When I first moved to Houston 4 years ago I was immediately compelled to start a restaurant list. There is so so much good food in this city and so many restaurants that you certainly could not try them all in a single lifetime even if you tried. I go out to eat pretty regularly and yall, I have barely made a dent in my list, which is constantly growing I should add!
With all of the choices Houston has to offer, I definitely don't go back to a restaurant if I don't love it, so here are my top picks!
*Wait* let me add a quick disclaimer here! I have not been to all of these places twice.. mostly out of a lack of time you know? Like I want to go back and in my head, I am planning to go back but at the same time, I have a list twice this long of places I have yet to try. Basically, it's all a very delicate balance but don't you worry, I plan to tell you exactly the dish at each of these places that rocked my world. Let's get into it!
This little gem is in the heights right off of 11th. Chivos, is a Mexican concept that offers such a unique twist on your typical idea of a Mexican Restaurant - this menu is far from boring! We tackled the menu tapas style so that we could try as many things as possible (get yourself some friends that like to do this, it's the best.) First things first, get yourself settled with a spicy mango marg, you know just to get the vibes going. Next, you absolutely have to try the handmade tortillas, it is a non-negotiable. These homemade flour tortillas come served with truffle butter and salmon roe and I am not even kidding, I talked about this small plate for weeks! The pozole dumplings were another favorite that I could not stop talking about, a 200% must try! for dessert we finished with the tres leches and usually I don't really love tres leches because it's really just soggy cake? But this was one I would order again 10/10.
This is a date night favorite! Squabble is a tapas restaurant so no need to worry about convincing anyone to share with you. I couldn't find anything online about how often the menu changes but it has been different both times I have been there, the only thing that seems to be constant is their dutch baby pancake which I have yet to try but am now feeling really inclined to taste. This spot just makes for a great food experience and is absolutely perfect for a date night with your boo! This is definitely one of those Houston spots you do not want to miss!
Another great date night spot! This restaurant was probably on my list to try for about a year and I kept skipping it to go to newer and trendier spots until I had two people recommend it to me in one week. I was like okay, the universe is talking, let me listen. Y'all this restaurant was so good, the Oysters were thiccc, and the service was phenomenal. Really what else could you ask for? I got the branzino as my entree and Chadd got the redfish - we were both super impressed! We finished with a sweet and salty cheesecake and basically, the whole evening was divine.
Ears on people, this place has bangin food AND they sell their wine at cost by the bottle. You heard me right, $59 for a bottle of Veuve yellow label and a boss meal? I mean really this is a must for brunch, a celebratory occasion, or fuck it, dinner on a Wednesday. Abouzy is another great place to do tapas because really their small plates are so good and you want to try a few! The burrata and strawberries - excellent, the beef carpaccio - extraordinary, the mussels and frites - to die for. Must I say more?
B19 is Abouzy's sister restaurant so the bottles of wine are the same concept (sold at cost) which we are very much here for! This restaurant is French as well and does a great kale salad but the absolute star of the show is their truffle french fries served in a paper bag, you absolutely have to get an order of these while you wait for your food! This spot is definitely a Houston staple and a top-tier boozy brunch spot.
State of Grace
This is where I made reservations for Chadds birthday and we were very impressed, the vibe is dark and intimate so I probably wouldn't come here in a group. State of grace is a steak house so, of course, I had to get the filet. I think we did a side of asparagus and mac and cheese to share and it was bomb!
For sure this has got to be one of the top 5 best patios in Houston. Tinys has the sweetest outdoor dining in the middle of a nursery so there are plants all around you. The food here is great but the atmosphere is even better! Make sure you get some cookies for dessert, Tiny's is known for their gooey chocolate chip! Reservations are definitely needed so try and plan ahead for this one!
You can find this spot in the heights on the corner of 14th and Yale, they serve the BEST burrata and the pepperoni pizza is drizzled with honey - oh my gosh, so good! If you are wanting to family-style a meal I would recommend starting with the tomato burrata salad, getting the calabrese pizza, and then for the main meal order a plate of the bolognese! The spiced pair cocktail is also great and really well balanced, I am usually very picky when it comes to cocktails, honestly, I am more of a beer and wine gal but this pear cocktail is so light and refreshing, it's just perfect! This spot also has a speakeasy steak house in the back, I haven’t tried it out but I’m assuming it’s just as good if not better than the regular restaurant!
Upscale soul food, great drinks, adorable patio. What more is there to know?
The blue crab beignets are amazing and their oysters are great as well! But you know, if you are in the mood for just a burger or hot dog, they've got you there too! We have always had great service here, through and through this is a quality spot! If open table says there are no reservations at this spot, I would try to give them a call. I think they stop taking reservations at some point, but in my experience, I have always been able to get in!
