Houston is an outstandingfoodcity.Drop in for a weekend and you'll find high-end fancy restaurants, the perfect date night, the perfect celebration spot, neighborhood establishments that'll beat other cities' neighborhood establishments in a fight, and so many jewels tucked into every crevice of this wild, lawless maze of concrete. I've been here for three years, and I swear I haven't even scratched the surface.
It's a food city. We have to keep that up. Please keep that up. Visit your favorite restaurants, please, and try new ones too. Get takeout. Go to your local farmers market. Go to a farm once in a while. Get to know a bartender somewhere in Houston because, I swear, your eating and drinking knowledge will improve substantially.
Eat, and eat well. Here's a good start—these are my favorite restaurants in Houston. I've split them into two lists of 10—the first capturing the spots I'll visit again and again for one reason or another (think of these as my essential restaurants), and the second capturing my absolute, locked-down top 10, at least as of July 1, 2021.
After July 1, 2021? I guess you'll just have to find me and ask me.
Good eating, Houston. This has been a freaking blast.
Timothy Malcolm's 10 Essentials
Better Luck Tomorrow
I'll cheat for a second: The Cold-Fashioned, a drink, is the main reason I go to Better Luck, but ultimately I'm a big fan of the Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel partnership, and this nails the casual side of that connection.If the slightly more formal Penny Quarter had survived the worst of the pandemic, then I would've probably put it on this list too. But, man, give me the Party Melt for lunch, or maybe some sproutsfor snack time. I did the fried chicken once, and you should do it some time too.
More bar/food: Anvil Bar & Refuge, The Hay Merchant, Eight Row Flint, Space Cowboy, Monkey's Tail
Blood Bros. BBQ
Let's be real: It's impossible to pick barbecue places. I like Truth BBQ for brisket, Burns Original BBQ for pork ribs, the Pit Room for sausage, and Feges BBQ for sides. I like Pinkerton's for all of it plus the drinks. I like Tejas Chocolate & BBQ for all of it ... if I want to travel a little. I like Brett's BBQ Shop whenever he does just about anything. Roegels is the pig boss who also makes a damn good brisket. Blood Bros.? They do it all pretty darn well, especially that macaroni and cheese, and especially those ribs, and especially whatever crazy special they cook up. Also, they're relatively local to me, and sometimes that alone is worth the endorsement.
More BBQ: Everything above
This is a great neighborhood restaurant. Bring some friends to share entrées like shrimp and grits (arguably my favorite in the city), duck breast, and a top-shelf fried chicken. The turkey club here slaps, and the Thai chili ribs are a lot of fun. Elliot Roddy brings excitement and care into this small space; I'd love to see what he could do with a big platform.
More neighborhood:Tiny Champions, Candente, Savoir, Mein, Tiny Boxwoods, Backstreet Cafe
Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
If I want pasta, this is where I'm going. That's it. Just about everything is made in house, like that pappardelle ai funghi e gorgonzola,which is among my last-meal choices. Or maybe I want the imported orecchiette giorgione last ... or possibly thespaghetti alla carbonara. Choosing a dish at Giacomo's is like choosing a favorite kid. Can't do it ... but you've been asked ...
More best of their craft:Afrikiko, Golden Dumpling House, The ToreOre, Blue Nile
Part of me wants to see what Kaiser Lashkari's food looks like in a spacious, airy dining room with a patio. Most of me doesn't, though, because then you lose a lot of what makes Himalaya special. Himalaya reminds me of my favorite ever meal, when the owner of Alekos, a locals-mostly restaurant in Crete, Greece, just kept sending out incredible dishes without a menu. Like at Alekos, I don't mind putting full trust in Lashkari to deliver me the most flavorful representations of what he does best, South Asian food. And it has to happen in that tiny place with full tables and lots of chatter. Also, have you had that fried chicken?
