Melange Creperie
Jeff Balke

Helmed by crêpe guru Sean Carroll (a.k.a. Buffalo Sean), this reigning champion of the Houston Press's Best Crepes deserves another win. The fan-favorite Parisienne-style crêpe stand launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of going brick-and-mortar earlier this year. Since dreams do come true, the campaign was a smashing success. Soon enough, Houstonians will be able to get their paper-thin, sweet and savory crepes stuffed with everything from the classic banana and Nutella or ham and egg to palak paneer or local fig and goat cheese without standing in the street. It's a win for everyone.

El Real Tex-Mex Cafe

This Montrose haunt — the brainchild of revered chef Bryan Caswell and Texas food authority (and former Houston Press food critic) Robb Walsh — is highly dedicated to authenticity. With a menu focused on "vintage Tex-Mex" (they render fresh lard in-house, y'all), it's no surprise the scratch-made enchiladas are menu standouts. There are more than a handful of varietals, and you'll want to eat your way through them all; but may we suggest you start with the quintessential cheese enchiladas with chile con carne? Add a fried egg and you'll have an intensely sloppy, gravy-smothered meal that will take you back to the good ol' days.

Hubbell & Hudson Bistro
Photo by Troy Fields

Executive Chef Austin Simmons is ambitious. That's not a bad thing for someone responsible for overseeing the menus of three restaurants in The Woodlands. He is tasked with the care of Hubbell & Hudson Bistro and the more casual Hubbell & Hudson Kitchen. However, it's at Hubble & Hudson Cureight, his tasting-menu "bunker" hidden near the bistro kitchen, where the ambition becomes palpable — and delectable. Simmons is determined to make Cureight a destination worth the drive. He really, really wants diners to not just enjoy his food but to be impressed by it. The artful courses — many of them focused on high-end meat selections — are small yet hearty enough not to be deemed too precious. The menu changes regularly depending on what's in season, but expect the likes of hamachi in san bai zu sauce with spherized coconut milk and firm bay scallops awash in dashi with paper-thin jalapeño slices, radish, green apple and tomato. It's only the beginning of a dining experience like no other in The Woodlands, and Simmons is the one making it happen.

Fusion Taco
Photo by Troy Fields

This food truck turned Market Square taco shop makes more than just a laundry list of globally inspired tacos (though we think you should try those sometime). Its overloaded nachos are grade A thanks to chefs and owners David Grossman and Julia Sharaby's commitment to flavor. The kitchen spices up what could be a regular queso with a daily made fiery salsa, ground chipotle peppers and heavy cream (no wonder it's so heavenly). That queso, by the way, dips and peaks through every crevice of the thick, freshly fried corn chips. There's also a generous heap of things like marinated steak, tender pork and seared shrimp before things get really crazy with black beans, fresh corn salsa, pickled jalapeños, and sour cream and guacamole — because at this point, why the hell not?

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

There's an art to excellent service that starts from the minute you walk through the door of an establishment. You are greeted as if you're a regular, treated like the most important person in the room, then led to your dinner table, where the entire meal goes without a hitch — everything so effortless that it's almost as if you weren't served, because the staff acts as a team and anticipates your every wish and need. Water glass half full? It will be filled without the need to ask. Need an extra napkin or want to change your order at the last minute? All it takes is a glance at your server, who is always around whenever you need him or her, but never in an obtrusive, in-your-face or disruptive way. This is what you experience whenever you visit Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. The family-owned restaurant prides itself on offering the best service experience possible, and it shows.

READERS' CHOICE: Tasting Room — CityCentre

Tout Suite
Troy Fields
Tout Suite

This sister cafe to CityCentre's Sweet Bakery is the kind of place you want to hang around all day. Maybe that's because you really can hang around all day. Open from morning till midnight, the sprawling eatery hits that sweet spot between coffee shop, bakery and full-fledged restaurant. Sink into a corner to linger over made-from-scratch pastries and nutty Greenway Coffee cortados; brunch on fried chicken eggs Benny and avocado toast; take down beefy burgers and fresh salads at lunch and dinner; or sneak a late-night snack of local cheeses and rainbow macarons. Whether it's morning, noon or night, Tout Suite has you covered.

Green Seed Vegan

This food truck turned lil' green brick-and-mortar boasts an all-star lineup of plant-based eats and refreshing juices that won't have you missing meat and dairy. Take the "cheesesteak," for example. Beefy portobello mushrooms are earthy and rich, caramelized onions add a wonderful buttery flavor, and vegan cheddar packs a hint of sharpness. Eat it with a side of "cauli nuggets," wash it all down with a fresh-pressed juice and feel good about winning at life.

Quattro

There are Sunday brunches, and then there's the Sunday buffet brunch at Quattro at the Four Seasons Hotel Houston. The luxe affair takes place in Quattro's shiny commercial kitchen, weaving its way into the main dining room so that guests can wander, discover, imbibe and linger. Starting with a pancake station, you might make your way to the custom omelette station, rotisserie chicken station, carving station, seafood station, soup station and mixed salad station. When you're hungry for more, meander over to the sushi bar and ceviche station. If that isn't enough, at the poached egg station you can feast on a 61-degree sous vide egg served in a martini glass, topped with caviar and a blini. Because Quattro is an Italian restaurant, you get a choice of house-made pastas at the pasta station. Finally, when you're ready for something sweet, dessert is waiting in the form of mini cakes and pastries from the pastry chef. All this is amid free-flowing, unlimited mimosas. Best buffet brunch in Houston? Without a doubt.

READERS' CHOICE: Hugo's

Pappas Burger

Yes, you can get Pappas burgers at William P. Hobby Airport these days, but nothing beats the original location on Westheimer, located next to Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. Pappas burgers are made that much more delicious because the burgers are processed next door, so what you get is hand-formed patties made from scraps of fresh-ground dry-aged prime beef. Each half-pound burger — whether you get the original, the cheeseburger or one of Pappas's specialties like the Lucy Juicy (with bacon jam, pimento cheese, grilled onions and an egg over easy) — is heavy and dense, juicy, and ridiculously delicious. The vibe of the joint and the friendly service complete the experience. You order at the counter, then take a seat. There are plenty of spots at the bar counter if you want to grab a quick bite, right in front of the wall of flat-screen TVs. But there are also booths and tables that are family-friendly and comfortable. Order your burger with one of the hand-spun milkshakes, and you're good as gold.

READERS' CHOICE: Hubcap Grill

8th Wonder Brewery

This intergalactic food truck has had quite the history in its five-year life span — it has been a food trailer, an ice cream truck and a duo brick-and-mortar/food-truck operation. Though the owners shut down their Montrose cafe earlier this year, that just means they can focus their culinary chops on their still-truckin' mobile eatery. You'll find the shiny gold food truck parked outside sibling brewery 8th Wonder Brewery on most Thursdays through Sundays, when you can fill up on the Boys' famous Shipley's Glazed & Confused Frozen Awesome (that's Eatsie Boys speak for doughnut ice cream), slow-cooked pork and marinated pork snuggies (i.e., bao), and hand-cut, thrice-cooked fries drenched in all types of good stuff. We'll take these eats any which way they come.

READERS' CHOICE: Bernie's Burger Bus

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