Food & Drinks

  • Best Martini

    Zimm's Martini & Wine Bar

    Zimm's has been a wine bar; it's been a coffee-and-wine bar; it's been all but burned out in a fire last year; and it's been flooded by Tropical Storm Allison. Still, it endures, and it makes a damn good martini. The drinks are helped by the seductive ambience of the place -- dark and agreeably louche, with not-too-loud music, which… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    El Pueblito Place

    These sublime concoctions are undoubtedly best enjoyed alfresco, and to do so there is no place better than the Guatemalan/Mexican surf-and-turf, El Pueblito Place. First, there's the marg itself, which is tartly delicious as any in town and comes in large, extra large, and call-a-cab sizes. Then there are the cabana-comes-to-Montrose surroundings of the restaurant's new back patio, in which… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Tacos

    Shipway Donuts

    Houston's unique brand of spontaneous fusion is in full flower on Telephone Road. Formerly home to the white middle class, now part Asian and part Hispanic, Telephone crosses all the lines. Shipway began its life as a run-of-the-mill doughnut shop, and then it was purchased by a Hispanic family who expanded the place. So now the glass cases are filled… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Fox Diner

    Old-timers remember the era when Sunday afternoons meant post-church meals where anything but fried chicken would constitute outright heresy. Now the special repast is almost strictly the domain of fast-food joints. Fox Diner pays due homage to the heritage of fried chicken on Sunday. While the cooks of past eras never would have dreamed of coating the chicken in corn… More >>
  • Best Plantains

    Cafe Piquet

    When we say plantains, we aren't talking about those crunchy chips you find in a bag of trail mix. No, we're talking plantains here, the ones you peel and fry up in a pan. Most restaurants will serve up slabs of fruit from plantain purgatory, soft and pretty yellow on the outside, with a stiff, flavorless center. But Cafe Piquet… More >>
  • Best Fusion Mussels

    Farrago - CLOSED

    Deciding on an appetizer can be a weighty decision with Farrago's global cuisine, which has included such world-champion contenders as chili-cured tenderloin, Asian barbecue duck and jerk chicken wings. But we're decidedly mussel-bound, reaching repeatedly for the curried mussels. Chef Todd Stevens has really raised the culinary bar with this mountain of succulent shellfish soaking in a Thai curry-coconut milk… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Central Market

    As you wind through the maze of Houston's Central Market, past the exotic fruits, past the clam aquarium, past the 17 kinds of rice, you eventually come to an enormous shopping-cart traffic jam in the store's right rear corner. This is where the best bread in the city is being baked. Is it the crusty ciabatta or the pain au… More >>
  • Best Pasta


    It's not just noodles anymore, and they don't all come from Italy, so put that redneck mentality aside and take a look at the rainbow of international pastas that make Houston a regular pasta jungle and their gustation a celebration. Better yet, take a father and son of Armenian descent who love southern European cuisine, and stick them in an… More >>
  • Best Empanadas

    Café Red Onion - CLOSED

    An order of empanadas at Café Red Onion is a trip around the world in which fresh medleys of flavors flatter each other in encounters that are interesting even in a place that prides itself on its culinary theme of Latin fusion. The light-crusted, deep-fried pies, served up in a swirl of different sauces, challenge the traditional view of the… More >>
  • Best Jerk Chicken

    Reggae Hut

    Don't worry about a thing: White meat or dark, every serving of this jerk chicken's gonna be all right. The flavorful tryst begins the moment the vibrant Fiestaware plate arrives with its bounty of spicy rice, steamed vegetables and quarter-bird drenched in the Jamaican marinade. The meat is tender and succulent, anchoring the scotch-bonnet heat, sultry thyme and myriad other… More >>
  • Best Cheap Sandwich

    Cali Sandwich

    There comes a time in every other week, generally toward the ass end of a paycheck, when budgeters careful and shoddy alike are faced with the dilemma of making $9 stretch just four more days until reinforcements arrive in the old checking account. It's at times like these that Cali proves itself a godsend with its array of $2 sandwiches,… More >>
  • Best Macaroni and Cheese

