Best Of Food & Drink
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Best Comfort Food
Classic comfort foods get a refresh at this hot Washington Ave bistro-market hybrid. The energized, urban vibe of the exposed brick and art-filled space makes its way into the menu through things like duck fat camper's hash, buttermilk beignets and fried chicken, and "3 Pig" truffled mac and cheese —...
Best Bloody Mary
Life is too short to drink bad Bloody Marys. And if you're going to get your morning boost through tomato juice and vodka, you may as well tack on a crispy and tender fried chicken wing and beer backer, right? The peppery Big Ol' Bloody Mary at this packed-for-good-reason Heights...
Though the cash-only spot has been around awhile — in various forms since 1941, to be exact — this isn't some tired cafeteria. The unassuming eatery brings in fresh farmers' market produce daily and has an inhouse butcher. It isn't your school cafeteria, either. Here, "hot lunch" means you're getting...
Best Family Restaurant
Bernie's Burger Bus
This messy burger-slinging truck already had good grades on its report card, but when it turned brick-and-mortar last year, the king of beef earned honor roll status. And with air conditioning, plenty of seating and an expanded menu featuring things like salad, poutine fries and boozy milkshakes, it's the kind...
Best Greasy Spoon
Triple A Restaurant
This greasy spoon next to Canino's Produce may be old school (you may get called "honey" or "darlin'"), but that just makes it taste all the better. The family-owned and operated diner has been keeping Houstonians happy and full since 1942. With new, self-proclaimed "comfort food" concepts popping up all...
Best Theater District Restaurant
Prohibition Supperclub + Bar
Inspired by the nostalgic decadence of the 1920s, this luxurious supper club sets the mood for a night at the theater. Lavishness is apparent the moment you step into the stunning chandelier-lit space, modeled after old-style American hotels and European cafes — but it comes even more alive when you...
Best Neighborhood Spot in Rice Village
This West U eatery may have started out as the younger, more casual sister of Coppa, but when its big brother closed, the Italian resto continued to shine bright on its own. With a glass-windowed "dough room," modern, candlelit dining space, and walk-up pizza window, there's something for everyone in...
Best Classic Food Truck
Tacos Tierra Caliente
This classic taco truck doesn't include the word "caliente" in its moniker by accident. The house-made salsas — both roja and verde — are tongue-scorching in the best kind of way. Drizzle a little of each over freshly made corn tortillas stuffed with brick-red pastor, melt-in-your-mouth barbacoa, and the richest,...
Helmed by crêpe guru Sean Carroll (a.k.a. Buffalo Sean), this reigning champion of the Houston Press's Best Crepes deserves another win. The fan-favorite Parisienne-style crêpe stand launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of going brick-and-mortar earlier this year. Since dreams do come true, the campaign was a smashing success. Soon...
El Real Tex-Mex
This Montrose haunt — the brainchild of revered chef Bryan Caswell and Texas food authority (and former Houston Press food critic) Robb Walsh — is highly dedicated to authenticity. With a menu focused on "vintage Tex-Mex" (they render fresh lard in-house, y'all), it's no surprise the scratch-made enchiladas are menu...
Austin Simmons of Hubbell & Hudson Bistro, Kitchen and Cureight
Executive Chef Austin Simmons is ambitious. That's not a bad thing for someone responsible for overseeing the menus of three restaurants in The Woodlands. He is tasked with the care of Hubbell & Hudson Bistro and the more casual Hubbell & Hudson Kitchen. However, it's at Hubble & Hudson Cureight,...
This food truck turned Market Square taco shop makes more than just a laundry list of globally inspired tacos (though we think you should try those sometime). Its overloaded nachos are grade A thanks to chefs and owners David Grossman and Julia Sharaby's commitment to flavor. The kitchen spices up...
Pappas Bros. Steakhouse
There's an art to excellent service that starts from the minute you walk through the door of an establishment. You are greeted as if you're a regular, treated like the most important person in the room, then led to your dinner table, where the entire meal goes without a hitch...
Best Neighborhood Spot Downtown
This sister cafe to CityCentre's Sweet Bakery is the kind of place you want to hang around all day. Maybe that's because you really can hang around all day. Open from morning till midnight, the sprawling eatery hits that sweet spot between coffee shop, bakery and full-fledged restaurant. Sink into...
