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Food & Drinks

  • Best Fried Chicken

    Henderson's Chicken Shack

    They fry your chicken to order at Henderson's Chicken Shack. It takes about 20 minutes. Henderson's isn't a franchise or a chain. It's owned by a Creole woman named Ann Henderson, who was born in New Iberia, Louisiana. Cooking the chicken to order seems like a nuisance when you're waiting, but once you bite into the hot chicken, you know… More >>
  • Best Asian/Cajun Crawfish

    Cajun Corner

    Cajun Corner sells boiled Cajun-style crawfish all year round in its Vietnamese neighborhood. Gulf Coast Vietnamese-Americans are wild about Cajun-style boiled crawfish -- the spicier the better. There's a condiment bar where patrons stir up insanely hot dipping sauces made out of pure cayenne powder with a dash of ketchup and mayo or a little squeeze of lemon. Cajun Corner… More >>
  • Best Bagels

    Manhattan Bagel Company

    They're large, always warm and have just the right balance of firmness, chewiness and doughiness. The bagels at Manhattan Bagels run golden-brown rings around the others. More than 20 different varieties are always available, including all of the standards, plus rye, whole wheat, egg, jalapeņo, spinach, cinnamon and raisin, cranberry and chocolate chip. Also available are cream cheese spreads in… More >>
  • Best Dumplings

    Jenni's Noodle House

    Mama Tran makes the dumplings at this quirky little family-run Vietnamese restaurant in the Old Chinatown neighborhood near the intersection of Highways 45 and 59. The dumplings are awesome, and the noodles are pretty good, too. Owner Jenni Tran-Weaver (Mama Tran's daughter) makes the homemade Vietnamese desserts. But that's not all that makes this place special. According to the menu,… More >>
  • Best Exotic Food

    Hong Kong City Market

    Plum sauce is mundane in these surroundings. If the toddy palm drink, fresh seaweed, spicy sliced pork ear and stomach, or fish balls aren't exotic enough for you, try the mochi chocolate pai, karela, tidora or moo, none of which comes with a translation. Then there's the fruit-flavored beef jerky and the sweet soursop, both of which sound like oxymorons.… More >>
  • Best Mashed Potatoes

    Zydeco Louisiana Diner

    When you query the folks at Zydeco Louisiana Diner as to just why their mashed potatoes taste so good, they look at you quizzically and reply, "They're real." Duh. Of course they are. There's simply no way instant taters could provide such pleasure. Creamed soft but not so soft you don't find the occasional chunk of potato hidden inside, this… More >>
  • Best Gumbo

    Segari's

    Sam Segari's gumbo is murky, mysterious and full of character -- just like everything else in this crazy little joint. The soup is loaded with fresh shrimp, and the dark roux is just spicy enough to keep your lips warm. Sam prefers to serve the gumbo as an appetizer. The entrées are whatever he feels like making, but there's usually… More >>
  • Best Olive Bar

    Whole Foods Market

    Our favorite feature of the olive bar at Whole Foods is that samples are freely available, so it's easy to try some new and exotic olives before you buy. Tucked away at the back of the store, near the cheese counter, the bar offers an excellent array of olives from around the globe. They come in all different colors, sizes,… More >>
  • Best Smoked Fish

    Hot Bagels

    The counter men wear New York Fire Department gimme caps and talk with that unmistakable Big Apple accent. The menu hanging on the wall behind the counter includes a Yiddish glossary, just in case you're wondering about authenticity. Yes, these guys are genuine meshuga New Yorkers, and the big doughy, boiled-and-baked bagels taste just like the ones you get on… More >>
  • Best Salsa

    El Pueblito Place

    Is there smack in this salsa? No, of course not. But the addictive quality of El Pueblito's version of the condiment will make you wonder. At this Guatemalan/Mexican restaurant, owned by Eduardo and Monica Lopez, the salsa is more than just something to dip the chips in while waiting for your main course -- in fact, stopping there would be… More >>
  • Best Salad

    Quattro

    The lunch salad with scallops, listed on the menu as "pancetta-wrapped Maine diver scallops, warm salad of watercress, jicama and wild mushrooms," tastes as big as its name. First you notice the scallops: three big fat ones, wrapped in pancetta, and the salty Italian bacon pairs beautifully with the sweet shellfish. Then you assess the "salad" part of the equation.… More >>
  • Best Stone Crabs

