The Best Places to Eat in Houston Right Now
Houston is a symphony of cultures, so when it comes to food, our city arguably has it all. And while we love to tell you about the finest burgers, most righteous brunches, and unholiest of all barbecue joints (which you can currently enjoy safely from home), we also like to keep you abreast of the places that best define Houston’s food scene at this moment in time. That means putting a spotlight on the most intriguing places that have opened lately. With social distancing of the utmost importance, we’re making sure these places also offer safe dining situations (i.e., takeout, delivery, and outdoor/socially distanced dining), too.
Note: As things are constantly changing these days and many restaurants are temporarily shutting down to test staff/sanitize to ensure the safety of all, you’ll want to look to social media or give the restaurant a call to make sure they are currently open.
The gist: Goodnight Hospitality adds an ever-inviting pizza and pasta spot to its repertoire (which already includes a honky-tonk and wine & cheese shop).
The food: An Italian (and sometimes Spanish and Portuguese) menu centers around a pizza oven and wood-burning grill, with smoky Basque chicken, grilled Napa cabbage, cavatelli alla bolognese, a speck & chile oil pie being just some of the standouts. To-go bonus? You can also add cocktail kits, wine, and pints of gelato.
The cost: Primi, contorni, and pizzas will run $12-$18, while larger secondi plates are around $30.
How to order: Place an online order for to-go and delivery.
The gist: The duo behind Dubai’s Spice Route Co tapped rising star chef Mayank Istwal to show off the fare of his native India in an over-the-top dining experience.
The food: A mix of traditional and cutting edge eats match the majestic atmosphere at this extraordinary Indian concept. Expect dramatic presentations of pani puri (here, filled with fresh ceviche), gorgeous stuffed squash blossoms, fiery smoked goat meat, and butter chicken done three ways.
The cost: Dinner selections cost from $16 to $38, and there’s Sunday brunch ($20-$30) and shareable dessert ($18-$25), too.
How to order: Call 713-242-8087 for takeout or dine-in reservations.
The gist: Chef Emmanuel Chavez returns to Houston on a mission to restore the cultural value of maíz at this modern tortilleria.
The food: Focusing on the ancient practice of nixtamalization (processing corn into masa without additives), Chavez brings both attention to detail and modern technique to classic Mexican maize-based dishes. Order tlayuda, a large, thin, crispy tortilla artfully slathered with smooth beans, quesillo, crunchy cabbage, avocado, and fresh herbs, or some sopes sporting things like smoked brisket, beans, and charred tomato.
The cost: Sopes run $13 for two, tlayuda are $24, tortillas are $9 per dozen, and masa is $7 per pound.
How to order: Delivery orders can be made via DM on Instagram until the site goes live.
The gist: Former Nobu sushi chef Man Nguyen mans this 24-seat hand roll bar on West 11th.
The food: Nguyen’s take on temaki doesn’t resemble the usual cone-like hand roll; instead, you’ll find long, uncut sushi rolls with toasted seaweed, spot-on rice, and things like bluefin tuna belly and yellowtail. Get flights of three, four, and five-pieces or try an impressive 12-hour sous vide wagyu beef for two.
The cost: Rolls run about $6 to $11 and apps are around the same; the wagyu for two is $45.
How to order: Though Hando temporarily closed to sanitize and test its staff, when it reopens it will continue its dine-in and curbside pickup service (order online), plus delivery through Grubhub, Postmates, and UberEats.
The gist: There’s no passport required for this gastronomic journey around the globe, a passion project from owner Matthew Mitchell with chef Omar Pereney of Á La Carte Foodservice Consulting Group collaborating on the opening menu.
The food: Crispy-skin duck gyoza, garlicky hummus with fall-apart lamb shank, Northern Thai yellow curry, and whole branzino hit with fennel and citrus pesto will temporarily satisfy your wanderlust. So will desserts like the Nola-inspired bourbon bread pudding.
The cost: Starter and flatbreads are around $10-$15, entrees are $17-$32, and brunch items run around $15
How to order: Place an order online or call 832-409-5785. Delivery available through Favor and GrubHub.
Rosalie Italian Soul
The gist: Chef Chris Cosentino, known for winning Top Chef Masters, brings his culinary mastery this inviting, soulful Italian kitchen in Downtown’s C. Baldwin Hotel.
The food: Belly up for red-sauce classics inspired by Cosentino’s great-grandmother, Rosalie, from eggplant parm and daily made rigatoni with wild boar ragu to pizzas hot from the oven, plus shareables like bistecca Fiorentina and whole Gulf shrimp fra diavolo.
The cost: Snack for $7 to $15, get pizzas and pastas for $14 to $22, or go for mains priced at $25 and up.
How to order: Call 713-351-5790 for to-go orders.
