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A plate of brisket enchiladas, rice, and beans.
Candente combines Tex-Mex and Texas’ love of barbecue.
Brittany Britto Garley

The 38 Essential Houston Restaurants

Where to find the city’s best eats, from excellent West African cuisine to smoky brisket and everything in between

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Candente combines Tex-Mex and Texas’ love of barbecue.
| Brittany Britto Garley

The saying goes that one can travel the world without ever leaving Houston just by dining out. The sheer diversity of the city, which is home to some of the largest immigrant populations in the country, means its culinary scene is a true smorgasbord of cuisines and flavors, and ensuring that you experience it all can be a daunting task.

That’s where Eater 38 comes in. This guide is intended to answer the eternal question of where you should dine when in Clutch City and highlights the vital restaurants that represent the beating culinary heart of the most diverse city in America. But with a dining scene that’s ever-evolving, that also means this list can’t just stay the same.

Every quarter, Eater Houston updates the 38 to stay true to what matters in this dynamic city. This summer, the Houston 38 bids farewell to J-Bar-M Barbecue and Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino, and rotates in Candente and Traveler’s Table.

Without further ado, go forth and explore Houston’s tastiest tacos, juiciest brisket, and most classic Viet-Cajun cuisine.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Squable

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A strong selection of European small plates await at this laid-back Heights favorite, ranging from a dutch baby pancake with ricotta to marinated mussels served with calico beans and bonito aioli. As far as the larger dishes are concerned, consider the bolognese lasagna with pickled collards, or the restaurant’s famed French cheeseburger, which is smothered in raclette cheese.

Feges BBQ Spring Branch

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Feges’s menu includes boudin, brisket, and pulled pork, but what makes it special is that it goes far beyond the barbecue staples. There’s top-notch sides like Moroccan-spiced carrots, spiced cracklins, and pimento mac and cheese, plus sandwiches and wings, and a wide selection of adult beverages, including $10 frozen margaritas. The restaurant also offers entire racks of ribs and vacuum-sealed slabs of brisket to go, so if you go home empty-handed, that’s on you.

Phat Eatery

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Malaysian street food, like roti canai and satay skewers, is the star at this casual Katy dining destination, but the options are wide-ranging. Chef Alex Au-Yeung’s curry-sauced crawfish is big and juicy, and dishes like sizzling black pepper beef, Hainanese chicken with a trio of sauces for dipping, and grilled whole snapper in sambal sauce shine every single time.

Truth BBQ

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With juicy whole-hog roasts, smoked boudin, fatty brisket, and Saturday-only beef ribs that quickly sell out, it’s no surprise Truth BBQ has been billed as one of the top barbecue spots in the state. Evolved from a small shack in Brenham, Truth’s fancier, second location in the Heights serves competition-level barbecue with a backyard flair. Visitors can delight in complements like corn pudding, tater tot casserole, and delectable cakes, crafted by Botello’s mother, Janel, and Truth’s head baker Laquita Wilkins.

Xin Chao

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At this James Beard Award-nominated modern Vietnamese restaurant in the Sixth Ward, chefs Christinia Ha and Tony Nguyen pay homage to both their heritage and their Texas home with dishes like smoked beef rib flat rice noodles made with 44 Farms ribs, or lemongrass-buttermilk fried chicken with pandan rice, pickled cucumber, beef tallow aioli, and hot satay honey.

POST Market (Food Hall)

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Visit this bustling food hall and you’re bound to encounter the many walks of Houston life and cuisine thanks to dozens of food stalls. From a blend of West African foodways at ChòpnBlọk with heartwarming curry rice bowls, budget-friendly sushi, decadent cakes at Lucy Pearl’s, and Filipino cuisine at Soy Pinoy, there’s something for everyone.

Bludorn Restaurant

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Chef Aaron Bludorn’s chic namesake restaurant is a local favorite, with New American-style dishes, like a decadent sea urchin spaghetti, a mesmerizing seafood tower, a comforting and rich seafood pot pie, and its flavorful grouper, served with blackening spice, tamarind black garlic, and Thai basil green papaya. The starters menu is equally compelling, with options like charred octopus, a Tarte flambee, and savory maitake mushrooms with a preserved lemon vinaigrette.

