The Top 10 Restaurants in the Heights

Fried shrimp at Barbecue Inn.
Fried shrimp at Barbecue Inn.

6. Barbecue Inn

Don't let the name fool you. You should *not* order barbecue at The Barbecue Inn. No, sir. Instead, try the city's best fried shrimp -- jumbo, fresh, juicy shrimp nicely battered and deep-fried, served with homemade tartar sauce. Fried chicken, too, is one for the record books, served piping-hot alongside gloriously crispy French fries and a single leaf of kale posing as a cooked vegetable.

5. Guadalajara Bakery and Tacos

It may look a bit seedy from the outside, but Guadalajara Bakery on Washington makes a mean-and-pristine taco, served steaming hot in a fresh, housemade tortilla. The chicharrones are our favorite, beautifully spongy and with a kick of spice, but the barbacoa, too, is off the charts. The green sauce? We could eat it with a spoon. Rumor has it that the proprietress turned down a $10k offer to give up the sauce's secret recipe.

4. Branch Water Tavern

New and notable, Branch Water Tavern on Shepherd is already making waves with its delicious chicken fried oysters, creative fish and meat preparations, and outstanding lineup of bourbons and wine. We love the food, we love the drinks, we love the atmosphere. The only thing we don't love is the parking situation -- its teensy lot necessitates valet. Poochie.

Pad see ew at Asia Market.
Pad see ew at Asia Market.

3. Asia Market

What was once a Stop 'N Go is now one of the most deliciously authentic Thai spots in town. We're almost sad to bring this one up, as it has lately become so popular that open parking spots are rare -- and tables even more so. We'll always love Asia Market for its green papaya salad, pork and beef glass noodles, and outstanding pad kee mao, but the pad see ew remains our number one.

Brown butter gnocchi at Stella Sola.
Brown butter gnocchi at Stella Sola.

2. Stella Sola

The new Texas-Tuscan offering from Bryan Caswell, Stella Sola has set our carnivorous hearts on fire. Vegetarians, beware: Its recent suckling pig offering has won rave reviews, as has the house-cured charcuterie plate. The boys in back, led by James Beard nominee Justin Basye, are just now starting to run on all cylinders, making this one of our favorites in Houston, not just in the Heights.

Pork belly at Catalan.
Pork belly at Catalan.

1. Catalan

Chris Shepherd runs a tight ship at Catalan, showcasing the season's finest ingredients in creatively outstanding ways: pork belly, crabmeat croquettes, redneck mac-and-cheese, and bone marrow. You'll find the most inspired dishes on the Chef's Playground, an area of the menu that houses the chef's best, like barbecued head-on shrimp and housemade corned beef. P.S. You can add foie gras to anything; it says so right on the menu. [Swoon]



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