Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Best Restaurants in Houston, TX

by Robin Barr Sussman

1800 Post Oak Blvd.
(713) 961-1492

Chef Michael Cordua’s unique menu of South American/New World cuisine matches the futuristic rainforest setting designed by Chicago architect Jordan Mozer. Exciting upscale dining: potato encrusted red snapper, roasted pork tenderloin with bold roasted pepper sauce, grilled salmon with limey ceviche beurre blanc, and  taquito de cordoniz (quail tacos). The tres leches is legendary. Second location coming to the Woodlands summer of 2007. Check out Cordua’s other Houston restaurants at the website.

Armandos Mexican Bistro
2630 Westheimer Rd.
(713) 520-1738

Socialites and habitués from the River Oaks area have appointed Armando Palacio’s legendary Tex-Mex bistro their “spot.” Regulars appear like clockwork to this handsome golden rod-washed space fashioned with multiple grand mirrors and high-end Mexican pottery. Menu standouts include the mushroom flecked queso fundido wrapped in signature paper-thin homemade flour tortillas; creamy refried beans with a distinctive smoky flavor; and the generous slab of grilled salmon atop a mountain of spinach with a zesty lemon beurre blanc sauce. Enchiladas are lush: the chicken with homemade mole sauce has a welcoming spicy kick. Spinach-filled enchiladas draped in decadent white cheese are the stuff of diet busting cravings. Happening bar scene; private room available for larger parties. Dinner only.


Backstreet Cafe
1103 S. Shepherd
(713) 521-2239

It’s hard to imagine a more pleasant lunch than dining on Backstreet’s shady flower-filled garden patio.  The eclectic New American menu has something for everyone: roasted pear salad with blue cheese, red-corn enchiladas, smoked-corn crab cakes, pecan-crusted chicken, meatloaf tower with a mountain of mashers, or highly creative daily specials. Backstreet is also famous for its award winning wine list and huge weekend brunch menu. Wake up to a menu of scrumptious treats such as pecan brioche French toast stuffed with bananas, migas, or Backstreet Benedict.

2424 Dunstan
(713) 522-7602

This modern eatery is a favorite of Rice Village habitués who seek vibrant artistic cuisine in an equally hip setting. Chef Dylan Murray’s menu spans the globe with culinary influences: tea-smoked duck breast with red rice; pan-seared scallops with lemon-watercress salad; or pork osso bucco with mascarpone polenta. For something lighter, order a wood-smoked pizza like the tiger shrimp with a Vietnamese veggie salad. Don’t miss the all-American homemade chocolate cake and ice cream, prepared by Benjy’s Mom. Terrific brunch with bottomless peach mimosas.

Berryhill Baja Grill
2639 Revere and other locations
(713) 526-8080

What started as tamales and fish tacos has swelled into multiple national locations of casual counter service food in convenient colorful settings. The cozy, hip original location teeters on the edge of River Oaks with loyal followers of this light, sunny "Baja cuisine." Along with corn, spinach, chicken or beef tamales, expect quesadillas, shrimp & avocado salad, rich and creamy poblano corn soup, enchiladas, rice, beans and guacamole. Visit the website to learn about all the locations.

Brennan’s of Houston
3300 Smith
(713) 522-9711

Expect elegant surroundings and gracious service at this Cajun /Creole institution since 1968. Executive chef Randy Evans puts a fresh twist on signature dishes: Turtle soup, pecan-crusted fish, bananas foster, and a divine all American cheese course. Find a classic New Orleans courtyard for the finest alfresco brunching; indoors, the renowned "chef's table" in the kitchen that seats 4-10 people. Complimentary homemade pralines are a sweet southern touch. Reservations highly recommended; jacket required.

Cafe Japon

3915 Kirby Drive
(713) 529-1668

Fresh sushi, reliably prepared is the draw at this pleasant, squeaky clean Japanese cafe. Sashay up to the popular sushi bar and watch the show or sit shoeless Eastern style in the sunny back room. Strong sushi points include the nama sake fresh salmon and tako octopus. Delicious sashimi and tempura--try the amachi kama (cheek of yellowtail) or grilled squid.

