Houston
1. Louie's Italian American
East End
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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.

2. The Lymbar
Midtown
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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.

3. Navy Blue
Rice Village
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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.

4. Sushi By Hidden
Rice Village
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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.

5. Wild Oats
Heights
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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.

6. 5Kinokawa
Heights
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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.

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