With well over 10,000 restaurants in the nation’s fourth-largest city, you’ll find no shortage of palate-pleasing eateries to choose from during your stay in Houston, Texas. Thanks to a smorgasbord of global cuisines to sink your teeth into, it’s a bona fide foodie’s paradise of epic proportions. Taste the culture of Texas – and beyond – with menus featuring everything from traditional Southern comfort staples and New American concepts to Thai, French, Vietnamese, Mexican, and more. Here’s our guide to the essential Houston restaurants that should be on your meal-time radar!

Better Luck Tomorrow

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544 Yale St, Houston, TX 77007 • (713) 802-0845 • http://betterlucktomorrowhou.com

$$ Bar & Grill

Cozy, modern bar in the Midtown Heights area, featuring clever craft cocktails and elevated comfort food with a seasonal angle. Menu items include fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, steaks, sandwiches, and pasta. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays until 3:30 PM. Vibrant indoor bar and covered patio seating are available. Enjoy Happy Hour weekdays before 5:00 PM, and make sure to ask about their “weather specials”

Favorite Picks: Spaghetti Sandwich, Patty Melt, Korean Hot fried chicken

Brennan’s of Houston

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3300 Smith St, Houston, TX 77006 • (713) 522-9711 • https://www.brennanshouston.com

$$$$ Creole

Authentic Louisiana Cajun deep in the heart of Texas since 1967! Incorporating the freshest local ingredients, Brennan’s features award-winning menus and the original Creole Jazz Brunch (Thursdays through Sundays) – one of Open Table’s Top 100 Brunches in America. This location was ranked among Food & Wine’s 40 Most Important Restaurants in America (2018)

Favorite Picks: Turtle Soup, Bananas Foster, Shrimp and Grits, Crispy Louisiana Oysters

Coltivare Pizza & Garden

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3320 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX 77007 • (713) 637-4095 • https://www.agricolehospitality.com/coltivare

$$ Italian / Pizzeria

Coltivare was a hit from the start, included on Bon Appetit’s list of the 50 best new restaurants in America and Texas Monthly’s 10 best new restaurants in the state in 2014. This homey, inviting Italian eatery features wood-fired pizzas and other traditional favorites. Fresh ingredients are harvested from the onsite vegetable garden, to create Italian-inspired fish and pasta dishes.

Favorite Picks: Spaghetti, Pizza, Chicken Wings

Crawfish & Noodles

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11360 Bellaire Blvd #990, Houston, TX 77072 • (281) 988-8098 • https://www.crawfishandnoodles.com

$$ Seafood

Vietnamese and Creole define the array of selections on the menu here. Featured on Food Network and The Travel Channel, Crawfish & Noodles combines some of the most flavorful regional cuisines in a uniquely delightful way. Located in West Houston in the Bellaire area.

Favorite Picks: Blue Crab, Spicy Crawfish, Pho

Gatlin’s BBQ

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3510 Ella Blvd Bldg C Ste A, Houston, TX 77018 • (713) 869-4227 • https://www.gatlinsbbq.com

$$ Barbecue

Family-owned and operated, rustic Houston mainstay, named one of the 50 best BBQ restaurants in the Lone Star State by Texas Monthly. Classic Southern barbecue served in the Oak Forest area of the Heights. A genuine home-grown favorite establishment, and one that is tops on every Houstonians recommendation list!

Favorite Picks: Brisket, Ribs, Smoked Cod

Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino

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3215 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098 • (713) 522-1934 • http://www.giacomosciboevino.com

$$ Italian

Colorful neighborhood Italian bistro and wine bar in the Upper Kirby area. Open for lunch and dinner, specializing in from-scratch, shareable small plates using local ingredients. This fast-casual concept has the feel of quality, nostalgia, and Old-World tradition.

Favorite Picks: Tortellini, Scallops, Wine List

Himalaya Restaurant

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6652 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77074 • (713) 532-2837 • http://himalayarestauranthouston.com

$$ Indian

Authentic Indian and Pakistani specialties, including vegetarian options and daring combinations. Generous portions at a budget-friendly price in the Hillcroft area. Himalaya was a favorite spot of the late Anthony Bourdain.

Favorite Picks: Lamb Curry, Garlic Naan, Kebabs

Hugo’s

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1600 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 • (713) 524-7744 • https://www.hugosrestaurant.net

$$$ Mexican

Authentic Mexican cuisine conceived by award-winning chef Hugo Ortega in Houston’s upscale Montrose district. This longstanding Houston favorite has been featured in the Washington Post’s Search for America’s Greatest Food Cities, recognized as one of the Top 5 Mexican Restaurants in Texas by Texas Monthly, and named one of Gayot’s and Travel + Leisure’s Best Mexican Restaurants in the U.S. Hugo’s also holds the prestigious honor of being named a James Beard award-winner for Best Chef: Southwest in 2017 after consistent nomination since 2012. The restaurant is also known for its stellar award-winning wine list, cocktail selection, and tequila menu.

