Award-Winning Restaurants

The best of the best

We don't mean to brag, but it's hard not to when our restaurants are consistently being recognized. Read on for some of the city's most-loved spots.

 

American

 

RDG Bar Annie
The Annie Café and Bar

51Fifteen

Style-savvy shoppers have a beautiful place to relax between sales at Saks Fifth Avenue’s 51Fifteen—the globally inspired, locally-minded restaurant situated inside the luxury department store. The elegant spot, along with Saks Fifth Avenue, moved to a new, two-story, 210,000-square-foot space in spring 2016.

 

Adair Kitchen

As children of the founders of Skeeter’s Mesquite Grill and Los Tios Mexican Restaurants, siblings Nick Adair and Katie Adair Barnhart have long dreamt of the day they would open their own restaurant concept and in September 2012, their vision came to fruition with Adair Kitchen.

 

Backstreet Cafe

Tucked away on Shepherd Drive is the converted residence that is home to Backstreet Café. Ever-changing New American choices prepared by Chef Hugo Ortega include salads like goat cheese with pears, toasted walnuts and warm bacon dressing, or entree-size salads like lentils and feta in garlic vinaigrette. The meat loaf tower, a lunch and dinner favorite, comes with garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach and mushroom gravy. Finish with warm apple tart topped with house-made vanilla-bean ice cream.

 

Barbecue Inn

Hungry Houstonian’s have flocked to Barbecue Inn for more than 60 years to devour plates of crispy golden-fried chicken and country-gravy covered chicken fried steak. And, the truth is, not much has changed at the family-owned institution since opening in 1946.

 

The Annie Café and Bar

This two-story hotspot is light and bright with whitewash brick walls and floor to ceiling windows. Various accents of green and palm trees are scattered throughout the space and provide a coastal-like atmosphere. The party is upstairs where diners can sip cocktails at the large, oval-shaped stone bar with tufted seats and comfy banquets. 

 

Killen's Burgers

Chef Ronnie Killen has long been known as one of Houston’s best BBQ pitmasters and steakhouse chefs. But now the Houston native has branched out into custom burgers. Killen’s Burgers maintains the look of  a 1950s-style diner and specializes in expertly cooked burgers and sandwiches. 

 

Lankford Grocery

In all its '40s-style glory, Lankford's, formerly known as Lankford Grocery & Market, includes a grill that offers hamburgers--greasy real-beef patties and all the fixings. Good ol' boys, professionals and other types merge here for lunch, while the regulars prefer the evenings. This hole-in-the-wall diner with uneven floors has a small-town, homey feel. Inside you will find old-fashioned booths and tables with '40s-style decorations. The outside seating area is shady and covered with picnic tables and a few booths. Try the Red, White and Blue Burger, the Firehouse if you like spicy, or the Grim burger, acclaimed for being loaded with jalapenos, bacon, a fried egg and macaroni and cheese. Because of its widespread popularity, Lankford gets incredibly busy. Expect a long line during lunch hours but good customer service from staff members who have been there for years.

 

Barbeque

 

Feges BBQ
Feges BBQ

Feges BBQ

Husband/wife team Erin Smith and Patrick Feges opened Feges BBQ in 2018. With their combined fine dining experience and Patrick's barbecue expertise, Feges BBQ offers a new approach to barbecue combining traditional flavors and modern interpretations of classics. 
 

Gatlin's BBQ

There's something quite inviting about this small Heights barbecue joint. Maybe it's the family atmosphere, with multiple members of the Gatlin family contributing in the kitchen. After all, the motto here is "where the secret ingredient is love."
 

Goode Co. Barbecue

This urbanized, Texana-decorated barbecue joint is wildly popular, thanks to it’s come-as-you-are atmosphere, expertly smoked brisket and variety of platters. The first Goode Co. Texas Bar-B-Que restaurant opened in 1977 and even though Goode has since added burgers and seafood to his restaurant-venture line-up, barbecue remains the company’s mainstay.
 

Killen's Barbecue

The much-anticipated Killen’s Barbecue experience is very Central Texas-like, with barbecue served cafeteria-style on freezer paper and cut to order. Meats are sold by the pound or as one-, two-, or three-meat plates, and  include Killen’s much-buzzed-about award-winning beef ribs, along with smoked pork ribs, salt-and-pepper rubbed briskets and pork and beef links, made with high quality USDA brisket and pork loin (no fillers), garlic, salt and pepper.
 