    Truluck's Steak & Stone Crabs

    Truluck's stone crabs are flown in every day from company beds in Florida. If they were any fresher, these crustaceans would arrive at your table fighting. They're kept on ice for the journey but never frozen. This yields a watery, stringy stone crab. Novices take note: You should eat only the white meat in the large claw. It's nearly impossible… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Three Brothers Bakery

    The challah is braided and brown on the outside and golden with egg yolks in the middle -- take some home and make French toast with it and your breakfast will take on a whole new dimension. If you're thinking of making roast beef sandwiches, you'll want to build them on moist, onion-covered Three Brothers onion rolls. Corned beef sandwiches?… More >>
  • Best Smoked Oysters

    Gilhooley's Raw Bar

    We're willing to bet that Oysters Gilhooley are the best barbecued oysters on the entire Gulf Coast. The fresh-shucked oysters are topped with cheese and sauce and then smoked over a pecan-and-oak fire. The shells get partially blackened and the oysters pick up a strong smoky flavor while remaining juicy. And the wonderful flavor is only accentuated by Gilhooley's charming… More >>
  • Best Stuffed Mushrooms

    Istanbul Grill & Deli

    And on the eighth day, God created Istanbul Grill's stuffed mushrooms. Yes, they really are that good. The popular Turkish restaurant in the Rice Village is known for a lot of great dishes, but it's the stuffed mushroom appetizer that is an absolute must-have. The dish comes with four medium-sized mushrooms filled with mozzarella cheese, parsley and black pepper. The… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink Guinness

    Brian O'Neill's Restaurant and Pub

    With an outdoor walk-up bar, you don't even have to go inside to quench your thirst at our new favorite pub in the Village. You can sit on a stool outside and have a pint and watch passersby. Even inside, the place has an outdoor feel -- the place doesn't really have a front wall. You can sit on the… More >>
  • Best Use of Eggplant

    Baked eggplant sandwich

    The eggplant is a fine-looking fruit (yes, technically it's a fruit). It's big and round and dressed up in royal purple. But let's admit it, most of us are at a loss as to what to do with it in the kitchen. So why not leave that task up to the cooks at Brasil? They've certainly proved themselves worthy enough… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection

    The Ginger Man

    With 57 draft beers and 52 in bottles, The Ginger Man has something to please even the most discerning drinker. It also has the best selection of ciders in Houston. Draft selections include our locally brewed cask-conditioned St. Arnold's Amber, as well as a wonderfully refreshing Paulaner Hefeweizen (Germany) wheat beer. Then there's the highly complex Young's Double Chocolate (Great… More >>
  • Best Horchata

    Fiesta Mart deli

    Sometimes in Houston you need to fight fire with ice -- and the right thing to put over that ice is horchata, the Mexican agua fresca made from rice and sugar. Sure, there are pleasant versions flavored with vanilla or cinnamon, but the best of all is coconut. The deli of your local Fiesta Mart offers a coconutty version so… More >>
  • Best Milk Shake

    Hard Rock Café

    Over at the Hard Rock, it's not all about framed trinkets of rock-and-roll days gone by and a stocked gift shop. They also serve delicious food that's worth eating under a glass display of Rick Springfield's surgical scrubs from General Hospital. And believe it or not, one of their best delicacies is their milk shake, because, unlike those at some… More >>
  • Best Espresso

    Dolce & Freddo

    At least four things have to be right to make the perfect espresso. First, the ingredient: finely ground Italian espresso-roasted coffee. Second, the equipment: a machine capable of bringing the water to 2000 degrees and delivering the right pressure. Third: the know-how, in the form of an experienced barista who both knows how to tamp down the coffee in the… More >>
  • Best Mojito

    Saba Blue Water Cafe - CLOSED

    "What's in this?" we asked, taking a sip of our first ever mojito. "Heavenly goodness," a friend said. A mojito is a Cuban drink made with rum, soda and simple syrup. A delectable muddle of mint leaves and lime sits at the bottom. Saba adds to the sugar-water sweetness of the simple syrup with a splash of 7-Up. It's the… More >>
  • Best Bulgogi