Best Vegan Restaurant
Green Seed Vegan
This food truck turned lil' green brick-and-mortar boasts an all-star lineup of plant-based eats and refreshing juices that won't have you missing meat and dairy. Take the "cheesesteak," for example. Beefy portobello mushrooms are earthy and rich, caramelized onions add a wonderful buttery flavor, and vegan cheddar packs a hint...
Quattro at the Four Seasons Hotel
There are Sunday brunches, and then there's the Sunday buffet brunch at Quattro at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston. The luxe affair takes place in Quattro's shiny commercial kitchen, weaving its way into the main dining room so that guests can wander, discover, imbibe and linger. Starting with a pancake...
Best Burger Joint
Yes, you can get Pappas burgers at William P. Hobby Airport these days, but nothing beats the original location on Westheimer, located next to Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. Pappas burgers are made that much more delicious because the burgers are processed next door, so what you get is hand-formed patties made...
Best Food Truck
This intergalactic food truck has had quite the history in its five-year life span — it has been a food trailer, an ice cream truck and a duo brick-and-mortar/food-truck operation. Though the owners shut down their Montrose cafe earlier this year, that just means they can focus their culinary chops...
The Viet-Cajun crawfish craze is as strong as ever in Houston, with many of the popular joints competing each year to get on the top lists. At the top of the pack this year? Cajun Kitchen. Not only is the quality top-notch (bigger, consistently good-size crawfish), but beyond the Cajun...
Ninfa's on Navigation
When it comes to fajitas, the choices in Houston are abundant, but at the end of the day, the all-time winner for consistency and plain old deliciousness all around is, and always will be, The Original Ninfa's on Navigation. It's the reason why, at any given moment, Mama Ninfa's original...
Best Indian Restaurant
When you want a good Indian food experience in Houston, you head to the Little India area off Hillcroft. When you want a superlative Indian food experience, you head to Kiran's, whose chef and owner is Kiran Verma. It's there that you'll experience Indian food on par with the best...
Blacksmith has become the morning hub for sommeliers, bartenders, restaurant owners, chefs and, yes, food writers. It's like the taverns of old, but without the booze. Instead, its regular customers start coming in at 7 a.m. for caffeinated elixirs and conversation. The baristas use coffee beans roasted in small batches...
Best Neighborhood Spot in the Galleria
Since it opened in January 2014, the spiffy, upbeat, sunnily bright Dish Society in the Gables Tanglewood complex at San Felipe and Bering has quickly established itself as the local eatery of choice in the area. The food is unfussy and locally sourced and often has a healthful spin. The...
Best Soul Food
Le' Pam's House of Creole
Chef Pamela Graham's marriage of Creole and soul food wins new fans daily, with both her homestyle cooking and her warm, welcoming demeanor. Her restaurant, Le' Pam's House of Creole, brings much-needed life to a part of north Houston that has few culinary bright spots. Her Creole-style gumbo is chock-full...
Kenny & Ziggy's
Is there anything that even comes close to Kenny & Ziggy's in Houston? Time and again, this place wins. Seriously, what's not to like? The ambience is old-school deli, complete with framed caricatures of famous people on the wall. And the food; it's all about the food, really: lox and...
There are a lot of Chinese restaurants in Houston, but none as enduring or as consistent as Fung's Kitchen. Since it debuted in 1990, Fung's has entertained dignitaries, VIPs and royalty. Every year, it holds a spectacular Chinese New Year's celebration presided over by Martin Yan of Yan Can Cook...
Best Mexican Restaurant
In a town where Tex-Mex is so abundant that you can get it at gas stations, Cuchara is a breath of fresh air. Stylish and artsy, owners Ana Beaven and Charlie McDaniel created the restaurant to bring a piece of Mexico City to Houston. You won't find any yellow cheese...
Best Spaghetti and Meatballs
Damian's Cucina Italiana
There's a reason Damian's Cucina Italiana has been in business for more than 30 years. Like Old Faithful, this is a place that sticks to old-school traditions. Waitstaff are clad in black vests and provide attentive, solicitous service. Pastas and sauces are made with family recipes passed down through generations,...
Veruca Salt Cake at Fluff Bake Bar
The Veruca Salt cake at Fluff Bake Bar is so good, it might make you put aside whatever fanciful, special-order cake-and-frosting combo you thought you were going to get. Most ideas suddenly seem unbearably dull compared to luscious, incredibly dark layers of devil's food cake divided by layers of salted...
