Top 10 Restaurants in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest

Plonk serves as the unofficial clubhouse of the area.
Plonk serves as the unofficial clubhouse of the area.
Photo by Troy Fields

It wasn't too long ago that the Houston Chronicle called Oak Forest "the new West University." The neighborhood just north of Loop 610 and to the east of Highway 290 has been attracting young families in spades -- families who are helping to reinvigorate the subdivisions that make up Garden Oaks and Oak Forest. Along with the influx of residents is a slow influx of new restaurants, which is making the area a hotspot for both new and old coexisting side-by-side.

Lance Fegen and Lee Ellis are opening Surfing Cowboys soon in the vacant space that recently housed That Pizza Place on Ella, and there's a full-sized restaurant planned for its neighbor across the street: Facundo Cafe, which serves burgers and breakfast tacos inside a car wash. Meanwhile, spots such as Cottonwood Bar and Shepherd Park Draught House are drawing people north of 610 with craft beer, cocktails and above-average pub grub.

And just a bit further south -- while not technically in the Garden Oaks / Oak Forest confines -- restaurants such as El Gran Malo, Pappa Geno's and the Rainbow Lodge give the larger area personality and a wide range of options. But for today, we're just focusing on the spots that make GOOF great.

Note: For purposes of this post, Garden Oaks / Oak Forest is defined as north of Loop 610, east of Highway 290, south of Tidwell and west of Shepherd.

Honorable mention:

El Rey Taqueria for terrific breakfast tacos and lattes and Yo Mama's Soul Food for rocking oxtails.

10. Roznovsky's

Ron Roznovsky has been grilling old-fashioned burgers and making homemade chili for more than 40 years, so he's had plenty of time to perfect his technique. Step back in time, admire the gimme cap collection on the walls, crack open a longneck and enjoy a hot, juicy burger topped with cheese or bacon. Seasoned fries and onion rings are the only sides, and the Frito pie comes highly recommended. And with the departure of Mytiburger this past August, Roznovsky's is one of the few truly old-school burger joints left around here. Note: Mytiburger was heroically rescued by local restaurateur Shawn Salyers, who bought and reopened it two weeks after it was closed.

Belly up to the breakfast bar at Facundo Cafe.
Belly up to the breakfast bar at Facundo Cafe.
Photo by Troy Fields

9. Facundo Cafe

Could food from a car wash be any good? Facundo Cafe and chef Danny Harper prove that it can be, with a small but capable kitchen that turns out everything from omelets and sandwiches to gourmet burgers and fish tacos with mango slaw. As a bonus, you can get your car's oil changed, get it detailed, or have your inspection sticker updated while you wait. In a hurry? Call ahead and they'll have your food ready and waiting for you to pick up, curbside, although it's far more fun to eat inside at the perpetually busy grill.

8. Cottonwood Bar

A new addition to the Garden Oaks family of bars, Cottonwood is sure to be a hit in the coming years. The bar -- from the folks that brought you Liberty Station on Washington Avenue -- is packed almost nightly. The list of beers is massive, which suits the neighborhood surroundings (the area already includes craft beer mecca Petrol Station as well as equally beer-heavy spots such as Plonk and Shepherd Park Draught House) and make it a destination spot for beer snobs all over the city. The menu is short and sweet here, but the Jamaican jerk wings are a favorite as are the BBQ oysters and pork belly corn dogs -- fun dishes that perfectly match the quirky icehouse atmosphere.


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