Eat: Foodies Beware!

Foodies beware! You may find it hard to focus on the AAM conference program in Houston while surrounded by all the delicious fare in this city. The fourth largest city in the nation touts an award-winning culinary scene getting the city some major national recognition. With more than 8,000 restaurants in the area, Houston is serving up culinary cre­ations from more than 35 countries and American regions. It’s no wonder Houston residents dine out an average of 4.2 times a week—more frequently than diners in any other city—according to a 2010 Zagat Survey.

Make time to eat your way through Houston. Here are some of our local favorites, but we encourage our Houston museum friends to post their picks!

TEX-MEX
Elbow your way past locals for a table at Ninfa’s on Navigation. The original location turns out crispy chips, oh-so-addicting green sauce and tart Ninfaritas. Another must-do is Irma’s Restaurant Downtown. Owner Irma Galvan, who won the 2008 James Beard Foundation’s America’s Classics Award, whips up tasty breakfast and lunch grub. Say yes to the fruity lemonade.

BARBECUE
Demeris Barbecue has been feeding Houstonians chopped beef for more than 40 years. Come hungry to Goode Company—another H-Town staple. Save room for the pecan pie. Head to Pizzitola’s along the popular Washington corridor, featuring Houston’s oldest BBQ pit.

INTERNATIONAL
The cherry blossom branches that drip from the ceilings make it easy to forget that Gigi’s Asian Bistro is in The Galleria. The dim sum here is a definite do. Kiran’s has perfected her Indian-French-American fare like the classic chicken tikka masala and creamy lamb saag. For more spice, Indika cooks up venison vindaloo as hot as the Montrose scene. Fans flock to Thai Sticks for fiery green curry with ground green Thai chilies and basil.

FINE DINING
Mark’s American Cuisine, set inside a renovated 1920s church, has made Zagat’s No. 1 Food Spot in Houston for seven years running. Looking for the In Crowd? They’re at Tony’s. Expect a Texas-sized vino list—there are more than 1,000 wine choices—and upscale European-style Italian food. Set in a classic New Orleans style abode, Brennan’s of Houston serves a Texas creole-inspired menu.

SEAFOOD/CAJUN
Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler at Ragin Cajun. If you’re feeling adventurous (and want to live like a local) order a bucket of the crawfish. For a little less messy experience, Midtown’s Reef restaurant is well-versed in Gulf Coast seafood. The spot was recently named No. 1 Seafood Restaurant in America by Bon Appétit magazine.

STEAKHOUSES
Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the steak. For a hearty helping, hit west Houston’s Taste of Texas. The family-owned spot has an in-house butcher shop, a menu printed in 13 languages and a mean NY Strip. For a business lunch, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in The Galleria area is a safe bet, too. Date night do: Downtown’s Strip House. The all-red bordello-chic décor sets a sexy scene to take in the spot’s sinful 24-layer chocolate cake.

AMERICAN
Think: Haute Dogs and Damn…Yankee Pot Roast at Max’s Wine Dive—offering a cheeky take on comfort food. Lance Fegan presents a constantly-changing, surf-inspired menu at the Glass Wall. Enjoy sweeping views of Downtown’s skyline from Sawyer Park rooftop bar. Nearby t’afia has an herbal cocktail to quench your thirst, too. But don’t stay out too late! The best part of waking up is Midtown’s breakfast klub, where the signature waffles and wings are well worth the wait.

AAM attendees – we look forward to sharing this culinary diversity when you’re here in May.

-Laurette Canizares and Natalie Bogan Morgan,
Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau
www.visithoustontexas.com

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5 responses to “Eat: Foodies Beware!

  1. This is a great list, but don’t forget Hugo’s on Westheimer for their Sunday buffet/brunch of fabulous authentically prepared food from Mexico. Plus a great live trio playing beautiful music and really good drinks.

  2. Another fantastic place for Tex Mex is El Tiempo Cantina with locations on Richmond and Washington. Incredible Margaritas, and lots of great twists on traditional dishes!
    http://www.eltiempocantina.com/

  3. Tacos A Go-Go on Main St. (http://tacosagogo.com/) at the Ensemble/HCC MetroRail stop (between downtown and the museum district) is a great spot for a quick lunch or a late night taco fix.

  4. Houston is FOODIE HEAVEN. Fortunately, we have a number of fine gyms and lovely parks to run off our indulgences off, somewhat…

    Here are my two cents:

    Vietnamese Poboys (“Banh Mi”): Don’t miss the very fine grilled pork sandwiches at Les Givrals (3 locations: Milam, Congress and Washington Ave.) If you don’t want a sandwich, definitely try one of their noodle bowls (they’re almost a salad filled with fresh veggies, rice noodles and grilled meat or tofu). Other great Vietnamese places around town include Kim Son or Pho Saigon, both in the downtown area.

    Italian: I became a culinary Diogenes after living in Italy for a short spate when I was 15. I search everywhere for **real** italian food, pizza and gelato. Downtown Houston has two truly wonderful places that people should not miss. For pizza, go to Luigi’s at 3700 Almeda, 77004. Flat out the BEST pizza in Houston. And DO NOT miss the Pistachio Gelato. Good Heavens!! My other favorite Italian place is Dolce Vita at 500 Westheimer, 77006. Everything there is wonderful!

    Indian Pizzeria: (yes, you read that right.) Bombay Pizza at 914 Main St, 77002 is really a revelation. The crusts are wonderfully crisp and made of sesame. They actually put saag paneer on pizza crust and it WORKS! The menu might seem strange, but everything is really worth it – the atmosphere is very casual and certainly not stuffy… and it’s just a few blocks from Flying Saucer Beer bar….

  5. Thank you to the Convention & Visitors Bureau for the culinary picks!

    I also want to share my opinion with the world : )
    Kata Robata on Kirby (www.katarobata.com) is quite simply my favourite spot for de-li-cious sushi and other Japanese delicacies (and I lived in Japan!).
    Fresh, stellar fish and ingredients. Spectacular!

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