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A plate of Dante’s truffle tagliatelle with mushrooms and a gin and tonic cocktail.
Dining at these River Oaks restaurants will feel like a true treat.
Bear Media Co.

18 Essential River Oaks Restaurants

This ritzy neighborhood touts some of the finest dining and diverse choices in the city

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Dining at these River Oaks restaurants will feel like a true treat.
| Bear Media Co.

River Oaks may be known for its lot of “see and be seen” restaurants, but there’s plenty of solid fare to be found within the confines of this historically upscale neighborhood. Along with time-honored gems, the area is home to exciting newcomers and bustling developments like River Oaks District and River Oaks Shopping Center, which house their own crop of destination restaurants.

With all-day cafes, buzzy brasseries, rustic trattorias slinging heaping plates of pasta, and vibe dining restaurants that combine dinner and drinks with dazzling live entertainment, River Oaks is a hotbed for great dining with much to explore. So, whether you’re in search of a festive place suitable for groups, the perfect date night spot, or simply a tried and true eatery to find sustenance during a day of retail therapy, consider these 18 essential River Oaks restaurants.

Is your favorite River Oaks restaurant missing from this map? Shout it out in the comments.

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Le Colonial

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This River Oaks District restaurant serves up modern Vietnamese fare in a posh two-story space. Le Colonial’s pho noodle soup is made with wagyu oxtail broth, while the shaking beef incorporates caramelized filet mignon. Take to the large wraparound patio and enjoy views of the district while you dine.

Ciel Restaurant & Lounge

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Experience dinner and a show in fine fashion at this ultra-trendy River Oaks restaurant, where no dining experience is ever the same. Guests are treated to impromptu performances by singers and dancers taking to tabletops throughout the course of the evening, while they indulge in a menu of French and Japanese cuisine.

Ojo de Agua

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This popular Mexico City restaurant newly opened an outpost within Houston’s River Oaks District, marking the chain’s first Texas location. The all-day cafe offers fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies, and wine-fueled beverages, plus a variety of fresh and colorful all-day eats. Don’t skip the signature acai bowl, which packs a punch of tropical flavors with sliced dragonfruit, mango, and shredded coconut.

Ojo de Agua’s chilaquiles, topped with a fried egg, cilantro, onions, and verde salsa, with an acai bowl topped with fresh fruit on the side.
Ojo de Agua brings a slice of Mexico City fare to Houston, with fresh fruit-packed acai bowls, breakfast items like chilaquiles, smoothies, wine-based margaritas, and more.
Jennifer Hasbún

Little Hen

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The term “the camera eats first” rings true at this breakfast and brunch restaurant in River Oaks District. Rich, colorful florals appear throughout the space and on the dishware. The theme is present in the food and drink, too, with items like the rose petal dream cocktail and rose petal pancakes. Keep your camera-clicking fingers ready.

MAD is the buzzy River Oaks follow-up to sister restaurant BCN. Unlike its Montrose counterpart, MAD is whimsical and loud, with an active bar scene and patio. The menu is playful as well. Expect tapas presented in unconventional vessels, plates of grilled fish splashed with vibrant color, and a variety of oversized gin-based cocktails.

Steak 48

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Since opening in 2016, the seats have hardly had a chance to cool at this spirited steakhouse in River Oaks District. A far cry from the traditional steakhouses of yesteryear, Steak 48 has high energy with guests gleefully dining in all corners of the two-story space. Along with a full raw bar and juicy prime cuts, a whopping 18 sides are offered on the menu, and imaginative desserts like red velvet bread pudding.

Steak 48’s steak topped with truffle sautéed Maine lobster.
Steak 48 offers one of the city’s best steaks.
Steak 48

Dante's River Oaks

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Among the many new Italian restaurants that have flooded Houston recently, Dante’s holds court in a quiet corner of Westheimer Oaks between River Oaks District and Highland Village. Small and intimate, the dining space boasts a chef’s counter offering prime views into the kitchen and extends out to a large open-air patio. Red and white sauce pastas are a safe bet, but mains like the duck breast with carrot cream are worth considering, too.

