces and fluffy Basmati rice.
2514 Times Blvd
Houston, TX 77005

5. Hobbit Cafe

2243 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77098
Ellie Sharp/EHOU
An expansive patio deck hidden behind lush foliage encourages lingering over meals with friends and family while the cool, dim interior is cozy and cave-like. Don’t miss the overstuffed burgers, savory enchiladas, or fresh tropical chicken salad. Wash it all down with draft beer or luscious homemade smoothies.
2243 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77098

6. Andy's Cafe

1115 E 11th St, Houston, TX 77009
Ellie Sharp/EHOU
Whether for an early morning taco run or calming a middle-of-the-night craving for caldo de pollo, this Heights gem has you covered. Diner classics are also on point with BLTs, burgers, and grilled cheese. Take advantage of the $1.39 breakfast burritos available from 5am-9am daily.
1115 E 11th St
Houston, TX 77009

7. Bamboo House

540 Waugh Dr, Houston, TX 77019
Ellie Sharp/EHOU
Fried prawns with garlic and spicy Singapore Noodles bursting with shrimp, chicken, and vegetables share company with inventive fried rices like pineapple or Thai basil. Enjoy in-house or with convenient online ordering for a taste of Montrose wherever you dine.
540 Waugh Dr
Houston, TX 77019

8. Istanbul Grill & Deli

5613 Morningside Dr, Houston, TX 77005
Ellie Sharp/EHOU
Enjoy freshly made Turkish dishes including appetizers of tabuli, humus, and red lentil soup plus flavor-rich sandwiches, kebabs, and Turkish pizza on a shady tree-lined street in bustling Rice Village. Save space for the decadent desserts like baklava and rice pudding.
5613 Morningside Dr
Houston, TX 77005

9. Joyce's Seafood and Steaks

6415 San Felipe St, Houston, TX 77057
Yelp/Tonia K.
Come for the award-winning menu of Gulf Coast favorites, stay for the hospitality of a well-oiled dining machine owned and operated by siblings Francisco Ruiz and Martha Lopez. Don’t miss the juicy steaks or crowed-pleasing oyster shooters – served on tortilla chips no less!
6415 San Felipe St
Houston, TX 77057

10. Cliff's Old Fashion Grill

1822 Fountain View Dr, Houston, TX 77057
Burgers, shakes, and massive onion rings keep loyal patrons returning to this Galleria-area eatery year after year. When the weather’s nice, sit on the front patio for or bring a crowd to sit around the large wooden tables inside. Ask for extra napkins because you’ll need them.
1822 Fountain View Dr
Houston, TX 77057

11. Christy's Donuts & Kolaches

1103 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019
Ellie Sharp/EHOU
Houstonians love the sweet and savory morning fixes at this time-honored locale on the corner of W. Gray and Montrose. Get the goods to go or take in the charm of the dining space great for watching the steady stream of customers and the busy streets outside.
1103 W Gray St
Houston, TX 77019

12. Skinny Rita's Grille

4002 N Main St, Houston, TX 77009
Multiple patios including a rooftop deck plus a main dining room with bar, tables, and booths ensure ample space to enjoy Latin flavors with a healthy twist. Features include grilled pollo en mole and the quinoa chile relleno – neither skimp on flavor or fill-factor. Don’t fret, cheesy diet-busters are on offer too as is a full lineup of liquid libations.
4002 N Main St
Houston, TX 77009

Related Maps