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Food & Drinks

  • Los Dos Amigos

    Best Enchiladas

    Los Dos Amigos

    Los Dos Amigos holds court with other old souls Wabash Feed Store, Guadalajara Bakery and Laredo Taqueria as reminders of Washington Avenue's not-so-distant past, and it's held on this long for good reason: The food, especially the enchiladas, seems to get better the longer Los Dos sticks around. And the gooey, surprisingly greaseless cheese enchiladas with a fried egg on… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Hugo's

    The tequila selection alone at Hugo's — more than 40 choices, counting its bottles of mezcal — should indicate that you're in for a serious cocktail at this Mexican favorite. Sommelier Sean Beck dreams up exciting twists on the classic cocktail, like El Sueño Profundo with smoky mezcal, but it's the standard Hugorita for $7.50 that we like best. Created… More >>
  • Best People-Watching

    Philippe

    One could argue that the real people-watching goes down in the valet drive that's shared by Philippe and its next door neighbor, RDG + Bar Annie. But the younger set always makes its way up Philippe's grand staircase, and that's where the pretty young thing-watching commences. Celebrities both local and national — think Robert Kardashian and Carolyn Farb — love… More >>
  • Best Revival of a Genre

    TQLA

    Southwestern cuisine stopped being hip in Houston somewhere around Cafe Annie's millionth year in existence, long before its closure last year. So imagine our surprise when TQLA swooped in with Southwestern vet Tommy Birdwell at the helm and made it cool again. (Of course, having 167 different varieties of tequila, many of them on tap, doesn't hurt either.) The updated… More >>
  • Stella Sola

    Best Salad

    Stella Sola - CLOSED

    The best salad in town at a place best known as a palace to pork, a monument to meat? Yes. And that's because Stella Sola treats its vegetables with as much care and love as it does its many proteins. The Dal Giardino salad — which translates to "from the garden" in Italian — epitomizes this attitude toward showcasing fresh,… More >>
  • Best Expense Account Restaurant

    Vic & Anthony's

    If you're gonna ball, go big or go home. Vic & Anthony's is all about going big, with its opulent dining rooms, grand central kitchen that's as imposing as a throne room, seductive piano bar and service that will make you feel as if you're a prince among men. Here, you can order an immense Porterhouse steak to feed two… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Sushi Miyagi

    This mom-and-pop sushi restaurant in a slow-paced Chinatown strip mall doesn't look like much from the outside. The only indication of its quality lies in its name: Miyagi is an extremely common name in the Ryukyu Islands, and it serves to let other Japanese know that an Okinawan runs this place. Miyagi himself is the sushi chef, his wife the… More >>
  • Best Wings

    Xuco Xicana

    The old Midtown location of El Patio has been transformed under Chef Jonathan Jones — he of Beaver's fame — into a raucous, vivacious exploration of modern Mexican cuisine. Between leche de tigre-laced ceviches and kicky carne guisada tacos, you'll find his Jalisco-style wings. An odd item for a Mexican menu, perhaps, but Jones makes the queso fresco-topped wings work… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Rice Plate

    Com Tam Kieu Giang

    For Vietnamese people, eating a broken rice, or com tam, plate is synonymous with eating a burger. Start with a rice plate and add toppings like grilled pork, grilled beef, meatballs, shredded pork, Korean-style beef shortribs, Chinese sausage, fried eggs and more. As the name would suggest, Com Tam Kieu Giang specializes in doing these rice plates, and while many… More >>
  • Zimm\'s Little Deck

    Best Calamari

    Zimm's Little Deck - CLOSED

    At most restaurants, the calamari is an afterthought. But at Zimm's Little Deck, it's given just as much attention as its fancy po-boys and signature cocktails. Here, fresh — never frozen — squid is battered as lightly as possible and served in a no-nonsense white paper boat that lets the squid shine. The sauces served on the side push this… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Plonk

