Food & Drinks

  • Best Mint Julep

    Under the Volcano

    At Under the Volcano, you won't be burdened with tacky mint syrups or low-rent spirits. Here, they do this Southern drink right. Watch in amazement as your bartender meticulously crushes a heaping handful of mint into your glass with a long prod, splashes on some top-shelf Kentucky bourbon and kisses it with just the right amount of sugar, suga. It's… More >>
  • Best Barbecue Restaurant

    Burns Bar BQ

    On Saturday afternoon, Burns Bar BQ is party central in Acres Homes. The crowds line up when the place opens, and they never let up until the ribs are gone. Burns Bar BQ serves their ribs well done under a sweet and subtle glaze of sauce and smoke. They're the best in the city. Patriarch Roy Burns grew up in… More >>
  • Best Vintage Kolaches

    The Original Kolache Shoppe

    Can't imagine hot coffee on Saturday morning without hot, gooey, fruit-filled kolaches? Then you owe an homage to the Original Kolache Shoppe. Fifty years ago, the fresh, doughy Czech pastries called kolaches were a treat you found in the homes of Eastern European immigrants and their ancestors, not in bakeries or restaurants. Beginning in 1956, this little East End bakery… More >>
  • Best Cuban Restaurant

    Cafe Miami

    The huge awning outside this classic little joint on the southwest side announces that Cafe Miami is the "King of Black Beans." In this town, that's no mean feat, and the fact is, the restaurant deserves the title. Also, try a basket of fried plantains and some yuca relish bathed in lime and cilantro. They will leave your taste buds… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Christian's Tailgate Bar & Grill

    Once, there was a convenience store with the wonderfully cryptic name "Christian's Totem" that was famous for its awesome burgers. Unfortunately, owner Steve Christian removed the convenience store shelves, expanded and renamed it Christian's Tailgate Bar & Grill. (A religious sports bar?) But lucky for us, Christian didn't screw up the burger. You get a hand-formed patty of never-been-frozen, freshly… More >>
  • Best Place to Skip Dinner and Get to Dessert

    Ruggles Cafe Bakery

    Bruce Molzan has had a rough couple of years seeing his establishments at Minute Maid and downtown fold, folding chairs or a deck of cards or something. But that doesn't mean he's lost it. We still think he has the best desserts in town. And while his hearty sandwiches and sweet potato fries are also a delight, we'd much… More >>
  • Best Vintage Milk Shake

    Yale Street Grill

    With a five-station mixer constantly making shakes, malts and sundaes, the counter staffers at Yale Street Grill have their hands full. It is unknown whether they've been making shakes since 1923, when they opened, but the mixer sure looks the age. They start out with two or three generous scoops of Blue Bell ice cream, a good amount of milk… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in the Heights

    Onion Creek Coffee House

    This is a pleasant, relaxing Heights-area spot that serves up tall cups of caffeine and pints of beer (not a short feat in this dry part of town) as patrons take in live music and DJs. At breakfast, loyal morning patrons inhale tasty croissants, bagels and kolaches, while lunchtime regulars wolf the phenomenal pizzas, "country ass" Reubens and delicious O.C.… More >>
  • Best Onion Rings

    Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

    Conversation momentarily ceases the moment the towering pyramid of onion rings hits your table at Fleming's. Then there's the hesitation: Do you dare disturb the architecture of the thickly sliced Vidalia onions and flaky, crunchy batter? Of course you do. This side dish is an excellent group treat, though you'll find you're muscling your way in past your tablemates to… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Montrose


    While many Montrose cafes and coffee shops attract a fairly intriguing array of customers -- students with laptops, poets with notebooks, artists with sketchpads, wedding planners with engaged couples -- few provide as comfortable a place to just "be" as Brasil. And the food is no slack job, either. Stunning hummus pizza and mozzarella-tomato sandwiches delight. Wash them down with… More >>
  • Best Salad

    Ruggles Cafe Bakery

    Call it the salad for people who hate salads. The "warm baked Texas goat cheese salad with apples and toasted almonds in a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette" -- yes, this salad needs a nickname -- at Ruggles Cafe Bakery seems like an hors d' oeuvres tray on a bed of lettuce. A thick, fat slab of goat cheese caked in sliced… More >>
  • Best Comfort Food

    Cleburne Cafeteria

    Dishes like roast beef, chicken-fried steak and mac 'n' cheese rarely grace the cover of Gourmet magazine, but they're at the epicenter of the collective American palate. And you'll be hard-pressed to find a place that serves better versions of these favorites than Cleburne Cafeteria. The lines form early and snake out the door here daily as West University locals… More >>
  • Best Steak Frites