State of Grace

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A former graduate of Lamar High School in River Oaks, Atlanta-based chef, Ford Fry opened State of Grace in the Lamar-River Oaks Shopping Center directly across from his alma mater. The restaurant honors the Southern cuisine Fry grew up on while leaning into global flavors. The expansive dining space boasts a separate light-filled room where the raw bar takes center stage. Get a front-row seat to the shucking action before enjoying a selection of bivalves and dishes like wagyu carpaccio and redfish on the half shell.

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

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Giacomo’s may not offer the glitz and glam of other River Oaks restaurants, but it is just as beloved. The casual Italian restaurant boasts a vast menu, ideal for groups or couples looking to share, and a worthy wine list. Before settling on a hot entree, like chicken and pork-stuffed tortellini made with fresh, housemade egg pasta, sample some of the cold starters like tinned fish with cannellini beans.

Relish Restaurant & Bar

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Relish is the quintessential family-friendly neighborhood cafe, slinging tasty comfort eats for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Find a number of salads, customizable with meat and seafood proteins, and sandwiches, during the day, while dinner leans into heartier dishes like grilled pork chops and chicken paillard.

Armandos

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With its white tablecloth service and high-dollar tequila-fueled margaritas, Armandos offers a luxe Tex-Mex dining experience in Houston. The restaurant is playfully known by locals for its electric Thursday nights when the restaurant is transformed into one big dance party, but its menu garners just as much praise. Find lobster enchiladas, carne guisada, steak-filled crispy tacos, and churros with chocolate sauce.

Houstonians may be familiar with this rustic Italian restaurant from Round Top, but it has since opened an outpost in Houston, neighboring its sister restaurant Armandos in River Oaks. In addition to a refined menu with highlights like caviar three ways, a grilled Caesar salad, and pasta plates galore, the restaurant shines when it comes to service. Visit during weekend brunch when a combination of breakfast plates, pasta, and sandwiches are on offer.

Lulu’s lobster ravioli with cherry tomatoes.
Pasta enthusiasts can Lulu’s.
Kirsten Gilliam

Red Lion British Pub

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Red Lion British Pub has been a gem of the neighborhood for two decades and for good reason. The themed restaurant has all of the standard English pub-style eats on offer, like fish and chips and shepherd’s Pie, plus a full English breakfast with bangers, black pudding, Irish bacon, Heinz baked beans, eggs, and toast all day on the weekends.

An English breakfast with baked beans, blood sausage, sunny side-up eggs, and ham, with pints of beer at Red Lion Pub.
Red Lion Pub’s English breakfast is a must on weekends.
Dylan McEwan

Backstreet Cafe

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Cozy, intimate, and always inventive, Backstreet Cafe has lasted the test of time with its unique dining space in an old River Oaks home and elegant menu of seasonal American fare. Under the direction of lauded Houston chef Hugo Ortega, dishes like fried green tomatoes dressed in a crab remoulade and crispy seared striped bass atop a bed of dirty rice are exciting and approachable. There isn’t a bad time to visit, but weekend brunch is especially charming.

The front view of Backstreet Cafe, which is surrounded by trees.
Backstreet Cafe is the perfect dining oasis.
Backstreet Cafe

La Griglia

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Long before Brasserie 19 appeared in River Oaks, La Griglia was the lively West Gray restaurant Houstonians flocked to for good eats and great people-watching — and they still do. The scene-y Italian haunt is known for its classic pasta plates and wood-fired pizzas, plus a slew of hearty mains like brick chicken and lump crab-topped Gulf snapper. Take to the bar or patio with an aperol spritz and wholly enjoy a leisurely River Oaks evening.

Brasserie 19

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Visit this bright French bistro on West Gray for a dining experience buzzing with locals wining and dining. Pair a bottle of bubbly with a selection of oysters and Petrossian caviar while you people-watch, or stay for a full meal. The French onion soup and escargot serve as a worthy start before entrees like the filet frites or roasted half-hen.

Brasserie 19’s dining room, with tables covered with white linen and a marble bar area, with bar seats.
Brasserie 19 is a great place to dine any time of week.
Andrew Hemingway

Zanti Cucina Italiana - River Oaks

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Neighboring Brasserie 19 and La Griglia in the River Oaks Shopping Center, this Woodlands restaurant’s newest outpost in River Oaks is known for its high energy, specifically in the expansive bar and lounge where a pianist offers live music. Consider perusing the menu of Italian cocktails with choices like Zanti’s frozen bellini, and pair it with the black truffle tagliolini for pure decadence in a bowl.

