Tony's Mexican Restaurant

The bar at Tony's Mexican Restaurant stays busy serving up margaritas and mojitos, but its clientele is mainly families. It has the three main requirements for a happy family dinner: good food, low prices and a kid-friendly staff. Tony's offers kid's plates including ­quesadillas, tacos, hamburgers, enchiladas and fried shrimp. (Adults who want smaller portions can order a child's plate for a small fee.) The atmosphere at Tony's is like a large family kitchen, so noise from fussy toddlers or crying babies is usually lost in the sea of conversation and music. There's also an outdoor patio (fenced to keep the kids from wandering) that can withstand a fair amount of yelping.

Niko Niko's

For more than 30 years, Niko Niko's has been offering up authentic Greek food, many of the recipes coming from founder Eleni Fetokakis's father's restaurant in Athens. A converted gas station, Niko Niko's is always bustling with diners eager to get their Greek on. Customers form a line at the counter and fire their orders off into one of the most prolific kitchens in town. Gyros served in warm puffy pita with sweet onions, juicy kabobs and Greek salads served with a large slab of feta are just some of the reasons why Houston has embraced Niko Niko's as one of its favorite family-owned joints.

Soma Sushi

This is not your British Auntie's fish & chips. At Soma, chef Robert Gadsby, formerly of Noe at the Omni Hotel, offers a Japanese-inspired twist on this traditional dish, serving up a whole fried bass, bones, skin, tail and all. The only thing not on the plate is the head, making this a far cry from the conventional battered fillet offered at most restaurants. Served over a bed of greens with shishito peppers on the side, the fish's skin is crispy, and the inside is moist and flaky. The dish is served with four dipping sauces, including catsup, to go along with the thick steak fries that make up the "chips" portion of the meal. Enjoy the chic interior of this relatively new restaurant and have the fish and chips. It's both different and delicious.

Berryhill Baja Grill
Photo courtesy of Berryhill Baja Grill

Berryhill Baja Grill is a Houston-based chain that's vegetarian-friendly. They've been serving up their famous fish tacos since 1993 and know how it's done.  Both the grilled and tempura varieties come out fast, with crunchy cabbage and a generous dollop of Baja-style sauce on top. On Mondays and Fridays, these addictive tacos can be had for $1.99. Each location has its own personality and varying degrees of outdoor seating, but you will always find a place to unwind with some sublime tacos and a margarita.

Goode Company Armadillo Palace
Photo courtesy of Goode Company

Armadillo Palace serves up some great Texas bistro fries. Thin cut with skins on and ­sprinkled with just enough seasoned salt, these fries are perfectly paired with a side of Goode Company's famous BBQ sauce. The ­secret here is frying them twice, so they're crispy on the outside and tender in the middle. If you like a fantastic burger and fries and don't mind listening to country music and ­being ogled by taxidermy, then Armadillo ­Palace is well worth a visit.

Frenchy's Chicken
Jeff Balke

Just across from the University of Houston, Frenchy's is the perfect place to avoid cafeteria food and even make those freshman 15 worth gaining. Get in line at the drive-thru, or get in your exercise by walking up to the stand to order fresh fried chicken with just enough grease to make it moist while retaining the crispy, spicy Cajun crust. Forks and knives just slow down the process, so ask for extra wet-naps and dig in. For penny-pinching patrons, meal deals are a must. The extra-large wings, breasts and thighs are served in a convenient box with Frenchy's fluffy biscuit and a choice of delectable sides.

Baby Barnaby's Cafe
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

Don't be fooled by the somewhat decrepit facade of this Montrose breakfast haven. It seems the owners of this gay-owned Montrose staple decided to forgo the manscaping and instead focus on the classic American cuisine, delicious fresh-squeezed juices, on-the-case staff and affordable prices. After all, it's what's inside that counts, right? A welcoming rainbow flag in the window beckons patrons, who wait for a table on the patio and cruise the LGBT scene before heading in for comfort food in a comfortable setting. Baby Barnaby's is the place to enjoy stylish Houston gays and tasty food.

Lucky Burger

From the outside, Lucky Burger looks more like a greasy bucket than a greasy spoon. You may even think that the food inside this dumpy little corner eatery isn't safe, but inside are some really simple and tasty burgers. The short menu gets to the point with burgers and cheeseburgers, with variations of toppings like jalapeños, bacon, extra meat, blue cheese (­really?) and mushrooms, as well as sides of tots and onion rings. There's also fried fish burgers, nuggets, fried rice, chicken-fried steak burger and the teriyaki chicken burger. And don't worry, Lucky Burger has a chili burger — it wouldn't be a greasy spoon if it didn't.

Theo's

The beat-up decor of this all-night establishment might be a little off-putting at first, but as with most things Greek, personality is key. While working through plates of light and flaky spanakopita, dense moussaka and classic Greek salad, the in-your-face staff will make you feel cozy enough to sink into the comfy booths and even stick around once you've finished eating. The sampler will easily feed a family of four while giving a good idea of what Greece has to offer, and the classic gyros, crisp calamari and delectable pizzas are popular choices day and night.

El Tiempo Cantina

There's nothing quite like the flavor of freshly made guacamole. Once you've tasted it, it's almost impossible to eat the stuff that was made earlier or, worse still, the pre-packaged stuff many places try to pass for guacamole, which has either a nasty, preservative taste or a stale taste that overpowers the avocado. Here, you add accoutrements to personalize the guacamole just the way you like it. The mashed avocado still has some large chunks in it, which add texture. Finely-diced tomatoes, onions, jalapeño, garlic and lime wedges make this a dish that can stand alone or be eaten with any of their entrées.

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