    Laurier Cafe

    Sure, you can get steak and fries at any steak house in the city, but Laurier Cafe's version is this town's best offering of the Parisian bistro classic. It starts -- as it always should -- with the steak, a glorious, 12-ounce Niman Ranch New York strip (Niman Ranch beef comes from cattle that are custom-fed and hormone-free). The steak… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Mykonos Island

    With its big open windows and lush plants, Mykonos Island seems plucked from its namesake spot in Greece. Try the Greek sampler platter, which offers traditional appetizers like meatballs and stuffed grape leaves. True to Greek island cuisine, psari (seafood) reigns supreme here, with fish like grouper and snapper arriving fresh daily. The snapper dishes are served full-fish -- head,… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Osaka Japanese Restaurant

    It's the dish that sushi lovers and aficionados test any spot by: toro, or fatty tuna. Specifically, it's the cut of fatty meat along the fish's belly. A bad cut yields junk; a precise cut offers perfectly marbled flavor and a buttery texture. You'll never be disappointed by the toro at Osaka Japanese Restaurant, which serves the market's best tuna… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant


    Did Hugo Ortega know he was creating the most cutting-edge Mexican food in town when he opened his eponymous restaurant? Or was he simply paying homage to the diversity and culinary gifts of his homeland? Either way, he's at the forefront of 21st-century Mexican cuisine -- both locally and nationally. First-timers can expect to be challenged and surprised by the… More >>
  • Best Vintage Martini

    Warren's Inn

    Back when NoDo was just called downtown, and before Main Street had a rail system -- or even more than one nightclub -- there was Warren's Inn. And there was the venerable Jose Serna, one of this city's most memorable, classy and distinguished bartenders. For more than 30 years, Serna, clad in white shirt and black bow tie, served politicians,… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant


    Between the tangy Lebanese salad, fragrant tabbouleh, fluffy dill rice and creamy hummus, your plate is already full as you navigate the a la carte line at Fadi's. As you eye the offerings, you're given the choice of lamb, chicken of beef kebabs that arrive to your table sizzling, juicy and grilled to perfection. Or order the baked chicken, a… More >>
  • Best Loroco Dishes

    Charivari Restaurant

    We first tasted the Central American green flower bud called loroco a couple of years ago. It's picked wild in El Salvador and has an intriguing flavor that's something of a cross between asparagus and chocolate. Up until now, at Houston pupuserias, we could sample only the frozen variety. Evidently, importing the fresh plant is now approved by the USDA,… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Rice Village


    With its artsy, brushed-aluminum tabletops, pastel walls and teardrop lighting fixtures, benjy's looks every bit the swank hangout -- and it is. There's a separate upstairs lounge, and downstairs there's Benjy Levit's serious modern American cuisine. Chill on the comfy booths while you spy on Inner Loop scenesters, West U families and up-and-coming Rice kids. Sip on wasabi Bloody Marys… More >>
  • Best Cheeseburger

    Stanton's Super Market

    The plainest burger on the menu at this rundown convenience store is the best bacon cheeseburger in the city. Get it "all the way," and savor your half-pound, hand-formed beef patty on an oversize well-toasted sesame-seed bun topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, mustard, red onions, two strips of bacon and an ample amount of American cheese. Variations include the… More >>
  • Best Place to Bring Your Dog


    The teacup toy poodles and rat-size Chihuahuas peer at each other from their owners' purses. Stately Dobermans and German Shepherds mingle with crack-addict-hyper Jack Russell terriers. Posh Weimaraners that could model for Wegman stare down their long noses at bandanna-clad, all-American golden retrievers. It's a veritable dog show on the porch of Barnaby's River Oaks location, which is fitting, considering… More >>
  • Best Nachos

    Spanish Flowers

    When some folks think of nachos, they think of the plastic tub full of Tostitos and Cheez Whiz served up at places like Minute Maid Park. But to merely place cheese on a chip is practically a crime; those fried little tortillas can hold so much more. The Spanish Flowers nachos take top billing at this all-night haunt on the… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Clary's Seafood Restaurant

    The seafood at this Galveston hideaway is absolutely sublime. But it's the picture window in the dining room that elevates Clary's above its mainland competitors. Through the window you can watch the pelicans and seagulls circle a glistening shrimp boat tied up at a tiny dock on Offats Bayou. The boat just in from fishing, its nets are stretched out… More >>
  • Best Pho

    Van Loc - CLOSED

    You know the drill. Semi-fatty discs of medium-rare beef stewed with chicken broth, pork bits and glass noodles in a steaming bowl as big as your head. You're eating pho -- the incomparable Vietnamese soup that'll make you wonder aloud why those cartoon kids on the Campbell's cans look so friggin' happy. For real bite, throw in a few of… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Gorditas Aguascalientes

