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A peppery hunk of swordfish served with a side of lemon and a half of roasted garlic at Navy Blue.
Navy Blue is one of the most anticipated restaurants of the year.
Caroline Fontenont

The 15 Hottest New Restaurants in Houston, December 2022

Find saucy smash burgers, Korean barbecue, dim sum, and so much more at these exciting newcomers

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Navy Blue is one of the most anticipated restaurants of the year.
| Caroline Fontenont

To some, Houston is considered a culinary capital, offering an onslaught of cuisines and restaurants that keep local diners and visitors alike hungry for more. And with a nonstop list of new openings, the question remains each month: Where to dine now?

Fortunately, Eater Houston has you covered — publishing some of the hottest and buzziest new restaurants each month.

While Amrina, North Italia in the Woodlands, and Hamsa are still worthy picks, this list has been refreshed to include newer restaurants, like Karne, Navy Blue, TEN Sushi + Cocktail Bar, Tim Ho Wan, and Zanti Cucina.

Happy dining.

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Gatlin's Fins & Feathers

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A dedication to the Independence Heights neighborhood, Gatlin’s BBQ pitmaster Greg Gatlin offers a Houston spin on Southern staples at this establishment. Find some of the finest fried chicken and fried fish, with a variety of fix-ins; an Everything gumbo chock-full of chicken, shrimp, crab, and sausage; and the H-Town Hot Sandwich, with a hunk of fried fish or chicken dunked in a spicy Viet-Cajun sauce. Start light and refreshing with the charred Brussels sprouts salad, and end with the orange creamsicle doughnut, topped with vanilla ice cream and slivers of orange peel, for a treat.

Cherry Block

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Barbecue staples like brisket, pork ribs, and sausage are a given at this Stomping Ground outpost, but diners can dive deeper into Texas and Gulf Coast fare with crawfish cheddar rolls, blue cheese patty melts, po’ boys, brisket gumbo, and so much more.

Dinette

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From the owners of sushi restaurant Hando and cocktail bar Kanpai Club comes this charming modern Vietnamese restaurant, that serves up a sharable experience with can’t-miss tapas-style plates, family-style portions, and endearing drinks. You can’t go wrong with the bright summer rolls served with a sweet and salty peanut butter and jelly sauce; the Hanoi egg rolls stuffed with a combination of crab, pork, shrimp, mushroom, and veggies; or the Pandan sweet rice fried okra. Order lobster egg fried rice and the char siu chicken for the table.

Tim Ho Wan

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This international dim sum sensation landed in Katy in November, bringing some of the most delicious traditional and innovative morsels meant for sharing. Start with the classics, like the har gaw, shu mai, and baked bao buns, and consider the comforting congee and the spicy wontons offer a perfect way to warm things up. End with the creamy custard balls. You won’t be disappointed.

Mala Sichuan Bistro

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Devout fans of Mala can expect the same fiery signature dishes, like dan dan noodles, red oil dumplings, mapo tofu, and the spicy and crispy chicken, but with a whole new vibe. The new Heights location is meant to make you feel like you’re in Sichuan and succeeds with its floating lanterns and a pagoda roof that hangs over the dining room. Get out of your comfort zone with new dishes like the three-cup chicken or the squirrel tail fish with pineapple, and look out for its growing list of in-house cocktails, some of which pay tribute to the Chinese zodiac.

Here, a steakhouse merges with Korean barbecue for an unforgettable experience, filled with quality meats grilled tableside, Sample different items from the a la carte menu, like the rice mussels served with pillowy milk bread or the rib-eye hot pot, or bring a friend to enjoy the “karnivore platter,” with five cuts of meat — chef’s choice — with side dishes like scallion salad, egg souffle, kimchi and pickles, and stew.

Burger Bodega

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HoustonEatz Instagram blogger and restauranteur Abbas Dhanani pays homage to New York convenience stores through this smash burger passion project, dishing out what might be the best chopped cheese in the city. Here, you’ll also find juicy burgers, either in smashed or classic fashion, loaded with Dhanani’s special Bodega sauce, and french fries, served plain yet crispy, or with the option of being cheesily “chopped” or “screwed” with toppings like bell peppers, onions, and sauce. The Craft Creamery milkshakes, which come in standard flavors, but also Vietnamese coffee and mango lassi, are also a must. Be sure to check out the collection of Houston-born products, like Pudgy’s cookies, that are available for purchase in its makeshift market.

