Where to eat in Houston, Texas…When I was asked to write this article, I was ecstatic. My little healthy foodie heart went pitter-patter. You might say, how can you be a healthy foodie, that’s an oxymoron?! The truth is it is getting easier these days and the variety is becoming more prevalent. With that in mind, I am going to attempt to write this article as unbiased as possible and give you a wide range of options, from price range, time of day or night, local versus international and everything in-between.
Food is important, but as the saying goes, “But, first coffee”. Many of you traveling in for the week of Super Bowl LI are here for some type of work coverage. Others are here to wine and dine customers and/or build new relationships as well as creating new exciting memories; so finding a small coffee shop with freshly brewed coffees and pastries, is a must! And, obviously I made sure all of these had wireless Internet options, which you do need to check for because some Houston hot spots don’t offer that luxury. I would say, you know you’re in the right place when the line never ceases to be flowing out of the building, right? Well that seems to be Blacksmith on a daily basis. Their motto is, “making as much as possible by hand…” With that being said you can taste the difference all the way from their scratch made biscuits to their made in-house almond milk, so NO Preservatives! Some others to mention are Siphon, which if you take a look around the venue you will see they support their name by serving coffee utilizing halogen burners otherwise known as the siphon method. They also offer great food options and list all of their local vendors on their website. A few others to mention, Bebidas, which has an open atmosphere, giving you the opportunity to enjoy the great Houston weather with beverages and bites as well as Common Bond Café & Bakery, with the name alone exciting your sweet tooth addiction and Empire Café, a long standing Houston staple.
On to the most the most important meal of the day, breakfast. Texas is known for that good ole southern cooking, so if you have an extra 30-45 minutes, you should wait the line out at the Breakfast Klub and get their signature ‘wings and waffle’ dish, including six fried wings on top of a Belgium waffle dusted with powdered sugar and a strawberry for a touch of color I can promise you will not regret it. If that is not your style, our melting pot city has no shortage of alternatives, so if your taste buds are willing, you should venture into Pondicheri, a fusion of tastes from different Indian regions. People tend to be a bit skeptical when reading the menu, but once you take a bite, I have never had anyone not want to go back. They even have a Bake Lab upstairs with more grab and go options. If you are more of the traditionalist, go for Snooze Eatery, which serves a creative twist on America’s favorite breakfast classics, as well as giving back 1% of their sales to the local community, but be forewarned, the wait may turn breakfast into brunch.
Atmosphere can make up a huge percentage of your dining experience, and if you are traveling in from up north, you are going to want to enjoy the beautiful Texas weather. The Dunlavy is surrounded with all large pane windows so you can enjoy the wonderful outdoors, while still being inside or you can take a step out on the deck and enjoy our newly renovated Buffalo Bayou. Be sure to check their hours as they host quite a few events and will likely have modified hours during the festive week. If you are in a rush, but still looking for that healthy option drop into one of the four conveniently located, Local Foods. This is by far my favorite lunch spot in Houston. Their ingredients are local as their name states, with an eloquent spin, giving you options from local craft beers to harvest veggies and don’t forget that delicious pretzel bun. Options exist for any taste bud. Of course you could not make the trip to Texas complete, without getting hit in the face with the smoky aromas of hickory, oak, pecan, and mesquite smells, almost like walking into a campfire of tender meats. Some of our can’t miss, literal finger licking good spots are Killen’s BBQ, Gatlin’s, Corkscrew and Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack. For our next spot, get ready to get your hands dirty, as we have a huge Cajun influence here in Houston and crawfish season is upon us! Be sure to pop into BB’s Café, Crawfish and Noodles or Boil House to try your hand at those deliciously seasoned mudbugs, crab legs, sausage, corn, potatoes and much more. And finally, for the burger lovers out there, be sure to hit one of two burger spots like Houston’s own Hubcap Grill and Bernie’s Burger Bus or more national spots like Hopdoddy or Shake Shack.
Dinner is served. The place to be and be seen in Houston, Texas is Steak 48. I will let you inquire on how you want to handle that, but if you are going to show face, you better dress to impress! The domestic wagyu filet is melt in your mouth delicious as is the corn crème brulee, take my word for it! And for dessert get the red velvet bread pudding. If you want an experience of culture, step into the fine dining, converted house of BCN Houston, as the flavors of modern Spanish cuisine dance on your palate. Our multi-cultural city offers flavors from all over the world, if you want to walk the line of little Italy, head to the Heights and try a fork and spoon at the house made pastas of Coltivare. All of their pastas are made in house with an ever-changing menu, as their vegetables are grown in the garden out back. Be sure to take a walk around while enjoying one of their fantastic cocktails before or after dinner. If you are looking to hit the staples of Texas, you can not forget our TexMex. Put your cowboy boots on and two-step into one of the many locations of El Tiempo or Lupe Tortilla, and don’t forget to put your 21 and up big boy panties on for that potent margarita on the side of those delicious fajitas. One of the newest restaurants on the scene is One Fifth Houston, a new player on the meat scene with a James Beard winning chef, Chris Shepherd. Recently opened in the space of a former longstanding Houston staple, Shepherd has undertaken a unique concept where the entire restaurant and menu will change yearly for five years (hence “one Fifth”). The first concept is a “meat house” with options ranging from seafood to traditional and non-traditional cuts of meat, with a full wine and bar program to match. And I know how everyone loves their sushi be sure to try out Kata Robata, Uchi (and their brussel sprouts) as well as MF Sushi (go for the omakase).
The scene of craft cocktails is exploding in H-town, although not the first bar in town, Anvil Bar and Refugee is considered the spot that changed Houston’s drinking culture. Recognized nationally as one of the top bars in the country it has given rise to several bars around town and helped contribute to an exploding downtown bar scene. Downtown options range from spots specializing in tequila and mescal, Pastry War and the new Oaxaca, to classic cocktail joints such as Moving Sidewalk, Houston Watch Company, and Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar. If you are lucky enough to snag a seat at the newly opened Tongue Cut Sparrow, consider yourself lucky, as only 25 seats are available for a unique tasting experience. For the darker spirit lovers, the newly opened Bayou and Bottle in the Four Seasons and Reserve 101 should satisfy even the pickiest whiskey connoisseurs. And for those looking for a more “sophisticated” wine drinking experience head to 13 Celcius, Camerata, or Public Service Wine and Whiskey to satisfy the oenophile in your group.
The bars close at 2am here, but the food scene keeps rolling. These next two places might not be for the health conscious, but I always seem to hear people coming to Houston with a request of a Whataburger and a Shipley’s donut! Whataburger is open 24 hours and you have to try their beloved ketchup and just make sure you look up which Shipley’s you want, as they are all not 24 hours. If that is not your cup of tea, use our ethnic diversity and get your Pho slurping skills ready with Pho Binh by Night or dive into delicious tacos at El Rey.
Being a foodie in Houston is fun; you never have to hit the same place twice as the culinary options seem to be endless. There are many more selections that I was unable to mention, but enjoy your time in our great city and be sure to step outside of your box. It’s a friendly city, so ask around!
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