More foodie jewels: Siu Lap City, Sofrito (when it opens again), Street to Kitchen
I've had enough standout dishes at Hu's Cooking to write a book about. Some musts: beef in garlic sauce with buns, sweet-skinned duck, popcorn chicken with veggies, three cups tofu, spicy shabu-shabu lamb with spearmint, shrimp fried rice, sliced beef in Szechuan hot chili oil. I love the casual, but buzzy dining room set against the restaurant's precision service. It's fun. I love fun.
More fun restaurants: Kokoro, Shun Japanese Kitchen
Once every few months I just want to get a table outside, order the migas (in my opinion, the greatest breakfast dish ever), and have my cup of coffee refilled about seven times. That's bliss, baby.
More breakfast: Yale Street Diner, EggHaus,New York Deli & Coffee Shop
For my birthday I went to La Lucha, sat on the patio, drank a beer, and ate a dozen oysters and fries with that insanely good smoked oyster mayo. That's all I need. Of course, La Lucha also has awesome fried chicken, a great burger, deviled eggs, that stupidly delicious crawfish bread, and many more treats. Paradise.
More seafood: Margaux's Oyster Bar, Crawfish & Noodles, 1751 Sea & Bar
If on a Saturday morning we're all awake and feeling good and hungry, and we can make the drive over, we'll get to Lankford. Why? Lankford has the best two-egg breakfast in the city, plus Saturday is when you get biscuits and gravy. What a gem. Great breakfasts and a fun-lunch vibe with those big burgers and lots of space for the whole family. This is where I'll take the kids every time.
More family-friendly: Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Beer Garden & Restaurant, Watershed, Cottonwood
Tamales Don Pepe
Did I move to Westbury to get closer to Tamales Don Pepe? Hard to say. But seriously, Tamales Don Pepe has great breakfast options (the tacos are first rate) and makes killer tamales. Anything with corn is a must. It's small, it's friendly, and it epitomizes what makes Houston food awesome in that you can drive just a few minutes and find another spot you'll want to be near forever.
More cool finds: Tres, Gangnam Style Restaurant, Asia Market Thai Lao Food, Safari Restaurant
Timothy Malcolm's 10 Best Restaurants in Houston
Honorable mentions: Theodore Rex, Mastrantos, Xochi, UB Preserv, Tris, Tony's, Indigo (which would probably be on the list if it wasn't closing and had seats left to nab)
It's a great date night, a great random weeknight visit, a great friend spot—it hits all the marks.Go for the butter burgers and mushroom empanadas, the crawfish rolls and the caviar tots. Keep it casual or go bigger than big—the choice is yours.
9. Georgia James
Sit in the center ofChris Shepherd's ultimatedining room, and you'll get it. Or sit at the bar—you'll get it there too. It isn't just the long bone ribeye and the Baller Board, either. You can get a drink (whiskey base, preferably) and charcuterie and have a ball. You'll be singing along quietly to the music, maybe chatting with someone at the table next to you, and pondering whether you really want to splurge on some wet-aged steak (you should, and I love the zabuton).
My favorite meal growing up was fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and buttermilk biscuits. I was raised on meaty pasta dishes, TV dinners, and Friday night pizza, so I'm not sure why I gravitated toward Southern home cooking, but nevertheless, here I am in Houston. Lucille's is the best of my favorite childhood meal. I love the fried green tomatoes, I love the catfish and grits, and man, do I love that yardbird. The dining room straddles the line of super casual and "I probably should put on a nice shirt," and that's the kind of dining room I'll visit all the time.
7. Kata Robata
Here's why Kata rules: You can build your own experience. If I want a maki roll for lunch, I can get the Toro & Ikura (tuna, shiso, ikura). If I want ramen, there's the irresistible lobster and crab ramen. I can go with 24-hour sous vide pork belly or a melt-in-your-mouth wagyu katsu sando, or maybe I want whimsy and the miso lobster mac and cheese. Big dinner? Yes. Omakase? Sure. The dining room is cool and always abuzz, and chef Manabu Horiuchi has more ideas than I've had dinners in my life. Go every few months—I demand of you.