    Café Perrier

    Talk about a French revolution. Frédéric Perrier, chef-owner of his namesake Cafe Perrier, has developed a delicious French twist on that all-American dish, macaroni and cheese. Befitting the country charm of the bistro, the gratin de macaroni is made of simple, yet sophisticated, penne pasta swimming in a rich, bubbly Parmesan-and-truffle cream sauce, topped with a dollop of goat cheese.… More >>
  • Best Cabrito

    Taqueria La Tapatia

    Cabrito, suckling goat, is hard to find here in the sublime al pastor form popular on the border and in northern Mexico. In those regions, the tradition of roasting kid over a mesquite-fired grill -- a practice with deep roots in the region's ranching past -- has acquired the status of an art form. Taqueria La Tapatia, a casual Montrose… More >>
  • Best Pupusas

    El Venado

    This Central American hangout has a unique Houston/Salvadoran decor. The booths sport custom-crafted vinyl upholstery in metallic candy-flake turquoise with silver candy-flake trim. A namesake deer head hangs from the wall in the dining room with some straw sombreros and other kitschy Central American bric-a-brac. Kind of a tropical hunting lodge motif with art car upholstery accents. But the wacky… More >>
  • Best Chicken-Fried Steak

    Ouisie's Table

    Never underestimate chicken-fried steak. It may seem like a humble dish, but it is a humble dish that is taken very seriously by native Texans. Elouise Cooper, owner of Ouisie's Table, takes chicken-fried steak very seriously. The golden-brown, Southern-fried crust is so perfect that the cream gravy is served on the side with the mashed potatoes, the mustard greens and… More >>
  • Best Dumplings

    Dumpling King

    This hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in a Westheimer strip center has seen better days. The flea-market carving of the Great Wall of China and the other sparse decorations on the walls are almost worse than nothing. You could argue that many other Chinese restaurants have similar, or even better, dumplings. But the Dumpling King's loyal subjects vigorously defend the crown. Their… More >>
  • Best Mariscos

    Tampico Seafood and Restaurant

    This bustling little Mexican seafood shop-turned-restaurant near the Farmer's Market serves some of the best red snapper in the city. There isn't any question about whether you're being served real Gulf snapper or how fresh it is, because here you walk up to the seafood counter and pick out the fish yourself. They weigh it and then grill it to… More >>
  • Best Seviche


    It's crystal clear why the seviche is better at Urbana, the hip Montrose spot that's as cool as the blue ocean itself. The clean, crisp marinade of lime juice -- aided by a kick of jalapeņos, cilantro, red onions and just a few diced tomatoes -- lets the flavor of the seafood swim to the surface. It's not to be… More >>
  • Best Sushi


    Although former owner and executive chef Don Chang has quit the restaurant biz and moved to Austin, his younger brother, Daniel Chang, continues to run this oasis of to-die-for food in west Houston just as his brother did, with artfully prepared dishes and leisurely service. Don was responsible for many of the creative fusion items at Nara, and his mark… More >>
  • Best Club Sandwich

    Edloe St. Café & Deli

    Locals line up at the counter of this retro spot in the heart of West University Place's original business district -- not the strip-center sprawl now lining its perimeter. Edloe St. Deli's avenue of Americana includes the Little League field, the school, the grocery store, the library, the courthouse and the cafe. The favorite sandwich is the club, piled ridiculously… More >>
  • Best Condiments

    Cafe Express - CLOSED

    Don't you hate it when you order a salad and they haven't sprinkled enough croutons on it, at least not as many as you would like? You'll never have that problem at Cafe Express. Whoever designed this place was smart enough to leave extra toppings in big jars at a kiosk. Gourmet toppings, too, for that matter: sun-dried tomatoes,… More >>
  • Best Veggie Burger

    Hungry International

    As more and more converts are discovering every day, ya don't need a cow to make a delicious burger. And no one knows that better than Hungry's. Their veggie version can go head-to-head with those patties o' flesh any day. Hungry's starts with a toasted whole-wheat bun, dabs a little mayo on it, and tops it with a tasty black… More >>
  • Best Custard