A long narrow flatbread.
Bludorn has quickly become a favorite in Houston after opening in August 2020.
Caroline Fontenot

The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

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Founded in 1973, this iconic Tex-Mex neighborhood spot’s claim to fame is introducing the country to fajitas. Enjoy sizzling platters of its take on this signature dish, plus queso flameado and mango-habanero margaritas for a truly Houston Tex-Mex feast.

Though Tex-Mex is an obvious Houston favorite, James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega explores another form Mexican cuisine through the region of Oaxaca at this Downtown destination. Consider the memelas, served with roasted pork rib and tomatillo-avocado sauce, or a crispy tlayuda topped with grilled skirt steak and mole negro.

Tacos de Chicharron crispy pork belly, blue corn tortilla, refritos, pickled red onion, salsa martajada.
Xochi is one of the city’s best new restaurants to serve up Oaxacan cuisine, and Houston agrees.
Bill Addison/Eater

Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana

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Pizaro’s is serious about Neapolitan pizza — so serious that it earned certification from the prestigious Vera Pizza Napoletana organization, which governs “authentic” pies from the region. Keep it classic with a margherita pie, or order the Calabrese, topped with pepperoni, sopressata, fresh mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Turner's

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This luxe restaurant on Post Oak is perfect for date night or a weekday splurge, thanks to dishes like creamy lobster bisque and beef carpaccio with king crab, as well as solid raw bar options. Caviar service is on offer for those who are really looking to ball out, while rigatoni in vegetarian bolognese and roasted branzino with white beans and preserved lemons serve as excellent entree choices.

Nancy's Hustle

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A known Houston favorite, so much so that pop star Dua Lipa paid a visit, Nancy’s Hustle offers intriguing cuisine, like a “pickle party” served with Spanish chorizo and cheese and the famous griddled Nancy cakes served with butter and soaked trout roe. Be sure to try the grilled golden tilefish served with roasted beets and confit fennel, or squid ink linguine and Gulf shrimp in fermented chili butter.

Nancy Hustle’s Nancy cakes.
Post Oak restaurant Nancy Hustle wows with signature dishes like the Nancy cakes, which are complemented with a cultured butter, smoked trout, roe, and chives.
Mai Pham

Traveler's Table

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Indecisive eaters will have a field day at this trendy brunch hot spot, which showcases spins on cuisines from around the world all on one menu and a host of cocktails. Foray to the Caribbean with the jerk chicken and braised oxtails, to Asia with the jungle curry or soft shell crab pad Thai, or to Africa and the Mediterranean with beef cheek ravioli and Nigerian steak suya skewer with jollof rice. Whatever you do, start with the crab samosas.

Technically, Eater Young Gun Ryan LaChaine is operating two restaurants out of his Montrose space right now. The first, a pickup- and delivery-only spot called Louie’s, is a super fun sandwich shop serving up pizza subs, a riff on the classic Filet-o-Fish, and of course, LaChaine’s famed butter burger sliders. There’s also an excellent menu from Riel, boasting a Korean “crunch wrap” stuffed with blackened rice and skirt steak, mushroom empanadas, and crawfish rolls.

Cali Sandwich & Fast Food

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With one of the largest Vietnamese populations in the country, banh mi is an essential Houston dish, and this no-frills Midtown shop is one of the city’s best destinations for a quick and killer sandwich. Whether you prefer your banh mi stuffed with beef, grilled chicken, barbecue pork, or meatballs, the options here are all excellent and under $5.

This reservation-only tasting menu restaurant highlights a different region of the Mediterranean roughly every quarter. The restaurant previously captivated diners with the cuisines of Andalusia and Murcia in Southern Spain. And this past spring, March staff brought diners to the historic region of Occitania, which spans the South of France. Its reinterpretations of classics include bouillabaisse, a seafood stew; cassoulet; and a mont blanc dessert with creme puffs reminiscent of the Alps.

