Where to Eat in Houston Right Now
From Gulf Coast and Asian-inspired BBQ to high-end Israeli, Italian, and steaks, we’ve got options.
Hell yeah, Houston’s an awesome place to eat, and while it’s something locals always seem to understand, we’re starting to catch the eye of everybody else, too. We’ve got highly skilled James Beard Award nominees and winners, chefs moving in from out of town to get a little slice of that hot H-town action, and hometown heroes doing riffs on Third Coast and Tejano classics. It’s an exciting time to be dining out in this city, as these fine restaurants more than prove.
Our latest lineup includes a colossal food hall set in a historic post office rocking everything from West African eats to Nordic-bent Gulf seafood, a dual-concept restaurant with an uni-loaded omakase and soon-to-come izakaya experience, and a barbecue joint where you can chase melt-in-your-mouth Central Texas-style brisket with a cinnamon roll bigger than your face. Here are the best places to eat in Houston right now.
The Underbelly Hospitality team brings a true native Texas experience to the newly finished Houston Farmers Market. Culinary director and chef-partner Nick Fine (One Fifth, Georgia James) takes a deep dive into the diversity that makes the Lone Star special, using a custom-built live-fire grill with some help from fellow HFM vendors. The menu features local vegetables flash fried ’till crisp and tossed in mole from Los Cavazos, R-C Ranch Wagyu done CFS-style with a cowboy-inspired bacon poblano gravy, Bellaire Campechana swimming with crab, shrimp, and spiced tomatillo, and Crispy Pork Shank and späetzle to pay homage to Central Texas’ German heritage. It’s a taste of Old Texas, chef’d way up.
An extreme makeover of the historic Barbara Jordan Post Office, the fresh-faced Post HTX hosts a concert hall, super dope skylawn, and ace food hall featuring a roster of culinary heavyweights, from Top Chef winner Paul Qui to beloved local chef David Guerrero, who apprenticed at Lima’s famed Maido, ranked as one of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and now wows at his South American stunner, Andes Café. For his part, Qui helms a few outposts at POST, including Japanese street eats concept East Side King (which just launched a new omakase menu), Filipino favorite Soy Pinoy, and perhaps his most ambitious venture, Golfstrømmen, a can’t miss Nordic-bent Gulf seafood experience in collaboration with Norwegian chef Christopher Haatuft and one of the only players here that takes reservations. You’ll certainly want to check those out, plus comrades like Southeast Asian and Latin American street food concept Hawker Market, hot chicken slinger Lea Jane’s Hot Chicken, and modern West African joint ChòpnBlọk, too.
How to book: Dine-in, takeout, and delivery options vary by concept.
After gaining fans at the since-closed Blackbird Izakaya and continuing to impress at Hidden Omakase, chef Billy Kin opened this omakase experience in the former Golden Bagels locale on White Oak, along with former Degust chef Brandon Silva. A more casual izakaya, Tesseract, is set to join the space next. With high quality ingredients flown in weekly from Japan’s Toyosu Market, expect flawless preparations of fatty otoro (tuna belly), A5 Wagyu, tako (octopus), and fresh uni. Speaking of uni, if you’re lucky, the night will include a bite of Kin’s incredibly silky Uni Pasta, a redux of his famous Blackbird Izakaya Uni Carbonara. Bring your own booze and gear up for a good time.
Is it just us, or does this playful date night (and late night) staple just keep getting better with age? Executive Chef Martin Stayer takes inspiration from his grandmother, Nobie, to put out masterful, locally kissed plates and bountiful shareables that’ll keep you coming back for more. Pretty much everyone starts with an order of Dilly Bread, puffy pull-apart milk bread that you can (and should) pair with smoked trout roe, but don’t let the harissa-spiced Beer-battered Sweet Potato Tots fly under the radar. One dish that definitely doesn’t fly under the radar? Nonno’s Pasta—the tagliatelle bolognese is a staple on the ever-changing menu. Get some of that, and some of whatever’s in season, whether that be Truffle Butter King of Mushroom Gnocchi or the ‘Nduja Wanna Scallop with citrus and Calabrian chili. It’s all ending with one of the best damn pies you’ve had in your life, regardless.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.
