Food & Drinks

  • Best New Cafe

    Byzantio Cafe Ilias Giannakopoulos gutted his house on West Gray to make room for the European flourishes omnipresent in this hip new cafe, where he and partner Dora Manolopoulos keep the Greek tradition of hospitality alive day after day. Inside you'll find a smorgasbord of Hellenic delights: stuffed grape leaves, fresh olives, sliced meats and feta, feta, feta. But it… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Montrose

    Cafe Brasil The perfect microcosm of Montrose, Cafe Brasil does it all. It has great ambience, a lively, diverse crowd and surprisingly good food. The scones, baked on-site every morning, are miracles of flaky, buttery deliciousness. It's one of the few places in town where you can order an inexpensive, top-notch salad, and the beer flows as freely as the… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Da Marco You'll get the best pizza and pasta dishes in the city at this intimate and unassuming little Montrose restaurant. And you'll also find cutting-edge fare such as tuna tartare salad and an appetizer of cold lamb's-tongue slices served with the Tuscan mustard-brined fruits known as mostarda. Some of the unusual varieties of fish, such as the branzino (Italian… More >>
  • Best Drive-Thru

    Becks Prime If you really want your burger your way -- say, mooing on the inside, black on the outside -- this is your place. Huge juicy beef patties -- made with a half-pound of mesquite-grilled, ground chuck -- as well as fresh toppings make this one of the best burgers in town. Thick fries and forget-the-diet milk shakes complete… More >>
  • Best Socioanthropological Study

    Captain Benny's Half Shell Oyster Bar This small tugboat-shaped eatery, nestled almost out of sight off South Main, is a happy docking place for a diverse array of diners with a lust for crustaceans and other fare from la mer. Folks know that if it's fried or on the half-shell, it's fresh. And just a glance at the clientele proves… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Mykonos Island Restaurant Forget the freezer. At Mykonos, every day is a shopping day for fish, shrimp and snapper, so the seafood is never more than 24 hours old. The baklava and custard are made every morning, too. The Greek sampler plate comes so heavily laden with Mediterranean favorites like meatballs, stuffed grape leaves and spinach-and-cheese pies that two folks… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse Nearly two inches thick, the USDA Prime New York strips here strike a perfect balance between flavor and tenderness. The three-pound Maine lobster, which comes split and shelled with a bowl of drawn butter sitting atop a candle-heated warmer, is spectacular. The salads are huge and bargain-priced. And while the wines aren't cheap, the newly revamped… More >>
  • Best Tex-Mex Restaurant

    Larry's Original Mexican Restaurant Larry's cheese enchiladas actually have a lot in common with their spaghetti mexicano. They're both relics. The difference is, Larry's cheese enchiladas taste as good, or better, than modern Tex-Mex cheese enchiladas. The viscous yellow cheese swirls around the dark brown chili gravy, creating an abstract masterpiece that's half melted cheese, half enchilada sauce. Even after… More >>
  • Best Brunch

    Backstreet Cafe The recipe for a successful brunch should include the following: excellent food (particularly egg dishes), great drinks, great atmosphere, live jazz and stellar service. Backstreet Cafe delivers on all of these. Plus, you have a choice of where you'd like to enjoy the best meal of the week: indoors in a transitional covered patio area, or outdoors on… More >>
  • Best Pizzeria

    Star Pizza Star Pizza has been turning out perfect pies since 1976, and they do it every way possible: Chicago-style thick crust or New York-style thin crust; whole wheat or regular; vegetarian or meat lover's; single topping or the kitchen sink. Because they sell so much of the stuff, the ingredients never have time to sit, and the pizza always… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Shiva Indian Restaurant From the saag paneer to the rice pudding, this Rice Village spot and its Sugar Land cousin serve up some of the best vegetarian Indian food around. Fun Indian decor and soothing music, along with good spinach pakora, creamy curry with rice and fresh-baked nan add to the busy buffet at noontime. And candlelight and friendly service… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    - CLOSED

    T'afia T'afia, the starkly minimalist Midtown restaurant run by star chef Monica Pope, is named after a Mediterranean beverage that's made by marinating fruit in a mixture of wine and spirits. The bar offers several varieties of these innovative cocktails, and they're incredibly refreshing. So are Pope's high ideals. Her allegiance to local organic farmers is legendary, and now she's… More >>
  • Best Ethiopian Restaurant

    Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant Once the only Ethiopian eatery in town, Blue Nile now has some stiff competition. The new guys in town, Addisaba on De Moss Drive, are serving up some awesome yedoro wot. They also have a bar and a big-screen television set. But Blue Nile holds on to the title, thanks to superior vegetables and a more… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Kanomwan It's like stumbling across a great noodle shop in the middle of Mexico. This East End legend offers no finery (plastic tablecloths, bare-bones walls) and barely there service, but the gai pad prig phao is some of the spiciest chicken and rice you'll find anywhere. Stir-fried chicken breast slices in chile paste and hot cashew nuts will light a… More >>
  • Best Jamaican Restaurant

    Caribbean Cuisine When the kitchen door swings open and a cook carts out another tray of patties, all eyes are on the pies. The golden-brown pastries with pungent meat-and-vegetable fillings are as much a staple of the island nation as is reggae music. Patties come with every dish at Caribbean Cuisine, a casual spot in an unassuming strip center where… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Cafe Lili Lebanese Grill One reason we like Cafe Lili better than the strictly halal Middle Eastern restaurants over on Hillcroft is that you can get a Heineken or a glass of wine with dinner. But that doesn't mean that the food is any less delicious. In fact, there is a homemade quality about the cooking here that puts it… More >>
  • Best Bistro

    Mockingbird Bistro and Wine Bar Fresh Texas ingredients meet French Provence recipes at John Sheely's neighborhood eatery. Inside the eclectic yet comfy confines of this restaurant, you'll find some of the heartiest and tastiest choices around. "Bistro" generally implies a small cafe serving down-home food, but these eats aren't Mom fare. The menu changes seasonally, but the consistent onion soup… More >>
  • Best Mom-and-Pop Restaurant

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    Express Grocery and Deli Don't look for red-checkered tablecloths or "Mom's Home Cooking" signs at the Express Grocery and Deli -- the family feeling runs far deeper than that at this delightful quick-order grill and convenience store in a corner of the Houston House apartments. Mike Baba set up shop here nearly two decades ago, weathering the then-desolate downtown area… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Fung's Kitchen Canton Seafood on Richmond, Ocean Palace in the Hong Kong City Mall and Peking Cuisine just down the Southwest Freeway from Fung's Kitchen are all rapidly gaining on the grandfather of Houston Cantonese restaurants. But Fung's remains at the top of the heap, primarily for its 400-item menu and because it's still the best place for exotic dishes… More >>
  • Best Taqueria

    Laredo Taqueria The interior of this popular taco joint at the corner of Fulton and Patton is cheerfully decorated with ceramic roosters and Mexican crockery, and it's always spotlessly clean. Sit down for table service, or stand in line for tacos to go. While you go down the cafeteria line, you can watch two women roll out and toast the… More >>
  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    This Is It Soul Food At This Is It, you're likely to see old-time Third Ward residents rubbing elbows with the yuppies from the new apartments across the street, along with a few politicos and downtown suits on the picnic tables. The sheer number of folks here tells you that this is it: the best place in town for real… More >>
  • Best Belgian Cafe

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    Café Montrose Family-owned and -operated, this little hole-in-the-wall next door to a launderette is one of those strip-center diamonds in the rough. Short on looks but long on authentic Belgian food, Café Montrose prides itself on to-die-for pommes frites, steak au poivre and desserts dripping with Belgian chocolate. But the real reason to hit this hideaway is the mussels entrée.… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Cali Sandwich It's not uncommon to wait for a table at this Midtown eatery. That's because of the sheer variety of Vietnamese food served here, all of it authentic and made with fresh ingredients. Bahn mi (sandwiches), pho (soups) and bun (noodle dishes) are all served here, and nothing costs more than a few bucks. Vegetarians will appreciate the extensive… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Bellaire

    Bellaire Coffee Shop The coffee's always hot at the Bellaire Coffee Shop -- God knows how many pots they make each day. The Mayberry-esque '50s atmosphere is authentic here: The waitresses call their customers "hon," and there's a constant hiss from the griddle as the fry cook shoves breakfast and lunch orders along, somehow never mixing them up even during… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in the Village

    El Meson Assuming you can find a parking spot in the Rice Village, you'll find the air-conditioned cave that is El Meson a most relaxing treat. Always start with a tangy margarita (they go like gangbusters at cocktail hour). Then decide what you're in the mood for: Cuban? Spanish? Mexican? Here they have them all. There's always a relaxed vibe… More >>
  • Best Downtown Restaurant

