Where to Eat and Drink in Houston: A Foodie’s Guide

This is the ultimate food and drink lover's guide to Houston.

Dining room of a classic restaurant.
Bludorn. Julie Soefer

Texas is hot, and not just because of those long summer days and steadily rising temperatures. Austin’s cultural (and rental) scene is booming, San Antonio’s music industry is thriving and the frozen margarita trail in Dallas is not to be missed. 

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The food and drink scene in Houston, in particular, is shining bright, thanks to plenty of talented chefs and exciting new restaurants. The city has strong roots in a diverse and supportive culinary scene, and it’s no surprise that major people in the food world have relocated to the Texas hotspot, including big names like Daniel Boulud alums Aaron Bludorn and Cherif Mbodji, who headed to Houston just a few years ago. After Bludorn met his wife, Victoria Pappas, in New York City, they moved back to her hometown of Houston and, along with Mbodji, opened high-end restaurant Bludorn in the summer of 2020. It was so well-received that the culinary partners already launched another venture, Navy Blue. 

Bludorn isn’t alone. As a flurry of openings continue, choosing between incredible dining options may feel overwhelming for visitors and even longtime residents, so we turned to the experts. Mai Pham, a food and travel journalist who has been based in Houston for the past 20 years, has noticed big changes in the city’s food scene over the past decade; it’s “more diverse. We’re seeing younger chefs and second generation chefs, sons and daughters of immigrant families and restaurants innovate more.” 

Pham points out that figuring out where to take visiting friends and family isn’t a one-size fits all approach. “I try to choose locally-owned versus chain restaurants. I take people to explore cuisines and or restaurants that are special to Houston, but not in their home locale. Viet-Cajun when in season, BBQ anytime of year, or a steakhouse. Tex-Mex is also great here.” Pham’s favorite spot, though, is Houston’s Asiatown and Chinatown, which is made up of miles of shops, restaurants, tea houses, grocery stores and more. Indeed, it could almost be considered its own city, just a short drive from downtown Houston. 

The bars, too, are showcasing their talents with exciting cocktails and great food options. “I think Wild is pretty wild in a good way.” Pham says. “It’s a CBD-THC bar, but their cocktails are fab. Second to that, I had the best time at the new Eight Row Flint in the East End. Chill vibes, rooftop deck with downtown views, excellent cocktails and great chef-driven food to boot.”

So, where should you eat and drink when visiting Houston? See below for our carefully vetted and approved recommendations. 

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Truth BBQ

110 S Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007

When it comes to barbecue, you can’t go wrong with Truth BBQ. According to Pham, this is one of the “top-quality craft BBQ” spots in central Houston. Pitmaster Leonard Botello IV runs a tight operation that consistently lands on Texas Monthly’s best BBQ lists, and with fans often lined up around the block, this one is worth a visit.  

An overhead view of different dips in a restaurant.
Hamsa. Hamsa

Hamsa

5555 Morningside Dr, Houston, TX 77005

For the best of modern Israeli cuisine, but with a decidedly Texan flair, head to Hamsa, a new concept from Sof Hospitality, located right in Rice Village. The restaurant is helmed by Sash Kurgan and Yotam Dolev, who make the fluffiest, silkiest hummus and baba ganoush, with pita bread baked to order on-site. All dishes are served family-style, complete with charcoal-grilled meats and tons of veggie options.

MF Sushi

1401 Binz St, Houston, TX 77004

MF Sushi is one of the best—and most indulgent—dinner spots in Houston, especially if you’re craving a special omakase meal. Chef and sushi maestro Chris Kinjo has made a name for himself with high-end bites like wagyu shishito peppers, hand sliced toro and sea urchin nigiri. With two new restaurants in the works with partner Miguel Alvarez (MF Lobster & Ceviche and a French Vietnamese wine bar, Annam), there’s about to be even more to love.

