Restaurant Guide–Houston

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  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Alvin

Khmer Kitchen–222 Fitz Rd. (Cambodian) Open 11 am to 7 pm Mon-Fri; 11-6 Sat (closed Sun).  This is the Houston area Cambodian restaurant with the best reviews. It is a restaurant that is exclusively Cambodian, while some others are Thai/Cambodian. (Dining room is open 9-26-21)

Clear Lake City

NASA Fast Food–18059 Point Lookout (Vietnamese) Open 11 am to 7 pm (closed Sun).  Most recommended Vietnamese in SE Houston. Pho, noodles with char-grilled meat. (Dining room is open 9-5-20)

Viola & Agnes’ Neo Soul Cafe–18091 Upper Bay Rd. (Soul Food) Closed Sun evening & Mon.  A highly recommended soul food restaurant, which along with Mary Lou’s has an expert chef who puts this restaurant on a higher level than most. (Dining room is open 9-5-20)

Houston

Afghan Village–6413 Hillcroft St. (Afghan) Open daily 11 am to 10 pm.  There are several good Middle Eastern restaurants in Houston (including Afghan). Probably the main reason to come here is that you get excellent food at lower prices (but also in a fairly small building in an older strip mall). (Dining room is open 8-1-20)

Asia Market–3620 N. Main St. (Lao) Open daily-last order taken at 8:30 pm (7:30 pm on Sun).  Serves Thai and Lao, but Lao is the specialty. Some sources say they also have Cambodian food (might also have some Burmese dishes). Formerly inside the market, but it has now moved into its own building nearby. (Dining room is open 10-16-21)

Banana Leaf–9889 Bellaire Blvd. (Malaysian) Open daily to 9:30 (10:00 Fri & Sat).  In same strip center as Mamak, and these are the two highest rated Malaysian restaurants (Banana Leaf was recommended by Malaysian people I know in OKC, so would be my first choice).  Also a very good rest. for Indonesian food. (Dining room is open 6-25-20)

Bollo Woodfired Pizza–2202 W. Alabama St. (Pizza) Open daily except Mon lunch.  Gayot has designated this restaurant as having the best pizza in the US in 2021. Pizza is wood fired, with the flour from Italy. They say that although they have a margherita pizza, the best one here is the Bianco. Reviews on Google Maps say the restaurant is very busy, and even with reservations you may have to wait a while before getting a table. (Dining room is open 10-16-21)

Bombay Sweets–5827 Hillcroft Ave. (Indian) Open Daily.  South Indian vegetarian, very good & very cheap (about $7 for the buffet). Better reviews than Udipi Cafe. (Dining room is open 8-1-20)

Brisket House–5775 Woodway Dr. (BBQ) Open daily except Sun night.  Owner worked at Tom’s BBQ in College Station, and serves the famous “Aggie Special” (served on butcher paper with a lump of cheddar cheese and a white onion). (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Cafe Caspian–12126 Westheimer Rd. (Persian) Closed Mon.  A highly recommended and upscale Persian/ Iranian restaurant. It looks more expensive than the others and that you are paying for the atmosphere, but the food definitely looks high quality. (some reviewers say they spend $40 on a meal). They also report having some of the best meals of their life. (Dining room is open 6-25-20)

Christie’s–6029 Westheimer Rd. (Seafood) Closed Mon.  Has been in operation since 1917 and is still popular. Known for its fried shrimp which comes from Galveston. Food is said to be old school (so it will be fried shrimp the way I envision that it should be).(Dining room is open 10-16-21)

Note: Rec. for Christie’s came from Reddit. Other places said to be good for fried shrimp include Monument Inn, Pier 8, Fountain View Fish Market, Goode Company Seafood, Captain Tom’s, and Pappadeaux’s. (A friend of mine ate at Pappadeaux’s in the Intercontinental Airport and confirms that this is an excellent place for shrimp).

Crawfish & Noodles–11360 Bellaire Blvd. (Vietnamese) Dinner only but has lunch on Sat & Sun (closed Tue).  This is on my list because of the reviews, and not because the concept sounds very intriguing. It seems, though, that they have real Vietnamese food (pho, hot pots, and lesser known items), real Cajun food (shrimp, crawfish, etc.), and a small number of fusion dishes. (Dining room is open 8-1-20)

Dolce Vita–500 Westheimer Rd. (Pizza) Dinner Tue-Sun; lunch Sat & Sun.  Known for its authentic Neapolitan style pizza. Has other dishes that are Italian style (a big change from typical Americanized Italian food). (Restaurant’s web site indicates that you can dine in, but it is best to make reservations 6-25-20)

