Last weekend the neighborhood formerly known as Chinatown or Eastside had a coming-out party, and like a confirmed Catholic or a geisha, they celebrated with a new moniker--EaDo, short for East of Downtown. The townhouses have already started arriving, so check out these gems before a developer tears some of them down for a condo tower or a Chili's.
10. Champ Burger 304 Sampson St. Under a shaded patio, dig into the house-specialty steak sandwich, a juicy, greasy mess served up in wax paper, alongside a super-thick, creamy milkshake. Do not attempt to use the truck-stop-ish bathrooms.
9. Kim Son 2001 Jefferson St. There are those who say Kim Son isn't what it once was, but the same is said of every Houston legend. The buffet wins more for its variety than for the quality of the individual dishes, but with hot pot, Chinese barbecue, sushi, crab, crawfish and all manner of pan-Asian dishes, it's hard to complain. The spring rolls and Vietnamese soups are particularly good.
8. Villa Arcos
3009 Navigation Blvd.
The breakfast tacos here made to order and known for their deliciously fatty chucks of bacon. The thick, fresh flour tortillas alone would be worth the trip.
7. Thiem Hung 2108 Pease St. This place is the epitome of an ethnic hole-in-the-wall, but the bahn mi is crazy tasty, with bread fresh from the in-house bakery. Other homestyle Vietnamese classics like pho and vermicelli are delicious too. 6. Not Jus' Donuts 2020 Dowling St. The first thing to know is there are no donuts here, and the second is that the desserts are only available for walk-ins (as opposed to deliveries or order pick-ups) on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It's worth it, though, because the cakes and pies are sweet perfection, with the kind of classic ingredients (read: lots of butter) that Southern grandmas are known for.
5. District 7 Grill 1508 Hutchins St. This place has a large menu with modern American favorites like salads, pastas, muffalettas, flatbread pizzas, and a range of gourmet burgers made from things like Kobe beef, buffalo, teriyaki-marinated mahi mahi and seared Gulf shrimp.
912 St. Emanuel St.
Like many places around here, Huynh isn't much from the outside, but inside the dining room is bright and clean, with Asian touches on an otherwise minimal palette. Among other things, it's famous for the banh uot, satiny, steamed rice-flour wrappers stuffed with dried shrimp or grilled pork and tinged with a honey sweetness.
3. Sparkle's Hamburger Spot
1515 Dowling St.
Served out of a turquoise shack with only a couple picnic tables for seating, Sparkle's burgers are excellent and under $4. The patties are thick, juicy, hand-formed and made to order (it takes about 20 minutes, but you can call ahead). We suggest a visit before a traveling food show makes the lines too long to bear.
2. Original Ninfa's on Navigation 2704 Navigation Blvd. Just to reiterate, this is the one, the only real Ninfa's, where Mama Ninfa served her tacos al carbon and changed the face of Tex-Mex forever. The staff have mostly been here forever, which means both food and service are reliably good.
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1. Calliope's Po-Boy 2130 Jefferson St. The proprietors of this New Orleans-style po-boy joint are post-Katrina transplants. The soft shell crab and the surf and turf (roast beef and fried shrimp) are eat-every-last-crumb delicious, served with plenty of meaty sauce on traditional French bread with thick, honey-glazed sweet potato fries.