20 Best Restaurants In Houston, Ranked

Being in South Texas and near the Gulf of Mexico, you might think that Houston would be the capital — if not the crossroads — of where seafood, Southern comfort, BBQ, and Mexican food meet. However, you'd be surprised to find that because the city is one of the most diverse in the United States, it actually has an extensive list of varied cuisines. No matter which part of town you're in, you'll find a mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall, or popular sit-down packed with patrons there to enjoy meals that undoubtedly remind them of home — and we love the region for it.

That said, Houston certainly lives up to its reputation as a great food city, making this ranking especially difficult. However, whether you're craving a nice, tender ribeye steak or need a bite of a birria taco dipped in savory consommé, here are some of the best restaurants you'll find in H-Town, according to locals and their reviews.

20. State of Grace

State of Grace offers New American cuisine, but you'll find there are plenty of Southern staples that make this establishment a popular spot among Houstonians, despite its high-cost menu. Start your meal with the hushpuppies made with Texas blue crab and served with cane syrup butter. If you're visiting for brunch, the chicken fried chicken with buttered biscuit, sausage gravy, and sunny-side-up eggs is a favorite.

For dinner, try some Gulf Coast specialties: During happy hour, patrons can try four varieties of oysters at a practically unbeatable price. Afterward, if you still have room for dessert, we recommend ordering a slice of blueberry pudding cake. State of Grace's menus rotate on a seasonal basis, so you're bound to find something new to love with every visit.

19. Nancy's Hustle

Outside downtown Houston, you'll find Nancy's Hustle, an upscale yet casual bistro specializing in New American and European meals. Because it has an intimate space, it's a great spot for date night or an evening with a couple of friends — not so much for a large group. Its menu is fairly small compared to other restaurants, but there are a few hidden savory gems worth trying. The spicy pork and butter dumplings served with sauerkraut, yogurt, and dill — as well as the parmesan and pancetta pancakes — is highly-sought-after. Complete your dinner with one of the eatery's all-natural wines from its extensive drink menu.

Nancy's Hustle gets busy fast during peak dining hours, so we recommend making a reservation beforehand. It also has a smaller lot in the back, so street parking is your best bet when you arrive.

18. Roostar

A Houston restaurant ranking wouldn't be complete without including Vietnamese cuisine. Roostar specializes in banh mi, each made with fresh ingredients marinated and pickled in-house. The chopped ribeye sandwich is a popular pick, and like the other selections come with jalapeños, cucumbers, pickled carrots, cilantro, soy sauce, and scratch-made garlic aioli.

If you're not in the mood for banh mi, you can build your own box. Choose a protein, base, sauce, and whatever extras you like to complete your meal. Popular combinations include grilled chicken or pork or chopped ribeye with rice or noodles. Each combo comes with a pork egg roll unless you order a box with wings or one of the vegetarian options. Whether you want a sandwich or a full meal, if you're craving a starter, definitely get the bulgogi beef fries, which are topped with chopped cilantro, jalapeños, fried onions, green onions, and finished with jalapeño cream drizzle.

Roostar currently has three locations in Houston, so some feel like its food is similar in quality to what you would find at any chain restaurant and, therefore, not worth the higher prices. However, for fast-casual cuisine, when you consider the experience and the amount of food you're getting, it's not too bad of a compromise.

17. Avesta Persian Grill

Named after the sacred Zoroastrianism text kept in a library in ancient Persepolis before it was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE, Avesta Persian Grill strives to maintain the rich history of the region by serving authentic Iranian dishes. Some popular options include the lamb shank served with aromatic dill rice, which is praised for its perfectly tender meat that falls off the bone. The saffron-marinated, boneless chicken thigh kabob is also a favorite and comes with a serving of basmati rice and grilled tomatoes. With every meal, expect an additional complimentary side of warm, fresh-baked bread served with cucumber, feta cheese, and herbs. For beverages, Persian hot tea is the go-to drink of choice.

Some Houstonians prefer offerings from similar Persian spots like Kasra. However, that's not to say that Avesta isn't just as good; this restaurant makes our list due to its higher popularity and rating.

16. The Chef's Table

When it comes to fine dining, The Chef's Table in Vintage Park in Northwest Houston is one place you don't want to pass up — especially if you're looking for a complete culinary experience. Owned by Master Chef Paul Friedman, the restaurant offers both a standard dining menu and "Culinary Journey," which consists of an eight-course meal hand-picked by the chef.

