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a fat, juicy hamburger topped with cheese
Sparkle’s Hamburger Spot in the Third Ward is known for its fat, juicy patties.
Sparkle’s Hamburger Spot / Facebook

12 Essential Third Ward Restaurants Offering the Finest Takeout Options

Where to find elote kolaches, greasy, cheesy burgers, crispy seasoned chicken, Creole-style sides, and more

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Sparkle’s Hamburger Spot in the Third Ward is known for its fat, juicy patties.
| Sparkle’s Hamburger Spot / Facebook

Nestled in the southeast corner of Central Houston lies one of the city’s oldest and most important historical neighborhoods, the Third Ward. It was one of the Houston’s four original districts, as designated by the city’s charter in 1840, and over the past few decades, many of the Third Ward’s restaurants have staked their place as essential cultural institutions.

Still, it’s an important part of Houston’s culinary scene that has often been overlooked, and it’s time for that to change. Use this long-overdue map as a guide to the best eats in “The Tre,” ranging from raw, vegan burritos to elote kolaches, seafood-stuffed turkey legs, and greasy, cheesy burgers.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Soul Food Vegan

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2901 Emancipation Ave
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 429-4388
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As the name implies, this restaurant focuses on meat-free soul food. As such, the dishes at Soul Food Vegan are hearty and comforting, like okra gumbo with vegan roux, a cajun pasta melt with tomato sauce and cashew cheese over veggie rotini noodles, and a Cajun-seasoned Beyond Burger. Jackfruit barbecue “ribs” are a specialty when the fruit is in season. Available on Uber Eats.

2. Crumbville, TX

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2316 Elgin St
Houston, TX 77004
(281) 935-3352
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On the first floor of the El Dorado Ballroom, baker Ella Russell (nickname: Edubalicious) cooks up vegan, gluten free and non-vegan treats like the Netfix and Chill, an oatmeal cookie with dried cranberries, crystallized ginger and kale popcorn baked inside; or the Butter Pecan Crunch, a candied pecan butter cookie. One of her signatures is Stuffedcups, a cupcake hybrid with cookie dough cooked right inside the cake. Preorder on the Crumbville website for next-day curbside pickup.

3. green seed vegan

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4320 Almeda Rd
Houston, TX 77004
(844) 365-8346
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Some of the most creative and clever vegetarian food in the city comes out of Green Seed’s kitchen, which is currently doing only takeout and delivery due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are comfort food classics, like Green Seed’s version of the peanut butter sandwich made with caramelized plantains, a barbecued jackfruit sandwich served with red onions and pickles, and a “cheesesteak” with grilled portobellos topped with vegan cheese. Raw dishes are also an option, including the Rawritto, which is made with coconut “meat” and zucchini “bacon.” Order online for pickup. Also on Uber Eats and Postmates.

4. Cream Burger

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3481 Elgin St
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 659-7660

The unassuming Cream Burger is one of the oldest take-away burger stands in the city, still run by the family that founded it in 1961. Like the modest red and white building, the menu is also basic — sometimes all you need is a hot, juicy burger topped with bright yellow mustard. There’s also ice cream, as the name implies — milkshakes, specifically — and Frito pies, freshly-cut french fries and a few other staples. Bring cash — this spot doesn’t take credit cards.

5. Spanish Village Restaurant

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4720 Almeda Rd
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 523-2861
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This Tex-Mex joint has been serving up hearty enchiladas, migas, and crispy tacos since 1953, but they’ve recently shifted operations a bit to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, including closing temporarily on Sundays. In addition to the to-go menu, the restaurant is also selling take-and-bake dishes like a gooey cheese-covered Tex-Mex casserole. Other menu standouts include the elotes kolache, and the margaritas, which are now available to go. Order online or through the Toast takeout app.

6. Sparkle's Hamburger Spot

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4420 Emancipation Ave
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 225-8044
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Juicy, dripping burgers are made to order at this old-school take-out spot off Emancipation Avenue. Sparkle’s patties are extra-thick, and can come topped with chili, guacamole, hickory-bacon, jalapenos and more. The restaurant also serves breakfast and dishes like chicken and waffles or pork chop waffles, but the decadent burgers are the main star here. Order takeaway from the counter, or delivery on Postmates.

7. Reggae Hut

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4814 Almeda Rd
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 520-7171
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Reggae Hut’s menu is full of Caribbean classics like long-simmered oxtails, curry goat with peas and rice, plantains and patties (a savory pastry stuffed with stewed vegetables). There’s also jerk chicken, coconut shrimp and even rum punch to go, all available for order and pickup on the restaurant’s website. While you’re at it, pick up a gallon of sorrel, the spicy, punchy drink made from hibiscus flowers. Order online for carryout or delivery, or through Doordash.

