Food & Drink

The Best Restaurant for Every Cuisine in Houston

Published On 08/19/2015 Published On 08/19/2015

Houston has more than 11,000 restaurants, and trying to work though all of them is just unfair to your doctor. So to help, we’ve compiled a list of the finest spokesmen in each culinary category, from greasy-spoon burger spots to upscale French. Whatever you're craving, here's where to get it...


Best American: Pax Americana

Montrose/Museum District
What you’re getting: Roasted bone marrow

This year-old progressive American kitchen has drawn a steady crowd since day one. Chef Adam Dorris’ locally and seasonally inspired menu constantly changes, but look out for small plates and entrees like soft-scrambled duck eggs topped with cured salmon on toast, roasted bone marrow dripping with bacon dressing, and pull-apart Berkshire pork ribs with caramelized fish sauce, chile, and black garlic.

Mala Sichuan Bistro

Best Chinese: Mala Sichuan

What you’re getting: Mala beef & water-boiled fish

Run by husband-and-wife team Cori Xiong and Heng Chen, this Asiatown fan-favorite changed the way Houston looks at Chinese food. And with its first ITL location opening earlier this year, both inner and outer loopers can fill their guts with the authentic Sichuan-style eats. Daring crews will love the stupid-hot duck tongue and pork intestine glass noodles, while more basic bros can get down with dan dan noodles and peppercorn beef (which, FYI, will also be stupid hot).

Etoile Cuisine et Bar

Best French: Etoile Cuisine et Bar

What you’re getting: Coq au vin

Under the watchful eye of chef and owner Philippe Verpiand, this Uptown Park eatery has become Houston’s go-to for trustworthy (and crazy-good) French fare. Get modernized takes on staples like the ruby-red coq au vin and superior duck à l’orange with silken butternut squash mousseline.


Best Italian: Coltivare

What you’re getting: Cacio e pepe (spaghetti with Parmigiano & black pepper)

Old-school Italiano gets a refresh with the garden-inspired eats from this Italian kitchen -- the resto pulls fresh herbs and produce straight from its 3,000sqft urban garden. Bring the whole squad so you can share plates of garum-infused mussels soaked up with hot-from-the-oven focaccia, superb renditions of classic pastas, and wood-fired pies topped with charcuterie made in-house at sibling eatery Revival Market.


Best Japanese: Uchi

What you’re getting: The Chef’s Tasting

This offshoot of Austin’s Uchi + Uchiko has hands down the most inspired, consistently immaculate take on Japanese food in Houston. Get razor-sharp cuts of sushi and sashimi next to melt-in-your-mouth pork belly tataki, oak-grilled escolar, and playfully sweet and smoky machi cure (which loyal followers have dubbed “Japanese nachos”). Get the Chef’s Tasting to experience all kinds of brain-stopping deliciousness.


Best Korean: Dosi Restaurant & Soju Bar

Upper Kirby
What you’re getting: Pork shank ssam

This newly conceptualized eatery zones in on bold and user-friendly Korean street eats. Rehab-worthy twice-fried sticky wings, dressed up kimchi fried rice, and blisteringly crisp pork shank ssam are just some of the things you’ll be smashing alongside soju, the Korean version of vodka.

Best Thai: Asia Market

Northside Village
What you’re getting:
Pork larb

Widely regarded as the city’s finest (and cheapest) real-deal Thai in the city, this longtime Heights haunt has stopped operations at the tiny Cavalcade market and is finishing up the last touches on its bigger, newer spot five minutes down the road. You can expect the standalone restaurant to have the same unfussy and bliss-inducing eats -- think intensely hot curries and lime-marinated pork larb -- but this time, with an expanded repertoire.


Best Indian: Indika

What you’re getting: Fried okra masala & shrimp rangoon

Before sister restaurant Pondicheri, there was this Montrose staple from chef-owner Anita Jaisinghani. The 14-year-old spot spiced up its menu with some fusion street food a few years back, but the elegant vibe and thoughtful wine list remained to keep things classy. Relish in the flavors of the Southeast and Deep South with fried okra masala, sop incendiary curries with pistachio apricot naan, and finish with a chai-spiced dark bread pudding.


Best Mediterranean: Aladdin Mediterranean Cuisine

What you’re getting: Aladdin’s Platter
Houstonians flock to this Montrose staple, where a beautiful Mediterranean spread awaits you as soon as you walk in the door. Get on the cafeteria-style line and load up on spicy hummus and creamy baba ghanoush, Lebanese mashed potatoes, and fall-off-the-bone lamb shank -- all of which you’ll scoop up with warm, freshly baked pita. And some hot sauce. Don’t forget the hot sauce.


Best Mexican: Hugo’s

What you’re getting: The Sunday brunch buffet

This Houston institution from legendary chef Hugo Ortega dishes out authentic and vibrant interior Mexican cuisine that will knock your holey socks off. On another note, it may be time for some new socks, bro. Pro tip: go during Sunday brunch so you can fill and refill your plate with all the budin de maiz, chilaquiles, tamales, ceviches and salsas, carnitas, chile rellenos, and pan dulce that you can comfortably take down.

