Quick Picks for Houston, TX: Best Restaurants

When people talk Texas, the city (and TV show) Dallas is usually the first thing that comes to mind. While that’s great, it’s also a slight mistake.

Don’t get us wrong– we LOVE Dallas– but that’s no reason to discount the other cities. There’s the arty funkiness and the incredible food and music scene of Austin. San Antonio features fantastic sites like the Alamo, the Tower of the Americas, and Marriage Island, as well as historic Spanish missions and attractions like SeaWorld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme parks.

But for this Quick Picks we wanted to focus on Houston. It has the cosmopolitan sensibility of Dallas, with its incredible Museum District and Space Center. There are also world-class hotels, both modern and historic, an incredible cultural scene, and yet it’s small enough to feel as though you’re part of a tight, welcoming community.

And then there’s the food. From delicious steakhouses like Taste of Texas Restaurant, to numerous “in-the-know” hot spots that are treasured by local foodies, Houston is definitely a dining destination worth checking out. We turned to local man-about-town A.J. Mistretta for his quick picks.

High-End Destinations

Places you’d take a date, the parents, or go to for any special occasion. At these restaurants, it’s about the total experience.

1100 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 528-9800

Houston chef extraordinaire Chris Shepherd does amazing things with locally-sourced ingredients in his farm-house inspired restaurant. Underbelly is Shepherd’s first solo venture and it’s racked up some major accolades since opening early this year in a refurbished building along Lower Westheimer in the Montrose neighborhood. Here you’ll find the freshest ingredients from area farmers, ranchers and fishermen, and down home touches like two long “community tables” in the dining room.

Solid Selections

Well-priced restaurants that feature a wonderful atmosphere and incredible food. These are a person’s “go-to” place whenever they’re asked for a recommendation.

1600 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 524-7744

Authentic regional Mexican cuisine in a Latin-inspired setting-Chef Hugo Ortega knows how to impress. But his namesake restaurant isn’t overpriced or stuffy. This is the spot where you’ll feel at home with comforting earth tones and even more comforting food, such as the whole red snapper Veracruzana.

Danton’s Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen
4611 Montrose Boulevard
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 807-8883

When it comes to seafood and Creole specialties, few places anywhere can stack up to Danton’s. This Museum District seafood house is reminiscent of days gone by. Have a seat in the oyster bar and watch the “shuckers” at work, or head over to the comfortable dining room adorned with mementos of life on the Gulf. Try the jumbo lump crab au gratin or the stuffed redfish. The bread pudding is a must.

Secret Stashes

These are primarily known by the locals, covering any budget and any type of food; special, secret, and adored by those in the know.

Gatlin’s BBQ
1221 West 19th Street
Houston, TX 77008
(713) 869-4227

Looking for great Texas-style barbecue? Look no further than Gatlin’s in the Heights. The Gatlin family creates delectable Southern specialties, from fall-off-the-bone ribs to dirty rice to potato salad. The restaurant is just big enough for a couple tables with a deck out front for a few more, so be smart about coming at a good time. And be sure to save room for Mama Gatlin’s peach cobbler.

A.J. Mistretta lives and works in Houston, Texas. For more for more on Houston restaurants, he suggests you log on to VisitHouston.com.

Have six places in your city that people should know about? Submit your Quick Picks to editor@firsttoknow.com and we may use them for the column.

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