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A large dining room with tall gold fixtures and huge windows that let the sunlight in.
The dining room at Guard & Grace boasts modern luxury.
PR Boutique

Where to Dine and Drink in Downtown Houston

Truffle pasta, duck tacos, and excellent cocktails await

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The dining room at Guard & Grace boasts modern luxury.
| PR Boutique

As the epicenter of Houston’s rich musical arts and live sports scenes and a hub for executive juggernauts and corporate professionals alike, Downtown Houston is bursting at the seams with drinking, dining, and nightlife options. With time-honored cocktail bars and renowned steakhouses set amidst the towering skyscrapers and historic landmarks, there is a certain undeniable charm which defines this neighborhood. Even if you don't clock in and out in Downtown or reside in the area, there are plenty of reasons to venture in and explore.

While Public Services Bar and the Pastry War have since closed their doors, downtown staples like Hearsay, Char Bar, 8th Wonder Brewery, and Treebeards have been retired from the list to make way for newer additions. Other entries, including Potente, Phoenicia Specialty Foods, and Irma’s Original, are still going strong the area.

Use the map below as a guide to Downtown’s best dining and drinking establishments, serving up everything from quick coffee and pastries to chic cocktails, pastas, and so much more.

Is your favorite Downtown restaurant missing from this map? Send a tip to Eater Houston.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Barnaby's Cafe

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This no-fuss cafe is a favorite among locals for its Texas-sized salads, sandwiches, and burgers. Its prime locale on Congress Street makes it a convenient dining destination for the power lunch crowd, but it’s also been known to draw in guests looking to satisfy their late-afternoon sugar craving with sweet indulgences like Rice Krispies treats, brownies, and pie.

Georgia James Tavern

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This casual offshoot of Chris Shepherd’s steakhouse by the same name is located at the ground level of luxury residential building Market Square Tower. Seats at the wraparound bar are coveted, especially when 5 p.m. hits, as thirsty guests rapidly pour in. Newly under the direction of executive chef Tim Reading, the menu features hearth-roasted chicken, a Tavern burger, raw and roasted oysters, and pasta plates.

The bar at GJ Tavern has a bright light marquee with high seats.
The GJ Tavern bar is a Downtown hotspot.
Claudia Casbarian

Warren's Inn

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Warren’s Inn is a historic Downtown bar well worth visiting. Enjoy a jukebox with a selection covering everyone from Willie Nelson to Wiz Khalifa. Bask in the ambience of the dimly lit bar while enjoying a deliciously strong martini prepared by a bow-tied bartender, as patrons have done for decades.

Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar & Spirits Lodge

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Follow a narrow staircase in a nondescript building to a bar that runs the entire length of Bad News’s small dark space. The old-fashioned speakeasy boasts one of the best Downtown patios — overlooking busy Main Street with the Metrorail frequently buzzing by — and the bartenders know exactly how to mix up a superb martini or Old Fashioned.

Bravery Chef Hall

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For when you can’t decide what to eat, pay a visit to Bravery Chef Hall where all things are possible. The chef-led food court is home to Margaux’s Oyster Bar, Kokoro Sushi, and modern Vietnamese gastro-pub the Blind Goat by celeb chef Christine Ha. Just thirsty? Bravery houses two bars.

Common Bond Brasserie & Bakery

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Common Bond is synonymous with coffee and pastries in Houston, but at its Downtown brasserie, the spotlight is on fine wine, quality courses, and head-turning desserts. Located on the street level of the Bank of America Tower (which also houses a separate Common Bond bakery), this attractive restaurant is a foolproof place for lunch, happy hour, or dinner. For a perfect meal, start off with smoked duck rillettes, followed by beef short ribs, and finish off with an apple galette for dessert.

A dining room setup with globular light fixtures, high red ceilings, and display shelves on the walls.
The Brasserie offers an attractive backdrop for dining and drinking.
Common Bond

Guard and Grace

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With its grandiose, two-story dining room, bedecked with thousands of metal rods, Guard and Grace is one of the most impressive steakhouses in the city. The bar is a happy hour hot spot, while table tops and booths wrap around the open kitchen and offer views of mouthwatering dishes like bone-in New York strip and Alaskan black cod appearing along the pass.

Irma's Southwest

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A hub for the downtown hustle and bustle, Irma’s has long been a lunchtime hotspot and pre-ball game hangout. Definitely try the carne guisada and chile relleno (both staple dishes), and save room for some homemade flan.