Best South American
Andes Café is both understated and ambitious. It's a simple place with no fancy designer furnishings. The ambition is on the menu. Let it not be said that chef David Guerrero does anything halfway. The dishes come from seven different South American countries: Guerrero's native Ecuador as well as Peru,...
Killen's Barbecue in Pearland still is the one to beat, but you don't have to take our word for it. In June 2015, Food Network named Killen's the second-best barbecue joint in America. (The Bar-B-Q Shop in Memphis took the top spot.) It's not just that Killen's puts out competition-level...
Best Fine Dining
Celebrating its 50th year in the biz in 2015, Tony Vallone's eponymous Tony's is, without a doubt, Houston's finest fine-dining establishment. From celebrities like Barbara Walters and Andrea Bocelli to Houston's local elite and billionaires, this is the place to go when you want to experience the highest level of...
Best Japanese Restaurant
The almost nondescript exterior of this restaurant, located off the beaten path in a strip-mall setting, belies what waits inside: A welcoming, mom-and-pop gem where the mom is the waitress, the dad is the cook and the food is like your Japanese grandmother might make. It's the reason why, on...
Best Neighborhood Spot in EaDo
Walk into Cafe TH on any given day, and the tiny shop's owner, Minh Nguyen, will be there to greet you with smiles and great service. To call it a neighborhood spot is almost a misnomer, because this is the kind of place that people will drive from all over...
Best Steak Night
D&T Drive Inn
Tuesday is Steak Night at D&T Drive Inn and, with the backyard setting, it feels like a big family picnic — except the beer selection is much better. For $18 or $28, you get your choice of a ten-ounce sirloin or a 16-ounce rib eye, house salad and a baked...
Houston's west side has long deserved a noteworthy sushi spot, and now it finally has one. Diners should angle for seats at the sushi bar for a bird's-eye view of chef Adison Lee and his staff diligently forming perfectly textured sushi rice into neat blocks and topping them with some...
Best Farmers' Market
Eastside Farmers Market
Urban Harvest's attitude is the epitome of local pride. Every Saturday, they set up the Eastside Farmers Market to celebrate local farmers and restaurants, small businesses and charities, and pretty much the entire Houston community through a beautiful bounty of fresh products and artisan goods. Along with a happy-to-be-up-this-early crowd,...
Pork ribs were all the rage during the past two decades. For a while, it seemed as if baby back ribs were on every other menu. Now, beef ribs are king again. They owe their newfound popularity in the greater Houston area largely to Ronnie Killen of Killen's Barbecue. These...
Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette
With a name like Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette, you'd expect a strong oyster program, and that's what you get at this gorgeous River Oaks establishment. The little brother of the more established Liberty Kitchen in the Heights, this location is always packed with people. One of the reasons? The oysters...
Evan Turner has proven that if you shout at the wind long enough, eventually someone will hear you. He fell in love with Greek food and culture at the young age of 11. Seventeen years ago, as an adult, he started a serious exploration into the country's wines and he's...
Hugs & Donuts
Yeah, when it comes to plain glazed, we're a Shipley town and everyone knows it, but there has always been room for more creative takes on Houston's favorite morning pastry. Enter Hugs & Donuts, a storefront operation by Matt Opaleski and Jason Hill. These are the same minds who brought...
Best Neighborhood Spot in Upper Kirby
Fat Bao is one of those places that is easy. It's easy to order (you do so at the counter). Easy to get to (it's at the corner of Kirby and Richmond). Easy to park (translation: free). Plus, it's easy to visit several times a week. The brainchild of owner...
Best Italian Restaurant
Tucked away on the second floor of the Hotel Sorella, where it is accessed via a stairway from the lower-floor bar, Radio Milano is one of those places that you have to go and find. When you do, you'll discover modern Italian cuisine that's a pleasure to savor. Under the...
Best Hot Dogs
Good Dog Houston
No one in town does hot dogs better than Good Dog Houston. This "little hot dog place that could" originally operated exclusively from a baby-blue truck. These days, it's in a charming cottage that's been converted into a restaurant with a pleasant front porch. The difference is in the ingredients...
Best Ethnic Grocery
Viet Hoa International Foods
Walk into Viet Hoa International Foods, and if the polished concrete floor doesn't impress, then the displays of fresh and affordably priced local and exotic fruit will. Fruit such as mangoes and Asian pears are pre selected and prepacked attractively so that the customer can just grab and go. The...
