Food & Drinks

  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    This Is It! Soul Food and Catering

    You walk through the door, and no one seems particularly glad you came. You stare at all the amazing choices on the menu while they wait and sigh. You ask for pepper steak, and they give you meatballs. You ask for macaroni, and they say, "Yams it is!" But because they're the undisputed champ, and because any item you end… More >>
  • Best Chicken-Fried Steak

    Hickory Hollow

    Whether you're fulla bull or not, if you want to feel fulla beef, no place satisfies like Hickory Hollow. Offering three sizes of the national steak of Texas, the Hollow has a plate suited for every appetite. The Plowman's Meal is described as "jest right fer lunch," but it's so large that almost any man will be forced to unbutton… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Comeback

    Felix Mexican Restaurant

    More than just a Tex-Mex joint, Felix's is a historic local landmark, serving up enchiladas and margaritas to Houstonians for nearly sixty years. And when Felix Jr. announced that the place would be closing its doors and shutting down for good, there was an overwhelming response from people all over the city who couldn't bear to live without this Montrose… More >>
  • Best Milk Shake

    Becks Prime

    The Hershey's chocolate milk shake at Becks Prime is the epitome of what a milk shake should be: thick, extra-creamy and ice cold. It's so thick that you can't possibly drink it through a straw -- that's why they provide a spoon with every order. The creaminess and unbelievable mouth feel come from the high-butterfat soft-serve ice cream Becks uses… More >>
  • Best Salvadoran Restaurant

    El Pupusodromo

    Houston's Spanish-speaking community includes a great many people from El Salvador. If you need verification, just look for a pickup fœtbol game at Hermann Park or hit a pupuseria, the Salvadoran answer to the taqueria. El Pupusódromo is easily the most successful Salvadoran chain in town, and with good reason: The pupusas, thick corn tortillas stuffed with refried beans, chicharrones… More >>
  • Best Pimento Cheese

    Janice Schindler's Words & Food

    If the Goddess of Pimento Cheese does not sound like a glamorous title, then you've never had Janice Schindler's pimento cheese. The former food editor of The Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle whips up a concoction that will make you forever forget that pale, pinkish spread found in convenience-store sandwiches. It's a recipe partly developed with Elouise Adams Jones… More >>
  • Best Moroccan Restaurant

    Casablanca Couscous & Grill

    In the same strip center as a Conoco gas station, on a block full of car repair shops and import stores, Casablanca hides behind a narrow wall of shiny windows, reflecting southwest Houston's grunge. But step inside, and the bleak atmosphere gives way to cheerful walls of tangerine and lime. This is probably Houston's best-kept Mediterranean secret -- a redoubt… More >>
  • Best Crepes

    CoCo's Crepes & Coffee

    It used to be that crepes and Houston went together like tea parties and Hummers. Maybe that hasn't changed, but at least Houston now has an actual creperie -- and a good one at that. CoCo's Crepes & Coffee, which opened last year, serves a savory crepe that would make a San Franciscan or Parisian barista proud. The flour wrappers… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Dimassi Mediterranean Buffet

    The uninitiated, the experienced, the displaced natives and the seriously hungry alike all find solace in the wide array of offerings of this Middle Eastern/Mediterranean buffet. Diners looking for culinary standards are more than pleased with the falafels and kabobs, and heartier appetites are appeased by the shredded beef and lamb shanks. The heart-healthy do well with a variety of… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Kim Son

    There's always a huge crowd on hand at Kim Son's Stafford location on Saturday and Sunday mornings, so you might have to sit outside and wait for a table. But it's worth it; the selection of dim sum there is the best in the city. But no matter how well you order at Kim Son, there's always one incredibly alluring… More >>
  • Best Pre-Theater Restaurant

    Perbacco
    Frenchy's Chicken

    Open for dinner Thursday through Saturday nights only, this red-checkered-tablecloth Italian restaurant caters to theater and concert hall patrons eating a pre-performance meal. The prices are reasonable, the food can be good, and the atmosphere is friendly and fun. Order fresh-tasting dishes off the daily special board -- grilled salmon and spinach salad or gnocchi in blue cheese sauce --… More >>
  • Best Indian Desserts

    Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (BAPS)

    Indian desserts are harder to find than Indian curries, but they're no less important to Indians. Anyone who has seen Deepa Mehta's film Water knows that a saccharine gulab jamun can be transcendent. And no place makes better dessert for the soul than one of the area's authorities on matters of the soul: the Swaminarayan temple. "We always use very… More >>
  • Best Bang for the Buck