    Although you wouldn't expect it from a wine bar, Plonk has one of the best bacon cheeseburgers we've ever tasted. And that's because Plonk is more than just a wine bar: It combines excellent food with expertly chosen wine and beer in a cozy, neighborhood setting. The guanciale burger is the best example of that food. Its buns are toasted… More >>
  • Best Cajun Restaurant

    Danton's

    Danton Nix isn't Cajun, but you'd never know it from his spot-on Cajun and Creole dishes at his namesake restaurant. Tucked into an unassuming building in the Museum District, Danton's always feels like your own secret discovery. Nights spent gulping down fresh Gulf oysters in the mahogany-paneled bar with an IPA or Sundays spent at its laid-back jazz brunches are… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Atmosphere

    Moon Tower Inn

    You don't just come to Moon Tower for the hot dogs; you come for the sign that says "This ain't fast food. Shut up and wait!" You don't come to grab your dogs and wolf them down in five minutes; you come to share pitchers of Real Ale and throw horseshoes with your friends. You come to watch motorcycle gangs… More >>
  • Best Sangria

    Ibiza Food & Wine Bar

    The sangria at Ibiza Food & Wine Bar, with its light and fruity flavors, is the perfect summer drink. Not overwhelmed by the red wine, Ibiza's version has an aromatic sweetness that tastes mildly of melons; a sip, and you'll be transported to summers in Spain. The only improvement we can think of would be for Ibiza to offer this… More >>
  • Best Gay-Friendly Restaurant

    Ziggy's Bar & Grill

    Deep in the heart of the Gayborhood, Ziggy's has been taking all comers and serving them delicious, healthy food for years, long before the corner of Fairview and Taft became the hot spot that it is today. Ziggy's proudly proclaims that 70 percent of its customers are regulars, and you'll see why so many of them return again and again… More >>
  • Best Beef Noodle Soup

    San Dong Noodle House

    The beef soup at Chinatown's San Dong Noodle House (formerly Santong Snack) is a rich, full-bodied potion, dark in color and redolent with the aroma of long-simmered meat. If you order the Roast Beef Soup Noodle, you get the broth plus a handful of baby bok choy, a pile of long, medium-thick wheat noodles, and diced, pickled vegetables. If you… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Capri Pasta Pizza & More

    This little restaurant with a silly name (there's no pizza served here anymore), located in a neglected strip center, is a drive for most Houstonians. But it's worth every mile. Owner Barbara Coglianese hails from Imola and has imported her Bolognese-style Italian food almost part and parcel to this surprisingly authentic spot. The lasagna here verges on indescribable, with improbably… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Pondicheri Cafe

    There's nothing else like Pondicheri in Houston, not even Indika, Anita Jaisinghani's first and extant modern Indian restaurant in Montrose. Here in River Oaks, Pondicheri shakes up everything you thought you knew about Indian street food, offering Jaisinghani's updated interpretations for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even tea. Breakfast and lunch are counter-service affairs, inexpensive and filling, with items like a… More >>
  • BB\'s Beef & Hot Dog

    Best Hot Dog

    BB's Beef & Hot Dog - CLOSED

    Everything at this tidy little restaurant run by husband-and-wife team Charles and Brenda Rivers is a Chicago specialty, from the pizza puffs to the hot Italian beef. So you know that the Chicago-style hot dogs they serve — dragged through the garden on a steamed poppyseed bun with a thick Vienna beef dog tucked inside — are the real deal.… More >>
  • Best Brunch Restaurant

    Mia Bella

    Among the Mia Bella locations around town, it's this captivating space on the corner of Main and Preston that's our favorite: It's easily accessed by light rail, although you'll find ample space to park downtown on a quiet Sunday morning. And although the streets may be calm, Mia Bella always draws a healthy crowd to its festive weekend brunches for… More >>
  • Best Restaurant

    Da Marco

    In a city that lacks truly amazing Italian food, Marco Wiles has been toiling at perfecting his restaurant's cuisine for years. And it's work that has paid off. Gourmet once said of Da Marco that it's "as close to Italy as you can possibly get without leaving Texas." That was exactly Wiles's aim when he opened Da Marco more than… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Service

