You Can Get Reservations for Free Dinner in Taco Bell's Insane Test Kitchen
1. Midnight Masterpiece
BB's CafeAddress and Info
Montrose (& other locations)
Made with chuck slow-roasted for five to six hours, then shaved into “debris” a la the Big Easy’s famed Mother’s Restaurant, this all-American hero is a masterpiece any time of day. That debris, by the way, soaks up all of the gravy before it’s loaded into French bread and dressed to the nines with BB’s spicy mayo, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. While you should most def get it in po-boy form, also order the roast beef atop fries topped with chile con queso, because we’re in Houston, not New Orleans.
2. Double Donut Fried Chicken Sandwich
Lee's Fried Chicken & DonutsAddress and Info
The only thing better than fried bird in the morning is fried bird in the morning stacked inside not one, but two freshly fried and glazed donut buns that taste like absolute heaven. Get the sandwich all day long, especially if you’re planning a nice long nap shortly thereafter.
3. The Zombie
Cafe THAddress and Info
Sure, you can get a damn fine banh mi filled with juicy pork meatballs, char-grilled pork, or chicken, and things like jambon, bacon, steamed pork, pate, peppercorn ham, fried eggs, hand-churned French butter, fresh cilantro, jalapeño, and pickled veg. But you can also get a damn fine banh mi filled with ALL OF THE ABOVE in the form of the foot-long Zombie topped with a mouth-burning ghost chili spread. This is a bucket list, after all.
4. Kitchen Sink
Gatlin's BBQAddress and Info
Garden Oaks/Oak Forest
You may be tempted by pit boss Greg Gatlin’s trio of smoked ribs (as you should be), but you need to try the off-the-menu, fully loaded "kitchen sink" sandwich at least once in your life. It’s got smoked brisket, house-made spicy sausage, grilled jalapeños and onions, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and giblet-laden dirty rice so filthy you’ll need a cold shower afterward.
5. Ten Chicken Sandwich
Bismillah Restaurant & CafeAddress and Info
Do not be fooled by Bismillah’s zero-frills appearance. The kitchen is coming in hot with a Pakistani 10-spice blend-coated chicken sandwich that will test the hell out of your heat tolerance. Don’t be a baby. You can always BYOB to cool things off.
6. Meatball sub
Pi PizzaAddress and Info
If you missed Sandy Witch sandwiches, you can stop fretting, because they’re back at Pi Pizza’s haute brick-and-mortar spot on Yale. The house meatballs can stand on their own, so adding made-from-scratch marinara, a duo of mozzarella and provolone, pickled cherry pepper mayo, and crusty carbs to the mix obviously takes things to a nirvana level of awesomeness. There’s also a cheesesteak stromboli with made-from-scratch whiz that isn’t exactly a sandwich, but is worth a mention nonetheless.
7. Lobster Friday Lobster Roll
Bernie's Burger BusAddress and Info
Bellaire (& Katy)
Every now and then, burger demi-god and chef Justin Turner invites us to skip the burgers altogether and dive headfirst into a Maine-style lobster roll that takes serious chunks of lobster, tosses them with dreamy house-made mayo, celery, and onion, and gently bundles it all inside a warm, butter-toasted split bun. If you see the invite, kindly accept.
8. Cevap Sandwich
Cafe PitaAddress and Info
Westchase (& Galleria)
You’ll find basically every slice of the globe represented in this melting pot of a city, one of those slices being Bosnia at Cafe Pita. The cafe’s terrifyingly addictive, soft, and doughy lepinja bread can be used to sop up sauces, dips, and soups; or, it can be dipped in beef broth, griddled, and used as a vehicle for the crazy-good, spiced ground beef sausages and creamy feta cheese spread, a la the Cevap Sandwich.
9. Fried Egg Sandwich
MAX's Wine DiveAddress and Info
Washington (& Montrose)
Breakfast sandwiches don’t get better than this MWD stunner. With a calorie count that’s best left in the dark, the monster number shows off with a trio of yolk-dripping eggs, a hefty pile of applewood smoked bacon, beautifully melty Gruyère, Parm-Reggiano, and fried cheddar, some umami in the form of black truffle aioli, and two slices of griddled, buttery-as-all-hell sourdough that, against all odds, manages to hold it all together. It’s available all day long at both locations, as is the Champagne you’re popping along with it.
