clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
March Houston’s sepia dish, made with squid ink, salsa juvert, and farro, is said to represent the Balearic Islands.
Chef Felipe Ricco’s tasting menu at March is exploring a new region of Europe this fall.
Zach Horst

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

View as Map
Chef Felipe Ricco’s tasting menu at March is exploring a new region of Europe this fall.
| Zach Horst

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 cuisines that make up 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. So, without further ado, go forth and explore Houston’s tastiest tacos, juiciest brisket, and most classic Viet-Cajun cuisine.

Looking for Houston’s hottest new restaurants? Check out the Eater Heatmap.

For all the latest Houston dining intel, subscribe to Eater Houston's newsletter.

Read More
If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Tapping into American, French, and Asian cuisine at this Woodlands steakhouse, Chef Austin Simmons confirms why he is one of the best chefs in the region. Playing with various ingredients, most notably brown butter, diners are bound to find exciting, seafood-forward dishes in addition to its various cuts of beef, including Korean butter-poached crab loaded on a toothsome kimchi pancake, lobster toast with yuzu aioli and smoked trout roe, and a creamy crab truffle ravioli. Top the rich experience off with its wine pairings or one of its brown butter Old Fashioneds with an infused bourbon.

Squable

Copy Link

Carbs reign supreme in the most pleasant way at this modern European restaurant in the Heights. Find a strong selection of sharable small plates, ranging from a dutch baby pancake with ricotta to marinated mussels served with calico beans and bonito aioli, and larger plates, like the bolognese lasagna with pickled collards. The famed French cheeseburger smothered in raclette cheese can be selfishly devoured on one’s own.

Feges BBQ Spring Branch

Copy Link

Feges’s menu goes beyond barbecue staples like brisket, boudin, and pulled pork. Here, you’ll find fancier sides like Moroccan-spiced carrots, spiced cracklins, and pimento mac and cheese; sumptuous sandwiches and wings, plus 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

Copy Link

Helmed by James Beard Award-nominated chef Alex Au-Yeung, Phat’s focus on Malaysian street food staples like roti canai and satay skewers have helped establish this restaurant as a must-try dining destination. Trendy yet casual and affordable, diners should prepare to order a slew of its signature dishes, like its big and juicy curry-sauced crawfish, its addictive shrimp dumplings, and dishes like sizzling black pepper beef and Hainanese chicken with a trio of sauces for dipping.

Truth BBQ

Copy Link

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

Copy Link

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 home state of Texas with dishes like spicy, buttery Viet-Cajun oysters, smoked beef rib flat rice noodles made with 44 Farms ribs, and lemongrass-buttermilk fried chicken with pandan rice, pickled cucumber, beef tallow aioli, and hot satay honey.

POST Market (Food Hall)

Copy Link

A bustling food hall that reflects everything that’s hot in Houston cuisine right now, Post is a prime choice when looking to explore the city’s variety. With ChòpnBlọk’s heartwarming curry rice bowls showcasing West African foodways, decadent cakes at Lucy Pearl’s, and South American cuisine, there’s something for everyone.

Bludorn Restaurant

Copy Link

With its New American-French-inspired style and Gulf Coast-heavy dishes, chef Aaron Bludorn’s upscale namesake restaurant is a local mainstay. Dishes like decadent sea urchin spaghetti, its comforting lobster-chicken pot pie, and its short rib ravioli are worthy orders. Appetizers are equally compelling, with options like a 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 since opening in August 2020.
Caroline Fontenot

The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

Copy Link

Founded in 1973, this humble yet iconic Tex-Mex neighborhood spot’s claim to fame is introducing the country to juicy pieces of chargrilled beef skirt steak served in tortillas or “tacos al carbon” — or what’s known today as 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.

Houston’s Mexican scene would not be complete without James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega, who has explored the cuisine time and time again with his other locations, including Urbe and his namesake, Hugo’s. This Downtown restaurant dives into the Oaxaca region, boasting a tasting of its four classic moles; memelas served with roasted pork rib and tomatillo-avocado sauce; and plenty of cocktails made with agave-based spirits.

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

Copy Link

Pizaro’s is serious about the art of the hand-tossed, tender, saucy, and wood-fired Neapolitan pizza — so serious that it earned certification from the prestigious Vera Pizza Napoletana organization for adhering to its specific list of requirements. But this pizzeria is skilled in other styles, too, serving up thin and cheesy New York-style pies, and fluffy Detroit-style pizzas with crispy edges. Keep it classic with a margherita pie, or order the Detroit-style Sweet Pea, which is topped with caramelized onions, bell peppers, and Italian sausage.

