BB's Cafe
Photo by Houston Press Staff

With ten different kinds of overstuffed po-boys and one of the best and boldest crawfish boils in town, this Cajun hot spot never fails to pack a punch of Louisiana flavor. There is, of course, a Texas twist, making this breed of Cajun cuisine uniquely Houston. Get spiced and crispy cornmeal-battered Gulf Coast oysters by the pound alongside Maw Maw's dark and rich gumbo, not to mention buttery shrimp and grits. There's also a pile of fries you'll be dreaming about for days to come. The thin, crunchy frites are topped with savory brown gravy and shavings of tender roast beef before being drenched in a subtly spicy chile con queso. Oh, and don't forget the jambalaya- and boudin-loaded breakfast burritos, too. As we said, Cajun with a Texan twist.

Boomtown Coffee
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

Owner Matt Toomey sources and roasts his own beans at Boomtown Coffee, and it definitely makes the difference. The house espresso blend, The Spindletop, is a slightly bitter and sweet brew excellent as simple drip coffee or blended with warm milk and sugar. Standard cappuccinos, cortados, flat whites and lattes are perfectly executed; iced mocha toddies are refreshing and sweet, the finely ground beans having been steeped in cold water for nearly half a day. Spend any morning sipping the creaminess and richness of a salted caramel latte paired with a flaky, buttery croissant.

Melange Creperie
Jeff Balke

Walk up to this crepe stand at the corner of Westheimer and Taft (Friday to Sunday) for a sweet or savory crepe made by the ever-entertaining Buffalo Sean. Choose a breakfast crepe filled with ham, egg and cheddar cheese for a Saturday morning breakfast, or opt for a sweet combination of strawberry, vanilla crème fraîche and Everything Granola from Sinfull Bakery for a Sunday afternoon pick-me-up. If he happens to run out of ingredients, it's no problem at all, Buffalo Sean will create a tasty combination with the remaining items. Each thin crepe is evenly stuffed, then folded so you can hold it in your hands and eat it on the go.

Christy's Donuts
Dawn McGee

After being in operation for so many years, Christy's Donuts is a Montrose neighborhood classic that has become a household name. There's always bound to be a line out the door, a sure-tell sign that you're at the right place. If you're a bit late to work, invest in a dozen fried and glazed doughnuts (plus some extra courtesy doughnut holes), because there's no way you can get in trouble with your boss, especially if you throw in some devil's food cake doughnuts. They're only $6 a dozen, so you might feel inclined to purchase another box.

Figs and goat cheese make one heck of a combination.
Photo courtesy of Macaron by Patisse
Figs and goat cheese make one heck of a combination.

Sukaina Rajani, co-owner of Macaron by Patisse, sells more than 20 flavors in her glamorous River Oaks store. Her beautiful display case features classic and simple flavors such as pistachio, vanilla, chocolate and rose as well as more exotic ones such as lavender with white chocolate, chai spice, and fig and goat cheese, one of her most popular options. As you bite into this sweet French cookie, you'll taste the bright and fruity fig, then as you chew the smooth filling, you'll discover the savory cheese; it's a daring and successful combination that showcases Rajani's pastry skills.

Kolache Factory

The Kolache Factory is a Texas (and Houston) staple. With multiple locations around the city, you can fill up a box with sweet, fruit-filled kolaches, spicy jalapeño poppers, and, of course, the classic sausage, egg and cheese. The exotic and out-of-the-box fillings wouldn't be anything without the soft and hearty dough wrapped around the stuffing. Each bite has the perfect ratio of bread to filling, and the first bite (no matter which flavor you choose) is always the best as you break through the shell and discover the hidden treasure on the inside.

Way Good Food Truck
Photo by Molly Dunn

One of the most disappointing aspects of eating nachos is getting to the bottom and realizing all you're left with is chips and a little bit of queso. You might get lucky and have a jalapeño slide through the cracks, but the rest of the good stuff is all gone. That's not the case with the brisket nachos at Way Good Food Truck, situated outside West Alabama Ice House. The cheesy, meaty chips and queso are loaded with tender, juicy, salty, thin strips of brisket; pinto beans; sour cream; guacamole; and spicy jalapeños. Each golden oil-fried chip is thick enough to scoop up a giant bite with all the works. And by the time you get to your last one, there's enough of everything to make a satisfying last bite.

Americas Restaurant
Photo by Houston Press Staff

Set in the heart of River Oaks, the flagship for the Cordúa family of restaurants is its brightest-shining star. Though the menu is still dominated by the signature, much-imitated churrasco steak, executive chef David Cordúa also has introduced fun and approachable items, such as deep-fried empanadas, ceviches in a rainbow of fish selections (including salmon, tuna and tilapia), and taquitos topped with beef tenderloin confit. A rose spud salad, made of a crispy potato-chip-like sheet shaped into a rose, is as visually exciting as it is delicious. Hearty paellas, a Cordúa family favorite, come topped with sprinkles of deeply flavorful, crispy Spanish chorizo rice. Edgy cocktails from beverage director James Watkins complement the experience, and the signature desserts, such as the famous tres leches, never get old.

This is "moist" brisket at Killen's Barbecue.
Photo by Mai Pham
This is "moist" brisket at Killen's Barbecue.

Get ready to stand in line if you plan on stuffing your face with brisket, ribs and sausage at Killen's Barbecue. Ronnie Killen's Pearland BBQ restaurant draws crowds each and every day, and with one bite of the tender, moist, black-crusted brisket, you'll know why. Some describe it as food porn because it oozes with savory juice. Throw in a side of classic baked beans and potato salad, and don't forget to top it all off with banana pudding for dessert. Just make sure to be in line early, because once all the 'cue is gone, it's gone.

Kata Robata Sushi & Grill

You could visit Kata Robata every single night and get a different tasting menu. That's the beauty of a Japanese omakase, which, translated, means "trust chef." Available by reservation at the sushi bar and varying between eight to 12 courses on a given night, the omakase experience with executive chef Manabu Horiuchi (Hori-san) is one of the best culinary rides in Houston. Each course represents the very best of what's available that night. It might kick off with a duo of fresh kumamoto oysters, one topped with uni, another with a classic mignonette. To follow, you'll taste a few creative sashimi appetizers before getting something hot from the kitchen, like a 72-hour Wagyu beef preparation topped with foie gras. Then Hori-san might serve you a selection of the best sushi of the night: o-toro, anago, amaebi, hamachi and live hotate. The tasting menus start off easy, building up to heartier dishes like his famous uni chawanmushi or a charred snapper collar, before ending on a sweet note with one of the house's desserts. And seriously, it's awesome every time.

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