Just "around the corner" from downtown you'll find this unexpected neighborhood gem, which is set in a restored 1903 bungalow. It's where you want to be in the morning, when coffee and pastries are dished out bright and early beginning at 6:30 a.m. (bonus: coffee is free on the first Monday of every month); in the afternoon, when sipping on craft beer, wine and craft cocktails is even cheaper during weekday happy hour and the weekends bring mimosa-fueled brunches; and by night, when specials like Thursday's rib eye steak night bring the heat. Attracted by its views of the city, inviting patio and casually cool interior, locals hit Around the Corner to work, eat, drink and play all day long.

Photo courtesy Pappa Charlie's
That pepper crust looks mighty fine.

If you like your mac and cheese super-ooey, super-gooey and super-cheesy, you're in luck. This EaDo barbecue joint has got the goods you're craving (plus some more goods, like seriously delicious beef ribs, salt-and-pepper-crusted smoked brisket and bacon-wrapped meat loaf, if you're looking for those too). But back to the mac: Pappa Charlies' version is done home-style, with a creamy-as-all-hell, smoke-kissed five-cheese sauce that blankets every nook and cranny of the ridged elbow macaroni. And did we mention you can get it loaded with some of that aforementioned brisket and a drizzle of barbecue sauce? Yeah.

Photo by Troy Fields

Not only was it the only Houston spot to earn a semifinalist nod in the 2016 James Beard Awards' Best New Restaurant category, but Helen Greek Food & Wine was lauded this year as well, with chef William Wright nabbing another semifinalist nod for Rising Chef Star of the Year. Long story short, Helen Greek has some serious street cred. Come here to indulge in Houston's first-ever all-Hellenic wine list, curated by the always masterful Evan Turner; then indulge in Mediterranean fare that will transport you to the mountains and islands of Greece — by way of the Gulf Coast, of course. Share plates of beautifully charred octopus swimming in pickled red onions, capers and thyme oil; feta-brined chicken kissed with spices; fennel-scented mussels in ouzo and white wine; and a build-your-own local pork gyro that'll satisfy at brunch, lunch and dinner.

Photo by Troy Fields

Sure, there may be newer, fancier nachos in town, but as the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." And the nachos at local standby El Tiempo Cantina — which has multiple locations around Houston — definitely ain't broke. Here, hot and freshly fried tortilla chips get the star treatment, each blanketed with gooey cheese, refried beans and a topping of choice, and piled with pickled jalapeño, bright diced tomato and thick sour cream at the plate's center. The only hard part is deciding which topping to go for. Beef, chicken or pork fajitas? Succulent jumbo lump crab? Fiery Diablo shrimp? Spicy filet with bacon and serrano or tender brisket carnitas? Good luck, because each varietal is near addicting.

Photo by Troy Fields

For years, Kiran's has been one of Houston's most beloved Indian restaurants. Now in a new location, it's the best it has ever been. From the moment you step through the gilded golden doors of the new spot in Upper Kirby and are greeted by the hostess, you know you're in for an experience. The welcoming bar area is the perfect stop for an aperitif or happy hour cocktail. The dining room, with its opulent chandeliers and contemporary wall sculpture, is the epitome of refined elegance. Chef-proprietor Kiran Verma's cuisine is as masterful as ever, a loving dedication to the cuisine of her homeland that takes you on a journey through North India with dishes like her popular chicken tikka masala, her beautiful stuffed naans, her always-fun pani poori and delicious saag paneer.

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