    Kohr Brothers, Marq*E Entertainment Center

    The boardwalks of the Jersey Shore are dotted with Kohr Brothers custard stands, and generations of Garden Staters are grateful. Now the company has moved to Houston, and even if your cone won't be accompanied by the smell of a nearby stand grilling up a sausage-and-peppers sandwich, you can still taste why Kohr's has lasted more than 80 years. They… More >>
  • Best Lard Nar

    Thai Spice

    Sure, the name doesn't sound appealing. But there's nothing but joy to be had in the steaming plate of lard nar prepared for you at Thai Spice. There is no lard in lard nar. Thick rice noodles, softer than an angel's pillow, are covered in a secret house gravy. Broccoli chunks are thrown in over that. Then the concoction is… More >>
  • Best Jamaican Patties

    Bluemountain Cafe

    It's becoming increasingly hard to find a spot where you can get a decent, tasty Jamaican patty. The cats over at Bluemountain have some beef and chicken patties that are worth the trip all the way out to West Bellfort. Located in the same strip mall as Club Riddims, this cafe offers affordable patties ($1.50 a pop) that are always… More >>
  • Best Nachos

    Noche Cocina

    Everyone agrees on the basic ingredients for nachos -- and yet no dish seems to be more diverse in interpretation. It ranges from the runny goulash of Enron Field, that stuff that looks more suited for the disposal, to the barren terrain of only token enhancements at too many establishments. Noche presents a beautiful blend: big meaty strips of steak… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Kim Son

    Go for a table in the middle of one of the two gigantic dining rooms. If you sit at the corner of two aisles, you will double your luck. It may sound greedy now, but wait until you've had Kim Son's dim sum! Colorful xiu mai with a fluffy shrimp and pork filling, slurpy rice noodles, and mushroom-capped meatballs are… More >>
  • Best Cheeseburger

    Bellaire Broiler Burger

    For an honest, down-home cheeseburger that doesn't come in a sack with a wind-up toy, where the cheese is real grated cheddar instead of that processed pale yellow slime and where, lacking a microphone, the cook bellows out, "No. 10!" when your order is ready, pull into the unpaved parking lot at Bellaire Broiler Burger. The weight of the meat… More >>
  • Best Onion Rings

    Prince's Hamburgers

    French fries aren't always the best complement to a burger. Don't get us wrong; pommes frites with some ground beef on a bun deserves a spot in a hall of fame somewhere. But give us the big round rings d'oignon with our order at Prince's. If you're not sure you can break free from the burger-and-fries routine, Prince's will spot… More >>
  • Best Tamales

    Cecilia Cuellar

    Cecilia Cuellar would not give us her phone number, address or any way to get in touch with her, so if you're looking for the best tamales in Houston, it might take a little detective work. If you have patience, though, all you really have to do is drink a beer at The Harp (1625 Richmond) and wait. Chances are… More >>
  • Best Shish Kebab


    When this past year saw the opening of George Abdallah's new all-shish kebab, all-the-time self-serve eatery, it saw something fine and good happen. This spotless, cheerful little operation allows a Houstonian to visit the Levant, dine at a very reasonable cost on a Thousand and One Nights menu, pick up a little box of terrific loukoum for the habibi at… More >>
  • Best Pork Chops

    Niko Niko's

    The first time we had the char-grilled lemon pepper pork chops, we wanted to vault the counter and make out with Dimitri. The chops are thick and juicy, and the meat is so full of flavor you won't want to wait the five seconds it takes you to cut your next bite. We had to pick them up and devour… More >>
  • Best Pho

    Pho Tau Bay

    For the unindoctrinated, tackling a bowl of pho can prove to be an intimidating task. First, the Vietnamese soup is served in rather large bowls, roughly the size of your average mixing bowl. Your only tools for this job: a pair of chopsticks and a ladlelike spoon. Plus, for those who purport that the beef-broth soup can cure that hangover,… More >>
  • Best Salsa

    Lopez Mexican Restaurant

    A good rule of thumb when measuring how good the salsa is at your favorite Mexican restaurant is the chip-to-meal ratio. If you end up downing a whole basket of chips before your cheese enchiladas even get to the table, chances are that the salsa is superb. So be forewarned: If you decide to dine at Lopez's, you might never… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Saba Blue Water Cafe - CLOSED

