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A croque madame sandwich served with a side of fries and topped with gravy and a fried egg, on a blue plate.
The egg-topped croque madame at Squable.
Squable/Facebook

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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The egg-topped croque madame at Squable.
| Squable/Facebook

Welcome to the Eater 38, a guide intended to answer the eternal question of “Where should I eat out tonight?” This map highlights the city’s top restaurant across a diverse array of cuisines and price points.

To be sure, the restaurant industry has not yet made a full comeback from COVID-19 and its subsequent surges. Many establishments are dealing with ongoing staffing issues, which may require a little more patience than usual from diners. As these establishments get back into the groove, plan to tip generously and masked up when asked.

This update, the Houston 38 is bidding farewell to Ostia and the now-closed UB Preserv, and rotating in Truth BBQ and Lucille’s into the mix.

Without further ado, go forth and explore Houston’s vibrant culinary culture via perfect tacos, exciting new American cuisine, and compelling brisket, plus so much more, at Houston’s 38 essential restaurants.

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

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Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Squable

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632 W 19th St
Houston, TX 77008
(832) 834-7362
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A strong selection of small plates await at this laid-back Heights favorite, ranging from gougeres served with green garlic gravy 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 showered in raclette cheese.

2. Phat Eatery

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23119 Colonial Pkwy suite b-2
Katy, TX 77449
(832) 913-6382
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Malaysian street food is the star at this Katy dining destination, but its menu is 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.

3. Truth BBQ

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110 S Heights Blvd
Houston, TX 77007
(832) 835-0001
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With whole-hog roasts, smoked boudin, melt-in-your-mouth fatty brisket, and beef ribs sold on Saturday only, 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 second location in the Heights brings competition barbecue with a backyard flair that stays true to pitmaster Leonard Botello IV’s Central Texas roots. But Truth, which boasts a slew of sides, has got more than trays full of tender meat and robust sandwiches. 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. But be warned: Though open Tuesday through Sunday starting at 11 a.m., doors close once the food sells out. Pickup and shipping options are available, too — a for-sure option for those of you who might be drooling from cities — or states — away.

Tray of barbecue from Truth BBQ.
With whole-hog roasts, smoked boudin, melt-in-your-mouth fatty brisket and beef ribs, sold on Saturday only, it’s no surprise Truth BBQ has been billed as one of the top barbecue spots in the state
Robert Jacob Lerma for Truth BBQ

4. Xin Chao

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2310 Decatur St
Houston, TX 77007
(832) 740-4888
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Chefs Christine Ha and Tony Nguyen have teamed up for this modern Vietnamese restaurant near the Sixth Ward that pays homage to both chefs’ heritage, alongside Texas and Gulf Coast cuisine. Find 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.

5. Bludorn Restaurant

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807 Taft St
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 999-0146
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After opening in Montrose in the midst of the pandemic, chef Aaron Bludorn’s chic namesake restaurant is already a local favorite. The dishes here are creative and balanced, including gnocchi with morel mushrooms and English peas, and decadent sea urchin spaghetti. The starters menu is equally compelling, with options like foie gras served with pineapple and a macadamia brioche doughnut, on offer.

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

6. The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

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2704 Navigation Blvd
Houston, TX 77003
(713) 228-1175
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This iconic Tex-Mex spot’s claim to fame is the invention of fajitas. Enjoy sizzling platters of its signature dish, plus queso flameado and mango-habanero margaritas for a truly Houston Tex-Mex feast.

Sizzling steak fajitas with tortillas and a side of sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo.
Fajitas is an essential item on the menu at Ninfa’s, which is billed as the restaurant that invented the Tex-Mex favorite.
Ninfa’s on Navigation/Facebook

7. Xochi

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1777 Walker St Ste A
Houston, TX 77010
(713) 521-2239
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The dining experience at Downtown eatery Xochi is pretty much back to normal, and chef Hugo Ortega’s destination for Oaxacan cuisine is as strong as ever. 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

8. Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana

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1000 W Gray St
Houston, TX 77019
(832) 742-5200
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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.

