Last time we told you all about Houston’s fabulous dining scene. But with more than 8,000 restaurants (representing 35 cuisines) to choose from, where do you begin? We’ve spotlighted 15 local eateries that offer an iconic taste of Houston, each an essential flavor in our big urban stew.
AAM attendees have fun eating your way through the city one iconic dish at a time when you’re here in May! Be sure to tell us about your favorite dishes while you are here by leaving a comment below.
Locals – what are your favorite dishes? Comment below, let us know what we might have missed and give our AAM friends some ideas of other places to check out while they are in Houston.
Okay, any giant, tasty Barnaby’s salad will do. You know they’re good when people willingly pass on the famous ribs or meatloaf to eat rabbit food.
Pancakes and Bacon
In a city that takes brunch seriously, the can’t-be-replaced pancakes and amazing, crunchy, pecan-smoked peppered bacon has made Buffalo Grille a favorite neighborhood spot for 25 years.
This old-school oyster bar serves an awful lot of oysters, so you know they’re always fresh. Stop in for a couple dozen and a cold beer.
In the beginning (of the Cordua restaurant empire, that is), there was grilled meat. The namesake churrascos are still as addictive as the free plantain chips and chimichurri.
El Rey Taqueria
Perfect, never greasy breakfast tacos for under $2 a pop (mostly) provide the best reason in town to get up before 10:30am. Our favorite: the Cuban taco with fajitas, black beans, ripe plantain and a swipe of crema.
Long lines and an aversion to credit cards do nothing to dissuade fans of this legendary chicken shack. Plan to take out.
Weekend crowds don’t lie: This Hong Kong-style dim sum menu has everything from steamed shrimp dumplings for the uninitiated to more esoteric selections for seasoned dim sum enthusiasts.
Goode Co. Texas Bar-B-Q
Chopped Beef Sandwich on Jalapeno Cheese Bread
You can’t argue with 30-plus years of barbecue. Plus, you know the ‘cue is good when West U yupsters line up to sit on picnic benches. We like to dress our sandwich with a few pickles and onions and plenty of sauce.
A thick, juicy, delightfully non-round (read: hand-rolled and smushed) patty and plentiful toppings are served up at this red and white shack with the saggy floors. Hit Lankford on the right day, and there’s nothing finer.
Those in the know stop at Les Givral’s for fabulous banh mi (Vietnamese baguette sandwiches) at freakishly low prices. Vegetarians love the tofu (add a dash of sriracha), but the barbecue pork also pleases.
Ninfa’s on Navigation
Sure, there are plenty of great places to get fajitas in town, but only Ninfa’s can claim credit for launching this original Tex-Mex concoction as a national craze back in 1973.
For the past 35 years, during crawfish season there’s no better place to be sucking heads.
There’s a bunch of new thin-crust, classic Italian-style pizzerias in town, which is great. But our first pizza crush will always be Star’s deep-dish spinach-and-garlic pie on the signature wheat crust.
Taqueria la Tapatia
These huge burritos could feed you for days, and we prefer them at their least healthful: packed with shredded chicken, sour cream, avocado, cheese and refried beans, and smothered in queso.
Taste of Texas
Legendary in Houston, it’s all about the meat here, as evidenced by the popular option to walk over to the in-house butcher shop and pick your own steak.
—Laurette Canizares, Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau
and Sarah Rufka, CultureMap.com