I will always root for the little guy—the husband and wife who are parents and have a dream to make seriously delicious food and awesome drinks for all of their new friends. Martin Stayer makes some of the happiest food in town, like the dilly bread, the crispy chickpeas, and the brie plate (always the brie plate). I trust Stayer's ever-changingmenu, I trust the fantastic wine list, and I trust Sarah Troxell and team to make me a damn good cocktail. Oh, yes, the pies kick butt.
March represents something Houston needed badly: A restaurant that's going to cost a pretty penny because it is pretty as can be, with execution to match. If you have the means, make a reservation so you cansip house vermouth in the lounge andstudy Felipe Riccio's fantasticallycomposed plates like tuna ventresca and beef ribwith supple beet pave.The service is second to none. The wine list is something to behold (just ask them for recommendations). It's a night you won't soon forget.
I've written a lot about Bludorn. Look, the service is wonderful, the lobster pot pie is absolutely something you should get, I'd trust anything Aaron Bludorn does but especially quail and chicken, and you can get full just eating all of the oysters. Just go and enjoy the evening.
3. Nancy's Hustle
Every time I've had Nancy's I've been transported to some random night in New York City. There was the night with my wife at the pass, the first time I ate those Nancy cakes but fell even harder for the lamb dumplings. That night I was back at our first date, Wilfie & Nell in Manhattan, with fried pickles, grilled cheese, and a pitcher of beer. The anticipation, the butterflies, the comfort. I came back and sat at the bar with Nancy's delicious cheeseburger, and that took me to Upstate, a Manhattan restaurant that does beer and oysters and you're cramped and it's amazing. My wife came home one night with takeout—maybe linguine? Suddenly I was sitting on the couch in her shoebox of an apartment in Astoria, Queens, listening to WYNC and watching squirrels trying to get in through the window. These are happy memories for me. Nancy's makes me happy.
One bite of the marinated mussels and beans on grilled bread sent me to another dimension. Every time I went to Squable (sans an early-pandemic limited-menu pickup visit), I ordered those mussels. Insanely good. That and the martini, the best martini in Houston. Squable is comfortable and just a tad formal; it's a good time with surprises (wait for the silverware to appear), and it's small plates and drinks, big plates and good times all wrapped into one. Get the French cheeseburger. Get the Dutch baby pancake. Get pasta, all of the pasta.
1. Rosie Cannonball
Iadore the way my wife picked away at the focaccia di recco, that warm bread unfairly laced with cheese—unfair because you will eat the whole thing immediately and waste some appetite. It's going to happen. Anyway, my wife: She inhaled that stuff. She was in from the jump and had no reservations about what other people thought. I fell in love again that night.
It happened again, later, withthe mint gelato. "Holy shit," I said, maybe to everyone around me, because I'd never had dessert that mind melting. Love.
In between we had outstanding pasta and fun veggie dishes. Onother visits I've had some of the best Neapolitan pizza I've enjoyed in Houston, including my absolute favorite, the rustic fennel sausage. If I were to pick an entrée, I'll go with the (also rustic) chicken Basquaise—so simple and yet bursting with fruity heat and acidity.
Goodnight Hospitality puts a lot of thought into service, and here it's sharp, conversational, and thoughtful, never stuffy or formal. You'll get an apértif before diving into an exciting but tidy wine list. Wait for the sommelier to steer you in the right direction. Let the night go a little. Don't feel tethered to other plans.
One last thing.The last time I went to Rosie Cannonball I snuck in at 7 p.m. on a Friday and scored a two-top for a cocktail. I had—what else—a negroni ... it was dynamite. Rosie Cannonball made me fall in love with the freaking negroni.
Or to put it another way, I've fallen in love a couple times at Rosie Cannonball. It's my No. 1.
Restaurants, Montrose, Heights, Midtown, Downtown, River Oaks, Bellaire, Asiatown
- Texas Barbecue.
- Breakfast Tacos.
- Chicken & Waffles.
- Pecan Pie.