5555 Washington Ave.
(713) 426-4260

Ibiza’s Charles Clark and group have opened this handsome dining room in the hot Washington Avenue corridor. Have a snack or make a meal of the tapas-style plates, small or large. Small faves include the rich crabmeat and piquillo pepper gratin, blanched asparagus with fresh mozzarella, and the whimsical crispy pork belly on sugar cane skewers with cane syrup. A hunk of salmon brightened with preserved lemon on a bed of pureed cauliflower is one entrée worth lingering over. Don’t miss the adventurous yet affordable wine list or the awesome warm banana bread-caramel drizzled dessert topped with ice cream and fresh bananas. Actually, just plan to save room for dessert—a highlight here.

China Garden
1602 Leeland
(713) 652-0745

The Jue family has been serving a bastion of traditional Chinese food specialties for 16 years. A few reasons to make the drive into the Chinatown district: fresh-picked vegetables from the Jue family farm; incomparable lemon chicken; grilled red snapper; spicy jalapeno shrimp; chicken with long beans in black bean and garlic sauce. Convenient location near downtown. Parking tip: Best to park inside the fenced lot.

9705 Westheimer and other locations
(713) 952-1988

Thank you, Michael Cordua, for introducing the South American dish to Houston called Churrasco, a char-grilled beef tender basted with rich Chimichurri sauce. Experience the extensive menu of bold, flavor-popping choices: Herbed yucca polenta with smoked crab fingers; red snapper with achiote and corn chile risotto; marinated pork tender with bacon wrapped shrimp; black bean soup in bread bowl. Start with the savory complimentary fried plaintain chips and Chimichurri sauce, but save room for the fresh coconut ice cream in a deep-fried caramel pastry bowl.


Chuy’s Comida Deluxe
2706 Westheimer and other locations
(713) 524-1700

Chileheads unite in droves at this always-packed Tex Mex eatery and margaritaville hub smack dab in River Oaks. The menu is gussied up with some contemporary New Mexico influences: 911 Hot Plate with blue corn tortillas; grilled chicken and green chile sauce; smoked chicken tacos with tomatilla sauce; unrivaled chile con queso. The New Mexico Green Chile sauce is so hot that they claim it’s a legendary hangover cure. Vivacious atmosphere for families and singles; indulge in the swirl or strawberry dot frozen margarita.

Daily Review Cafe
3412 W. Lamar at Dunlavy
(713) 520-9217

Count on this cozy-chic neighborhood restaurant for updated but real comfort food. A quick review: stellar boneless fried chicken; creamy potato soup with apple-smoked bacon; baked goat cheese salad with baby greens and pecans; buttery chicken pot pie; tender lamb stew with flaky Southern home-style biscuits. Decked patio with lush garden and intimate interior; sparse decor allows the food to shine. Thursdays are martini and teeny burger night. Fun!


1520 Westheimer
(713) 807-8857

This cosmopolitan outpost located in a sunny bungalow offers cutting-edge cuisine from Veneto, Italy, chef/owner Marco Wiles’s homeland. Sensational starters include the shaved celery with beets and pecorino and the artichoke alla guidea, prepared with a whole fried artichoke. Other dishes to die for: sweet corn ravioli and lobster; papardelle with rabbit; chianti braised short ribs. Fine Italian wine list and passionate sommelier to assist with choices.

Damian’s Cucina Italiana
3011 Smith
(713) 522-0439

The polished, inviting setting and varied Italian menu make this a prime special occasion spot that’s also suitable for a business lunch. Start with the gnocchi verdi (spinach and ricotta dumplings) or garlicky tableside prepared Caesar salad, which usually steals the show. Crab-filled grilled portobello mushrooms are also worth the calories. Other highlights: Sautéed shrimp Damian; Italian sausage and peppers; duck ossobuco-style; zesty lemon tart. You can’t go wrong with any of it.