    The breakfast tacos at Gorditas Aguascalientes include eggs with carne deshebrada, ham, bacon, chorizo and potatoes, and they're all built on handmade flour tortillas. The sensational chilaquiles, which are served on the side of the huevos rancheros, are made with dark chile sauce and white cheese. Don't miss the machacado, a popular northern Mexican breakfast made with eggs and dried… More >>
  • Best Sake

    Zake Lounge

    Warm rice wine isn't for everyone. In general, true connoisseurs like it cold -- especially on a hot Friday night in Houston while a DJ spins Japanese house music. The staffers rock at this ultra-hip sushi bar, and they won't mind letting you taste their many different types of sake. The top sake also has the best name, the Poochie-Poochie… More >>
  • Best Sommelier

    Antonio Gianola

    Sommeliers are often judged by how much profit they bring in. And the way to turn a big profit is to sell expensive wines. So the average Houston sommelier loads up the wine list with overpriced bottles and then tries to sell them with snob appeal. Italian wines are the worst. To hear the service staff at some Houston restaurants… More >>
  • Best Tamales

    Dona Tere

    While the average itinerant tamale peddler charges five or six bucks a dozen, Dona Tere's go for $1 apiece. It only sounds expensive -- the tamales at Dona Tere are Mexico City-style tamales that are around four times as big as Tex-Mex tamales. They're also more imaginatively stuffed. The tamales filled with pork and green chile sauce are outstanding. So… More >>
  • Best Bistro

    Mockingbird Bistro

    Award-winning chef and owner John Sheely is back behind the stove of his self-dubbed American-Provencal bistro. Despite a gothic interior left over from the previous owners that doesn't give the place a bistro feel, the food is innovative and always superb. He is turning out such bistro staples as steak frites, a fabulous foie gras, mussels, croque monsieurs and a… More >>
  • Best Shish Kebab

    Cafe Lili

    Three different kebabs are available here: beef, chicken and kafta. The beef and kafta are the best. All are served with a rice pilaf, pita bread and hummus or a salad. The skewered beef kebab has small cubes of prime filet interspersed with onion. The chopped raw onions and cilantro, which sit on top of the kebab, add additional tastes,… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Fung's Kitchen

    When Asian dignitaries visit Houston, they are most often entertained at our finest Chinese restaurant, Fung's Kitchen. The palatial red-and-gold dining room can expand to accommodate over a thousand diners. The 400-item menu includes such exotica as thousand-year-old eggs, seaweed salad and pork-blood squares. And when it comes to Cantonese seafood, you can't beat the place. The whole ling cod… More >>
  • Best Stinky Tofu

    China Gourmet

    Close your nose and open your eyes. Served atop a flame on a silver platter, the "double spicy stinky bean curd" at China Gourmet is beautiful. A steaming tofu mountain flowers with mustard leaves, leeks, jalapenos and garlic slices, all surrounded by a red moat of pepper sauce. It's almost enough to make you forget that it smells just like… More >>
  • Best Expense-Account Restaurant

    Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

    If you're into testosterone-induced bragging of the "mine is bigger than yours" sort -- referring, of course, to expense accounts -- then this is the perfect place to show what you've got. In a wonderful atmosphere reminiscent of the art deco era, you can impress that important client and easily drop a C-note per person with dishes including the jumbo… More >>
  • Best Mojito

    P.F. Chang's China Bistro

    What exactly is an Asian pear? We're not sure, but we'll take Asian pears over the regular garden-variety any day if they taste as good as they do in the mojitos at P.F. Chang's. This twist on the popular cocktail will make you want to dig poor Papa Hemingway's body up out of the ground so he can get a… More >>
  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    Just Oxtails Soul Food

    Just Oxtails Soul Food is modestly named and modestly situated in a corrugated metal building next to a church and a biker bar. It easily lives up to its name, offering divine oxtails, which are tender and drenched in an addictive, slightly sweet gravy. But that's not the only reason the line inside stretches ten deep late into the afternoon.… More >>
  • Best Oysters

    Gilhooley's Raw Bar

    Gilhooley's is Misho Ivic's favorite restaurant. And since Misho is the owner of Misho's Oysters, one of the largest oyster processors in Texas, he personally picks his best bivalves to be sent to the restaurant. In the winter, when the oysters are sweet and plump, the ones at Gilhooley's are always just a little sweeter and just a little plumper.… More >>
  • Best Family Restaurant

    Lupe Tortilla's

    Kids can run rampant at this family-friendly Tex-Mex joint located in an old house just off the Katy Freeway, with a large outside seating area and open-air bar. Since the wait can be excessive, the owners built a sandbox for the little ones to play in, and they invariably bring the sand, toys and anything else they can get their… More >>
  • Best Plantain Chips