But with all of that endless variety—seriously, there are over 12,000 restaurants in our fair city—how does one determine which restaurants are the best?What is Houston's signature dish? ›
Read on for a must-try list of Houston's edible icons to try, according to experts in the city's dynamic restaurant scene. "Houston's signature dish is pho. First of all, it's delicious and heals anything that ails you. More importantly, it reinforces Houston's diversity.Does Houston have the most restaurants per capita? ›
Because of its population and size, Houston does not have the most restaurants per capita — Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada are laying claim to that title — but in terms of sheer location count, H-town has everywhere else in America beat.What are 3 famous foods in Texas? ›
Take a trip through the Lone Star State and sample classic dishes including pecan pie, chicken-fried steak, cowboy chili and plenty of barbecue.What restaurants do celebrities go to in Houston? ›
- Magic Island. Address: 2215 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77098. ...
- Sambuca. Address: 909 Texas Ave, Housotn, TX 77002. ...
- PARMA PIZZA & Lounge. Address: 6003 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77057. ...
- Moon Rabbit. ...
- Papa Amadeos. ...
- Renae's Homestyle Restaurant & Bar. ...
- Mi Luna Tapas Restaurant. ...
- The Liberty Bell.
Billed as the biggest restaurant in Texas, The Oasis on Lake Travis in Austin is a multi-tiered, half-inside/half-outside Tex-Mex dining experience. I'm willing to bet you've never seen a place quite like this.What is Texas signature meal? ›
Today, chili is the official state dish. Texas is known for its own variation of chili con carne. Texas chili is typically made with hot peppers and beef (or sometimes game meats like venison) and is sometimes served with pinto beans, either as a side or in the chili itself.What is the national dish of Texas? ›
Chili was adopted as the Texas state dish on May 11, 1977. The International Chili Cook-Off has been held in Texas in 1967.What is Texas favorite dish? ›
Red chili or chili con carne
This Tex-Mex classic has spent more than 40 years as the official state dish, according to Texas Monthly.
1. River Oaks. The richest neighborhood in Houston is River Oaks. Located on the city's west side near Memorial Park, this area is known as a wealthy community filled with first-class excellence.What food is most eaten in Texas? ›
The No. 1 spot belongs to the Tex-Mex king, fajitas. “Fajitas is a popular Tex-Mex dish made from marinated, grilled skirt steak that is served in a wheat flour tortilla,” the report said. The top spot to eat fajitas in Texas is The Original Ninfa's on Navigation in Houston.What is Houston food ranked? ›
Houston was ranked the fifth-best food city in the country by Travel + Leisure, citing the city's diverse food concepts and award-winning chefs that call Houston home.What is world No 1 food? ›
1. Sushi (Japan) Source Prepared with vinegared rice and a wide range of ingredients including seafood, vegetables, and sometimes fruits. Sushi tastes best when served with wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce.What is the most eaten food on earth? ›
Rice is a food staple for more than 3.5 billion people around the world, particularly in Asia, Latin America, and parts of Africa. Rice has been cultivated in Asia for thousands of years. Scientists believe people first domesticated rice in India or Southeast Asia.What city in Texas has the best food? ›
- Dallas for barbecue. ...
- Austin for food trucks. ...
- Houston for brunch and burgers. ...
- El Paso for tacos. ...
- Brenham for Bluebell ice cream. ...
- San Antonio for fine dining on the River Walk.
TEXAS: Pecan pie
Pecan pie is one of America's most famous desserts, and recipes have been traced back to Texas from as early as the 1870s.
Texans love the morning meal, whether it's bacon and eggs or something as distinctively nontraditional as saag paneer omelets, pon haus, or goat curry. A Lone Star breakfast can be a time for eating healthy, or for indulging in decadent food and drink.Where does Lady Gaga stay in Houston? ›
Lady Gaga rented this $20 million Houston estate, Villa Encantado, through Airbnb for the Super Bowl. Gaga, 30, stayed in a nearly 10,000-square-foot Mediterranean mansion in Houston at a cost of $10,000 per night courtesy of Airbnb.What food show is filmed in Houston? ›
Top Chef: Houston premiered on March 3, 2022, and concluded on June 2, 2022.