Turner's

Copy Link

This moody, white tablecloth 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

Copy Link

Harnessing a variety of flavors, this cozy East Downtown gem draws in Houston crowds with its laid-back vibe and intriguing cuisine, including its “pickle party” served with Spanish chorizo and cheese, lamb tartare, and the famous griddled Nancy cakes served with butter and soaked trout roe. Be sure to try its featured pasta dish of the week.

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

Copy Link

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.

Chef Ryan LaChaine’s creations at this Montrose hotspot range from playful to artsy, but always delicious. Happy hour packs on the fun with a classy riff on McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish, and a blackened rice and skirt steak-stuffed Korean “crunchwrap” that could put Taco Bell to shame. Dinner hours produce fusions that are just as exciting, with dishes like mushroom empanadas, kimchi carbonara, melt-in-your-mouth butter sliders, and tempura cauliflower.

Cali Sandwich & Fast Food

Copy Link

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.

Chef Felipe Riccio’s reservation-only tasting menu restaurant is set on providing an experience that transports diners to different regions of the Mediterranean roughly every quarter. Previously, March captivated diners with the cuisines of the historic region of Occitania, spanning the South of France. This season, it dives into the Balearic Islands in Spain; Corisca, France; and Italian Islands, including Sardinia, Elba, Malta, and Cyprus with six or nine courses.

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

Copy Link

This beloved neighborhood cafe offers some of the city’s best Italian food in a relaxed and homey setting. Get your pasta fix with more than a dozen delicious to choose from, including the peppery spaghetti alla carbonara and the meaty tagliatelle bolognese, plus other entrees like spicy fennel meatballs in a tomato cream sauce. Its wine list, boasting more than 100 varieties, ensures you have a sip for every bite.

Street to Kitchen

Copy Link

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 drunken noodles, 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. Order the mango sticky rice. It’s one of the best desserts in the city.

The Breakfast Klub

Copy Link

Don’t let the line out the door intimidate you — With a stamp of approval from Beyonce and more than 20 years in the culinary game, the Breakfast Klub has more than earned its keep as a Houston institution. This legendary Midtown restaurant serves up staples like its iconic and flavorful chicken and Belgian waffles, delivering the perfect balance of sweet and salty, plus crispy catfish and grits, cheesy breakfast sandwiches, and more, all with a jazzy backdrop.

This lounge-y Montrose spot tucked away in a neighborhood next to the Menil, serves vibes unlike any other place in the city. 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 Lung Ly delivers compelling dishes like the half brick chicken with Spanish chorizo and lobster mushrooms, a not-so-basic patty melt with havarti cheese and bacon jam, 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

Copy Link

Inspired by the owner’s grandmother, this Montrose restaurant takes on a homey feel in a former bungalow that aims to serve comforting dishes with culinary flair to a vinyl soundtrack. A fluctuating menu here keeps things interesting, but expect dishes like super-fresh raw oysters, pull-apart milk bread with smoked trout roe, and Nonno’s pasta — a stellar tagliatelle bolognese that, thankfully, isn’t going anywhere.

The Pit Room

Copy Link

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.

Kata Robata

Copy Link

Chef Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi cooks up a constantly changing menu with fresh fish flown in almost daily from Japan, making way for delicious sushi, including maki rolls and an impeccable omakase experience. But with Kata Robata’s name being a shortened reference to fireside cooking, the restaurant is also sure to incorporate the hot side of things, with grilled meats cooked on the robata, and dishes like lobster and crab ramen, fried green tomatoes with kimchi aioli, and uni chawanmushi, a tender egg custard that packs a briny punch. Though some may argue that the miso lobster mac and cheese doesn’t belong at a Japanese restaurant, it’s a must-try.

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

Hobbit Cafe

Copy Link

Founded as one of Houston’s first vegetarian-friendly restaurants in 1972, the Hobbit Cafe is an institution tied to real-life memories and fiction for many locals. Housed in a quirky old house, the cafe dedicates itself to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, meaning diners will find loads of LOTR reference and food items, like its dragon wings, which are coated in a Jamaican jerk sauce, plus veggie-packed eats, massive burgers, and fresh dishes like gazpacho and mezze platters. Over the years the Hobbit has also gained a reputation for its wide selection of craft beers and mead — once the Vikings' drink of choice.