Dolce Vita Pizzeria Enoteca
500 Westheimer
(713) 520-8222

Imaginative yet authentic Neapolitan food plus an eclectic mix of people keep this vintage Montrose house hopping. Fabulously thin and smoky wood-fired pizzas are the draw but there is much more to explore on this menu created by chef/owner Marco Wiles of DaMarco. Simple margherita pizza and the richer robiola and prosciutto pizza with sautéed leeks continue to please. Sides to consider: Truffled egg toast, broccoli rabe, and shaved brussel sprouts with pecorino cheese. Specials like the braised lamb chop entrée or the Wednesday meatballs can be remarkable. Large selection of unusual Italian wines offered by the glass. Come early or prepare for long waits.


Edloe Street Deli
6119 Edloe
(713) 666-4302

Expect strollers parked alfresco at front sidewalk tables at this home-away-from-home for diners located in the heart of a charming, older West University neighborhood. The cramped yet cozy interior complete with blackboard specials is decorated with elementary "artwork" donated by kids of regulars. For over two decades, Edloe has been serving sandwiches, soups, salads (taco salad is the hands-down favorite), burgers and a tasty bunch of Tex-Mex favorites. Carry-out business is booming with full meals, casseroles and desserts. Kids get their own separate menu.

El Jardin Restaurant
7849 Harrisburg
(713) 923-1233

For more than 30 years, El Jardin has been a neighborhood fixture in Houston's east end of town. This bright pink, boisterous cantina (complete with strolling mariachis) specializes in massive Tex-Mex platters. Complimentary table salsas warm you up right away. Tomatilla sauce is dense and flavorful with cilantro and garlic; the rich, earthy red sauce has roasted tomatoes as its foundation. The menu has something for everyone: A 25-offering breakfast section in addition to its regular menu of botanas (appetizers); tortas (sandwiches); seven kinds of tacos; carne asadas (mixed grill platters); tacos al carbon; mole Poblano; tamales; quesadillas and flautas. Also expect a mile of enchilada choices.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
2405 W. Alabama (and other locations)
(13) 520-5959

Stylish upscale steakhouse known for prime beef that’s fresh and hand-cut daily. The inventive menu spotlights exciting starters, generous sides and salads, and creative entrees beyond beef including fish, chicken, pork and lamb. Favorites include the tower of skinny onion rings, the seared rare tuna entrée and the bone-in New York Strip. The innovative award-winning wine list offers 100 wines by the glass. A cozy bar, private dining rooms, and a breezy outdoor patio gives guests several options when deciding where to imbibe.


Goode Company Barbecue
5109 Kirby Drive and other location
(713) 522-2530

Belly up to the cafeteria-style line for mesquite-cooked pork ribs, chicken, duck, sausage, zesty barbecue sauce and all the fixin’s. Jim Goode makes us proud to bring visitors for smoked brisket on jalapeno cheese bread, classic pecan pie and a little C&W music around the picnic tables. For great hamburgers and tacos, hit Goode Co. Hamburgers & Taqueria; for Gulf coast seafood dip into the old railway car at Goode Co. Seafood -- both close off Kirby Drive. Check the website for details on all the tasty locations.

807 Taft
(713) 522-0995

Chef duo Scott Tycer and Jason Gould’s cool restaurant near downtown attracts hipsters hungry for contemporary bistro fare. Gravitas is known for its jumpy, noisy atmosphere and edgy industrial-spare building design. Start with the fried gnocchi appetizer, creamy corn chowder with applewood smoked bacon, or the excellent bountiful salads lightly dressed with refreshing dressings. Great bistro burger stacked with pungent bleu cheese and tomato relish; garlicky mussels steamed in white wine and herbs; hearty halibut smothered in leeks. The bar, called Sidebar, also serves a streamlined food menu; small shaded side patio attracts non-smokers.


Grille 5115 by Ruggles at Saks Fifth Avenue
5115 Westheimer
(713) 963-8067

This glamour grille from the Ruggles clan excites the chic ladies-who-lunch and other power groups Galleria bound. Sleek, all white dining room for the indulgent few who enjoy wine with lunch and caviar at dinner. Hudson Valley foie gras with baked apples; the famous lobster and crab bisque with sherry essence; pasta back pepper fettuccini with pepper chicken and sweet garlic cream sauce; and herb crusted lamb chops with saffron risotto. These are just a few of the many irresistible choices at this best kept secret hidden away in Saks Fifth Avenue.