    Amazon Grill

    The plantain chips at the Amazon Grill are long -- the entire length of a plantain -- as well as thick, crispy and golden. There are lots of them, and best of all they're free. You can choose from two dipping sauces; one's a chimichurri (parsley, olive oil and garlic), the other a mango, and both of them are wonderful.… More >>
  • Best Jamaican Restaurant

    Tropical Grill

    At this cozy little cottage, the chef is also the waiter, and all the food tastes homemade. Chef Neville Monteith grew up in rural East Portland, Jamaica, not far from the Boston Beach jerk shacks and the Port Antonio banana plantations. After training at the famous Trident resort hotel on the island, he cooked at top U.S. luxury hotels like… More >>
  • Best Pupusas

    El Cuscatleco Cafeteria

    If there is a little El Salvador in Houston, it's on Bissonnet. Hell, there's a "Little Everywhere" along that endless stretch of road. Several pupusarias coexist in the 6000s or so, but this one ranks the highest with its yummy little Salvadoran street snack, the pupusa. The hole-in-the-strip-mall El Cuscatleco serves pupusas hot and fresh off the griddle, stuffed with… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in the Southwest

    Java Cup

    One of Houston's more intriguing shopping centers is located near West Bellfort and Chimney Rock, where Westbury Square tries, as it has for 30 years, to stay alive. The center's New Orleans feel -- brick paving, porches, a fountain -- is so strong that Infernal Bridegroom Productions once staged a Tennessee Williams play outdoors there. There's no better place to… More >>
  • Best Salsa

    Jarro Cafe - CLOSED

    Salsa is like beer: Some people timidly nip it, and others suck in the buzz. If salsa to you means getting lit, then thank the devil for Jarro Cafe, the flame-licked answer to the icehouse. Here, you'll get a salsa six-pack. Each of six brightly colored bowls offers a different, painfully delicious temptation. Try the chopped purple onions mixed with… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Vieng Thai

    The hot larb salad with lime-juice-drenched ground beef tossed with chopped chiles, scallions, onions, mint and cilantro is electrifying. The drunken noodles -- slick with lime juice, piquant with chiles and aromatic with purple basil -- are spectacular. The milky-looking tom kha gai is a seductively gentle-looking chicken soup that turns devilishly spicy on your palate with blazing chiles and… More >>
  • Best Vintage Enchiladas

    Larry's Original Mexican Restaurant

    You may think you prefer authentic Mexican enchiladas made with imported queso, but that's only because you haven't eaten at Larry's lately. Sure, the American cheese-filled enchiladas here are relics of the 1960s. But the truth is Larry's old-fashioned cheese enchiladas taste better than those earnest enchiladas made with real cheese. Only processed American cheese will melt into those viscous… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant

    Hunan Village Restaurant

    At Hunan Village, you can order veggie substitutes so amazingly similar to the real deal, you'll swear you're being fooled with. Take the sesame "chicken." We defy you to bite into a big chunk of its sweet, dark, chewy mass and deny it's the same stuff Colonel Sanders is serving up the road. The "pork" fried rice will have you… More >>
  • Best Vintage Fried Chicken

    Barbecue Inn

    Barbecue Inn is frozen in time. At this place, it's still 1946. Just take a look at the menu, and sample some of its old-fashioned East Texas diner cuisine. Some people come here just for the chunky french fries. Others adore the old-fashioned stainless-steel merry-go-round of sour cream, bacon bits, green onions and cheese that comes with every baked potato.… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Indian Restaurant

    Madras Pavilion

    Madras Pavilion is popular with Gujaratis, South Indians and other vegetarian denizens of the subcontinent, but never mind the wisdom of Lord Krishna -- the real reason to go is because the food is heavenly. The palak paneer is the most perfectly spiced in the city. Filled with onions and potatoes, many of the 13 varieties of dosai look less… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary


    Everyone is so darn picky. More Worcestershire, not enough Tabasco, blah, blah, blah. When it comes to making the perfect Bloody Mary, chances are you know your own tastes better than anyone else. That's what makes Griff's Sunday Bloody Sundays such a revolution. They pour a top shelf shot of vodka over ice for you just before sending you off… More >>
  • Best Brunch

    Hilton Post Oak

    This one wins for sheer variety. One of the last all-you-can-eat brunch buffets, it's a feast for the eyes and the belly. With well over 100 feet of offerings, the Hilton Post Oak brunch should satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. A good strategy is to bring the Sunday paper and linger over the bottomless champagne or mimosas. Salmon, stone… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Tacos

    Naomi's Tacos

    The humble Naomi's Tacos excels in the breakfast-taco arena. You can order yours made-to-order in as many combinations as your mind can muster -- and you better believe they've got homemade tortillas. The owners of this modest, five-table taqueria hand-prepare the dishes themselves. If that's not enough to convince you that you're eating your morning meal with the best of… More >>
  • Best Creole Restaurant