    Bank Jean-Georges Hip, Manhattan-based Jean-Georges Vongerichten is to eateries what Carrie Bradshaw is to shoes. Both are on the cutting edge. We had high expectations when he brought his culinary charms to Houston with Bank at the Hotel Icon, and Jean-Georges has delivered with his artful combinations of fine ingredients. With its high, vaulted ceilings, opulent decor and white tablecloths,… More >>
  • Best Comfort Food

    Avalon Diner "Justly famous since 1938" isn't just a marketing phrase for this classic River Oaks joint, which has spawned two offspring. The food here is just like Mom's, and it will fill your tummy. Old-style drugstore hot dogs and hamburgers (the drippy kind) crowd the menu, along with thick club sandwiches, salads that are a meal on their own… More >>
  • Best Long Lunch

    La Griglia No longer a Vallone enterprise (it's now part of Fertitta Land), La Griglia is still the extended-power-luncheon hot spot. Its funky decor never distracts from the patrons -- this is, after all, Houston's prime see-and-be-seen locale -- but the food ain't half bad, either. The bread basket, with those yummy pizza slices, and a glass of Merlot alone… More >>
  • Best ValueBest Value

    Bombay Sweets & Pure Vegetarian Restaurant The $4.50 all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet here also includes crispy papadum and bubbly hot nan bread. You can use the straight-out-of-the-oven nan to shovel the luxuriously buttery saag paneer straight into your mouth. The lentil stews called dahls on the buffet line are extraordinary; there's one made with green lentils and tomatoes and another with… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Denis' Seafood House There are lots of seafood restaurants in Houston, but most are part of some chain or another. Hence we are served the same salmon, mahimahi and tilapia here on the Gulf Coast that they get in Sheboygan. But Denis' Seafood House is different. Like some of our better fine-dining restaurants, this big New Orleans-style seafood joint gets… More >>
  • Best Cajun Restaurant

    Ragin' Cajun It's only right that our best Cajun restaurant has a giant fiberglass crawdad on its roof. The Ragin' Cajun revels in its Southern shtick -- from the newspaper place mats, to the heaping buckets of spicy mudbugs, to the just-crispy hush puppies and corn bread in red plastic baskets, right down to the bibs and cafeteria-style line. And… More >>
  • Best Retro-Mex Restaurant

    Felix An easel and a poster board have been set up in the lobby of Felix Mexican Restaurant at Westheimer and Montrose. Polaroids of loyal customers and their families are tacked up on the board, and each is accompanied by a caption that tells how many years they have been coming to the restaurant, which opened in 1948. Quite a… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Restaurant

    Mai's The bars have closed, and the munchies have your stomach growling -- roaring -- for something more than just a burger from a drive-thru window. Although late-night dining used to be an oxymoron in Houston, now there are a bunch of spots in the downtown area. Judging by its loyal and lively wee-hours crowd, unpretentious Mai's seems to be… More >>
  • Best Barbecue Restaurant

    Reid's Bar-B-Que Eddie Reid opened this place with her husband, James Reid, in 1968. James passed away nine years ago, and now Eddie runs the establishment with her son, James, who learned to cook at his father's side. The brisket and ribs are smoked in the classic East Texas African-American style, so the meats are very moist and extremely tender,… More >>
  • Best Deli

    Kahn's Deli Don't plan to get a table -- there are only a couple, and they're always full. But Kahn's Deli is a tiny sandwich counter with a whole lot of history. Here, Michael Kahn carries on the New York deli tradition that his father, Alfred Kahn, first introduced to Houston. Alfred Kahn's original deli was located in Rice Village… More >>
  • Best Atmosphere

    Rainbow Lodge Tucked away on Buffalo Bayou, this once-private home with a pond, meandering gardens and sunroom overlooking a quaint gazebo has a way of making you think you're nowhere near the city. Pick a shady spot on the terrace and lose yourself in the trickling of the bayou below. The hand-carved wood bar, the collection of antique outboard motors… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in the Heights

    Onion Creek Coffee House The Houston Heights is a great neighborhood that's starving for more social spots, and the Onion Creek Coffee House is a prime example of what those hangouts could look like (if more people had the fortitude to battle the prohibition-minded Houston Heights Association). Onion Creek's expansive sun deck, embellished with a tropical flair by owner Gary… More >>
  • Best Pre- or Post-Theater Restaurant