State of Grace

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Home to one of Houston’s best oyster bars, this River Oaks favorite is known for its stunning plated dishes like hearth-roasted octopus, cacio e pepe spaghettini showered in grana padano cheese, and bearnaise-slathered steaks.

Street to Kitchen

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An “unapologetically Thai” restaurant, Street to Kitchen doesn’t mince words about its commitment to staying true to its culinary roots. Look forward to chef Benchawan Painter’s rice bowls topped with crispy pork belly and pork Panang curry, super-fresh green papaya salad with dried shrimp and crushed peanuts, and stir-fried Thai basil beef. 

The Breakfast Klub

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Don’t let the line out the door intimidate you — the chicken and waffles at this legendary Houston breakfast joint are a must, delivering the perfect balance of sweet and salty. With a stamp of approval from Beyonce, this Midtown staple is a casual spot for crispy catfish and grits, cheesy breakfast sandwiches, and an excellent eggs Benedict served on a biscuit.

This lounge-y Montrose spot tucked away in a neighborhood next to the Menil, serves vibes unlike any other place in Houston. With a massive vinyl collection, diners might hear anything from Wu-Tang to Lee Fields to Nas, making this the perfect place to start — or end — a night. Executive chef Jeff Potts delivers compelling dishes like red kuri squash with chili oil and goat cheese mousse, duck confit with bruleed figs, mussels, beef tartare, and a not-so-basic chicken sandwich, along with a creative roster of rum, gin and rye cocktails. The atmosphere is enhanced by the bar’s massive in-house vinyl collection, which focuses on 90s hip hop, African jazz, and more.

Nobie's

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This Montrose mainstay is slinging some truly compelling dishes perfect for a first foray back into the city’s dining scene. The menu here changes frequently, but expect plates like super-fresh raw oysters, and the decadent “Freak in the Sheets” pasta, a squid ink lasagna filled with king crab, uni butter, and smoked trout roe.

The Pit Room

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Find barbecue with a tinge of Tex-Mex at The Pit Room in Montrose, where freshly smoked meats pair with sides like charred okra, chips and queso, and chicharrones with hot sauce. The brisket and smoked chicken tacos are also standouts. Grab a plate and an icy cold beer and head next door to the patio to watch the Astros or Rockets play while dining.

Candente

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From the owners of Pit Room, Candente expertly taps into Houston’s love of barbecue and Tex-Mex, with dreamy smoked brisket enchiladas and nachos, flavorsome fajitas, and homemade salsas and chili con queso that will keep you asking for more chips. Be sure to get the full experience by dining out on the patio with a frozen margarita or brandy and fruit-infused sangria in hand.

Kata Robata

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Chef Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi’s constantly changing menu features fresh fish flown in almost daily from Japan, with dishes like lobster and crab ramen, fried green tomatoes with kimchi aioli, and uni chawanmushi, tender egg custard that packs a punch of briny flavor. Sushi-wise, choose from a wide variety of maki rolls, or splurge for the full omakase experience.

Sashimi and maki at Kata Robata.
With catches flown in almost daily, Kata Robata’s menu boasts fresh sashimi and maki roles, and other dishes packed full of flavor.
Kata Robata/Facebook

Hobbit Cafe

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Founded as one of Houston’s first vegetarian-friendly restaurants in 1972, the Hobbit Cafe is still serving up veggie-packed eats, massive burgers, and fresh dishes like gazpacho, tropical chicken salad and mezze platters in a quirky old house dedicated to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. Over the years the Hobbit has also gained a reputation for its wide selection of craft beers. Not a drinker? Try a fruit-packed smoothie instead.

Taste of Nigeria

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The extensive menu at Taste of Nigeria includes everything from meat pies to moi moi to pepper soups. Entrees like ogbono, ground mango seeds with tilapia or chicken, or the suya platter with jollof rice make this a go-to for Houston’s largest West African immigrant community.