10. 24 Hr Sous Vide Pork Belly Banh Mi
Les Ba'getAddress and Info
Paris meets Saigon and Houston at this tiny Montrose kitchen. The whole lineup of banh mi is divine, especially the mind-numbingly moist, fatty pork belly number, which gets a 24-hour sous vide bath before being nestled inside a daily baked French loaf (or a croissant, if you so desire) with a few of its banh mi friends: duck pâté, truffle aioli, thin sheets of cucumber, pickled daikon and carrot, scallion, cilantro, and jalapeño.
11. Hot Chicken Sandwich
State of GraceAddress and Info
The humble fried chicken sandwich gets the K-town hot chicken treatment at this H-town cool kid. After a generous dip in batter, the bird takes a double dip in the fryer, then another dip into some tangy Korean-style hot sauce. To finish, there's a cool Thai herb slaw and a big ol’ pile of freshly cut and fried potato chips.
12. Truffled Egg Salad
Local FoodsAddress and Info
Upper Kirby (& Rice Village & Tanglewood)
This ain’t a Sunday picnic egg salad. Yes, there’s mayo, but it’s an awesome, truffle-laced aioli made in-house. Sure, there’s bread, but it’s a soft, delicious, local Slow Dough pretzel bun. And of course there are hard-boiled eggs: farm-fresh ones that are perfectly cooked and tossed with that truffled aioli and some Parmesan for good measure.
13. Ray's Fried Catfish
State FareAddress and Info
Inspired by the father of Cherry Pie Hospitality’s Jim Mills, this fried catfish sandwich is a throwback to better days. The kitchen gets catfish straight from Mississippi, rolls it in his father’s special mix of yellow mustard and white wine, then coats it in seasoned cornmeal and breadcrumbs, and deep fries that baby ‘til it’s flawlessly crisp and crusty. Good ol’ American cheese, tartar, and iceberg are all the sandwich needs. Oh, and a nice cold beer.
14. Classic grilled cheese
Golden GrillAddress and Info
Fact: Grilled cheese is delicious. Also fact: Carnitas are delicious. If A=B and B=C, then... wait, we’re bad at math. Basically, this food truck’s carnitas grilled cheese -- a playground for slow-roasted pork, apple jam, pepper jack, and some pickles -- is legitimately good stuff. Track down the truck to try it and a s’mores grilled cheese while you’re at it, because D also equals B... or something like that.
15. Surf & Turf Po-Boy
The Cajun StopAddress and Info
EaDo (& Spring)
No need to wait until crawfish season to visit this Cajun-style hole in the wall. The po-boys and frozen daiquiris will hit the spot year-round. LA native and owner Lisa Carnley brings out the big guns for all the cult favorites, stuffed with crispy fried Gulf shrimp, extra-sloppy roast beef, or all of the above, if you're into the whole surf & turf thing. Hint: You should be.
16. Triple Decker
Kenny & Ziggy’sAddress and Info
Galleria (& West University)
There are far too many things to nosh on at this NY delicatessen (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but since we have to choose between authentic Jewish deli meats, we’re going to have to go with the… JUST KIDDING WE DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE! You do. Though since we’re here to help, we’ll divulge this: Get your rye bread grilled, schmear on Russian dressing, and make sure the house-smoked pastrami is at least one of the meats involved.
17. Build Your Own Hand-Packed Gyro
Helen Greek Food & WineAddress and Info
You’ll find most gyros in the States stacked with lamb or beef, but pork is also a traditional filling. Over at Helen in Rice Village, that pork is of the local, Black Hills Ranch variety. All the flavor-packed pork shoulder needs is a cradle (a warm, buttery pita), some ripe tomato and red onion, and a whole ton of the house tzatziki, because it’s that good and you’ll need more for your oregano fries, anyway. The Hellenic sandwich is best served with a selection from the second-largest Hellenic wine list in the country, obviously.