    Artista The best complement to a fine performance is a fine meal. Lucky for theatergoers, the perfect eatery is right in the thick of downtown. At Artista, on the second floor of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, every dish is a skilled production. From the ethereally light soft-shell crawfish taquitos to the crispy duck scallopini to the flourless… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    The Breakfast Klub Marcus Davis, owner of The Breakfast Klub, is a God-fearing man. And his food is divine. For two years, this breakfast, lunch and social haven in Midtown has served up consistently fantastic Southern-fried catfish, wings 'n' waffles, pancakes, grits and, oh yeah, lunch items. Even on the busiest days (and with the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Midtown

    Julia's Bistro At Julia's, bistro cooking has gone international. The restaurant's brand-new menu features both down-to-earth Mexican and funky Asian fusion dishes -- creations of Artista's former executive chef. Duck taquitos and lobster quesadillas fire up the appetite for some sensational entrées, like roasted rack of lamb with mango chutney or sea bass topped with a papaya-chipotle sauce that practically… More >>
  • Best Expense-Account Restaurant

    O'Rourke's Steak House Owners John O'Rourke and Sam Hernandez grill a mean steak, but this Museum District eatery also sports some fabulous stuffed potatoes, divine salads and hearty seafood, like Chilean sea bass and Australian rock lobster tails. A fairly extensive wine list, a piano player, superb service and a relaxed players-club atmosphere make this locale a great impress-your-client lunch… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Restaurant Indika Indian fine dining reaches new heights at this enchanted cottage out on Memorial across from Town & Country Mall. Owner and head chef Anita Jaisinghani, who once worked at Cafe Annie, changes the meaning of samosas with a crab-stuffed version served with papaya-ginger chutney. Her answer to chicken tikka masala is Maple Leaf Farms duck tandoori served with… More >>
  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Green Pine Tree Bar & Grill This friendly Korean sushi bar and barbecue joint gives you your choice of sitting out in the middle of the action at one of the barbecue grill tables, or hiding away in a private dining nook. The barbecue table has a gas grill recessed into the middle. You cook your own meat and then… More >>
  • Best Meat-and-Three Restaurant

    Avenue Grill Cops, firefighters and EMS types flock to this time-honored cafeteria across the street from Central Police Supply. The cranberry carpet is well worn, and the wood paneling and tile ceiling have seen better days. But the Avenue Grill prides itself on its "greasy spoon" reputation. The television is permanently on, and it seems like somebody is always having… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Toddlers

    Skeeter's Mesquite Grill Got kids? Then you're going to love this place. Skeeter's lets kids be kids and moms and dads relax. The crayons are already on the table, and you don't have to worry what the little monsters are coloring on -- the walls here are already decorated with toddler masterpieces. So are the terra-cotta planters, the trunks of… More >>
  • Best Service

    Tony's Tony's is the final flaming star in the celestial Tony Vallone empire. Since the sale of his other restaurants to Tilman Fertitta, Vallone has concentrated on his "baby." And the waitstaff at Tony's is even more attentive, efficient and knowledgeable than it was in the glory days. The restaurant's red-walled dining room and banquette seating, central A-list tables and… More >>
  • Best Cuban Restaurant

    Cafe Piquet The local Cuban community may have been the first to discover Cafe Piquet when it opened in 1996, but today the secret's out about this small, cozy eatery. The menu's not long or extensive -- Piquet specializes in a few traditional dishes that have won the hearts of many, and not just because the food is plentiful and… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Hugo's Don't ask for chips and salsa, fajitas, nachos or any other of those familiar standards here. Chef and co-owner Hugo Ortega is a Mexican national who worked his way up from a busboy at Backstreet Cafe, and he doesn't do Tex-Mex. At the upscale Mexican restaurant that bears his name, the duck, cabrito, rabbit and tacos al pastor are… More >>
  • Best Restaurant

    Aries When the editors of Food & Wine chose Aries chef Scott Tycer as one of the top ten new chefs in the country last year, they pegged Aries as part of a national movement. Highly trained chefs such as Tycer who run their own small restaurants are bringing kitchen craftsmanship to a new level in this country. It's an… More >>
  • Best Mussels

    Farrago For a complete Farrago mussel experience, lean over the large bowl of steaming shells and inhale the broth when the dish comes to your table. If you close your eyes, you'll be transported to an exotic locale. Open them, and you'll find yourself at the bright little spot in Midtown that specializes in lighthearted fusion dishes. The dish consists… More >>
  • Best Pho