Pizaro’s wood-fired pizza, topped with peppers, sausage and gooey cheese
Pizaro’s offers certified Neapolitan-style pizza pies to Montrose for a dining experience that brings tastebuds closer to Italy.
Pizaro’s

9. Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine

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1985 Welch St
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 807-8883
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Formerly known as Danton’s, Eugene’s really shines in its new(ish) home in the tony River Oaks neighborhood. Its focus is on Gulf Coast cuisine, evidenced by plates like crab-stuffed redfish, blackened catfish enchiladas, and steaks slathered in shrimp etouffee or poblano sauce.

oysters on the half shell, crab salad, and cocktails.
Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine lives up to its name with an edible showcase of seafood dishes paying homage to the Gulf.
Leah Wilson for Eugene’s

10. Turner's

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1800 Post Oak Blvd. Entrance on, Ambassador Way
Houston, TX 77056
(713) 804-1212
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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.

11. Nancy's Hustle

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2704 Polk St Ste A
Houston, TX 77003
(346) 571-7931
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Still one of Houston’s best restaurants more than two years in, Nancy’s Hustle recently reopened its doors in EaDo and the menu is better than ever. Start with a “pickle party” served with Spanish chorizo and cheese and (of course) the famous griddled Nancy cakes served with butter and soaked trout roe, then move onto 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

12. Riel

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1927 Fairview Street
Houston, TX 77019
(832) 831-9109
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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.

13. Cali Sandwich & Fast Food

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2900 Travis St
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 520-0710

Banh mi is an essential Houston dish, and Midtown’s Cali Sandwich 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.

14. March

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1624 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006
(832) 380-2481
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This ultra-luxe 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, where chef Ian Payne spent part of his childhood. Dishes like potatoes and boquerones with tobacco-infused butter, Spanish-style tortillas made with eel, and bay laurel ice cream stole the show, while sommeliers June Rodi and Austin Farina gave another perspective of the region with optional wine pairings. Now, March staff is preparing to bring diners on the next adventure starting Feb. 10 — this time to the historic region of Occitania, which spans the South of France.

15. Paulie's

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1834 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 807-7271
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Classic Italian dishes are prepared with care at this Montrose staple, ranging from freshly made bucatini puttanesca to hearty rigatoni bolognese and chicken piccata. The baked goods, including Paulie’s famed shortbread cookies and cream cheese brownies, should not be missed.

16. State of Grace

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3258 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77098
(832) 942-5080
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Home to one of Houston’s best oyster bars, look beyond the bivalves on the menu at this River Oaks favorite for stunning, splurge-worthy plates like hearth-roasted octopus, cacio e pepe spaghettini showered in grana padano cheese, and bearnaise-slathered steaks.

17. Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

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3215 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 522-1934
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This beloved neighborhood cafe keeps it homey without sacrificing on quality. Currently, Giacomo’s is serving a limited menu of its greatest hits, including rustic, egg-topped ratatouille, gnocchi alla romana, and shrimp diavolo.

18. Street to Kitchen

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6501 Harrisburg Blvd
Houston, TX 77011
(713) 428-1975
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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. 

19. The Breakfast Klub

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3711 Travis St
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 528-8561
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Don’t let the line out the door be too intimidating — the chicken and waffles at this legendary Houston breakfast joint are a must. Thanks in part to a stamp of approval from Beyonce, this Midtown staple is a casual spot for wings and grits, cheesy breakfast sandwiches, and an excellent eggs Benedict served on a biscuit.

20. Tacos Tierra Caliente

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Alabama Ice House
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 584-9359

This beloved taco truck, parked next door to the West Alabama Ice House in Montrose, is home to some of Houston’s finest tortilla-wrapped delights. Score tender fajita, crispy pastor, lengua, and more street-style tacos, or go for a torta or quesadilla. Either way, lunch will likely cost less than $10.

21. 93 Til

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1601 W Main St
Houston, TX 77006
(281) 846-6405
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This loungey Montrose spot, tucked away in a neighborhood next to the Menil, serves vibes unlike any other place in Houston. Underbelly and Momofuku alum Gary Ly and partner Lung Ly deliver 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. On any given night, diners might hear anything from Wu Tang to Lee Fields to Nas, making this the perfect spot to start — or end — a good night.

22. Nobie's

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2048 Colquitt St
Houston, TX 77098
(346) 319-5919
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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.

23. The Pit Room

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1201 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77006
(281) 888-1929
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Find barbecue with a tinge of Tex-Mex at The Pit Room in Montrose, where freshly smoked meats pair with creative 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.