    Seoul Garden Restaurant

    If you only kind of feel like cooking -- but definitely want to get out of the house -- Seoul Garden is the place to go. The bulgogi is brought to your table. This fantastic Korean beef tastes as though it's been marinating since JFK was alive and is sliced into paper-thin strips. There's an open grill where you cook… More >>
  • Best Sangria

    Cafe Piquet Cuban Restaurant

    If you listen to KIKK FM, you've probably heard Jerry Jeff Walker's "Sangria Wine" about 73 times. Sangria is most easily described as fruity trash-can punch. But it's hard to find a place that puts real fruit in it, not to mention the difficulty in finding someone who doesn't use watered-down wine that tastes like Kool-Aid. No bones about it,… More >>
  • Best Cabrito

    El Hidalguense

    When you walk in the front door of this place, the aroma of goat smacks you in the nose. Or is it mutton? Chivito asado al pastor (spit-roasted goat) and barbacoa de borrego estilo Hidalgo (Hidalgo-style lamb slow-cooked in maguey leaves) are two of the restaurant's specialties; if it's Friday or Saturday, odds are you're smelling both. Weekdays the goat… More >>
  • Best Cheeseburger

    Adrian's Burger Bar

    Watch out! The innocent-looking paper-wrapped package they hand you when you ask for a cheeseburger at Adrian's is actually a delicious mess waiting to happen. The giant hand-formed meat patty is topped with a sloppy mountain of lettuce, tomatoes, onion and pickles. The burgers are fried to order, so they're piping hot. They're also so big you need a strategy… More >>
  • Best Chicken-Fried Steak

    Rio Ranch

    Smaller than a hubcap but bigger than your face, the chicken-fried steak at Rio Ranch is actually a thin-cut sirloin steak that has been dipped in buttermilk, hand-dredged in seasoned flour and fried until it's crispier than Grandma's chicken wings. It's served atop a large pile of steaming mashed potatoes with black pepper-specked cream gravy on the side. Rio Ranch,… More >>
  • Best Chimichanga

    Chapultepec

    There's an undeniable truth in cooking: Deep frying makes everything better. The law behind it is simple. Frying adds fat -- lots of it -- to anything, and fat means flavor. Exhibit A: the chimichanga. The chimichanga is a beautiful thing, in a horrifying way, like a chicken-fried steak. Take chicken, cheese, onions and cilantro, wrap it all burrito-style in… More >>
  • Best Coffee Beans

    House of Coffee Beans

    House of Coffee Beans has been Houston's gourmet coffee roaster for almost 30 years. You can smell the roasting beans before you're even through the door. The secret to their success is simple: They focus on doing one thing and being the best in their class. They purchase the best green coffee beans from every coffee-growing region known to man,… More >>
  • Best Cure for a Cold

    Kenny & Ziggy's matzo ball soup

    Screw the NyQuil. When you're sick, you need Jewish penicillin. We recommend Kenny & Ziggy's Mish Mosh. Their matzo balls are light and fluffy. You can slice your spoon straight through these tasty dumplings. (That's a sign they're probably unhealthy; the only way to get really light and fluffy matzo balls is to use a gallon of schmaltz -- fat.… More >>
  • Best Overall Restaurant

    Da Marco

    There isn't another Italian restaurant in Houston that's even in the same league with Da Marco. The place can be compared only to cosmopolitan outposts such as Babbo, the impossible-to-get-into Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village. Like Babbo's chef, Mario Batali, chef Marco Wiles spares no effort or expense to get the best ingredients -- often flown in from Italy. These… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Restaurant Indika

    It's hard to find the little white castle with the round tower and black witch's-hat roof unless you're looking for it. It's hidden under some trees on Memorial Drive near Beltway 8; nevertheless, discerning diners from all over the country are turning up here. That's because Indika has already earned a reputation as one of the most innovative Indian restaurants… More >>
  • Best Drive-Thru

    Pappas Bar-B-Q

    Barbecue is messy eatin'. The fewer people to see you go ballistic on ribs, the better. Even though Houston is a drive-thru town, most of us aren't aware the ubiquitous Pappas restaurants offer window service. Try the daily special choice of three meats and two sides for $8.99, and you'll get the sauce and bread alongside, but if you ask… More >>
  • Best Family Restaurant