Common BondAddress and Info
Common Bond doesn’t screw around when it comes to carbs. Every loaf, croissant and pastry is made from scratch, baked in-house fresh daily, and just begging to be taken home with you. Do that, and enjoy some sit-down carbs right on the spot. The Cubano sandwich is on-point, with shreds of tender smoked pork, ham, nutty provolone, whole grain mustard, and pickled jalapeño bringing the wow factor along with the flawless, crusty ciabatta.
19. Hot Chicken Honey Butter Biscuit
Revival MarketAddress and Info
Spice lovers unite for this sandwich made with local honey and Memphis-style chicken absolutely smothered in sauce. When Revival Market calls this thing hot, it's keeping it 100. Like, tongue-scorching, face-melting, sweat-through-your-tank-top 100. Hope you brought a change of clothes.
Carter & Cooley Company DelicatessenAddress and Info
Sometimes, we borrow ideas from our neighbors, then completely change them into something completely different. Such is the case with this old-school sandwich shop’s take on the Louisiana staple, the muffuletta. The sandwich uses doughy focaccia as the base, then presses it panini-style to give it enough oomph to hold up the filling: sliced ham and cotta salami, an excellent house-made olive salad, and a duo of Swiss and provolone cheese. It’s not exactly what you’d find in NOLA, and we’re OK with that.
21. The Sicilian
B&B Butchers & RestaurantAddress and Info
You can take a day trip to Brooklyn via this New York butcher shop/steakhouse hybrid. Pop into either the butcher side or the full-on restaurant and you’ll find the Sicilian, a perfect 10 with fresh mozz and paper-thin cuts of imported prosciutto that gets a super-fresh boost from plump Roma tomatoes and basil pesto.
22. Pit Boss “Chickwich”
Beaver'sAddress and Info
Break out the Wet-Naps, loosen your buckle, and get in a proper sloppy-sandwich-eating stance. Even if you fork and knife it, this BBQ “chickwich” (which actually does come with a big-ass steak knife speared through its center) is bound to get messy. That’s because it is absolutely overloaded with pulled barbecue chicken, a ready-to-break fried egg, fried onion strings, and house slaw. Enjoy it with a pickle, a huge pile of fries and, hopefully, your dignity.
23. Original Po-boy
Antone's Famous Po'BoysAddress and Info
North Loop (& West Loop)
You can’t have a Houston sandwich bucket list without the place that ignited the city’s love for po-boys and chowchow. Get the kicked-up Southern relish -- made with cabbage, hot & sweet peppers, and spices -- spread onto Antone’s most classic sandwich, piled high with sliced ham, salami, provolone, a slather of mayo, and some pickles.
24. Sausage, egg, and cheddar biscuit
BlacksmithAddress and Info
Step 1: Choose a coffee or tea. Step 2: Stop looking at the menu, because there’s really no other option that is as deeply satisfying as this made-from-scratch biscuit topped with butcher’s sausage, melted cheddar, and a yolky egg just waiting to be broken bad. In case we were unclear... Step 3: Order the biscuit sandwich.
25. The Bobert
CorkScrew BBQAddress and Info
What makes some of the city’s most excellent barbecue that much more excellent? CARBS. Take CorkScrew’s incredibly flavorful smoked meat for instance. Choose from tender pulled pork, fatty brisket, smoked turkey, or hot sausage, slap it inside some carbs, then smother it in a green chile ranch sauce, because you know what also makes things more excellent? RANCH.
26. Wicked Philly
Pappa Geno'sAddress and Info
Lazybrook/Timbergrove (& other locations)
Hot oil peppers should probably be on every savory sandwich ever, which is something you’d know if you ever had a taste of them on the Wicked Philly. The fiery cousin of a classic, chopped Philly cheesesteak, the Wicked is slightly naughtier, slightly hotter, and slightly sloppier, because there’s also mayo, something else that should probably be on every savory sandwich ever.
27. New Orleans BBQ Shrimp Toast
Bernadine'sAddress and Info
Available as a starter at dinner or topped with eggs during brunch, chef Graham Laborde’s take on this Hong Kong-meets-NOLA staple is sort of like an open-faced tuna melt... But instead of tuna, the bread is slathered with shrimp paste, then deep-fried and nestled into a bed of deep, hickory-hued barbecue shrimp sauce to be exact. Long story short: It’s way better than an open-faced tuna melt.