A Pit Room meat tray, with the fix-ins.
The Pit Room guarantees a true Texas experience, with smoked meats, making for a mouth-watering Tex-Mex combination.
The Pit Room/Facebook

24. Kata Robata

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3600 Kirby Dr suite h
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 526-8858
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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 smaki 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

25. Hobbit Cafe

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2243 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77098
(713) 526-5460
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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.

26. Feges BBQ

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3, Greenway Plaza Suite C-210
Houston, TX 77046
(832) 409-6118
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Feges’ all-day menu includes boudin, brisket and other barbecue, plus sandwiches and wings, along with sides like Moroccan-spiced carrots, kale salad, and Brussels sprouts. The restaurant also allows diners to buy in bulk, including entire racks of ribs and vacuum-sealed slabs of brisket.

27. Taste of Nigeria

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5959 Richmond Ave Suite 160
Houston, TX 77057
(713) 589-9055
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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.

28. Sparkle's Hamburger Spot

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4420 Emancipation Ave
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 225-8044
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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

29. Turkey Leg Hut

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4830 Almeda Rd suite A/B
Houston, TX 77004
(832) 787-0770
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This celeb-favorite restaurant, dishing out smoked turkey legs stuffed with everything from crawfish mac and cheese to dirty rice is a favorite of celebrities like Snoop Dogg and locals alike. Houstonians know the drill — if you wanna avoid the line at TLH’s Third Ward location, go 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

30. Lucille's

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5512 La Branch St
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 568-2505
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Lucille’s puts culture and tradition on the menu in a way that continues to make its mark in Houston. Led by executive chef Chris Williams and chef Khang Hoang, the family-run restaurant pays homage to Williams’ great-grandmother, a Black educator and food entrepreneur, and in turn, harnesses flavors of the South. Lucille’s revived recipes have resulted in delectable classics like savory shrimp and grits, baked macaroni and cheese, fried “yardbird,” and fish, caught straight from the Gulf, that is masterfully fried, roasted, or blackened depending on the dish. The clever takes on nostalgia-inducing dishes offer an added experience. There’s an elevated “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.

31. Himalaya Restaurant

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6652 Southwest Fwy
Houston, TX 77074
(713) 532-2837
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One of the best Indo-Pak restaurants in Texas — and the country — Himalaya is a Houston icon. The crispy, spicy fried chicken and hunter’s beef are essential Space City dishes, and chef Kaiser Lashkari’s menu of innovative specials keeps this bustling restaurant’s menu fresh all the time.

Himalaya fried chicken.
Himalaya offers fried chicken with an Indo-Pak flair.
Bill Addison/Eater

32. Mala Sichuan Bistro

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9348 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77036
(713) 995-1889
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With three Houston locations, including an outpost in Katy, Mala makes it easy to eat some of the city’s best Sichuan cuisine. Everything from DIY dan dan noodles to mapo tofu to dry-fried bullfrog is on the menu, along with tons of additional options like red oil dumplings, cucumber salad, and dry-fried peanuts and tofu.

Mapo tofu, grilled eggplant, cucumbers, and more dishes from Mala Sichuan Bistro.
Mala Sichuan offers a smorgasbord of flavors.
Mala Sichuan Bistro/Facebook

33. Blood Bros. BBQ

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5425 Bellaire Blvd
Bellaire, TX 77401
(713) 664-7776
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Asian flavors and Texas barbecue techniques collide at this Bellaire smokehouse. Head to the restaurant for takeout options like togarashi smoked chicken and gouda mac and cheese, but be prepared for a socially distanced line. 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

34. Pho Dien

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11830 Bellaire Blvd #C
Houston, TX 77072
(281) 495-9600
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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

35. Crawfish & Noodles

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11360 Bellaire Blvd #990
Houston, TX 77072
(281) 988-8098
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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.

36. Afrikiko

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9625 Bissonnet St
Houston, TX 77036
(713) 773-1400
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This beloved Ghanaian restaurant off Bissonnet Street and the Southwest Freeway is fully back in action, which means that diners can enjoy the goat pepper soup and jollof rice in Afrikiko’s casual, convivial atmosphere.

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

37. Helen's Kitchen

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14608 S Post Oak Rd
Houston, TX 77045
(713) 413-9022
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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.

38. Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House

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113 6th St
San Leon, TX 77539
(281) 339-1515
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It’s a little bit of a drive from Houston, but the waterfront views and seriously fresh Gulf oysters are definitely worth 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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1. Squable

632 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008

A strong selection of small plates await at this laid-back Heights favorite, ranging from gougeres served with green garlic gravy 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 showered in raclette cheese.