Osso & Kristalla

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Mere steps from Minute Maid Park, this casual hangout is a watering hole for Astros fans on game days, but it remains equally popular during offseason. Find loaded Italian sandwiches and heaping pasta plates like wild boar tagliatelle, or visit during weekend brunch for pepperoni omelettes and banana nut bread French toast.

Potente

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In need of pasta? Get thee to Potente immediately. Go for the cacio e pepe spaghetti that's showered with truffles table side, or enjoy the excellent diver scallop served with crushed corn risotto. Heading to an Astros game? The attached bar is often packed with spirited fans before and after games.

Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse

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Practically synonymous with Texas, steak is the star of the show at Vic & Anthony’s. Alongside steakhouse staples like a dry-aged strip, porterhouses, and rib-eyes, kick off dinner with chic starters like Kobe beef carpaccio, Petrossian caviar, or oysters Rockefeller.

Z on 23

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Offering arguably one of the best panoramic views in downtown from 23 floors up, Z on 23 atop the Le Meridien hotel is a Houston bucket list destination. The open-air rooftop bar boasts comfortable lounge seating, Insta-worthy backdrops for selfies galore, and a live DJ on Thursday evenings. 

James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega has cooked up one of Houston's finest Mexican restaurants in Xochi, an ode to Oaxaca. Start dinner with a mole tasting, then move on to main dishes like roasted duck tacos or or enmoladas, a folded corn tortilla stuffed with skirt steak and topped with mole.

A lobby entrance at a restaurant with a sign that says Xochi hanging above a front desk.
Entrance at Xochi.
Julie Soefer

Phoenicia Specialty Foods

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Hours can be spent perusing the aisles of the Downtown location of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, the brainchild of Lebanese immigrants Bob and Arpi Tcholakian. The massive deli, shop, and cafe houses 15,000 products hailing from more than 50 countries. This is the place to find a delicious shawarma sandwich with fresh baked pita and slow roasted lamb, French pastries, boutique wines, and imported beer.

Toro Toro

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Celeb chef Richard Sandoval’s Toro Toro has recently landed in Houston, as the chic, new restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel. The pan-Latin steakhouse draws inspiration from Central and South America, resulting in a menu of rodizio-style churrasco steaks, tacos, sushi, and ceviches.

The Rustic

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This Dallas transplant has quickly become a Downtown favorite for its convenient access to free live music shows and belly-filling bites and sips. Country music and rock performers take the stage on weekday evenings and during weekend brunch, and happy hour is offered from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day.  

Barnaby's Cafe

This no-fuss cafe is a favorite among locals for its Texas-sized salads, sandwiches, and burgers. Its prime locale on Congress Street makes it a convenient dining destination for the power lunch crowd, but it’s also been known to draw in guests looking to satisfy their late-afternoon sugar craving with sweet indulgences like Rice Krispies treats, brownies, and pie.

Georgia James Tavern

The bar at GJ Tavern has a bright light marquee with high seats.
The GJ Tavern bar is a Downtown hotspot.
Claudia Casbarian

This casual offshoot of Chris Shepherd’s steakhouse by the same name is located at the ground level of luxury residential building Market Square Tower. Seats at the wraparound bar are coveted, especially when 5 p.m. hits, as thirsty guests rapidly pour in. Newly under the direction of executive chef Tim Reading, the menu features hearth-roasted chicken, a Tavern burger, raw and roasted oysters, and pasta plates.

The bar at GJ Tavern has a bright light marquee with high seats.
The GJ Tavern bar is a Downtown hotspot.
Claudia Casbarian

Warren's Inn

Warren’s Inn is a historic Downtown bar well worth visiting. Enjoy a jukebox with a selection covering everyone from Willie Nelson to Wiz Khalifa. Bask in the ambience of the dimly lit bar while enjoying a deliciously strong martini prepared by a bow-tied bartender, as patrons have done for decades.

Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar & Spirits Lodge

Follow a narrow staircase in a nondescript building to a bar that runs the entire length of Bad News’s small dark space. The old-fashioned speakeasy boasts one of the best Downtown patios — overlooking busy Main Street with the Metrorail frequently buzzing by — and the bartenders know exactly how to mix up a superb martini or Old Fashioned.