In the few short years since Local Foods opened, its name has become synonymous with excellent sandwiches in Houston. Under Dylan Murray's stewardship, the fast-casual concept offers a range of gourmet sandwiches that go a step above the traditional deli version or something Mom might make at home. Specialty breads...
Lupitas Mexican Restaurant
Named after the family matriarch, Lupe Garcia, Lupitas in Sugar Land is the quintessential family-run Tex-Mex restaurant that we all wish we had in our neighborhood. The food here is not your mass-produced chain-restaurant food. You can taste the difference immediately in the freshness of the various dishes, which are...
Anyone familiar with Deepak Doshi, or the story behind Doshi House in the Third Ward, gets a kind of fuzzy feeling about this place. In 2010, Doshi left his six-figure-income job to open up a cafe and community center, a place for people to come by for a cup of...
Peska Seafood Culture
Moving into the posh digs at the new BLVD Place at the corner of Post Oak and San Felipe is Peska Seafood Culture, which has captivated Houstonians with its beautiful design as much as its novel concept: It's both a restaurant and a seafood market, and fresh seafood is...
Best Chips and Salsa
El Real Tex-Mex
Restaurants often forget one of the keys to bringing all the full, earthy flavors out of tomato-based salsa: Warm it up! El Real Tex-Mex never forgets, which is why diners may find themselves needing a salsa refill five minutes after they arrive. The other secret is fire-roasting tomatoes and jalapeños...
Best French Restaurant
Etoile Cuisine et Bar
On the strength of a weeklong visit to Houston to visit friends and family, Philippe Verpiand took the ultimate gamble in 2012, moving his family lock, stock and barrel from San Diego to Houston and opening the modest yet refined Etoile Cuisine et Bar in Uptown Park. It was a...
Dolce Vita Pizzeria Enoteca
Pizza is a personal thing for many people. The crust needs to be right, the toppings need to be fresh and varied, the cheese should be of high quality and the sauce should be made with the correct mixture of herbs with just enough zing to complete the...
Best Gourmet Food Truck
Cousins Maine Lobster
There's a reason the owners of Cousins Maine Lobster walked away with a $55K cash infusion from the hit television show Shark Tank. Their products — traditional lobster rolls, lobster quesadillas, tater tots and a lobster bisque — are just plain delicious. The Los Angeles-based food truck expanded to Houston...
There's a reason the Kolache Shoppe on Richmond has endured for the past 45 years. The original dough recipe — which hasn't changed since the place opened and involves a process that raises the dough three times — yields a soft, slightly sweet, melt-in-your mouth filled pastry that simply keeps...
Since its days as a small hole-in-the-wall inside the shopping center at Travis and McGowan, Thiên Ân Sandwiches earned a strong following for its delicious, authentic Vietnamese cuisine. It's now in much larger, swankier digs on San Jacinto in Midtown, and the expanded menu makes Thiên Ân the place to...
Best Neighborhood Spot in Montrose
Ask anyone what his neighborhood Montrose pick is, and Paulie's will usually top the list. The casual, friendly, moderately priced counter-service Italian restaurant is the place to stop (it's open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays) for sandwiches, pastries, cookies, coffee, salad or the daily comfort-food special (meat...
Best Brazilian Steakhouse
A stellar Brazilian steakhouse may start with the quality of the meat, but to truly separate itself from the pack, it also needs to deliver when it comes to the salad bar and the service. Chama Gaúcha, located on Westheimer near The Galleria, succeeds in all three criteria. Want quality...
Best Expense-Account Restaurant
BCN Taste & Tradition
There are few restaurants that fulfill the promise of "you get what you pay for" better than BCN Taste & Tradition. Chef Luis Roger came to Houston from Spain, and he does his best to import fine Spanish ingredients — such as jamón Ibérico — or comparable domestic ones to...
Korean Noodle House
Tucked away on the side of the road off Longpoint near Gessner is this small, humble, mom-and-pop Korean restaurant called Korean Noodle House. Walk up a wooden plank to the yellow-painted facade and you are immediately greeted when you enter. Service is friendly, and laminated menus offer Korean language on...
Ceviche Mixto at Andes Cafe
Andes Cafe's ceviche is not only one of the most complex in Houston, it may also be the best value for the price. The portion size is huge and the seafood included is both interesting and exquisite. For $18, you get a big bowl full of corvina (delicate, white South...