632 W 19th St
Houston, TX 77008

2. Phat Eatery

23119 Colonial Pkwy suite b-2, Katy, TX 77449

Malaysian street food is the star at this Katy dining destination, but its menu is 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.

23119 Colonial Pkwy suite b-2
Katy, TX 77449

3. Truth BBQ

110 S Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007
Tray of barbecue from Truth BBQ.
With whole-hog roasts, smoked boudin, melt-in-your-mouth fatty brisket and beef ribs, sold on Saturday only, it’s no surprise Truth BBQ has been billed as one of the top barbecue spots in the state
Robert Jacob Lerma for Truth BBQ

With whole-hog roasts, smoked boudin, melt-in-your-mouth fatty brisket, and beef ribs sold on Saturday only, 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 second location in the Heights brings competition barbecue with a backyard flair that stays true to pitmaster Leonard Botello IV’s Central Texas roots. But Truth, which boasts a slew of sides, has got more than trays full of tender meat and robust sandwiches. 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. But be warned: Though open Tuesday through Sunday starting at 11 a.m., doors close once the food sells out. Pickup and shipping options are available, too — a for-sure option for those of you who might be drooling from cities — or states — away.

110 S Heights Blvd
Houston, TX 77007

4. Xin Chao

2310 Decatur St, Houston, TX 77007

Chefs Christine Ha and Tony Nguyen have teamed up for this modern Vietnamese restaurant near the Sixth Ward that pays homage to both chefs’ heritage, alongside Texas and Gulf Coast cuisine. Find 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.

2310 Decatur St
Houston, TX 77007

5. Bludorn Restaurant

807 Taft St, Houston, TX 77019
A long narrow flatbread.
Bludorn has quickly become a favorite in Houston after opening in August 2020.
Caroline Fontenot

After opening in Montrose in the midst of the pandemic, chef Aaron Bludorn’s chic namesake restaurant is already a local favorite. The dishes here are creative and balanced, including gnocchi with morel mushrooms and English peas, and decadent sea urchin spaghetti. The starters menu is equally compelling, with options like foie gras served with pineapple and a macadamia brioche doughnut, on offer.

807 Taft St
Houston, TX 77019

6. The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX 77003
Sizzling steak fajitas with tortillas and a side of sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo.
Fajitas is an essential item on the menu at Ninfa’s, which is billed as the restaurant that invented the Tex-Mex favorite.
Ninfa’s on Navigation/Facebook

This iconic Tex-Mex spot’s claim to fame is the invention of fajitas. Enjoy sizzling platters of its signature dish, plus queso flameado and mango-habanero margaritas for a truly Houston Tex-Mex feast.

2704 Navigation Blvd
Houston, TX 77003

7. Xochi

1777 Walker St Ste A, Houston, TX 77010
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

The dining experience at Downtown eatery Xochi is pretty much back to normal, and chef Hugo Ortega’s destination for Oaxacan cuisine is as strong as ever. Consider the memelas, served with roasted pork rib and tomatillo-avocado sauce, or a crispy tlayuda topped with grilled skirt steak and mole negro.

1777 Walker St Ste A
Houston, TX 77010

8. Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana

1000 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019
Pizaro’s wood-fired pizza, topped with peppers, sausage and gooey cheese
Pizaro’s offers certified Neapolitan-style pizza pies to Montrose for a dining experience that brings tastebuds closer to Italy.
Pizaro’s

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.

1000 W Gray St
Houston, TX 77019

9. Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine

1985 Welch St, Houston, TX 77019
oysters on the half shell, crab salad, and cocktails.
Eugene’s Gulf Coast Cuisine lives up to its name with an edible showcase of seafood dishes paying homage to the Gulf.
Leah Wilson for Eugene’s

Formerly known as Danton’s, Eugene’s really shines in its new(ish) home in the tony River Oaks neighborhood. Its focus is on Gulf Coast cuisine, evidenced by plates like crab-stuffed redfish, blackened catfish enchiladas, and steaks slathered in shrimp etouffee or poblano sauce.

1985 Welch St
Houston, TX 77019

10. Turner's

1800 Post Oak Blvd. Entrance on, Ambassador Way, Houston, TX 77056

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.