    Shri Balaji Bhavan Pure Vegetarian Restaurant

    Bang doesn't really do it justice. It's more like kaboom! An explosion of sambar masala piquancy attracts crowds to Balaji Bhavan faster than moths to a blaze. Devotees of a good chole (chick peas in tomato sauce), rasam (a thin soup with tamarind) and rava masala dhosa (a crepe stuffed with seasoned tomatoes and onions) will find the heat complemented… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    El Palenque Mexican Restaurant

    There are margarita lovers, and then there are margarita borachos. A truly great margarita bar appeals to both. And by that measure -- as well as its (literally) mind-numbing selection -- El Palenque is the best margarita joint in town. Before 8 p.m., $5.50 will buy you a frozen margarita big enough to drown a small child. The 16-ounce goblet… More >>
  • Best Meat and Three

    Zydeco Louisiana Diner

    Hosting a group of Katrina evacuees last year, Zydeco quickly won them over with its stellar gumbo and red beans and rice. This joint can hang with most any Cajun place on the Gulf Coast. But what really packs in the business crowd every day are the divided plates heaped, cafeteria-style, with meat and sides. Aside from the excellent smothered… More >>
  • Best Bread

    EatZi's<

    Nothing is simpler and more satisfying than a slice of bread and butter, and for sheer variety, you won't beat the fresh bread at eatZi's. Long or round, soft or crispy, regular or whole wheat, plain or flavored, savory or sweet, sliced or whole -- any way you like your bread, you're bound to find it at eatZi's, where they… More >>
  • Best Mom-and-Pop Restaurant

    Cali Sandwich & Fast Food

    Cali Sandwich, which has won several Best of Houston awards over the years, is the kind of place that makes owning a restaurant look easy. But its path to Midtown fame was riddled with disaster. Nga Chong, who runs the place with her sister, her daughter and her mom, fled political repression as a teenager in Vietnam. She and her… More >>
  • Best Veal Marsala

    Maggiano's Little Italy

    If two is better than one, then three is definitely better than two. All of the dishes at Maggiano's are served family-style, and when you order their wonderful veal Marsala, you get three large slices of meat -- plus enough mushrooms to cover the entire platter -- for scarcely more than what other restaurants charge for a single small slice… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Indika

    Succumbing to the easy pitfalls of "fusion," modern Indian cuisine often sheds thousands of years of culinary tradition simply to appeal to timid Western palates. Indika adroitly avoids these hazards. Since it moved from west Houston to Montrose, it has been turning out some of the most unforgettably delicious food -- Indian or otherwise -- in the city. No true… More >>
  • Best Ceviche

    Mambo Seafood

    Ceviche has to be the simplest way to prepare fish. All you do is marinate it in lime or lemon juice with some hot peppers and salt, and the result is fish that's both chewy and tender. At Mambo, they are true to the tradition of serving ceviche made with only white fish, uncomplicated by any other kind of seafood.… More >>
  • Best Burger Joint

    Prince's

    A pioneer in curb service, the old Prince's Drive-in on Main Street was the place where Houstonians went to hang out in their cars. The new Prince's doesn't have carhops, but the retro burger-joint decor pays homage to the original with displays of historic photos, old menus, vinyl booths and classic Formica. It also features some nostalgic menu items such… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    Shipley Do-Nuts

    Maybe it's because the shops were born right here in Houston. Maybe it's because it's still a family-run business and there really is a Mr. Shipley who oversees the 200 or so company-owned and franchised stores. Maybe it's because Shipley's hasn't changed its recipe much in more than 70 years. Whatever it is, these folks know how to make a… More >>
  • Best Colombian Restaurant

    Mi Pueblito

    Two TVs constantly tuned to soccer, live music on weekends, arepas (corn patties) served with everything, large portions and great value in a relaxed atmosphere all make Mi Pueblito a favorite of local Colombians. Regulars prize the ajiaco bogotano (chicken soup with three kinds of potatoes), and the bandeja paisa plate, which contains a little of everything, is legendary for… More >>
  • Best Hamburger

    Goode's Armadillo Palace

    The big puffy buns tighten around the slippery burger patty, keeping the sandwich hanging together perfectly even though the half-pound of fresh-ground USDA Choice sirloin is extremely juicy. Garnished with lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo and served in a basket with fries, this is a classic Texas burger. Add cheese or guacamole for 75 cents, bacon or venison chili for… More >>
  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Arirang Restaurant

