Top Restaurants in Houston

Houston knows food. Sample some of the best barbecue in the U.S. at Killen’s, or stuff yourself silly with tacos al carbon at Ninfa’s. Whether it’s Indian street food you’re after or waffle sandwiches sold out of a bus, this list will help you get strategic.

1641 Westheimer Road
Many a late night in Houston ends at Poison Girl, a beloved dive bar tucked between Westheimer Road’s antique stores and secondhand shops. You’ll find a full range of cocktails, beer, and wine at this eclectic bar, which has a wide outside patio perfect for lingering. While you’re there, make sure to snap a photo with the oversize Cabbage Patch Kid that greets visitors. Bored? Test your skills at the wall of pinball machines and arcade games. Poison Girl is open daily from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Be warned, however, that this place is popular—locking down a seat can be a challenge on the weekend.
2349 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005, USA
Named after the 1947 Malcolm Lowry novel, Under the Volcano is beloved by Houston locals, who flock here for the live music and drink menu standouts like the strawberry-basil margaritas and the frozen screwdrivers. The bar is also home to one of Houston’s favorite steak nights on Thursdays and a solid brunch served on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The best thing about Under the Volcano, however, is its inviting patio—the perfect spot to gather with friends and linger for an evening.
419 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002, USA
Like tequila? Then you’re going to love El Big Bad Bar and Kitchen. This “gastro-cantina” located in downtown Houston’s Market Square is a must-try spot thanks to its infused tequilas, fresh juice margaritas, and Mexican eats. The drink menu includes a pineapple and hibiscus margarita (tequila infused with pineapple and hibiscus, plus lemon, lime juice, and agave), the Champ #3 (cranberry- and churro-infused tequilas, agave, and fresh lemon and lime), and El Mule (ginger beer, fresh lime, and choice of infused tequila). On the food side, expect nachos, Gulf shrimp tacos, and stacked enchiladas. There’s also a booming happy hour and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
314 S Main St, Houston, TX 77002, USA
Notsuoh (that’s Houston backward) is a funky little dive bar that’s nearly impossible to fully describe—it’s one of those offbeat finds you have to visit in person to understand. The artists’ haven hosts poetry readings, live music, and film screenings around the clock, and the crowd here tends to be equally engaging; actor Robert Pattinson added the spot to his must-see list when he swung through town a few years ago. Check the Facebook page for news on upcoming events.
813 Congress Avenue
This offbeat bar envelops you in a time warp as soon as you walk through the historical building’s front door. Decades-old memorabilia adorn the walls instead of the TVs found in a typical sports bar, and in the evening you’ll find candles burning—which doesn’t help to dispel the long-told lore that the bar is inhabited by ghosts. It’s just one of those Houston gems you have to see for yourself. You might want to go to the restroom before you come, though—the ones here are tiny. Cash only.
1540 W Alabama St Suite 100, Houston, TX
Do you love waffles like most well-adjusted members of society do? Then you’ll be a big fan of the Waffle Bus. This innovative Houston food truck offers a variety of savory and sweet waffle sandwiches that will put your taste buds on high alert. Waffle sandwiches on the menu here include buttermilk fried chicken, Nutella and banana, and the decadent Strawberry Irish Cream Crème Brûlée. The truck frequents various neighborhoods in Houston; check the website for the most up-to-date location information. If you’re in town for a special event, you can even order catering.
2202 Dallas St, Houston, TX 77003, USA
The Eatsie Boys has long been considered one of Houston’s best food trucks thanks to the “gourmet grub” made with locally sourced, high-quality ingredients. These days it’s holding down a daily residence at 8th Wonder Brewery, Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Menu offerings include S.L.A.B. Fries (pulled pork, mozzarella, barbecue sauce, avocado crema, diced tomatoes, pickled onions, and jalapeño); the Hello Nasty burger (house-ground 100-percent beef brisket patty, grilled onions, pickled jalapeño, cheddar cheese, bacon, and barbecue sauce); and the What the Falafel (house-made falafel patty, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, and tzatziki).