1602 Westheimer
(713) 524-7744

Executive chef Hugo Ortega has graced Houston with exciting regional cuisine of Mexico at his namesake restaurant in the heart of Montrose. The Latin inspired building with soaring ceilings and walls of windows has been lovingly restored and decorated with stylish touches and classic elements of old Mexico.  Lunch on tostados de tinga with shredded pork and chipotle adodo; Baja style fish tacos; or a wood-grilled hanger steak smothered in onions and tomatoes served with warm tortillas. At dinner, start with the luscious lobster taco and move onto the roasted duck in red mole or cabrito served with nopales salad and guacamole. Top-shelf tequilas along with an award winning wine list. Gorgeous patio; uptown prices. Sunday buffet brunch offers over 35 items and a Mexican band.


2450 Louisiana
(713) 524-0004

Ibiza is a hip Midtown mainstay for oenophiles and foodies who like generous portions. The menu created by Chef/owner Charles Clark reflects the modern Mediterranean accented dishes found on the sexy island in Spain. Expect a theatrical feel in the restaurant with an open kitchen, a rolling cocktail cart and flickering candles. Small plate menu must-haves: peppercorn crusted tuna with cucumber and red chili ponzu; monkey island crabcakes with sweet corn shallot butter; or the crispy baby crabs with Moroccan harissa dip. For mains, steer toward six-hour lamb shank or buttermilk fried catfish, to name a few. Check out the whimsical birthday cotton candy, paella Sundays, and the awesome homemade spring and summer sangria. Coming soon: Ibiza Next Door, a sleek lounge featuring wines, cocktails and tapas.


516 Westheimer Rd.
(713) 524-2170

Modern Indian cuisine in an equally vibrant setting filled with natural light is what you will find at Indika’s Montrose home. Chef-owner Anita Jaisinghani  (former pastry chef at Cafe Annie) features innovative Indian cuisine with a seasonally changing menu and a food-friendly wine list. An exotic dish of grilled lamb chops with curry and cashews is served with sweet potato puree. Sweet coconut pilaf comes alongside Patra red fish, which is bathed in vivid green masala and steamed in a banana leaf. End with the chai white chocolate tart with pistachio crust if, alas, you must choose just one of the fabulous desserts.

Kenny & Ziggy's
2327 Post Oak Blvd.
(713) 871-8883

This New York delicatessen restaurant offers all the usual suspects and in large portions. Lox, bagel and cream cheese, hot corned beef, potato pancakes, Dr. Brown's sodas--and kosher dill pickles on the tables. Very large menu--and food is served throughout the day. You can’t miss the giant rotating desserts on display at the entrance. Life is short; eat dessert first! Extensive take out department too.

Kiran's Indian Cuisine
4100 Westheimer Road
(713) 960-8472

Mughlai dishes of Northern India are Chef Kiran's claim to fame and she has brought her native cuisine to a higher level of quality in Houston. The white tablecloth atmosphere complete with an impressively stocked wine bar make Kiran's quite different from most traditional Indian restaurants. Doting executive chef/owner Kiran Verma assures the food is exceptional, from the breads stuffed with onions, garlic, nuts, goat cheese or lamb, to the flaky crab samosas. Lively pistachio-crusted goat cheese over baby field greens with honey ginger vinaigrette, or the jumbo lump crab salad are starters to keep returning for. Kiran's also offers vegetarian, seafood and tandoori specialties, plus special wine and food pairing menus.

Kim Son
2001 Jefferson and other locations
(713) 222-2461

This awesome two story Vietnamese restaurant on the edge of downtown attracts the masses for char-grilled chicken and vermicelli, cold spring rolls, and steamed ginger- scallion fish. Other best sellers: Vietnamese Fajitas -- grilled beef with rice paper, fresh herbs and salad greens; or the black pepper crab, a pick-up feast with the hands. Expect long waits by the indoor goldfish pond on the weekends, which are well worth it.

