For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.
If you like the idea of having a little breakfast in your alcohol-sodden stomach past midnight, try the meaty albondigas with a fried egg on top at Majorca. It's within walking distance of a great many bars, making its 2 a.m. closing time very attractive to those who need some buffering between drinking and hitting the road. It's planning to stay open to 4 a.m. soon, meaning that you'll be able to get your tapas fix nearly around the clock.
Montrose should ideally have a surfeit of great late-night dives, but they're few and far between these days. Theo's (formerly One's a Meal) and Chapultepec are still reliable options, but sometimes you need something with a bit more oomph in it: That's where the No. 7 enchiladas at El Real come in. Drenched with creamy queso and and rich with cumin, these onion-topped enchiladas will cure what ails you, even at 3 a.m.
3. Crave Sushi
You don't always want a big plate of enchiladas or even pancakes for dinner late at night; I don't. Sometimes you have a craving for something lighter or just something different: late-night sushi. Crave has been packing them in since opening a couple of years back, serving sushi, sashimi and Cheetah rolls until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
I gave Mai's a hard time in my recent review, but the fact still stands that it's Houston's most beloved and reliable late-night haunt. Unlike other restaurants that just happen to serve food into the wee hours, Mai's specializes in it -- and that's when you'll find the biggest crowds, too. Night owls will never feel alone here, and post-club kids will always find solace at the bottom of a bowl of bun.
1. Tan Tan
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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 rice patty cakes with eggs. Tan Tan's food is particularly good as a hangover-helper, drawing in the after-clubbing and after-bar crowd. This is a go-to after-hours food destination not just because of the food, but also because of the great people-watching.