However, if you prefer to stick to the regular menu, we recommend starting with the charred octopus – basted with lemon butter and served with a potato medley and chimichurri sauce. If you can't decide on a main course, many patrons recommend the lollipop lamb chops – dressed with a citrus herb marinade and mint sauce. For dessert, order the sticky toffee pudding, which features warm toffee cake and syrup, ice cream, and is topped with honeycomb.

The Chef's Table is a wonderful destination for special occasions — and locals will agree. However, if you're looking for something a little more casual or family-friendly, there are a few better options on this list.

15. Uchi

James Beard Award winner Chef Tyson Cole opened the first Uchi location in Austin, Texas in 2003, and has since expanded to four other major cities, including Houston. The restaurant's reputation precedes it, as it is one of the city's more well-known upscale sushi establishments.

For a culinary journey, we recommend the omakase menu, where you can select from the 10 or six-course tasting with options hand-selected by the chef. Otherwise, we recommend eating the Brussels sprouts appetizer, followed by the yellowtail hama chili or gyutoro short rib. The walu walu – oak-grilled escolar, candied citrus, ponzu, and myoga – is also a frequent order.

Locals note that happy hour (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) is the best time to visit Uchi to get more bang for your buck — otherwise, the menu is on the pricier side. Choose from a wide selection of toyosu nigiri, makimono, and more, and wash it down with a cool glass or bottle of beer, wine, or sake. Finish your meal with the popular fried milk dessert, made with vanilla custard, salted fudge, and a toasted blondie cookie.

14. Taste of Texas

If you're hankering for quality Certified Angus Beef steaks, look no further than Taste of Texas. Patrons are a fan of the center-cut filets and the experience of being able to select their own slab of protein from the butcher shop display. However, the customization doesn't stop here; you can add hickory-smoked bacon to wrap around the beef or choose from lemon pepper seasoning or herb garlic, blue cheese, or truffle butter dressing.

Although this establishment is a steakhouse, visitors rave about its salad bar, which comes with one of the "Texas specialties" or as its own menu item. With as much as guests talk about the vegetable medley laid out in the dining area, it's easy to forget that the restaurant specializes in tender beef cuts — which is why we couldn't rank this place higher.

Diners are also obsessed with the available bread choices, with the cheesy option among the favorites. Of course, you can't leave the restaurant without trying the pecan pie, which lives up to it being Texas' state dessert. And don't worry — Memorial City Mall is nearby, so try your hand at window shopping while you walk off what's guaranteed to be a deliciously filling meal.

13. Hu's Cooking

For some of the best Chinese food Houston has to offer, stop by Hu's Cooking. You may particularly enjoy this restaurant if you're a fan of Sichuan-style cuisine or love spicy recipes. But if a dish with a kick isn't your thing, you can request that the chef leave out the chili oil to make the meal milder.

Popular menu items include the Dan Dan noodles, which include sesame paste, chili oil, peanuts, fermented mustard, pork, and peppercorn; the fried spicy chicken; and the mapo tofu, served with pork and bean paste. Note that parking may be limited in front of the restaurant, especially during peak dining times like lunch and dinner. However, free spots are usually available in the back and along residential streets.

12. The Gypsy Poet

With a name like The Gypsy Poet, first-time visitors to Houston would never expect that this eatery is really a delicious artisan pizza joint. One thing you definitely won't forget is its creative, cozy, and chill atmosphere, complete with artwork, mood lighting, and live music. On a beautiful day out, we recommend sitting out on the patio — which is pet-friendly.

The Pepperoni Madness and the Fancy Backpacker (tomato sauce, fior di latte, prosciutto di parma, mozzarella, truffle oil, and arugula) are the most popular pies on the menu. For a truly unique flavor experience, try your slice with the establishment's hot honey dressing, which gives it a sweet and savory kick you didn't know was missing — definitely not something you easily find at other pizza joints. You also can't go wrong with the wood-fired portobello salad, which includes arugula, goat cheese, parmesan, and house vinaigrette. The Nutella dessert pizza is a must-have if you have a sugar craving.