28. Mortadella Panini
13 CelsiusAddress and Info
You probably wouldn’t think to order a sandwich at a wine bar. Charcuterie and cheese? Sure. But a fried mortadella sandwich with provolone, tomato, and cornichon pressed into a pretzel bun and topped with a fried egg? Try it to see exactly what you’ve been missing your entire life.
Tacos Tierra CalienteAddress and Info
You probably wouldn’t think to get a torta at this cult favorite taco truck, mainly because the tacos are freaking incredible and are like $2. It’s worth “splurging” on a $5 torta at least once in your life. They're filled with the same choice of meats -- beef fajita, pastor, barbacoa, chicharron, lengua, or bistek -- and packed into a griddled torta roll alongside the same fiery salsas, meaning you definitely won’t leave disappointed.
30. Crawfish Roll
Saint Arnold Brewing CompanyAddress and Info
The Third Coast proves it don’t need no stinkin’ cold-water lobster to make a badass version of Maine’s favorite sandwich, and it does so at Saint Arnold’s. Get the grilled, buttery, crawfish-stacked roll alongside a cold Saint A’s pint, as is tradition.
1. BB's Cajun Cafe2710 Montrose Blvd, Houston
2. Lee's Fried Chicken & Donuts601 Heights Blvd, Houston
3. Cafe TH2108 Pease St, Houston
4. Gatlin's BBQ3510 Ella Blvd, Houston
5. Bismillah Cafe5696 Hillcroft St, Houston
6. Pi Pizza181 Heights Boulevard, Houston
7. Bernie’s Burger Bus Stop5407 Bellaire Blvd, Houston
8. Cafe Pita10890 Westheimer Rd, Houston
9. MAX's Wine Dive4720 Washington Ave, Houston
10. Les Ba'get Vietnamese Cafe1717 Montrose Blvd, Houston
11. Local Foods2424 Dunstan Rd, Houston
12. State Fare947 Gessner Rd Ste B190, Houston
13. The Cajun Stop2130 Jefferson St, Houston
14. Kenny & Ziggy's2327 Post Oak Blvd, Houston
15. Helen Greek Food and Wine2429 Rice Blvd, Houston
16. Common Bond1706 Westheimer Rd, Houston
17. Revival Market550 Heights Blvd, Houston
18. Carter & Cooley Co.300 W 19th, Houston
19. B&B Butchers1814 Washington Ave, Houston
20. Beaver's2310 Decatur St, Houston
21. Antone’s Famous Po’Boys11511 Katy Freeway Service Road, Houston
22. Blacksmith1018 Westheimer, Houston
23. Corkscrew BBQ26608 Keith Street, Spring
24. Pappa Geno's Steak & Cheese1801 Ella Blvd, Houston
25. Bernadine's1801 N Shepherd Dr Ste B, Houston
26. 13 Celsius3000 Caroline St, Houston
27. Saint Arnold Brewing Company2000 Lyons Ave, Houston
28. State of Grace3256 Westheimer Rd, Houston
This Cajun eatery in Montrose is a neighborhood staple serving up Texas and New Orleans cuisine in a laid back atmosphere. Get your hands on Cajun classics like ettouffe and crawfish boils in addition to full loaded po-boys. All of the food is pretty gut-busting, so bring some friends to go in on shareable apps like loaded fries. BB's is open late, making it the perfect stop after a night out.
Offering fried chicken and donuts under one roof, there's not much more could you ask for at this Heights Staple. Lee's Fried Chicken & Donuts supplies Southern sides like creamed corn, gravy, and mashed potatoes, in addition to its claim-to-fame centerpiece: a golden brown, perfectly friend piece of bird flanked by two whole glazed donuts. There are also a number of daily-made donuts and sweet and savory kolaches in crazy good combinations -- think glazed with praline Bacon and caramel icing or iced blueberry cake.
