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)

Clear Lake City

NASA Fast Food–18059 Point Lookout (Vietnamese) Open 11 am to 8:30 pm (closed Sun).  Most recommended Vietnamese in SE Houston. Pho, noodles with char-grilled meat. (4-12-17)

Viola & Agnes’ Neo Soul Cafe–18091 Upper Bay Rd. (Soul Food) Lunch Tue-Sun; dinner Wed-Sat.  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. (4-12-17)

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). (4-11-17)

Asia Market–1010 W. Cavalcade (Lao) Open daily (open until 8 pm except 7 pm on Sun).  Serves Thai and Lao, but Lao is the specialty.  Restaurant is inside the market. (12-17-15)

Banana Leaf–9889 Bellaire Blvd. (Malaysian) Open Daily.  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. (11-8-15)

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. (4-11-17)

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). (11-8-15)

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 reviewers say the food is excellent (my list is to try to find the most value for the money, and I think the other Persian restaurants might fit this definition better). (4-12-17)

Carniceria 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). (12-17-15)

Crawfish & Noodles–11360 Bellaire Blvd. (Vietnamese) Open daily (dinner only except lunch & dinner on Sat & Sun).  To me this would be a novelty restaurant which combines Vietnamese and Cajun food in a fusion style, but it is one of the specialty cuisines popular in Houston. (4-12-17)

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). (4-11-17)

El Real–1201 Westheimer Rd. (Tex-Mex) Open Daily.  There is a very strong consensus that this is the best Tex-Mex in Houston (replacing Ninfa’s).  Enchiladas are recommended. (10-17-15)

Filipino Cuisine–10950 Bissonnet St. (Filipino) Open 10 am to 7 pm (closed Mon).  Filipino food served cafeteria style (there are several of these in Houston, but this one has the best reviews). This is a good chance to try a lot of items at a good price. (4-11-17)

Gatlin’s BBQ–3510 Ella Blvd. (BBQ) Open Wed & Thu 11AM-7PM; Fri & Sat 11AM-9PM.  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). (12-17-15)

Hong Kong Food Street–9750 Bellaire Blvd. (Chinese) Open Daily.  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. (11-8-15)

Hugo’s–1600 Westheimer Rd. (Mexican) Open Daily.  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. (4-11-17)

Huynh–912 St. Emanuel St. (Vietnamese) 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). (4-12-17)

Kasra Persian–9741 Westheimer Rd. (Persian) Open Daily.  Looks like it has an extensive menu with items not served in OKC. Chicken barg is recommended. Everything on the menu gets good reviews, though. (4-11-17)

Lankford Grocery–88 Dennis St. (Hamburgers) Open breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  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). (11-3-15)

Mamak Malaysian–9889 Bellaire Blvd. (Malaysian) Open Daily.  Reviewers say it has a rather small menu, but is very good. (11-8-15)

Mary Lou’s Soulful Bistro–8429 Scott St. (Soul Food) Open 11 am to 7 pm (closed Sun & Mon; closed Sat evening).  This seems to be true soul food in the hands of expert chefs who cook it the way it should be done. (4-11-17)

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). (4-11-17)

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 (but I am not certain about the cuisines). (4-12-17)

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. (4-12-17)

Ninfa’s–2704 Navigation Blvd. (Tex-Mex) Open Daily.  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. (10-17-15)

Oporto–125 W. Gray St. (Portuguese) Open daily except Sun night.  Portuguese tapas restaurant. 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. (4-12-17)

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). (4-11-17)

Peking Cuisine–8332 SW Freeway (Chinese) Open Daily.  Authentic Beijing style food (also has Sichuan dishes).  Serves duck, but Peking duck must be ordered in advance. (11-8-15)

Pho Binh Trailer–10928 Beamer Rd. (Vietnamese) Open 8 am to 4 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. (4-12-17)

Polonia–1780 Blalock Rd. (Polish) Open 11 am to 9 pm (closed Mon).  Pierogi, cabbage roll, roast pork, soup, kielbasa. (4-11-17)

Que Huong–11201 Bellaire Blvd. (Vietnamese) Closed Sun.  Reviewers recommend it for upscale (but not expensive) Vietnamese (also it is authentic). Regular menu items are pricey because they are large–meant for family style dining (but lunch specials are cheap). (11-8-15)

Rice Bowl II–14360 Bellaire Blvd. (Indonesian) Open Daily.  Reviewers on Chowhound indicate that there isn’t much Indonesian food on the menu (so may be disappointing).  However, it does have telor balado (deep fried eggs), beef rendang, ayam goreng, etc. (11-8-15)

Saffron–5711 Hillcroft (Afghan) Open Daily.  Excellent food–Middle Eastern style. (4-11-17)

San Dong Noodle House–9938 Bellaire Blvd. (Chinese) Closed Mon.  Has excellent Chinese dumplings.  #20 (leek pork dumplings) in broth is suggested. (10-17-15)

Shanghai–9116 Bellaire Blvd. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Reviewers say this is one of the few truly authentic Chinese rests. in Houston.  Menu looks Sichuan, so I’m not sure what style it is. (11-8-15)

Shri Balaji Bhavan–5655 Hillcroft Ave. (Indian) Closed Tue.  Authentic South Indian–best place in town for dosa. (4-11-17)

Tan Tan–6816 Ranchester Dr. (Vietnamese) Open Daily.  Very large menu–seems to be good food. Known for the hot pot. Open until midnight daily. (11-8-15)

Tierras Colombianas–6053 Bissonnet St. (Colombian).  There are at least three dozen Colombian restaurants in Houston.  This one has good reviews and is authentic–I’m sure there are others also. Empanadas are very good. Lunch specials are very cheap (and good). (4-12-17)

Udipi Cafe–5959 Hillcroft Ave. (Indian) Open Daily 11 am to 10 pm.  Vegetarian South Indian.  Has thali (but reviewers say chutneys are below par). Also in Sugar Land (3551 Hwy. 6). (4-11-17)

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). (4-11-17)

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

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). (4-12-17)

T J Filipino–1826 Country Place Pkwy. (Filipino) Open 10:30 am to 7 pm (closed Sun dinner & Mon).  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. (4-12-17)

Rosenberg

Schulze’s BBQ–1214 1st St. (BBQ).  A popular place for “Brazos Valley” style BBQ (cooked with pecan wood). (12-17-15)

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. (12-17-15)

 

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)

Houston Matters (Houston Vietnamese Food)

Trip Advisor (Houston BBQ)

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

Yelp (Houston)

Zomato (Houston)

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