Taste of Nigeria

Copy Link

With an extensive menu boasting everything from meat pies and moi moi to pepper soups, this seat-yourself restaurant is the perfect place to stop in to get your fix of Nigerian cuisine without distraction. 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

Copy Link

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

Copy Link

With everything from burgers to breakfast tacos in the Third Ward, this old-school carryout is a favorite of locals and famous Houstonians like rapper Paul Wall. Keep it classic with a bacon cheeseburger or the excellent chili cheeseburger, and pair it with one of Sparkles’s frozen daiquiris and a side of fries.

Turkey Leg Hut

Copy Link

Stuffed with everything from crawfish mac and cheese to dirty rice, smoked turkey legs are the name of the game at this Third Ward restaurant. Houstonians know the drill — waiting in line, listening to music, and watching the flashy cars pass by is somewhat of a rite of passage, but you can avoid a long wait by going for lunch on a weekday.

Stuffed turkey leg from the Turkey Leg Hut.
With big portions, 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

Copy Link

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, baked macaroni and cheese, 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

Copy Link

Helmed by chef Kaiser Lashkari, this Indian and Pakistani restaurant is one of the best of its kind in the city and the country, making it an important stop for visitors whenever in Space City. The Mahatma Gandhi District mainstay goes beyond the classics like saag paneer and tikka masala, and promises generous portions of its iconic dishes, including its crispy, spicy Himalaya fried chicken — HFC, for short — which is served with a magic mustard sauce, and its tender hunter’s beef.

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

Copy Link

With five Houston area locations, including outposts in Katy, Sugar Land, and the newest in Heights, Mala is a pioneer when it comes to flavorful Sichuan cuisine in Houston. With its co-owner Cori Xiong hailing from Chengdu, a town in the Sichuan province, the restaurant harnesses hometown flavors in its top sellers like spicy dan dan noodles, the saucy mapo tofu, red oil dumplings, and green tea and bacon fried rice.

Blood Bros. BBQ

Copy Link

Founded by three Alief natives, this Bellaire smokehouse combines Asian flavors and Central Texas-style barbecue in a way that is undeniable to the tastebuds. Stay for the brisket,  fall-of-the-bone ribs, togarashi smoked chicken, juicy jalapeno-cheddar sausage, brisket fried rice, and pork belly burnt ends — and consider ordering in bulk to take some home for later. 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 with a peppery bark.
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

Copy Link

One of the city’s essential pho destinations, the broth at this Asiatown spot is simmered for at least 12 hours, making it rich, fragrant, and dare we say, healing. Opt for the full experience with a traditional combination bowl of beef soup, which comes with rare steak, flank, tendon, tripe, and meatball, or modify your protein as you see fit with 17 different varieties. Be sure to pair it with a Vietnamese coffee or salty soda lemonade for the full experience.

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

Copy Link

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. Though crawfish is the most obvious order, other dishes, including the basil fried rice, pho, and fried seafood options, including the salt-pepper crab are worthy options.

Afrikiko

Copy Link

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

Copy Link

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

Copy Link

Though a bit of a drive from Houston, the waterfront views and fresh Gulf oysters are definitely worth sitting in traffic. Helmed by executive chef Joe Cervantez, Pier 6, a James Beard-nominated lux restaurant, boasts a menu packed with locally caught fish transformed into dishes like crispy cornmeal-crusted snapper served with shrimp etouffee.

Loading comments...

TRIS

Tapping into American, French, and Asian cuisine at this Woodlands steakhouse, Chef Austin Simmons confirms why he is one of the best chefs in the region. Playing with various ingredients, most notably brown butter, diners are bound to find exciting, seafood-forward dishes in addition to its various cuts of beef, including Korean butter-poached crab loaded on a toothsome kimchi pancake, lobster toast with yuzu aioli and smoked trout roe, and a creamy crab truffle ravioli. Top the rich experience off with its wine pairings or one of its brown butter Old Fashioneds with an infused bourbon.

Squable

Carbs reign supreme in the most pleasant way at this modern European restaurant in the Heights. Find a strong selection of sharable small plates, ranging from a dutch baby pancake with ricotta to marinated mussels served with calico beans and bonito aioli, and larger plates, like the bolognese lasagna with pickled collards. The famed French cheeseburger smothered in raclette cheese can be selfishly devoured on one’s own.

