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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

You can stop by for a tour and weekday lunch with fresh-tapped brews, or spend your Saturday afternoon lounging in the beer hall playing board games, eating lunch and, of course, drinking beers. Or you can have one crazy week and do both. Tours are held at 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and every hour from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Consider yourself lucky if founder Brock Wagner leads your group through the brewery, because he's overflowing with unique facts about Saint Arnold Brewing Company. There's a reason this beer hall is constantly packed. Houstonians can't get enough of the craft brews, whether it's the hoppy Elissa IPA, the malty Amber Ale, or the dark and black Santo.

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