Don’t fall into the trap of thinking all Houston’s good for are tacos and steak—that’s what they want you to think! The reality is that Houston is not just a good food city, but a great one. Its proximity to the Gulf and Cajun country means great seafood and an abundance of Cajun-influenced cuisine, and the fact that it has long been a landing point for immigrants means you’ll be able to eat everything from Vietnamese banh mi to Ethiopian injera. Let us guide you to some of Houston’s best eats.
It wouldn’t be Texas without BBQ, now would it? You have a good amount to choose from, but our pick goes to Killen’s Barbecue, right in the heart of Downtown. Texas BBQ means beef, so stick with the brisket or—if you’re feeling wild—the beef ribs. Speaking of meat, you’re probably going to be on the hunt for a steak at some point in time, so you might as well make it a good one. For a traditional (but incredible) steak, B&B Butchers is the spot, with real Kobe beef and plenty of 55-day dry-aged local cuts. Can’t stand to eat another plain ol’ steak? Try the recently opened Doris Metropolitan, a steakhouse with a distinctly Middle Eastern twist.
Picking a place to grab a taco in town is both easy (they’re everywhere!) and impossible (which one is best?!). We can’t pick. If you’re feeling fancy, you could try Xochi, an incredible Oaxacan restaurant, but you’re probably just looking for a taqueria. Try exploring Montrose, where you’ll find Churrascos and Hugo’s, or head north to the Heights for the likes of Chilosos Taco House and Tacos A Go-Go.
As with any big city, there’s plenty of high-end, chef-driven fine dining spots worth checking out. Kitchen 713 combines soul food with international flavors, and their brunch menu is particularly delicious—you’ll want to get the Morning Slut burger. La Table offers both casual and fine French cuisine with bright and airy dining rooms. Other notable spots include modern American Pax Americana, the East-meets-West Maison Pucha, and the extremely chic Emmaline.
Vietnamese food fans weep when they get to Houston, which is almost certainly the best city for it in the U.S. On the casual side, you need to grab a banh mi sandwich at Cali Sandwich or Thien An, some pho at Pho Duy or Pho Saigon, and OMG, the Viet-Cajun crawfish. Imagine a New Orleans style crawfish boil, except all the mudbugs, are coated in garlic butter or a spicy mix of chilis, ginger, and scallions. This needs to be priority #1 for you. Go to Crawfish & Noodles. You’re welcome.
For Japanophiles, a stop at the fun and funky Izakaya is in order; or, if you’re looking to impress a guest, head over to Kata Robata for a chef’s choice omakase meal. Interested in seeing why people around the world go crazy for Korean fried chicken? Head to Dak & Bop. Indian and Pakistani food are rampant, as well, with places like Pondicheri and Bismillah just waiting for you to walk in the doors. Oh, and if you’ve never experienced the joy that is eating Ethiopian food (mmm, injera), go to Blue Nile ASAP. There aren’t many cities that can compete with the level of international restaurants that Houston is home to; if there’s something you’re looking for, you can almost certainly find it.
Last but not least are kolache (coal-ah-chee), a baseball-sized Czech pastry made with a sweet dough and a hefty scoop of filling, ranging from sausage and cheese to Bavarian cream with fudge. You have plenty of shops to choose from, but the real connoisseurs know you go to The Original Kolache Shoppe.
There you have it: just a handful of our picks for the best eats in Houston. We think it’s safe to say you’ve got your work cut out for you.
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