Gatlin’s BBQ–3510 Ella Blvd. (BBQ) Open 7 am to 6 pm (closed Sun).  Maybe the best BBQ in Houston (also see Killen’s in Pearland). Brisket, pulled pork, turkey. The wait in line usually lasts from about 10 to 30 min. at lunch (this is less than at most other good BBQ places). (Dining room is open 6-25-20)

Goode Company BBQ–5109 Kirby Dr. (BBQ) Open daily 11 am to 8:30 pm.  I get tips from as many sources as possible, and in this case it was an episode of Larry the Cable Guy. Information on line says this is “old school” barbecue and that it is “simple.” Larry’s show indicated it is not all that simple, and they use 12 spices for the rub on the brisket including guajillo chile. Brisket seems to be recommended here. (Dining room is open 9-26-21)

Helen’s Kitchen–14608 S. Post Oak Rd. (Jamaican) Closed Sun & Mon.  Serves traditional Jamaican food along with tropical drinks. (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Himalaya–6652 Southwest Freeway (Indian & Pakistani) Closed Mon.  Seems to serve authentic food from Indian & Pakistan, but many dishes are not ones commonly found in restaurants in the U.S. This is not a Nepali restaurant although it may have some dishes from there as well. (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Hong Kong Food Street–9750 Bellaire Blvd. (Chinese) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  Authentic Cantonese. Specializes in inexpensive, everyday type of food. Congee is good. Also has upscale food such as roast duck. Open until 2:00 AM every day. (Dining room is open 6-25-20)

Hu’s Cookiing–2502 W. Holcombe Blvd. (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 3 pm to 5 pm).  Reviewers say this is one of the top Chinese restaurants in the city and one of the ones that is authentic. Has Sichuan dishes (including one of my favorites–shredded pork with garlic sauce) but I think the menu items are from various parts of China. (Dining room is open 9-26-21)

Hugo’s–1600 Westheimer Rd. (Mexican) Dinner daily; lunch on Fri & Sat.  Authentic alta cocina Mexican food. Expect to pay about $25 to $30 for a dinner (but you get the real deal). Mole is one of the specialties. Owner won a James Beard award for the best chef in the Southwest. (Dining room is open 6-25-20)

Huynh–912 St. Emanuel St. (Vietnamese) Open 11 am t 9 pm (closed Sun).  This seems to be a consensus choice as one of the two best Vietnamese restaurants in the city to “explore the menu” (banh xeo, bun bo hue, etc.). (Nam Giao is the other restaurant to check out). (Dining room is open 6-25-20)

Kasra Persian–9741 Westheimer Rd. (Persian) Open Daily. Looks like it has an extensive menu with items not served in other cities. Chicken barg is recommended. Everything on the menu gets good reviews. Not as expensive as Cafe Caspian but is still very good (the food here more like you would have at a typical Persian meal. (Dining room is open 6-25-20)

Lankford Grocery–88 Dennis St. (Hamburgers) Open 7 am to 3 pm (closed Mon).  This is supposed to be the best place in Houston for hamburgers. Hubcap also gets good reviews (Hubcap is located downtown, 1133 W. 19th St., and Kemah). (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Los Perros–9385 Richmond Ave. (Colombian) 5 pm to late night Wed-Sat.  This is a food truck so I’m giving an approximate address according to Google Maps. Serves Colombian street food (people like it for a late night snack). (Takeout only 8-13-21)

Lucille’s–5512 La Branch St. (Southern) Closed Sun evening & Mon.  A segment on CBS This Morning Saturday indicated that this is Southern cooking, but that it is “evolved.” The owner went to Europe to get ideas, and the idea she uses is to serve food that is upscale with “none of the bad stuff” (that makes people consider southern cooking to be unhealthy). Lucille’s great grandmother invented the hot biscuits that were served on American Airlines, and Lucille serves them in the restaurant. (Dining room is open 8-13-21)

Mala Sichuan Bistro–9348 Bellaire Blvd. (Chinese) Closed Tue.  Authentic Sichuan cuisine that give you “both the traditional and the adventurous.” I got excited when I saw that people were recommending shredded pork with garlic sauce. (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Mi Bella Honduras–1806 Wirt Rd. (Honduran) Open daily (serves breakfast).  Good place to try authentic Honduran dishes (there are other Honduran restaurants in the city but this looks like a good bet if you can only try one). (Dining room is open 8-1-20)

