Fielding's Wood Grill
Photo by Molly Dunn

Fielding's Wood Grill functions well as a neighborhood hangout thanks to supplying many of the dishes that people most crave: burgers, fries and milkshakes. It's much more than just a burger joint, though. The bistro options include rotisserie chicken, reasonably priced steaks and inventive sandwiches, such as lamb seasoned with harissa and served with garlic yogurt, spicy chickpeas and pickled red onion. An emphasis on quality ingredients pervades the menu, and the fine cocktail program doesn't hurt one bit.

Despite the lumps and bumps caused by a wrongheaded renaming of Houston's Restaurant to Hillstone then back again, both the Kirby and Westheimer locations have been steadfast gems in our city's dining scene. Among the well-executed dishes are the salads, the best being the seared ahi tuna, which combines rare, ruby-colored slabs of tuna given a perfect sear with sweet golden chunks of mango, creamy avocado and mixed greens. The cilantro-ginger vinaigrette is so good and balanced between tart, spicy and sweet that diners might do well to order extra on the side. There's a reason this has been a standard menu item for more than 20 years.

READERS' CHOICE: Barnaby's Cafe

Quattro

Quattro, with its lovely views of downtown, has always managed to strike a balance between being a fine hotel restaurant and an Italian restaurant. It does so in a classy, quiet way — no kitschy red-checkered tablecloths or in-your-face Italian folk music blaring overhead. However, when a dish of chef Maurizio Ferrarese's risotto hits the table, diners might very well hear some classic Italian love songs in their heads. The Risotto e Tonno is a gorgeous dish the color of spring green thanks to the additions of asparagus and baby spinach. On top are slices of rare tuna. There's often also a second, seasonal risotto for diners to consider.

Karbach Brewing Co.

Gone are the ramshackle biergarten and shoddy-looking taproom, and in their place lies a sparkling brewery complete with a renovated patio and brand-spanking-new full-service restaurant. With Karbach's monster roster of suds ranging from the dry-hopped Hopadillo to the bright and citrusy Weekend Warrior, it comes as no surprise that the five-year-old brewery is one of the fastest-growing in Texas. Visit the new biergarten for tours and tastings and be sure to stop by the restaurant to share plates of Korean fried chicken, pimento mac and cheese, and Weisse Versa-battered fish and chips.

READERS' CHOICE: Karbach Brewing Company

After serving in the Air Force and then spending a decade in finance, Jody Stevens followed her dream of starting her own cake business. Now she fills orders for birthdays and weddings and even takes vegan and gluten-free requests. The cakes are invariably luscious, well-made crowd-pleasers, with creamy, natural-tasting frostings that are never excessively sweet. Just a few of the flavors include carrot, chocolate with hazelnut frosting, red velvet and strawberry-chocolate-caramel. In the past Stevens didn't have a retail outlet, but now you can taste a slice of Jodycakes heaven by visiting Southern Goods. Who's ready for dessert?

La Fisheria
Courtesy of La Fisheria

With a new, more visible location downtown, it feels like La Fisheria's focus is solidly on seafood quality. That means all the ceviches are excellent. There's the Natural, with fish brined in lime juice and accented with cucumber and avocado; the Enclamatado, with fish and shrimp in tomato, clam and lime juice; and the Verde, with chunks of snapper in tomatillo sauce and Seville orange juice. Best of all, the restaurant offers a trio so all of these can be tried at the same time.

Cooking Girl
Photo by Troy Fields

Looking for a casual, Chinese restaurant with spicy Szechuan cuisine and a friendly environment? Look no further than Cooking Girl, which feels like someone picked up a Chinatown restaurant and dropped it into Montrose. Dishes like Super Cubic!, with cubes of beef fried with lots of spicy dried peppers, and silky Mabo Tofu will stay on diners' minds long after the meal. As a bonus, Cooking Girl is BYOB with a nominal corkage fee. Bring a good lager or demi-sec Riesling; either would go wonderfully well with the spicy cuisine.

READERS' CHOICE: Fung's Kitchen

Morningstar
Photo by Troy Fields

With David Buehrer and Ecky Prabanto, the owners of Greenway Coffee and Blacksmith, behind Morningstar's coffee program, it was simply expected that the coffee and espresso at this Heights spot would be excellent. They source interesting beans directly from small growers around the world, and the roast levels are adjusted to get the best flavor from each particular batch. Morningstar, though, also has a bunch of unexpected offerings that really push it over the top as a full-service coffee shop. There is a focus on matcha tea like nowhere else in town, as well as savory lunch and breakfast items. As icing on the cake, Morningstar's co-owner is Sam Phan of Donald's Donuts, so there are also intriguing doughnuts with toppings ranging from cherry and cacao nibs to honey and housemade sprinkles. Yes, they make their own sprinkles.

READERS' CHOICE: Blacksmith

Tucked away between Le Mistral French Restaurant and Rouge Wine Bar, Foody's Gourmet is the type of French boulangerie and pâtisserie you might find in Paris. When you walk in, you are assailed by the warmth and aromas of French bread baked fresh that morning. Baskets of tall, thin baguettes line the counter. Shelves of hard to find artisanal breads such as the pain couronne (a ring-shaped bread), pain marguerite (a flower-shaped bread with individual boules you can rip apart), and pain d'épi (bread shaped like a wheat stalk) are simply beautiful. The selection of brioche and perfectly formed croissants are decidedly divine. Add a mouthwatering selection of pastries — everything from simple éclairs to colorful fresh fruit tarts and rainbow-hued French macarons — and you're in undeniable Foody heaven.

READERS' CHOICE: Three Brothers Bakery

Revival Market

When it comes to charcuterie, Revival Market's game is about as good as it gets. The entire ethos of the market, breakfast and lunch spot was founded on the ideals of locavore sustainability. The meat case is a thing of beauty — all the contents are made from antibiotic-free and pasture-raised heritage breed pig or Texas-raised cattle that is butchered and then smoked, cured or prepared in-house. From bresaola to coppa, prosciutto to whiskey pâté, headcheese to salami, lardo to sausage — take your pick, take it home and enjoy.

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