    Pho Nguyen There's a whole lot of slurping going on at Pho Nguyen, where $4.50 gets you a regular-sized bowl of the heartwarming Vietnamese beef noodle soup known as pho. Don't be put off by the ingredients of the 16 or so different kinds of soup available. Tripe, soft tendon and fat brisket fill the bowls at Pho Nguyen, and… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Kubo's Japanese Restaurant Chef Kubo was the best sushi man in Houston. Unfortunately, he left town several years ago, but he trained his replacement, chef Hori, very well. The new sushi master is doing an admirable job of filling Kubo's sandals. There's always something interesting on the specials board at Kubo's, and the fish is always the very finest in… More >>
  • Best Salsa

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    Jarro Cafe Houston hot sauce has been in a slump lately. Maybe they toned down the heat level for visiting All-Star Game fans and forgot to zip it back up again. If you've gotten used to insipid picante sauce, Jarro Cafe's salsas will open your eyes -- wide. At this bright and sunny little taco joint on Gessner north of… More >>
  • Best Empanadas

    Marine's Empanadas When you name your business after yourself, you'd better be good at it. The empanadas ($2.35 each) at Marine's are better than good -- they're outstanding. Marine's offers 47 different versions; most are savory, but some are sweet, distinguished by a dusting of powdered sugar. These made-to-order, stuffed, doughy, fried little wonders are the ultimate finger food. Funky… More >>
  • Best Pimento Cheese Sandwich

    Brown Bag Deli You get a brown bag and a pencil when you walk into this busy lunch counter. On the bag are a series of commands like "Choose Bread," "Choose Meat" and "Choose Cheese." Oddly, the fabulous sandwich filling of a Southern childhood, pimento cheese, is listed under the meats. Not that we're complaining. Where else can you get… More >>
  • Best Nachos

    Pico's nachos Jorge If you're looking for something light to snack on, hit the road. Pico's nachos Jorge are a mountain-sized heap of smoldering ingredients. The plate of tortilla chips comes piled high with the restaurant's trademark marinated pork roast, shredded for your convenience and blanketed with oozing Chihuahua cheese, guacamole and sour cream. Counterbalancing the heat and salt are… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Tacos

    La Unica Bakery Declaring the best breakfast taco in Houston is kind of like choosing the best hot dog in Chicago, the best pizza in New York, or the best boob job in Los Angeles. We know that the big yellow truck at the corner of Houston Avenue and Center Street serves a fine breakfast taco, and yes, Houston, we… More >>
  • Best Mojito

    Beso In a city steaming with heat and humidity, the competition is keen for the best mojito. Beso's classic Cuban concoction will chill out the city's sweatiest soul, combining the acquired expertise of its owners to capture the mojito crown, elbows down. Master chef Arturo Boada insists on only the freshest ingredients, and co-owner Bill Sadler has a consummate taste… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Frenchy's The lines have died down at Pollo Campero. Its zesty Latin version of fried chicken is still excellent, but it isn't new anymore. And while the old-fashioned Southern fried chicken at Barbecue Inn on Crosstimbers is still as crunchy as it used to be, the crust is admittedly bland. If you like your chicken spicy, nothing tops the flavor… More >>
  • Best Atkins Chic

    Barnaby's Just flip on the tube or try dodging a pop-up ad and it's clear: This is the year of the Atkins and South Beach diets. But Barnaby's has done the high-protein, low-carb thing for years. Owner Jeff Gale (who named the eatery after his dearly departed sheepdog) understands his ultra-healthy clientele so well that bottles of Bragg Liquid Aminos… More >>
  • Best Hangover Coffee

    Buffalo Grille "Man, it feels like someone jammed a shard of glass through my forehead. What time is it?" "It's, like, noon, dude." "Ugh. It's bright out. What the hell were we drinking last night, anyway?" "Bartender called it Gulps Gone Wild. I think I saw him put 151, SoCo, some kind of schnapps and, like, Fierce Melon Gatorade powder… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    Christy's Doughnuts Spanish and English mingle easily in this Montrose corner shop. Smiles and morning banter come easily, too; cops and kids mix with every-darned-day regulars who sip coffee and take the entire morning to read the paper, and if your server thinks you're cute, he might throw a couple of free holes in your bag. But the neighborly feel… More >>
  • Best Popsicles