Best Pastry Chef
Overseeing the pastry programs at both Revival Market and sister restaurant Coltivare is Alyssa Dole. This under-the-radar pastry chef cut her teeth at establishments such as Corner Table and Recipe for Success before taking on her current role, which involves overseeing the desserts at both restaurants, as well as the...
Best Fried Chicken
For all the fine restaurants that make their own fried chicken, there's still not one of them that can beat Houston fast-food icon Frenchy's. The Scott Street location is still the best. For some reason, the coating there just seems to be slightly more flavorful and crispy than the rest...
Best Mediterranean Restaurant
Located in the heart of lower Westheimer on the corner of Montrose, Aladdin is a humble mom-and-pop operation that easily wins hearts. The cafeteria-style restaurant provides an excellent bang for the buck. Select a protein and the sides you want, grab a cafeteria tray and then choose from a smorgasbord...
Best Breakfast Tacos
Brooks' Place in Cypress made quite the media stir when it said it was getting static from neighbor Dunkin' Donuts over its new breakfast tacos. Area residents thronged to the little trailer to see what all the hubbub was about. A place that already makes stellar barbecue just doesn't have...
Best Peking Duck
Super-crispy, golden duck skin with all the fat rendered, with hoisin sauce and shaved chives on the side: When you want a no-fail Peking duck experience in Houston, Fung's Kitchen is where it's at. A specialty that's available every day at this spacious Cantonese restaurant, the Peking duck is a point...
Best Pakistani Restaurant
In Houston, the name "Himalaya" has become synonymous with the best in Pakistani fare. A great deal of that success is due to Kaiser and Azra Lashkari's tireless efforts, which started back in 1993. That was when they opened their first restaurant, a tiny affair with only six seats. These...
Best Chicken-Fried Steak
Be it a great hot dog, burger, chicken-fried oyster, foie gras mac and cheese, or braised and grilled beef belly, BRC Gastropub's recipe for over-the-top comfort food is always eminently satisfying. Consequently, the chicken-fried steak, available on the menu as an "evening breakfast" or on the brunch menu in a...
Best Peruvian Restaurant
What started out as a brother and sister catering business has flourished and grown into Houston's best Peruvian restaurant. Here is a place where you can experience the true essence of Peruvian cuisine. Chef Roberto Castre's dishes shine with authenticity as well as artistry. His simple trio of three causas,...
Walk into Pho Dien on a Saturday at 9 a.m., and you'll undoubtedly have to put your name on a list to get a table. But not to worry; the wait won't be too long. Pho Dien is the restaurant that Vietnamese know to frequent when they want a high-quality...
Best Banh Mi
You wouldn't expect to find the best Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches in Houston on Gessner in the Spring Branch area near the city's Korean community, but that's exactly what you get. Owned by Ronnie and Linda Nguyen, a young Vietnamese couple in their late twenties, the fast-casual cafe offers banh...
Best Soup Dumplings
One Dragon Restaurant
Tucked away in the corner of a strip mall on Bellaire in Chinatown, One Dragon Restaurant is as unassuming as it is special. This one-room hole-in-the-wall with no more than ten tables is presided over by a husband and wife who barely speak English but whose mission is to...
Esther's Cajun Cafe & Soulfood
Don't drive past this modest Independence Heights eatery without stopping in for a plate full of rib-sticking, soulful Cajun fare. The brothy bowls of chicken and sausage gumbo have a hot pepper bite, and the shrimp and crawfish étouffée is thick and bright with cayenne. The red beans cook for...
There is no dearth of steakhouses in Houston, but for a quintessentially local experience that couples the finest meat with delicious sides and impeccable service, you've got to give it to Killen's Steakhouse. Under the direction of newly named executive chef Joe Cervantez, the restaurant founded by Ronnie Killen is...
Occupying a stately corner in the Saigon Houston Plaza on Bellair is Tony Thai Restaurant, one of the most beautifully appointed Thai restaurants in Houston. Step through the doors, and you're greeted by ornate sculptures and fountains shipped to Houston direct from Thailand. Tony is the owner and...
The Ham O' The Day has been on the Provisions menu since day one, and is still the must-order appetizer that manages to be light and flavor-packed at the same time. Paper-thin slices of cured domestic ham from heritage pigs are piled up across a smooth, oblong platter and rest...
