Top 10 Restaurants in the Galleria

Top 10 Restaurants in the Galleria
Photo by Menno5D

Long the bastion of boring chain restaurants and overly expensive hot spots, the Galleria has seen a resurgence in the past few years when it comes to food. Chef-owned-and-driven restaurants are upping the ante along Post Oak Boulevard, while places like E-Tao and White Oak Kitchen + Drinks are showing shoppers that it's possible to have a great meal inside the massive mall itself without splashing out or trudging through the subterranean food court.

And in the surrounding blocks around the Galleria, brand-new eateries like family-owned Adair Kitchen and low-key French bistro Etoile Cuisine et Bar are drawing new fans to the area each day. And while there are still plenty of terrific, inexpensive options to stretch your dining dollar -- Zabak's, Jenni's Noodle House, Cafe Mawal, Chacho's and Jake's Philly Steaks spring to mind as just a few -- today's list of Top 10 restaurants in the Galleria has changed quite a bit since the last time we tackled this part of 2010.

And considering that holiday shopping season is right around the corner, getting reacquainted with some good places to fuel your shopping spree isn't a bad idea.

Disclaimer: Because "the Galleria area" can apparently encompass anything from Highland Village to far-flung stretches of Westheimer, we've tightened up the boundaries for the purposes of this list to keep it clean and compact. For purposes of this Top 10 list, the Galleria is defined as anything west of Loop 610, south of Woodway, east of Fountain View and north of Richmond Avenue.

Warm goat cheese with tomato, walnut , figs, honey and sherry relish at 1252 Tapas.
Warm goat cheese with tomato, walnut , figs, honey and sherry relish at 1252 Tapas.
Photo courtesy of 1252 Tapas

10. 1252 Tapas

The new Uptown Park location of this suburban import (the other two 1252 Tapas locations are in Cypress and The Woodlands) features a sleek, modern menu of traditional Spanish tapas and a much more urban vibe than its far-flung counterparts. Get the tabla alfonso x if you go with a group so that you can taste 1252's array of excellent Spanish cheeses and cured meats, or get experimental if you go on your own: morcilla (blood sausage) with apple and Dijon mustard sauce and pulpitos en su tinta (baby octopus sautéed in its own ink) are two favorites.

Meat is king at Tango & Malbec.
Meat is king at Tango & Malbec.
Photo by Groovehouse

9. Tango & Malbec

Yes, the Galleria is full of steakhouses -- but none of them are quite like Tango & Malbec. The large, well-appointed restaurant features the cuisine and wines of Argentina and its neighboring South American countries, which means lots of meats grilled on a wood-burning fire. The extensive menu has some Italian influences -- items like the carpaccio, provoleta (grilled provolone), and various pizzas and pasta dishes are all expertly prepared. Meat lovers will adore the bife de lomo (filet steak) and the bife de chorizo (rib eye) as well as the Wagyu beef short ribs. Whatever you do, leave room for the magnificent desserts, such as the torta rogel (dulce de leche cake with meringue), the chocolate soufflé and the profiteroles.

A dim sum platter at E-Tao.
A dim sum platter at E-Tao.
Photo by Minh T Truong

8. E-Tao

In a shopping center saturated with middling fast food and ultra-expensive chains, E-Tao is a welcome happy medium: a low-key, low-cost restaurant with great food. Situated near Nordstrom in the Galleria IV, the newest of the expansions to the gigantic mall, E-Tao serves traditional Sichuan favorites that are far more authentic than one would expect for mall food. While it's gaining a following for its soup dumplings (xiaolongbao), the rice-and-pork-stuffed chicken wings are equally excellent. And if you can't deal with the drive out to Chinatown, E-Tao makes a surprisingly good replacement for the Bellaire Boulevard dumpling houses.

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