Where to Eat in Houston Right Now
From Gulf Coast seafood and high-end Latin fare to Sunday sauce everyday of the week, H-Town has got you covered.
By now, everyone knows Houston is an awesome place to eat. We’ve got highly skilled James Beard award nominees and winners, hometown heroes doing riffs on Third Coast and Tejano classics, and out of town talent rollin’ in to get a slice of that hot H-town action. Our latest lineup includes a coastal-focused knockout from one of the city’s best chefs, a groundbreaking Latin hub from a longtime Houston vet, a fast-tracked omakase experience, and one neighborhood dining destination where you can get your Sunday sauce fix outside of just Sunday. Here are the best places to eat in Houston right now.
Louie's Italian American
The people have spoken, and they love chicken parm. After the whopping success of their Red Sauce Sunday series, brother-sister chef team Angelo and Lucianna "Louie" Emiliani have officially transformed all-day bistro Cafe Louie into Louie's Italian American. Classic Sunday gravy suppers get a posh spin, here, with highlights including Dry Aged Meatballs atop garlic bread in tomato gravy; housemade Little Rigatonis in slow-cooked sausage ragu; and a Wagyu NY Strip and Gulf Shrimp Fra’Diavolo. There’s also stellar extras like the Roasted Pumpkin dripping with sage brown butter and taleggio fonduta and the rum-soaked Tiramisu.
Houston’s innovative Ion District just got even more ground-breaking with the addition of veteran chef David Cordúa’s latest sensation. True to the chef’s signature style, the plush all-day restaurant, bar, and lounge celebrates the rich heritage of Latin and Mediterranean cuisine in elevated form. Dishes include Stuffed Chicken Ballotine, Sweet Corn Flan, and an old school Cordúa family favorite, the Churrasco beef with chimichurri, pickled onion, and bernaise.
Fans of Aaron Bludorn will be happy to know there’s another place to enjoy his skillful, transcendent cuisine. Piggybacking off the success of his first Houston restaurant, the namesake Bludorn in Montrose, the talented chef and restaurateur turns his focus to the gems of the Gulf Coast for his bright faced Rice Village spot, set in the space formerly occupied by Politan Row. Bludorn and executive chef Jerrod Zifchak (a fellow Café Boulud alum) have collaborated on a seafood heavy menu that sings. Swordfish Au Poivre with green peppercorn sauce, Linguini Vongole, and Seafood Risotto, and what feels like the restaurant’s signature dish, a pot pie-style Mussel Bisque served piping hot and topped with gorgeously golden puff pastry are a few of the highlights.
Sushi By Hidden
While you’ll find a more leisurely dining experience at its sibling establishment, playful sushi hideaway Hidden Omakase, the express omakase at this newer Rice Village spot is not to be overlooked. Featuring 30-minute timed meals and a menu that changes daily depending on the market fish, courses could include Tom Yum Marinated Ikura (salmon roe) and Engawa (flounder fin) with finger lime. Just like Hidden, the chef team utilizes specialized techniques including dry-aged fish. Indulge in the tasting menu—a dozen sushi pieces chosen by the chef—for a very reasonable $60 per person.
The Underbelly Hospitality team brings a true native Texas experience to the newly finished Houston Farmers Market, which takes a deep dive into the diversity that makes the Lone Star special with the help of some fellow HFM vendors and its custom-built live-fire grill. High-low features include R-C Ranch Wagyu done country-fried steak-style with a cowboy-inspired bacon poblano gravy, Crispy Mojo Pork Belly, and Haven Style Shrimp Corn Dogs. It’s a taste of Old Texas, chef’d way up.
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 Beets by Dr Pepper or the Let’s Meat Hanger Steak Au Poivre. 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 Pork & Butter Dumplings and namesake Nancy Cakes (fluffed up johnnycakes finished with smoked trout roe and cultured butter), chow down on Pan Roasted Snapper in caper brown butter vinaigrette, 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.
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.
The Goodnight Hospitality team’s (Rosie Cannonball, Montrose Cheese & Wine) stunning Mediterranean tasting menu emporium is one of the most, if not the most, special dining experiences in Houston. Chef-partner Felipe Riccio whisks diners through a modern, travel-oriented journey in six or nine courses, which have traveled from Levant regional specialties like Snapper Crudo with chermoula to the South France’s historic Occitania region’s plates like fatty Cod Belly Brandade. Overseen by an all-star team spanning beverage director Mark Sayre, master sommelier and partner June Rodil, and bar manager Chad Matson, 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, 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 Day & Night, there’s never been a better time to get reacquainted with their genre-defying take on Texas fare.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served counter orders.
Two years in and chef Aaron Bludorn’s namesake New American restaurant remains a reliable stunner. 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, it’s where Bludorn and co. show off skillful European technique alongside a much-welcomed punch of Gulf Coast love. Next level dishes include a rotating Foie Gras and pastry, Lobster Pot Pie, and Short Rib Ravioli, as well as a Baked Alaska you never knew you needed.
This riveting sushi bar experience comes from the genius team behind MF Sushi, including sushi guru and chef Chris Kinjo, a.k.a. “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 dishes from Grilled Whole Squid and Wood-smoked Hamachi to a tour de force of sushi and sashimi.
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 go to town on Tomato Risotto, Saffron Casarecce with fall-apart lamb and torn olives, unexpectedly fantastic 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.
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 spicy Northeastern-style Larb and perfect 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.
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 a fantastic Sunday brunch. The French Cheeseburger may be one of the best in town, featuring a perfectly fatty beef patty and a gorgeous house-baked pain de mie bun made even more impressive with an oozing cascade of Raclette cheese. All of it is paired with a great selection of retail-priced wine to boot.
How to order: Order takeout via Toast.
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 last spring 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.