10 Classic Houston Restaurants You Have to Visit

Old-school favorites still serving up excellent food
August 11, 2015
by Marcy de Luna

The Houston culinary scene is constantly changing, with trendy new hot spots hitting the scene and beloved old favorites closing their doors. So it's comforting to know that there are still plenty of reliable classics serving up excellent food and an old-school atmosphere that'll transport you back in time. We've rounded up 10 of them for your dining pleasure.

Christie’s Seafood & Steaks

Open since: 1917
Why it’s lasted: Known for its can’t-miss whole flounder and fried shrimp, the family-owned and -operated business, which began as a food stand in Galveston, grew to restaurant size in 1934 with its relocation to the big city. 

6029 Westheimer Rd.; 713-978-6563


Open since: 1965
Why it’s lasted: Casual restaurants may be on trend right now, but this classic fine-dining establishment remains one of Houston's top restaurants thanks to its elegant service and the kitchen's standout New American–slash-Italian creations.

3755 Richmond Ave.; 713-622-6778

Brennan’s of Houston

Open since: 1967
Why it’s lasted: The Midtown staple showcases the flavors of New Orleans, from turtle soup and eggs Benedict to bananas Foster and baked Alaska, in a stylish setting that harkens back to a different era.

3300 Smith St.; 713-522-9711

Damian’s Cucina Italiana

Open since: 1983
Why it’s lasted: In business for over 30 years, the Midtown spot offers old-fashioned Italian-American fare from a staff that makes you feel like family. You'll get a bang for your buck thanks to generous portions. 

3011 Smith St.; 713-522-0439

Rainbow Lodge

Open since: 1977
Why it’s lasted: Kids will get a kick from the cozy Heights lodge, which has taxidermied hunting trophies as part of the decor. Adults will enjoy it too, thanks to the New American restaurant’s knockout roster of game-centric fare.

2011 Ella Blvd.; 713-861-8666

Ninfa’s on Navigation

Open since: 1973
Why it’s lasted: The Houston landmark, located in the Warehouse District, is popular amongst locals and out-of-town visitors alike thanks to its relaxed vibe and tasty Tex-Mex fare. And while the Ninfa's family no longer owns the business, the low-key spot is still known for sizzling fajitas wrapped in freshly made tortillas.

2704 Navigation Blvd.; 713-228-1175

Da Marco Cucina E Vino

Open since: 2002
Why it’s lasted: The upscale Italian gem sees a regularly full house thanks to some of the finest cuisine in town. Although there’s a no hard liquor policy, there are quality beers and a well-curated wine list, heavy on the Italian vintages. Just make sure to adhere to the strict dress code: no sneakers, shorts, sandals, T-shirts, flip-flops or baseball caps.

1520 Westheimer Rd.; 713-807-8857

Mark’s American Cuisine

Open since: 1997
Why it’s lasted: Dining at the elegant Montrose mainstay, housed in a 1920s-era converted church, feels like a religious experience thanks to New American dishes and luscious housemade desserts, available for dining in or for taking out.

1658 Westheimer Rd.; 713-523-3800

Fung’s Kitchen

Open since: 1990
Why it’s lasted: The Chinese eatery boasts a long list of classic Hong Kong–style fare, including stellar dim sum and seafood that comes straight from the tanks. Get there early if you want to avoid the wait, especially on the weekends.

7320 Southwest Freeway; 713-779-2288

Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

Open since: 1995
Why it’s lasted: The classy Briargrove-area restaurant, part of the Pappas empire, is everything you would expect in a quality steakhouse with offerings of top-notch cuts of beef, plus seafood. Pair your fare with a glass of wine from a selection of global vintages. 

5839 Westheimer Rd.; 713-780-7352

brennan’s of houston
da marco cucina e vino
pappas bros. steakhouse
rainbow lodge
classic restaurants
old-school restaurants
damian’s cucina italiana
christie’s seafood & steaks
ninfa’s on navigation
mark’s american cuisine
fung’s kitchen