If you hadn't guessed this is B.B. Lemon's fancy big sister. I have only been to these two of the B.B. family but I'm going to go ahead and assume that if I see a restaurant in this group I can expect it to be great. B&B Butchers is definitely fancier, like think white table cloth. We went for brunch and immediately wanted to come back for date night! The Maryland Benedict was incredible but I was super torn on what to order because our waiter had so many great suggestions!
If you are looking for authentic Italian, look no further. This adorable restaurant has inhabited an old house right off of Montrose in Houston. We started with an order of mussels and Caprese and then tried the Cacio e Pepe and Carbonara for our main dishes, everything was phenomenal. I recommend going on a nice day and sitting on the patio and grabbing a bottle of wine for a slow intimate evening out! After dinner make sure to stop by their flower shop downstairs where you can design your own bouquet, I mean is there even a cuter way to end date night?!
This restaurant in the heart of Eado has some pretty unique flavors and definitely feels like a hidden treasure without being a full-on speakeasy. Their menu seems to change pretty frequently and is full of super fresh ingredients.
This neighborhood new American restaurant is tucked away in the cutest old river oaks home. They are open until 11 so this is a perfect spot for a late dinner and craft cocktails. The executive chef here has experience at Michelin-star restaurants in Chicago so you know you are in for a treat! Their menu is revolving and I have only been once so I cannot recommend a dish but all of their food is sourced locally and you can even check out their vendor list online. Basically, you are getting super fresh local ingredients and the absolute coziest family-style vibe. Make sure you save room for dessert, I didn't and I definitely regret not trying one of their pies! We went in October and they had the absolute cutest Halloween themed cocktails so if there is a holiday around the corner this is definitely a place that you want to look into!
Okay, I adore this restaurant, the food is great, and the wine list is EXTENSIVE. This is a top-tier restaurant and you definitely need reservations. One thing you should know ahead of time, though, is that they will make you order all of your courses at once which I don't love. I am not sure why this is a policy but it is and they are very strict about it. I mean I guess you can be when you book up as fast as they do, right? If you go here you absolutely have to try the Baked Alaska for dessert, it isn't too sweet and makes for the perfect finish to your meal. Plus, if you go for a special occasion is always fun to get a crazy dessert and this one comes to the table on fire!
This is my go-to sushi spot in Houston, and call me basic but I always get the exact same thing so let me run you through my order. To start the spicy edamame is a must followed by a little miso soup appetizer. My favorite roll is hands down the Shoi, not the Shoi 2.0 - the Shoi! All this plus a nice cold Sapporo, man it just does not get better than that. Also, I definitely recommend sitting outside, midtown makes for great people watching.
This restaurant is in midtown right off of Bagby, kinda close the all the bars. Go here if you are in the mood for some bomb dumplings! My favorite is the Pork Crispy Bottom dumplings - omg mouth watering! The staff is super friendly and honestly, I have just never had a bad experience here. This would be the perfect spot to start for dinner and then bar hop around midtown.
This is a chain that started in Canada, there are a few other locations around the US and I think they are still steadily growing. I was lucky to have the chance and pop in for dinner during their opening week so I was offered a limited menu but the food I ordered was amazing. When I tell you that you cannot go here without trying their fully loaded crispy mashed potatoes I am not lying to you. This will be your new favorite way to eat potatoes and trust me I am well aware of what a bold statement that is.
Let me preface by saying - she is pricey. If you are looking for a reasonably priced meal this ain't it, BUT if you are looking for some bomb ass surf and turf - this is your spot. We went here for Valentine's Day this past year and shared the porterhouse and some crab legs and baby lemme tellll you, it did not disappoint. I am a little dysfunctional when it comes to shellfish but these crab legs come to the table already halved so none of the work and all of the flavor, my kinda meal. The porterhouse was also the most tender steak I have ever had hands down, I'm talking melt in your mouth. It was a thing of beauty. This restaurant is next to Fiori so if you have a date that you really want to impress, I say come here and then stop by Fiori on the way out to make a bouquet of flowers. I mean would that not be the dreamiest end to the night??
*pro tip* send this blog post to your boo and ask them where they want to go for date night. Hopefully, their intention is to really impress you ;)
There are so so many good restaurants in Houston, this list is honestly nowhere near complete so by all means, drop your favorites in the comments! These are my personal favorite sit-down restaurants that I have had the chance to try so far. Stay tuned for my next post, a list of my favorite casual Houston food stops!