    Buca di Beppo

    Yes, it's loud and gimmicky, but they season the food well. The family-style servings, plus the mix of old favorites with moderately interesting dishes, guarantee an option to make almost any palate happy. Finicky kiddies who like their food simple can have the spaghetti bolognese; grown-ups who prefer a little more complexity can try the lemon chicken. And your kids… More >>
  • Best German Restaurant

    AnneMarie's Bistro

    6510 Del Monte, 713-268-1115Nowhere in Houston will you encounter so many deutsch speakers. The daily specials are the thing to order, especially the long-simmered meats. German food usually doesn't sound appealing in the hot summer months, but the cold dishes here are exceptional as well. AnneMarie, the German-born proprietor and head chef of this little eatery next to Roland's Swiss… More >>
  • Best Greasy Spoon

    Pig Stand No. 7

    There are several sure signs of a great greasy spoon: Pickup trucks outnumber SUVs, "Texas toast" is a staple food, you feel the need to check your fork for stray remnants; and you leave feeling guilty yet satisfied. The Pig Stand easily meets all the criteria. Piggy No. 7 (yes, others do exist, just not in Houston) opened in 1921.… More >>
  • Best Latin Restaurant

    Café Red Onion - CLOSED

    "Colorful" is perhaps the best word to describe the offerings served at Café Red Onion, a blend of foods from Mexico and Central America. The culinary melting pot begins with the one-of-a-kind pineapple salsa and plantain chips and ends (at least it should) with the chocolate empanada. Owner and chef Raffael Galindo, a native of Honduras, not only melds many… More >>
  • Best Malaysian Restaurant

    Malaysia Restaurant

    Okay, so there are only two Malaysian restaurants in town. But at Malaysia Restaurant, the food is great and the prices are low. Malaysian food is the original fusion cuisine. The strategic peninsula has been ruled by countless colonizers. And every one of them brought along something to eat. There's curry from the Indians, noodles from the Chinese, roti from… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Hugo's

    Chef Hugo Ortega, long the top toque at Backstreet Cafe, is now turning out cutting-edge Mexican food at this stunning new spot on Westheimer's restaurant row. You won't find any nachos, fajitas or chips and salsa here. What you will find is roasted rabbit in guajillo adobo with mashed sweet potatoes and jicama-radish salad, and quesadillas stuffed with mushrooms and… More >>
  • Best Retro Tex-Mex Restaurant

    Larry's Original Mexican Restaurant

    Neon beer signs glow brightly in the cool darkness. The taco and tostada are made of old-fashioned ground beef with a minimum of seasonings and a maximum of chopped iceberg. The tamale and rice and beans are served swimming in chili gravy. Larry's seems indistinguishable from dozens of other vintage Tex-Mex joints -- until you dig into the cheese enchiladas.… More >>
  • Best Polish Restaurant

    Janina's Restaurant

    This cozy little restaurant a few blocks from Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Polish Catholic church, is the place to catch up on the doings of the Eastern European community over blintzes and tea. Be prepared for a long wait if you arrive during the post-church scene on Sunday afternoon. The homemade ruskie pierogi are the thing to order here.… More >>
  • Best Salvadoran Restaurant

    Super La Mexicana

    Why would a Salvadoran restaurant choose a name like Super La Mexicana? Well, it didn't really. This part-convenience store part-luncheonette already had that name when the current proprietors bought it. The new owners decided it was too expensive to change the signage, so they just changed the menu instead. Now the fare mixes Mexican and Salvadoran items. The dishes from… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Thelma's Bar-B-Que

    Look for the little red house in the crusty Third Ward neighborhood east of the George R. Brown Convention Center. You have to pass through a screened-in porch with a dilapidated sofa and a pile of broken chairs to reach the entrance proper. Inside, there's a cozy little dining room with 12 mismatched tables, an awesome jukebox and a television… More >>
  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    Pearl's Soul Food Café - CLOSED

    The brick floor, wood-paneled walls, fake hanging plants and stained-glass light fixtures hanging over every table make the dining room look like an expanded breakfast nook. Friends and neighbors gather here to linger over lunch and watch sports on the weekends. The easygoing atmosphere and friendly staff make Pearl's our favorite soul food joint. The huge portions of seemingly homemade… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    The Palm Restaurant