    Late at night, downtown Houston is awash in lights, a nonstop fashion show of men in black and women in too-high heels and drop-dead dresses. For this crowd, only the wildest, most electrifying dining experience will do. And Saba rises to the occasion. The Small Plates menu is a list of stunningly original dishes such as shrimp and pork pot… More >>
  • Best Service

    Resa's Prime Steakhouse

    Diners know the regrettable cycle all too well. A restaurant invests a fortune in fancy furnishings, fine food and a gourmet chef. Then an unfocused waitstaff spoils it all. The only spoiling to be found at Resa's Prime Steakhouse is the pampering of customers. Crowds regularly fill this Champions-area restaurant, attracted by a simple menu that boasts some of the… More >>
  • Best Comfort Food

    This Is It

    When you're sad and lonely and nothing seems to be going right, you want to eat something that satisfies more than the emptiness inside. Comfort foods have a connection to warmth and safety and days when you had nothing to worry about. Fifth grade, when you came home from school and you could smell Mom's meat loaf in the oven… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant


    Tucked out of the way in a shopping center just off the Southwest Freeway, Vietopia is a haven for lovers of upscale Asian food. The elegant two-story dining room recalls Indochina's French colonial era with bamboo mechanical fans, tropical greenery and waiters in long white aprons. The food is far more sophisticated than the pho noodle soups and seafood hot… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant


    Walls of shimmering glass beads separate intimate booths. A chef kneads dough and fires up the traditional tandoori clay oven right before your eyes. The food makes you love vegetables you used to hate. And the chef- recommended combinations serve up just the right variety of tastes for the novice. But most impressive at Shiva is the quaintly solicitous service.… More >>
  • Best Taco Stand

    Taqueria El Primo

    This fortifying quick stop, hovering just beyond westbound traffic, has nothing on the menu a healthy handful of quarters can't buy. Breakfast is offered, but it's the afternoon tacos we seek. The packaging of our regular pair is impressive, balling up in the palm of our hand as we bite into a combination of cilantro, onions and tomatoes, which are… More >>
  • Best Retro Mexican Food

    Spanish Village

    These are the restaurants where to a native or longtime Houstonian, everybody knows your face, if not your name. Those willing to stomach greasy cheese enchiladas with a heart-unwise dollop of dubious chili con carne aboard are growing fewer by the day, perhaps owing in no small part to their allegiance to same. No matter, we say, and carpe the… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Bibas Greek Pizza - CLOSED

    What's the best Greek restaurant in Houston? The choice is obvious! Bibas Greek Pizza is one of only a few of Houston's more than 8,000 eateries to have the word "Greek" in its name. You could look it up. The spot, in a converted fast-food emporium next door to President Bush the Elder's favorite Houston barbecue pit, has outdoor seating,… More >>
  • Best Family Gathering Restaurant

    Magic Island

    This is not an illusion. That is your teenager being entertained, even enthralled, while dining out with (gasp!) the family. And yes, there are your own parents, chuckling at the comedian's risqué double entendres mingled with their polite dinner conversation. The reason for this harmony spanning the generation gap from seven to 70? A simple magic trick called dinner and… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Montrose


    Everyone needs a third place to hang out -- after home and work -- and Brasil fulfills that role for lots of Montrose-area residents. If Brasil had a slogan, it would be "Where the artsy-fartsy folks meet." Chances of running into a musician, writer, artist or designer of some sort are quite high. In fact, much of the help falls… More >>
  • Best Nigerian Restaurant

    Genesis Restaurant

    "This is an African restaurant," Uzo Ebenebe Ibekwe cautions newcomers to Genesis Restaurant. The native Nigerian relaxes into a broad smile when the visitors tell her they are eager for a culinary adventure. The menu is a tour of her country's favorite dishes, from fufu (pounded yams) to stockfish and hen pepper soup. The key is matching a particular meat… More >>
  • Best Salvadoran Restaurant


    You will not find iced tea at Variedades. Instead, you can slake your thirst with wonderfully refreshing aguas -- tall glasses of melon and other fresh-fruit drinks with bits of pulp. Set in a large room with off-white walls and burgundy tablecloths, Variedades has simple, understated decor. The flavors are the big draw. The restaurant offers delicious cuisine from various… More >>
  • Best Cajun Restaurant