    Brennan's of Houston

    Executive chef Randy Evans is putting his signature on Brennan's menu with some ambitious new dishes and a fresh spirit of inventiveness. The Creole food served here is a culinary subgenre that Brennan's calls Texas Creole. Derivative of New Orleans Creole cooking, the food here is the kind you'll find at old-line restaurants in the Crescent City such as Galatoire's.… More >>
  • Best Cheap Sandwich

    Cali Sandwich & Fast Food

    Delicious and inexpensive banh mi (Vietnamese mainstays jam-packed into classic French baguettes) can be found all over our fair city, but Cali brings the art of the cheap eat to new and awe-inspiring levels. A mind-boggling $2 buys you a big ticket to taste country. A foot-long, warmed baguette is stuffed with pickled carrots and onions, slathered in rich, homemade… More >>
  • Best Drive-Thru

    El Rey Taqueria

    In the battle to rule the drive-thru, the best weapon is smoke. A rich, heavy cloud of it floats across Washington Avenue every afternoon from El Rey, a small Cuban/Mexican restaurant that attracts a fleet of loyal subjects. They come for the chicken, which is skewered and baked for hours to golden perfection. On the side, red and green salsas… More >>
  • Best Chicken-Fried Steak

    Hickory Hollow

    Stringy, sinewy cuts of second-rate cow bathed in a blanket of pasty flour can come dangerously close to high school cafeteria levels in some joints. Cookie the trail-hand cowboy cook would be downright offended by some of the versions being rustled up. Not so at Hickory Hollow, where they truly know how to keep the wagons happy. Generous, thick portions… More >>
  • Best Greasy Spoon

    Dot Coffee Shop

    Why are the best greasy spoons always by the airport? Open 24 hours, Dot is off I-45 just down from Hobby. At times, it seems like the entire restaurant and everything in it -- including the hardworking waitstaff -- is covered in a thin layer of grease. Everything comes in hefty portions, and daily specials include fried catfish and pot… More >>
  • Best Croissants

    The French Gourmet Bakery

    This patisserie rocks the chateau. The almond croissants are thick and rich -- a dieter's nightmare. But live a little. Indulge in this buttery, flaky pastry topped with slivered almonds and stuffed to the seams with frangipane, the creamy almond filling. Heaven. Late sleepers might miss out on these because they often sell out. Run, don't walk.… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Restaurant Indika

    The food at Indika is on a par with the fare served at the most innovative Indian restaurants in the United States. And unlike imaginative Indian chefs like Floyd Cardoz at Tabla in New York, Indika's chef and owner, Anita Jaisinghani, doesn't do fusion. Hence her menu, while impressively creative, isn't contrived. The Maple Leaf Farms duck tandoori in a… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Cafe Montrose - CLOSED

    Ahhh, potatoes, hot grease and salt -- the simple equation made so complex by so many. They aren't all that hard to make, so how do many places manage to screw up french fries? You know the problems: too greasy, oversalted, heat-lamp limp. That's why the Belgian eatery Cafe Montrose deserves mad, starchy props for its fries. Crispy, golden-brown exteriors… More >>
  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Green Pine Tree Bar & Grill

    Green Pine Tree Bar & Grill looks a little like a Korean speakeasy. There's a neon-lit sushi bar on one side of the room and a half-dozen dining nooks with semi-secluded tables on the other. The attractive dining room in between features two rows of tables separated by a room-length divider and a sparkling mirrored column. These are the best… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken


    Since 1969, Frenchy Cruzot has been consistently supplying the best Creole fried chicken in Houston. He's also been turning out the tastiest greens, the most satisfying andouille-studded red beans and rice, and some of the best dirty rice and jambalaya the city has ever known -- all sold in Styrofoam to-go containers for a veritable pittance. Frenchy, who is an… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Restaurant

    Late Nite Pie

    It's late, and you're shit-canned. You need something to soak up all the booze in your belly so you can get home. Do yourself a favor and skip the drunken lovefest at "House of Guys." Instead, head to this seedy Montrose eatery. We love Late Nite Pie for the simple fact that the menu lists a pizza called the Stanky… More >>
  • Best Taqueria

    Laredo Taco Place

    Laredo Taco Place isn't much to look at from the outside, but the inside is decorated with metates and colorful pinatas. The waitress will scoop out cups of red and green salsas for you from two large ceramic bowls. Order from a substantial, cafeteria-style spread of Tex-Mex taco fillings, which includes a half-dozen styles of eggs in the morning, and… More >>
  • Best Mac 'n' Cheese