1800 Post Oak Blvd. Entrance on, Ambassador Way
Houston, TX 77056

11. Nancy's Hustle

2704 Polk St Ste A, Houston, TX 77003
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

Still one of Houston’s best restaurants more than two years in, Nancy’s Hustle recently reopened its doors in EaDo and the menu is better than ever. Start with a “pickle party” served with Spanish chorizo and cheese and (of course) the famous griddled Nancy cakes served with butter and soaked trout roe, then move onto grilled golden tilefish served with roasted beets and confit fennel, or squid ink linguine and Gulf shrimp in fermented chili butter.

2704 Polk St Ste A
Houston, TX 77003

12. Riel

1927 Fairview Street, Houston, TX 77019

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.

1927 Fairview Street
Houston, TX 77019

13. Cali Sandwich & Fast Food

2900 Travis St, Houston, TX 77006

Banh mi is an essential Houston dish, and Midtown’s Cali Sandwich 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.

2900 Travis St
Houston, TX 77006

14. March

1624 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006

This ultra-luxe 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, where chef Ian Payne spent part of his childhood. Dishes like potatoes and boquerones with tobacco-infused butter, Spanish-style tortillas made with eel, and bay laurel ice cream stole the show, while sommeliers June Rodi and Austin Farina gave another perspective of the region with optional wine pairings. Now, March staff is preparing to bring diners on the next adventure starting Feb. 10 — this time to the historic region of Occitania, which spans the South of France.

1624 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

15. Paulie's

1834 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098

Classic Italian dishes are prepared with care at this Montrose staple, ranging from freshly made bucatini puttanesca to hearty rigatoni bolognese and chicken piccata. The baked goods, including Paulie’s famed shortbread cookies and cream cheese brownies, should not be missed.

1834 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77098

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16. State of Grace

3258 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098

Home to one of Houston’s best oyster bars, look beyond the bivalves on the menu at this River Oaks favorite for stunning, splurge-worthy plates like hearth-roasted octopus, cacio e pepe spaghettini showered in grana padano cheese, and bearnaise-slathered steaks.

3258 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77098

17. Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

3215 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098

This beloved neighborhood cafe keeps it homey without sacrificing on quality. Currently, Giacomo’s is serving a limited menu of its greatest hits, including rustic, egg-topped ratatouille, gnocchi alla romana, and shrimp diavolo.

3215 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77098

18. Street to Kitchen

6501 Harrisburg Blvd, Houston, TX 77011

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. 

6501 Harrisburg Blvd
Houston, TX 77011

19. The Breakfast Klub

3711 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002

Don’t let the line out the door be too intimidating — the chicken and waffles at this legendary Houston breakfast joint are a must. Thanks in part to a stamp of approval from Beyonce, this Midtown staple is a casual spot for wings and grits, cheesy breakfast sandwiches, and an excellent eggs Benedict served on a biscuit.

3711 Travis St
Houston, TX 77002

20. Tacos Tierra Caliente

Alabama Ice House, Houston, TX 77098

This beloved taco truck, parked next door to the West Alabama Ice House in Montrose, is home to some of Houston’s finest tortilla-wrapped delights. Score tender fajita, crispy pastor, lengua, and more street-style tacos, or go for a torta or quesadilla. Either way, lunch will likely cost less than $10.

Alabama Ice House
Houston, TX 77098

21. 93 Til

1601 W Main St, Houston, TX 77006

This loungey Montrose spot, tucked away in a neighborhood next to the Menil, serves vibes unlike any other place in Houston. Underbelly and Momofuku alum Gary Ly and partner Lung Ly deliver 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. On any given night, diners might hear anything from Wu Tang to Lee Fields to Nas, making this the perfect spot to start — or end — a good night.

1601 W Main St
Houston, TX 77006

22. Nobie's

2048 Colquitt St, Houston, TX 77098

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.

2048 Colquitt St
Houston, TX 77098

23. The Pit Room

1201 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77006
A Pit Room meat tray, with the fix-ins.
The Pit Room guarantees a true Texas experience, with smoked meats, making for a mouth-watering Tex-Mex combination.
The Pit Room/Facebook

Find barbecue with a tinge of Tex-Mex at The Pit Room in Montrose, where freshly smoked meats pair with creative 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.

1201 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77006

24. Kata Robata

3600 Kirby Dr suite h, Houston, TX 77098
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 smaki rolls, or splurge for the full omakase experience.

3600 Kirby Dr suite h
Houston, TX 77098

25. Hobbit Cafe

2243 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77098

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.