This Vietnamese eatery is packed for lunch because of its banh mi sandwiches and for dinner because of its banh mi bo tho, a beef stew that's so damn good you'll crave it even during Houston's hottest months. The aforementioned dishes, plus phos, curries, and vermicelli bowls, have given Cafe TH a cult following, even among the vegetarian crowd. Located in a strip mall, the tiny spot is BYOB and a great place for a cheap, casual, and hella good dinner.
Gatlin’s is a popular, rustic-chic BBQ destination in Greater Heights, where you need to get your hands on some of its famous ribs -- your pick of short, meaty baby-back ribs or rich, fatty St. Louis-style spare ribs -- or the off-menu Kitchen Sink sandwich, which is loaded with smoked brisket, house-made spicy sausage, grilled jalapeños and onions, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and giblet-laden dirty rice. You might need to shower off after conquering that life-changing creation.
This no-frills strip center haunt is located just off Hillcroft & 69 in Sharpstown and serves up Indian and Pakistani food. On the chaat house side of the operation, traditional samosa and aloo chana sit alongside more Americanized numbers. For intensely flavored beef nihari, rich curries and sizzling sole tandoori, head two doors down to the dual concept’s home-style restaurant.
Pi Pizza is the brick-and-mortar iteration of the food truck that made waves in 2014 for offering a lifetime supply of pizza in exchange for getting a pizza tattoo. There's more to Pi than pizza and tats though; the menu covers a lot of ground with mac & cheese balls, pizza fries, meatball subs, and more sauce-meat-and-carb combos. That said, the Brooklyn-style pies topped with a rich blend of mozzarella and provolone are what you're really here for.
Some of Houston's best burgers and fries come straight out of a big yellow school bus, otherwise known as the kitchen of Bernie's Burger Bus. Bernie's still has waiters and seating though, not to mention milkshakes, wines, and beers on tap. The gourmet burgers, all of which have school-themed names like "The Principal" and "Homeroom," are constructed from a blend of house-ground black Angus beef and served on locally-baked buns. Add in homemade condiments and you've got the best school lunch ever.
Prepare for a truckload of homestyle Bosnian eats better than your baba made at Cafe Pita, a warm and inviting strip-mall spot serving up authentic plates like béchamel-smothered musaka, heaping gyro platters, and hadzijski cevap, a traditional dish of beef kabob and sausage swimming in a rich tomato cream sauce. The star of the menu, though, is the cevap sandwich: beef sausage links mixed with flavorful spices and served with fresh onions and kajmak on doughy lepinja bread.
At Max’s Wine Dive, dining is a celebration. The exposed brick-walled joint, lit dimly by track lights and the glow of a green jukebox, boasts a buzzy energy that will spark your night. Embrace all the joys of Texas cuisine at Max’s: Get your hands on Nacho Mama’s Oysters on wontons with garlic aioli, then order a plate full of bison sliders topped with lip-puckering house-made pickles, ketchup, and grilled onions. At this point, you’ve already made the decision to stuff yourself silly, so add the fried egg sandwich to your order: three gooey eggs, a giant pile of applewood smoked bacon with melted Gruyere, a smear of black truffle aioli, and huge slices of buttery bread keeping it all safe inside.
This tiny Montrose area kitchen brings the best of Paris and Saigon to Houston in a two fold way: satisfyingly crunchy baguettes and delectably seared pork belly in the form of a killer banh mi sandwich. Vietnamese/French-inspired breakfast items -- such as the ham and egg croissant -- appear alongside fresh sandwiches, a variety and spring rolls, and pho on Les Ba'get's cosmopolitan menu.
The wide-open, retro aesthetic of this Southampton deli sets the stage for sandwiches crafted with the same TLC that Texans have been accustomed to for generations. Each sandwich purchase nets you two sides, which they swap out based on what’s available or in-season. There's lineup of local farms and artisan shops repped on the menus for reference, and you can pair your food with local beer and wine, as well.
State Fare has a bright and simple atmosphere and features innovative, lowbrow comfort food that’s as big and bold as Texas and goes well with anything on its extensive drink menu from craft beer to specialty cocktails. If you want a side of heart palpitations, go for its colossal burgers, which come stacked high with things like chili and molten queso or griddled pastrami and chicken-fried french fries. For a more dining-out feel, the smoked double-cut pork chop with root beer syrup and seared Ahi tuna with crab fried rice and jalapeño ponzu are spot-on.