    Korean barbecue is an after-hours tradition. You wind up a long night of partying by gathering your gang around a grill set in the center of a large table, and everybody takes turns cooking. Favorite meats are bulgogi and wang galbi -- marinated steak and marinated boneless short-rib meat. Arirang's advantage over Houston's other Korean restaurants is a picnic-grove motif… More >>
  • Best Crawfish

    Floyd's Cajun Seafood House

    If you like your mudbugs extra-spicy, this is the place for you. Floyd's cooks them in a peppery boil and then dusts them with a cayenne-heavy spice blend. Your lips will burn for hours no matter how many beers you wash them down with. And yet there are Floyd's patrons who douse their crawfish with an extra coating of pepper… More >>
  • Best Cajun Restaurant

    Magnolia Bar & Grill - CLOSED

    Magnolia Bar & Grill opened in 1983 during Houston's Cajun-restaurant frenzy, the same boom that got the Pappas brothers and Tilman Fertitta started. Most of the Cajun restaurants that opened back then compromised on the spicy Cajun flavors to become family-friendly -- but not Magnolia Bar & Grill. The food here tastes exactly the way it did 20 years… More >>
  • Best Burrito

    Chuy's

    "Big as yo' face" burritos have been a specialty at Chuy's since long before McDonald's got into the burrito business with the Chipotle chain. Chuy's regular burritos are stuffed with your choice of ground sirloin, chicken or fajita meat and then served with beans, cheese and the sauce of your choice. But it's the "house specialty" steak burrito at Chuy's,… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Fung's Kitchen

    The steamed scallops in garlic sauce at Fung's are exquisite -- probably because the scallops are still alive when you order them. The shellfish come to the table barely cooked and attached to the shell and lovingly decorated with chopped garlic. Chef and owner Hoi Fung adheres to the culinary aesthetic of his native Hong Kong, where the belief is… More >>
  • Best Gelato

    Black Walnut Cafe

    Try the rich, fluffy version of the classic Italian ice cream at this Rice Village restaurant at your own risk -- you could lose your taste for Blue Bell. The flavors change daily. Sometimes they don't have chocolate, but they just might have such alluring choices as mango, strawberry, raspberry, hazelnut, panna cotta, peanut butter and pistachio. Try a peanut… More >>
  • Best Jamaican Restaurant

    Tropical Grill

    Tropical Grill's $10 weekend buffet features stellar curried goat and pickled fish, plus hard-to-find Jamaican classics such as velvety soft stewed tripe, tangy boiled green bananas and chunky homemade dumplings. Though some of this fare might seem a bit arcane, the buffet also includes such approachable items as shrimp salad with mango dressing, spicy jerk chicken, Creole chicken with sausage,… More >>
  • Best Macaroni and Cheese

    Gravitas - CLOSED

    Gravitas earned its reputation as the hippest kitchen in the city by reinterpreting slow-food classics. Chefs Jason Gould and Scott Tycer put an Alpine spin on macaroni and cheese with an item the menu calls housemade German spaetzle baked with Gruyre. The dish brilliantly combines delicate little noodles with a big full-flavored stinky Swiss cheese. If you're willing to broaden… More >>
  • Best Restaurant

    Cafe Annie

    Nobody's opening Southwestern cuisine restaurants anymore, yet Houston's best chef, Robert Del Grande, is still hanging on to the Southwestern label. Sure, he made upscale enchiladas, tortilla soup and black bean terrine famous a decade and a half ago, but those dishes are so dated now they're beginning to look retro. But Cafe Annie hasn't lost any of its highbrow… More >>
  • Best Caesar Salad

    Sabor

    The Sabor version of a Caesar salad is a return to the dish's glorious past. Made on a cart at tableside in a big wooden bowl with a coddled egg, plenty of anchovies and a host of other ingredients, Sabor's Caesar dressing is closely patterned on the original, which was invented by Italian immigrant Caesar Cardini at his Tijuana restaurant… More >>
  • Best Tex-Mex Restaurant

    Doneraki Restaurant

    The fajitas and the fajitadillas (fajita-meat quesadillas) are made with sizzling, fresh-off-the-grill beef. The enchilada sauces are perfectly seasoned and never too thick or too watery. And giving away free chili con queso along with the chips and salsa at lunch hasn't hurt their popularity, either. The original Doneraki on Fulton had its fans, but the huge new location in… More >>
  • Best Cheeseburger

