The 10 Absolute Best Lunch Spots in Houston
Get your midday fix at trusty taquerias, top sandwich shops, and sunny sidewalk bistros.
Saucy fried chicken, overstuffed tacos, juicy burgers, soup and salad combos—the options are endless when it comes to conquering lunch here in Houston. It can get a little overwhelming to choose, especially in a city that puts global cuisines, game-changing concepts, and explosive flavors front and center.
But for Houstonians currently confined to the office or cutting out that exhausting commute by working from home, finding a perfect lunch spot that meets your needs is of the utmost importance. So before Monday afternoon comes rolling around, take note of this eclectic mix of old-school standbys, chill grab-and-go cafes, and swanky sit-down venues, each vying to make your final lunchtime cut.
Warning: You’re definitely going to need a napkin for this one. This food truck rolled—quite literally—into Houston last year, informing us that nothing beats a stacked burger or two, especially when you’re in a time crunch. We’re definitely sold. Tucked away in the Galleria Food Truck Park (and soon to debut in the Montrose area), you can bedazzle your lunch break with a few savory melts and double deckers (which all come with patties smashed to perfection, cheese, signature sauce, and grilled onions) alongside seasoned fries, or elevate your midday fix with a mess of chopped meat and additional condiments. Be sure to keep that napkin handy for the milkshakes, too, because there’s no way you could pop back into the office without a frosty Fruity Pebbles or Cinnamon Toast Crunch delight in tow.
Flora Mexican Kitchen
Landing in the city early last month, this stunning, glass-walled Tex-Mex emporium has already found itself squarely within our good graces. Houston has such a soft spot for Mexican-inspired dishes, so Grant Cooper—the mastermind behind this new eatery—expanded on that obsession with some refreshing twists. Must-tries include Braised Lamb decked with spices and warm tortillas, Red Snapper and Yellowtail Ceviches partnered with housemade tostadas, Charred Octopus with chorizo, roasted sweet potatoes, and sour cream, various street tacos, enchilada platters, and more.
Cowboys & Indians Tex-In Kitchen
Unless you’re working from home and granting yourself an indefinite lunch break, finding bomb food that gets you out and back in a timely manner is a serious treasure. That’s where this cozy oasis comes in. With one look at the restaurant’s beefy menu, the lighthearted spin on their name is definitely accurate. Get your fill of classic Indian fare like Chicken Tikka Masala, crispy Naan bites perfect for scooping up spreads, and buttery Paneer, while also sinking their teeth into Western hits like Chicken Fried Chicken and Grilled Skewers. The more the merrier.
Texas’s culinary drip wouldn’t be complete without Cajun cooking tinged with a bit of Southern hospitality. With a handful of locations Downtown (which only operate from 11 am to 2 pm throughout the week) plus its recent hop over to the Memorial area, this cafeteria-style concept is a verifiable midday hotspot. At all locations, lunch go-ers can expect Shrimp Etouffee, a variety of gumbo (depending on the day), customizable garden salads, and a hoard of sides to perfectly compliment those chicken- and sausage-based dishes. They also have a roundup of specials that rotate between fried and baked catfish, meatloaf, and other fine mains with a choice of two sides. Their Memorial location has even more options, so hit that one up for enticements like Pecan-Crusted Tilapia smothered in a lemon-butter puree, crispy Catfish Hushpuppies, Roasted Salmon, and a hearty Pot Roast ideal for sharing.
When it comes to crafting a piping hot lunch menu, Agricole Hospitality is a reliable frontrunner. We’re talking about everything from genius booze and taco pairings at Eight Row Flint to dough-slinging action at Vinny’s and Coltivare. However, we have to tip our hats to their first-born Revival Market, a craft butcher shop and cafe that serves up everything fresh, saucy, and cheesy. This neighborhood outpost makes its salumis in-house and incorporates their finely sliced meats into numerous sandwiches, salads, and soups. Reward yourself for back-to-back meetings with standouts like Meatball Subs, Sourdough Herb Chicken, and a buttered-up 44 Farms Burger stacked with all the fixins. Or keep it easy with veggie- and falafel-stuffed pitas alongside a Cherry Limeade.
Things are no-joke-local when it comes to this trio of soup, salad, and sandwich aficionados, as you can see by the lineup of local farms and artisan shops repped on the menu. Things are also no-joke-good, as beauties like savory Banh Mi peppered with thinly sliced veggies and slaw or Falafel Salad doused with tahini dressing will prove. Every sandwich, which can also be turned into a salad upon request, comes coupled with your choice of either soup or two sides, ranging from dill pickle slices and chips to a cheesy kale salad. Definitely add in a glass or two of local wine to make this lunch an extra-happy occasion.
Weights + Measures
An in-house bakery that crafts top-notch breads and pastries? Check. An open kitchen that dishes out everything from Cranberry Walnut Grilled Cheeses and a solid Duck Salad to Roasted Carrot Pizza spiced up with dukka and garnished with fresno chiles? Check. An exceptional and seasonal cocktail menu that dolls up bourbon with a bit of zest here and a touch of maple syrup there? Check. If this vibrant, sleek, and airy triple-threat isn’t on your lunchtime radar, you need to remedy that immediately and thank us later.
Keeping Westheimer groovy (despite the grueling traffic) since the early ‘90’s, this stalwart sports a respectable bill of cafe fare—not to mention, one of the most stunning patio spaces in Montrose. Hefty burgers and tacos (prepared with either Guajillo-marinated chicken or seared catfish) sit alongside bistro eats like Cheese Boards, creamy Ginger Corn Soup studded with crawfish tails, Grilled Chicken and Chili Crisp Pie, a Kale Salad flecked with candied pepitas and queso fresco, and enough craft beer and wine to make your lunch hour that much more relaxing. Order at the counter, grab a seat, and don’t forget about those addictive Butterscotch and Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Kenny & Ziggy's Deli
Sandwiches. Burgers. Knish. Whatever you’re getting at this loveable Jewish deli, expect it to come in the kind of colossal portion only a Brooklyn grandmother would deem appropriate. Gargantuan triple-deckers come stuffed with corned beef, meatloaf, melted cheese, smoked pastrami, or roast brisket, all crafted in house, of course. These meaty stars are best split with a friend, especially if you’re hoping to save room for the Sweet Potato Fries and Onion Rings you “accidentally” ordered on the side.
Ah, Backstreet Cafe, you’ve captured both our hearts and appetites with that picturesque patio, compelling lunchtime eats, and upscale (but never uptight) atmosphere. There’s always a steady crowd at this 1930s-era bistro, and with a menu this extensive and delicious, you’ll be running, not walking, to join the masses before all the tables are filled. Once settled, ease into the afternoon by dipping some French bread into their cheesy, rich Oxtail Soup or knocking back a couple Gulf Oysters before digging into some choice Salmon Tacos, chef Hugo Ortega’s Chihuahua cheese-layered Burger, and Chicken Enchiladas swimming in corn pudding and cream. Finish up with a slice of their warm, caramel-drizzled Apple Crostata, and be sure to make a second trip during happy hour (which runs from 3 to 6:30 pm, Tuesdays through Fridays), because those masterful cocktails will definitely make your evening.
How to book: Reserve via SevenRooms.
Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who suddenly has a ton of weekend plans. Follow her journeys on IG @brookiefafa or on Twitter @brookeviggiano.