Top 10 Restaurants in Westchase

One of the many office buildings found throughout Westchase.
One of the many office buildings found throughout Westchase.
Photo by Tom Haymes

Westchase -- for its relatively small boundaries -- is a poster child for the breadth of ethnic cuisines available in Houston. Far from simply an area saturated with mid-rise office buildings and chain restaurant's, it's also a microcosm of the Bayou City. The neighborhood offers Cajun, Persian, Bosnian, Argentinean, French, Vietnamese, Spanish, Cajun, German, Mexican, British, Japanese, Portuguese, Brazilian and much, much more...if you just know where to look.

Along with Chinatown, Westchase was my destination of choice at lunch when I worked on the west side. If I still worked over there, I'd still be trekking up and down Westheimer and Bellaire each day on the hunt for great little holes-in-the-wall. If I missed your favorite, let us know about it in the comments section below.

Note: For the purposes of this post, Westchase is defined as bounded by Westheimer on the north, Gessner on the east, Dairy Ashford (not Wilcrest) on the west and the Westpark Tollway on the south.

Boiled crawfish at The Seafood Shoppe.
Boiled crawfish at The Seafood Shoppe.
Photo by Troy Fields

Honorable mention:

Suzy Wong's for its spicy Sichuan dishes, Churrasco's for its South American pedigree and sheer longevity, Loving Hut for its radical vegan specialties, The Seafood Shoppe for its lip-burning batches of crawfish, The Bull & Bear for its well-pulled pints and cottage pies and Rudi Lechner's (although it's slightly outside the boundaries) for its schnitzel and sauerkraut.

Top 10 Restaurants in Westchase

10. Bistro Le Cep

This charming French bistro can be a bit long on the long-in-the-tooth crowd -- think Luby's at 4 p.m., but upscale -- although the food isn't entirely reflective of the crowd. It's charmingly old-school, always fresh and consistently delicious. My favorite dishes here include the pan-roasted calf's liver with apples, bacon and potatoes and the coq au vin that's ideal on a cold day.

Top 10 Restaurants in Westchase

9. Marini's Empanada House

You can go all-authentic at Marini's and stick to Argentinean classics like humita and beef "gaucho," complete with hard-boiled eggs and olives tucked inside the flaky dough. Or you can pick from Marini's wide, wild menu of fusion empanadas: Hawaiian, eggplant parmigiana, English or even Texas barbecue. Either way, the empanadas are consistently great. (And it was one of the wild empanadas -- filled with bananas, Ghiradelli chocolate chips and dulce de leche -- which made the list of former Houston Press food critic Robb Walsh's 100 Favorite Dishes.

8. Rioja

One of the city's best Spanish restaurants is outside the Loop -- way outside the Loop. But the trip to this oddly located Spanish paradise is entirely worth it. You'd never know once you're inside that Rioja is bordered by some rough apartments and a Fuddrucker's -- it's a little slice of Alicante in Houston. And while the paella here is very good (not stupendous, but better than you'll get anywhere else in town), the real treat is the tapas menu. On weekdays, Rioja offers a phenomenal lunch deal: three tapas for $13.95. The patatas bravas and the jamon serrano will make you feel as if you're right back on the Costa Blanca.

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