    Stanton's Super Market

    Often overlooked as a burger mecca because of its lack of tables, this shabby convenience store serves the most impressive cheeseburger in town. The greatness starts with a half-pound, hand-formed patty mounted on an oversize, well-toasted sesame-seed bun. Go "all the way," and the adornments include lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, mustard, red onions, two strips of bacon and an ample… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Alexander the Great Greek

    New Greek cuisine entrées such as grilled sea bass or angel-hair pasta with sautéed shrimp, scallops and calamari may be the most interesting things on the menu, but Alexander the Great Greek is doing an admirable job of being all things to all Greek-food lovers. There's Athens-style fast food like pita sandwiches with french fries and Americanized Greek salads with… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Uptown Sushi

    The fish seems fresher and the sushi chefs seem sharper at Uptown Sushi than anywhere else in town. On weekends, expect to dine among dressed-to-the-teeth singles mingling to a throbbing techno soundtrack. The sashimi is top-notch, and the raw Kobe beef is extremely popular. But it's the edgy, innovative dishes -- such as the tuna tartare served in a martini… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Hugo's

    Hugo Ortega's upscale version of Mexican cuisine draws on his family's roots in Puebla, as well as on his training in the Houston restaurant business. The bar is loaded with premium tequilas, the guacamole is outstanding, and they make their own tortillas. Mexican-food enthusiasts will delight to find such exotica such as huitlacoche and squash blossoms on the seasonal specials… More >>
  • Best Oysters

    Willie G's Seafood &
    Steak House

    When the water in Galveston Bay gets cold and the oysters start to get plump, we head to Willie G's oyster bar, where the shuckers are top-notch and they always seem to get the smallest, freshest and sweetest oysters. It's too bad they don't have a Muscadet or other extremely tart and very inexpensive wine to drink with the bivalves,… More >>
  • Best Bistro

    Bistro Moderne

    There aren't any ceramic roosters, Ricard pitchers or other bistro clichés here; Bistro Moderne's interior is appointed in dark chocolate-brown with cream trim, and the extensive banquettes are accented with brilliant blue cushions. The look is fashion-forward, and the feel is extremely comfortable. You won't believe you're in a hotel restaurant. But thanks to the location, you can order breakfast,… More >>
  • Best Barbecued Crabs

    Sartin's Seafood

    When you order barbecued crabs at Sartin's, the top shells and the messy innards are removed in the kitchen. What's left are spicy, meaty crab bodies (with two claws attached) that taste like a cross between barbecue and Cajun deep-fried seafood. The dish was invented in Sabine Pass, the corner of Texas that borders Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico,… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Gaido's Seafood Restaurant

    Opened in 1911 in Murdoch's bathhouse at the 21st Street pier, Gaido's is a fourth-generation family heirloom. They don't serve crabs in the winter, and they don't serve oysters in the summer -- they buy what's in season. Like Antoine's in New Orleans, Gaido's is as much a museum as it is a restaurant. Photos on the walls document the… More >>
  • Best Dumplings

    Doozo Dumplings and Noodles

    There are many opinions as to what makes Doozo's dumplings so good. "It's the dough," one source says. "The dough is handmade." "Definitely the sauce," says another. "You don't have to bother with the spicy one, because the regular is so good." Really, Doozo has hit on a combination of all good things. The dough is substantial without being chewy,… More >>
  • Best Barbecue Joint

    Thelma's Bar-B-Que

    You judge a barbecue joint by its smoked meat. And the best comes from a real pit. The old cinder-block pit in Thelma's on Live Oak ought to be declared a historic landmark. The design was brought to Houston by the legendary Joe Burney of Beaumont back in the '20s. Harry Green, and other Houston barbecue legends who learned the… More >>
  • Best Sangria

    Bossa

    Sangria, although simple to make, can be a tricky thing; it's often too sweet or tastes too much like a glass of cheap red wine. Bossa's sangria is fruity and just sweet enough without going over the top, and it's served in a pint glass with crushed ice and wedges of orange and lime. Although not traditional sangria (there's pineapple… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Vieng Thai 2000

    We always remember to bring our own beer to Vieng Thai, because food this hot doesn't taste right without it. If only we could bring our own air conditioner! The restaurant, a former Asian grocery store with scuffed concrete floors and a malfunctioning a/c, is short on ambience and long on authentic Thai flavors. The green papaya slaw is the… More >>
  • Best Cheap Sandwich