    Palm on Westheimer (the cognoscenti don't say "the") has a lot of special memories for Houstonians. When it opened in 1977, it epitomized the "anything goes" spirit of the oil boom. And it's still a boisterous joint with big steaks, big Bordeaux and few inhibitions. The Houston restaurant's walls are covered in caricatures, just like the Manhattan original, and it's… More >>
  • Best Sushi Bar

    Kubo's Japanese Restaurant

    Chef Kubo (short for Hajime Kubokawa) made this the best sushi bar in Houston. But Kubo doesn't work here anymore. Luckily, Hori (short for Manubu Horiuchi), the new head chef at Kubo's and Kubokawa's former second-in-command, is extremely talented in his own right. If you have any doubts, sit at the sushi bar and order chirashi, which the menu… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Bangkok Place

    Recently reopened under new "old" management, Bangkok Place continues to churn out top notch Thai food. At $6.95, for both the lunch and dinner buffets, it's one of the best values in town. Starters include two different soups (tom yam or sweet-and-sour), pad kee mao or clear noodle salad, fresh and fried spring rolls and that ubiquitous Asian buffet staple,… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Naturally Yours Café

    We know what you meat lovers are thinking: It's not "naturally mine" unless it's made with flesh! Well, you can dine on hormone-free cattle products here, too, but the shining stars on the menu are Naturally Yours's vegan dishes: smothered Stakelets, the juicy Garvey burger (loaded with fresh veggies, soy cheese and soy mayo) and the VLT (veggie strips, lettuce… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Ba Ky

    It's such fun to take people who think of ethnic restaurants as tacky little dumps to the palatial Ba Ky and watch their eyes pop out of their heads. French colonial furniture, columns of giant bamboo stalks and tropical flowers greet you at the front door. Clay pot dishes, Vietnamese fajitas and broiled steak served over salad are all outstanding… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot Downtown

    The Express Grocery and Deli - CLOSED

    A city work crew, bright vests glowing in the dim early morning, makes its way through a breakfast of eggs and bacon. Along the window-side counter, two young professionals fight to overcome the martinis of the previous night with eye-opening cups of coffee. Just outside, the downtown trolley brakes to a stop, the driver dashing in for an OJ. He'll… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Montrose

    Barnaby's

    Celebrating its tenth year this December, Barnaby's is a landmark in the Montrose. Named in memory of principal owner Jeffrey Gale's beloved sheepdog, the restaurant is adorned with cute images of the pooch. And the menu, consisting primarily of good ol' fashioned comfort food, reflects the people of the neighborhood itself: simple with an eccentric flair. Normally we wouldn't think… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Bellaire

    Auntie Pasto's

    Even foodies will agree that sometimes comfort means more than cuisine, though the elegantly casual Auntie Pasto's offers a solid mix of both. It's not surprising that pasta reigns supreme here, with the 22 menu offerings ranging from black bean pasta (a Southwestern mix of cilantro, peppers, black beans, goat cheese and chicken over fettuccini) to crawfish ravioli. Feeling creative?… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in the Galleria Area

    Chacho's Mexican Restaurant

    We know what you're thinking. You saw "Galleria" and imagined meals at Morton's Steakhouse, or Cafe Annie or any number of high-dollar restaurants. That's why Chacho's is a natural choice. Located just down the street from the Galleria in a faux adobe building with bright pastel colors, Chacho's offers first-rate Tex-Mex made with fresh ingredients for paltry sums. As a… More >>
  • Best Bistro

    Mockingbird Bistro Wine Bar

    The best thing about Mockingbird Bistro is the unpretentious menu. This is the perfect place to enjoy a big fat steak with french fries and an earthy Rhône red wine or a hamburger and a cold beer. In many cases, the quality of the ingredients elevates simple dishes to unexpected heights. A roasted beet salad with goat cheese, walnuts and… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in the Heights

    Patrenella's Ristorante

    "It's such a nice night, why don't you have a seat on the patio and have a glass of wine while you look at the menu?" the kindly old man advises as you walk up the front steps. If owner Sammy Patrenella seems at home here in this big old house in the Heights, it's probably because his parents built… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    The Breakfast Klub