Mo' Better Brews

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Boasting dishes like peach cobbler pancakes, flatbread pizzas, and its fan-favorite chik’n fried shrooms and grits, drizzled with either a hot honey syrup or “Trill” remoulade sauce, this vegan spot delivers a vibe that has attracted locals and visitors alike, including H-Town native Lizzo. While you’re there, be sure to grab a coffee and peruse its vinyl collection for the perfect soundtrack to take home.

Sparkle's Hamburger Spot

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Serving up an extensive menu with everything from burgers to breakfast tacos in the Third Ward, Sparkle’s is a favorite of famous Houstonians like rapper Paul Wall. Keep it classic with the excellent chili cheeseburger, or consider a pork chop sandwich paired with one of Sparkles’s frozen daiquiris as a real lunchtime splurge.

a fat, juicy hamburger topped with cheese
Sparkle’s Hamburger Spot goes and above and beyond its name, delivering everything from pork chop sandwiches to frozen daiquiris, earning a stamp of approval from locals and famous Houstonians.
Sparkle’s Hamburger Spot / Facebook

Turkey Leg Hut

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Dishing out smoked turkey legs stuffed with everything from crawfish mac and cheese to dirty rice, Turkey Leg Hut has become a favorite of celebrities like Snoop Dogg and locals alike. Though waiting in line — listening to music and watching the flashy cars pass by — is somewhat of a rite of passage, Houstonians know the drill. Avoid a long wait by going for lunch on a weekday.

Stuffed turkey leg from the Turkey Leg Hut.
With big portion, creative combinations and celebrity sightings, Turkey Leg Hut is a restaurant every Houstonian and visitor needs to experience at least once.
Amy McCarthy/EHOU

Lucille's

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Led by executive chef Chris Williams and chef Khang Hoang, the family-run restaurant pays homage to Williams’ great-grandmother while harnessing flavors of the South. Lucille’s revived recipes have resulted in delectable classics like cheesy chili biscuits, braised oxtails, and fish caught straight from the Gulf, that is masterfully fried, roasted, or blackened depending on the dish. There’s “pork & beans” crafted from a bone-in pork chop and three-bean ragu with creamed collard green kimchi, and oxtail tamales — a spin on a Texas favorite.

Himalaya Restaurant

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One of the best Indo-Pak restaurants in Texas — and the country — Himalaya is a Houston icon. The sit-down restaurant offers crispy, chef Kaiser Lashkari’s menu of innovative dishes, including his spice-ladened fried chicken and hunter’s beef — essential Space City meals, and an unbeatable daily lunch special for $9.

Himalaya’s crispy fried chicken, topped with slices of lemon.
Himalaya offers fried chicken with an Indo-Pak flair.
Bill Addison/Eater

Mala Sichuan Bistro

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With five Houston area locations, including outposts in Katy and Sugar Land, Mala makes it easy to eat some of the city’s best Sichuan cuisine. Everything from DIY dan dan noodles to mapo tofu is on the menu, along with tons of additional options like red oil dumplings, cucumber salad, and dry-fried peanuts and tofu.

Blood Bros. BBQ

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Founded by three Alief natives, this Bellaire smokehouse is where Asian flavors and Texas barbecue techniques collide. Try favorites like the pork ribs, togarashi smoked chicken, and gouda mac and cheese in-house. Alternatively, place a bulk order of pork belly burnt ends, jalapeno-cheddar sausage, brisket fried rice, and ambrosia salad. Advance orders require a minimum of five pounds of meat, and must be placed 48 hours in advance via Blood Bros’s website.

Blood Bros brisket.
Blood Bros. taps into its Texas community with Asian flavors and local barbecue techniques that make for an undeniable combination.
Blood Bros. BBQ/Facebook

Pho Dien

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One of the city’s essential pho destinations, the broth at this Asiatown spot is simmered for at least 12 hours, making it rich and fragrant.