    Lee's Sandwiches

    Lee's is a sandwich mecca, bread factory and dessert carnival, all under one roof. Open 24 hours every day, Lee's serves up a large variety of Vietnamese and traditional American sandwiches for $1.85 to $2.15. If that's not enough to get you sprinting to this Chinatown spectacle, they also bake their baguettes behind a wall of glass in a Willy… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Bodard Bistro

    Bodard Bistro is a 24-hour fast-food joint that serves pho, mi, all kinds of noodles and Vietnamese sandwiches. (The sandwiches are an incredible deal -- buy two and get one free.) The restaurant is usually packed at lunch and dinnertime, and people wait in line for a table here while a half-dozen other Asian restaurants in the same center sit… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Cafe Montrose - CLOSED

    They're not curly, they're not seasoned, not wedged, not shoestring, not waffled, but they are some damn good fries. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, Cafe Montrose's french fries actually taste like the potatoes whence they came. In the Belgian tradition, these fries are meant to accompany the wide variety of mussels on the menu. They're served… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

    There are only a handful of steak houses in the city that offer dry-aged USDA Prime, and Pappas Bros. Steakhouse has more of them than anybody else. Granted, the dark-paneled men's-club atmosphere is getting a little dated, as is the whole cigar-lounge thing. Newer steak houses such as the Strip House offer much more imaginative side dishes. And the gender-neutral… More >>
  • Best Mussels

    The Black Labrador

    Mussels are not the first thing that comes to mind when most Houstonians think about the Black Lab. There's the beer, of course, and the fireplace and the classic British fare, but shellfish? Steamed in white wine with tomatoes and garlic, these mussels are tasty, and the broth is great for dipping. Unlike some places, where you get a big… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Restaurant

    Katz's Deli & Bar

    Rude waiters who keep forgetting the pickles, obnoxious drunks at the bar and lousy, overpriced sandwiches -- is this an authentic New York deli, or what? We always order a salad plate with chopped liver or egg salad, a stack of fresh rye bread and some pickles -- and then we make our own sandwiches. It's hard to mess up… More >>
  • Best Nachos

    El Tiempo Cantina

    What sets apart the nachos at El Tiempo are the toppings: You can choose from brisket, chorizo, veggies, carnitas, fajitas, crabmeat and shrimp. The waitstaff is very accommodating, so if you want to mix it up, they're happy to combine ingredients, add stuff or go half and half -- perfect for those who have issues with decision-making. The shrimp-and-crabmeat nachos… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Kelley's Country Cooking

    The Kelley's Grand Slam breakfast is spread out over three plates -- there's a monster chicken-fried steak on the first, three eggs and your choice of grits or hash browns on the second, and an oversize biscuit with a bowl of gravy on the third. Those looking for lighter fare might opt for the Country Boy breakfast, which comes in… More >>
  • Best Plantains

    Tex Chick

    It's called mofongo; that's Puerto Rican for a great plantain dish. Don't go looking for a "heart-healthy" sign on the menu for this one, and once you read the list of ingredients, you'll understand why. A mortar is filled with garlic, chicharrón (the fatty, crispy kind, not pork rinds), olive oil and plantains, then the ingredients are ground together with… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Divorced Dads

    Hooters

    If you have trouble thinking of Hooters, that steamy hotbed of sexual titillation, as a family restaurant, odds are you aren't a regular. Poke your head inside the front door of a Houston Hooters location, and you're likely to see quite a few kids -- and a lot of hot waitresses doting on them. What are kids doing at Hooters?… More >>
  • Best Kebabs

    Darband Shish Kabob

    Darband Shish Kabob specializes in -- what else? -- kebabs. So it should come as no surprise that they offer a large selection, ranging from $5 to $7 per plate. Choose from among the kubdeh (ground beef), chengeh (lamb), shish (beef chunks), barg (beef sirloin strips) or chello (ground lamb). It's no coincidence that the chello, the national dish of… More >>
  • Best Malaysian Restaurant

    Cafe Malay - CLOSED

    In a sprawling city of international cuisines, Cafe Malay offers the best choice for Malayasian food. The roti canai (nan-like fried dough) with curry chicken dipping sauce is particularly good, as is the Malaysian eggplant. The satay, chicken Hainan and chicken sambal are flavorful, too, but the real strong suit of this place is the fish. Steamed or fried and… More >>
  • Best Pasta

