The 10 Most Underrated Restaurants in Houston (According to You)

Last week, we asked you to share your comments with us about Houston's most underrated restaurant. In the second of a two-part question about overrated and underrated restaurants thorughout the city, you weren't any shyer with your comments than you were when we asked about overrated restaurants. With 125 comments (just a few shy of the overrated restaurants post), you were eager to share your experiences with restaurants you felt had been overlooked by critics or the general dining crowd at large.

The underrated restaurants chosen by our commenters are worth thoughtfully perusing the next time you're trying to decide where to eat. Many are outside of the Loop (and outside of the "second Loop," for that matter) and range from high-quality but oddly-located ethnic restaurants such as Pho Binh and Asia Market to high-end but overlooked restaurants such as Voice and Chez Nous.

As with the overrated restaurants results, one restaurant stood out above all the others when it came to being underrated. Which one was it? Find out, as we take you through the Top Ten Underrated Restaurants in Houston.

Note: Several restaurants tied for the 8th and 9th spots on the list.

10. Beaver's Ice House (2310 Decatur): Believe it or not, this love-it-or-hate it restaurant was the only restaurant to make both the underrated and overrated lists.

Commenter Eric remarked: "Best BBQ in Houston? Maybe not, but it's gotten way better since JJ took the helm. His daily specials are always intriguing, especially whatever raw fish preparation he's got on the menu that day. Also, they have one of Houston's most-knowledgeable, friendliest bar staff. Even if you aren't into mixed drinks, the bar maintains a consistently intriguing selection of Texas beers in bottles and on draft. A couple that has a couple of drinks, splits an app, has a couple entrees and splits a dessert (sometime special peach bread is to die for) gets out for $60-70 with tax and tip. Not bad compared to some of the other places JJ has worked, and a lot more satisfying for the money than fajitas for 2 and 2 margaritas each at a place like El Tiempo."

9. Tied for this spot were Backstreet Cafe (1103 S. Shepherd) and New York Bagel Shop & Deli (9724 Hillcroft), two American resturants that specialize in breakfast, but are on decidedly different ends of the dining spectrum.

Commenter Donald said of Backstreet: "I've never had a bad meal here. Still one of the cities best wine lists. Servers actually seem to enjoy waiting on you." And commenter Evan said of New York Bagel: "New York Bagel and Coffee Shop on Hillcroft has the best bagels I have ever had. Even better than NYC bagels." 

8. Tied for this spot were Empire Turkish Grill (12448 Memorial Drive), Nidda Thai (1226 Westheimer) and Ginza Sushi (5868 San Felipe), an interesting mix of ethnic cuisines. Ethnic food was well-represented on the underrated list -- no surprise given the depth and breadth of high-quality ethnic food to be found in and around Houston.

Commenter LovetoeatoutinHtown said of Ginza: "I think the location keeps people away, but I have had sushi at every place that Houston has to offer and I still dream of this place!" And commenter Mary said of Empire: "Empire Turkish Grill on Memorial has really fantastic food and a decent, well priced wine selection. I never see it mentioned in reviews."

7. Istanbul Grill and Deli (5613 Morningside): Marking the second Turkish grill to make the list, it seems Houstonians are highly fond of this cross-section of Mediterranean food. This Rice Village restaurant is slightly hidden behind a canopy of trees, making it an excellent al fresco experience, especially in cooler months.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Katharine Shilcutt