    Zydeco Louisiana Diner

    'Taint nothing fancy about the cafeteria-style serving line, nothing surprising about the coon-ass doodads hanging on the wall, and nothing progressive about green beans swimming in cream of mushroom soup or fried catfish and stuffed pork chops. But then it's lunchtime, and you're not looking for fancy waiters and avant-garde decor and fusion cuisine. You're looking for a big hot… More >>
  • Best Barbecue Restaurant

    Drexler's Bar-B-Que

    The old barbecue pit on Dowling Street that is now called Drexler's has a remarkable pedigree. Part of the current restaurant as well as the original barbecue pit were built by legendary barbecue man Harry Green in 1952. Green sold the place to an old-time pit boss named Tom Prevost. Prevost passed it on (along with his secret recipes) to… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in the Village

    El Meson

    West U soccer teams, Rice students needing a study break, and preparty revelers all converge at El Meson for top-notch Latin American cuisine. And while the Mexican dishes are solid, the Cuban entrées are the real reason to visit this neon-lit spot along University Boulevard in the Village. Perhaps that's because we have a soft spot for the fried plantains… More >>
  • Best Hole-in-the-Wall Burger Joint

    Champ Burger

    This eastside eatery serves up real-deal burgers for the blue-collar crowd that comes for lunch from the surrounding factories and plants, and they'll do it for you, too. From the basic Champ Burger to the Texas-sized steak sandwich to the double-decker breakfast sandwiches, this Houston landmark will fill you up for cheap. Just be prepared to eat outside, as there… More >>
  • Best Disco Restaurant

    Zula - CLOSED

    Even though the quasi-Southern food threatens to steal the show, Zula's decor really dances with over-the-top whimsy. The deco design is a sleek palette of shimmery chartreuse, plum and gold that serves as a modest backdrop to the 20-foot torchère lamps lining the long dining room. Throwing off flashes of neon from their bases, they demand attention that might otherwise… More >>
  • Best Socio-Anthropological Study

    The Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club

    A rare but boisterous black-leathered-biker eruption over by the 50-cent pool tables sends the timid scattering toward the bar, but seasoned Big Easy patrons look up to ensure no bottles are flying in their direction and continue their conversations, which are not always easy to hear over the R&B that throbs from the tired jukebox. Tattooed patchworks that are the… More >>
  • Best Tex-Mex Restaurant

    Felix Mexican Restaurant

    Former waitress Geneva Harper was here when Felix's flagship location at Westheimer and Montrose opened in 1948. "The cheese enchiladas with chili gravy on the Mexican Dinner haven't changed at all since the place opened," she says. "Except that a Mexican Dinner went for 50 cents in 1948." Like a scratchy old blues record, Felix's Mexican food is more of… More >>
  • Best Old Downtown Restaurant That's Still There

    China Garden

    Around noon on most days, influential veterans of Houston -- judges, top cops, city administrators, elite lawyers and the like -- start a quiet southern migration away from the ever-expanding zone of trendy eateries on the north side of downtown. They ease into the boxy, windowless old shell of a building housing China Garden, exchange first-name greetings with the proprietors,… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese/ Mexican Restaurant

    Matt's Fast Foods

    New York may have a lock on the Chinese/Cuban restaurant thing, but Houston is leading in the Vietnamese/Mexican category. Well, actually, Matt's Fast Foods on 43rd Street may be the only Vietnamese/ Mexican restaurant, here or anywhere. There's a golden Buddha near the front door and a painting of a matador on the back wall. The word pho appears on… More >>
  • Best Example of Starbucks World Domination

    River Oaks locations

    Exhibit one: The Starbucks on the corner of Shepherd and West Gray. Exhibit two: The Starbucks on the corner of Shepherd and West Gray. When the chain built the drive-thru version on the northeast corner, we were sure the version inhabiting the shopping center across the street to the south would be closed down, but the caffeine dealer continues to… More >>
  • Best Deli

    Katz's Deli

    Houston's hankering for international status took a subtle stride when the crazy Katz's crew branched out from Austin. World-class credentials will ever be debated, but one indisputable definition is that a particular urban area must have a full-service, round-the-clock deli to dish up quality cuisine when the yen strikes. The Bayou City now has it. While other delis in the… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Damian's Cucina Italiana