    The French consider Mornay to be a mother sauce for a reason: It's darn good. People used to the powdered, boxed macaroni and cheese may not understand, but one forkful of 17's delicious truffled variety makes us moan. Fat chunks of blue cheese, a hearty handful of real Parmigiano-Reggiano, notes of Gruyere and hints of regular old cheddar blend nicely… More >>
  • Best Pizzeria

    Romano's Italian Restaurant

    The fabled pizzerias of the East Coast -- the tiny smoky places with aged ovens and dusty pictures of wrestler Bruno Sammartino on the walls -- are nowhere to be found in Houston. But if you take away the bright, airy feel -- and, please, the "Take-Ah De Order Here" pidgin-Italian signs -- Romano's comes pretty darn close. The thin-crust… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe

    On a blazingly hot afternoon when you were but a wee Houstonian, nothing could satisfy like the one and only ICEE. Fast-forward 20 years, and the grown-up Texan's frozen treat of choice has to be the margarita. We've found the perfect place to satisfy your craving: Teotihuacan ("tay-o-tee-hwa-KAHN"). The price is nice ($2 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Bellaire

    Nick's Pasta Place

    While Houstonians are lucky to have lots of high-end authentic Italian restaurants, we are equally blessed to have the free garlic bread and large Caesar salads at family-friendly little nooks like Nick's. The Italian-American cuisine here doesn't aim very high, but it seldom misses. The linguine pescatore, a huge bowl of pasta with shrimp, squid, chopped clams and mussels in… More >>
  • Best Catfish

    Soul on the Bayeaux

    There's an art to frying great catfish so that it's greaseless and crispy on the outside, and moist and juicy on the inside. It also should be mild in flavor with no swampy taste. At Soul on the Bayeaux, they use a Cajun-spiced cornmeal batter that gives the fish a nice little kick. When the catfish is this good, there's… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot in Galveston

    Leo's Cajun Corner

    Real Galvestonians don't give a damn about tourist restaurants in restored Victorians. They don't fret over finding a tabletop view of the beach. Their folk is bayou folk, and just about the last down-home, real Galveston spot left on this island ain't scenic. It's a red-and-white shack surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and a giant parking lot. And it serves… More >>
  • Best Ceviche

    Lemon Tree

    The owners of Lemon Tree are Peruvian, and ceviche -- raw seafood pickled in lemon juice -- is considered the national dish of Peru. And they know how to make it here. You can get either plain fish or a seafood mixture consisting of fish, shrimp, mussels and calamari served with thin slices of onion and finely chopped peppers known… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Noe Restaurant & Bar

    Celebrity chef Noe Robert Gadsby made the big splash of the year with the opening of the Houston Noe, the sister restaurant of the original in Los Angeles, which is located in another Omni Hotel. Gadsby runs both of his playful, challenging restaurants with a whimsical touch. He defines his highly original cooking style as progressive American or Franco-Japanese, but… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Fung's Kitchen

    The jellyfish salad and the ducks' tongues whizzing by on the dim sum carts look exotic. But it's the dumplings at Fung's Kitchen that are extraordinary. Sure, the shrimp ones and the xiu mai are excellent, but how about dumplings filled with chopped snow-pea shoots and garnished with peas and carrot cubes? Owner and head chef Hoi Fung comes from… More >>
  • Best Restaurant

    T'afia - CLOSED

    If your definition of a great restaurant is a posh dining room where airhead waiters suck up to rich people, try the new Tony's, or one of Tilman Fertitta's high-end swank-aterias. But if you want to visit the epicenter of Houston's food scene, go to T'afia, the minimalist restaurant in Midtown where the service is informative, not kiss-ass. Want to… More >>
  • Best Dumplings

    San Tong Snacks

    The free-form dumplings at San Tong Snacks look like meatballs in floppy wrappers. The spicy pork stays snug inside the thick and chewy cloak of dough, and the pink pork is generously seasoned. But the real secret of San Tong's amazing dumplings is their freshness. The proprietors run a little factory in the back, so the dumplings are made continuously.… More >>
  • Best Salvadoran Restaurant


    An upscale Salvadoran restaurant owned by the same people who own the El Pupusaton pupuserias, Sabor! makes a wonderful first impression with its polished granite tables, cafe-au-lait tile floors and cheerful butter-yellow walls. The restaurant is comfortable, charming and clean. The luxurious late breakfasts with fried plantains, eggs and homemade tortillas are exceptional, and the coffee is outstanding. So are… More >>
  • Best Mariscos

    Tampico Seafood & Restaurant

    Seafood is to mariscos as the Port of Houston is to Puerto Vallarta: You need seafood, but your liver and libido need mariscos. No joint in the city understands this better than Tampico, the perpetually packed, fluorescent-lit outpost of la vida loca on pockmarked Airline Drive. Here's the crazy concept: Supply fresh, locally caught shrimp and red snapper and let… More >>
  • Best Service