A bowl of Pho Dien’s brisket pho, complete with onions and jalapenos.
When in search of a soothing meal, Pho Dien in Asiatownis a go-to spot, offering up pho with broths that have been simmering for hours.
Pho Dien

Crawfish & Noodles

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Viet-Cajun crawfish is a distinctly Houston dish, and there’s no better place to find it than this James Beard Award-nominated spot in Asiatown. Big, juicy mudbugs are tossed in a spicy, buttery, garlicky sauce that will have even skeptical crawfish newbies coming back for more.

Afrikiko

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Whether Nigeria or Ghana makes the best jollof rice is up for debate, but this beloved Ghanaian restaurant, located off of Bissonnet Street and the Southwest Freeway, makes a strong case for having the best. Enjoy classics like goat pepper soup, beef stew, egusi soup, and cassava in a casual, convivial atmosphere.

Fried fish and soup at Afrikiko.
Ghanian restaurant Afrikiko serves the spices and flavors of West Africa.
Esra Erol/Eater

Helen's Kitchen

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Helen’s, the self-proclaimed “best Jamaican food in Houston,” serves up dishes like oxtails, curried goat, jerk wings, roti, and, the national dish of Jamaica, ackee and saltfish. They also offer a wide variety of tropical drinks including both sorrel and Jamaican soda.

Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House

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It’s a little bit of a drive from Houston, but the views and fresh Gulf oysters at this chic waterfront restaurant are definitely worth the possibility of sitting in traffic. Helmed by executive chef Joe Cervantez, Pier 6 boasts a menu packed with locally caught fish transformed into dishes like crispy cornmeal-crusted snapper served with shrimp etouffee.

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Squable

A strong selection of European small plates await at this laid-back Heights favorite, ranging from a dutch baby pancake with ricotta to marinated mussels served with calico beans and bonito aioli. As far as the larger dishes are concerned, consider the bolognese lasagna with pickled collards, or the restaurant’s famed French cheeseburger, which is smothered in raclette cheese.

Feges BBQ Spring Branch

Feges’s menu includes boudin, brisket, and pulled pork, but what makes it special is that it goes far beyond the barbecue staples. There’s top-notch sides like Moroccan-spiced carrots, spiced cracklins, and pimento mac and cheese, plus sandwiches and wings, and a wide selection of adult beverages, including $10 frozen margaritas. The restaurant also offers entire racks of ribs and vacuum-sealed slabs of brisket to go, so if you go home empty-handed, that’s on you.

Phat Eatery

Malaysian street food, like roti canai and satay skewers, is the star at this casual Katy dining destination, but the options are wide-ranging. Chef Alex Au-Yeung’s curry-sauced crawfish is big and juicy, and dishes like sizzling black pepper beef, Hainanese chicken with a trio of sauces for dipping, and grilled whole snapper in sambal sauce shine every single time.

Truth BBQ

With juicy whole-hog roasts, smoked boudin, fatty brisket, and Saturday-only beef ribs that quickly sell out, it’s no surprise Truth BBQ has been billed as one of the top barbecue spots in the state. Evolved from a small shack in Brenham, Truth’s fancier, second location in the Heights serves competition-level barbecue with a backyard flair. Visitors can delight in complements like corn pudding, tater tot casserole, and delectable cakes, crafted by Botello’s mother, Janel, and Truth’s head baker Laquita Wilkins.

Xin Chao

At this James Beard Award-nominated modern Vietnamese restaurant in the Sixth Ward, chefs Christinia Ha and Tony Nguyen pay homage to both their heritage and their Texas home with dishes like smoked beef rib flat rice noodles made with 44 Farms ribs, or lemongrass-buttermilk fried chicken with pandan rice, pickled cucumber, beef tallow aioli, and hot satay honey.

POST Market (Food Hall)

Visit this bustling food hall and you’re bound to encounter the many walks of Houston life and cuisine thanks to dozens of food stalls. From a blend of West African foodways at ChòpnBlọk with heartwarming curry rice bowls, budget-friendly sushi, decadent cakes at Lucy Pearl’s, and Filipino cuisine at Soy Pinoy, there’s something for everyone.