11. The Breakfast Klub

In the heart of Midtown is The Breakfast Klub, a casual family, Southern comfort restaurant that serves just what you'd expect from its name. However, its claim to fame lies in its hard-to-beat chicken and waffles. The signature plate has six hearty, crispy wings and a fluffy Belgian waffle with powdered sugar and fresh strawberry. If you prefer a different griddle cake, don't worry — you can substitute it for a pancake or French toast. Another Houstonian favorite is the eatery's catfish and grits dish, served with your choice of potatoes or eggs, and toast or a biscuit.

Many locals will tell you that The Breakfast Klub is the place to go for breakfast and brunch — and with a line that's always going out the door, we really can't argue with that. The restaurant is only open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends, so it's best to get there early.

10. The Original Marini's Empanada House

With decades of history, it's no wonder that the family-owned Original Marini's Empanada House is considered one of Houston's best spots for fried turnovers. From its savory menu, we recommend the Argentinian Beef "Gaucho," which comprises ground beef, hard-boiled egg, olives, and onions. The Chicken Diablo is our next favorite, made with sautéed onions, bell peppers, and tomato sauce.

If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, the banana dulce de leche option is popular. And for something a little more filling, order one of the combos, which allows you to add on a side, dessert, and drink in addition to a savory empanada. The restaurant's menu has recently expanded to offer specialty sandwiches, salads, and soups, so even if you're not in the mood for a traditional turnover, you'll likely find something else you'll enjoy — and it's this reason we've ranked it higher on our list.

9. Aga's Restaurant & Catering

Located in Southwest Houston and open every day from 11 a.m. to 10:15 p.m., Aga's Restaurant & Catering is the go-to destination for delicious Indian and Pakistani cuisine. When you visit, get the chicken lollipops or vegetable samosas to start. To drink, the mint lemonade is a surprisingly light and refreshing choice. Aga's creamy chicken tikka masala can't be beaten if you're a bit of a traditionalist.

But, if you want to try something a little different, patrons of the sit-down establishment highly recommend the grilled marinated goat chops, which, like most other menu items, can be mild or spicy. Of course, it wouldn't be a complete Indian food experience without naan – the garlic variety pairs well with most of the savory dishes available at the restaurant.

8. ChòpnBlọk

ChòpnBlọk is one fast-casual restaurant you'll have to try if you're visiting Houston. Offering authentic West African cuisine, the eatery strives to include fresh, natural ingredients in every dish it makes.

Customers recommend the Trad Bowl, which includes smokey jollof jambalaya rice, chicken, spiced vegetables, and plantains. However, if you want to upgrade the dish, try the "Golden Bowl," which isn't technically a menu item but combines the base Trad Bowl with the restaurant's Motherland Curry. This secret combo makes ChòpnBlọk well worth the visit. To wash it all down, order hibiscus tea, a popular beverage among visitors. ChòpnBlọk is located in Downtown Houston's Post Market food hall, so after enjoying your meal, pick up dessert or catch some live music, performances, and other events in the venue to complete a fun night out.

7. Tacos Doña Lena

Look no further than this family-owned restaurant in West Houston for classic, delicious street tacos. The owner, Doña Lena, has been making and selling these Mexican staples since 1985 and only recently opened her first brick-and-mortar in 2020. Because of its mom-and-pop vibes and delicious menu items that are hard to beat, Tacos Doña Lena falls among our top 10 favorite Houston restaurants.

The quesabirras, corn tortillas filled with beef birria and melted cheese and served with cilantro, onions, lime, radish, and a cup of homemade consommé, are our favorites, and Houstonians seem to agree. However, there are a few other delicious options, like the gorditas, which are stuffed with refried beans, cheese, and your choice of meat and topped with lettuce and queso fresco. Have your meal with a glass of refreshing aguas frescas; the pineapple and mango are popular options, but note that the available flavors will change day-to-day.

6. Bo-Bobs

Bo-Bob's may be one of Houston's best-hidden gems that deserve to shine — which is why it ranks higher on our list. The eatery can be found inside a convenience store in South Houston near the museum district, so you might not think much of it at first glance, but trust us when we say it's worth checking out.