Lyric Market

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When indecision within your group becomes unbearable, head to Downtown’s newest food hall, where nine different food stalls and a full bar of weekly specials guarantee something for everyone. Try juicy pork ribs from Lottie’s Smokehouse, picturesque pieces of nigiri from Sushi Muse, and creamy dip and falafel from Alenbi Falafel + Hummus, a vegetarian Israeli food stall by the owners of Hamsa.

Gatsby's Prime Seafood

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In the mood for a swanky seafood experience? Head to Gatsby’s newest location, which boasts a menu filled with the best dishes of the sea, including a rich lobster bisque, buttery red fish on the half shell, delicate sea bass, meaty crab cakes, and decadent lobster mac and cheese. Meat eaters will delight in signature steaks, including an impeccable New York strip that keeps true to its sister restaurant Gatsby’s Prime Steakhouse’s cooking methods, and interior designer buffs will feel right at home on the plush couches, sparkling chandeliers, and deep blue and gold accents that make you feel like you’re in a movie.

Zanti Cucina Italiana - River Oaks

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With its second location in River Oaks, Zanti Cucina prides itself on offering true Italian fare in a swanky setting, complete with a charming patio. Start with the cacio e pepe salad topped with an addicting cheese and pepper dressing with a balsamic drizzle and the black truffle beef or yellowfin tuna tartare. Shamelessly dig into its Neapolitan pizzas or opt for a plate of pasta, like the pappardelle made with shredded braised veal ossobuco, or the black truffle taglioni, prepared tableside. And peruse its spectacular list of cocktails, which includes the Bella Vita — a combination of raspberry vodka, limoncello, lemon juice, and Prosecco that works as a dinner complement or dessert.

What started off as a coffee, cocktail, and hemp-bud bar has now evolved into all that and then some with its second location. Helmed by chef German Mosquera, the newly opened Wild Montrose offers a full dining experience fueled with Latin influences and optional THC or CBD cannabis infusions. Try stellar dishes like the Korean barbecued octopus, whole-fried Thai-style fish, or chorizo-stuffed chicken wings. Treat yourself to one of its flashy and flavorful cocktails, or the handmade Mexican pepperleaf and mascarpone ice cream.

TEN Sushi + Cocktail Bar - Houston

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Decorated with vibrant pinks and murals of cherry blossoms, TEN Sushi’s Houston location delivers a compelling and sexy ambiance with delicious sushi and creative cocktails to boot. Settle in with favorites like the shaken beef; the spicy tuna crispy rice starter; the Forbidden roll, made with black rice seared ahi, albacore, crab, spicy tuna, avocado, sweet soy, and jalapeño sauce; and a cocktail like the Lychee Like That. But don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path. It’s hard to go wrong here.

Pacha Nikkei

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After his food stall’s closing in Politan Row, Chef Masaru Fukuda returns with a menu showcasing Peru’s Nikkei, or Japanese emigrant, cuisine with delicate ceviches, robust piscos, and a classic lomo saltado. Don’t miss the maki rolls, namely the picante maki, a combination of spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, and crunchy chili garlic, topped with the tangy ají panca — wasabi vinagrette. All three desserts are a hit here, but you’ll want to try the creamy but balanced lucuma cheesecake, made with a fruit native to Peru.

Navy Blue

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Sister to James Beard Award-nominated chef Aaron Bludorn’s restaurant Bludorn, this Rice Village newcomer offers up some of the most delectable seafood dishes in the city with impeccable service from start to finish. Begin with the baked goodness that is clams casino, the BBQ shrimp, and the creamy, chowder-like mussel bisque that comes topped with flaky pastry. Then, prepare for main courses, like Navy’s moist King Salmon, or swordfish au poivre, which comes with a halved hunk of roasted garlic. You also can’t go wrong with pastry chef Marie Riddle’s desserts. The carrot cake, the chocolate coulant, and the Apples & Eggs — a green apple sorbet with creme fraiche and a bump of caviar — are all fantastic.