2243 Richmond Ave
Houston, TX 77098

26. Feges BBQ

3, Greenway Plaza Suite C-210, Houston, TX 77046

Feges’ all-day menu includes boudin, brisket and other barbecue, plus sandwiches and wings, along with sides like Moroccan-spiced carrots, kale salad, and Brussels sprouts. The restaurant also allows diners to buy in bulk, including entire racks of ribs and vacuum-sealed slabs of brisket.

3, Greenway Plaza Suite C-210
Houston, TX 77046

27. Taste of Nigeria

5959 Richmond Ave Suite 160, Houston, TX 77057

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.

5959 Richmond Ave Suite 160
Houston, TX 77057

28. Sparkle's Hamburger Spot

4420 Emancipation Ave, Houston, TX 77004
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

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.

4420 Emancipation Ave
Houston, TX 77004

29. Turkey Leg Hut

4830 Almeda Rd suite A/B, Houston, TX 77004
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

This celeb-favorite restaurant, dishing out smoked turkey legs stuffed with everything from crawfish mac and cheese to dirty rice is a favorite of celebrities like Snoop Dogg and locals alike. Houstonians know the drill — if you wanna avoid the line at TLH’s Third Ward location, go for lunch on a weekday.

4830 Almeda Rd suite A/B
Houston, TX 77004

30. Lucille's

5512 La Branch St, Houston, TX 77004

Lucille’s puts culture and tradition on the menu in a way that continues to make its mark in Houston. Led by executive chef Chris Williams and chef Khang Hoang, the family-run restaurant pays homage to Williams’ great-grandmother, a Black educator and food entrepreneur, and in turn, harnesses flavors of the South. Lucille’s revived recipes have resulted in delectable classics like savory shrimp and grits, baked macaroni and cheese, fried “yardbird,” and fish, caught straight from the Gulf, that is masterfully fried, roasted, or blackened depending on the dish. The clever takes on nostalgia-inducing dishes offer an added experience. There’s an elevated “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.

5512 La Branch St
Houston, TX 77004

31. Himalaya Restaurant

6652 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77074
Himalaya fried chicken.
Himalaya offers fried chicken with an Indo-Pak flair.
Bill Addison/Eater

One of the best Indo-Pak restaurants in Texas — and the country — Himalaya is a Houston icon. The crispy, spicy fried chicken and hunter’s beef are essential Space City dishes, and chef Kaiser Lashkari’s menu of innovative specials keeps this bustling restaurant’s menu fresh all the time.

6652 Southwest Fwy
Houston, TX 77074

32. Mala Sichuan Bistro

9348 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036
Mapo tofu, grilled eggplant, cucumbers, and more dishes from Mala Sichuan Bistro.
Mala Sichuan offers a smorgasbord of flavors.
Mala Sichuan Bistro/Facebook

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

9348 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX 77036

33. Blood Bros. BBQ

5425 Bellaire Blvd, Bellaire, TX 77401
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

Asian flavors and Texas barbecue techniques collide at this Bellaire smokehouse. Head to the restaurant for takeout options like togarashi smoked chicken and gouda mac and cheese, but be prepared for a socially distanced line. 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.

5425 Bellaire Blvd
Bellaire, TX 77401

34. Pho Dien

11830 Bellaire Blvd #C, Houston, TX 77072
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

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.

11830 Bellaire Blvd #C
Houston, TX 77072

35. Crawfish & Noodles

11360 Bellaire Blvd #990, Houston, TX 77072

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.

11360 Bellaire Blvd #990
Houston, TX 77072

36. Afrikiko

9625 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77036
Fried fish and soup at Afrikiko.
Ghanian restaurant Afrikiko serves the spices and flavors of West Africa.
Esra Erol/Eater

This beloved Ghanaian restaurant off Bissonnet Street and the Southwest Freeway is fully back in action, which means that diners can enjoy the goat pepper soup and jollof rice in Afrikiko’s casual, convivial atmosphere.

9625 Bissonnet St
Houston, TX 77036

37. Helen's Kitchen

14608 S Post Oak Rd, Houston, TX 77045

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.

14608 S Post Oak Rd
Houston, TX 77045

38. Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House

113 6th St, San Leon, TX 77539

It’s a little bit of a drive from Houston, but the waterfront views and seriously fresh Gulf oysters are definitely worth 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.

113 6th St
San Leon, TX 77539

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