    Pappardelle Campagnolo

    Handmade, one-inch-wide ribbon pasta, handmade fennel-laced, spicy sausage (made by "Mr. C," Johnny Carrabba's father), sweet red peppers, onions, tomatoes, a big slice of goat cheese that slowly melts as you eat the dish, creamy sauce, lots of Parmesan cheese...Need we say more about the Pappardelle Campagnolo? This fettuccine's name comes from the Italian word pappare, which means "to gobble… More >>
  • Best Spanish Restaurant

    Rioja Tapas

    Tasty tapas, an award-winning paella, an affordable wine list, the use of many homemade and imported ingredients and unparalleled European hospitality from the Spanish chef and owner make this the best in town. Homemade ingredients include a delicious, soft cow's-milk cheese, sweet quince jelly and a wonderful chorizo. From Spain they import the rice, white asparagus, Serrano ham, all their… More >>
  • Best Tart

    Coconut almond cream cheese tart

    The coconut almond cream cheese tart at Tart Cafe contains almost everything people love, with the exception of chocolate. The dessert has a thick pastry shell, giving it the appearance of a mini-quiche at least an inch thick and four inches in diameter. The moist coconut cream cheese is mixed with a delicious almond paste in such a way that… More >>
  • Best Expense Account Restaurant

    The Capital Grille

    Nothing says "big spender" like a big hunk of meat, a big, expensive wine and a big cigar. There's no place better to blow a couple of Gs on two people than at The Capital Grille, that clubby bastion of the expense account crowd, the ultimate meat market. Start out at the bar by sipping some Auchentoshan 21-year-old single malt… More >>
  • Best Wings

    Jazzie Cafe - CLOSED

    "Jazzie Cafe Famous Hot Wings and Po-Boys," reads the sign on top of the newly painted red, blue and yellow building on 19th Street near Beall. And if they're not famous yet, maybe they will be someday. Jazzie's sweet-hot chile chicken wings are coated with a thick sauce that tastes like a combination of oranges, hoisin and Vietnamese ground chiles.… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Da Marco

    A recent expansion means more tables and more room to move at Da Marco -- which is a welcome change, since the dining room was sometimes a little too intimate. But whatever the seating plan, Houston is lucky to have an Italian restaurant this good. Chef Marco Wiles has adapted Mario Batali's cutting-edge concepts to the ingredients and sensibilities of… More >>
  • Best Salsa

    Taqueria Tacambaro

    There are two salsas available at this taco truck located behind Canino Produce on Airline. One is iridescent green with a tart tomatillo base and the fiery flavor of fresh serranos; it's superb on chicken gorditas and on the sublime tacos de tripita (tripe). The other sauce is a deep, dark chocolate-colored salsa that looks like it's going to be… More >>
  • Best South American Restaurant

    Churrascos

    The signature dish there is, what else, churrasco, a charcoal-grilled, center-beef tenderloin steak. From a petite six-ounce serving to a platter-sized 16-ounce slab, these are some of the best steaks in town. But there are plenty of other tasty delights to be sampled at Churrascos as well, including doblones (chargrilled salmon with an achiote-shrimp salsa) and the "owner's cut" (filet… More >>
  • Best Mojito

    Beso

    Call us purists, but we love enjoying a good mojito in distinctly South American environs. And when we want to sip on the pretty, minty cocktail and watch pretty people, we head to Arturo Boada's Beso (Spanish for "kiss"). Downtown scenesters, young professionals and hip South Americans flock to the restaurant, where the bubbly, effervescent Amy tends bar. With the… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Glass Wall, The Restaurant

    Glass Wall is a great new American bistro just where we needed it most: in the restaurant-deprived Heights. Predictably, the eatery has been packed since it opened in early April. Lance Fegen, former co-owner of Zula and chef at Trev’sio, has left behind the overwrought designs and menus of his previous ventures and found his own cleaner, simpler style. Fegen… More >>
  • Best Sake

    Zake Sushi Lounge

    The bass booms at the chic Zake Lounge, where Asian hipsters with asymmetrical hair mingle with Inner Loop hotties in halter tops and Montrose bohos in Birkenstocks. While amped-up dance versions of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" (huh?) and Paul Simon's "Call Me Al" (WTF?) throb overhead, regulars order chilled blue bottles of Moonstone Sake -- a sweet, smooth number with… More >>
  • Best Greasy Spoon

    Himalaya Restaurant & Catering

    Greasy hamburgers, fries and chicken all have their devotees in this town, but if you want to try a place that has really earned its grease, look no further than Himalaya. At this Muslim-Indian joint, a massive dose of oil and meat fat carries off an equally massive dose of piquancy, perfectly blunting the sharper edges of a delicious bouquet… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    Griff's