A large table full of sushi and other food.
Kata Robata. Kata Robata

Kata Robata

3600 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098

Chef Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi and his team at Kata Robata serve the best of traditional Japanese food, but with a seamless Texas twist. The fresh sushi and sashimi is flown in from Japan, and there’s also robata-grilled Texas Kobe beef, plus lobster and crab ramen. Don’t forget about the cocktails—the vast array of Japanese whisky and sake might just be one of the most impressive collections in Texas. 

Wanna Bao

2708 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77006

Craving soup dumplings? As far as Mai Pham is concerned, Wanna Bao in Midtown is the absolute best choice. Owners Dean and Grace Deet serve an array of Szechuan, Chengdu and Shanghai dishes with great finesse. Dean Dee, a second generation restaurateur, wanted to bring quality food to the area, but with his own unique spin. The soup dumplings, or xiao long bao, filled with homemade broth and pork, are just one of the many dishes he’s perfected. 

Large table of food at restaurant.
Albi. Albi

Albi

1947 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019

Tucked away on the second floor above an old clothing store in River Oak, you’ll find newly-opened Mediterranean restaurant Albi. Siblings Nano and Jimy Fakhoury’s goal with Albi, which means “my heart” in Arabic, was to show that heart through food. Greece, Turkey and Lebanon cuisine are all represented on the menu, with dishes like veggie-filled fattoush and grilled octopus, and of course a little Texas Wagyu ribeye. Even the special late night menu, served until 1:15 am, is replete with supremely snackable treats like feta truffle fries and pistachio tiramisu—they’re impossible to resist.

Truffle twinkies with egg yolk.
Lymbar. Lymbar

Lymbar 

4201 Main St, Houston, TX 77002

In a nod to his love of Houston, chef David Cordúa named this restaurant after the street where his Nicaraguan grandparents first lived in the city. The space itself offers bits of nostalgia, with pieces from his grandparents’ home in every corner. The menu is an ode to his grandmother’s and his wife’s Lebanese and Mexican heritage, and it is as delicious as it is thoughtful. From truffle twinkies with egg yolk custard to chicken chicharrones with a tamarind barbecue sauce, and a selection of empanadas with beef kofta or Monte Cristo fillings, the menu also represents his playful love of food. 

Bar of a restaurant.
Bludorn. Julie Soefer

Bludorn

807 Taft St, Houston, TX 77019

For French-inspired Gulf Coast cuisine, Bludorn is the spot. Chef Aaron Bludorn’s first Houston restaurant, located in a historic district called Fourth Ward, was a near-instantaneous hit. Bludorn and restaurant partner and general manager Cherif Mbodj created a fine dining restaurant with heart, bringing in aspects of his background working as executive chef at Café Boulud in California and New York. The menu changes seasonally, with pastries made in-house and an impressive global wine list. 

interior of dining room with wood beamed ceiling and blue seating
Navy Blue. Julie Soefer

Navy Blue 

2445 Times Blvd, Houston, TX 77005

Navy Blue, the second restaurant helmed by chef Aaron Bludorn and executive chef Jerrod Zifchak, opened in late 2022, and is already making waves, including scoring the top spot as the number one best new restaurant in Texas by Texas Monthly. Situated in the Rice Village district, the menu focuses on locally-sourced seafood, with simple yet bold preparations. There are gin, vodka and rum cocktails, in addition to a massive 160-bottle wine list. And yes, there are plenty of sparkling wine options to go with any and every type of seafood.

Lobster roll and potato chips.
Golfstrømmen. Kat Ambrose Photography

Golfstrommen

401 Franklin St, Houston, TX 77201

Golfstrømmen, which translates to “gulf stream”’ in Norwegian, is a truly sustainable seafood restaurant, tucked into a former post office building. Helmed by Michelin-star Norwegian chef Christopher Haatuft and Paul Qui, the menu features Neo-Fjordic-inspired dishes, with tons of raw bar options. The daily catch often features lobster rolls, red drum ceviche and stone crab claws when in season.

Where to Eat and Drink in Houston: A Foodie’s Guide