Killen's BBQ
Common Bond
Lillo & Ella
Holley's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Pax Americana
Museum Park Cafe
BCN Taste & Tradition
Bistro Menil
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1. Coltivare Pizza & Garden 3320 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX 77007

From Revival Market's Ryan Pera & Morgan Weber, Coltivare is a seasonally-inspired eatery that puts a fresh spin on traditional Italian foodstuffs. Think small plates & charcuterie, whole-roasted fish, pastas, and wood-fired pies. The kitchen picks every bit of fruit, veg, and greenery straight from its 3,000sqft garden. They don’t take reservations, so you’ll need to elbow your way to the bar and sip on a few of Weber’s classically inspired tinctures while you wait for your table.

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2. Killen's BBQ 3613 Broadway St, Pearland, TX 77581

Killen's BBQ is a Pearland brick-and-mortar barbecue joint born from the success of Chef Ronnie Killen's immensely popular pop-up. It delivers mouth-watering Texas-style barbecue like slabs of smoked brisket, pulled pork, and homemade sausages. Killen trained at Le Cordon Bleu and his Texas classics far exceed the Lone Star state's standards of size and taste. Be sure to desserts like banana pudding, carrot cake, and buttermilk pie.

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3. Kuu Restaurant 947 Gessner Rd, Houston, TX 77024

With Nobu-trained chef Adison Lee manning the kitchen, this vibrant and modern Japanese establishment is a worthy opponent to big guns like Uchi and Kata Robata. A sturdy roster of hot and cold dishes and inventive takes on sushi, most of which are locally and seasonally inspired (word is they even have a designated forager), has helped to make that happen. Get dramatically plated uni-crusted king crab over oyster mushrooms with uni custard and key lime; and kimchi tuna and lobster with bits of asian pear, kimchi and lotus chips peeking throughout; alongside Lee’s impressively delicate sushi.

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4. Common Bond 1706 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098

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.

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5. Lillo & Ella 2307 Ella Blvd, Houston, TX 77008

At Lillo & Ella you can expect delicious takes on pan-asian street food from Chef and owner Kevin Naderi, like crispy Vietnamese chicken wings, braised bacon bao, Thai muu noodles, and blue crab fried rice.

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6. Holley's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar 3201 Louisiana St, Houston, TX 77006

With multiple dining rooms – including a more casual one with an oyster shucking station -- this Midtown eatery dishes out seafood done the Southern way. Chef Mark Holley is covering all the bases with crudo, ceviche, raw oysters, caviar service, and a bourbon program, too. The interior is sleek and modern, with dark wooden accents and big windows. The drinks produced through Holley's cocktail program are not to be missed either.

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7. Pax Americana 4319 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006

Small plates and high-concept cocktails are the name of the game at this progressive, modern American restaurant in Montrose. The menu constantly changes, but expect a selection of shareables and large plates with a seasonal influence. Their all-American, small producer wine list represents many European varietals and the beer and cocktails lists are equally well-curated. The restaurant usually feels full but service is noticeably attentive.

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8. Dosi Restaurant & Soju Bar 2802 S Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77098

Children aren’t “recommended” after 7 at this modern eatery. And we’re totally cool with that; because we plan on going “Gangnam Style” on some soju – the slightly sweet, rice-based spirit that is like the Korean version of vodka – all night long. Take it down with shareable plates of wagyu beef jerky, pork belly street dumplings, and hot and sweet gochujang-glazed fried chicken.

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9. Museum Park Cafe 1801 Binz St , Houston, TX 77004

Here, James Beard-nominated chef Justin Basye (formerly of Stella Sola) focuses on contemporary foodstuffs with Southern and Italian influences – think cheddar biscuits with salumi caramel, housemade bucatini and clams, and entrees like a double-cut ribeye for two or Atlantic scallops with pork belly and cream corn. Pastry chef Chris Leung runs the high-concept sweets, which feature some of his innovative ice cream from neighboring Cloud 10 Creamery.

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10. BCN Taste & Tradition 4210 Roseland St, Houston, TX 77006

When a fine dining restaurant with an El Bulli-trained chef opens the first Spanish fine dining restaurant in Houston, people take notice. And for good reason. Taking in the artwork of BCN’s (short for Barcelona) intimate 54-seat (plus another 10 at the bar) space is just the start of your epic dining experience. Get a few small plates, we’d go for boquerones, clams con sofrito de tomate, and some jamón ibérico de Bellota, a cured ham that is hard to score elsewhere in town. Of course, you’ll need to save room for the lobster bouillabaisse, 16 oz bone-in ribeye and frites, and rum raisin Catalán brûlée, too.

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11. Bistro Menil 1513 West Alabama, Houston, TX 77006

Expect Euro-inspired American fare from chef Greg Martin and a killer cask wine and beer program from bev director Sean Beck in a striking dining room that you should probably take a date to. Get the charcuturie plate, filled with deliciousness like duck rillete, jamón ibérico, and chicken ballotine, along with standouts like he big and beefy cocoa nib and black peppercorn-crusted filet. Was that a little meat heavy? Sorry, there are pizzas, pastas, and salads, too.