    Much like a foamy pint of Guinness, a Bloody Mary is a drink that eats like a meal. And when you're faced with returning to the sober world on a Sunday morning -- but need a little help -- there are few better meals than a Bloody Mary. But the drink requires work: a dash of pepper, Tabasco, maybe some… More >>
  • Best Chinese
    Fast Food

    Chinese Cafe - CLOSED

    If the prospect of eating another bland box of Chinese-American takeout gives you a moo goo gai panic attack, then here's a fresh idea: real Chinese fast food in the heart of Chinatown. Near the long, spare counter, back-lit photos depict an assortment of dishes that are often vegetable-centric, well spiced and refreshingly free of glop. When the veggie's in… More >>
  • Best Nan

    Khyber North Indian Grill

    You can hear the slaps as soon as you walk in the door. The thuds emanate from behind the counter of Khyber North Indian Grill, where a chef painstakingly pounds dough into plate-size discs, which are then toasted in a tandoor oven. Out they come, steaming, delicately crisp on the surface and pillow-fluffy inside -- the perfect nan. By the… More >>
  • Best Prix-Fixe Lunch

    Tony's

    Think you can't afford Tony's? Think again, for there's a bargain for the taking. Considering that the entrées alone range from $12 to $32 for lunch, Tony's prix-fixe lunch (a.k.a. the Crescent Express) is quite the bargain. Just $17 gets you a three-course lunch with soup or salad (which change daily), a main course (which changes every two weeks or… More >>
  • Best Martini

    The Davenport

    Sure, it's cool to sip a $12 martini on a cushy chaise longue in a chic hotel bar. But sipping a cheap martini while sitting thigh-to-thigh with strangers on a cramped couch in front of a fireplace -- a televised fireplace? That's cool. That's the Davenport. The place is so cozy (casually claustrophobic) that there's no room for egos or… More >>
  • Best Comfort Food

    Blue Plate Bistro

    Comfort food shouldn't be expensive. It should bring back fond memories of home, of Grandma and Aunt Sue. It should be plain and simple. Blue Plate Bistro fills the bill on all accounts. There you'll get a good meal at a reasonable price in comfortable surroundings. Maybe it's mac 'n' cheese you crave, or everyone's perennial favorite, meat loaf. Whatever… More >>
  • Best Mint Julep

    Under the Volcano

    Let's hope the new management of the Cotton Exchange Bar brings back their once-legendary mint julep. Offering premium spirits, elephant ear-sized mint leaves and a special silver tumbler, the club served the best in town. Until that happens, we'll stick with the mixmasters at Under the Volcano. Every barkeep at the hut-looking lounge in Rice Village is adept at perfectly… More >>
  • Best Churrascaria

    Nelore Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse

    No, it isn't the first churrascaria in Houston, or the biggest. In fact, it's a pared-down version of a Brazilian steak house, designed to fit in a Montrose bungalow. But with its wood floors, stone fireplace and cozy porch, the atmosphere of Nelore Churrascaria is more pleasant and personal than other restaurants of its type. Nelore serves 11 varieties of… More >>
  • Best Salad

    Barnaby's Cafe

    Not many salads can last for three meals, but Barnaby's chicken Mediterranean salad does it consistently. The whole affair starts with a massive plate of shredded lettuce. Then come the thin, crunchy red onions, slices of roma tomatoes, some plump black olives and a mound of seasoned chicken, thinly shredded. The dome of salad is topped with a generous helping… More >>
  • Best Taqueria

    Taqueria El Charro No. 1 - CLOSED

    El Charro's flagship location on Harrisburg is seconds away from the center of downtown, making it a popular destination for those in need of breakfast tacos. But what puts this full-service taqueria head and shoulders above the rest is an extensive menu that also includes barbacoa, lengua, fajitas, carne guisada, pork al pastor and chicken -- all hot off the… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Tacos

    Brothers Taco House

    Few portable breakfasts can rival the chorizo-and-egg breakfast taco. Problem is, you're likely to suffer a coronary after the second one, they're so drenched with oil and grease. Not so with the version at Brothers Taco House. The venerable little East End stand offers a version of this breakfast staple that's not weighed down with fat. The tortillas are massive,… More >>
  • Best Deli