    Brennan's

    It's a rare restaurant that still gives its customers the white-glove treatment. It's a rarer one still that does so with a genteel Southern charm that never makes the service feel pretentious or stuffy. Brennan's has prided itself on years of such impeccable service over more than four decades and counting. When you're dining at the restaurant, you get the… More >>
  • Sean Beck, Backstreet Cafe

    Best Restaurant Sommelier

    Sean Beck, Backstreet Cafe

    Sean Beck started out as a waiter at Backstreet Cafe during his college days. Today he's a certified sommelier running the wine lists at three of Houston's best restaurants — Backstreet Cafe, Hugo's and Trevisio — and he was rightfully singled out as a "rising star" when Star Chefs came to Houston this year. Beck isn't just an advocate of… More >>
  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    Esther's Cajun Cafe & Soul Food

    The fact that Yelp doesn't even list a single review for this place means that Esther's is doing something right: You know that when you're eating here, you're one of the family. The customers are a tight-knit bunch at this little restaurant with a steam table (if there's no steam table at your soul food restaurant, you're doing it wrong).… More >>
  • Best Chicken-Fried Chicken

    Live Oak Grill

    The red-painted farmhouse, huge live oak tree and wooden farm tables out front give Live Oak Grille a quintessential Texan charm that is warm and welcoming. It's a place where families and friends convene for a cold beer or a root beer float, along with a solid, hearty meal of pork chops or burgers. But it's the chicken-fried chicken, served… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Wine List

    Zelko Bistro

    In keeping with its casual, neighborhood vibe, Zelko Bistro has always prided itself on offering unusual yet highly affordable bottles of wine. But chef and owner Jamie Zelko takes it one step further with a large section that's entirely devoted to vintages from women-owned-and-run wineries. It's her way of paying it forward to other females in the male-dominated food and… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour Food

    Benjy's on Washington

    The happy hour scene at Benjy's on Washington is always hopping, and with good reason. What draws the crowd is not just the consistently excellent cocktails but the unbelievably priced bar menu, where a myriad of dishes can be had for a mere $5. The menu changes, but standouts have been the Asian dumplings served on a tangy slaw, chicken… More >>
  • Best Taco Truck

    Tacos Mayra Taco Truck

    From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, this colorful taco truck located in front of a washateria dishes up some super-tasty tacos. What sets it apart from its competitors is that there's no scooping of premade filling onto a taco shell when you order here. All the fillings are finished on the grill, which means you will have to wait… More >>
  • Best Campechana

    Goode Co. Seafood

    Campechana at Goode Co. Seafood is almost a Houston institution, and we're pushing for it to move out of "almost" territory and into permanent acceptance. As with the seafood joints that line Airline Drive, the campechana here is served in tall sundae glasses with an olive perched on top like a cherry. Underneath, you'll find the freshest seafood that the… More >>
  • Best Bubble Milk Tea

    Star Snow Ice - CLOSED

    One of the original bubble milk teahouses in Houston, Star Snow Ice is still serving up the same delicious boba drink they've been making for decades. Because the drink here is not as creamy as those you'll find at other teahouses, you can really taste the authentic flavor of the milk tea; it isn't masked by an overwhelming amount of… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Zelko Bistro

    Jamie Zelko was originally the executive chef at Bistro Lancaster before opening her own namesake restaurant in the Heights. Featured on the Food Network earlier this year, Zelko Bistro serves Southern comfort food with a gourmet twist. Each bite of Zelko's parmesan truffle fries is delicate and delicious. The potatoes are cut shoestring-thin and then fried to a golden perfection… More >>
  • Best Place to See Cock

    Wabash Antiques & Feed

    Not only roosters — ahem, cocks — can be found out back behind Wabash, the old feed store that's been here since Washington Avenue was paved with bricks. You can also purchase chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, doves, chicks, kittens and puppies. And you can purchase chicken byproducts, too, with a selection of farm-fresh eggs near the front counter. Of course,… More >>
  • Best Macaroni & Cheese