Every hustlin’ and bustlin’ city should have an outpost or two that matches its lively energy. For H-town, that’s Nancy’s Hustle. This buzzing bistro has only been around for a little over two years, yet has attracted a loyal following among both Texas- and non-Texas-based crowds. Emphasis on the word “crowd”—if you want to witness the well-deserved hype, be prepared to squeeze. Absolutely start with the Spicy Beef & Butter Dumplings and namesake Nancy Cakes (fluffed up johnnycakes finished with smoked trout roe and cultured butter), chow down on flaky Roasted Tilefish with melted tomatoes and sweet corn puree, and grab a glass of good wine at the bar as you hop between bites of crispy, gooey Cheeseburger on english muffin brioche, thick-cut Fries and a housemade Pickle Party.
This casual little sibling to Underbelly Hospitality’s Georgia James brings Old Hollywood vibes and local charm to the ground floor of Market Square Tower. New executive Chef Tim Reading (Caracol, Ixim) has revamped the menu and is now running the kitchen. Gorgeous hunks of perfectly Seared Bavette Steak ride alongside diverse everyday fare driven by high-quality ingredients and technique. Slurp down a Gulf Coast Oyster Bake dripping in Calabrian chile butter and herby breadcrumbs, pair Roasted Bone Marrow with Crispy Duck Fat Potatoes, and dig into large plates like Roasted Gulf Fish, gorgeous Brick Chicken, and a 44 Farms Tavern Burger made punchier with horseradish sauce.
Culinary director and Michelin-starred chef Alain Verzeroli, who worked under late culinary legend Jöel Robuchon for nearly 20 years, harnesses the power of peak-season ingredients at this artful French restaurant, with Felipe Botero Sanchezas acting as the new Chef de Cuisine. Tucked away in the Museum of Fine Arts campus, guests can wine and dine in full view of the majestic sculpture garden. With Le Jardinier—French for “the gardener”—sporting a menu of well-balanced creations, guests with diverse palettes will have no problem scoring a dish overflowing with nutrients. Seafood lovers can bask in the buttery King Kampachi, emblazoned with squash and white sesame, while health nuts can slice into a grass-fed Tenderloin partnered with nutty ratte potatoes and gem lettuce. Pastry chef—and fellow Michelin Star recipient—Salvatore Martone’s desserts, like the Venezuelen Dark Chocolate Crémeux draped in salty caramel sabayon, are equally as stunning.
Railway Heights Market
The initial phase of this highly anticipated two-story food hall (which was designed by the team behind Conservatory and Bravery Chef Hall) brought a combination of food and drink vendors, restaurants, a coffee bar, and art and retail outposts, while awesome additions like a beer garden, dog park, and farmers market are slated to debut soon. Some of Houston’s hottest purveyors have set up shop alongside exciting newcomers, with over a dozen spots already open. Current street eats slingers include Mykuna, a Latin-Asian spot from chef David Guerrero (of Andes Cafe fame), halal snack spot Samosa Haus, Cajun seafood stand Heads & Tails, and Peaky Grinders, where the burger’s so good you’ll likely splurge for the double.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
The Goodnight Hospitality team (Rosie Cannonball, Montrose Cheese & Wine) opened the doors to this stunning Mediterranean tasting menu emporium last spring, and it’s been one of the most special dining experiences in Houston ever since. Chef-partner Felipe Riccio whisks diners through a modern, travel-oriented journey in six or nine courses, which has traveled from Levant regional specialties like Snapper Crudo with chermoula and Couscous with fennel and urchin to its most current coverage, the foods of South France’s historic Occitania region—think Rock Shrimp and Pernod Bouillabaisse, fatty Cod Belly Brandade, and Clapassade, a slow-cooked mess of lamb, honey, olives, and star anise. Overseen by an all-star team spanning beverage director Mark Sayre, master sommelier and partner June Rodil, and bar manager Alex Negranza, the wine and cocktail programs are also of note, making good use of the 11,000-bottle-deep cellar lurking below.