    Aries owner Scott Tycer has been recognized as one of the nation's top chefs. His crew shops and forages for ingredients that no other restaurant can offer, and Tycer hires farmers to grow things other restaurants have never heard of. But his restaurant suffered early on from the Houston dining scene's most notorious shortcoming: a lack of knowledgeable service staff.… More >>
  • Best Pasta

    Giannotti's Italian-Argentinean Cafe - CLOSED

    Once you've eaten the fresh pasta at Giannotti's Pasta Factory, you're spoiled for life. Not only can you buy it in bulk, but you can also enjoy it at the restaurant. Try Giannotti's simple, comforting red sauce over spaghetti or cheese ravioli. The place also has a passable pesto and a mean meat sauce. After a taste, you'll forever pass… More >>
  • Best South American Restaurant


    Self-taught, Nicaraguan-born chef Michael Cordua was the first to introduce Houston to South American cuisine when, in 1988, he opened his first Churrascos. This culinary pioneer showed us the flavors, aromas and dishes of lands such as Nicaragua, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, expanding our vocabulary with words like plantains, ceviche, empanadas, churrasco, yuca, chimichurri and, of course, tres leches.… More >>
  • Best Pork Chop

    Niko Niko's Greek & American Cafe

    The pork chop at Niko Niko's comes on a disposable plate. It's not sitting atop braised leeks or next to candied carrots, and it's not even a thick cut of meat. But for flavor, it's the best in the city. It has been dusted in spices and cooked to moist perfection by a kitchen that, post-expansion, still manages to churn… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse

    Vic & Anthony's is a Houston steak house that doesn't bow to New York, Chicago or anyplace else. The food here is on a par with the very best in the country. The USDA Prime New York strips and porterhouses are cut two inches thick. The Maine lobster, which comes split and shelled with a bowl of drawn butter atop… More >>
  • Best Spring Rolls

    Cali Sandwich & Fast Food

    The word is out about the fabulous Vietnamese sandwiches they crank out of this small no-nonsense shop near Elgin. But the equally delicious -- and cheap -- tofu spring rolls ($2 for a pair) have a well-earned place among Houston's best as well. The key to their success is in the texture of the rice paper. Binding these cool, succulent… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat If You're Bald

    Neptune Subs

    Being bald sucks. The sun burns your scalp, women burn your phone number, co-workers burn holes in their sides laughing about how you look like Dr. Evil. And after 12 easy installments of $19.95, you will probably still be bald. But at least you won't be hungry. On the first Monday of every month, head to Neptune Subs, where the… More >>
  • Best Tapas

    Mi Luna

    In a town rife with excellent Mexican food, it's almost too easy to overlook tapas. Well, ignore no more, because Mi Luna brings the Espana with panache to spare. Order a variety of the smaller, affordable dishes like the cheese plate or the pulpa a la vinagreta (marinated octopus in a sherry vinaigrette) and share them around your table for… More >>
  • Best Tex-Mex Restaurant

    Los Tios Mexican Restaurant

    The owner of Los Tios, one of the city's best-loved Tex-Mex chains, retired a couple of years ago. Gary Adair, who owns Skeeter's and a couple of other local restaurants, bought the chain and made some changes. And Los Tios's loyal clientele, which includes people who have been eating there for a quarter of a century, went loco. Of particular… More >>
  • Best Vintage Burger

    Adrian's Burger Bar

    The Fifth Ward's original giant hamburger was served at a bar and restaurant called Vivian's Lounge on Market Street not far from Wheatley High School. Forty years later, Vivian's grandson, Adrian Cooper, re-creates that vintage burger at his own place, Adrian's Burger Bar, in the same neighborhood. Each hand-formed patty contains one pound of freshly ground meat. And if you're… More >>
  • Best Vintage Atmosphere

    La Tour d'Argent

    About a hundred years ago, a French-Canadian carpenter built a log cabin on White Oak Bayou. Various residents since have expanded the building using logs and other rough-hewn materials. Today, that old building houses the French restaurant called La Tour d'Argent. The name means "tower of silver" in French; it's also the name of one of the most famous restaurants… More >>
  • Best Jellyfish Salad

    Tay Do - CLOSED

    In the Gulf of Mexico, they sting; on a plate at Tay Do, you get revenge. It is a sugary sweet revenge, tempered with the warmth of roasted garlic and the bite of fresh red onion. If you've never tried chilled jellyfish salad -- or Summer Delight, as they call it here -- you will be surprised at the tastiness… More >>
  • Best Vintage Barbecue Restaurant