The team behind Mary’z Lebanese, a decades-old Houston restaurant and hookah bar, takes a modern approach to Mediterranean dining at this vibey River Oaks newcomer. Dark, candlelit interiors and plush red seating set the mood for a unique dining experience, with dishes like Moroccan couscous, trumpet mushroom shawarmas, and shrimp falafel salad appearing as works of art on the plate.

A spread of Albi dishes, including freshly baked bread, rack of lamb, hummus, salads, tacos, tenderloin, and more.
Craving Mediterranean food with some live entertainment? Dine at Albi.
Michael Antony

Le Colonial

This River Oaks District restaurant serves up modern Vietnamese fare in a posh two-story space. Le Colonial’s pho noodle soup is made with wagyu oxtail broth, while the shaking beef incorporates caramelized filet mignon. Take to the large wraparound patio and enjoy views of the district while you dine.

Ciel Restaurant & Lounge

Experience dinner and a show in fine fashion at this ultra-trendy River Oaks restaurant, where no dining experience is ever the same. Guests are treated to impromptu performances by singers and dancers taking to tabletops throughout the course of the evening, while they indulge in a menu of French and Japanese cuisine.

Ojo de Agua

This popular Mexico City restaurant newly opened an outpost within Houston’s River Oaks District, marking the chain’s first Texas location. The all-day cafe offers fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies, and wine-fueled beverages, plus a variety of fresh and colorful all-day eats. Don’t skip the signature acai bowl, which packs a punch of tropical flavors with sliced dragonfruit, mango, and shredded coconut.

Ojo de Agua’s chilaquiles, topped with a fried egg, cilantro, onions, and verde salsa, with an acai bowl topped with fresh fruit on the side.
Ojo de Agua brings a slice of Mexico City fare to Houston, with fresh fruit-packed acai bowls, breakfast items like chilaquiles, smoothies, wine-based margaritas, and more.
Jennifer Hasbún

Little Hen

The term “the camera eats first” rings true at this breakfast and brunch restaurant in River Oaks District. Rich, colorful florals appear throughout the space and on the dishware. The theme is present in the food and drink, too, with items like the rose petal dream cocktail and rose petal pancakes. Keep your camera-clicking fingers ready.

MAD

MAD is the buzzy River Oaks follow-up to sister restaurant BCN. Unlike its Montrose counterpart, MAD is whimsical and loud, with an active bar scene and patio. The menu is playful as well. Expect tapas presented in unconventional vessels, plates of grilled fish splashed with vibrant color, and a variety of oversized gin-based cocktails.

Steak 48

Since opening in 2016, the seats have hardly had a chance to cool at this spirited steakhouse in River Oaks District. A far cry from the traditional steakhouses of yesteryear, Steak 48 has high energy with guests gleefully dining in all corners of the two-story space. Along with a full raw bar and juicy prime cuts, a whopping 18 sides are offered on the menu, and imaginative desserts like red velvet bread pudding.

Steak 48’s steak topped with truffle sautéed Maine lobster.
Steak 48 offers one of the city’s best steaks.
Steak 48

Dante's River Oaks

Among the many new Italian restaurants that have flooded Houston recently, Dante’s holds court in a quiet corner of Westheimer Oaks between River Oaks District and Highland Village. Small and intimate, the dining space boasts a chef’s counter offering prime views into the kitchen and extends out to a large open-air patio. Red and white sauce pastas are a safe bet, but mains like the duck breast with carrot cream are worth considering, too.

State of Grace

A former graduate of Lamar High School in River Oaks, Atlanta-based chef, Ford Fry opened State of Grace in the Lamar-River Oaks Shopping Center directly across from his alma mater. The restaurant honors the Southern cuisine Fry grew up on while leaning into global flavors. The expansive dining space boasts a separate light-filled room where the raw bar takes center stage. Get a front-row seat to the shucking action before enjoying a selection of bivalves and dishes like wagyu carpaccio and redfish on the half shell.

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

Giacomo’s may not offer the glitz and glam of other River Oaks restaurants, but it is just as beloved. The casual Italian restaurant boasts a vast menu, ideal for groups or couples looking to share, and a worthy wine list. Before settling on a hot entree, like chicken and pork-stuffed tortellini made with fresh, housemade egg pasta, sample some of the cold starters like tinned fish with cannellini beans.