Favorite Picks: Ceviche, Carne Brava, Brunch

Kata Robata

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3600 Kirby Dr., Suite H, Houston, TX 77098 • (713) 526-8858 • https://www.katarobata.com

$$$ Japanese

Houston’s premier sushi and Japanese tapas restaurant! Innovative, flavorful small plates combining both traditional and modern staples. Fresh fish flown in from Japan, paired well with selections of sake, Japanese whiskey, and a thoughtfully-curated wine list. Consider the omakase (chef’s sampler menu) for the ultimate robata dining experience!

Favorite Picks: Sashimi, Foie Gras, Hamachi and Quail Egg Nigiri

Killen’s STQ

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2231 S Voss Rd, Houston, TX 77057 • (713) 586-0223 • https://www.killensstq.com

$$$ New American

Recognized by Texas Monthly as the Best Texas BBQ Bites, Killen’s STQ is part of the Killen’s Restaurant Group, with five popular eateries in the general Houston area, including the newest – Killen’s of the Heights, Ronnie Killen’s homage to southern cooking and family supper. Killen’s STQ is an uptown neighborhood fine dining restaurant specializing in wood-fired meats.

Favorite Picks: Tuna Tacos, Ribs, Pork Belly

MAD River Oaks

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4444 Westheimer Rd Suite C180, Houston, TX 77027 • (281) 888-2770 • https://www.madhouston.com

$$$$ Spanish

Billed as an innovative experience, MAD is certainly a uniquely-Houston stop on your foodie tour! This Spanish-style gastropub features cuisine inspired by the lifestyle and vibrant spice of Madrid, including tapas, wood-fired entrees, craft cocktails, and an impressively stocked wine cellar.

Favorite Picks: Paella, Oysters, Suckling Pig

Nancy’s Hustle

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2704 Polk St A, Houston, TX 77003 • (346) 571-7931 • https://www.nancyshustle.com

$$ New American

European-style contemporary bistro serving sweet and savory worldly cuisine alongside wines, ciders, beer, and cocktails in EaDo. Called an “instant Houston classic” , Nancy’s Hustle was quickly recognized as Eater Houston’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year and “the total package”.

Favorite Picks: Lamb Dumplings, Nancy Cakes, Pancetta

Nielsen’s Delicatessen

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4500 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77027 • (713) 963-8005 • https://www.nielsensdelicatessen.com

$$ Deli

One of Houston’s best-kept secrets, this unassuming traditional deli is a must if you’re seeking a genuinely local experience that the casual tourist would likely overlook. A lunchtime favorite while visiting the “Inner Loop” area near Houston’s Galleria.

Favorite Picks: Deviled Eggs, Sandwiches

Ninfa’s on Navigation

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2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX 77003 • (713) 228-1175 • http://www.ninfas.com

$$ Mexican

A Houston institution, the Original Ninfa’s on Navigation is the very definition of a local legend and a tasty tribute to traditional Tex-Mex cuisine. Southern Living named The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation the best restaurant in Texas in 2017. Said to be the pioneers of the fajita, Ninfa’s has expanded to a second location in the Uptown area as well!

Favorite Picks: Fajitas, Queso Flameado, Homemade Tortillas, Enchiladas

Nobie’s

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2048 Colquitt St, Houston, TX 77098 • (346) 319-5919 • http://www.nobieshtx.com

$$ New American

Kitschy Montrose hot spot featuring 20-25 constantly rotating menu items highlighting seasonal ingredients from land and sea. Gulf Coast seafood and farm-grown produce delivered daily. Nobie’s is guaranteed to be a unique experience time and time again. Minimalist space with a small bar and cozy, tree-shaded patio.

Favorite Picks: Pasta, Texas Tartare, Lamb Meatballs

One Fifth Mediterranean

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1658 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 • (713) 955-1024 • https://www.onefifthhouston.com

$$$$ Southern

Swanky Montrose eatery and raw bar housed in an Historic Hyde Park church. The lavish menu features European-inspired entrees from Spanish, French, and Italian origins. This five-phase restaurant concept by renowned Houston Chef Chris Shepherd reinvents itself annually – five years, multiple concepts, one historic building.

Favorite Picks: Octopus, Roasted Oysters, Jambalaya

Pondicheri

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2800 Kirby Dr b132, Houston, TX 77098 • (713) 522-2022 • http://www.pondicheri.com

$$ Indian

This industrial-chic spot, named one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in Texas by Texas Monthly, brings worldly flavor to the Texas landscape with unique dishes inspired by the flavors of Mumbai. A James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in 2012, Pondicheri is also led by a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Southwest, Chef Anita Jaisinghani.

