Houston is one of America’s most diverse cities. Sure, there are other national locales that claim to be melting pots, but they don’t have anything on H-Town. No single racial or ethnic majority reigns supreme in Houston. From Ethiopian and Nigerian to Vietnamese, Mexican, Greek and Armenian, ethnic groups from all of the world settles down to stay, bringing their native cultures along with them. And with culture comes cuisine, damn good cuisine at that.
Join the swank, multicultural crowds that flock to the city’s best restaurants and treat yourself to the finest dining money can buy in this sprawling metropolis.
This 13-seat tasting menu restaurant is the brainchild of Jonathan “Jonny” Rhodes, who has created a unique, utterly delicious neosoul dining experience. “We focus on the historical context of food, whether it be social, political or economic,” he says. Rhodes serves cuisine based on African-American traditions, like Okra Seed Coffee. The dishes on the rotating five-course menus (Carnivore, Herbivore or Classic) are cooked over an open flame and served with a big helping of knowledge.
1. “Afrofuturist” Pecan Soup.
2. Smoked Wild Boar Ribs.
3. Banana Republics of America Avocado Parfait.
02. Brennan’s Houston
Houston and New Orleans have many connections, including this classy eatery, which is an offshoot of the Brennan family restaurant dynasty in NOLA. Expect topquality Texas creole cuisine and equally excellent service. The vibe and splendid comfort food are enough to inspire you to try cooking the dishes at home. How do you get started? “Your plate is your canvas,” says general manager Carl Walker. “Consider, What do I have lying around? Then add your creative self.” Imagination is indeed a key ingredient at this hot spot.
1. Ginger Pear Snap cocktail.
2. Snapping Turtle Soup.
3. Crawfish Boudin Stuffed Quail.
4. Bananas Foster
The welcoming aura at one of H-Town’s toniest Mexican restaurants is fostered by its humble executive chef, Hugo Ortega. He emigrated from Mexico to Houston, worked as a dishwasher and a busboy and was homeless for a short while before meeting his wife, Tracy Vaught. She helped him go to culinary school and fulfill his dream of offering a dining option that celebrates the cooking he did with his family. “We make our own nixtamal and roast and grind our own cacao beans,” he shares. His establishment’s authenticity is bolstered by the freshest homemade ingredients.
1. Lechón (braised pig with crisp skin).
2. Callo de Hacha (pan-seared scallops).
3. Churros Rellenos con Dulce de Leche.
04. Georgia James
Chef Chris Shepherd lusts for innovation. He’s put his own ingenious spin on a steak house in this vast, industrial-designed restaurant named in homage to his parents. Push the envelope? Have you ever heard of Bacon Sausage? “I had the idea to cure the pork belly like bacon, grind it, stuff it into a casing and smoke it, so you have the delicious taste of bacon—but as a sausage,” says Shepherd. His smart tips on cooking steak? “Seasoning with an adequate amount of salt and pepper and temperature control.”
1. Fondrèche Cinsault Blend Rosé wine with Viet-Cajun Roasted Oysters.
2. Rib eye Steak or the Coriander and Cumin Lamb Chops.
3. Corn Bread Pudding. 4. Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream.
05. Dreamy Desserts
Give your taste buds a thrill and indulge
Run to Sam’s Fried Chicken and Donuts for Donuts with Praline Bacon and Caramel Icing or sample the chicken and donut sandwich.
2. Gooey is Goode
Company BBQ makes the softest, most delicate pecan pie you’ll probably ever have.
3. Blinged-Out Soft Serve
Stop by Aqua S for its sublime Sea Salt or Tarte Lemonade soft serve (flavors change often). Crown your cone with grilled marshmallows, sweet popcorn or popping candy.
4. Soft as a Cloud
The Puchas, three Ecuadorian brothers, created the charming Maison Pucha Bistro. The signature dessert, Soufflé en Noir et Blanc, is delicate and elegant.
5. Crowd Sourcing
The Bayou Goo Cream Pie at House of Pies is equally appealing to the billionaires and bohos who show up at 3 a.m.