    Shade

    This little side order of macaroni and cheese is not your typical version. Made with Gruyère, with a drizzle of truffle oil finishing off the creamy pasta, Shade's mac & cheese is distinct, yet not pungent. The overall impression is of a dish rich but delicate in flavor. It usually accompanies the grilled pork chop, but you can order the… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Chinese Cafe - CLOSED

    The original location in Chinatown has been serving up savory Chinese food for decades. Now, with a second location in the Galleria area just outside the Loop, both Chinese Cafes are popular destinations for diners wanting quick, delicious Chinese food. Catering to both American and Asian palates, the place is often crowded with patrons ordering individual inexpensive specials for lunch… More >>
  • Wild Cajun

    Best Oysters

    Wild Cajun

    Most people come to Wild Cajun for the crawfish, and with good reason — the Vietnamese sports bar's two crawfish blends are hopped up with spice and finger-licking fantastic. But the hidden secret here is the chargrilled oysters, each plump bivalve individually topped with shallots and a nose-clearing, eye-opening ginger puree that will make you forget all about horseradish and… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Gourmet India

    One wouldn't expect to find such a delightful Indian restaurant located outside of the Mahatma Gandhi District of Houston, but Gourmet India is an oasis on the west side of town serving up some of the best Indian food in Houston. Lunch is an all-you-can-eat buffet of breads and dips, salads, curries, vegetables, and grilled and saucy meats. Dinner is… More >>
  • Best Pita Bread

    Phoenicia Specialty Foods

    Phoenicia Deli has been a popular destination on the west side of town since 1992.  In more recent years, it opened an international and specialty food market just across the street from the original deli and started turning out fresh pita bread.  In the middle of Phoenicia Specialty Foods sits an impressive pita-making machine where you can watch each doughy… More >>
  • Niko Niko\'s

    Best Falafel

    Niko Niko's

    Fat and fluffy, the chickpea patties at Niko Niko's are equally tasty on their own, but we prefer them tucked into one of the restaurant's signature breakfast pitas with scrambled eggs, sautéed onions and tomatoes. They're alluringly crispy outside, the crunch giving way to a dark green interior that's soft without being mealy or mushy. And, yes, they're just as… More >>
  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Nam Gang Restaurant

    Located on Gessner and Blalock in Koreatown, Nam Gang is the place to go for Korean barbecue. You can order plates of beef short ribs (galbi), pork belly (samgyeopsal) and thinly sliced cuts of meats (bulgogi) — all of which you cook yourself on a griddle in the middle of the table. The mini complimentary side dishes taste fresh and… More >>
  • Best Hidden Treasure

    Jonathan's the Rub

    Most people were stunned when tiny Jonathan's the Rub — perhaps the darkest horse of 16 competitors — took home first place in the Houston Press Burger Bracket competition this year. The little restaurant in Spring Branch certainly knows how to grill a great burger, but that's not all: Chef and owner Jonathan Levine and his family also turn out… More >>
  • Best Pizzeria

    Pink's Pizza

    The specialty pies at Pink's Pizza include such interesting concoctions as Deuce (goat cheese, mozzarella, spinach, portobello mushroom, roma tomatoes, and garlic with pesto sauce); Double Down (rosemary chicken, bacon, mozzarella, spinach, tomato, and roasted garlic with alfredo sauce); and Santa Monica (gorgonzola, mozzarella, prosciutto, eggplant, artichoke, sun-dried tomato, and cranberry with a garlic-infused olive oil). These unpretentious, gourmet fresh… More >>
  • Kenny & Ziggy\'s Deli

    Best Jewish Deli

    Kenny & Ziggy's Deli

    When it comes to the canon of New York-style Jewish delicatessen food, it ultimately boils down to that old gastronomic proverb: It ain't the meat, it's the motion. Any of the top deli owners in this country — whether in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Palm Springs, or Houston — will tell you the same thing: They all buy their… More >>
  • Best Chain Restaurant