    Catfish and grits may sound odd to you, but it's a popular breakfast dish in the Southeast, particularly in Georgia and the Carolinas. And while Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in L.A. made that kooky combination famous, it was actually invented by jazz musicians in New York during the Harlem Renaissance. Whether you're partial to unusual breakfasts or ordinary… More >>
  • Best Brunch

    Brennan's

    Turtle soup, champagne and gospel music; it's a heady combination on an early Sunday afternoon. You can't help feeling like you're in New Orleans when you walk in the front door, and Brennan's plays the Crescent City card for all it's worth. The Houston outpost of that legendary New Orleans restaurant-family empire is housed in an old brick mansion that… More >>
  • Best Burger Joint

    Tookie's

    The junk-store decor of this waterside burger bar draws an odd mix of bikers and moms with toddlers. Seabrook is a scenic drive down Highway 146, past the majestic bayside refineries whose smokestacks stand as straight and tall as palm trees. You forget all about alfalfa sprouts and textured tofu here in the greasy heart of the petroleum industry. Tookie's… More >>
  • Best Cuban Restaurant

    The Little Havana

    A vertical arrangement of tropical fruit in a basket on the gleaming white bar looks like Carmen Miranda's hat. The bartender borrows from the overflow of pineapples, bananas and assorted tropical fruits to make smoothies. Meanwhile, the barista cranks out tiny cups of Cuban coffee. Cuban food lovers from all over town are showing up at The Little Havana to… More >>
  • Best Cajun Restaurant

    Willie G's

    Real Cajun cooking comes from Cajun country. The southern populace of Louisiana refers to the north, including New Orleans, as Yankees. Don't call this food Creole. Cajun and Creole are two different enigmas, sir, and we're willing to come to blows over it. Creole has a tomato base. Cajun has a roux base. A roux is made from cooking oil… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Canton Seafood Restaurant

    Unlike so many outstanding Asian restaurants, which are dotted across the Bellaire archipelago, this one has been hiding right inside the Loop. It's an upscale Hong Kong-style seafood restaurant where large groups of Asians sit at big round tables with lazy Susans in the middle. There are so many fascinating-looking dishes spinning around, you may be tempted to ask if… More >>
  • Best Creole Restaurant

    Frenchy's

    The fact that there are always people standing in line at Frenchy's guarantees that every piece of chicken you get has just come out of the fryer. But Frenchy's is more than a chicken shack. Since 1969, Percy Creuzot has turned out the tastiest greens, the most satisfying andouille-studded red beans and rice and some of the best dirty rice… More >>
  • Best Deli

    Nielsen's Delicatessen

    When the original owners of Nielsen's first came to Houston from Denmark, they tried to sell the famous Danish open-faced sandwiches called smorrebrod. But customers didn't know how to eat the messy sandwiches (Danes use a fork and knife) and the health department wouldn't let them be displayed without some kind of covering. So Nielsen's gave up and started serving… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    tencafé

    A fusion restaurant that brings together Persian, Indian, Mediterranean and American dishes, this place serves the most ferociously seasoned Middle Eastern food you've ever eaten. All the meats are halal, the Muslim equivalent of kosher. Standouts include the Mix Grill Dos, with two kinds of tandoori chicken; a half skewer of jujubideh, a Persian chicken kabob seasoned with saffron and… More >>
  • Best Long Lunch

    Aldo's

    The decor is romantic excess, the oversize chairs are well upholstered, and the carpets are extra-plush. Once you get seated, you know you're going to be here awhile. There's no menu. There's no waiter, either. There's just Aldo Elsharif. The talkative chef comes to your table in his sauce-stained whites and spouts poetry about his fish of the day, his… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Dining

    Spanish Flower

    Tucked away in a corner of the Heights, this all-night Tex-Mex mix offers fantastic, affordable food to all walks of life. Wander in around 3 a.m. You'll see barhoppers getting that fatty high-protein burrito fix necessary to whittling away the effects of too many martinis. You'll find artists taking a break from their creative woes, seeking solace in perfectly spiced… More >>
  • Best (Big) Menu

    The Cheesecake Factory

    With close to 200 items on the menu, if you can't find something to eat here, there's something seriously wrong with you. It's the largest menu in town. Fortunately, they've organized the menu into logical sections; nevertheless, it will probably take you longer to decide what to eat than to eat it. There is so much to choose from that… More >>
  • Best Diner with Waitresses to Give You Wholesome Dreams