Bludorn Restaurant

A long narrow flatbread.
Bludorn has quickly become a favorite in Houston after opening in August 2020.
Caroline Fontenot

Chef Aaron Bludorn’s chic namesake restaurant is a local favorite, with New American-style dishes, like a decadent sea urchin spaghetti, a mesmerizing seafood tower, a comforting and rich seafood pot pie, and its flavorful grouper, served with blackening spice, tamarind black garlic, and Thai basil green papaya. The starters menu is equally compelling, with options like charred octopus, a Tarte flambee, and savory maitake mushrooms with a preserved lemon vinaigrette.

A long narrow flatbread.
Bludorn has quickly become a favorite in Houston after opening in August 2020.
Caroline Fontenot

The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

Founded in 1973, this iconic Tex-Mex neighborhood spot’s claim to fame is introducing the country to fajitas. Enjoy sizzling platters of its take on this signature dish, plus queso flameado and mango-habanero margaritas for a truly Houston Tex-Mex feast.

Xochi

Tacos de Chicharron crispy pork belly, blue corn tortilla, refritos, pickled red onion, salsa martajada.
Xochi is one of the city’s best new restaurants to serve up Oaxacan cuisine, and Houston agrees.
Bill Addison/Eater

Though Tex-Mex is an obvious Houston favorite, James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega explores another form Mexican cuisine through the region of Oaxaca at this Downtown destination. Consider the memelas, served with roasted pork rib and tomatillo-avocado sauce, or a crispy tlayuda topped with grilled skirt steak and mole negro.

Tacos de Chicharron crispy pork belly, blue corn tortilla, refritos, pickled red onion, salsa martajada.
Xochi is one of the city’s best new restaurants to serve up Oaxacan cuisine, and Houston agrees.
Bill Addison/Eater

Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana

Pizaro’s is serious about Neapolitan pizza — so serious that it earned certification from the prestigious Vera Pizza Napoletana organization, which governs “authentic” pies from the region. Keep it classic with a margherita pie, or order the Calabrese, topped with pepperoni, sopressata, fresh mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Turner's

This luxe restaurant on Post Oak is perfect for date night or a weekday splurge, thanks to dishes like creamy lobster bisque and beef carpaccio with king crab, as well as solid raw bar options. Caviar service is on offer for those who are really looking to ball out, while rigatoni in vegetarian bolognese and roasted branzino with white beans and preserved lemons serve as excellent entree choices.

Nancy's Hustle

Nancy Hustle’s Nancy cakes.
Post Oak restaurant Nancy Hustle wows with signature dishes like the Nancy cakes, which are complemented with a cultured butter, smoked trout, roe, and chives.
Mai Pham

A known Houston favorite, so much so that pop star Dua Lipa paid a visit, Nancy’s Hustle offers intriguing cuisine, like a “pickle party” served with Spanish chorizo and cheese and the famous griddled Nancy cakes served with butter and soaked trout roe. Be sure to try the grilled golden tilefish served with roasted beets and confit fennel, or squid ink linguine and Gulf shrimp in fermented chili butter.

Nancy Hustle’s Nancy cakes.
Post Oak restaurant Nancy Hustle wows with signature dishes like the Nancy cakes, which are complemented with a cultured butter, smoked trout, roe, and chives.
Mai Pham

Traveler's Table

Indecisive eaters will have a field day at this trendy brunch hot spot, which showcases spins on cuisines from around the world all on one menu and a host of cocktails. Foray to the Caribbean with the jerk chicken and braised oxtails, to Asia with the jungle curry or soft shell crab pad Thai, or to Africa and the Mediterranean with beef cheek ravioli and Nigerian steak suya skewer with jollof rice. Whatever you do, start with the crab samosas.

Riel

Technically, Eater Young Gun Ryan LaChaine is operating two restaurants out of his Montrose space right now. The first, a pickup- and delivery-only spot called Louie’s, is a super fun sandwich shop serving up pizza subs, a riff on the classic Filet-o-Fish, and of course, LaChaine’s famed butter burger sliders. There’s also an excellent menu from Riel, boasting a Korean “crunch wrap” stuffed with blackened rice and skirt steak, mushroom empanadas, and crawfish rolls.