Nam Giao–6938 Wilcrest Dr. (Vietnamese) Open 9 am to 9 pm (closed Thu).  This and Huynh are supposed to be the best “full menu” Vietnamese restaurants in the city. As far as which one to go to–this is on the west side and Huynh is downtown, they are closed on different days, and this apparently has central Vietnamese food while Huynh has southern Vietnamese food. (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Niko Niko’s–2520 Montrose Blvd. (Greek) Open Daily.  Just about everyone says this is the best Greek in town. Has a fairly extensive menu. Has 2 other locations. (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Ninfa’s–2704 Navigation Blvd. (Tex-Mex) Open Daily to 10 pm (11 Fri & Sat).  Many say this is the best Tex-Mex in Houston (but some say it only used to be the best). Recommended are enchiladas suizas, homemade tortillas, tacos al carbon. (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Oporto–125 W. Gray St. (Portuguese) Open Daily. Portuguese tapas restaurant. The food is described as primarily seafood cooked in an olive oil base. Food and wine are both good–it’s a little upscale, but ordering a few items is not expensive. It may be best to go with a group to sample more items. (Dining room is open 8-1-20)

Parrilla Colombiana–6053 Bissonnet St. (Colombian) Open daily to 6 pm. There are at least three dozen Colombian restaurants in Houston. This one has good reviews and is authentic–one reviewer says this is the only place that is exactly like it is in Colombia. Empanadas are recommended. Lunch specials are very cheap. (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Pasha–2325 University Blvd. (Turkish) Open 11 am to 10 pm (closed Mon).  This looks like one of the better Middle Eastern restaurants in Houston. Menu consists of Turkish items (seems to give you a feast at dinner but smaller dinners at a good price at lunch). (Dining room is open 8-1-20)

Peking Cuisine–8332 SW Freeway (Chinese) Open Daily 11am to 9pm.  Authentic Beijing style food (also has Sichuan dishes). Serves duck, but Peking duck must be ordered in advance. (Dining room is open 6-25-20)

Pho Binh Trailer–10928 Beamer Rd. (Vietnamese) Open 8 am to 3 pm (closed Mon).  This is not a trailer but a real restaurant, and some of the city’s food writers who have tried every known Vietnamese restaurant say this one has the best pho. (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Pizaro’s Pizza Napoletana–1000 W. Gray St. (Pizza) Open noon to 9 pm–10 on weekends (closed Mon).  Serves authentic Neapolitan style pizza and is certified by the Vera Pizza Napoletana organization. (Dining room is open 9-26-21)

Polonia–1780 Blalock Rd. (Polish) Open 11 am to 9 pm (closed Mon).  Pierogi, cabbage roll, roast pork, soup, kielbasa. (Temporarily closed 7-23-21)

Que Huong–13438 Bellaire Blvd. (Vietnamese) Closed Tue.  Reviewers recommend it for a large selection of Vietnamese dishes (non-pho). Regular menu items are pricey because they are large–meant for family style dining (but lunch specials are cheap). (Dining room is open 6-25-20)

Revival Market–550 Heights Blvd. (Cafe) Open to 4 pm (closed Mon).  Has a wide range of food, and all of it is locally sourced. This means that the menu is not always the same because they only serve things that are fresh (this includes fresh shrimp from the Gulf when it is available). Breakfast seems to be the most popular meal at the restaurant, and it looks very good. (Dining room is open 8-1-20)

Rice Bowl–11324 Fondren Rd. (Indonesian) Closed Sun.  Google Maps says it’s a Chinese restaurant. Supposedly it has Indonesian food but reviewers don’t mention it. Reviewers on Chowhound indicate that the Indonesian menu is limited, but does have telor balado (deep fried eggs), beef rendang, ayam goreng, etc. (Takeout only 9-26-21)

San Dong Noodle House–9938 Bellaire Blvd. (Chinese) Open 10 am to 9 pm (closed Mon).  Has excellent Chinese dumplings. #20 (leek pork dumplings) in broth is suggested. Small, casual place with cheap prices. (Dining room is open 9-26-21)

Shanghai–9116 Bellaire Blvd. (Chinese) Closed Wed.  Reviewers say this is one of the few truly authentic Chinese rests. in Houston. Chef tofu special is popular. (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Shri Balaji Bhavan–5655 Hillcroft Ave. (Indian) Closed Tue.  Authentic South Indian–supposedly the best place in town for dosa. Food is all vegetarian. (Dining room is open 8-1-20)

Sinh Sinh–9788 Bellaire Blvd. (Chinese) Open daily 10 am to late night (after midnight). This was personally recommended to me by some friends who in turn heard about it from their friends in Houston. This is a good place for Cantonese style food, including upscale dishes such as roast duck and roast pork. Noodle soup is also recommended. (Dining room is open 8-13-21)

Street Food Thai Market–1010 W. Cavalcade St. (Thai) Open daily (closes at 8:30 weekdays).  Maybe the most authentic Thai restaurant in Houston, although it appears to have some Lao dishes as well. People who have traveled to Thailand say the flavor here is the real deal. One person recommends khao mun gai as a good thing to try for first time diners because the ginger sauce is so delicious (but almost everything here is reported as being excellent by the people who review them). (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Tan Tan–6816 Ranchester Dr. (Vietnamese) Open 11 am to 10 pm Mon-Thu; 11 am to midnight Fri-Sun.  Very large menu–seems to be good food. Known for the hot pot. (Dining room is open 9-26-21)

