Graphic by: Frances Cavanaugh
In a community as diverse as Houston, there is an opportunity to explore different cultures through food. In the city, restaurants, markets and even food trucks give a taste of variety.
The food scene in Houston is vast, so we’re here to break it down for you.
Tacos and More
We have all heard of the term ‘Tex-Mex,’ but in Houston, the supply of authentic Mexican, and other Latin cuisine, is endless. From local family restaurants to panderas to taco trucks in parking lots, you’ll find some of the best food you’ve ever tasted.
One of the best places I’ve tried in Houston is Taqueria del Sol, an authentic family-run Mexican restaurant. Here, there is a wide variety of meats from barbacoa to cactus that you can get in any form whether it be a taco, torta, flauta and more.
Another staple you can find all over Houston is birria–meat stewed in adobo. The traditional way to eat this meat is in a street taco with onions and cilantro, dipped in the consome the birria was cooked in, but restaurants like TJ Birria y mas in the Heights or Taco Fuego at POST food hall have birria in different forms like ramen or stuffed in pupusas.
From appetizers, happy hours or just getting a quick snack before going about the rest of your day, small bites are essential to trying new foods. Sometimes, when things are in lesser portions, you’re more likely to want to experiment. Or, there’s also the case you are not that hungry, which is okay too.
One of my favorite things to do when I’m feeling snack-y is get an order of fries. Some of the best fries I have tried here in Houston come from Common Bond. You can choose whether you want regular shoe string style, added parmesan or truffle flavoring and truffle is always the way to go here.
Some great places for a happy hour include Better Luck Tomorrow in the Heights and 93 Til in Montrose. The fried pickles from BLT will have you thinking about them for days. Not to mention, they do a Pasta Tuesday special, but that is expanding into slightly larger bites.
For a sit-down appetizer, I would recommend trying the first courses at Backstreet Cafe. When I was in the mood for something new during Houston Restaurant Weeks I ordered the Gulf Coast beignets which included shrimp, crab, andouille sausage and more, as well as the duck spring rolls. It was nice to get a chance to mix and match different food types and flavors in one place.
If I had to eat one type of cuisine for the rest of my life, food originating from various Asian countries would be the choice. From sushi to ramen to rice bowls and chicken tikki masala in any form, there is such a large variety to choose from.
For Indian and Mediterranean food, Houston offers a good mix of authentic places and fusion. At Aga’s Restaurant and Catering, they have a wide selection of curries, and my go-to is always the seafood section. In POST Food Hall, Rollin Phatties offers Pakistani cuisine, and their samosas are perfectly crisp.
As a self-proclaimed sushi connoisseur, I have a very long list of places I enjoy going to in Houston. My top favorites include Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, Edo Japan, Meshiko and if you’re interested in driving a little bit outside of the city, Masa Sushi.
If you are interested in experience just as much as taste, then I would recommend trying Gen Korean BBQ, which isn’t only found in Houston, but still deserves a shout-out nonetheless. There is also Kim Son Restaurant in Bellaire that offers a Vietnamese all-you-can-eat buffet full of great bites.
Coffee and Boba
Some of the best coffee shops I’ve ever experienced happen to be in Houston. Whether your beverage of choice be coffee, tea or a nice refresher, the options are endless.
For teas, there are a great selection of milk tea shops in the Bellaire area. One of my favorites is Hangout Fruit and Juice Bites as they offer snacks and other kinds of refreshing drinks as well.
As the same with my sushi selections, my love of coffee is too strong to go into full detail, so I’ll say the best places to try are Brass Tacks, Agora, Tout Suite and I am partial to UH’s very own Cougar Grounds.
If you are a matcha lover for brunch time, I highly recommend trying the matcha latte with lavender at Dandelion Cafe. Their avocado toast on focaccia was not half bad either.
Whether it be for the Instagrammable ambiance of the restaurant or just how good the food is, there are plenty of places around the city that gather buzz through word of mouth. Take Trill Burgers, made popular after it got a visit from Drake.
Other places that deserve the hype they get include Turkey Leg Hut, Local Foods and Waffle Bus. Clout is not exclusive to restaurant buildings either as Yo-Yos Hot Dogs does well wherever they park their cart. There is one thing you can get from them, but they do it well enough to always generate a line.
After trying all of these different foods, you have to round out the experience with a sweet treat. Luckily, there are all kinds of desserts around Houston to complete your last course.
In the mood for a sweet breakfast or after-dinner treat, try Melange Creperie in the Heights for an array of different French crepes. Not to mention, they do savory as well. Going back to Common Bond, their variety of macaron flavors will never fail to impress me.
Ice cream is a common go-to for people looking for a light dessert. Two places that will always remain on my ice cream roster, despite my lactose intolerance, are Jeni’s and Milk and Sugar. Try the Gooey Butter Cake flavor at Jeni’s, you will not be disappointed.
This does not even begin to cover all there is to eat in America’s fourth-largest city, but feel free to use this as a beginner’s guide to navigating places you would want to try. Happy tasting!