    It is overwhelming to walk in the front door of this dark and clubby old haunt. To your left, there's the reception stand, where you are offered an uncommonly gracious greeting. Right in front of you, a fabulous array of antipasti plates is spread out on a low table. To your right, a dark and comfortable-looking bar beckons. Should you… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant


    The splashes of different colors in the serving line that greet customers when they open the door of Fadi's look like an overworked artist's palette, but it's a Middle Eastern palate that will appreciate the expansive array of foods served there. Moderation is next to impossible. One could easily fill a plate just at the salad bar, which includes creamy… More >>
  • Best Cheap Seafood Restaurant

    Barnacle's Seafood

    The exterior of Barnacle's doesn't even scrape the surface of what's in store inside. This deceivingly decrepit place is downright cheery, with high ceilings, loads of plants (okay, so they're fake) and the expected seaside motif of netting and anchors. But the best reason to dive deep into southwest Houston is the corner of the menu marked "Fresh Seafood," inadvertently… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Restaurant

    Tan Tan Fast Food

    So good, you've got to say it twice, Tan Tan Fast Food is everything a late-night venue should be: big, cheap and fast fast. This Chinatown diner serves mostly Vietnamese dishes with some Cantonese options, but be forewarned: There are over 400 dishes to choose from (87 in the soups category alone!). The thick-as-a-Bible menu offers up such long-winded items… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in the Galleria Area

    La Vista

    The Friends crowd that inhabits the apartments along Fountainview, as well as their more established neighbors in Tanglewood and Briargrove, pack this tiny sidewalk cafe, which is as casual as a backyard barbecue and about as economical. The gimmick here is BYOB, with a small corking fee, but fortunately a liquor store is located right next door. Don't be surprised… More >>
  • Best Atmosphere

    Lankford Grocery and Market

    Remember when you used to go home for lunch in the middle of the school day, and Mom would greet you with a hot meal and -- oh, wait a minute. Few of us, if any, lived that 1950s Leave It to Beaver ideal. But with Lankford Grocery and Market, you can get pretty close. The diner, tucked inside an… More >>
  • Best Greasy Spoon

    Alice's Diner

    For 25 years Alice Lee and her family members have been running this little diner, which sits across Loop 610 from Meyerland Plaza. It's a little place, a place that's easy to miss in its nondescript strip mall. The booths are old and lumpy, the decorations fittingly cheesy. Numerous photos of burgers in different place settings grace the wall. No… More >>
  • Best Burger/Chinese Food Fusion

    Lucky Burger - CLOSED

    It's nothing short of a stroke of luck to be able to satisfy two strong cravings at once. Lucky Burger's name makes it clear that it dishes up burgers, and it's retro root-beer-barrel design offers a hint that these are old-fashioned versions (read: griddle-fried with buttered buns). But who knew that this modest place is a one-stop shop for burgers… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Udupi Cafe

    In Hindi, the word for cow is aghnaya, which means "not to be killed." So vegetarians won't have to worry about cows -- or pigs or chickens or fish or even beef stock -- showing up on their plates at this new South Indian restaurant. In fact, Udupi's menu offers nearly 70 strange and wonderful dishes, all of them free… More >>
  • Best Jamaican Restaurant

    Caribbean Cuisine

    With a loping reggae beat in the background, barely discernable over boisterous Friday-night clusters of customers in the crowded storefront, Caribbean Cuisine is an easy place to be. The smell of curry cuts through the air, and the swinging door that leads into the kitchen flaps open as a cook brings out another tray of perfect-smelling paddies -- meat or… More >>
  • Best Pizzeria

    Antonio's Flying Pizza

    You don't need to take the title of this restaurant literally to know that the pizza served here is unique. In actuality, there isn't much flying going on at all -- but there is some of the best-tasting Italian pie in the city. For 30 years Antonio's has been offering up thick Sicilian-style or thin regular-style pizza, with a host… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Bellaire