Mark’s American Cuisine
1658 Westheimer
(713) 523-3800

Executive Chef Mark Cox runs a well-oiled culinary machine located in an architecturally blessed, revamped 1920’s Montrose church. New American praiseworthy choices: Roasted corn chowder; grilled seabass over porcini risotto; lamb loin atop whipped cheddar potatoes; raspberry shortbread tart; heavenly warm chocolate cake with German chocolate icing. Expanded bar and waiting area make it more comfortable for the throngs of epicureans; reservations a must.

Miss Saigon Cafe
5503 Kelvin
(713) 942-0108

This quaint, soothing Vietnamese cafe with local artist's work and a sprawling mural of a Saigon street is happily smacked down in the center of the Rice University Village -- a hot spot for shopping. The small menu of meticulously prepared food makes ordering easier, and you're sure to find hits. Repeat orders are common for the Vietnamese fried eggrolls (pork, chicken and seafood) with vibrant lettuce leaves, purple basil, mint and a clean, slightly garlicky Nuoc Mam dipping sauce. Classic entrees of spicy lemon grass chicken, shrimp curry, sesame coated salmon and bowls of vermicelli topped with grilled meats are also popular with the regulars. Expect style over substance as far as large portions are concerned. Wines from California, Chile and France are available by the bottle or glass.

In Hotel ZaZa
5701 Main Street
(713) 626-1991

Stylish Hotel ZaZa has brought excitement to the museum district with its “see and be scene” Monarch restaurant. Young, talented executive-chef Bradley Manchester’s contemporary cuisine dances with flavorful sauces that merely accent--never overwhelm--the plate or the palette. Begin with distinctive crab cakes balanced with a zesty avocado relish composed of cilantro and lime. Salads also sizzle: Check out the rare Asian tuna salad with pea shoots, cashews and sesame ginger vinaigrette or the New Mexican chopped salad with plump shrimp and poblano pecan vinaigrette. Comforting American classics like grilled beef tenderloin with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and pepperoni  pizza with fresh mozzarella make an appearance, along with svelte choices like the grilled wild salmon with cucumber fennel salad. Mind-blowing desserts include an innovative crème brulee with addictive fresh cherry sauce accented with garden fresh basil, and a darling pecan tartlet accompanied by house made Shiner Bock ice cream. Extensive, pricey wine list. As this is the restaurant for the hotel, it is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Ouisie’s Table
3939 San Felipe
(713) 528-2264

Elouise Adams Jones defined comfort cuisine in the 70's on Sunset Blvd. and became known for her fabulous chicken fried steak egg salad sandwiches, and fried chicken, among other items. She’s moved uptown a bit, but still offers stylish countrified fare with urbanized flare (and prices): Polenta with spinach, basil, mozzarella and sausage; herb-crusted chicken; Rose’s tequila oysters or brandied oysters; made-in-house petite biscuits; sinful chocolate cake with raspberry layers. Chi-chi casual environment with fresh touches like an extensive herb garden for dining, lots of windows, and a delightful couch filled sunroom.


5941 Bellaire Blvd.
(713) 662-8383

Here’s a casual escape for solid Mex-Mex and requisite Tex-Mex near Bellaire. Owner Arnaldo Richards has crafted a menu representing seven regions of Mexico with soulful favorites like red snapper charbroiled in banana leaves, chicken in mole poblano sauce, beef tender with chipotle sauce, shrimp or crabmeat almond enchiladas. Relax at an outside table under the palapa (palm leaf hut) around the trickling fountain; sip the excellent signature margaritas and listen to the Spanish trio musicians.


2520 Amherst
(713) 529-2421

This neighborhood friendly dining room is always bustling with guests hungry for John Watt’s modern Italian cooking. Specialties: smoked-duck ravioli, carpaccio of beef with chopped arugula and a hint of white truffle oil; shellfish soup; fantastic breads. Notable wine list, plus award-winning desserts by terrific pastry chef Pam Manovich.

Four Season’s Hotel
1300 Lamar
(713) 652-6250

Quattro, which means “four” in Italian, represents the four faces of this sleek updated restaurant: breakfast, lunch, dinner and its lively antipasti bar. Expect highly polished service and an inventive contemporary menu with a strong Italian slant plus some updated American classics. Seasonally changing specs: Kurabutta pork chop with Tuscan aromas; ossobuco Milanese; porcini-crusted sea scallops; wild mushroom polenta; linguine with Manila clams; dazzling chocolate gateau. Lavish Sunday brunch for a special occasion along with highly creative desserts.