Taqueria Aguascalientes–2809 Broadway St. (Mexican) Open daily (serves breakfast-open until 10 pm).  The most popular Mexican food in Houston seems to be street tacos. This is the place that looks best to me, and has the best reviews (but there are many others that look very good also). (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Taste of Nigeria–5959 Richmond Ave. (Nigerian) Dinner only (closed Mon).  Has extensive menu that is popular with Houston’s large West African immigrant community. (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Zaab-Der–14642 Memorial Dr. (Thai) Open daily (closed from 3 to 4:30 pm).  This is exclusively Isan style from northeastern Thailand. Reviews are good, and it seems that the staff will explain the food to anyone who is not familiar with it. (Dining room is open 9-26-21)

Note: Suya Hut at 11720 W. Airport Blvd. is where you can get Nigerian style skewers (it is takeout only as of 8-13-21)

Jolly Jolly Bakery at 6275 S. Hwy 6 is where you can get Nigerian style bread and other treats (such as chicken pie). It is also takeout only as of 8-13-21

Udipi Cafe–5959 Hillcroft Ave. (Indian) Closed Mon. Vegetarian South Indian. Has thali (but reviewers say chutneys are below par). Good variety of dosa. Also in Sugar Land (3551 Hwy. 6). (Dining room is open 8-1-20)

Vieng Thai–6929 Long Point Rd. (Thai) Open Daily.  Authentic and flavorful.  One advantage over many others is that they do not use MSG. Some say the owners have made the food somewhat less authentic because it has gotten so popular they’ve had to streamline their operation (but I think if you want the most authentic version they can still do it). (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Xochi–1777 Walker St. (Mexican) Closed Mon; Dinner only Tue-Sat; Lunch only Sun.  Serves upscale Oaxacan cuisine.(Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Note: The City-Data discussion on Houston’s most underrated cuisine is mainly about the best cuisines (underrated or not). These include Barbecue, Seafood, Cajun, Soul Food, Greek, Persian, Turkish, Mexican, Tex-Mex, Colombian, Venezuelan, Caribbean, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Vietnamese, Chinese

Katy

Phat Eatery–23119 Colonial Pkwy. (Malaysian) Open Daily.  Malaysian street food with very good reviews. Seafood is a specialty. (Dining room is open 7-23-21)

Pearland

Killen’s BBQ–3613 E. Broadway St. (BBQ) Closed Mon.  Many rate it as the best barbecue in the Houston area. Brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, turkey, pulled pork (but it looks as if brisket is their best item). Sides are very good also. There is usually a wait (which I think involves standing in line waiting for a table). After 2015 they expanded the hours to 8 pm (9 pm on weekends), so this seems to have reduced the rush they had at noon when wait times were very long (and they frequently ran out of certain items). (Dining room is open 9-5-20)

T J Filipino–1826 Country Place Pkwy. (Filipino) Open 7:30 am to 7 pm (closed Sun dinner).  Filipino people say this restaurant has a better taste than others (normally they do not like restaurants–just cooking at home). Is a buffet, but it doesn’t seem to cost more than if you got one or two items from a menu. (Dining room is open 8-13-21)

Rosenberg

Schulze’s BBQ–1214 1st St. (BBQ) Open daily except Sun evening.  A popular place for “Brazos Valley” style BBQ (cooked with pecan wood). (Dining room is open 6-25-20)

Witt Pit–2516 1st St. (BBQ) Open 11 am to 8 pm (closed Sun & Mon).  A well known place for “Brazos Valley” style BBQ (uses pecan wood for cooking). Maybe the better of the two Rosenberg BBQ places, based on reviews. (Dining room is open 8-13-21)

Seabrook

Merlion Thai–1205 Main St. (Thai) Dinner only (closed Mon).  Specializes in Thai seafood, and the chef’s specials include Thai basil red curry sauce with red snapper, red curry with shrimp, and a number of similar dishes. It is not cheap, but seems to be considered one of the best Thai restaurants in the U.S. (Dining room is open 10-16-21)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.
Sources:

Chowhound (Houston)

City-Data (Houston BBQ)

City-Data (Most Underrated Cuisine of Houston)

Eater.com (The 38 Essential Houston Restaurants)

Gayot (2021 Best Pizza Restaurants in the U.S.A.)

Houston Matters (Houston Vietnamese Food)

No Passport Required (Houston)

Reddit (Best Fried Shrimp)

Trip Advisor (Houston BBQ)

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Houston)

Zomato (Houston)

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