8. Turkey Leg Hut

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4830 Almeda Rd suite a/b
Houston, TX 77004
(832) 787-0770
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Take a drive down Almeda and you’re sure to see a line of diners waiting for an infamous fall-off-the-bone smoked turkey leg from Turkey Leg Hut, beloved by celebrities and Houstonians alike. Variations on the classic  include a shrimp alfredo-stuffed leg and a mango-habanero glazed version made with Ciroc vodka. For takeout or delivery, order on their website.

9. Houston This Is It Soul Food

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2712 Blodgett St
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 521-2920
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One of Houston’s oldest African-American owned restaurants, This Is It got its start in Freedman’s Town before moving to its current Third Ward digs a decade ago. The menu features food rich in Southern Black history, from deep-fried chitterlings to collard greens to sweet potato pie. Pick-up orders can be placed on the restaurant’s website.

10. Frenchys Chicken

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4646 Scott St
Houston, TX 77004
(713) 748-2233
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Beloved by Beyonce (and Lizzo), Frenchy’s is a longtime Houston institution and one of the original fried chicken drive-thrus in the city. Founded in 1969 by New Orleans native Percy Creuzot, the local chain serves up crispy seasoned chicken and Creole-style sides, like boudin balls, collard greens and gumbo, along with po-boys, fried fish and sweet potato pie. There are now nine locations throughout Houston, but on a recent Friday night, the Third Ward spot was so busy that a line of cars stretched several blocks down Scott Street. Serving drive-thru and takeout.

11. Ray's BBQ Shack

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3929 Old Spanish Trail
Houston, TX 77021
(713) 748-4227
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East Texas-style barbecue is the name of the game at this spot in Riverside Terrace. At Ray’s, pittmaster Rayford S. Busch smokes Cajun-spiced meat over hickory, including a 14-hour slow smoked brisket, and Chicago-style rib tips, the underside of a traditional spare rib cut. For sides, don’t miss the smoked mac and cheese. Order online or by calling 713-748-4227. Also available on Doordash and Grubhub.

12. Stuff'd Wings

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6402 Tierwester St
Houston, TX 77021
(713) 702-1286
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Owner Jarrod Rector serves up innovative fried chicken wings filled with all manner of stuffing, from boudin to mac and cheese, out of his open-air storefront on Tierwester and a catering and add on extras like fries and sauces. Stuff’d Wings sells out on a near-daily basis, so be sure to get there early. The brick and mortar opens at noon Tuesdays through Saturdays, and Rector regularly updates Instagram with the truck’s locale. Available on Uber Eats.

1. Soul Food Vegan

2901 Emancipation Ave, Houston, TX 77004

As the name implies, this restaurant focuses on meat-free soul food. As such, the dishes at Soul Food Vegan are hearty and comforting, like okra gumbo with vegan roux, a cajun pasta melt with tomato sauce and cashew cheese over veggie rotini noodles, and a Cajun-seasoned Beyond Burger. Jackfruit barbecue “ribs” are a specialty when the fruit is in season. Available on Uber Eats.

2901 Emancipation Ave
Houston, TX 77004

2. Crumbville, TX

2316 Elgin St, Houston, TX 77004

On the first floor of the El Dorado Ballroom, baker Ella Russell (nickname: Edubalicious) cooks up vegan, gluten free and non-vegan treats like the Netfix and Chill, an oatmeal cookie with dried cranberries, crystallized ginger and kale popcorn baked inside; or the Butter Pecan Crunch, a candied pecan butter cookie. One of her signatures is Stuffedcups, a cupcake hybrid with cookie dough cooked right inside the cake. Preorder on the Crumbville website for next-day curbside pickup.

2316 Elgin St
Houston, TX 77004

3. green seed vegan

4320 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77004

Some of the most creative and clever vegetarian food in the city comes out of Green Seed’s kitchen, which is currently doing only takeout and delivery due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are comfort food classics, like Green Seed’s version of the peanut butter sandwich made with caramelized plantains, a barbecued jackfruit sandwich served with red onions and pickles, and a “cheesesteak” with grilled portobellos topped with vegan cheese. Raw dishes are also an option, including the Rawritto, which is made with coconut “meat” and zucchini “bacon.” Order online for pickup. Also on Uber Eats and Postmates.