We could all take a lesson in loving thy neighbor from The Cajun Stop, East Downtown’s homage to Louisiana cuisine. The Texas outpost for all things Creole, The Cajun Stop will take you across state lines -- from Houston to The Big Easy -- with its authentic food and drink offerings. Enjoy Creole classics like po-boys, seafood gumbo, crawfish (boiled and served with corn and potatoes), and of course, frozen daiquiris at this fast-casual, Louisiana-loving restaurant.
Kenny & Ziggy's mission is to give Houstonians an ultimate New York deli dining experience right in Uptown. Breads and cakes are made in-house, and pickles and meats are cured onsite. Fish are flown in daily from the Big Apple, and master slicers are on call to properly cut them in the European tradition, ensuring a silky and tender texture. The menu spans cabbage, Hungarian goulash, Romanian chicken fricassee, latkes, grilled Mediterranean tuna, and sweet potato pancakes, in addition to signature cut-to-order pastrami and corned beef sandwiches. And whether you get a sandwich, burger or knish, expect it to come in the kind of colossal portion only your grandmother would force on you.
Chef William Wright (of Philippe Restaurant & Lounge and Table on Post Oak) and respected sommelier Evan Turner assure this Rice Village spot isn’t your typical falafel-fueled Greek restaurant. Instead you’ll find refreshed Greek fare with a touch of Gulf Coast soul alongside a Greek wine list that is just as thoughtful as it is impressive (it’s the second largest Greek list in the US). Nosh on a dolma, sip on Hellenic wine, and let yourself feel godly for at least as long as the meal lasts. This intimate and romantic is great for small groups or dates.
Once you get your hands on the kugelhopf, you'll understand why this Montrose bakery and breakfast-ery has lines out the door. Butter-brushed and sugar-glazed, this German marble Bundt cake only rivals one other item on the menu: fried egg on a croissant bigger than your head. This breakfast sandwich is made with a perfectly yolky 63 degree egg that blends harmoniously with a slab of pork sausage, melted cheddar, aioli, and a buttery, fluffy sesame roll. A number of pastries and savory dishes are also available at Common Bond.
This craft butcher shop and cafe in The Heights offers breakfast, lunch and full-service dinner in addition to its in-house charcuterie program. Revival prides itself on preparing sustainable, thoughtfully grown food, from butchered meats to bottled jams, pickled vegetables and condiments. The butcher case offers beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and seasonal game (all cut and ground to your specifications), while the café serves house-made bagels, kolaches, salads, soups, and sandwiches. With plenty of seating in the open, industrial-chic space, you’ll be able to enjoy your bites in a friendly, relaxing atmosphere.
Carter & Cooley -- the decades old delicatessen in Greater Heights -- is a classic. Its menu is comprised almost entirely of sandwiches; it’s a budget-friendly Houston sandwich institution! Sandwiches are served on the requisite white, wheat, or rye toasts, unless otherwise specified, with a kosher pickle and your choice of potato salad or chips on the side. Classic. Carter & Cooley is serving up the kind of sandwich that’ll leave you looking for that note your mom used to leave in your lunch.
You can’t get more Texas than in-house dry-aged USDA Prime and Texas Wagyu served in cuts larger than your head. Or a chicken-fried pork chop with sausage. Or a Carpet Bagger on the Half Shell, a filet with bacon, blue cheese, and a fried oyster on top, all housed in an oyster shell. Fill up on all this and a couple of superb cocktails, like the Blood Orange Sky or the French Diplomat at Houston’s B&B Butchers & Restaurants, a butcher shop-steakhouse hybrid in the Sixth Ward. While we suggest hunkering down at a table in the elegant, exposed brick dining room, the antsy among you will head to the deli counter, where you can grab the same delicious meats, either by the pound or stacked in a sandwich.