Turkey Leg Hut. The Houston Midtown eatery, famous for massive creole-seasoned turkey legs, mentioned the Toronto rapper and his crew stopped by in 2018. There aren't photos of the man there himself on social media, but plenty of sources have noted it has Drake's seal of approval.What is the snack of Texas? ›
Tortilla Chips and Salsa was adopted as the Texas state snack on June 22, 2003.What food is native to Texas? ›
Venison, catfish, and pecans are still staples of Texas cuisine after thousands of years. Today's diners can imbibe prickly pear margaritas and slather their toast with agarita jelly made from the same plants people harvested millennia ago.What food were invented in Texas? ›
- Big Red. Big Red — you either love it or hate it. ...
- Chili con carne. Chili con carne is the official state dish of Texas. ...
- Corn dogs. ...
- Dr Pepper. ...
- Fajitas. ...
- Fritos. ...
- Frozen margarita. ...
- Ruby Red grapefruit.
Texas' second-oldest restaurant hits the market
The Old Spanish Trail restaurant, colloquially known as O.S.T., opened in 1921 in Bandera, a Texas Hill Country town about an hour outside San Antonio that bills itself as the “Cowboy Capital of the World.” The owner is looking to lasso $3.25 million from its sale.
Texas has culture, traditions, and sayings that are uniquely its own. Chains like Whataburger, Buc-ee's, and H-E-B are Texan businesses. Attractions like Schlitterbahn only exist in the Lone Star State.What is the most famous restaurant in Texas? ›
According to LoveFOOD, the most famous restaurant in Texas is Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood. The website explains what makes it so famous: "In a state known for its barbecue, it takes a lot to stand out – but plenty of meat-lovers make the pilgrimage to this wide-open ranch, 30 minutes outside Austin.What is the evening meal called in Texas? ›
For example, in Texas you'll find about half the population using lunch and dinner interchangeably and the other half using supper and dinner interchangeably. In Ohio, many people call their midday meal lunch and then say supper to reference an evening meal, saving dinner for more formal or larger meals.What is Texas style cooking? ›
Texas barbecue is a style of slow-cooked smoked meat that originated in the state of Texas. It consists of cooking beef brisket, pork ribs, and/or sausage over wood or charcoal in an open pit using indirect heat.What is Texas state dessert? ›
Texas: Pecan Pie
Pecans are the state nut of Texas; the pecan tree is the state tree of Texas; and, big surprise here, the pecan pie is the state dessert of Texas.
Pan de Campo was adopted as the Texas state bread on June 18, 2005. Pan de Campo is also called Cowboy bread and is a sort of flat bread. The bread was eaten by Cowboys who worked the ranches in early Texas. The cowboys prepared it in small portable ovens which gave it its distinct texture and flavor.What is the motto for Texas? ›
Texas barbecue, also called Texas BBQ, seasoned smoked meats—specifically beef brisket, pork ribs, and sausage—associated with Texas.What food does Texas have that other states don t? ›
Chili is the official State food of Texas. Authentic Texas chili doesn't have beans in it; it should be made of meat and chilies. Apparently, each year on the first Saturday of November, the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) holds the ultimate celebration of Chili.
Ranch and cowboy culture
Texas has made a strong mark on national and international pop culture. The entire state is strongly associated with the image of the cowboy shown in westerns and in country western music. The state's numerous oil tycoons are also a popular pop culture topic as seen in the hit TV series Dallas.
