It's a little bit insane to try and narrow down all of the food options in the Montrose area to a "top 10." This list, as with all others, is personal and also imperfect. Such an exercise will surely lead to impassioned protests of "How could you be so stupid as to have missed _____?" and insults of our intelligence, ability to read, taste, judgment, mothers, etc. But wait -- readers regularly insult those things anyway. So let's proceed.
Honorable Mention: Anvil (1424 Westheimer)
Bring on the hate, because Anvil just started serving brunch, and it's really damn good. It's also really reasonably priced. At our recent visit, a trio of cocktail-inspired muffins ($3 for three standard-size muffins) were warm and light, the breakfast pizza satisfying and enough for two people ($9), and the coffee cocktails by David Buehrer creative and delicious (try the Occam's Razor, with tequila, crème de cacao, cream, habanero tincture and mint). Turns out Anvil is really quite beautiful by the light of uncrowded day, and their brunch is an affordable way to enjoy it.
10. Rudyard's British Pub (2010 Waugh Dr.)
If you feel the need to protest "but it's a bar!" consider two things: It's a pub, and an easy choice for late-night food in the 'Trose. Sometimes you don't want fancy. Sometimes you're drunk and you want an authentically greasy hamburger or some towering nachos and a little darkness and dinginess.
Rudz is just such a place, where you can eat, drink beer, hang with your friends and maybe listen to a little music. Polish off one of Juan's Especial Pizzas -- toppings change daily, but they're always good.
9. Brasil (2604 Dunlavy St.)
Okay, service can be a bit brusque, but Brasil is still one of our favorite spots for a low-key meeting, as it serves both coffee-bean and alcoholic drinks and features lovely outdoor seating in both front and back. Salads here are original but not gimmicky, like the breakfast quinoa and Brasil Caesar, and plenty of meatless options makes Brasil very vegetarian-friendly. Daily specials are also a good bet; we've had a killer Frito pie here before, served right inside the chip bag, the way God intended.
8. Nippon (4464 Montrose)
Their rolls may not be particularly sexy, but Nippon delivers when you're in the neighborhood and craving sushi. The fish is always fresh, and the restaurant's long counter is a good spot for a solo bento box lunch. Parking may be a pain, but Nippon's value makes up for it.
7. Canopy (3939 Montrose)
This new spot from the folks who run Shade in The Heights is very young, but it has quickly become a go-to Montrose spot. The restaurant's airy dining room is so green and light, it's easy to forget that you're sitting on one of Houston's busiest streets. And the food? Sophisticated but not pretentious. Canopy's Eggs Benedict (served with a chipotle hollandaise) and Buttermilk Fried Pork Loin (served with a very good mac-and-cheese) seem to have won over the Montrose brunch crowd, but we also find it a wonderful place to meet friends for dessert - try the towering Lemon Icebox Pie or a scoop of White Russian ice cream.
6. Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen (4611 Montrose Blvd.)
It's a downright rarity for a Texas kitchen to serve up gumbo that's passable to a Louisiana native, but Danton's is the place for it here in town. With other classics like stuffed redfish, etouffee, and po' boys, this seafood spot combines a laid-back vibe with authentic recreations of New Orleans favorites. Fresh oysters and boiled crawfish are also available when in season, and unlike many Montrose restaurants, this one has plenty of non-valet parking.
5. Mark's (1658 Westheimer)
Often considered only a "special occasion" restaurant with an overly schmancy crowd, the truth is that the food at Mark's is still good. The crowd is rather schmancy, and the service orbits around its expectations, but Mark's renovated church interior is a beautiful place to enjoy beautifully prepared food built with big, impressive flavors. It's fussy and a little old-school, but it's a Houston institution. Plus, the wine cellar is slammin'.
4. Feast (219 Westheimer)
Bottom line: absurdly generous proportions, charming creaky floorboards, food options ranging from comforting to adventurous, friendly chefs and staff, ethically sourced meat, and delicious dishes that are hard to find anywhere else in Houston. Go in and order yourself a Pimm's and peruse the changes-daily menu -- we promise you won't leave hungry.
3. Vinoteca Poscol (1609 Westheimer)
If you ask some of Houston's food industry folks (chefs, critics, cooks) where they like to eat on their days off, Poscol is an oft-given answer. This newest of Marco Wiles's endeavors finds a home in a nondescript shopping center on Westheimer close to its two sibling restaurants, Da Marco and Dolce Vita (both of which were also considered for this list). Poscol is a thoroughly Italian experience, featuring a completely Italian wine list, house-cured meats, thoughtfully selected cheeses, and share-able plates ranging from tiny fritters of shrimp and zucchini to celery root and horseradish salad. It's perfect for a date night or evening of shared plates with friends. Don't miss the risottos or sweet fried zeppole for dessert.
2. Indika (516 Westheimer)
After a meal at Indika, you might not be able to remember the names of the dishes you ate or even describe them accurately, but you will have strong taste memories and you will want to go back. Anita Jaisinghani's lofty, richly-hued Westheimer restaurant features what she calls "progressive" Indian food, which means that you won't find red-food-coloring-added tandoori chicken here. What you might find instead, depending upon the season, is a tandoori quail starter stuffed with pine nuts, or decidedly untraditional but delicious crabmeat samosas. Indika also features lovely signature cocktails, like the pomegranate-ginger Anarkali, and a steal of a brunch: an all-inclusive Sunday feast for $25.
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1. Hugo's (1602 Westheimer)
Hugo's is one of the best restaurants not just in Montrose, but in Houston period. With regionally authentic versions of cabrito and mole negro, polished incarnations of traditional Mexican street tacos, and a new dedicated vegetarian menu, Hugo's food is enough to make the dining experience a delight. Add warm, attentive service, a lovely dining room, and some of the best margaritas in town, and it becomes clear why Hugo's is such a gem. If the full dinner service is a bit out of your budget, head over during happy hour, when you can pick up $5 cocktails and some amazing bar food, like the refritos, squash and corn huarachito, cochinita pibil tacos, and citrusy pulpo, cebiche, or campechana.
If you enjoyed this Top 10 list, check out our other restaurant roundups:
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