Relish Restaurant & Bar

Relish is the quintessential family-friendly neighborhood cafe, slinging tasty comfort eats for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Find a number of salads, customizable with meat and seafood proteins, and sandwiches, during the day, while dinner leans into heartier dishes like grilled pork chops and chicken paillard.

Armandos

With its white tablecloth service and high-dollar tequila-fueled margaritas, Armandos offers a luxe Tex-Mex dining experience in Houston. The restaurant is playfully known by locals for its electric Thursday nights when the restaurant is transformed into one big dance party, but its menu garners just as much praise. Find lobster enchiladas, carne guisada, steak-filled crispy tacos, and churros with chocolate sauce.

Lulu's

Houstonians may be familiar with this rustic Italian restaurant from Round Top, but it has since opened an outpost in Houston, neighboring its sister restaurant Armandos in River Oaks. In addition to a refined menu with highlights like caviar three ways, a grilled Caesar salad, and pasta plates galore, the restaurant shines when it comes to service. Visit during weekend brunch when a combination of breakfast plates, pasta, and sandwiches are on offer.

Lulu’s lobster ravioli with cherry tomatoes.
Pasta enthusiasts can Lulu’s.
Kirsten Gilliam

Red Lion British Pub

Red Lion British Pub has been a gem of the neighborhood for two decades and for good reason. The themed restaurant has all of the standard English pub-style eats on offer, like fish and chips and shepherd’s Pie, plus a full English breakfast with bangers, black pudding, Irish bacon, Heinz baked beans, eggs, and toast all day on the weekends.

An English breakfast with baked beans, blood sausage, sunny side-up eggs, and ham, with pints of beer at Red Lion Pub.
Red Lion Pub’s English breakfast is a must on weekends.
Dylan McEwan

Backstreet Cafe

Cozy, intimate, and always inventive, Backstreet Cafe has lasted the test of time with its unique dining space in an old River Oaks home and elegant menu of seasonal American fare. Under the direction of lauded Houston chef Hugo Ortega, dishes like fried green tomatoes dressed in a crab remoulade and crispy seared striped bass atop a bed of dirty rice are exciting and approachable. There isn’t a bad time to visit, but weekend brunch is especially charming.

The front view of Backstreet Cafe, which is surrounded by trees.
Backstreet Cafe is the perfect dining oasis.
Backstreet Cafe

La Griglia

Long before Brasserie 19 appeared in River Oaks, La Griglia was the lively West Gray restaurant Houstonians flocked to for good eats and great people-watching — and they still do. The scene-y Italian haunt is known for its classic pasta plates and wood-fired pizzas, plus a slew of hearty mains like brick chicken and lump crab-topped Gulf snapper. Take to the bar or patio with an aperol spritz and wholly enjoy a leisurely River Oaks evening.

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Brasserie 19

Visit this bright French bistro on West Gray for a dining experience buzzing with locals wining and dining. Pair a bottle of bubbly with a selection of oysters and Petrossian caviar while you people-watch, or stay for a full meal. The French onion soup and escargot serve as a worthy start before entrees like the filet frites or roasted half-hen.

Brasserie 19’s dining room, with tables covered with white linen and a marble bar area, with bar seats.
Brasserie 19 is a great place to dine any time of week.
Andrew Hemingway

Zanti Cucina Italiana - River Oaks

Neighboring Brasserie 19 and La Griglia in the River Oaks Shopping Center, this Woodlands restaurant’s newest outpost in River Oaks is known for its high energy, specifically in the expansive bar and lounge where a pianist offers live music. Consider perusing the menu of Italian cocktails with choices like Zanti’s frozen bellini, and pair it with the black truffle tagliolini for pure decadence in a bowl.

Albi

The team behind Mary’z Lebanese, a decades-old Houston restaurant and hookah bar, takes a modern approach to Mediterranean dining at this vibey River Oaks newcomer. Dark, candlelit interiors and plush red seating set the mood for a unique dining experience, with dishes like Moroccan couscous, trumpet mushroom shawarmas, and shrimp falafel salad appearing as works of art on the plate.

A spread of Albi dishes, including freshly baked bread, rack of lamb, hummus, salads, tacos, tenderloin, and more.
Craving Mediterranean food with some live entertainment? Dine at Albi.
Michael Antony

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