    Hillstone/Houston's

    Most chains get a few, or even several, dishes right, but Hillstone manages to nail them all, starting with the spinach artichoke appetizer. The sandwiches are hefty, with cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, fish and a French dip, while the gorgeous salads are meals unto themselves. There's a soup calendar that might make you choose what day to go. The rotisserie chicken,… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Lee's Sandwiches

    Baked fresh several times a day, the French baguettes from Lee's Sandwiches are soft and airy on the inside and crispy golden on the outside. The closest thing you'll find to authentic Parisian baguettes, these loaves only cost $1. Stuff with meats and cheeses to make a sandwich, slice and bake with savory toppings for hors d'oeuvres, or do as… More >>
  • Best Housemade Pasta

    Fratelli's Authentic Italian Cuisine - CLOSED

    The difference between hardened, store-bought pasta and the homemade variety is the difference between receiving a postcard from Rome and standing on the steps of the Coliseum. Fratelli's Chef Teresa Tadeo Wittman insists on authenticity, from sauces seasoned with herbs grown on-site to cracker-thin pizza, bubbly and charred to perfection in a traditional wood-fired brick oven built by her husband… More >>
  • Crave Cupcakes

    Best Cupcakes

    Crave Cupcakes

    The cupcakes are dense and richly flavored, and the frostings are so smooth and thick, they taste as good as a piece of fudge. With flavors like white chocolate macadamia nut, peanut butter chocolate, red velvet and mint chocolate, Crave Cupcakes are truly crave-worthy. Handmade with care, each big-enough-to-share dessert is worth every penny of its $3.25 price tag, and… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    Soma Sushi

    It's probably surprising to find that a sushi restaurant excels at desserts, but you won't find anywhere else in town right now that offers the cutting-edge selections found at Soma. Using liquid nitrogen, Chef Jason Hauck has created some exhilarating and exciting dessert items like his Nitro-Bourbon ice cream, which arrives smoking at the table and then is cracked slowly… More >>
  • Best Crawfish

    Wild Cajun

    One of the most recent Viet-Cajun joints to crop up in southwest Houston, Wild Cajun is currently our favorite (and not just because it also serves sushi and amazing chargrilled oysters). There are only two flavors of boil here: garlic butter and the signature Wild Cajun. You can guess which one is the spicier of the two. The garlic butter,… More >>
  • Best Juice Bar

    Juice Box

    You won't find antioxidant power boosts, protein powder or açaí berries at Juice Box — just an extensive menu of delicious fresh fruit smoothies in almost every conceivable combination. Mango, banana and pineapple? Durian and Chinese yogurt? Apple and avocado? Done, done and done. The fresh-fruit ice tea is also developing its own following, but the secret weapon at this… More >>
  • Best Peruvian Restaurant

    Latin Bites Cafe

    Since it opened last August, Latin Bites Cafe, a tiny hole-in-the-wall with just 36 seats inside and 12 seats on the patio, has gotten one rave review after another, receiving mentions in local and statewide news outlets as one of the best new restaurants of 2010. Chef Roberto Castre has created a menu that is as beautiful as it is… More >>
  • Best Pork Chop

    Perry's Steakhouse & Grille

    To call Perry's Steakhouse & Grille's dish a pork chop is almost a misnomer, because it's more like three courses of pork in one. When you order "Perry's Famous Porkchop," it arrives at your table on a cart, and the server uses gloves to break the pork chop into three parts. You'll get four of the tasty, melt-off-the-bone ribs, a… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Restaurant

    Tan Tan

    Open until 3 a.m. on Saturdays, 2 a.m. Fridays and midnight the rest of the week, Tan Tan is a favorite among the late-night crowd for consistently serving up an extensive menu of Chinese-Vietnamese food ranging from rice plates and pan-fried noodles, to wonton soup and Vietnamese hot pot, to their most popular dish, the banh bot chien, or fried… More >>
  • Best Mojito