The Lodge at Bayou Bend
1 Birdsall
(713) 861-8666

Lush setting nestled on the banks of Buffalo Bayou in a lovely, private neighborhood surrounded by trees and an extensive organic garden. Executive chef Matt Maroni offers creative Gulf seafood and wild game choices. Specialties: Shiner Bock smoked duck chowder; wood fired colossal shrimp; bone-in prime ribeye with bacon and muenster mac n’ cheese; north American elk chop.  The orange chocolate bombe garnished with a sugar butterfly is almost too pretty to eat.

Mockingbird Bistro
1985 Welch
(713) 533-0200

Veteran chef John Sheely brings us this bohemian-esque lofty bistro with a solid menu that attracts foodies and oenophiles. The food is hearty and always presented artfully: Witness a bountiful Stilton-gilded bistro salad brightened with crisp Granny Smith apples and walnuts; meaty mouthwatering short ribs over creamy polenta; and Southeast Asian-inspired mussels with red curry, coconut milk and lemongrass. There’s a nod to France with the fabulous cheese course and charcuterie of pate and saucisson. Finish with anything chocolate or the lip-puckering lemon tart, a slab of cool creamy bliss.


RDG + Bar Annie
1800 Post Oak Boulevard (at Ambassador Way)
(713) 840-1111

RDG Grill Room is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week as well as BLVD Lounge and Bar Annie. Chef-owner Robert Del Grande closed Cafe Annie after nearly 30 years and has moved only several hundred feet away. Menus are available on their website.


Raven Grill
1916 Bissonnet
(713) 521-2027

More back-of-the-house than front-of-the-house, youthful owners Rob and Sara Cromie offer the chi-chi Southampton neighborhood just what they want: straightforward American food cooked right. Order anything from the wood-fired grill—catfish, poblano chicken breast, or a burger—and you can’t miss. Lucky ducks might get the seasonal strawberry rhubarb crisp for dessert. Expect low-key stylish surroundings and consistent crowds. Escape the urban jungle on the delightful shaded patio overgrown with herbal flower boxes.


Rainbow Lodge
2011 Ella Blvd.
(713) 861-8666

Never fear: The original Rainbow Lodge has not been lost somewhere over the rainbow. It has merely moved to a new home. Now housed in a 100-year old remodeled log cabin, Donette Hansens’s spot is complete with colorful cozy banquettes and two levels of dining overlooking pretty wooded lawns and perky Meyer lemon trees outside. Big game is still on the menu so plan to sample duck, elk loin, and wild boar chop, to name a few, in addition to standards like beef tenderloin filet. Lunch on pan-seared salmon or seared ahi tuna lump crab salad, along with myriad pasta dishes and a daily harvest of vegetables.


Ruggles Grill
903 Westheimer
(713) 524-3839

Chef/owner Bruce Molzan caters to colorful crowds at his always-bustling bistro. Veteran Molzan was one of the first to offer nouveau American cuisine with highly stylized presentations and overwhelming portions. After over a decade, the tradition continues along with waits for tables at this old Montrose house. Favorites include innovative towering entree salads dusted with various exotic cheeses, big smoky grilled meats with a southwestern slant, and creatively grilled vegetable platters in any color imaginable. Expect daring creative entrees like seafood paella with champagne cream sauce. Don’t pass up the top-notch homemade desserts...Baked Alaska, anyone?

Sushi King
3401 Kirby Dr.
(713) 528-8998

The latest of the sushi shops, this contemporary hotspot located in Upper Kirby, just may be one of the best. The pedigree is first-rate from owner Keeper Lin. Outstanding selection of fresh seafood sashimi; excellent salmon teriyaki. Other strong sushi points include the meltingly tender fresh water eel and the silky yellow tail hamachi. Robata grill, a Japanese tabletop cooking method, is another specialty, featuring grilled vegetables, lamb chops, or bacon scallop kabob. Sushi bar is a roomy happening spot.


Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen
12637 Westheimer
(281) 679-8300

Sylvia’s has become the popular Tex-Mex outpost for suburbanites in Memorial. But it’s worth the trek for anyone who wants homemade enchiladas and other Tex-Mex at its peak of freshness. Breakfast on huevos a la Mexicana (spicy scrambled eggs with peppers and tomatoes) or Huevos Rancheros smothered in homemade savory sauce. Come back for vegetarian enchiladas or any one of the 12 meat enchilada specialties like the beef Lubbock enchiladas or the McAllen packed with chicken and topped chile gravy. Border-style menudo hits the spot for the brave; chocolate tres leches—heavenly moist—does it for others. Kids menu; and Sylvia’s Cooking School for Tex-Mex trade secrets in her private kitchen.


3701 Travis
(713) 524-6922

The “Alice Waters of the Third Coast,” executive chef Monica Pope, features locally produced foods and wines with eclectic flair. Her edgy, minimalist Midtown spot, owned with partner Andrea Lazar, is the place for epicures seeking the seasonal foods of Texas. Just picked organic salads sparkle: beets, frisee, cambazola, candied walnuts and orange sauce; or spinach and fennel salad with blueberry-lemon verbena dressing. Ditto for the seasonal cheese selection (many choices from Texas). Proteins mean rainbow trout, yellowfin tuna, or b3r ranch beef filet, to name a few, and then choose your sauce. Friday lunches are a steal with three perfect courses and the option of wine pairing. Expect one of the most extensive lists of Texas wines here—thankfully, all the good ones.


Taste of Texas
10505 Katy Freeway
(713) 932-6901

A family steakhouse we can truly call our own, "The Taste" has settled in well out west in its larger more upscale home decorated in Texana. Generous reasonably priced steaks are cut to your specification and include all the trimmings. Sides may include broccoli with hollandaise, potatoes au gratin, tortilla soup, or steamed vegetables. Expect big crowds and long waits for steak cooked to specs and a most delightful unpretentious Texas attitude.

Thai Spice
5117 Kelvin
(713) 522-5100

This pretty Rice Village restaurant is located upstairs in a handsome brick building with a petite patio reminiscent of a treehouse. Menu favorites include delicate cold summer rolls; spicy crystal salad with shrimp and ground pork; pad Thai Chanburi; summer palace with fresh basil, stir fried veggies and chicken. Ask for “mild” or you will get spicy hot on many dishes.

Tony Mandola’s Gulf Coast Kitchen
1962 West Gray
(713) 528-3474

Tony Mandola gives all the credit to his Sicilian-Louisianan mama who taught him how to cook. This upbeat, jazzy oyster bar features countless standouts: Oysters Damian topped with pico de gallo; sublime gumbo; crawfish ravioli; perfect boiled blue crabs. Don’t miss the Cajun Martinis, expertly prepared with jalapeno-infused gin. Tuesday and Thursday lunch shrimp and crabmeat spaghetti specials are a treat and light on the pocketbook.

3755 Richmond Avenue
(713) 622-6778

Tony Vallone’s lofty and artful domain of fine dining enchants with its warm cinnamon hued walls and welcoming water wall. As always, impeccable food and pampering service along with an exceptional wine list keeps socialites, international celebrities and dignitaries on the guest list. Tony's has a carefully modernized menu of ever-changing seasonal choices. In the seafood department, lobster bisque, spicy seafood gazpacho, and halibut with lump crabmeat garner raves. Ditto for the tender beef filet stuffed with black truffle butter, and the luscious osso buco in Barolo wine sauce. Soaring soufflés are the signature dessert.

315 Travis and other locations
(713) 225-2160

Downtowners lunch a bunch at this sparse, wonderfully reliable Louisiana-style cafeteria. Southern favorites with soul: duck gumbo, shrimp etouffee, jambalaya, cornbread, red beans and rice with sausage. Warm and friendly atmosphere with unfussy service and enjoyable rotating wall art from local artists.

Robin Barr Sussman is a freelance food writer and columnist for Houston's My Table Magazine: A Critical Guide to Dining in Houston.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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