    La Paletera Picture a Dreamsicle made with fresh fruit and real cream, and you can begin to imagine what La Paletera's Mexican popsicles taste like. Except they call them paletas, and they only have one stick. Unlike American popsicle makers, La Paletera never uses artificial flavorings or frozen fruit pulp. There are 47 flavors available every day, the most popular… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Central Market's Irish soda bread Weighing in at well over a pound, the Irish soda bread at Central Market ($2.49) is an extremely dense, hearty and heavy loaf, especially since it's compact in size -- about that of a deflated volleyball. It's leavened with baking soda (hence its name) and mixed with buttermilk, which adds silkiness to its texture. Fissures… More >>
  • Best Kabobs

    Bijan You order at a walk-up counter, but the high ceilings and polished marble floors at this Persian kebaberie give the place an upscale feel. Tops on the menu is the chelo kebab barg, consisting of garlicky lamb chunks grilled on a skewer until they have a little char on the outside but are still pink and juicy in the… More >>
  • Best Martini

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    Mo Mong When it comes to martinis, all it takes is gin, vermouth and an olive or three. But if you're looking for something special, you won't find a better twist on the classic than the infusion martinis at this Montrose-area Vietnamese hot spot. Mo Mong's martinis are dry and properly bitter -- a far cry from the fruity 'tinis… More >>
  • Best Oysters

    Gilhooley's Raw Bar Gilhooley's, which has been described by its detractors as a biker bar, has an admittedly rough-hewn ambience. Signs on the wall that prohibit the admittance of children and encourage patrons to "show us your tits" probably don't impress the Mobil Travel Guide folks much. But Gilhooley's has a secret benefactor. Misho Ivic, the owner of Misho's Oysters,… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Mi Cocina These folks are pushing the national frozen drink of Texas to dizzying new heights. The frozen mango margarita is quite good, with lots of rich tropical-fruit flavor and not too much sugar. The "mambo taxi," made by alternating layers of frozen margarita and sangria, is excellent as well. But it's the three-tone margarita parfait, the "dilemma," that is… More >>
  • Best Cabrito

    El Hidalguense Baby goat is incredibly tasty and tender. Old goat is not. At El Hidalguense, it's not hard to guess which they serve. Their cabrito is offered in one of two ways: naked or dressed. The naked version, cabrito asado al pastor ($17.99) is simply skewered and grilled, infused with a smoky flavor from the mesquite on the grill.… More >>
  • Best Mariscos

    Tampico Seafood & Cocina Mexicana There are a lot of Mexican seafood restaurants in Houston, but none is as consistent as Tampico. Named after the seaside city on the Mexican Gulf Coast, this little oyster bar and grill has brought the best of our neighbor's seafood traditions to the north side of the border. You never have to wonder what… More >>
  • Best Mac 'n' Cheese

    Cleburne Cafeteria Many of the faithful who line up at West U's Cleburne Cafeteria can afford to eat at fine restaurants where the food isn't served on gray plastic trays. But Cleburne owner George Mickelis seems to have tapped into their inner eight-year-old with his macaroni and cheese. The macaroni pasta itself is never soggy, dry or rubbery. You can… More >>
  • Best Chocolate-Covered Anything

    The Chocolate Bar The Chocolate Bar has chocolate-covered ice cream, chocolate-covered fruits (the bananas are to die for), chocolate-covered potato chips, popcorn, fortune cookies and nuts. There's even chocolate-covered chocolate -- but let's not get greedy. This Montrose-area sweetery has doubled in size since opening four years ago. No longer do you squeeze into the little shop, almost dizzy from… More >>
  • Best Tamales

    Berryhill Baja Grill It's fat. It falls easily from the corn husk wrapper, revealing a generous layer of sweet, steamed cornmeal. But what lies inside is even better: tender strands of pork. If you want a vegetarian tamale, you can be certain it also will be stuffed. Berryhill's hefty tamales have a generous Houston-based history, too. For years, Walter Berryhill… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream

    Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream It's not just novelty that drives the masses into the tiny Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream shop on Kirby Drive. This veteran institution of ice cream and righteous causes has shops just about everywhere nowadays, but only since May has Houston been able to delight in Ben & Jerry's sweet Vermont goodness. It's about time.… More >>
  • Best Croissants