Best Beer List
Nobi Public House
This spot in Webster brings a wide selection of craft beer to patrons south of Houston. The beer list is updated on the website daily, which is helpful for those who might have to make a drive to the southern outpost. On any given day, there are more than 40...
Best Neighborhood Spot in Midtown
Charivari Restaurant, owned by Transylvania-born Johann Schuster and his wife, may look like a throwback to a 1980s restaurant somewhere in the middle of Europe, but that's part of the charm. Schuster earned his chef's whites in the old country, which means that the food here is prepared with the...
Prohibition Supperclub & Bar
At Prohibition Supperclub & Bar, it's gentility in the front and decadence in the back. The front dining room, with deep, upholstered porter's chairs and marble flooring, speaks of old Southern luxury. A long, sturdy bar anchors the back, and there are giant upholstered booths so huge that a party...
Set in a refurbished old home in Montrose on the lower Westheimer drag, Da Marco offers a $29 business lunch prix fixe that's the best in town. You arrive to find all kinds of brand-name cars in the tiny parking lot, ably maneuvered by the on-hand valets. Reservations are a...
Best Bread Basket
It's hard to beat a place that has its own French bakery. Le Mistral's basket features bread freshly baked by Foody's Gourmet next door. Le Mistral's own whipped signature butter is served right alongside warm, rustic baguettes, crusty slices of bread and country hearth rolls encrusted in sesame seeds. Suddenly,...
Best Neighborhood Spot in the Heights
Perched on a quiet corner on Heights Boulevard, Revival Market is that local farm-to-market restaurant that makes you glad you live in the neighborhood. Serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner, though the market itself has shrunk to a few select shelves and a cold case, Revival is now what we...
There are many dishes that North Italia does well, but the restaurant puts in the effort and creative thought to make sure even its salads really hit the spot. The seasonal vegetable version is lightly dressed in a sherry vinaigrette, balanced with toothsome farro and quinoa and adorned with delicate...
Best Chocolate Chip Cookie
Though pastry chef Roy Shvartzapel — who laid the groundwork for the Montrose cafe's cult following — has since left to pursue other opportunities, you're still likely to find a line at the door. And while you may be tempted to get everything on the pastry bar's colorful lineup, you...
It's cool that Hubcap Grill has received national accolades, thereby putting one more feather in Houston's cap. It's great that owner Ricky Craig and his parents have tirelessly worked to grow from a tiny, cramped joint on Travis Street to locations in the Heights and Kemah, with a future airport...
Best Tasting Menu
The Pass & Provisions
The Pass, the fine-dining side of The Pass & Provisions, puts on a show a few nights a week. There's no singing and dancing, though. The show is quiet, and it's on the plates. Special-occasion restaurants should be memorable, and The Pass always is. Dishes on the menu, which can...
Charcuterie at Kris Bistro
Tucked away within the unassuming facade of Culinary Institute LeNôtre is one of Houston's best values in French dining. Kris Bistro, helmed by chef Kris Jakob, is staffed by aspiring culinary students both on the floor and in the kitchen. The net effect is earnest but not amateur, and everything...
Cloud 10 Creamery
The most fanciful sundaes are to be found at Cloud 10 Creamery. That's thanks to chef Chris Leung's creativity as well as the experience he gained at acclaimed restaurants like Bootsie's and Kata Robata, among other places. There's a seasonal sensibility at work here. Flavor combinations change right along with...
Karbach Brewing Co.
Right off the bat, Karbach Brewing Co. smartly ensured its beer was packaged and distributed even to Houston suburbs. It was a strategic business move that helped the company quickly establish a customer base — and a fan base. Consistency in brewing is extremely important, and Karbach nails it time...
Blacksmith is well-known as a coffee spot, but its fast, flexible and varied breakfast options are equally enticing. The staff is always helpful and tries to meet dietary requests, even if that means coming up with a combination that's not exactly on the menu. Trying to increase your vegetable intake...
Best To-Go Menu
This Texas-based chain of fresh, nutritionally balanced kitchens lets you feel good about eating takeout. That's because choosing something healthy (and actually enjoying it) is a "snap." The refreshing concept uses in-season, local ingredients to craft crave-worthy meals — think grass-fed beef meatballs and peppers, butternut squash macaroni and chicken...
Best French Fries
The Hay Merchant
If you think making great french fries is easy, think again. Not every potato lends itself to great fries. The starch content and moisture vary from one variety to the next and even within the same variety at different times of the year. The Hay Merchant's Kevin Floyd says that...