Feges BBQ Spring Branch

Feges’s menu goes beyond barbecue staples like brisket, boudin, and pulled pork. Here, you’ll find fancier sides like Moroccan-spiced carrots, spiced cracklins, and pimento mac and cheese; sumptuous sandwiches and wings, plus 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

Helmed by James Beard Award-nominated chef Alex Au-Yeung, Phat’s focus on Malaysian street food staples like roti canai and satay skewers have helped establish this restaurant as a must-try dining destination. Trendy yet casual and affordable, diners should prepare to order a slew of its signature dishes, like its big and juicy curry-sauced crawfish, its addictive shrimp dumplings, and dishes like sizzling black pepper beef and Hainanese chicken with a trio of sauces for dipping.

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 home state of Texas with dishes like spicy, buttery Viet-Cajun oysters, smoked beef rib flat rice noodles made with 44 Farms ribs, and lemongrass-buttermilk fried chicken with pandan rice, pickled cucumber, beef tallow aioli, and hot satay honey.

POST Market (Food Hall)

A bustling food hall that reflects everything that’s hot in Houston cuisine right now, Post is a prime choice when looking to explore the city’s variety. With ChòpnBlọk’s heartwarming curry rice bowls showcasing West African foodways, decadent cakes at Lucy Pearl’s, and South American cuisine, there’s something for everyone.

Bludorn Restaurant

With its New American-French-inspired style and Gulf Coast-heavy dishes, chef Aaron Bludorn’s upscale namesake restaurant is a local mainstay. Dishes like decadent sea urchin spaghetti, its comforting lobster-chicken pot pie, and its short rib ravioli are worthy orders. Appetizers are equally compelling, with options like a 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 since opening in August 2020.
Caroline Fontenot

The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

Founded in 1973, this humble yet iconic Tex-Mex neighborhood spot’s claim to fame is introducing the country to juicy pieces of chargrilled beef skirt steak served in tortillas or “tacos al carbon” — or what’s known today as 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

Houston’s Mexican scene would not be complete without James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega, who has explored the cuisine time and time again with his other locations, including Urbe and his namesake, Hugo’s. This Downtown restaurant dives into the Oaxaca region, boasting a tasting of its four classic moles; memelas served with roasted pork rib and tomatillo-avocado sauce; and plenty of cocktails made with agave-based spirits.

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 the art of the hand-tossed, tender, saucy, and wood-fired Neapolitan pizza — so serious that it earned certification from the prestigious Vera Pizza Napoletana organization for adhering to its specific list of requirements. But this pizzeria is skilled in other styles, too, serving up thin and cheesy New York-style pies, and fluffy Detroit-style pizzas with crispy edges. Keep it classic with a margherita pie, or order the Detroit-style Sweet Pea, which is topped with caramelized onions, bell peppers, and Italian sausage.

Turner's

This moody, white tablecloth 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

Harnessing a variety of flavors, this cozy East Downtown gem draws in Houston crowds with its laid-back vibe and intriguing cuisine, including its “pickle party” served with Spanish chorizo and cheese, lamb tartare, and the famous griddled Nancy cakes served with butter and soaked trout roe. Be sure to try its featured pasta dish of the week.

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

Chef Ryan LaChaine’s creations at this Montrose hotspot range from playful to artsy, but always delicious. Happy hour packs on the fun with a classy riff on McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish, and a blackened rice and skirt steak-stuffed Korean “crunchwrap” that could put Taco Bell to shame. Dinner hours produce fusions that are just as exciting, with dishes like mushroom empanadas, kimchi carbonara, melt-in-your-mouth butter sliders, and tempura cauliflower.

Related Maps

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.

March

Chef Felipe Riccio’s reservation-only tasting menu restaurant is set on providing an experience that transports diners to different regions of the Mediterranean roughly every quarter. Previously, March captivated diners with the cuisines of the historic region of Occitania, spanning the South of France. This season, it dives into the Balearic Islands in Spain; Corisca, France; and Italian Islands, including Sardinia, Elba, Malta, and Cyprus with six or nine courses.

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

This beloved neighborhood cafe offers some of the city’s best Italian food in a relaxed and homey setting. Get your pasta fix with more than a dozen delicious to choose from, including the peppery spaghetti alla carbonara and the meaty tagliatelle bolognese, plus other entrees like spicy fennel meatballs in a tomato cream sauce. Its wine list, boasting more than 100 varieties, ensures you have a sip for every bite.

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 drunken noodles, 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. Order the mango sticky rice. It’s one of the best desserts in the city.