Guard And Grace
The gist: From Denver chef Troy Guard, this uber luxurious steakhouse sits in a glass-enclosed, two-floor space in downtown’s One Allen Center.
The food: Big, bold, and playful flavors are on the docket here, from Pop Rocks-topped hamachi crudo and a serious grand seafood tower fit for a boss to filet flights and the brontosaurus tomahawk with foie & bone marrow butter.
The cost: Be prepared to spend, with steaks like the $24 per ounce A5 Japanese strip and MP tomahawk and that grand seafood tower running upwards of $170.
How to order: Call 346-326-0789 for curbside carryout (and check out the butcher shop menu online).
The gist: This sterling izakaya experience comes from King of Asiatown Mike Tran (the guy behind Tiger Den, Mein, Ishin Udon & more).
The food: A custom wood-burning grill sets the stage for a solid stable of otsumami (snacks) and yakitori (skewers) -- things like candied pork belly, crispy chicken skin, tempura squid, razor-cut hamachi, and spam katsu -- to go alongside a section of sashimi.
The cost: Small plates and snacks start at $3, with larger portions from $11-$16 and sashimi dinners running $32-$48.
How to order: Call 346-293-9960 for takeout lunch and dinner.
The gist: Wife-and-hubby chefs Erin Smith (Plonk!, Blacksmith) and Patrick Feges (Underbelly, Southern Goods) perfectly marry smoked meats and farm-fresh sides at their Greenway Plaza food court spot. Look out for a soon-to-come second location in Spring Branch.
The food: Weekday lunch at the Greenway Plaza HUB means you can score Big Red-glazed barbacoa with hatch chili grits, plates of locally raised heritage whole hog, and kale salads topped with house smoked chicken. Or try buy-in-bulk options from vacuum-sealed brisket to quarts of pimento mac and cheese, available at Greenway and its weekend popups at Urban Harvest (Saturday) and Spring Branch (Sunday).
The cost: Plates are $15, with extra sides starting at $3 and bulk bbq options from $10 to $50.
How to order: Place your pre-orders online.
One Fifth Mediterranean
The gist: This game-changing restaurant from chef and local hero Chris Shepherd (and his talented team -- including but not limited to chef de cuisine Matt Staph, culinary director Nick Fine, and pastry director Victoria Dearmond) returns to its Mediterranean iteration for its final run.
The food: After taking a turn through steaks, pastas, oysters, and more, the dynamic team at One Fifth shifts its focus back to the foods of Greece, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, and the Middle East -- think taboon-fired pita with silky-smooth garlic-butter hummus, family-style whole roasted cauliflower and braised lamb, and skewers of pomegranate-kissed eggplant and carob-glazed beef. Try the Sightseeing Tour for 2 if you can’t choose, and check outs the Friday-Saturday shawarma shop for lunch.
The cost: Starters and mezze are $10-$20, family-style plates are $18-$40, and the Sightseeing Tour is $120.
How to order: Order curbside pickup online.
The gist: This mad, inspired taste of Madrid comes from partners Ignacio Torras and Chef Luis Roger, also known for the insanely good Spanish fine dining spot BCN Taste + Tradition.
The food: The refined, sometimes whackadoo cuisine here pays homage to the capital of Spain, with plates of jamon Iberico and pan con tomate, grilled Spanish octopus, and wood-roasted arroz for two cooked with baby cuttlefish and duck leg confit. Fresh baked and salted Belgian dark chocolate chip cookies are a pretty good way to finish things up.
The cost: Appetizers, salads, and sides are $9-$25, entrees are $25-$58, and desserts are $3.50-$14.
How to order: Place takeout orders online, call 281-888-2770, or get delivery via DoorDash.
Bravery Chef Hall
The gist: Downtown’s cool factor cranked up at least 10 levels when the talented chefs (including Uchi veterans Daniel Lee and Patrick Pham, MasterChef winner Christina Ha, and more) took center stage at this modern food hall.
The food: Make a killer smörgasbord of Vietnamese street eats from The Blind Goat and Korean bibimbap from sister concept The Sighted Pig; BOH Pasta & Pizza's alarmingly good pastas and Roman-style pizza al taglio; first-class sushi and yakitori from Kokoro; Texas ribeye from wood-burning steakhouse Cherry Block Craft Butcher; and chargrilled oysters and lobster from Margaux's Oyster Bar.
The cost: A la carte eats run from $3 to $30.
How to order: Order online for curbside pickup.
The gist: The mod, Euro-style bistro comes from the powerhouse trio behind Better Luck Tomorrow, which includes bar genius Bobby Heugel, culinary whiz Justin Yu, and restaurateur Steve Flippo.