    Kenny & Ziggy's

    At Kenny and Ziggy's, it's not just about the sandwiches -- although a certain sense of accomplishment follows packing away a pound of corned beef. It's really about the comfort food. The chicken soup with kreplach is the best way to make it through flu season, and the chopped liver is classic. From blintzes to potato latkes with applesauce, all… More >>
  • Best Empanadas

    The Original Marini's Empanada House

    The Marini family started their storefront shop in the early '70s, and they've been a Houston favorite ever since. Three generations of this Argentine family have been serving up fresh, flaky dough with authentic, traditional fillings. And some not-so-traditional fillings (nacho empanadas, anyone?). Looking for dinner? Try the ground beef with olives and onions. Want some dessert? Try the sweet… More >>
  • Best Place to Skip Dinner and Have Dessert

    Ruggles Cafe Bakery

    The rows of cakes, tarts, pies and puddings displayed at Ruggles might look modest at first, but they're some of the best desserts Houston has to offer. This substance-over-style approach is commendable, especially since not one of their 20 or so offerings has ever been a disappointment. The white chocolate bread pudding and Reese's pie are exceptional, and most of… More >>
  • Best Pizzeria

    Dolce Vita Pizzeria & Enoteca

    The pies at Dolce Vita are a thing of beauty: The toppings are unusual, generous and full of flavor, and the superb quality of the meats, cheeses and produce makes it hard to go wrong. Sauce is used sparingly, and the crust is thin and crispy and a little chewy -- a wood-burning oven makes all the difference here. Some… More >>
  • Best Cuban Restaurant

    Cafe Piquet

    Legendary salsa star Celia Cruz made her way to Cafe Piquet every time she visited Houston, and it's easy to understand why. Made-from-scratch food, a stylish atmosphere and attentive service -- all staples here -- have made this a haven for Cuban-Americans in search of a taste of home. Don't let the strip-mall exterior fool you; inside, it's all low-key… More >>
  • Best Long Lunch

    Rainbow Lodge

    There's so much to do at the Rainbow Lodge that lunch might be an afterthought. Stroll through the lush grounds overlooking Buffalo Bayou. Visit the pond and gazebo, where many have celebrated their nuptials. Smell the herbs in the garden. Then enter the old lodge, examine the stuffed hunting trophies on the wall or check out the collection of antique… More >>
  • Best Atmosphere

    Artista

    Few restaurants have a better view of downtown Houston, and none has a more beautifully appointed interior, than Artista, which is located on the second floor of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Extremely elegant and very quiet, the main dining room is an expansive, high-ceilinged space dominated by a distinguished onyx wrap-around bar and floor-to-ceiling windows. A fabulous… More >>
  • Best Wine List

    Brennan's of Houston

    The half-bottles are called "Mini Mes," and there's a whole page devoted to wines for "wine geeks" on this, the hippest wine list in the city. Subheads include "All that Shimmers" for champagnes, "Clean Whites" for crisp white varietals, "Dirty Reds" for the big Cabs and Zins and "Rose Water" for the newly fashionable rosé varietals. But beyond the bon… More >>
  • Best Service

    T'afia - CLOSED

    Spewing happy talk and fawning over socialites has long been mistaken for good service in Houston's top-end restaurants. (It's actually an institutionalized form of panhandling.) T'afia exemplifies a new and more enlightened approach to restaurant service. The waitstaff is unobtrusive, unassuming, yet helpful. Most important, they're extremely well informed about the food, its provenance and its preparation. It's nice to… More >>
  • Best Brunch

    Backstreet Cafe

    You can get brunch just about anywhere these days, but at Backstreet Cafe, the meal's staples are redefined. The fluffy gingerbread waffle is served with sautéed cinnamon apples. The French toast is reinvented as brioche generously stuffed with bananas and served with a sticky-sweet caramel sauce. The Eggs Benedict are served over cheddar chive biscuits and come with a zingy… More >>
  • Best Delivery

    Spaghetti Western
    Italian Cafe

    It's 8:30p.m., you're starving and sitting in your underwear, and the last thing you want to do is get in the car again. What to do? Savvy diners in the Heights area call on Spaghetti Western, named for the cowboy shoot-'em-up movie staple. The Italian restaurant's delivery menu features obligatory -- and darn good -- pizzas, such as the Good… More >>
  • Best Cabrito

    Hugo's

    Goat isn't the kind of meat you just throw on the grill and smother with a slice of cheddar. Roasted long and slowly, good cabrito is as hard to come by in Houston as a village campfire. But the closest thing you'll find to the real deal -- the Mexican pueblito method of steaming a cabra whole in a pit… More >>

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