    Reid's Barbecue

    The wood parquet pattern on the linoleum floors is wearing off. The menu hanging on the wall has been slow-smoked to a light brown. Inside the old wall clock above the bar, the Budweiser Clydesdales have been frozen midstride since Reid's opened for business in 1968. Eddie Reid opened the place with her husband, James Reid, who passed away nine… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream

    Hank's Ice Cream Parlor

    Grape Nuts, turtle cheesecake, orange-chocolate chip, mango madness and banana pudding are among the favorites at this vintage ice cream parlor on South Main. Hank and his wife make all the ice cream on site; they even roast their own pecans for their famous butter pecan. You can get yours in a cup or a cone or in pints, quarts… More >>
  • Best Vintage Breakfast

    Lankford Grocery and Market

    The eggs over easy at Lankford Grocery are cooked slowly so they stay tender -- the yolks are perfect, not too runny and not a bit hard. The patty-style sausage is a little spicy and a touch sweet. The home fries have lots of crisp corners. This place really was a grocery store when owner and head cook Eydie Prior… More >>
  • Best Vintage Burger Joint

    Lockwood Malt Shop

    The malt shop doesn't sell malts anymore, but it goes through gallons of Kool-Aid every day. There is no sign on the building and no way to tell the address. In fact, the red building at the southwest corner of Lockwood and Mulvey looks abandoned. But if you pull into the two-car parking lot and push hard on the screen… More >>
  • Best Vintage Restaurant

    Felix Mexican Restaurant

    When Felix Jr. announced that the city's most historic Tex-Mex restaurant would close its doors for lack of business, he set off a near-riot. People came from hundreds of miles to eat one last meal at the restaurant they grew up in. Families who had been eating there for more than 50 years slipped Polaroids of themselves under the glass… More >>
  • Best Vintage Steak House

    Brenner's Steakhouse

    German immigrant Lorene Brenner and her husband, Herman, opened the first Brenner's Cafe in 1936. When their original eatery was bulldozed to make way for the Katy Freeway, the Brenners relocated to a little house with a big garden and changed the format. From the beginning, Brenner's Steakhouse has served only USDA Prime beef. The 14-table main dining room was… More >>
  • Best Atmosphere

    Strip House - CLOSED

    Designed by David Rockwell, the hottest restaurant designer in the country, the Strip House steak house makes a double entendre of the restaurant's name by using erotica as a theme. The banquettes are red leather. The ceiling is red. The sofas, carpets and throw pillows in the bar are red. Pretty much everything is red, except for the dozens and… More >>
  • Best Deli

    Kenny & Ziggy's

    If the phrase "Gimme some tongue" flows freely from your lips, then you're gonna love Kenny & Ziggy's, where there's more than just tongue. Here you'll also find the tastiest corned beef, pastrami and chopped liver as well as some outstanding smoked fish, such as sturgeon, sable and whitefish, all sold by the pound. Two different kinds of pickles are… More >>
  • Best French Restaurant

    Bistro Moderne

    Forty-two-year-old Philippe Schmit was born in Roanne, France, and apprenticed at several two-star restaurants in Paris before moving to New York in 1990 and taking a job as sous-chef at one of the best fish restaurants in the world, Le Bernardin. Schmit moved to Houston last year to open Bistro Moderne. The restaurant takes a playful approach to the French… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Spot Outside the Loop

    Japaneiro's Sushi Bistro and Latin Grill

    Japaneiro's is a fascinating fusion of Asian and Latino cuisines, with sushi, sashimi and tempura dishes living peacefully next to shrimp ajillo and churrasco steak. The tropical bar specializes in mojitos and caipirinhas but is equally stocked with sensational sakes, such as the raspberry-infused version. This is one high-energy spot, and the colorful, expansive interior can get noisy, especially because… More >>
  • Best Thai Seafood Restaurant


    While the former shrimping town of Kemah has been converted to an amusement park, crusty Old Seabrook, right across the channel, is still the home port of a small fleet of shrimp boats. Seafood delivery trucks are parked along the streets, waiting to take the fresh catch to Houston. And the glistening, never-been-frozen, heads-on shrimp in the Vietnamese-owned markets along… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Jasmine Asian Cuisine

    Located in the beautiful space formerly occupied by Ba Ky restaurant, Jasmine is in full flower. Stop by for lunch, but don't let the short list of $4 specials fool you. Sure, the noodles are excellent, but wait until you see the gigantic dinner menu. Seafood is the specialty at night, and among the "must try" dinners is the whole… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Da Marco

    Chef and owner Marco Wiles is Houston's answer to Mario Batali. He loves to surprise you. He'll start you off with his own freshly cured anchovies served over a cream-injected fresh mozzarella called burrata. And while you're trying to figure that one out, he'll blindside you with something like cold poached lamb tongue served with the spicy mustard-brined fruits called… More >>