Places right off the freeway often get a bad rap. But if you're stuck in traffic, hungry, and need a quick bite, these five excellent options are located a stone's throw away. Establishments directly off Highway 290 out to Highway 6 are accounted for on this list.
If you can stand some sand in your fried pickles from the little shits playing about, this place is for you. Willie's, located a little ways out, takes family-friendly to an entirely new level with the kid sand pit, but does deliver in the food department. Everything they do, they do well--cheeseburgers, fried mushrooms, grilled chicken. You won't be disappointed. Willie's is a perfect Friday-after-work place, when all you want to do is drink a cold beer and eat fried food.
4. E-Star Chinese Buffet (17440 Northwest Freeway, 713-856-0788)
I love Chinese food--in fact, it's my favorite cuisine. Before I hit my thirties, I routinely frequented buffets. Those days are long gone, but every so often (about once a year), I get that craving to stuff my face with Asian delights. When I do, I head to E-Star. You've never been to E-Star? Think China Border, sans post-meal diarrhea. They've got all the regular pseudo-Chinese dishes you associate with the standard feeding troughs that are buffets. Plus, E-Star has sushi, and it's pretty good sushi--falling somewhere between that rancid mess that sits on a typical buffet, to the good stuff at fine Japanese restaurants.
Red Onion is good, a little overpriced, but very solid food. The margaritas will knock you down a few pegs, but they are delicious, and the options are plentiful. Red Onion is known for taking simple dishes and jazzing them up with cool presentations. I love their chicken pupusas, and don't get me started on what this restaurant does with plantains.
I'll just say it--Houston doesn't have many quality pizza places. There are a few, but given the city's size, there should be more. Russo's, in my humble opinion, is about as good as it gets for Houston pizza. Expect a wait, but the coal-fired pizza makes all the agonizing worth it.
This is the best kolache in Houston. Period. In fact, I can't think of another food in this city with one version so far above its competition. The standard sausage-and-cheese is magnificent, but everything at Olde Towne is magnificent. It's the fresh bread with its hint of sweetness that makes the difference. My favorite of their offerings is the ham, egg, and cheese ranchero kolache. Warning, if you go to Old Towne, you'll never be able to eat at Kolache Factory. Ever. Again. You're ruined, but in a good way.