Bravery Chef Hall

For when you can’t decide what to eat, pay a visit to Bravery Chef Hall where all things are possible. The chef-led food court is home to Margaux’s Oyster Bar, Kokoro Sushi, and modern Vietnamese gastro-pub the Blind Goat by celeb chef Christine Ha. Just thirsty? Bravery houses two bars.

Common Bond Brasserie & Bakery

A dining room setup with globular light fixtures, high red ceilings, and display shelves on the walls.
The Brasserie offers an attractive backdrop for dining and drinking.
Common Bond

Common Bond is synonymous with coffee and pastries in Houston, but at its Downtown brasserie, the spotlight is on fine wine, quality courses, and head-turning desserts. Located on the street level of the Bank of America Tower (which also houses a separate Common Bond bakery), this attractive restaurant is a foolproof place for lunch, happy hour, or dinner. For a perfect meal, start off with smoked duck rillettes, followed by beef short ribs, and finish off with an apple galette for dessert.

A dining room setup with globular light fixtures, high red ceilings, and display shelves on the walls.
The Brasserie offers an attractive backdrop for dining and drinking.
Common Bond

Guard and Grace

With its grandiose, two-story dining room, bedecked with thousands of metal rods, Guard and Grace is one of the most impressive steakhouses in the city. The bar is a happy hour hot spot, while table tops and booths wrap around the open kitchen and offer views of mouthwatering dishes like bone-in New York strip and Alaskan black cod appearing along the pass.

Irma's Southwest

A hub for the downtown hustle and bustle, Irma’s has long been a lunchtime hotspot and pre-ball game hangout. Definitely try the carne guisada and chile relleno (both staple dishes), and save room for some homemade flan.

Osso & Kristalla

Mere steps from Minute Maid Park, this casual hangout is a watering hole for Astros fans on game days, but it remains equally popular during offseason. Find loaded Italian sandwiches and heaping pasta plates like wild boar tagliatelle, or visit during weekend brunch for pepperoni omelettes and banana nut bread French toast.

Potente

In need of pasta? Get thee to Potente immediately. Go for the cacio e pepe spaghetti that's showered with truffles table side, or enjoy the excellent diver scallop served with crushed corn risotto. Heading to an Astros game? The attached bar is often packed with spirited fans before and after games.

Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse

Practically synonymous with Texas, steak is the star of the show at Vic & Anthony’s. Alongside steakhouse staples like a dry-aged strip, porterhouses, and rib-eyes, kick off dinner with chic starters like Kobe beef carpaccio, Petrossian caviar, or oysters Rockefeller.

Z on 23

Offering arguably one of the best panoramic views in downtown from 23 floors up, Z on 23 atop the Le Meridien hotel is a Houston bucket list destination. The open-air rooftop bar boasts comfortable lounge seating, Insta-worthy backdrops for selfies galore, and a live DJ on Thursday evenings. 

Xochi

A lobby entrance at a restaurant with a sign that says Xochi hanging above a front desk.
Entrance at Xochi.
Julie Soefer

James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega has cooked up one of Houston's finest Mexican restaurants in Xochi, an ode to Oaxaca. Start dinner with a mole tasting, then move on to main dishes like roasted duck tacos or or enmoladas, a folded corn tortilla stuffed with skirt steak and topped with mole.

A lobby entrance at a restaurant with a sign that says Xochi hanging above a front desk.
Entrance at Xochi.
Julie Soefer

Phoenicia Specialty Foods

Hours can be spent perusing the aisles of the Downtown location of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, the brainchild of Lebanese immigrants Bob and Arpi Tcholakian. The massive deli, shop, and cafe houses 15,000 products hailing from more than 50 countries. This is the place to find a delicious shawarma sandwich with fresh baked pita and slow roasted lamb, French pastries, boutique wines, and imported beer.

Toro Toro

Celeb chef Richard Sandoval’s Toro Toro has recently landed in Houston, as the chic, new restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel. The pan-Latin steakhouse draws inspiration from Central and South America, resulting in a menu of rodizio-style churrasco steaks, tacos, sushi, and ceviches.

Related Maps

The Rustic

This Dallas transplant has quickly become a Downtown favorite for its convenient access to free live music shows and belly-filling bites and sips. Country music and rock performers take the stage on weekday evenings and during weekend brunch, and happy hour is offered from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day.  

Related Maps