    Truluck's

    The bar at Truluck's may not be the go-to destination for mojitos, but it should be. Strong, with a good dose of lime juice, and the requisite fresh aroma of well-crushed mint leaves that every mojito should have, just one sip will transport you to a beach in Cabo San Lucas. It's even better because it's so unexpected. The bartenders… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Kasra Persian Grill

    This Westchase-area restaurant located in a strip mall has been around since 1999, but the Parsa family has been in the restaurant business going on five generations, and they wisely haven't changed anything about how they cook classic Persian cuisine, such as the beef kubideh and chicken barg. The house-made flatbread called taftoon is a treat all on its own,… More >>
  • Best West African Restaurant

    Afrikiko Restaurant

    It's a bit of a zero-sum game to pick the Bayou City's best West African restaurant, especially considering Houston's already stacked scene for fufu and spicy soups. However, Afrikiko is about as close to a bona fide African experience (an experience, by the way, that usually includes soccer on the eatery's satellite TV) as you're going to get here in… More >>
  • El Real Tex-Mex Cafe

    Best Tex-Mex Restaurant

    El Real Tex-Mex Cafe

    El Real was one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year, in part because of the star power behind it — celebrity chef Bryan Caswell and former Houston Press food critic and author Robb Walsh. The restaurant has proved that it takes Tex-Mex seriously with its tasty old-school fare. This means queso and refried beans made with lard,… More >>
  • Best Salsa

    Jarro Cafe

    Working your way through the six salsas at Jarro Cafe is like taking a master class on the Scoville scale. The offerings range from eye-opening (the chunky oregano and chile-accented onion salsa) to sneaky-hot (the sweetened chile arbol paste) to volcanic (the bright green tomatillo-serrano slurry). Beneath the heat lurk complex flavor profiles, perfectly matched to the peerless Mexico City-style… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen

    The oysters alone win this award for Danton's. Served any way — fried, Rockefeller or baked — the fresh, plump, straight-out-of-the-Gulf oysters are a must-have. But the best way to enjoy them is to belly up to the bar and order a dozen raw on the half shell, especially on Oyster Mondays, when a dozen is half price. Danton's seemingly… More >>
  • Beaver\'s

    Best Veggie Burger

    Beaver's

    For many, Beaver's sets the pace when it comes to non-traditional barbecue in Houston, so it is still a challenge to get vegetarians to walk through the door — until they learn about The Nut Burger. The patty is concocted from a brown rice base with nuts mixed throughout and seems to be held together by static cling. Topping it… More >>
  • Best Burger Joint

    Hubcap Grill

    Tucked away in a tiny compartment in the middle of downtown, Hubcap Grill is maybe the easiest place in the world to drive by without even seeing. Yet vast and ample rewards await therein. The burgers, oh Lord, the burgers: The patties are hand-formed, never-frozen beef, and the buns are homemade artisan bread. The meat is thick and juicy, with… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Tacos

    Tacos-A-Go-Go

    It's difficult to think of a better meal for a bleary-eyed Saturday morning than a slew of Tacos-A-Go-Go breakfast tacos. You start with egg, and then you choose two of 12 ingredients (or more for a quarter per item). Choices include black beans, bacon, potato, spinach and our favorite, Tacos-A-Go-Go's delicious chorizo. It's not that they're fancy; quite the opposite.… More >>
  • Heights Asian Cafe

    Best Dumplings

    Heights Asian Cafe

    This unassuming little restaurant in the shell of an old Long John Silver's has brought excellent pan-Asian food to a neighborhood that was sorely missing it. And the best item on its extensive menu is one of the simplest: steamed pork and vegetable dumplings, hand-filled and hand-crimped in the kitchen by a tiny old lady who seems to do nothing… More >>
  • Best Barbecue Restaurant

