Hillstone

Sure, Houston's is part of a national chain, but boy do they know how to mix one hell of a Bloody. Located on Kirby just south of 59, the upscale eatery doesn't hammer its customers with too much pepper and heat, opting for a less spicy and more flavorful approach to one of America's favorite weekend hangover cures. In addition to tomato juice, their recipe includes homemade cocktail sauce, lots of horseradish and just the perfect hint of Worcester. Many mixes unfortunately don't have enough horseradish, but luckily, that's not a problem at Houston's. Here, a straw is almost useless because of the delicious bits floating throughout the Bloody Mary that for only $7.50 will leave you feeling like you just had the perfect meal.

Brasserie Max and Julie

Owners Laurence and Chris Paul of Café Rabelais fame have managed to create an authentic brasserie experience in the heart of Montrose with their Brasserie Max & Julie. With not too much imagination, you'll be transported to Paris in an instant, and not just by the decor. They have Kronenbourg on tap and an excellent selection of French wines that won't break the bank. Now all that's left is to select from the extensive menu of traditional brasserie favorites like soupe à l'oignon, escargots, foie gras or pâté as a starter. For your main course, you can't go wrong with the steak tartare et frites, the boeuf bourguignon or the cassoulet. Finish with a soufflé. All of these classic dishes are prepared perfectly, and you won't find a more charming place than this one.

French Riviera Bakery and Cafe
Photo by Catherine Gillespie

The farmhouse loaf made by brothers Louis and Robert Wu is a dense loaf of bread, about 15 inches long, in the shape of an elongated football that is dusted with flour, which makes everything it comes into contact with white. And it is so crunchy that taking a bite may cause scratches in your mouth. This loaf is served in many of the finest Italian restaurants in town and is absolutely the best for dipping in olive oil. Served with nothing but butter, it is addictive, whether it's the day it's purchased or the next day and, once it has begun to harden a little, as toast. There's only one thing wrong with this loaf, and that's that it sells out quickly.

Goode Co. Taqueria

It's a good thing this taqueria is a weekend-only breakfast spot. If not, we'd be sinking our teeth into the migas seven days a week. You might have to wait in line to place your order, but once you have, sit back and have some of Goode Company Taqueria's fresh-squeezed orange juice on the relaxing patio or the funky indoor area, and soon enough, your name will be called. Hot plates of gorgeous pecan waffles are light with real homemade flavor. Savory egg dishes are all over the menu; have them with meats mixed in, or go for a succulent side of quail. The coffee's great, but with Taqueria's laid-back vibe, no one will look twice if you insist on getting one of the thick cinnamon chocolate shakes to start your morning right.

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Troy+Fields
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The meat used for the barbacoa de Borrego is lamb, and it's lighter in color and slightly sweeter than the traditional beef used in most barbacoa found in the finest taco joints in Houston. It makes for a great taco, whatever the time of day. The lamb is slow-cooked in traditional Mexican spices until it falls apart. In a homemade corn tortilla smeared with refried beans and topped with nothing but chopped onions, cilantro and hot sauce, it is one of the best tacos you'll ever eat — and at $2, one of the cheapest, as well. Pity it's available only on weekends. Readers' Choice: Taco's a Go-Go

Seco's Latin Cuisine
Jeff Balke

Apart from the fabulous food served here every Sunday, it's also the best bargain in Houston with a sumptuous buffet priced at an incredible $12.99 per person. And as if that weren't enough, bottomless mimosas go for $7.99 and bottomless sangria for $8.99. Start out with a warming bowl of sopa de camarones, a cream-based soup that is as chock-full of seafood as it is with veggies. Skip the made-to-order omelets and waffles — unless you just have to have them — and try the shrimp-stuffed jalapeños, the Salvadoran pupusas wrapped in banana leaves, the migas or the corn or spinach enchiladas. End with the chipotle beef or the pan-fried tilapia. But make sure you try the unbelievable desserts, which include a flan, an incredible tres leches and a bread pudding with whisky sauce.

The 105 Grocery & Deli is located in the rural hamlet of Washington, not far from Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park. Inside, there are a lot of cold drink cases and about six tables scattered around the interior. The burgers are made on a griddle behind the cash register. They come wrapped in tissue paper in a paper-lined blue plastic basket full of golden fries. The meat bulges out of the bun. It is unevenly shaped, with a lot of charred crispy areas along the edges. Each patty appears to be around two-thirds of a pound. A round piece of iceberg and two tomato slices are positioned underneath the burger in the "upside down" configuration with a modest sprinkling of chopped onions and a couple of pickle slices. The puffy oversize bun is well toasted and spread with yellow mustard and Miracle Whip. If they switched from salad dressing to real mayo, it would probably be the best burger in Texas.

Lankford Grocery and Market

Like many quintessential Texas burger joints, this place started out as a convenience store. The grocery opened in 1939, and when owner and head cook Eydie Prior was growing up, her parents really sold groceries. But it was the hamburgers that brought in the crowds, and so they took out the store shelves and put in some tables. Today, Lankford Grocery is a homey restaurant with a rural vibe in a part of town where all the old buildings have been leveled and replaced with towering townhouses. The dining room is enclosed by garage doors. The smoking section is on a former driveway where two picnic tables are adorned with orange marigolds growing out of coffee cans. Every couple of months, Eydie goes on a decorating binge and decks the place out with a seasonal theme. Readers' Choice: Becks Prime

Floyd's Cajun Seafood House

Go eat some of Floyd's fried oysters with hand-cut French fries or his wildly spicy crawfish or his awesome poor boys, and you will remember why Cajun food used to get us so excited. The boat-shaped bar on the southbound side of the Gulf Freeway is now one of two Floyd's locations. It's great to see Floyd Landry building another Cajun seafood empire. Say what you will about Floyd's business sense, there's no denying that the man is a genius at cooking Cajun seafood. The other Floyd's is located in a former Don's Seafood restaurant in Beaumont and, according to reports, it is wildly popular. Kind of ironic, since Don's was started by Don Landry, Floyd Landry's father.

Lomonte's Italian Restaurant

Perhaps it's the flour, seasoned with Italian spices and parsley, used as the batter which makes them so incredibly crispy and greaseless; maybe it's the homemade picante sauce Lomonte's serves along with a terrific marinara sauce that you dip them in; then again, maybe it's the tiny pieces of squid the restaurant uses — no jaw-breaking pieces here — that make them the best in town. Whatever it is, these things are addictive, and once you start eating them, they go down so effortlessly that you'll soon be staring at an empty platter wondering where they all went.

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