Virgie's

What started as a burger joint in the mid-1960s and later became a community grocery store is now Virgie’s Bar-B-Que, a tiny but formidable smoke shack off Highway 290. The menu is pretty straightforward, offering brisket, pork ribs and beef links as the meat choices and potato salad, baked beans, green beans and cole slaw for sides. A few sandwiches are also on the list as well as those famous baked potatoes.

 

CAFE/COFFEEHOUSE/BAKERY

 

Baked Goods From Fluff Bake Bar  In Houston, TX
Fluff Bake Bar

Three Brothers Bakery

For nearly 200 years the Jucker family has been in the baking biz. The tradition started in Poland in the 1820s, stopped when the family was sent to Nazi concentration camps in 1941 and revived on Houston’s Holman Street in May 1949. Ever since, the Jucker family has been busy serving their famous eastern European style breads, cakes and pastries to loyal Houstonians at their inner-loop-set Three Brothers Bakery.
 

Tiny Boxwoods

What was once an empty metal warehouse has been transformed into a classy, beautifully decorated café that reflects an afternoon in the Hamptons. Tiny Boxwoods is an over-the-counter eatery with a light and airy atmosphere making it a perfect spot for a lunch date and catching up with girlfriends.
 

Fluff Bake Bar

Fluff Bake Bar has been a long time vision for Pastry Chef Rebecca Masson. The Midtown spot, which marries a bakery and bar concept, opened in late May 2015, making Masson’s dream of owning her own sweet shop a reality. In her Midtown bake shop, guests will find the chef’s popular classics like Fluffernutters, SOLs (her version of a moonpie), cookies and brownies, but they will also find charcuterie plates, plated desserts, coffee, beer and wine offerings.
 

Blacksmith

Greenway Coffee and Tea owners David Buehrer and Ecky Prabanto partnered with the owners of Underbelly and The Hay Merchant to develop Blacksmith, a coffee shop, on Lower Westheimer.

 

CAJUN/CREOLE

 

Antone's Po Boy
Antone's Po Boy

Antone's Famous Po' Boys

A local favorite for nearly fifty years, Antone's still makes their "original" po' boys using the same recipe and quality ingredients that its founder used. The menu includes a tasty array of other sandwiches, New Orleans style po' boys, salads, pizzas and sides.

 

Brennan's of Houston

Brennan's of Houston, the 1967 beloved Houston landmark, is once again welcoming faithful foodies after the restaurant was destroyed in a two-alarm fire during Hurricane Ike in 2008.

 

Central/South American

 

Churrascos
Churrascos

Churrascos

The interior is earthy and dramatic with black-and-red accents, animal skins and a tropical air. Starters and salads are big and bold, like sweet plantain turnovers filled with queso fresco on guava creme fraiche, or South American-style seviche with hearts of palm, avocado and capers. The infamous Churrasco steak is the main player: a corn-fed prime beef tenderloin (six- or eight-ounce), basted with garlic-parsley chimichurri and char-grilled to order.

 

Cuban

 

El Meson

 

Family-owned and operated for more than 20 years, this former Mexican restaurant has gradually added Cuban and Spanish dishes over the years. The fun, colorful eatery favors family-style dishes such as nachos, quesadillas, and hot and cold Spanish tapas. El Meson is known for their paella--including a seven vegetable variety. Tex-Mex entrees, grilled Cuban-style meats, ropa vieja and fresh seafood dishes round out the menu. Take time to explore the award-winning wine list.

 

Diner/Deli

 

Kenny & Ziggy's
Kenny & Ziggy's

Kenny & Ziggy's

When homesick New Yorkers venture out in search of a classic Big Apple-style delicatessen, they head to Kenny & Ziggy’s. The collaboration between Lower East Side deli maven Ziggy Gruber and Houston restaurateur Kenny Friedman takes a bigger-is-better approach, which has earned the bustling deli shout outs on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, as well as in Maxim magazine.

 

Greek

 

Niko Niko's
Niko Niko's

Niko Niko's

Gyros don't get much better than this: Moist, aromatic lamb slices are blanketed by a warm, plushy pita with sweet onions and creamy cucumber-garlic tzatziki sauce. Chickpea croquettes (falafel) sauced with sesame-scented tahini are savory and non-greasy. Stuffed grape leaves can be oily; conversely, the vinegary Greek salad is splendid, crowned with kalamata olives and thick slices of tomato and feta. Juicy lemon-oregano marinated pork chops are char-grilled to perfection and best paired with the award-winning skin-on fries.