If you order anything, pick up one of the lobster, steak, shrimp, or sausage kabobs. They're seasoned incredibly well and have a nice Cajun kick to them. The Hot Topic meals are also just as delicious, and — besides the pasta — come in the form of a platter that includes one protein with a side of rice or fries. The fried fish dinner with fries is a solid option from this particular menu. For something on the warmer side, Bo-Bobs' gumbo is definitely hard to beat.

5. Champ Burger

A small mom-and-pop in east Houston that's been around since the 1960s, Champ Burger is known for its old-fashioned menu items. Visitors enjoy the no-frills options and appreciate that the restaurant keeps things simple yet delicious — and sometimes, that's the best way to go, which is why this is one spot that deserves a place in our top five. We recommend the classic Champ Burger with bacon and cheese, made with fresh prime ground chuck, and a side of fries.

Although this spot specializes in burgers, you'll find it hard to pass up its popular "Texas Size Steak Sandwich," which, as you'd expect, is one filling meal. There's also a pretty tasty vegetarian black bean alternative and fish sandwich that's worth a try. When all is said and done, pick up a fried apple turnover as a crispy, warm dessert.

4. Brisket & Rice

You know we can't leave out a Texas BBQ spot from this list. Enter Brisket & Rice, a family-owned establishment specializing in just that. As you would expect, patrons recommend the BBQ fried rice, made with delicious, tender brisket; once you give it a try, you'll see why we ranked this newer restaurant toward the top. Of course, there's also the option to enjoy the protein alone, which is just as mouth-watering good as it looks. The bark is perfectly crisp and caramelized, while the center is smoked to perfection. According to the restaurant, Brisket & Rice also makes its sausage in-house, "link by link," so it's no surprise that this is also one of the more popular menu items.

With your meal, you get a small tray of pickles, jalapeños, and onions for garnish and your choice of one of the restaurant's scratch-made condiments. Of course, we also recommend ordering a serving of the loaded baked potato salad, an upgrade from your run-of-the-mill BBQ side. And the homemade banana pudding? Simply divine.

3. Boot Texan Kitchen

This family-owned restaurant in east Houston is loved for its BBQ-Cajun meals, with its tender brisket and pulled pork being among the favorites. However, beyond that, we also enjoy the ribs, which easily fall off the bone. The fried catfish is a delicious alternative if you're in the mood for seafood.

Regarding sides, don't leave without picking up an order of the boudin chips — the BBQ spot is high in this ranking because we've found that Houstonians are just that enamored with it. The baked beans and collard greens are also popular. To complete the meal, definitely pick up a cup of the eatery's homemade sweet tea; it's a cool, refreshing beverage that serves as a nice pick-me-up when the weather is hotter. To complement all the savory fare, Boot Texan Kitchen has scratch-made peach cobbler, which, after one bite, truly shows you what Southern comfort feels like.

2. The Original Kolache Shoppe

Seeing as this baked Czech pastry originated in Texas, it's no surprise that The Original Kolache Shoppe, which has been around since 1956, has made its way onto this ranking and toward the top, no less. For a savory option, visitors say the roast beef stuffed pastries are amazing in addition to the pastrami and beef fajita menu items. However, go with the sausage and cheese option or the alternative with added jalapeño for your basic, simple variety.

The shop's fruit kolaches are also hard to pass up and make a tasty, sweet contrast to the protein selections: Select from lemon, raspberry, blueberry, apple, apricot, cherry, and pina colada fillings. And if you need something with a smoother flavor, pick one of the cream or cottage cheese alternatives. Note: The dining area in the eatery is pretty small and often busy when open, so it's usually best to pick up your order rather than stay and eat on location.

1. Athena's Greek & European Kitchen

As the name suggests, this restaurant serves authentic Greek and European meals, all made from scratch. The dishes are all based on generations of family recipes, so not only do you get a bite of delicious food, you get a bit of history with it. Plenty of Houston eateries do this well, but this spot is one of the highest-rated establishments that do it best. The lamb shank is a favorite, baked in your choice of seasoned tomato sauce or the house herb blend with olive oil and lemon.

For something with a bit of a culinary twist, the Greek fajitas are also good and consist of gyro meat, onions, green peppers, sautéed tomatoes, and feta and are served with pita. Both entrées come with a small salad. And you can't leave Athena's Greek & European Kitchen without picking up dessert: The karidopita (spiced walnut) and lemon cakes are simply mouthwatering and a perfect way to end your meal.