Cali Sandwich & Fast Food

With one of the largest Vietnamese populations in the country, banh mi is an essential Houston dish, and this no-frills Midtown shop is one of the city’s best destinations for a quick and killer sandwich. Whether you prefer your banh mi stuffed with beef, grilled chicken, barbecue pork, or meatballs, the options here are all excellent and under $5.

Related Maps

March

This reservation-only tasting menu restaurant highlights a different region of the Mediterranean roughly every quarter. The restaurant previously captivated diners with the cuisines of Andalusia and Murcia in Southern Spain. And this past spring, March staff brought diners to the historic region of Occitania, which spans the South of France. Its reinterpretations of classics include bouillabaisse, a seafood stew; cassoulet; and a mont blanc dessert with creme puffs reminiscent of the Alps.

State of Grace

Home to one of Houston’s best oyster bars, this River Oaks favorite is known for its stunning plated dishes like hearth-roasted octopus, cacio e pepe spaghettini showered in grana padano cheese, and bearnaise-slathered steaks.

Street to Kitchen

An “unapologetically Thai” restaurant, Street to Kitchen doesn’t mince words about its commitment to staying true to its culinary roots. Look forward to chef Benchawan Painter’s rice bowls topped with crispy pork belly and pork Panang curry, super-fresh green papaya salad with dried shrimp and crushed peanuts, and stir-fried Thai basil beef. 

The Breakfast Klub

Don’t let the line out the door intimidate you — the chicken and waffles at this legendary Houston breakfast joint are a must, delivering the perfect balance of sweet and salty. With a stamp of approval from Beyonce, this Midtown staple is a casual spot for crispy catfish and grits, cheesy breakfast sandwiches, and an excellent eggs Benedict served on a biscuit.

93 Til

This lounge-y Montrose spot tucked away in a neighborhood next to the Menil, serves vibes unlike any other place in Houston. With a massive vinyl collection, diners might hear anything from Wu-Tang to Lee Fields to Nas, making this the perfect place to start — or end — a night. Executive chef Jeff Potts delivers compelling dishes like red kuri squash with chili oil and goat cheese mousse, duck confit with bruleed figs, mussels, beef tartare, and a not-so-basic chicken sandwich, along with a creative roster of rum, gin and rye cocktails. The atmosphere is enhanced by the bar’s massive in-house vinyl collection, which focuses on 90s hip hop, African jazz, and more.

Nobie's

This Montrose mainstay is slinging some truly compelling dishes perfect for a first foray back into the city’s dining scene. The menu here changes frequently, but expect plates like super-fresh raw oysters, and the decadent “Freak in the Sheets” pasta, a squid ink lasagna filled with king crab, uni butter, and smoked trout roe.

The Pit Room

Find barbecue with a tinge of Tex-Mex at The Pit Room in Montrose, where freshly smoked meats pair with sides like charred okra, chips and queso, and chicharrones with hot sauce. The brisket and smoked chicken tacos are also standouts. Grab a plate and an icy cold beer and head next door to the patio to watch the Astros or Rockets play while dining.

Candente

From the owners of Pit Room, Candente expertly taps into Houston’s love of barbecue and Tex-Mex, with dreamy smoked brisket enchiladas and nachos, flavorsome fajitas, and homemade salsas and chili con queso that will keep you asking for more chips. Be sure to get the full experience by dining out on the patio with a frozen margarita or brandy and fruit-infused sangria in hand.

Kata Robata

Sashimi and maki at Kata Robata.
With catches flown in almost daily, Kata Robata’s menu boasts fresh sashimi and maki roles, and other dishes packed full of flavor.
Kata Robata/Facebook

Chef Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi’s constantly changing menu features fresh fish flown in almost daily from Japan, with dishes like lobster and crab ramen, fried green tomatoes with kimchi aioli, and uni chawanmushi, tender egg custard that packs a punch of briny flavor. Sushi-wise, choose from a wide variety of maki rolls, or splurge for the full omakase experience.