4320 Almeda Rd
Houston, TX 77004

4. Cream Burger

3481 Elgin St, Houston, TX 77004

The unassuming Cream Burger is one of the oldest take-away burger stands in the city, still run by the family that founded it in 1961. Like the modest red and white building, the menu is also basic — sometimes all you need is a hot, juicy burger topped with bright yellow mustard. There’s also ice cream, as the name implies — milkshakes, specifically — and Frito pies, freshly-cut french fries and a few other staples. Bring cash — this spot doesn’t take credit cards.

3481 Elgin St
Houston, TX 77004

5. Spanish Village Restaurant

4720 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77004

This Tex-Mex joint has been serving up hearty enchiladas, migas, and crispy tacos since 1953, but they’ve recently shifted operations a bit to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, including closing temporarily on Sundays. In addition to the to-go menu, the restaurant is also selling take-and-bake dishes like a gooey cheese-covered Tex-Mex casserole. Other menu standouts include the elotes kolache, and the margaritas, which are now available to go. Order online or through the Toast takeout app.

4720 Almeda Rd
Houston, TX 77004

6. Sparkle's Hamburger Spot

4420 Emancipation Ave, Houston, TX 77004

Juicy, dripping burgers are made to order at this old-school take-out spot off Emancipation Avenue. Sparkle’s patties are extra-thick, and can come topped with chili, guacamole, hickory-bacon, jalapenos and more. The restaurant also serves breakfast and dishes like chicken and waffles or pork chop waffles, but the decadent burgers are the main star here. Order takeaway from the counter, or delivery on Postmates.

4420 Emancipation Ave
Houston, TX 77004

7. Reggae Hut

4814 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77004

Reggae Hut’s menu is full of Caribbean classics like long-simmered oxtails, curry goat with peas and rice, plantains and patties (a savory pastry stuffed with stewed vegetables). There’s also jerk chicken, coconut shrimp and even rum punch to go, all available for order and pickup on the restaurant’s website. While you’re at it, pick up a gallon of sorrel, the spicy, punchy drink made from hibiscus flowers. Order online for carryout or delivery, or through Doordash.

4814 Almeda Rd
Houston, TX 77004

8. Turkey Leg Hut

4830 Almeda Rd suite a/b, Houston, TX 77004

Take a drive down Almeda and you’re sure to see a line of diners waiting for an infamous fall-off-the-bone smoked turkey leg from Turkey Leg Hut, beloved by celebrities and Houstonians alike. Variations on the classic  include a shrimp alfredo-stuffed leg and a mango-habanero glazed version made with Ciroc vodka. For takeout or delivery, order on their website.

4830 Almeda Rd suite a/b
Houston, TX 77004

9. Houston This Is It Soul Food

2712 Blodgett St, Houston, TX 77004

One of Houston’s oldest African-American owned restaurants, This Is It got its start in Freedman’s Town before moving to its current Third Ward digs a decade ago. The menu features food rich in Southern Black history, from deep-fried chitterlings to collard greens to sweet potato pie. Pick-up orders can be placed on the restaurant’s website.

2712 Blodgett St
Houston, TX 77004

10. Frenchys Chicken

4646 Scott St, Houston, TX 77004

Beloved by Beyonce (and Lizzo), Frenchy’s is a longtime Houston institution and one of the original fried chicken drive-thrus in the city. Founded in 1969 by New Orleans native Percy Creuzot, the local chain serves up crispy seasoned chicken and Creole-style sides, like boudin balls, collard greens and gumbo, along with po-boys, fried fish and sweet potato pie. There are now nine locations throughout Houston, but on a recent Friday night, the Third Ward spot was so busy that a line of cars stretched several blocks down Scott Street. Serving drive-thru and takeout.

4646 Scott St
Houston, TX 77004

11. Ray's BBQ Shack

3929 Old Spanish Trail, Houston, TX 77021

East Texas-style barbecue is the name of the game at this spot in Riverside Terrace. At Ray’s, pittmaster Rayford S. Busch smokes Cajun-spiced meat over hickory, including a 14-hour slow smoked brisket, and Chicago-style rib tips, the underside of a traditional spare rib cut. For sides, don’t miss the smoked mac and cheese. Order online or by calling 713-748-4227. Also available on Doordash and Grubhub.

3929 Old Spanish Trail
Houston, TX 77021

12. Stuff'd Wings

6402 Tierwester St, Houston, TX 77021

Owner Jarrod Rector serves up innovative fried chicken wings filled with all manner of stuffing, from boudin to mac and cheese, out of his open-air storefront on Tierwester and a catering and add on extras like fries and sauces. Stuff’d Wings sells out on a near-daily basis, so be sure to get there early. The brick and mortar opens at noon Tuesdays through Saturdays, and Rector regularly updates Instagram with the truck’s locale. Available on Uber Eats.

6402 Tierwester St
Houston, TX 77021

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