Favorite Picks: Curry, Potato Cakes, Butter Chicken Kolaches

Potente

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1515 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002 • (713) 237-1515 • https://www.potentehouston.com

$$$$ Italian

Locally-sourced, modern Italian staples served up in Downtown Houston, across from Minute Maid Park. A favorite among baseball fans, Potente is owned by Houston Astros owner, Jim Crane, and overseen by Executive Chef Danny Trace. The menu features an extensive wine list, daily seafood selections, USDA steaks, and homemade pastas, including Potente’s famous truffle pasta, featured as “One of the Best Pastas in the Country” by the Food Network. Sophisticated lounge-style dining room with great Happy Hour specials.

Favorite Picks: Branzino, Scallops, Spaghetti

Riel

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1927 Fairview St, Houston, TX 77019 • (832) 831-9109 • https://www.rielhtx.com

$$$ New American

“Globally-inspired Gulf Coast cuisine” highlighting local flavors, utilizing regionally-sourced products. Inspiration for the menu is pulled from the culinary landscape of Texas’ gulf coast, Chef Ryan Lachaine’s Ukrainian heritage, and traditional French-Canadian fare.

Favorite Picks: Pierogies, Kimchi, Gnocchi, Caviar

Rainbow Lodge

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2011 Ella Blvd, Houston, TX 77008 • (713) 861-8666 • https://www.rainbow-lodge.com

$$$ American

A thoughtfully-themed, upscale-rustic dining experience that makes for a great date night! Choose from intimate indoor dining within the log cabin or seating on the outdoor deck and enjoy an iconic Houston menu featuring seasonal harvests and the best in seafood, wild game, and steaks along with an expansive wine cellar and popular Sunday Brunch.

Favorite Picks: Venison, Rainbow Trout, Antelope, Lobster

Sorrento Ristorante Italiano

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415 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 • (713) 527-0609 • http://www.sorrentohouston.com

$$$$ Italian

Voted one of the Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America by OpenTable users, Sorrento is one of the area’s finest eateries, situated in the heart of the Montrose area. Special menus available for holiday service, private events, and Sunday Brunch Known for a remarkable wine selection, exquisite service, fine décor, and the perfect Italian dining experience.

Favorite Picks: Risotto, Tiramisu, Sea Bass

Squable

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632 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008 • (832) 834-7362 • https://squabletime.com

$$ European

Modern-day neighborhood joint boasting an innovative chef-driven menu in a casual, funky atmosphere. Squable offers an affordable, inviting elevated dining experience in the Heights for locals and visitors alike.

Favorite Picks: Maltagliati Pasta, Dutch Baby Pancake, Vegetable Bolognese, Bread

State Of Grace

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3258 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098 • (832) 942-5080 • https://stateofgracetx.com

$$$ New American

A River Oaks favorite, State of Grace offers up grilled Texas standards, traditional Tex-Mex fare, and Southern Comfort favorites in a casually elegant environment. Menu highlights draw inspiration from southern, American, Latin, Gulf Coast, German, and Asian customs. Don’t miss Oyster Happy Hour, Monday through Friday from 4:30-6PM, or stop in for Sunday Brunch!

Favorite Picks: Oysters, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Mahi Mahi, Duck

Taste of Texas

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10505 Katy Fwy, Houston, TX 77024 • (713) 932-6901 • https://www.tasteoftexas.com

$$$ American

Included on The Daily Meal’s list of America’s 50 Best Steakhouses, the name says it all – this is THE place for a true Taste of Texas! Featuring colossal steaks from the on-site butcher, an expansive salad bar, and a heaping helping of Southern hospitality, Taste of Texas is a longtime family favorite, and a prime stop for a happy, hardy downhome experience and a side of Lone Star history!

Favorite Picks: Steak, Prime Rib, Quail, Pecan Pie

Uchi

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904 Westheimer Rd Suite A, Houston, TX 77006 • (713) 522-4808 • https://www.uchihouston.com

$$$$ Japanese

Finding distinctive placement among top eatery lists by GQ, Bon Appetit, and Open Table, Uchi is also overseen by a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef:Southwest (2013), and one of the few American sushi masters, Chef Tyson Cole.

Favorite Picks: Sushi, Omakase, Wagyu Tartare

Xochi

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1777 Walker St, Houston, TX 77010 • (713) 400-3330 • https://www.xochihouston.com

$$$ Oaxacan

The newest creative concept of Chef Hugo Ortega and the H Town Restaurant Group, Xochi draws inspiration from the colorful flavors of Oaxaca, Mexico. Named the #1 restaurant in Alison Cook’s Top 100 Restaurants list 2017 in Houston Chronicle.

Favorite Picks: Mole, Crispy Duck, Tacos