Blood Bros BBQ
The brainchild of Chinese-American brothers Robin and Terry Wong and pitmaster Quy Hoang (who yes, you did just see on The Bachelor), this critically-acclaimed Asian-inflected ‘cue joint churns out a daily menu that offers new discoveries with each visit. Beyond staples like Brisket Fried Rice and the Pulled Pork-stuffed Pig Moe Sandwich, recent offerings have included Vietnamese Thit Nuong Pork Belly done in the style of burnt ends and Mexican-inspired Seared Octopus served with chimichurri and street corn. With the Blood Bros. team teasing soon-to-come Stomping Grounds concept, LuLoo’s Pantry & Bodega, there’s never been a better time to get reacquainted with their genre-defying take on Texas fare.
Chef Aaron Bludorn’s namesake restaurant and all-around New American stunner may have been the best thing to come out of Houston in 2020. It’s the first solo project for the former Café Boulud chef, who is married to Victoria Pappas of the local Pappas restaurant empire. Set in the former Pass & Provisions space on Taft, Bludorn shows off the chef’s skillful European technique alongside a much-welcomed punch of Gulf Coast love via next level dishes including a Foie Gras with churro and cherry, a perfectly balanced Gulf Cioppino, instant classics like the Lobster Pot Pie and Short Rib Ravioli, and a Baked Alaska you never knew you needed. Snag a reservation to see what all the deserved fuss is about, and get excited for Bludorn’s next concept, Navy Blue, slated to open in Rice Village this fall.
This riveting sushi bar experience comes from the genius team behind MF Sushi, including sushi guru and chef Chris Kinjo, AKA “Magic Fingers.” Compared to lil’ bro MF Sushi, this concept bears a more casual silhouette. Sitting right on White Oak, UME offers a thoughtful landscape of eats from Grilled Whole Squid and Wood-smoked Hamachi to a tour de force of sushi and sashimi.
Cali-raised chefs Gary Ly (Underbelly) and Lung Ly spent some time cooking and hanging out in tiny record-strewn dives in NYC together before returning to Houston to open up this super cool kitchen, bar, and lounge. Stashed inside the former Night Heron space, its name is a nod to hip hop legends Souls of Mischief’s song “93 ‘Til Infinity,” and that chill vibe carries throughout the experience. Expect good tunes and even better food, with playful, cheffy plates like Foie Gras Torchon PB&J mixing with comfort grub from Fried Chicken Sandwiches to Pork Cheek Shepherd’s Pie.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.
Hometown chef Travis McShane brings his impressive culinary chops back to Houston, with a damn good roast chicken by his side. McShane, a Houston native who climbed the ranks in acclaimed chef Jonathan Waxman’s haunts from Barbuto in New York to Adele’s in Nashville, plays with Mediterranean- and Italian-influenced New American fare. Don’t miss the Half Chicken, a simple stunner with lemon, salsa verde, and herb jus, or the ever-changing lineup of gnocchi, bucatini, linguine, and other fresh pasta favorites.
How to order: Order takeout via Toast.
The talented crew behind Nancy’s Hustle has created another home-run neighborhood joint on Houston’s east side. This time, the team moves its attention to pastas, pizzas, small plates, and ice cream by the scoop. Bring a friend and grub on Beef and Pork Bolognese Rigatoni, Octopus Radiator with Calabrese chili, unexpectedly awesome Braised Butter Beans, and savory pies topped with everything from anchovy and garlic to pineapple, speck, and jalapeño. For dessert, you’ll want some of that ice cream—think piles of Cookies and Cream Sherry and Passion Fruit Sorbet finished with olive oil, Maldon sea salt, and dulce de leche.
How to order: Order takeout via Toast.
You’ll find a multitude of creative tastings at this sushi hideaway tucked into an office building off West Alabama. Executive chef Niki Vongthong leads the experience here, crafting a world-class journey through Japanese delights that play off her Northeast Thai and Lao upbringing and travels through places from Granada and Seville to Morocco. For now, the space also hosts monthly sushi pop-up Norigami while it awaits its permanent digs. A5 wagyu sliders stacked with Hudson Valley foie gras, exquisite truffle and scallop sushi, and oysters with Japanese salmon caviar are just a few of the enticements. Vongthong puts out a multi-course omakase—AKA an intimate chef-led menu progression—and you’ll definitely want to be one of the lucky 18 diners to experience it (trust).