    59 Diner

    People put a lot of faith in the cooks, servers and busboys who work at their favorite diner. Patrons want to know that when they place their order and get their meal, they're in good hands. They wanna look in that waitress's eyes and know they have nothing to worry about -- not just with their dining experience, but with… More >>
  • Best Diner with Waitresses to Give You Perverted Dreams

    House of Pies

    This may sound like we're bad-mouthing the fine, upstanding ladies who work their butts off at the House of Pies, but trust us, we're just giving 'em their props. Because, fellas, the 59 Diner may have waitresses you could take home to your parents, but the gals over at the House of Pies are the bad girls your parents told… More >>
  • Best Bang for the Buck

    Darband Shish Kabob

    "Under $25" is the title of a column Eric Asimov writes about inexpensive restaurants for The New York Times. They think that's cheap? At Darband Shish Kabob on Hillcroft, you can feed your whole family for $25 and have enough change left over to take them to Dairy Queen for dessert. Darband's chengeh kabob, which includes two skewers of grilled… More >>
  • Best Place to Turn Back the Hands of Time

    James Coney Island

    People say we're elitist. Oh, sure, we only eat our steaks Pittsburgh-style and drink our Russian vodka chilled. But dammit, we also go to James Coney Island, just like everyone else in Houston. Why? Because it's a slice of Americana. It's a captured childhood moment. Remember those summer days of grilling hot dogs in the backyard? Remember eating Frito pies… More >>
  • Best Cheap Seafood

    J&J Seafood Market

    Heading west on 610 from Reliant Stadium, you'll see J&J's "fresh seafood" sign poking up over the elevated section of the highway. Unfortunately, by the time you see the sign, it's too late to get off at the Stella Link exit, where this classic "you buy it, we fry it" fish market is located. But the Gulf Coast-style fish and… More >>
  • Best Pre- or Post-Theater Restaurant

    Papillon Bistro Français

    Legend has it that the word bistro comes from a Russian word for "quick," or "hurry up!" How fitting that one of the best restaurants in the Theater District should be a bistro, since speedy service is exactly what theatergoers are looking for. The menu at Papillon features lots of dishes that French bistros have made famous (steak frites, roasted… More >>
  • Best Place to Pig Out

    Rodizio Grill

    This Brazilian meat eater's paradise includes a 40-foot all-you-can-eat salad buffet with such exotic fare as quail eggs, crab salad and feijoada, a mixture of black beans and rice along with thinly sliced meats and collard greens. Choose only the salad bar for $17.99 or go for the complete buffet for $24.95, which also includes 17 kinds of meat and… More >>
  • Best Theme Restaurant

    Floridita

    With its rattan furniture and mounted trophy fish, the bar at this "Floribbean" restaurant is one of the most colorful in the city. In fact, the Floridita restaurant on Kirby takes its name from the El Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba, where Ernest "Papa" Hemingway drank. Try a Papa Doble, a double daiquiri made to Hemingway's specs, or a premium… More >>
  • Best Expense-Account Restaurant

    Mark's American Cuisine

    There's something magically peculiar about this space. It began as a church, then became the Dream Merchant, a freaky little clothing store. Now completely transformed into a restaurant, the former vestibule houses a dramatic, attractive wine cellar. The comfortably sedate furnishings flank a small glowing bar. But chef Mark Cox's cuisine outshines even these beautiful surroundings. He is an expert… More >>
  • Best Socioanthropological Study

    Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe

    Come for the cheap and excellent food, but come back for the bizarre mix of Heights yuppies, ethnic groups, gay couples and long-haul trucker types that populate this second location, the first one being the much smaller version on Irvington. With the Aztec mural on the wall, the Mexican soaps on the bar TV and the piped-in music (often in… More >>
  • Best Atmosphere

    The Fish

    Whatever its name, The Fish (formerly known as Blowfish) is exceptionally titillating. It's identified on the outside solely by the abstract image of a spiny puffer fish. And on the inside, the color scheme is repeated in everything from the waitstaff's red ties and black shirts to the black napkins and red banquettes. And the after-hours scene here is as… More >>
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