BCN Taste & Tradition

Best Spanish: BCN Taste & Tradition

What you’re getting: Chuletón a la brasa (grilled bone-in ribeye) & frites with foie gras

Though still fresh to the scene, this fine-dining Spanish restaurant comes packed with serious culinary chops. First, an elBulli-trained chef at the helm. Next, hard-to-score-elsewhere things like jamón ibérico de Bellota, anchovies from the Cantabrian Sea, and house-made foie gras terrine. Finally, a beautifully curated wine list and desserts like crispy phyllo dough stuffed with Catalán vanilla brûlée.

Saigon Pagolac

Best Vietnamese: Saigon Pagoloc

What you’re getting: Bò 7 món (beef seven ways)

You’ll likely find all the tables hovering over hot pots and sizzling skillets at this bright and stark Vietnamese joint. That’s because -- in addition to whole-roasted fish and shrimp spring rolls -- everyone’s eating the bò 7 món , or beef seven ways, which starts with sliced tenderloin cooked in a mouth-puckering vinegar broth and moves through things like beef meatballs and sausage before finishing off with rich beef noodle soup.

B&B Butchers

Best steakhouse: B&B Butchers & Restaurant

What you’re getting: Carpet Bagger on the half shell and bone-in ribeye

This fresh-out-the-gates butcher shop and upscale resto doesn’t mess around when it comes to meat. You’ll find the glorious meat case stacked with dry-aged meats and bespoke cuts, but it’s the fine Gearhart Ranch Wagyu and dry-aged USDA Prime coming out of the kitchen that really pack the house. Get Wagyu carpaccio and a voluptuous Chateaubriand for two alongside impossibly good steakhouse sides. And don’t miss the Carpet Bagger appetizer -- the breakout star of the menu is a mix of Buffalo-style fried oysters on the half shell, B&B’s thick-cut bacon, melted blue cheese, and tender filet.

Flickr/Adam Baker

Best burger joint: Hubcap Grill

What you’re getting: The Hubcap Decker

All three locations of this beefed-up powerhouse draw a steady burger-loving crowd. That’s thanks to the excellent house-made buns; hand-formed, juice-dripping patties; and toppings that both the burger purist and wild child can get behind (we’re talking everything from bacon and BBQ sauce to chunky peanut butter and Cheetos). Whatever you do, go hungry.

Green Seed Vegan

Best vegan/vegetarian: Green Seed Vegan

Museum District
What you’re getting: Illy cheesesteak

This plant-based cafe and juice bar pumps out bistro-style sandwiches and raw sides that will have you forgetting about meat (at the very least, momentarily). Get hand-cut dill fries to stuff inside loaded veggie burgers and portobello mushroom “cheesesteaks,” dip crispy cauliflower nuggets in hot sauce, and go full beast-mode on a protein-packed kale and quinoa bowl.

Marco Orozco/Telwink Grill

Best diner: Tel-Wink Grill

Gulfgate/Pine Valley
What you're getting: Start slow with two-egg and jalapeño sausage plates and triple stacks before easing into things like five-napkin patty melts and a colossal CFS nearly suffocating under a blanket of creamy gravy.

If you like your diner food cheap, greasy as hell (as it should be), and with no frills, Tel-Wink is the kind of place you should get better acquainted with.

Killen's BBQ

Best barbecue: Killen’s Barbecue

What you’re getting: Beef ribs

Last year, Chef Ronnie Killen set out to make foodstuffs that rivaled the reigning kings of Texas ‘Q. It seems to be working. Slabs of smoke-kissed ribs, fiery sausage, and masterfully rendered, fat-melting brisket -- which get pumped out at over 2,000lbs per day -- have garnered the BBQ spot both local and national attention. Don’t miss the Brontosaurus-sized beef ribs, country-style fried chicken, and old-fashioned baked beans.

The Original Ninfas

Best Tex-Mex: The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation

East End
What you’re getting: Skirt steak fajitas
This OG of fajitas (we’re serious, Mama Ninfa is said to have launched the national fajita craze) has a cult following thanks to seriously stiff frozen margs, mouth-tingling chef’s specials, and by-the-pound, absurdly awesome fajitas that get served with handmade flour tortillas and all that other good stuff. It’s exactly what Tex-Mex should be -- and probably even a little bit more.

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Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. 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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2. Mala Sichuan Bistro 9348 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036

Inner-loopers can also get their fill of authentic, Szechuan-style Chinese thanks to the second location of this Chinatown cult classic. Prepare yourself (and your mouth) for tongue-scorching, intense flavors in the form of water-boiled beef and pot-roasted fish, all swimming with chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. Our advice: bring friends and get adventurous.

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3. Étoile Cuisine et Bar 1101-11 Uptown Park Blvd, Houston, TX 77056 (Uptown)

This Uptown restaurant is the place to get quality, authentic, French cuisine in Houston. They offer modern takes on classic dishes like ruby-red coq au vin and duck à l’orange.