    Gatlin's

    At Gatlin's, low and slow are the keywords in this family's burgeoning barbecue empire. There's barely any seating inside, and only a small attached patio, but that doesn't stop the lines from forming outside the front door every single day, demanding Greg Gatlin's brisket and ribs. Unusual for a barbecue joint, the sides are just as craveable as the meat:… More >>
  • Best Drink Special

    Natachee's Supper 'n Punch, Bloody Mary Sundays

    A great Bloody Mary is tricky to pull off. It's not enough to put it together from a mix, and even if you use all the correct ingredients, it can still get watered down by too much ice or overdone by too much hot sauce. The Bloody Mary at Natachee's is a great example of the art. Spicy but also… More >>
  • Best Place for a Vegetarian to Take Their Meat-Loving Friends

    Hoggs 'n' Chicks

    For a meat-heavy restaurant that comes from a Frenchman with an extensive butchery background, Hoggs 'n' Chicks makes a mean veggie burger — possibly the best in the area. Quinoa is the base here, along with plenty of vegetables: carrots, spinach, bell peppers and more mingle in this delightful patty. Two different all-veggies salads, a veggie soup of the day… More >>
  • Best Steakhouse

    Samba Grille - CLOSED

    Now that it's removed the churrascaria portion of its menu, Samba is a more streamlined South American steakhouse, and Chef Cesar Rodriguez is really allowed to shine. From Peruvian-style steak tartare with peppadew peppers and plantain chips to an amazing dry-aged New York strip, this place knows its way around a cut of beef. A 20-ounce bone-in rib eye is… More >>
  • Best Empanadas

    Empanadas by Marini

    Tucked into a strip mall on Westheimer near the beltway, Marini's is a family-run empanada delicatessen offering sweet and savory varieties of the fried pies. The Gaucho is the standard variety, with onions, spices and olives that accentuate the finely ground beef without overpowering it. Vegetarians and omnivores alike will enjoy the Humita — traditional creamed corn and cheese. Add… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Saigon Pagolac Restaurant

    Vietnamese food is so much more than pho and banh mi. Located in the heart of Chinatown in the back side of Dynasty Mall, Saigon Pagolac specializes in beef cooked seven different ways. There is a beef salad, beef fondue (thin slices of beef cooked in a vinegar broth), grilled beef (thinly sliced beef marinated with lemongrass and cooked over… More >>
  • Best Banh Mi

    Nguyen Ngo French Cafe

    Ask most Vietnamese in town where to go for the best banh mi, and more likely than not, they will point you to Nguyen Ngo French Cafe. It's a favorite destination for out-of-towners, who come here for sandwiches made with the famous family-recipe shredded chicken that the owners brought over from Vietnam. Sweet and slightly addictive, their shredded chicken comes… More >>
  • Best Pho

    Pho Danh

    When it comes to pho, the secret is in the broth. Pho Danh ladles it daily to discriminating diners from the location in the back of Hong Kong Market. The light yet deep beef flavor in your bowl tells you that some big bones have been simmering for days in large stock pots. Bold souls order the large, with tripe,… More >>
  • Best South American Restaurant

    Américas River Oaks

    The new Américas River Oaks is stylish not only in decor but also in its food presentation and menu. Much like the grandiose booths and larger-than-life lighting fixtures, everything is presented with a flourish: Lobster mini corndogs with corn poblano dipping sauce are playfully served lollipop-style on a wooden block; mixed ceviche is presented in a four-compartment glass plate; an… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary

    Flora & Muse - CLOSED

    The Bloody Mary at Flora & Muse isn't the kind of heavily garnished, Clamato-heavy cocktail that you gulp down as a hangover cure. European-style bistro Flora & Muse offers an elegant twist on the standard cocktail. Served in a long-stemmed glass chalice — the same curving sides to it as a Stella Artois glass, sans the gold rim — this… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Tia Maria's Mexican Restaurant

