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?

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

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.

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.

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.


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.


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

The Viet-Cajun crawfish craze is as strong as ever in Houston, with many of the popular joints competing each year to get on the top lists. At the top of the pack this year? Cajun Kitchen. Not only is the quality top-notch (bigger, consistently good-size crawfish), but beyond the Cajun boil are Vietnamese flavors that coat the crawfish. Cajun Kitchen's "Kitchen Special," a wok-sautéed blend of butter, garlic, oranges and other spices, is supremely addictive. Its Thai Basil is still one of the most innovative flavors out there, and the Garlic Butter — the core of Viet-Cajun crawfish — comes heaped with mounds of garlic on top. Eating Cajun Kitchen's crawfish is a delight, from the sweetness of the tail to the flavor that you can slurp off the shell. So great is Cajun Kitchen's crawfish, in fact, that the restaurant was chosen by chef Paul Qui as the place to spotlight in Anthony Bourdain's critically acclaimed PBS Series The Mind of a Chef.


When it comes to fajitas, the choices in Houston are abundant, but at the end of the day, the all-time winner for consistency and plain old deliciousness all around is, and always will be, The Original Ninfa's on Navigation. It's the reason why, at any given moment, Mama Ninfa's original location continues to bustle and thrive. Chef Alex Padilla does a great job making sure that each sizzling plate comes out perfect. The Hereford outside skirt steak is tender and tasty. Combine this with caramelized onions and your choice of guacamole, sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo, and charro or refried beans, and what you have are fajitas as they were meant to be eaten, old school and without question fantastic.

When you want a good Indian food experience in Houston, you head to the Little India area off Hillcroft. When you want a superlative Indian food experience, you head to Kiran's, whose chef and owner is Kiran Verma. It's there that you'll experience Indian food on par with the best in the world. Londoners will fly into Houston and head straight to Kiran's for a meal steeped in tradition and cooked with heart. Service is unparalleled, and somewhat formal, in a good way. Waiters sport vests and pressed white shirts, zig-zagging across the room carrying trays laden with the day's bounty. That's the great thing about Kiran's; her menu is vast. You could order just appetizers, like the fun pani poori, small pastry shells filled with nuts and fruit and spicy broth, a flavor and texture bomb. You could go traditional and order tandoori chicken, curries and staples such as chicken tikka masala or saag paneer. There's an entire vegetarian menu from which to choose. The house-made breads — from the chickpea papadum crackers to the naan breads, which you can have stuffed with ingredients such as mint chutney or garlic, are superb. In fact, Kiran's is excellent right down to the mango mousse dessert, creamy yet light as air and much like the restaurant itself — simply fantastic.

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