Aya Sushi

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Tokyo-trained chef Yoshi Katsuyama offers his special touch at this Bellaire sushi spot, which is quickly becoming known for its beautifully plated assortments of nigiri, sashimi, and maki. Head straight for the sushi bar for Aya’s 19-course omakase experience, priced at $135 per person, or ball out with the $225 premium 23-course option

Gatlin's Fins & Feathers

A dedication to the Independence Heights neighborhood, Gatlin’s BBQ pitmaster Greg Gatlin offers a Houston spin on Southern staples at this establishment. Find some of the finest fried chicken and fried fish, with a variety of fix-ins; an Everything gumbo chock-full of chicken, shrimp, crab, and sausage; and the H-Town Hot Sandwich, with a hunk of fried fish or chicken dunked in a spicy Viet-Cajun sauce. Start light and refreshing with the charred Brussels sprouts salad, and end with the orange creamsicle doughnut, topped with vanilla ice cream and slivers of orange peel, for a treat.

Cherry Block

Barbecue staples like brisket, pork ribs, and sausage are a given at this Stomping Ground outpost, but diners can dive deeper into Texas and Gulf Coast fare with crawfish cheddar rolls, blue cheese patty melts, po’ boys, brisket gumbo, and so much more.

Dinette

From the owners of sushi restaurant Hando and cocktail bar Kanpai Club comes this charming modern Vietnamese restaurant, that serves up a sharable experience with can’t-miss tapas-style plates, family-style portions, and endearing drinks. You can’t go wrong with the bright summer rolls served with a sweet and salty peanut butter and jelly sauce; the Hanoi egg rolls stuffed with a combination of crab, pork, shrimp, mushroom, and veggies; or the Pandan sweet rice fried okra. Order lobster egg fried rice and the char siu chicken for the table.

Tim Ho Wan

This international dim sum sensation landed in Katy in November, bringing some of the most delicious traditional and innovative morsels meant for sharing. Start with the classics, like the har gaw, shu mai, and baked bao buns, and consider the comforting congee and the spicy wontons offer a perfect way to warm things up. End with the creamy custard balls. You won’t be disappointed.

Mala Sichuan Bistro

Devout fans of Mala can expect the same fiery signature dishes, like dan dan noodles, red oil dumplings, mapo tofu, and the spicy and crispy chicken, but with a whole new vibe. The new Heights location is meant to make you feel like you’re in Sichuan and succeeds with its floating lanterns and a pagoda roof that hangs over the dining room. Get out of your comfort zone with new dishes like the three-cup chicken or the squirrel tail fish with pineapple, and look out for its growing list of in-house cocktails, some of which pay tribute to the Chinese zodiac.

Karne

Here, a steakhouse merges with Korean barbecue for an unforgettable experience, filled with quality meats grilled tableside, Sample different items from the a la carte menu, like the rice mussels served with pillowy milk bread or the rib-eye hot pot, or bring a friend to enjoy the “karnivore platter,” with five cuts of meat — chef’s choice — with side dishes like scallion salad, egg souffle, kimchi and pickles, and stew.

Burger Bodega

HoustonEatz Instagram blogger and restauranteur Abbas Dhanani pays homage to New York convenience stores through this smash burger passion project, dishing out what might be the best chopped cheese in the city. Here, you’ll also find juicy burgers, either in smashed or classic fashion, loaded with Dhanani’s special Bodega sauce, and french fries, served plain yet crispy, or with the option of being cheesily “chopped” or “screwed” with toppings like bell peppers, onions, and sauce. The Craft Creamery milkshakes, which come in standard flavors, but also Vietnamese coffee and mango lassi, are also a must. Be sure to check out the collection of Houston-born products, like Pudgy’s cookies, that are available for purchase in its makeshift market.

