The Hot Bagel Shop

Hot Bagel Shop is a true hole-in-the-wall, as any good bagel shop should be. New Jersey natives opened the store more than 25 years ago, and it's been pumping out fresh, crisp and perfectly doughy New York-style bagels ever since. Don't expect a lavish dining experience; besides the one or two tables in the parking lot, this counter-service shop is for takeout only. Come here to grab a dozen bagels, ranging from traditional flavors like onion garlic and supreme to bolder choices like jalapeño and banana walnut. Then, pick up a tub of chive cream cheese or the famous lox spread and call it a day. Oh, and we're sure a bagel dog or two couldn't hurt, either.

Finger Licking Bukateria

If you're brand-new to African — or Nigerian, in this case — food, Finger Licking Bukateria is the perfect place to start. The flagship restaurant of Houston's Little Nigeria, FLB is housed in an old Bennigan's, with plenty of room to spread out with friends and get your hands into some fufu and egusi. The helpful waiters will guide you on what to order, and the picture menu is instructive, too. At night, prepare for a scene: DJs spin records in the back and Long Island Iced Teas are on special.

Farrago
Jeff Balke

If you wake up feeling particularly saucy on a Saturday or Sunday morning, then Farrago World Cuisine is the place for you. This trendy fusion restaurant is packed during its famous weekend brunch, serving up a refreshing menu alongside tall glasses of bottomless mimosas. The vibe is Miami-in-the-summertime, with a young, hip crowd that is ready to party as the DJ spins a sexy, sultry mix. Try the green chile-infused posole or the crispy calamari with wasabi dipping sauce to start, and finish the meal off with a hearty sausage-and-spinach-filled breakfast calzone or Farrago's take on huevos rancheros, served over polenta. All the while, you can sip on a seemingly endless amount of fresh orange juice and chilled bubbly.

Barnaby's
Dawn McGee

Barnaby's Cafe is a consistent, healthy and dependable local chain. Whether you are out on a date, need a quick bite before a show or are looking to take out the family without breaking the bank, you will find friendly service and tasty food here. The burrito is one of the best values around. For $10, it's huge, packed with chicken, rice and black beans that can easily feed two hungry adults. Tasty, healthy and cheap is a hard combination to come by these days, but Barnaby's burrito delivers.

13 Celsius Wine Bar
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg

So named for the temperature at which it carefully stores its hoard of wine, 13 Celsius has become the paradigm by which all other wine bars in Houston are judged. The meticulously restored building is a metaphor for the meticulously compiled wine list, which prominently features Old World wines that may have been otherwise snubbed or forgotten by a Napa Cab-heavy modern world. You come to 13 Celsius to experience something fascinatingly old-yet-new or find a subtly exciting new favorite under the friendly guidance of the knowledgeable servers; you don't come here to pick up cougars or guzzle cheap wine by the glass. That said, 13 Celsius is justifiably famous for its half-price Sundays, when it sells all uncorked bottles for 50 percent off.

Huynh
Stephanie Meza

When you're getting ready to go to a concert at Warehouse Live, or fueling to cheer on your Houston Dynamo at the new stadium a few blocks away, you must first have yourself a plate of Huynh's spring rolls. Whether or not you order shrimp, tofu, pork or all of them, you can't do much better than these spring rolls in Houston unless you actually have a real, live Vietnamese grandmother. The whole menu at Huynh is great, too, so make sure to give yourself a good hour for gorging.

Radical Eats

Vegan Mexican food? Why not? Lard makes a lot of things better, but its use is rendered moot here at Staci Davis's all-veggie paradise. Instead, she's perfected a tortilla recipe that features no lard at all — nor are her tamales, enchiladas or tacos laced with the fatty stuff. Instead, she batters and fries avocados and stuffs them into tacos with a creamy, spicy slaw and makes spinach-and-corn tamales that are just as good as the "real" thing, especially paired with cold aguas frescas. Most of her food comes from the garden out back or local farmers, and the cooking is mostly done by volunteers. Sunday brunches are lavish affairs, but are also first-come, first-served — so get there early.

Roost

The epitome of a cozy, welcoming neighborhood bistro, Roost hosts local residents — many of whom walk or ride their bikes — in its comfortable, low-slung dining room while they nosh on whatever weekly specials chef Kevin Naderi has whipped up. Whether it's whole roasted Cornish game hen with grilled lemon and duck confit Lady Creamer peas one night or crispy Galveston by-catch shrimp with masago mayonnaise the next, Naderi's multiethnic food shows off Houston's melting pot of cuisines with a subtle Southern touch, and the selection of local beers is terrific for washing it all down.

Niko Niko's

A Greek restaurant for Texan appetites, Niko Niko's routinely has a line out the door. Thankfully, it moves quickly. Excellent service and awesome food make Niko Niko's a bastion of consistency in the Houston food world. Whether you want falafel, baba ghanoush or a gyro, you can find it all and more at this local landmark. Make sure to eyeball the dessert display before you go, but try not to drool on the glass.

Connie's Seafood
Jeff Balke

What do you get when you mix Connie's spicy bottled michelada sauce and a cold bottle of beer in a frosty beer mug? One of the best-tasting and refreshing micheladas you'll ever have the pleasure of tasting. Often described as a Bloody Mary made with beer, the tomato-ey, spicy michelada is the quintessential everyman's beer cocktail in Mexico and Latin America, where it's typically made with lime, beer, salt and hot sauce. Connie's has taken that recipe, tweaked it and perfected it so that the micheladas there taste just right every time. Fans can even buy a pre-made bottle of michelada base to take home, but drinking a michelada at Connie's, with a fresh fried snapper or a fresh fish platter, is still the way to go.

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