Friday, June 22, 2007

Where I'm Eating Now

Every six months or so, I list my ten favorite Houston restaurants. Those are the restaurants that I consider Houston's finest. But many of them are too pricey for me to eat there very often.

So where do I eat the rest of the time? This is a list of the restaurants where I eat at least four times a year. They may not all serve Houston's finest cuisine, but are my favorites for their combination of convenience, value, and quality.


59 Diner - nostalgia breakfast on Shepard at 59

Texas Cafeteria - blue collar breakfast in the Heights; good cafeteria lunch too

Breakfast Klub - soul food breakfast in Midtown, best grits in town


La Jaliescience - wonderful cheap tacqueria in the Heights; not many gringos eat there; my favorite salsa in Houston

Teotihuacan - the best Mexican food north of I-10

Merida - Yucatanean food on Navigation

Berryhill Hot Tamales - prices are too high for what you get, but the original fish taco remains one of my favorite lunches

Taco Milagro - upscale River Oaks tacqueria -- I don't go for the food; I go for the salsa bar

Les Givrals - since the Original Givral's closed, this joint has midtown's best Bahn Mi sandwiches

Chinese Cafe - Richmond near 610 - some of the best cheap Chinese in town; wonderful steamed tilapia dishes

Bamboo House - Despite the overly-trendy pan-Asian menu at this Montrose restaurant, it serves simple dishes that are cooked with care

Pepper Tree Cafe - unusual vegetarian buffet in the Greenway Plaza area

Tapioca Express - my 8-year-old daughter loves this Hong Kong-style tapioca tea / fast food sushi cafe in West U

Shade - the best restaurant in the Heights; the best soups in Houston

Paulie's - quasi-Italian cafe on Westheimer; a hang out for ladies who lunch; great wasabi tuna sandwich and pasta with Italian sausage

Lankford Grocery - burger joint in a garage in Montrose; my favorite burger in Houston

Biba's / One's a Meal / Greek Village - A restaurant with many names, they make my favorite Greek salad, plus a lot of other good diner food

Ko-mart: strange Korean food court in Spring Branch

Dinner - BYOB restaurants

I frequent restuarants where I can bring wine. My favorites are:

Cafe Mezza - on Westheimer, possibly my favorite mid-priced restaurant in Houston; although it feels like a cheesy chain, the chef is a genius at bringing a new twist to standard American and Middle Eastern dishes

Mint Cafe - very good basic Middle Eastern food

Ruggles Cafe - Cafe in the Village with decent salads, good sandwiches, great desserts

Colinas - good, cheap red-checkered-tablecloth style American/Italian food

Dinner - not BYOB

When I go out for a nice dinner, I like variety. So I do not tend to go to the same restaurants frequently. Still, there are a few restaurants that I keep returning to for dinner:

Benjy's - Rice Village restaurant with my favorite salads in Houston, unusual pizzas, occasionally brilliant entrees

Backstreet Cafe - River Oaks restaurant with a seasonal American menu a bistro feel, and a great wine list

Kubo's - my favorite Japanese food in Houston; my family eats there at least twice a month

El Meson - a Rice Village restaurant with good Spanish tapas and Cuban dishes, fantastic Spanish wine list

Pico's - located in Bellaire, Pico's is my favorite Mexican restaurant anywhere, with some great standard menu items and innovative nightly specials

Houston's - it is painful to admit that I like this soulless Atlanta-based chain, but they have a smart small wine list (which often has hard-to-find Turley Zinfandels), plus some really good grilled food, and my favorite pork chop anywhere

I wish I went more often:

Fung's Kitchen - best Chinese food that I have had in Houston, but my wife does not like it

Indika - brilliant Indian fusion, bu reservations can be difficult to get

Dolce Vita Pizzaria Enoteca - we would go to this great Montrose pizzaria once a week, except that they don't take reservations and the wait for a table is often over an hour

Le Mistral - often I think this French bistro might be my favorite Houston restaurant; if only it were not outside Beltway 8

La Sani - A Pakistani restaurant with intense spices and dishes like curried goat. It is too bad that I have such a hard time getting anyone else to travel out 59 South with me to eat curried goat


Anonymous said...

I no longer live in Houston, but I miss the restaurants greatly. I take great pleasure reading your great blog. Keep up the good work and nothing can replace the Lankford Grocery.

K said...

Amen for Le Mistral. It's our hidden treasure out here on the west side.

You should really give Blue Nile a try sometime, too. I'd be interested to see if it would make it onto your list.

Anonymous said...

La Sani is great! They have lunch buffet(T-F) for you curious folks to sample things. Most items r spicy so request some plain yogurt to add to your food. Desert there is very authentic. Mango lassi to drink is good but can b pricy. I think they r closed on Mon.