We Love Food

Our 100 favorite dishes in Houston.

2704 Navigation, 713-228-1175

Ninfa's may not like the fact that this is really two separate dishes, but that's tough. I can't help it if two of my favorite items are on two different dishes. Do this: Order the desayuno mexicano and ask for the salsa-poached eggs on the huevos al habañil instead of the scrambled egg/potato concoction that comes with it. (Alternately, if you just order the huevos al habañil, you'll have to replace the chicharrones on that dish with steak.)

No. 58: Breakfast pita at Niko Niko's Market Square

No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil
Katharine Shilcutt
No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil
No. 76: Bacon-avocado burger from Facundo Cafe
Allison McPhail
No. 76: Bacon-avocado burger from Facundo Cafe

301 Milam, 713-224-4976

Fluffy pita bread is wrapped loosely around a fried egg-topped mess of cinnamon-laced sausage, or scrambled eggs mixed with roughly chopped pieces of falafel, bright green against the red of a tangy sambal-style sauce on top.

No. 57: Vegan curry at Cafe TH

2108 Pease, 713-225-4766

The secret to the curry's deep, silky, earthy broth is time: Owner Minh Nguyen boils cauliflower, green beans, carrots and onions separately before combining all of the vegetable stocks together with a green curry base and coconut milk. To brighten it up, he also adds lime, basil and pungent vegan fish sauce.

No. 56: Samosas at Shiv Sagar

6662 Southwest Fwy., 713-977-0150

The fennel seed-studded shells of Shiv Sagar's samosas are pure, crunchy, slightly greasy bliss, and the amped-up chutneys served alongside them have a deliciously slow burn that's best cooled off with one of its fluffy mango lassis.

No. 55: Ceviche at Latin Bites Cafe

5709 Woodway, 713-229-8369

The ever-evolving menu ranges from Japanese-inspired preparations such as tuna tiradito with soy, mirin and sesame oil served with sweet potato all the way to modern takes on Peruvian standards like salmon served with rocoto peppers and choclo corn.

No. 54: Wicked Philly at Pappa Geno's

1801 Ella, 713-863-1222

The handful of giardiniera-style pickled vegetables on top are just spicy and just crunchy enough to cut through all the fattiness of the beef and Provolone cheese on a regular Philly here, creating what this Texan thinks is an ideal Philly cheesesteak.

No. 53: Pork chop at Perry's Steakhouse

9827 Katy Fwy., 832-358-9000

The pork chop here is famous for many reasons: It's raised and reared especially for Perry's, the prime cut of chop then cured and dry-aged before receiving a combination of cooking treatments before it hits your plate: roasted, smoked, then caramelized.

No. 52: Soft-shell crab at Pico's Mex-Mex

5941 Bellaire, 713-662-8383

Pico's is known for using fresh crabs, so you're never in danger of encountering a soggy softie. Instead, they arrive screaming hot and coated lightly in a simple batter of seasoned flour, having been quickly fried in olive oil and garlic. But what you taste more than anything is that sweet, soft crab meat.

No. 51: Sno-balls at MAM's House of Ice

20th St. at Rutland, 832-265-1706

Despite its soft, downy texture, the New Orleans-style shaved ice at MAM's grips the flavored syrups that are poured on top with admirable temerity, forming a bond between syrup and ice that isn't present in any other shaved-ice preparation. Snow cones and raspas don't hold a candle to a sno-ball in this department. Note: Mam's is temporarily closed but will reopen this summer.

No. 50: Whole catfish at Saigon Pagolac

9600 Bellaire, 713-988-6106

The catfish is cooked to a crispy, caramelized brown and garnished with a sprinkling of green onions, chopped peanuts and pork skin. Wrap it up with bean sprouts, cucumbers and pickled carrots in roll-your-own rice paper sheets and call them Vietnamese fajitas.

No. 49: Nova fish box at New York Bagel & Coffee Shop

9724 Hillcroft, 713-723-5879

The "Fish Boxes" here come with your choice of lox, Nova, sable or several other varieties of smoked fish, and your choice of fresh bagel. The plate is piled with tomatoes, red onions, olives, cucumbers and more than enough cream cheese, allowing you to create your own bagel sandwich.

No. 48: Sojok mana'eesh at Cedars Bakery

8619 Richmond, 713-706-4141

Imagine a breakfast pizza made with beef chorizo. That's sojok mana'eesh. The sausage clings to a light layer of halloum cheese that is spread on the pita bread before it's run through one of Cedars' giant brick ovens. It's even better with a bowl of tangy lebne cheese ordered on the side.

No. 47: Pho ga at Pho Ga Dakao

11778 Bellaire, 281-879-5899

At Pho Ga Dakao, the restaurant's specialty — as the name would imply — is pho ga, or chicken pho. It's completely like and nothing like the chicken soup Americans grew up on, both familiar and exotic at once. Like beef pho, chicken pho is made by boiling chicken bones and other assorted parts for hours on end to form a rich, fatty stock. To that, Pho Ga Dakao adds meat — light or dark, your choice — as well as buttery chicken skin and even organ meat if you're feeling adventurous. Chicken hearts and gizzards give the soup a complexity and tangy bite, but it's just as good with plain old breast meat, too. Doctor it up with lime juice, cilantro, mint or Sriracha to your liking, and you're left with a bowl of chicken soup that's as good for a cold as it is for enjoying on its own, rich, chicken-y merits.

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Thanks for the 2012 dining guide!