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4. 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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5. Uchi 904 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

Located in Montrose, from acclaimed Austin Chef Tyson Cole, Uchi is Houston’s outpost of the Austin-based Japanese hot spot. The intimate, upscale restaurant is constantly bustling with sushi- and sake-craving diners, and because reservations are hard to come by, be prepared to wait for a taste of the inventive Japanese cuisine. Or, beat the crowd and arrive early for their daily Sake Social, where for an hour and a half, you can sample the highlights of the menu, accompanied by copious amounts of sake (or beer, or wine), at a fraction of the cost.

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6. 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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7. Asia Market Thai Lao Food 1010 West Cavalcade St Unit D, Houston, TX 77009 (The Greater Heights)

This spot is serving real-deal Thai food at incredible prices in Northside Village. Their menu includes super hot spicy curries, sticky rice with mango, and lime-marinated meats.

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8. Indika 516 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

Chef-Owner Anita Jaisinghani opened this spot more than a decade ago, and since then it's become a staple in the Montrose community. The menu has been updated over the years to include street-food inspired dishes and local ingredients, but the classic Indian flavors have stayed the same. You'll find lots of vegetarian dishes in the form of progressive Indian eats, like saffron-laced red beet soup, sweet potato samosa chaat, cashew masala stuffed egg plant, and black bean biryani.

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9. Aladdin's Mediterranean Cuisine 912 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

Aladdin offers up a delicious hybrid of Greek and Mediterranean food, including lamb kabobs that are meltingly tender. It's not just kabobs that keep Houstonians pouring into this Montrose cafeteria-style spot, though -- there's also fall-off-the-bone lamb shank, and it's BYOB. You'll be greeted by a colorful Mediterranean spread when you enter, which includes plenty of meatless dishes that'll more than satisfy the vegetarians in your group, such as spicy hummus and cream baba ghanoush, tabouli, and falafel.

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10. Hugo's 1600 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

At this Montrose hotspot, authentic Mexican cuisine is served up in a 1925 building designed by Joseph Finger, the same architect responsible for Houston’s City Hall. Chef tktktkkt’s menu is centered on traditional regional dishes, like lime-cured snapper ceviche with cherry tomatoes, cilantro, cucumber, jalapeno, and olives, bacon-wrapped quail stuffed with chorizo, tomatillo salsa, butternut squash, ayocote beans, and quinoa, and sautéed shrimp in garlic and lime-infused oil with chipotle pepper, arroz blanco, and nopales salad. The real gem at Hugo’s, though, is the Sunday brunch, where you can fill and refill your plate with all the chilaquiles, carnitas, tamales, braised brisket, chorizo ancho chiles, ceviche, tres leches, and Mexican hot chocolate churros that your heart desires.

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11. BCN Taste & Tradition 4210 Roseland St, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

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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12. Saigon Pagolac 9600 Bellaire Blvd #119, Houston, TX 77036

This Chinatown spot's Vietnamese cuisine is authentic, with hot pot, skillets, and whole roasted fish all included on the menu. The local favorite is the bò 7 món, or beef seven ways.

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13. B&B Butchers 1814 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77007 (Washington)

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.

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14. Hubcap Grill 1133 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008 (The Greater Heights)

Hubcap Grill, which has a couple of locations across Texas, is known for its burgers and sandwiches. When faced with one of its incredibly juicy, crispy seared patties, the logical next step is to get another. The counter-serve also pours craft beer, which you order at the window before taking your food out to the massive, colorful patio. The space features games like ping pong and horseshoes so you can burn off all that grease to the tune of the outdoor jukebox.

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15. Green Seed Vegan 4320 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77004 (Midtown)

This vegan (sometimes raw) restaurant is located right in the Museum District, and is serving up scrumptious and unique dishes that are so filling you won't even notice the lack of meat in your bistro-style sandwich or kale & quinoa bowl. It also boasts hand-cut dill fries you can stuff inside loaded veggie burgers and portobello mushroom “cheesesteaks,” plus crispy cauliflower nuggets that are perfect for dipping in hot sauce.

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16. Tel-Wink Grill 4318 Telephone Rd, Houston, TX 77087

Dmitri and Peggy Bokos brought their restaurant industry knowledge with them from Chicago, and Tel-Wink is now a legendary fixture on Telephone Road.

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17. Killen's BBQ 3613 Broadway St, Pearland, TX 77581 (Pearland)

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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18. Ninfa's on Navigation 2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX 77003 (East End)

The fajitas at the original Tex-Mex outpost on Navigation earn their cook the title of Mexican fare experts. Alongside the fajitas, staples like mole enchiladas, Oaxacan-style pork tamales, and jalapeño-stuffed Shrimp Diablo (not to mention the head-sized frozen margaritas) take some serious culinary chops, which means these dishes go far above and beyond Houston's other Tex-Mex eateries.



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