    Panera Bread Company The croissants at Panera Bread Company look like they're on steroids -- almost twice the size of normal ones, they dwarf the side-dish plates they're served on. When you bite into one, you can immediately tell that it's made with real butter. A second bite reveals that it's very fresh, since flakes of pastry go everywhere (trust… More >>
  • Best Pasta

    Giannotti's Pasta Factory Fresh pasta is common at upscale Italian restaurants and in Italian family homes, and it's easy to see why. One taste of the stuff at Giannotti's Pasta Factory is enough to convert anyone from the dry boxed kind. The beauty of fresh pasta, apart from its incredibly clean taste, is its speedy cooking time -- only three… More >>
  • Best Crawfish

    Goode Co. Texas Seafood Come crawfish season, this fixture on the Houston dining scene is packed with cravers awaiting bright red piles of mudbugs. It's no wonder: Goode Co.'s homemade fresh Creole seasoning of garlic, onions, celery and dried chiles is hot and flavorful. And these crawfish are big enough to win a fight. They're served with homemade smoked sausage,… More >>
  • Best Club Sandwich

    Edloe St. Deli This club sandwich is the best because it's the plain-Jane real deal. And you can only find it inside the ever-so-quaint, breakfast- and lunch-only Edloe St. Deli in West U. Served up with a fruit bowl or an onion-y scoop of creamy potato salad, the traditional double-decker sandwich at the Edloe is served on fresh and chewy… More >>
  • Best Onion Rings

    Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar These ain't your Jack in the Box fried rings. Fleming's stacks a towering plate about six inches high with fresh, thick slices of white onions fried lightly so they're crispy on the outside and juicy inside. The golden batter -- made from Japanese bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley -- offsets the sweetness… More >>
  • Best Chicken-Fried Steak

    Barbecue Inn The batter-fried steak at this fabulous old Houston dining institution features the crunchiest crust and juiciest meat combination imaginable. The bright white cream gravy might be a tad sweet for some. It's that old-fashioned variety that tastes like it was made with evaporated milk. The standard order comes with two chicken-fried steak patties, a salad and your choice… More >>
  • Best Gelato

    Nundini Food Store At Nundini Food Store, $1.50 will get you a scoop of real Italian gelato. Gelato has less air churned into it than ice cream, so it's creamier and a whole lot denser. It also stays cold longer and doesn't melt as quickly as its U.S. cousin. At Nundini, it's hard to recommend one flavor over another, since… More >>
  • Best Mint Julep

    Cotton Exchange Bar We like toasting our balmy weather with a light beer in a cheap koozie. But sometimes we feel more genteel, and that's when we head to the Cotton Exchange Bar for a mint julep. A true speakeasy marked only by the "808" on a black awning, the bar/lounge is housed in the historic building of the same… More >>
  • Best Ceviche

    Pezcalato Peruvian Restaurant If you think ceviche means rubbery chunks of mystery fish in a lime juice marinade, Pezcalato is going to spoil you. When you order ceviche at this mom-and-pop Peruvian restaurant on Richmond, you have to specify your fish. There's grouper or snapper ceviche ($14 a plate) or tilapia or catfish ceviche ($12 a plate). The fish tastes… More >>
  • Best Wings

    Wing Stop Chicken wings fly out of this Dallas-based franchise. After placing your order at the counter, be prepared to wait precisely 14 minutes, since everything is cooked fresh. Their original wings are similar to those at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York (which purportedly invented buffalo wings in 1964 and made them a part of our national culinary… More >>
  • Best Veggie Burger

    Rudyard's A few years back Rudyard's Pub was given Best Burger honors. This year we salute their burger sans viande. The generous, tasty and never-dry patty made from nature's goodness sits on a perfectly toasted bun alongside crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes and thin slivers of red onion. You call the condiments. One bite of this delicious, no-cholesterol stomach-stuffer might make… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Christian's Tailgate Bar & Grill Swaddled in tissue paper and laid in a plastic cradle full of french fries, this burger seems to glow. Maybe it's just the grease sheen on the upper bun reflecting the fluorescent lights. Or maybe there really is an aura surrounding the burgers at the convenience store called Christian's Tailgate Bar & Grill. The sandwich… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Kim Son When you crave steamed pockets of Asian goodness, a drive to Kim Son's Stafford location is more reasonable than a 14-hour flight to the Orient. Truth is, once seated and eating at Kim Son, you might start believing you've left the United States. The palatial neo-Chinese-style restaurant and banquet hall adorned with a dramatic goldfish pond looks like… More >>
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