Street To Kitchen
Chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter (who grew up in Thailand and cut her chops at spots like Theodore Rex) dishes out unapologetically traditional Thai cuisine at this street food mecca in the far East End. When Painter says her food is “unapologetically Thai,” she means she’s not using any sugary, watered down, readymade short cuts. Everything is legit made from scratch in her kitchen, from the steamed Pork and Shiitake Kanom Jib Dumplings and spicy Northeastern-style Larb to Shrimp Pad Thai and fiery Green Curry with Roti Bread to sop it all up.
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 set over 10,000 square feet of gorgeously ornate interior and terrace space with antique rugs, Empire ceilings lit by chandeliers, and a “Palace of Mirrors'' room with more than 200,000 pieces of hand-cut mirror on its walls. A reflective mix of traditional and cutting edge dishes match the majestic atmosphere at this extraordinary Indian concept. Expect dramatic presentations of Pani Puri (filled with fresh ceviche, no less), gorgeous Stuffed Squash Blossoms, fiery Smoked Goat, and the Butter Chicken Experience with the classic done multiple ways; plus power lunches, social hours, and multi-course tasting menus from the chef.
How to order: Order takeout via Toast.
Bravery Chef Hall
Downtown’s cool factor cranked up at least 10 levels when these talented chefs (including Uchi veterans Daniel Lee and Patrick Pham, MasterChef winner Christina Ha, and others) took center stage inside this glossy modern food hall. Consider date night done and dusted by starting with a killer smörgasbord of Vietnamese street fare from The Blind Goat and Korean Bibimbap from sister concept The Sighted Pig, before embracing Figo Sugo's alarmingly good pastas and Roman-style Pizza al Taglio. Or, if you want to go all out, get into first-class Saketoro Sashimi, Bluefin Nigiri, and a bomb Wagyu Toast from Kokoro, chargrilled oysters and lobster from Margaux's Oyster Bar.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out and delivery via Toast.
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. With a kitchen backed by Mark Clayton and team, menu offerings should certainly hit the spot with choices like Pasta a la Béarnaise, Mussels Bruschetta, and the French Cheeseburger, featuring a perfectly fatty beef patty and a gorgeous house-baked pain de mie bun are made even more mouthwatering with an oozing cascade of Raclette cheese. Add retail-priced wine and be sure to take a look at Sunday brunch.
How to order: Order takeout via Toast.
Your new favorite all-day cafe has arrived in the recently converted East End warehouse, The Plant. Sibling chefs Angelo Emiliani (the guy behind the popular Angie’s Pizza pop-up) and Lucianna “Louie” Emiliani (who honed her pastry skills at spots including Tiny’s Milk & Cookies and Tartine) oversee the menu at the French and Mediterranean inspired cafe. Dishes range from a quintessential 55-layer Butter Croissant to Date & Sesame Sugar Morning Bun; bacon, cheddar, and soft scrambled Egg on a Roll finished with brown butter hollandaise for breakfast. Lunch includes items like a fancy French Ham Sammich and a fast fan favorite, the Preserved Lemon Chicken skewers with Vadouvan rice, cured carrot salad and a poached egg waiting to be poked and oozed atop it all. It’s paired with locally roasted coffees and a curated selection of teas, craft beers, and approachable wines.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating. Dinner and walk-up window hours coming soon.
Gatlin's Fins & Feathers
BBQ boss Greg Gatlin (who owns one the best BBQ joints in America, btw) puts his spin on Gulf Coast comfort food at this hot fried bird and seafood spot, opening to the public at the end of June in the very neighborhood Gatlin grew up in. The chef plays to his hometown roots alongside his uber talented right hand woman, co-owner Michelle Wallace. Get your hands dirty with succulent, crisp as all hell chicken and buttery biscuits; slurp up Third Coast gumbo, saucy BBQ shrimp, and fresh oysters; and an excellent hot chicken sandwich, this one with a locally loved Vietnamese riff.