At $27,500, the 77051 ZIP code — in the Sunnyside neighborhood — has the lowest median income. The ZIP code is 79.4% Black. And in Houston, these racial inequalities also extend to the Hispanic population, which is twice that of whites or Blacks.Who is the richest person in Houston? ›
HOUSTON, Texas -- According to Forbes, half of all of the world's billionaires are less wealthy than they were in 2022. But that's not the case for most Houston-area billionaires like oil tycoon Jeffery Hildebrand, who was named the richest man in the city. The video above is from a previous story.What is the most expensive part of Houston? ›
River Oaks is unquestionably the most expensive neighborhood in Houston, with a median home price of roughly $3.8 million—not to mention the many individual River Oaks listings that hit double-digit millions.What type of meat is most eaten in Texas? ›
Traditionally, beef and pork cuts are most common, but poultry (chicken and turkey) is widely prepared, and lamb and goat are regional favorites.What is the food capital of Texas? ›
The City of Roanoke was officially named, by the Texas House of Representatives, as "The Unique Dining Capital of Texas!" Visit one of our more than 60 delicious and unique eateries soon. Roanoke welcomes you, your family, and friends to enjoy our laid back, charming, small town atmosphere.
What Is Houston Known For? Houston is famous for its large international community, growing art scene, and cultural diversity. It is home to some of the most popular theatres in the country; they are mainly in the Downtown area.Is Houston a food capital? ›
'Travel and Leisure' named Houston as one of the Top 10 Best Food Cities in America in their recent list. Beyond the scores of hungry Houstonians, Houston's culinary scene continues to attract attention, accolades, and buzzworthy press from all over.Where does Houston Texas rank? ›
Houston is the fourth most populous city in the nation, with an estimated July 2018 population of 2,325,502 (trailing only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago), and is the largest in the southern U.S. and Texas.What is Texas most common food? ›
Today, chili is the official state dish. Texas is known for its own variation of chili con carne. Texas chili is typically made with hot peppers and beef (or sometimes game meats like venison) and is sometimes served with pinto beans, either as a side or in the chili itself.What is Houston most well known for? ›
What Is Houston Known For? Houston is famous for its large international community, growing art scene, and cultural diversity. It is home to some of the most popular theatres in the country; they are mainly in the Downtown area.What do Texans eat for breakfast? ›
Texans love the morning meal, whether it's bacon and eggs or something as distinctively nontraditional as saag paneer omelets, pon haus, or goat curry. A Lone Star breakfast can be a time for eating healthy, or for indulging in decadent food and drink.What part of Texas has the best food? ›
- Dallas for barbecue. ...
- Austin for food trucks. ...
- Houston for brunch and burgers. ...
- El Paso for tacos. ...
- Brenham for Bluebell ice cream. ...
- San Antonio for fine dining on the River Walk.
According to the list, the most popular junk food in Texas is Funyuns.What food is unique to Texas? ›
- Chicken fried steak. Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock. ...
- Texas funeral cake. Trending Now/Shutterstock. ...
- Frozen margaritas. Leo Malsam/Getty Images. ...
- Queso. Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock. ...
- Whataburger. Rosemarie Mosteller/Shutterstock. ...
- Dr Pepper. Pavlo Lys/Shutterstock. ...
- Frito Pie. ...
- Sweet Tea.
1. Downtown Houston. As expected, there's plenty to do here in the heart of Houston — this is where you'll find the famous Minute Maid Park, concert venues, conference centers, great bars and restaurants, the city's theater district, and decent public parks with events.What makes Houston so special? ›
Alive with energy and rich in diversity, Houston is a dynamic mix of imagination, talent and first-class attractions that makes it a world-class city. Home to a vibrant economy, beautiful surroundings and a population full of optimism and spirit, it's no wonder that Houston is a popular international destination.Why is Houston Texas so popular? ›
With more Fortune 500 companies located in Houston than anywhere else, except New York City, Houston is a wellspring for high-paying, and highly-skilled, jobs. These jobs span high-demand sectors such as healthcare, education, aerospace, and energy.What is considered the most popular food? ›
Pizza is the topmost-liked food in the world. Today you can find pizza in almost every corner of the world. This traditional Italian dish is made of flattened round dough topped with cheese, and tomatoes, and additionally garnished with basil, olives, and oregano. What is this?What is the most Googled food in Texas? ›
- No. 1 – McDonald's.
- No. 2 – Domino's.
- No. 3 – Chick-Fil-A.
- No. 4 – Starbucks.
- No. 5 – Pizza Hut and Papa John's (tied)