300 W 20th St, Houston, TX 77008, USA
If you’re staying in Houston for longer than a weekend, you’ll probably want to put the Rice Box on speed dial—it’s been serving up some of Houston’s most popular Chinese food from the window of its food truck (and at its Greenway Plaza food court location) for years. Now the Rice Box has opened a Heights location with a modern, futuristic vibe. The menu includes all the classics—sweet and sour chicken, chicken dumplings, and broccoli beef—as well as new twists such as Wings and Rice (six jumbo dry-rub wings served with rice and an egg roll). As always, if you’re planning to go to the food truck, check the website for details on where it will be when.
11360 Bellaire Blvd #990, Houston, TX 77072, USA
Crawfish season is a big deal in Houston. But for a truly unique experience, head to Crawfish & Noodles in Chinatown. This easy-to-miss restaurant, tucked away in a strip mall on Bellaire Boulevard, is well worth the drive for its spicy mudbugs alone, served piping hot. If you want to eat like a local, order the blue crab, snow crab, or literally anything with noodles. There can be a wait during peak hours, so plan your visit accordingly. We also recommend taking the time to explore the rest of the neighborhood when you can. You simply can’t beat dim sum in Houston’s Chinatown on a weekend morning.
4210 Roseland St, Houston, TX 77006, USA
Wish you could instantly transport yourself to Barcelona? At BCN Taste & Tradition, you can—all it takes is a single bite of food. The restaurant, helmed by chef Luis Roger, who grew up in Barcelona and was once hired to travel the world on a private sailboat, combines traditional and modern Spanish cuisine in dishes that will make your mouth water and mind wander. The menu includes beef tartare with waffle chips; free-range sunny-side-up eggs with potatoes and cured Spanish Ibérico ham; pan-seared wild-caught branzino with sautéed garlic, confit potato, roasted tomato, and piquillo peppers; and confit pork cheeks with sweet pea puree, compressed carrot, and grilled carabineros shrimp.
3613 E Broadway St, Pearland, TX 77581, USA
In Texas, there’s no shortage of places to go for barbecue, but if you can pick only one Houston joint, head to Killen’s BBQ. Chef Ronnie Killen’s vision for this restaurant, opened in 2013, was to combine the “heart and soul of the old-school barbecue cook-offs” of his youth with his training at Le Cordon Bleu. On the meat menu you’ll find to-die-for brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, and turkey by the pound as well as homemade pork and beef sausage, pulled pork, and bone-in pork belly. Sides include mac and cheese, creamed corn, green beans, potato salad, and coleslaw. The restaurant is located in Pearland, about 30 minutes from downtown. It is closed on Mondays, and open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until the restaurant sells out of stock.
2752 Buffalo Speedway, Houston, TX 77027, USA
There’s no better way to spend a Saturday morning than at a farmers market, where the region’s bounty takes center stage. At the Urban Harvest Eastside Farmers Market, you’ll find local vegetables, fruits, dairy products, farm products, prepared foods, cut flowers, plants, and much more. Grab some eggs, buy a few bars of handmade soap, or take a breakfast taco to go—there’s a little something here for everyone. And it’s open year-round, rain or shine, from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, so you can always get your fix. If Saturdays don’t work for you, Urban Harvest offers a second weekly farmers market on Wednesdays near City Hall downtown.
1424 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006, USA
Craft cocktails have been a thing for a while now, and Anvil Bar & Refuge, opened in 2009, was one of the first places to put Houston’s mixology scene on the map. Specializing in drinks that use local ingredients and house-made syrups, Anvil is the place to go if you’re serious about your spirits. Cocktail options may include the First Name Basis (chamomile-infused Brugal Especial white rum, lemon, hibiscus, and strawberry), the Anvil Pousse-Cafe (a layered shot with Citadelle dry gin, Pimm’s No. 1, Aperol, lemon, and mint), and the on-tap Nitro Cuba Libre (Plantation Original Dark rum, Cruzan Black Strap rum, Mexican Coca-Cola, lactose sugar, and Angostura bitters). While you’re there, be sure to peruse Anvil’s famous list of 100 classic cocktails, which features everything from a Pimm’s Cup to a mai tai.
