Uncommonly Keen

The 10 best restaurants in the Upper Kirby district.

6. Steak 'N Shake

Open until: the cows come home (it's a 24-hour joint)

I, for one, was excited to welcome Steak 'N Shake to Houston when it opened its FM 1960 location earlier this year. Back when I had to travel a lot for work to some very small, very unlikable towns, the trim and chipper local Steak 'N Shake was often my only bastion of sanity — particularly late at night, when I was feeling lonely and bored in my Super 8 motel room. There are now four locations scattered throughout Houston (one in Katy, one in Pearland and one in Webster), and all are trusty spots to get a cheerful midnight milkshake or burger in parts of town where Denny's or IHOP may otherwise be your only options.

Breakfast thali at Pondicheri.
Gary R. Wise
Breakfast thali at Pondicheri.
An oyster-filled po-boy at BB's Cafe.
Katharine Shilcutt
An oyster-filled po-boy at BB's Cafe.

5. Genji

Open until: 2 a.m. every night of the week

Genji recently relocated from the same Westheimer strip center that also housed Friends Pizzeria to a new Westchase spot, but it kept the same late hours. It's still the most reliably awesome karaoke in town (complete with a binder of songs that's labeled "Engrish songs by title" unironically) as well as the best spot to get a late-night meal of udon, katsudon or a Japanese omelet covered in ketchup. (Don't knock it till you've tried it.)

4. Onion Creek

Open until: 2 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, midnight the rest of the week

Onion Creek Coffee House, Bar & Lounge (its full Christian name) is practically open all the time, starting with breakfast at 7 a.m. and ending most nights at 2 a.m. It's the living room of the Heights, with a cozy interior that's reminiscent of a hipster hunting lodge and a sprawling patio that's usually packed at all hours, so you never have to drink (or eat) alone. The Frito pie is reason alone to go, however, topped with creamy squiggles of cool sour cream and spicy pickled jalapeños in addition to the cheese and chili.

3. Chacho's / Spanish Flowers (tie)

Open until: you go home; both places are 24-hour affairs

Sometimes the only thing that will set you right is a plate of cheese enchiladas or a handful of fluffy flour tortillas with some sirloin steak stuffed inside. And both of these Tex-Mex stalwarts will take care of those cravings 24 hours a day. Chacho's has a drive-through — handy if you're on the way home — and a remarkably pleasant patio that's akin to a Taco Cabana on steroids. Spanish Flowers, meanwhile, only takes one break a week from serving customers: It closes at 10 p.m. on Tuesday before reopening on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

2. Pho Binh by Night / Fu Fu Cafe (tie)

Open until: 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, midnight the rest of the week (Pho Binh)

Open until: 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 2 a.m. the rest of the week (Fu Fu)

It used to be that the Chinatown go-to for late-night dining was Tan Tan. And while it's still a strong contender for the list, you can get far better food at both Pho Binh by Night and Fu Fu Cafe. Pho Binh is an offshoot of the immensely popular Pho Binh trailer in south Houston — owned by the very same family, so you know the pho is still every bit as amazing — while Fu Fu Cafe offers what many Houstonians consider to be the city's best soup dumplings...if there are any left at 4 a.m., that is.

1. BB's Cafe

Open until: 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday (Montrose location), 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday (Heights and Greenway Plaza locations), midnight the rest of the week

Whether at the original Montrose location or the conveniently located Heights spot across the street from Fitzgerald's, BB's Cafe currently has the market cornered on late-night dining. Where else in town can you get a po-boy this good this late at night? There are only a handful of places that rival BB's Cafe in the daylight hours as it is. And BB's knows that late-night diners are its bread and butter, offering amazing morning-to-night concoctions like breakfast po-boys, such as the Morning Glory po-boy filled with scrambled eggs, queso, fajita beef and BB's sauce. What else could any Houstonian ask for at 2 a.m. that doesn't come with a pillow and comforter?

Restaurant News

Witchcraft, Underdogs and Blacksmiths.
By Katharine Shilcutt

On my way home a few nights ago, I noticed that a hunch I'd had was true: Bibas Brooklyn Express had closed after only six short months in business on Main Street. I'd noticed the lights off for a few days, and a new spread of brown paper in the windows meant only one thing. B4-U-Eat reports that the paper indicates something new is in the works, though: "We hear it opens in 2 to 3 weeks as a Romas Pizza," reported its weekly newsletter.

And in other closings, our own Brittanie Shey's favorite Hawaiian joint has shut its doors: Hula Mama's — which Shey called "paradise in a double-wide" — took its tiki torches down for good over the weekend. According to B4-U-Eat (which has all the good scoop this week): "Chief Tama Satoa is moving to Maui to open a restaurant Luau show there. For Luau shows here, Drums of the Pacific is still open, operated by his daughter."

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