How to book: Stay tuned for opening updates on Facebook and stop by for first come, first served seating.
Israeli and Middle Eastern street food is gussied up and polished at this modern, Tel Aviv-inspired stunner from the masterful team behind Doris Metropolitan and Rice Village neighbor, Bādolina Bakery & Cafe. Starting with a mosaic of salatim (Israeli snacks) and small plates—think Lamb Hummus, Moroccan Matbucha, and Arak Mussels—is absolutely the way to go here, followed by larger selections like Lamb Spare Ribs, Grilled Branzino, and the za'atar butter basted Beef Skewers pierced by a miniature sword. Those looking for an extra special experience can book the “Yalla Yalla” six-seat chef’s table, which offers a prime view of the brick oven and chef-curated selection of plates.
LORO Asian Smokehouse & Bar
A gorgeously remodeled former church on 11th sets the stage for an epic food production from two of Texas’ biggest industry vets: James Beard Foundation Award-winners Chef Tyson Cole (Uchi) and Aaron Franklin (Franklin BBQ), who’ve joined forces to create an Asian smokehouse that has quickly captured the heart of Houston. Your best bet is to bring a partner (or entire crew) so you can order a little of everything: Candied Kettle Corn with togarashi and brisket burnt ends, Malaysian Chicken Bo Sssam kissed with yellow curry-yuzu, Smoked Beef Brisket lightened up with Thai herbs (and some seasonal House Pickles you should add on), and Coconut Scented Rice. Happy hour is another must-try, mainly because that’s when you’ll find the sweet and smoky brisket jam topped Loro Cheeseburger and Crispy Smoked Chicken Sandwich.
How to book: Stop by to order at the bar and grab first come, first served seating inside and out on the oak tree shaded porch.
This modern Italian chophouse comes from Baltimore-based Atlas Restaurant Group (you may know them from Loch Bar and Ouzo Bay), bringing big vibes to the new Montrose Collective mixed-use development off lower Westheimer. Prime Ribeye Carpaccio drizzled in truffle dijonnaise, Squid Ink Campanelle made in-house and finished with fresh blue crab and uni cream, and a damn good Chicken Parm are just some of the things you can indulge in at this elegant steakhouse. There are also the steaks, of course—local, domestic, and international cuts like Porterhouse and New York Strip, many dry-aged in house and sauced up by Porcini Bone Marrow, Black Garlic Mostarda, and Aged Beef Fat Butter. Enjoy it all along with robust Italian reds and live tunes from local artists at the grand piano.
Hai Hospitality’s Uchi has a little sister, and it's this smoked and charred Japanese kitchen with a yakitori grill at its front and center. Uchiko opened May 23 in the new Post Oak Place development, with Chef de Cuisine Shaun King bringing his impressive experience from spots like Momofuku Las Vegas and Mina Group’s Ramen Bar to Houston. While some signature favorites from Uchi crossover (think Hama Chili and Hotate Crudo), Uchiko is a beast all its own, adding a unique smoke element and experimenting with charring and juicing vegetables. Choose from a menu of Greens, Cool Tastings, Makimono, Hot Tastings, Nigiri, Caviar and more, with offerings from the Dry Aged Duck with house hoisin and hearth roasted cabbage, fatty Bluefin Tuna Belly, or the Texas Wagyu, seared four times and accompanied by foie au poivre.
Executive Chef Antoine Ware (Harold’s, Catalan) channels his New Orleans and Cajun roots at this highly anticipated New American restaurant set in the former Houston’s space on Fountainview. Dig into refreshed Southern classics such as Charbroiled Gulf Oysters will collards and garlic butter; Gulf Shrimp and Grits hit with sweet corn, pimento cheese, and sriracha garlic butter; and steakhouse classics that pay homage to the its predecessor, including The Dip (a riff off Houston’s ever-popular spinach artichoke dip) and a version of the Houston Hawaiian Ribeye, a beefy, impossibly juicy number with notes of pineapple, brown sugar, and ginger.