 

Helen Greek Food and Wine

Helen Greek Food and Wine is Houston’s first modern Greek restaurant. The city has featured Greek diners, Gyros, and traditional restaurants, but it’s not often that you find a modern Greek taverna outside of NYC or Greece itself. Helen Greek Food and Wine also boasts the second largest all-Greek wine menu in the country.

 

Indian

 

Pondicheri
Pondicheri

Pondicheri

It’s all happening in a sleek, modern 3,000-square-foot space in the middle of the mixed-use center. Large steel-and-glass window panels and giant, handcrafted doors are veritable works of art. Many of the design elements inside the restaurant were sourced during a buying trip to India that brought back colorful tiles from a New Delhi artisan. The tiles provide a great contrast to the countertops and tabletops made from reclaimed wood damaged during Hurricane Ike. Indian influences abound here, from the bright patterned upholstery purchased in open-air markets to the unmistakable scent of Indian food being prepared.
 

Kiran's

Venture beyond the dramatic, hammered gold entrance and into a contemporary dining space that is warmly inviting with pops of orange and gold mixing with sleek wood accents. There, guests will find an expanded space that can accommodate 175 seats, along with a menu of familiar favorites, as well as a handful of new items. Kiran’s cocktail and wine program continues to stand out with a well-vetted line-up of scotch, whiskey and libations that incorporate kitchen flavors and spices like green cardamom, chai and garam masala.

 

Italian

 

Tony's duck HRW
Tony's

Tony's

A waterfall entryway, striking artwork (including a 12-foot sculpture in the main dining room) and sophisticated ambiance redefine Tony Vallone's namesake eatery. The decor is contemporary, done in warm reddish browns, while skylights and a glassed kitchen add to the feeling of openness. The updated European-style menu includes creative appetizers, pastas, steaks and a variety of fish. Don't miss the souffle for dessert.
 

Coltivare

Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber opened the sister property to Revival just around the corner at White Oak and Arlington streets. In keeping with Revival’s devotion to local and regional produce and ingredients, the trattoria prepares a variety of small plates, salads, house made pastas and wood-oven fired pizzas along with dishes such as Garganelli with slow braised beef ragu and Revival pork roast with clams and chorizo over heirloom polenta.  In the Heights tradition, the restaurant offers “private club” membership with a unique wine list and full bar.

 

Japanese

 

Oheya by Uchi
Uchi

Uchi

Uchi, the upscale sushi concept that’s made waves in Austin for years, is now crafting the same magic on Lower Westheimer. In winter 2012, James Beard Award-winning Chef Tyson Cole’s signature restaurant opened in the former Felix’s Mexican eatery near the intersection of Montrose Boulevard. Inside, the space has been completely remade from the ground up. Intimate and sophisticated, the entire restaurant revolves around the open kitchen and sushi bar. Touches from the original Uchi, including the red blossom wallpaper, create a continuity for fans of the concept.

 

Kata Robata

Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber opened the sister property to Revival just around the corner at White Oak and Arlington streets. In keeping with Revival’s devotion to local and regional produce and ingredients, the trattoria prepares a variety of small plates, salads, house made pastas and wood-oven fired pizzas along with dishes such as Garganelli with slow braised beef ragu and Revival pork roast with clams and chorizo over heirloom polenta.  In the Heights tradition, the restaurant offers “private club” membership with a unique wine list and full bar.

 

Locally Driven

 

State of Grace
State of Grace

Roost

Inside, rustic shutters, chalkboards and bookcases accent the cozy space, along with fresh flowers, candles and buttercup-colored tablecloths. Tempting smells drift from the open kitchen, highlighting dishes on Naderi’s internationally influenced (and always changing) menu. Expect a mix of fish and meat dishes (the diver scallops and flat iron steak are both standouts), but don’t miss the roasted cauliflower and signature donut hole dessert.

 

State of Grace

Inside, designer Elizabeth Ingram’s talent is evident in an eye-catching space that marries the aesthetic of an upscale hunting lodge with preppy Southern vibes. Crisp white and natural light contrast with antler installations and clubby banquettes, while a stunning oyster bar sits center stage for walk-in patrons. On the menu, fresh catch like the scallop crudo or lobster hushpuppies quickly emerged as fan favorites, not to be outdone by the Korean fried chicken wings or duck carnitas. In addition to signature cocktails, State of Grace’s well-priced wine list add to the restaurant’s appeal.

