Kata Robata Sushi & Grill

It says a lot about the changing palates of Houston diners that a highly modern sushi restaurant with a strong undertone of French fusion should be chosen as 2010's best new restaurant. But the food at Kata Robata (and the casual atmosphere that belies some of the menu prices) is truly the biggest draw of any place that's opened in the past year. Omakase platters prepared by the talented Manabu Horiuchi, formerly of Kubo's, are both playful and breathtaking at the same time — as well as quite a bargain. And that's a recurring theme at Kata Robata: fresh, flavorful, high-quality food for a lot less than you'd expect to pay. The enormous bowl of authentic Japanese ramen with a sweet, meaty broth and plenty of pork and noodles is a shining example, as are the delectable panko-crusted lamb lollipops with ginger sauce that are as fun to eat as they are delicious.

Shanghai Chinese Restaurant

The family that owns this Chinatown eatery knows what it's doing. The salted pork ribs are a must-try here. Also get the wonton soup, a flavorful broth holding fresh dumplings packed full of ground pork. The noodle soup with brisket is too good to pass up, so you might have to make a choice to eat one dish here and take one home. In fact, all the classic dishes are done right. The fried rice is superb, and the lo mein is straight out of an old-school Chinese diner. The egg rolls are fat, flavorful and extra crispy, with lots of meat. The owner's entire family will be there to serve you, and you might see them sitting down to eat the same food you just ordered.

Beaucoup Bar & Grill

You can't go to Beaucoup and not get the crawfish bread — it would be wrong to do so. It is that good. Imagine the best crawfish dish you have ever put in your mouth times ten, with crunchy, butter-soaked French bread covered with crawfish meat and smothered in cheese and sauce. Ask for some hot sauce, and you will get something made in house that tastes better than the bottled kind. Other Cajun dishes like gumbo taste homemade and soulful. The fried burger is perfect for big eaters. And the wings in all their different flavors and rubs put this jumpin' little Creole joint on the map.

Catalan Food & Wine Bar

Catalan is the restaurant that's setting the bar for every other dining establishment in Houston; there's a reason executive chef Chris Shepherd is referred to as "The Godfather" by his peers, after all. Just-off-the-truck fresh meat and produce from local farmers, carefully selected wines and a killer wine list by sommelier Antonio Gianola, a stunning dining room with partially open kitchen, and the skilled hands of Shepherd and sous chef Antoine Ware all combine to create one of Houston's most unique restaurants with the best food in the city. Shepherd isn't content to just serve up classic recipes with his ultra-fresh ingredients, however; it's the combination of street food with multiethnic flavors in dishes like lamb sweetbread tacos and crispy Akaushi oxtail spring rolls that makes Catalan the epicenter of Houston's burgeoning Gulf Coast cuisine scene.

"Brasserie" means "brewery," and the folks at Max & Julie's have captured the lively spirit of the iconic French experience here in the heart of Montrose. Dive in with a bowl of Soup à l'Oignon, freshly made foie gras or roasted bone marrow, and then hit up traditional favorites such as the Alsatian sauerkraut dish, choucroute, the steak tartar with frites or the cassoulet. Sunday brunch is extra special, as the kitchen turns out the thinnest and most velvety crepes imaginable. The place has the look and feel of a classic brasserie, serving comfort food and decadent brunch fare. And don't forget a glass of French draft beer. After all, it wouldn't be a night at the local brasserie without one.

Best Omnivore's Dilemma Restaurant



Want to eat ethically and locally without giving up your nice dinners? Chef Randy Evans makes it possible at his new restaurant Haven. With menus printed daily, Haven carefully notes all of the local ingredients used in its dishes, from tomatoes to eggs to cheeses. Everything about the atmosphere of Haven is in line with a commitment to cook the freshest, cleanest and most satisfying food possible. Aptly named, Haven is a cool oasis for the conscientious eater.

Georgia's Market Memorial Village
Batli Joselevitz

Located nearly 15 miles west of downtown, Georgia's Farm to Market food store may be one of the area's greatest secret treasures. And its weekend all-you-can-eat brunch is even more so. Served from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, Georgia's offers up a rotating menu of delicious, farm-fresh, organic delights. Visit the omelet station for an egg-white omelet with turkey ham, spinach and mushrooms, or dive into the enormous salad bar, with more than 80 locally grown organic fruits and vegetables to choose from. And if ambience is your thing, look no farther. Each week, local jazz acts get you in the mood for an incredible meal that's good for you, too.

Taqueria De Jalisco

Nestled in the Spring Branch area of Houston lies gleaming-clean Taqueria Jalisco. Pick your meat and how you want it — in a torta, taco, etc. — from the posted menu on the side and wait to be wowed. The cooks do not skimp on your servings, and each plate comes with thin-sliced radishes to help kill the heat and clear your palate in between bites. Sip on a jumbo horchata or apple soda to put out the fire of the salsa, which sits in a bowl on the countertop. The waitress described it as "very pico." She wasn't kidding.

Auntie Chang's Dumpling House
Photo by Joanna O'Leary

Sometimes a night in is better than a night out. When reheating frozen foods just isn't cutting it, call on Auntie Chang's Dumpling House to kick those hunger pangs. The place will deliver its awesome steamed dumplings, lo mein, veggie and other classics straight to your door. Don't have a menu and can't remember what you want? The wait staff will patiently help you pick out a dish to your liking. Even if you're out on the town, Auntie Chang's will cart your order over to your favorite bar without a hassle (it's listed on cards for delivery options in some bars). Lo mein plus beer? Yes, please.

Sonoma Retail Wine Bar & Restaurant

Sonoma could beat out its competition in selection size alone, but it doesn't stop there. For the traditionalist, there are elegant cheese and Italian meat platters with fruit and nuts. For the more adventurous, there's lobster risotto with asparagus or the chicken satay skewers. The Sonoma Pizza is another great option, with its thin, crispy crust topped with toasted gruyère, artichoke hearts, roma tomatoes, smoked bresaola and roasted garlic pesto. Select a few small plates, crack open a bottle of wine and prepare yourself for a deliciously relaxing meal.

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