Every Houston resident knows there are tons of great restaurants all over town, but narrowing it down to a few of the very best is tough. Seemingly infinite choices abound, and you’d be hard pressed to find any type of cuisine not represented in Houston’s restaurant scene. Whether you’re in the mood for classic Texan comfort food like barbecue and chicken fried steak or something a little more exotic, (Persian? Ethiopian? Portuguese? No problem.) you’re sure to find something that hits the spot. Culture Map recently rounded up their top ten Houston hotspots to help take some of the guesswork out of your next night out, so loosen that belt a notch or two and get going!
Reservations at tiny, exclusive Oxheart can be extremely hard to come by, but if you’re able to work miracles and secure a table, prepare to be blown away. Only 31 seats are available at this Downtown treasure, the brainchild of native Houstonians Justin Yu and Karen Man. The menu is innovative and heavy on vegetables and plates are artfully arranged. Choose from three different multi-course menus nightly.
You may have read about the recent controversy surrounding Underbelly, a hip Montrose eatery that was threatened with a lawsuit by burger giant In-N-Out for daring to call one of their burgers a “Double-Double.” (The offending sandwich has since been renamed the “Cease and Desist.”) Underbelly’s burgers are certainly spectacular, but you really can’t go wrong with any dish on the menu, thanks to Shepherd’s commitment to using the most high-quality, locally sourced ingredients available in all his recipes. Protip: You definitely want to order the steak.
Actually two restaurants that share one kitchen, The Pass & Provisions have been staples on best restaurant lists since they opened. The Pass is the more formal of the two, with a menu featuring carefully crafted modern twists on old favorites. Provisions is more casual and features lots of fantastic pasta dishes and pizzas.
Due to its location in a strip center off the Southwest Freeway, you might not immediately have high expectations for Himalaya, but you’d be wrong. Himalaya serves arguably the best Indian food in town, from authentic dishes to British-style Indian favorites like Chicken Tikka Masala. As you would expect from an Indian restaurant, there are many delicious vegetarian offerings.
A long-standing Houston favorite, Hugo’s offers region-specific Mexican dishes prepared with a creative flair. This is more than your standard tacos and enchiladas; Hugo’s dinner menu includes unique dishes like duck carnitas, beef cheek, and suckling pig. Pair each course with a suggested white or red wine, or opt for a tequila pairing instead.
Frequently cited as the source of the best burgers in Houston, Hubcap Grill offers a dazzling array of specialty burger with unusual toppings. Choose from standard favorites toppings like bacon, cheese, and mushrooms, or if you’re feeling adventurous, order one with grilled bananas and peanut butter, pineapple, or even Cheetos. Calling the atmosphere casual is an understatement; expect to order at the counter and collect your food when your number is called. There are two locations in Downtown and the Heights.
While there are several solid contenders for the title of Houston’s best sushi, Kata Robata is still on top. For those who can’t imagine consuming raw seafood, there are plenty of delicious cooked entrees prepared with the same level of care as Chef Manabu Horiuchi’s sushi dishes. Lunch prices are pretty reasonable, and you’ll find a great selection of adult beverages on the bar menu.
No Houston restaurant rundown would be complete without at least one barbecue joint, and Gatlin’s takes top honors. You won’t find any famous chefs or pretentious platings in this kitchen- just perfectly smoked, traditional Texas-style barbecue. While the meat is the main attraction, don’t forget to save room for tasty sides and delicious homemade desserts.
This Chinatown institution is beloved for its flavor-packed menu of traditional Sichuan dishes, with the added perk of clear English descriptions of all menu items. The proprietors are so dedicated to authenticity that they import their own hot peppers to get just the right amount of heat in each dish. We love the Dan Dan noodles, and the Cumin beef is another favorite.
Home to wood-fired pizzas, tasty pasta dishes, and a solid wine list, Dolce Vita is a Montrose must-try. This is no mass-produced pizza we’re talking about, either. Each Neapolitan-style pie is carefully handmade, topped with top-quality meats, cheeses, and veggies, and baked in a wood-burning oven to just the right char. If you’re jonesing for the kind of pizza you had on that long-ago vacation to Italy but can’t shell out for plane tickets at the moment, Dolce Vita might be the ext best thing. There are no reservations for parties of fewer than eight guests, so don’t come when you’re on the verge of starvation.