    Located just outside the Loop, this local spot is always filled with loyal, regular customers who have been coming here for more than 30 years and know it simply as Tia's. You'll find enchiladas, tacos and fajitas on the menu, but the real standouts are the more traditional Mexican fare, such as the carne guisada, the grilled quail served on… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Restaurant

    Tel-Wink Grill

    Tel-wink cranks out breakfast so fast there are stacks of warm toast 18 inches tall at the expediter counter during peak times. Demand like that, and a line of waiting patrons that snakes through the interior, can mean only one thing. The breakfast special rocks: grits, sausage, eggs and toast from the stack. You could go for a biscuit, but… More >>
  • Dim Sum King

    Best Dim Sum

    Dim Sum King

    While some may lament its nontraditional choice to serve dim sum all day long, that's exactly the aspect of Dim Sum King we love most. Six days a week (it's closed on Tuesdays), you can get dim sum for brunch, lunch or dinner — and all of it good. There are no carts here, either; just a very cozy room… More >>
  • Best Baked Potato

    Demeris Bar-B-Q

    The fact that it's named after one of our favorite Astros ballplayers is even more reason to love Demeris Bar-B-Q's Big Puma baked potato. The Big Puma comes loaded with Demeris's signature smoked turkey, juicy and sweet, atop a baked potato that's been split open and stuffed with everything else you'd want on a potato: butter, sour cream, cheese and… More >>
  • Best Chicken Soup

    Tacos del Julio

    Unlike a standard caldo de pollo or caldo xochitl, the caldo Tlalpeño at Tacos del Julio calls for the addition of a very important ingredient: chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. The dark red chiles come in a little plastic cup full of adobo, allowing you to flavor the broth as you see fit as stocky white squares of queso panela… More >>
  • Best Milk Shake

    Avalon Diner

    There's nothing quite as satisfying as an old-fashioned milk shake made with real ice cream and served in a soda fountain glass with a metal mixing can on the side. At Avalon Diner, they've been doing it for years. Open since 1938, Avalon Diner is part of that dying breed of places that still boast a traditional soda fountain. Regular… More >>
  • Best Bang for the Buck

    Oishii

    In a city filled with swanky, upscale sushi restaurants serving up overpriced, Americanized fare, Oishii is a breath of fresh air. You won't find any pretentious decor, exotic cocktails or blaring techno music at the tiny restaurant just outside of Greenway Plaza; just warm, friendly service and traditional Japanese-style sushi. The happy hour — $1.25 domestics and $1 sushi Mondays… More >>
  • Best Cheap Seafood Restaurant

    J & J Seafood Market

    J & J is ostensibly a seafood market, with fresh flounder, red snapper, bass, shrimp and scallops on ice. More so, it bustles with eager customers lined up for the exceptional Gulf Coast-style fried fish, shrimp, and oyster dinners and combos. You get a choice of trout, drum, red, catfish or tilapia, and a large piece of it with three… More >>
  • Best Date Night Restaurant

    Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

    Everything about Giacomo's whispers romance, but not in that cheesy Harlequin sense. It's effortlessly and casually romantic, just as you'd want your date to be. Fairy lights twinkle in the canopy of the sweet little patio; the wine bar is dimly lit and well-stocked with Italian classics; the dining room is low-slung and moddish; and the small plates of elegant… More >>
  • Best Mom and Pop Restaurant

    Mel's Country Cafe

    Mel's Country Cafe is a family-run establishment off the beaten path in Tomball that delivers on all the name implies. Diner tables fill the ranch house and add to the comfort factor when you step in. A 16-ounce chicken-fried steak anchors a menu that offers home-style victuals like greens, fried okra and catfish. The servers operate with a relaxed ease… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a Staycation

    Café Mawal

    Dining at Café Mawal, you can pretend you're in the ancient country. Not only does it serve authentically Jordanian food — think grilled beef and chicken kebabs and light salads like fattoush — it also offers a unique dining experience inside its traditional Bedouin tent, made of goat hide and draped with traditional textiles. Take your meal and hookah into… More >>
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