Lyric Market

When indecision within your group becomes unbearable, head to Downtown’s newest food hall, where nine different food stalls and a full bar of weekly specials guarantee something for everyone. Try juicy pork ribs from Lottie’s Smokehouse, picturesque pieces of nigiri from Sushi Muse, and creamy dip and falafel from Alenbi Falafel + Hummus, a vegetarian Israeli food stall by the owners of Hamsa.

Gatsby's Prime Seafood

In the mood for a swanky seafood experience? Head to Gatsby’s newest location, which boasts a menu filled with the best dishes of the sea, including a rich lobster bisque, buttery red fish on the half shell, delicate sea bass, meaty crab cakes, and decadent lobster mac and cheese. Meat eaters will delight in signature steaks, including an impeccable New York strip that keeps true to its sister restaurant Gatsby’s Prime Steakhouse’s cooking methods, and interior designer buffs will feel right at home on the plush couches, sparkling chandeliers, and deep blue and gold accents that make you feel like you’re in a movie.

Zanti Cucina Italiana - River Oaks

With its second location in River Oaks, Zanti Cucina prides itself on offering true Italian fare in a swanky setting, complete with a charming patio. Start with the cacio e pepe salad topped with an addicting cheese and pepper dressing with a balsamic drizzle and the black truffle beef or yellowfin tuna tartare. Shamelessly dig into its Neapolitan pizzas or opt for a plate of pasta, like the pappardelle made with shredded braised veal ossobuco, or the black truffle taglioni, prepared tableside. And peruse its spectacular list of cocktails, which includes the Bella Vita — a combination of raspberry vodka, limoncello, lemon juice, and Prosecco that works as a dinner complement or dessert.

Wild

What started off as a coffee, cocktail, and hemp-bud bar has now evolved into all that and then some with its second location. Helmed by chef German Mosquera, the newly opened Wild Montrose offers a full dining experience fueled with Latin influences and optional THC or CBD cannabis infusions. Try stellar dishes like the Korean barbecued octopus, whole-fried Thai-style fish, or chorizo-stuffed chicken wings. Treat yourself to one of its flashy and flavorful cocktails, or the handmade Mexican pepperleaf and mascarpone ice cream.

TEN Sushi + Cocktail Bar - Houston

Decorated with vibrant pinks and murals of cherry blossoms, TEN Sushi’s Houston location delivers a compelling and sexy ambiance with delicious sushi and creative cocktails to boot. Settle in with favorites like the shaken beef; the spicy tuna crispy rice starter; the Forbidden roll, made with black rice seared ahi, albacore, crab, spicy tuna, avocado, sweet soy, and jalapeño sauce; and a cocktail like the Lychee Like That. But don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path. It’s hard to go wrong here.

Pacha Nikkei

After his food stall’s closing in Politan Row, Chef Masaru Fukuda returns with a menu showcasing Peru’s Nikkei, or Japanese emigrant, cuisine with delicate ceviches, robust piscos, and a classic lomo saltado. Don’t miss the maki rolls, namely the picante maki, a combination of spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, and crunchy chili garlic, topped with the tangy ají panca — wasabi vinagrette. All three desserts are a hit here, but you’ll want to try the creamy but balanced lucuma cheesecake, made with a fruit native to Peru.

Navy Blue

Sister to James Beard Award-nominated chef Aaron Bludorn’s restaurant Bludorn, this Rice Village newcomer offers up some of the most delectable seafood dishes in the city with impeccable service from start to finish. Begin with the baked goodness that is clams casino, the BBQ shrimp, and the creamy, chowder-like mussel bisque that comes topped with flaky pastry. Then, prepare for main courses, like Navy’s moist King Salmon, or swordfish au poivre, which comes with a halved hunk of roasted garlic. You also can’t go wrong with pastry chef Marie Riddle’s desserts. The carrot cake, the chocolate coulant, and the Apples & Eggs — a green apple sorbet with creme fraiche and a bump of caviar — are all fantastic.

Aya Sushi

Tokyo-trained chef Yoshi Katsuyama offers his special touch at this Bellaire sushi spot, which is quickly becoming known for its beautifully plated assortments of nigiri, sashimi, and maki. Head straight for the sushi bar for Aya’s 19-course omakase experience, priced at $135 per person, or ball out with the $225 premium 23-course option

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