The Breakfast Klub

Don’t let the line out the door intimidate you — With a stamp of approval from Beyonce and more than 20 years in the culinary game, the Breakfast Klub has more than earned its keep as a Houston institution. This legendary Midtown restaurant serves up staples like its iconic and flavorful chicken and Belgian waffles, delivering the perfect balance of sweet and salty, plus crispy catfish and grits, cheesy breakfast sandwiches, and more, all with a jazzy backdrop.

93 Til

This lounge-y Montrose spot tucked away in a neighborhood next to the Menil, serves vibes unlike any other place in the city. 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 Lung Ly delivers compelling dishes like the half brick chicken with Spanish chorizo and lobster mushrooms, a not-so-basic patty melt with havarti cheese and bacon jam, 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

Inspired by the owner’s grandmother, this Montrose restaurant takes on a homey feel in a former bungalow that aims to serve comforting dishes with culinary flair to a vinyl soundtrack. A fluctuating menu here keeps things interesting, but expect dishes like super-fresh raw oysters, pull-apart milk bread with smoked trout roe, and Nonno’s pasta — a stellar tagliatelle bolognese that, thankfully, isn’t going anywhere.

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.

Kata Robata

Chef Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi cooks up a constantly changing menu with fresh fish flown in almost daily from Japan, making way for delicious sushi, including maki rolls and an impeccable omakase experience. But with Kata Robata’s name being a shortened reference to fireside cooking, the restaurant is also sure to incorporate the hot side of things, with grilled meats cooked on the robata, and dishes like lobster and crab ramen, fried green tomatoes with kimchi aioli, and uni chawanmushi, a tender egg custard that packs a briny punch. Though some may argue that the miso lobster mac and cheese doesn’t belong at a Japanese restaurant, it’s a must-try.

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

Hobbit Cafe

Founded as one of Houston’s first vegetarian-friendly restaurants in 1972, the Hobbit Cafe is an institution tied to real-life memories and fiction for many locals. Housed in a quirky old house, the cafe dedicates itself to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, meaning diners will find loads of LOTR reference and food items, like its dragon wings, which are coated in a Jamaican jerk sauce, plus veggie-packed eats, massive burgers, and fresh dishes like gazpacho and mezze platters. Over the years the Hobbit has also gained a reputation for its wide selection of craft beers and mead — once the Vikings' drink of choice.

Taste of Nigeria

With an extensive menu boasting everything from meat pies and moi moi to pepper soups, this seat-yourself restaurant is the perfect place to stop in to get your fix of Nigerian cuisine without distraction. 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

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

With everything from burgers to breakfast tacos in the Third Ward, this old-school carryout is a favorite of locals and famous Houstonians like rapper Paul Wall. Keep it classic with a bacon cheeseburger or the excellent chili cheeseburger, and pair it with one of Sparkles’s frozen daiquiris and a side of fries.

Turkey Leg Hut

Stuffed with everything from crawfish mac and cheese to dirty rice, smoked turkey legs are the name of the game at this Third Ward restaurant. Houstonians know the drill — waiting in line, listening to music, and watching the flashy cars pass by is somewhat of a rite of passage, but you can avoid a long wait by going for lunch on a weekday.

Stuffed turkey leg from the Turkey Leg Hut.
With big portions, 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

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, baked macaroni and cheese, 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

Helmed by chef Kaiser Lashkari, this Indian and Pakistani restaurant is one of the best of its kind in the city and the country, making it an important stop for visitors whenever in Space City. The Mahatma Gandhi District mainstay goes beyond the classics like saag paneer and tikka masala, and promises generous portions of its iconic dishes, including its crispy, spicy Himalaya fried chicken — HFC, for short — which is served with a magic mustard sauce, and its tender hunter’s beef.

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

With five Houston area locations, including outposts in Katy, Sugar Land, and the newest in Heights, Mala is a pioneer when it comes to flavorful Sichuan cuisine in Houston. With its co-owner Cori Xiong hailing from Chengdu, a town in the Sichuan province, the restaurant harnesses hometown flavors in its top sellers like spicy dan dan noodles, the saucy mapo tofu, red oil dumplings, and green tea and bacon fried rice.

Blood Bros. BBQ

Founded by three Alief natives, this Bellaire smokehouse combines Asian flavors and Central Texas-style barbecue in a way that is undeniable to the tastebuds. Stay for the brisket,  fall-of-the-bone ribs, togarashi smoked chicken, juicy jalapeno-cheddar sausage, brisket fried rice, and pork belly burnt ends — and consider ordering in bulk to take some home for later. Advance orders require a minimum of five pounds of meat, and must be placed 48 hours in advance via Blood Bros’s website.