2000 Lyons Ave, Houston, TX 77020, USA
Houston‘s beer scene has commanded national attention for years thanks to its quality craft brews, and there’s no better place to sample some than at Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Founded in the mid-1990s, it has the esteemed title of being the oldest craft brewery in Texas. Monday through Friday the beer hall is open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; there’s no charge for admission and brewery tours are offered at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. On Saturdays, the beer hall is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and admission is $10, which includes a souvenir glass and four 8 oz. tastings; tours are held at noon, 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. One lesser-known secret about the beer hall? It serves up excellent à la carte food, too.
3711 Travis St, Houston, TX 77002, USA
Yes, there might be a line. Yes, you need to go anyway. The Breakfast Klub is a Houston institution for good reason—you’ll find simple food, done right. Choose from classic breakfast dishes like French toast, omelettes, and biscuits and gravy, or order a more imaginative combination, like the Wings & Waffle (six chicken wing pieces and a Belgian waffle topped with a fresh strawberry and powdered sugar) or the Katfish & Grits (catfish fillet with grits, potatoes or eggs, and a choice of toast or biscuit). Despite the restaurant’s name, breakfast isn’t served all day here—catch it from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
88 Dennis St, Houston, TX 77006, USA
One word: Hamburgers. Hamburgers are the reason to come to this tiny grocery store–restaurant that’s still one of Houston’s best-kept secrets. Here’s a sample of the life-changing combinations you’ll find on the menu: the South of the Border (Monterey Jack, pico de gallo, avocado, and cilantro dressing); the Grim Burger (mac and cheese, bacon, a fried egg, and jalapeño); and the loaded Triple-Meat burger. If for some inexplicable reason you want to order something without beef, try the heavenly chicken strip sandwich. And keep an eye out for the daily specials, too—they’re fantastic. Open Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
1600 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77006
When the James Beard Foundation named chef Hugo Ortega the 2017 Best Chef in the Southwest, it confirmed what Houstonians have known for decades. His namesake restaurant has long been a go-to spot for anyone seeking delicious regional Mexican cuisine. Expect fresh seafood appetizers such as shrimp cocktail with cherry tomato, avocado, and diablo sauce; excellent salads and soups; and entrées such as roasted duck in mole poblano, braised tender suckling pig, and fish tamales in tomato sauce. If you can make it to Hugo’s for only one meal, get here for weekend brunch—you can try a little bit of everything.
2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX 77003, USA
For an authentic Houston experience, head to the Original Ninfa’s on Navigation, where the food is always top-notch and the longtime servers are revered as rock stars. With chef Alex Padilla at the helm, you can expect everything from handmade tamales and grilled octopus salad to mole grilled salmon and oven-roasted chicken enchiladas. Don’t miss the tacos al carbon with a margarita on the side—both are legendary with locals. Grab a patio seat and see who you see—it’s not unusual to notice a celebrity or two. Houston has a booming Tex-Mex scene, and Ninfa’s can show you why in a single bite.
2800 Kirby Dr B132, Houston, TX 77098, USA
In a city like Houston, which is bursting with international flavor, it’s not difficult to find fantastic Indian food. But Anita Jaisinghani, co-owner of the beloved Indika, serves up the best of the best with Pondicheri. The menu here revolves around unique takes on India’s street foods, including pakoras and a daily selection of samosas. In terms of main dishes, the best way to sample what’s being offered is by getting the vegetable or meat thali—a daily selection of dishes and sides perfect for sharing. Other standouts include desi fries (French fries dusted with Indian spices), naan with roasted garlic, and fresh-baked cookies.
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