Best Ice Cream
Sweet Cup Gelato
Sweet Cup Gelato opened in 2012 and has been Houston's most underrated ice cream shop — until now. It's a complete mystery as to why more people aren't raving about inventive and exotic flavors like Kashmir Rose, Bacio (after the Italian chocolate-hazelnut candy) and Malai Kulfi. The shop also sells...
Best Late-Night Restaurant
JINYA Ramen Bar Midtown
JINYA Ramen Bar fulfilled the dreams of barhoppers and late-night workers when it opened its Midtown location. At midnight on a Friday, who wants pancakes when he can have warm, silky tonkotsu with pork belly instead? Really hungry people will do well to also get an order of the fried...
Best Mac and Cheese
The "3 Pig Truffled Mac & Cheese" at Urban Eats is one of the best versions of the dish in Houston. The secret is a complex cheese sauce that includes Fontina, Gouda, Cheddar, Velveeta and cream cheese. As if that weren't enough, Urban Eats gilds the lily by adding bacon,...
El Big Bad
We love our margaritas. Really, they should be declared the official drink of Houston. El Big Bad understands, and that's why it offers nine different margaritas on its cocktail list. Actually, the potential variants probably number in the hundreds if you include all the possible combinations. El Big Bad specializes...
Best African Restaurant
Addis Ababa may not be in the sexiest shopping center. However, inside the restaurant, the warm, welcoming staff and hearty food will make diners forget the lackluster exterior. In fact, it may be the best Ethiopian restaurant with which to familiarize the uninitiated with the cuisine. The staff are happy...
Triniti's pastry chef, Samantha Mendoza, understands what makes for memorable desserts: flavors, luxurious textures, elegance and restraint. She graduated from the baking and pastry program at the Art Institute of Houston and first made desserts professionally at Bedford, Robert Gadsby's former restaurant. Later, Mendoza became the executive pastry chef at...
Fat Cat Creamery
Let's face it: It is not difficult to love milkshakes. Fat Cat Creamery gives us additional reasons to love these cold confections even more. First off are the inventive — but not overcomplicated — house-made ice creams with a focus on Texas products. Waterloo Strawberry Buttermilk (made with Waterloo Texas-Style...
Best New Restaurant
Oporto's Midtown location opened without a lot of fanfare, content to sit quietly until curious diners drifted in and discovered this elegant gem. Owned by husband and wife team Rick Di Virgilio and chef Shiva Patel-Di Virgilio, Oporto takes the best of their earlier endeavors — the original Oporto and...
Tony's is just as serious about its pasta quality as it is about everything else. "All Pasta Made by Hand In House" proclaims the menu. The question is not whether to have pasta. The question is which pasta to have. Shall it be the pillow-like pansoti filled with squash and...
In the Dun Huang Plaza off Bellaire Boulevard near Beltway 8, big, flashy neon signs are the rule rather than the exception. In the midst of it all sits Houston's best ramen house, and it's almost as invisible as Platform 9 3/4 from the Harry Potter books. The name in...
Best Restaurant Comeback
Roegels Barbecue Co.
After making barbecue for years under the Baker's Ribs franchise, Russell Roegels noticed that Houston barbecue was changing. He closely examined what up-and-comers like Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin were preaching, and attended Barbecue Camp at A&M. He returned to his Houston store, decided not to renew the franchise agreement...
Fake risottos abound in Houston. So many restaurants put something on the menu called "risotto" that ends up being just rice cooked in broth with some cream thrown in. Good risotto starts with using the correct rice, like short-grained Arborio from Italy. Mascalzone, thankfully, understands this. As a result, its...
Best Wine List
Mexico is not known for its wine (yet), so what's a sommelier at a seafood-driven Mexican restaurant to do? Make new rules. Beverage director and sommelier Sean Beck went through the same challenge when developing the wine list at Hugo's and brought that experience to bear when it was time...
Slow Dough Bake Shop
After spending years as the bread purveyor of choice for Houston's finer restaurants and retailers, baker Heath Wendell finally has a retail bake shop...
It was cause for rejoicing to hear that one of Houston's best-loved pizza joints was opening a second location on the border of Montrose and Midtown. Black-tiled, fire-breathing, twin monsters of pizza ovens stand guard in the kitchen. One crispy-edged Neapolitan pizza after another is rescued from these ovens on...