 

Mexican

 

Caracol
Caracol

Caracol

Reel in tasty dishes like scallop ceviche with mango and papaya, Spanish octopus salad, or the catch of the day with tomatillo-caper sauce and crispy shallot. There are plenty of non-seafood and vegetarian options as well. At the bar, Sean Beck can be found pouring perfectly paired wines and specialty cocktails.
 

Goode Company Hamburgers & Taqueria

Place your order at the busy counter and nestle indoors or snag a table on the funky, neon-lit patio. The superior Tex-Mex menu includes a fine selection of grilled dinners, seafood samplings and vegetarian dishes, as well as chubby enchiladas, overflowing tacos, traditional tamales and crisp chalupas, served with the fixings of beans, rice and creamy guacamole.

 
Hugo's

Chef Hugo Ortega features refined Mexico City classics with a contemporary twist. Moist whole red snapper Veracruzana arrives blanketed in tangy tomatoes, olives and rings of sweet baked onions. Desserts are masterful, from the buttery almond-coconut tart to the flan de chocolate made with freshly ground cocoa beans.
 

Irma's

For more than two decades, Irma’s continued to operate as it always had: in a cozy spot filled with home furnishings, bric-a-brac blanketing and the publicity photos dotting the walls from the restaurant’s celeb clientele. It wasn’t until the fall of 2010 that Galvan decided to shake things up with expansion plans, the addition of a regular dinner service and, for the first time, actual menus!
 

Molina's Cantina

This is a family-run business through and through, where each location is welcoming in its own unique way. After a years-long hiatus from the neighborhood, Molinas is now back in the West U area, serving up authentic Tex-Mex to residents and visitors in the know.
 

Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen

Full-service dining, featuring award-winning Tex-Mex and interior-of-Mexico cuisine, finds a home in the Energy Corridor at Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen. Chef and owner Sylvia Casares draws a faithful foodie following for her unique dishes made from homemade recipes and fresh ingredients.

 

Middle Eastern

 

Al Aseel Grille & Cafe

This west side Middle Eastern restaurant offers a menu of traditional favorites that includes chicken and beef kebabs, tabouli and Greek salad along with specialties like the stuffed pigeons and the quail platter. The rather small eatery is known for its inexpensive prices and large portions.

 

Pubs/Taverns/Ice House

 

Red Lion Pub

Red Lion Pub owner Craig Mallinson makes it a point to give locals an authentic British experience with more than 20 English ales and imported beers on tap, as well as a serious menu filled with time-honored pub favorites from across the pond. Enjoy popular items like the Shepherds Pie, curry and Bangers & Mash from the comfort of a red-leather covered banquette or at a table near the brick fireplace in back.

 

Seafood

 

Goode Co. Seafood
Goode Co. Seafood

Gilhooley's

When seafood fans are looking to get their oyster fix, many in-the-know diners head southeast of the city to Gilhooley's Restaurant. Located in Bay Area Houston, the laid-back, no-frills spot packs hungry crowds coming in search of plump mussels, cheap beer and Gulf Coast breezes.
 

Goode Co. Seafood

Expect accomplished frying (oyster po'boys, stuffed crab, shrimp) but equally fine mesquite grilling. In fact, the grilled catfish con salsa verde, topped with buttery onions and avocado pico de gallo, is spot-on. Dinners are generous, served with garlic bread, empanada, seafood rice, red beans, hush puppies or vegetables.

 
Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen

Pappadeaux serves up the freshest seafood and Louisiana-style favorites like blackened opelousas filet, crawfish & shrimp fondeaux and seafood gumbo. The menu offers a great selection including a wide variety of fresh, flavorful fish, giant salads, rich and delicious appetizers, complemented by a carefully designed specialty drink menu, and finished off with homemade, delectable desserts so huge you’ll be able to share them with the family.

 

Soul Food

 

Shrimp and Grits Lucille's
Lucille's

The Breakfast Klub

Katfish & Grits and Wings & Waffles, top a tempting array of breakfast favorites from around the country at this cozy comfort food zone. This come-as-you-are hot spot seems to always have a line, but it moves fast and just serves to build anticipation as you watch the waddling diners leave with a satisfied grin. Also featured on the menu are Pork Chops & Eggs, breakfast sandwiches and their mouth-watering daily Lunch Specials.

