Top 10 Restaurants in Upper Kirby

Let's leave aside a second some of the things we hate about the Upper Kirby district -- the bizarre desire to forge a connection with the U.K. based solely on sharing the same initials and installing anachronistic red phone booths on random street corners, the fact that Kirby itself is always a congested mess, and the deforestation of the main thoroughfare to make room for the enormous SUVs that the overprivileged residents drive -- and focus on what we do like about it: the restaurants.

While a vast majority of the restaurants in the area are chains, there are some wonderful independent Houston restaurants in the mix, too. And while many of the restaurants are some variation on plain Jane American food -- not that there's anything wrong with that; please don't send us to a Fox News reeducation camp -- there's a good variety of ethnic restaurants for the adventurous.

10. House of Pies, 3112 Kirby

House of Pies might not be serving any groundbreaking cuisine, but it does two things incredibly well: tater tots (which they call "cottage fries") and pie. And at 2 o'clock in the morning -- which is absolutely when you're eating there; don't lie -- those two items eclipse all others in terms of importance. We recommend the Bayou Goo pie (seen above) and not pissing off your waitress in your possibly inebriated state. Oh, and leave a good tip -- you'd want one, too, after babysitting a group of drunk college students for a large portion of your evening.

9. 59 Diner, 3801 Farnham

Diners seem to be omnipresent in the Upper Kirby district, but 59 Diner stands out as a timeless relic of days when the Fonz sported a leather jacket and a pompadour, and your parents were still married. The diner has several other locations now -- several of them also 24/7 joints, just like the House of Pies -- but the original is still the best. It claims to serve the best milkshakes in town, and we don't disagree. A thick butterscotch malt from here changed our lives; it might just change yours too.

8. Hobbit Cafe, 2243 Richmond

Hobbit Cafe isn't just for vegetarians or Tolkien fans anymore. With one of the best patios in Houston (if you can successfully navigate the pothole-ridden parking lot, which is easily the worst in town) and a menu that contains enough meat to satisfy any carnivore, there's something for everyone here. Our favorite is still the Thorin Oakenshield, however: a tabouli sandwich with mushrooms and melted cheese.

7. Crescent City Beignets, 3260 Westheimer

Even better late-night dining than House of Pies or 59 Diner can be found at this little beignet shop across from Lamar High School. Although these aren't the best beignets in the world, they're as close to Cafe Du Monde as it gets -- just remember not to breathe in or out while you're taking a bite. And make sure to grab some of Crescent City's delicious cafe au lait to go along with your sweet pastries.

6. Dessert Gallery, 3600 Kirby

Whether you're in the market for a solid sandwich or sweet treats, Dessert Gallery has the hook-up for you. We might be just a little biased since it's owned and operated by a native Houstonian and a woman -- the latter of which is a rarity in the restaurant industry -- but the food backs up our love. We should probably branch out from just getting the Calypso Chicken sandwich when we go, but the curried chicken with golden raisins, green onions and toasted pecans never fails to hit the spot.

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Katharine Shilcutt