The food: With a kitchen backed by Mark Clayton and Drew Gimma, menu offerings like the Sardinian semolina dumplings, mussels bruschetta, and French cheeseburger -- in which a perfectly fatty beef patty and a gorgeous house-baked pain de mie bun are made all the more mouthwatering by an oozing cascade of raclette cheese -- certainly hit the spot. Add retail-priced wine and take a look at Sunday brunch.
The cost: Breads, salads, and starters are $7-$15, pastas run $12-24, entrees are $18-$32, and there’s a Chef’s Choice dinner for two for $85.
How to order: Place a contactless pickup to-go order online.
1751 Sea and Bar
The gist: Chef J.D. Woodward (Underbelly, Rainbow Lodge, Southern Goods)
wows at this serious seafood spot, which so happens to rock an ice bar, high-end gin, and seafood charcuterie.
The food: Smoked, cured, and preserved seafood like tuna pastrami and pistou mussels are a thing at this other level seafood kitchen, as are snapper aguachile from the ice bar, small plates from Texas wood-grilled oysters to confit duck gyoza, and entrees like crispy skin snapper swimming in beurre monté (that’s butter, y’all) and live fire wood-grilled striped bass stuffed with crawfish, herbs, and rice.
The cost: Starters go for $10-$18, oysters are $2-$3.75 a pop, and entrees run from the $22 colossal shrimp to the $80 Alaskan king crab.
How to order: Call 832-831-9820 for takeout.
The gist: Penning an emotional Instagram post in which he announced Indigo’s closure in July of 2021, chef Jonny Rhodes offers thought-provoking neo-soul food that explores the roots of the African American experience for one final year.
The food: Reserve one of the 13 seats for this transformative dinner and you’ll get a guided tasting and dive deep into the soul food experience, including a food movement that managed to flourish even in dark times of slavery and oppression. Rhodes’ herbivore, omnivore, and carnivore menus cover ever-changing dishes from crisped duck in duck fat preserve to smoked leeks and Carolina rice warmed in milk and butter.
The cost: Tasting menus are $125
How to order: Make reservations online (and grab groceries and goods from sibling concept, Broham's Fine Soul Food & Groceries in Trinity Gardens when it reopens in August).
Blood Bros BBQ
The gist: Brothers Robin and Terry Wong and childhood friend Quy Hoang tell the true story of Houston barbecue at their pop-up gone brick-and-mortar (hint: that story takes a trip around the world).
The food: Not only do these blood brothers take the very best cuts from Texas farms, including Black Hill Meats and 44 Farms, to execute a flawless rendition of the holy trinity of barbecue (brisket, ribs, and sausage), they also dream up concoctions from gochujang beef belly burnt ends and smoked turkey banh mi to Thai green curry boudin and molé pork ribs.
The cost: Individual items are $8 to $12 and meats like the beef rib run $24 per pound.
How to order: Pop in to dine-in or order takeout, or place large orders (5 pounds or more) online.
The gist: Chris Shepherd’s powerhouse restaurant makes boring steakhouse classics fun over on Westheimer.
The food: If you’re dining in, your service will start with a Wagyu beef fat candle and hopefully move onto a big ol’ cast iron steak; but if you’re ordering takeout, you’ll have to figure out how to jury-rig a beef fat candle yourself. You can still get that big ol’ ribeye, porterhouse, or Texas strip though, plus accompaniments like charred elote, collard green and crab dip, and Gochujang tuna tartare.
The cost: Apps, soups and salads are $14 and up, non-steak entrees are $26-$85, steaks are $40-$155, and sides and desserts are $12-$14.
How to order: Order online for easy curbside pickup.
The gist: Internationally trained chef Drake Leonards (whose pedigree includes Nola hotspots like August, Domenica, and Shaya) pairs European and Gulf Coast styles at this cultured Cajun-Creole brasserie.
The food: Shrimp and blue-crab stuffed hearth-roasted oysters. Crawfish etouffee with handmade noodles. Double-smoked bacon duck poppers. It’s all on the menu at this high-class meets the Dirty South spot, along with bread pudding cooked in “brown butter goo.”
The cost: Starters are $10-$14 and mains are $24-$34.
How to order: Order online for takeout or get delivery via DoorDash.
The gist: Chef de cuisine Nick Wong (formerly of New York’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar) executes his meticulous, focused approach to cuisine at this hot take on the now defunct Underbelly.
The food: The superbly talented crew at UB is constantly updating its to-go offerings, exploring Houston’s mosaic of cultures through refined small plates and shareables. Look out for a mix of house favorites like the crispy rice salad and Vietnamese fajitas alongside new creations from a mojo marinated lechon sandwich to fried grouper schnitzel.
The cost: Small plates are $9-$14, medium are $14-$22, and larger plates run around $30 and up.
How to order: Place to-go orders for curbside pickup online.