Best of Houston®

Best Of 2015


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Food & Drink

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Readers' Choice


Best Of :: Food & Drink

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, and nowhere is that more evident than with the spaghetti and meatballs. The simple, homey dish marries a hearty pomodoro sauce with two hand-formed meatballs made in accordance with Mama Mandola's family recipe. The meatballs are just killer — packed tight yet tender enough that you can break them easily with a fork, they're full of flavor and unequivocally delicious. Add perfectly al dente spaghetti noodles, a smattering of parmesan cheese and a perfect basil leaf, and you have one of Houston's most enduring dishes.

3011 Smith St., Houston, 77006
Best Comfort Food
Urban Eats

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 — that cheesy and gooey skillet loaded with smoked bacon, pancetta and honey-glazed ham just may be the epitome of comfort. But if you're still on edge, Urban Eats's laundry list of poutine-style frites and craveworthy signature sliders (featuring everything from the pot roast- and gravy-loaded Sunday Dinner slider to a Fried Green Tomato BLT) should help.

READERS' CHOICE: the breakfast klub

3414 Washington Ave., Houston, 77007
Best Bloody Mary
Down House

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 haunt will give you just that. It'll also give you a perfectly tart, seriously spicy house mix and a foolproof cure for your hangover­.

READERS' CHOICE: Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette

1801 Yale, Houston, 77008
Best Cafeteria
Cleburne Cafeteria

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 scratch-made chicken and dumplings with a side of beautifully charred Brussels sprouts, flaky poached salmon with tomato and feta salad, and bigger-than-your-head chicken-fried steak with gooey mac and cheese. Just save room for the daily baked bread pudding and lemon chess pies. Oh, and don't forget that cash.

3606 Bissonnet, Houston, 77005
Best Family Restaurant
Bernie's Burger Bus
Photo courtesy of 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 of place the entire family can get down with. Recess grilled cheese sandwiches and mini burgers are perfect for the little ones, while those with growing appetites can smash stacked burgers made with daily-ground Black Angus beef, addicting inhouse condiments, and buttery, scratch-made buns. Trust us — this is one time your family won't mind taking the school bus.

5407 Bellaire Blvd, Bellaire, 77401
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 over the city, it's reassuring to know that you can stop by old faithful to fill up on grade A diner classics. Head here for the huge and cheap breakfast plates, blue plate specials and a cream-gravy-smothered CFS just like your mawmaw made.

2526 Airline Dr., Houston, 77009

Best Spaghetti and Meatballs: Damian's Cucina Italiana


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