    Bellaire Coffee Shop

    The hiss-sizzle of the grill is always in the background. The grill cook stands over his domain holding a spatula in the air like a Victorian detective with a magnifying glass. He wheels around with a finished order to place it on the counter, barely missing a fast-moving waitress, who whizzes by with a saucer of rolls in one hand… More >>
  • Best Family Restaurant

    Jax Grill

    Families on a budget may have the best of all worlds: a casual counter cafe with gourmet flair. Soccer moms and dads flock to these cheery, Southwestern-adorned restaurants, both of which sport popular deck seating for adults who long to linger and video games for kids who must fidget with their fingers. The family-friendly menu features mesquite-grilled burgers, fried chicken… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Chinese Café - CLOSED

    This place is so authentic there's hardly any English on the menu. Plus, it's filled with Chinese people -- always a good sign when selecting an ethnic restaurant. Here we recommend the pork with snow pea leaves and the chicken and asparagus. We always order too much and say we'll never be able to eat it, but we've never needed… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Baby Barnaby's

    Breakfast is not our favorite meal, because it happens to fall in the morning, which is our least favorite time of the day. But whenever we order the huevos rancheros at Baby B's, we are overcome with joy. Just thinking about this makes our mouths water. A friend of ours flew in from London wanting nothing more than runny eggs,… More >>
  • Best Authentic Chinese Open Kitchen

    Chicken n' Egg Roll

    From the outside, this tiny Montrose-area counter cafe still looks like a delicious dive. In the dining room, however, recent renovations include dark wood panels of Chinese philosophical writings, track lighting and faux palm trees. Still, purists -- looking for dinner and a show -- wouldn't dream of eating in the dining room. They'd rather grab a wobbly stool at… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Thai Cottage

    In timid Thai fashion, the owners of Thai Cottage tiptoed onto the Houston restaurant scene four years ago, settled into a nondescript storefront between a sprawling H-E-B and a Domino's Pizza and quietly started cooking. They concentrated on the food, spending their money on the freshest ingredients rather than extensive advertising, flashy decor or fancy menus. It was a gutsy… More >>
  • Best Restaurant


    The menu at Aries changes daily under the direction of chef-owner Scott Tycer, who improvises with the seasons. To call Tycer an artist doesn't do him justice. He is something even better. He is a culinary genius who has grown up and gotten over himself. Originally from Houston, Tycer spent several years in Northern California working his way up from… More >>
  • Best Value

    Andy's Home Cafe

    You want a hot meal served to you, and you want it now, and you've only got $5 in your pocket. So get your hungry self over to Andy's. When? It doesn't matter. The Houston institution is open 24 hours a day, and the friendly service is fast, fast, fast. The menu is packed with full meals and combination plates… More >>
  • Best Fusion of Folk and Food

    La Bella Cucina's Food Filling Station

    Housed in a vintage gas station (hence the name), the Food Filling Station should be included among Houston's funky folk-art environments on the Orange Show's Eye-Openers tour. Surrounded by colorfully painted wrought-iron fencing, interspersed with wine bottles overturned in cement, its authentic gas pumps stand at attention alongside such collectibles as antique toys, plaster chickens and a ceramic Big Boy… More >>
  • Best Place to Skip Dinner and Get to Dessert

    Epicure Café

    The problem with dining at the Epicure Café is that the well-lit case of desserts beckons during your whole meal. Sure, the lemon chicken is in fact quite lemony and generously seasoned, making your taste buds tingle. And the salads are nicely balanced. But these meals are no match for the legions of cakes, cookies and other sugary delights on… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Tanglewood

    Café Toulouse

    Our one reservation about picking this place is that once it's discovered, it might lose some of that tucked-away feel. Its strip center is in the middle of a residential area, anchored by a Hollywood Video. To find it, you have to look for the shaded patio hidden behind a barbecue. At first you might think the place is closed,… More >>
  • Best Taqueria

    Taqueria Tacambaro

    Just as there are food stalls in the mercados in Mexico, there are taco trucks in the parking lot behind the Farmer's Market on Airline Drive. The one in the middle is crowded with well-dressed Mexican-Americans at 1:30 p.m. "Taqueria Tacambaro," it reads in painted letters on the roof. There are stand-up counters mounted on three sides of the back… More >>