 

Lucille's

The interior of the quaint bungalow on LaBranch Street is decorated with photos of the Williams family and dark wood finishings. Here, Southern cuisine reigns supreme, with specialties such as braised oxtails, oyster sliders, fried green tomatoes and Lucille’s famous chili biscuits which she once served to Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr. But many of these regional recipes have been paired with newer flavors such as chimichurri quinoa.

 

Steak

 

Vic & Antony's Steakhouse
Vic & Anthony's

Vic & Anthony's

Vic & Anthony's is a world-class steakhouse in downtown Houston with an award-winning menu featuring the finest prime beef and seafood and a distinguished wine list. This steak house is the flagship of Landry's, the 300-restaurant group, and as such was designed to make an immediate impact on the Houston dining scene. The two-story, stand-alone building—outfitted in South African panga panga wood, red granite and marble floors—is matched by an equally impressive 1,000-plus selection wine list.

 

Taste of Texas

Steak enthusiasts can take a trip to the butcher shop to make a delicious personalized selection and cut. A wide selection of menu items are offered including pecan crusted chicken, jalapeño stuffed shrimp and a cold water lobster tail. Taste of Houston offers features an award winning wine list.

 

Killen's Steakhouse

Killen's Le Cordon Bleu training is evident throughout the menu but is revealed in the sauces like the wedge salad's creamy Roquefort and the shrimp-topped, jumbo lump crab cake with its subtle lemon sauce. Simple seasoning and expert grilling define the steakhouse entrees and a la carte sides, including the center cut filet, 24-ounce bone-in ribeye and sky-high Niman Ranch pork chop. Fried Gulf shrimp with hand-cut steak fries, snapper sautéed with jumbo lump crab and chicken fried steak are all updated classics.
 

Killen’s STQ

Inside, the cozy space makes room for a dozen tables with an open kitchen, but don’t expect stuffy—linen-topped tables and crisp subway tiles contrast with palette-wrapped ceilings and Edison bulb pendants. On the daily menu, guests will find pasta selections, fresh catch and steaks, as well as off-menu options that could include anything from foie gras to A5 Wagyu from Japan. If it’s available, don’t miss the bread pudding, which features croissant dough flown in daily from Philadelphia.
 

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse is committed to creating an environment reminiscent of the fine dining style served many generations ago. Pappas Brothers creates a total quality dining experience--in the food offered, its preparation and in the service provided--quality that knows no short cuts.
 

Georgia James

Houston, we have a steakhouse. Sure, in Houston it might seem a bit cliché, but in true Chris Shepherd fashion, the restaurant is unconventional, driven by quality and above all, fun. The James Beard Award recipient named the restaurant for his parents, Georgia and James, and serves the kind of food that he enjoys at home - cast-iron seared steaks, lots of cold seafood and seasonal sides.

 

Wine Bar

 

Max's Wine Dive
Max's Wine Dive

Max's Wine Dive

Concrete floors, exposed brick walls and luxe black leather booths don't scream "dive joint," but neither does the expertly selected wine list or menu dominated by organic and locally grown goods. Crowds of trendy diners vie for tables at dinnertime, sampling menu standouts like the Texas-style chili, kobe beef burger and king-size "haute dog." And it's not malt liquor but champagne that diners sip with Southern fried chicken, shrimp and grits and knockout brownie and bread pudding desserts.

 

Vegetarian

 

Green Seed Vegan
Green Seed Vegan

Green Seed Vegan

Green Seed Cafe, which opened in March 2012, continues owners’ Matti Merrell and Rodney Perry’s plant-based vision, offering customers a menu touting vegetarian smoothies, sandwiches, wraps and other natural items. The new location—at the corner of Wheeler and Almeda—is bathed in Green Seed’s signature shade of green and features both indoor and outdoor seating, an expanded menu and expanded hours.

 

Vietnamese

 

Le Colonial
Le Colonial

Le Colonial

Meant for sharing, Le Colonial’s menu includes items like Vit Quay, a half duck with sticky rice cake, house pickles and tamarind dipping sauce, and Bun Thit Nuong, a Vietnamese noodle salad made with chargrilled pork belly, vemicelli noodles, mesclun green topped with lime garlic fish sauce and peanuts. On the sweeter side guests will find a heavy French influence in items like Creme Brulee, Tarte du Jour and chocolate mousse.

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