With 10,000 restaurants representing cuisine from more than 70 countries and American regions, Houston's restaurant scene is as ethnically diverse as its more than 4-million residents. With so many options, it's not surprising that visitors leave the city with plenty of good things to say about dining in Houston. In fact, Houston was named the "newest capital of great food" by Food & Wine in 2013 and the country's most exciting food city by Tasting Table that same year.
With so many options it’s hard to recommend only a few places for breakfast, lunch and dinner, instead we’ve listed tours, ethnic foods and iconic foods you won’t want to miss during your next visit.
Walking Culinary Tours
What better way to get to know Houston that by restaurant hoping around Downtown, Montrose or The Heights. Experience the diversity of Houston’s gastronomy and get to know the locals during a progressive meal walking through some of the city’s historic districts. Admire the modern skyscrapers, public art and historic facades while learning about the culture and architecture of each district. Walking Culinary Tours are offered weekly and the prices vary per zone ($59 to $89 per person). Details at HoustonCulinaryTours.com.
Chef for a Day: Be a Top Toque, If Only for a Few Hours
For more than 40 years, Brennan's of Houston has been a preferred choice for those seeking a memorable dining experience with a little Creole flavor. A Chef for a Day experience is available to anyone willing to pay the hefty fee (around $1400 for a day). Under the guidance of Executive Chef Danny Trace, you'll learn first-hand the tricks of the culinary trade. Then, his team will help you prep the rest of your sumptuous meal, and the sommelier is on hand to help select the perfect wines. Finally, join five of your closest friends to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Indulge in Houston's Ethnic Side. Houston boasts numerous diverse neighborhoods, many of which are anchored by ethnic restaurants and groceries. Explore key destinations that have transformed the city into a multicultural microsphere.
Visit palatial food court and grocery store Hong Kong Market inside Hong Kong City Mall—one of the largest Asian superstores in the region—on Bellaire Boulevard.
Fu Fu Restaurant serves some of the only soup dumplings in the city, and HK Dim Sum offers dim sum daily. Stop by Sinh Sinh for excellent peking duck and prawns.
Venture into west Houston-set Phoenicia for 55,000 square feet of international delicacies. Among the outpost's more than 6,000 exotic offerings are freshly-baked pita breads, flakey baklava and tempting tabouli.
Sample delicious, housemade pierogies at Polonia, the city's only Polish grocery/restaurant.
BYOB to Vieng Thai, which serves up some of the city's best Thai cuisine. Next door, sample cabrito cooked on an open pit at El Hidalguense.
Don't miss H-Mart, a massive Korean grocery store, which is just down the street from Chinese grocery 99 Ranch Market.
These local eateries offer an iconic taste of Houston, each representing unique flavors found in our big urban stew.
Wings and Wafles at the The Breakfast Klub: Nothing screams Southern quite like chicken and waffles. The signature six pieces surrounding a fluffy Belgian waffle draws a crowd, so be prepared to wait in line before you can get your hands on this soulful staple.
Fajitas at Ninfa's on Navigation: Sure, there are plenty of great places to get fajitas in town, but only Ninfa's can take credit for inventing the original Tex-Mex favorite back in 1973. Go for the steak variety, paired with a frozen Ninfarita.
Braised Goat Dumplings at Underbelly Houston: Any dish at Underbelly is sure to delight. But it's the delicious, Korean-braised goat meat (yes, goat meat), gnocci-style dumplings and spicy chili sauce that brings people back.
Ribs at Gatlin's BBQ: This Heights hideaway is ranking supreme amongst contenders in the Texas BBQ arena. Grab a seat on the patio, roll up your sleeves and prepare to get messy as you treat yourself to a down home favorite.
Ribeye at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse: Bone-in or bone-out, you can't go wrong. The perfectly seasoned, in-house dry aged ribeye is available in portions fit for a cowboy. Call ahead for reservations.