Although this Sixth Ward BBQ spot offers top notch ribs and brisket, it has two main attractions: the first is a smoky queso (made with smoked asadero cheese, green chillis, and pico de gallo), while the second is a bacon omelette biscuit: an expertly crafted cheese omelette stacked with copious amounts of bacon and sausage with a chipotle honey and cream gravy blanket. Other menu items include Southern-style fare like fried pickles, barbacoa empanadas, and creative mac 'n' cheese.
The locally expanding 1950's diner-style chain accredited with bring the Po'Boy to Houston does the sandwich right with creations like the Original, an Italian packed with ham, salami, provolone and classic Po'Boys stacked with oysters, shrimp, or the strictly Southern catfish slathered with Chow-Chow, their signature sauce that's crunchy, spicy hot, and loaded with peppers.
In a space that formerly housed Houston's most iconic gay bar, Blacksmith sets itself apart from the rest of the Houston coffee scene thanks to its all-star cast of city veterans, including the roaster of Greenway Coffee and the guys behind Beard-lauded establishments Anvil and Underbelly. Be sure to pair your java with scratch-made biscuits with a side of creme fraiche and marmalade.
This BBQ joint started out operating from a trailer-truck and ran out of food around 2pm or 3pm every day. Due to such high demand, Corkscrew eventually went brick-and-mortar and are still just as popular, if not more so, among Houston's (and Texas') BBQ aficionados. Whether you're planning on destroying their oak-smoked brisket, blistered ribs, or spicy pork sausage, show up early or prepare for a wait (long lines start forming around 9 or 10am because they only cook enough food for the restaurant's capacity).
The cheesesteak exists beyond the confines of its birthplace. In fact, it’s got quite a reach… all the way to Texas. By the looks (and taste) of the cheesesteaks at Pappa Geno’s Steak & Cheese, you’d swear you were actually there -- or at least somewhere within Pennsylvania’s borders. Pappa Geno’s showcases Philly-inspired cuisine with classic cheesesteaks, cheesesteaks with a Texan twist, hoagies, burgers, and cheese fries. And with multiple locations across the city, you can readily get your Cheez Whiz fix, no flight necessary.
Distinctively Southern, Bernadine’s is a contemporary Gulf Coast seafood restaurant that gleans inspiration from restaurants along the Interstate 10 corridor, from Apalachicola oyster shacks to fish fry stands in South Texas. Bernadine’s offers brunch, lunch, and dinner menus of seafood and snacks and large plates. For dinner, you’ll dive into the menu by choosing a couple of briny starters, namely Gulf oysters on the half-shell and Gulf ceviche with Tennessee apple leche de tigre, radish, shaved onion, and pepita gremolata. Shifting away from seafood, continue your meal with the confit duck leg, paired with chaurice sausage, roasted chicken jus, creole mustard spaetzle, and fermented rainbow chard. Ask for cocktail recommendations, but you can’t go wrong with any of Bernadine’s speakeasy-inspired beverages; as you sip on your Kentucky Mule with bourbon, lime, mint turbinado, and Angostura bitters, you’ll be transported to the world of Prohibition, when Houston Heights was, begrudgingly, under the “dry ordinance.”
When this bar took over this shambled Midtown spot in the mid-2000s, they opted not to polish it off in the style of other wine bars. Rather, they opted to keep its steely warehouse appearance and add a sleek white marble bar to class it up just enough. The 100+ wines, hand-selected from all over the world, are kept at 13 degrees celsius (hence ... well, you get it) in the cellar until you order a glass, bottle, or flight with your cheese plate or Italian panini sandwich.
Texas’ oldest craft brewery remains its baddest. Specialty releases keep beer geeks on their toes while a sturdy selection of year-rounds and seasonals keep everyone coming back (and even pub-crawling) for more. They've got a restaurant with great eats from poutine to burgers, and at the brewery you get access to beers unavailable for sale anywhere else.
Atlanta restaurateur and Houston native chef Ford Fry has brought his culinary magic back home with this modern, globally and coastally inspired lodge. Former Ciao Bello chef Bobby Matos mans the open kitchen and the giant, wood-fired hearth, offering you not only great food but an entertaining and immersive experience. There's a great oyster program and an upscale, vintage feel to the space, with a marble bar and handsome wooden and leather furniture.