There are 10 warm, sunny weeks of summer ahead, and you’ve got your work cut out on the eating and drinking fronts. We combed the city's best restaurants, bars, breweries and ice cream shops to come up with this list of 30 essential summer treats. Use it as your back-pocket guide for the coming hot, sweaty season and set yourself up for an awesome summer.
Original fish tacos at Berryhill Baja Grill
Served on a corn tortilla, this warm-weather favorite calls for tempura-fried (or grilled) shrimp topped with crunchy cabbage, a sprinkling of pico de gallo, creamy special sauce and fresh chopped cilantro. Bonus: the salsa bar features free bottomless chips, an addictive cilantro ranch dip and crunchy Mexican-style pickled carrots.
The Principal at Bernie's Burger Bus
We not only love Bernie's alliteration-heavy name, but also the fresh-ground Angus beef patties, housemade condiments and school-themed burgers like The Principal, which combines cheese, mayo, mustard and ketchup with thin sliced onions, pickles, shredded lettuce and slow-roasted garlic tomatoes.
5407 Bellaire Blvd.; 713-349-9400
Navigation margarita at Ninfa’s on Navigation
There’s no better way to cool off than with a tasty margarita, frozen or on the rocks. The house version here, a tried-and-true recipe that dates back to 1973, uses top-shelf blend of tequila, Cointreau, fresh-squeezed lime juice and agave nectar.
2704 Navigation Blvd.; 713-228-1175
Shrimp and peaches at Revival Market
The Heights gem recently added dinner service to its repertoire, and this dish of pickled shrimp and Texas peaches, amped up by avocado, queso fresco, serrano and smoked paprika, screams summer on a plate.
550 Heights Blvd.; 713-880-8463
Soba noodles at Kata Robata
It's far too hot for ramen, but you can still get your Japanese noodle fix. Dive into this plate of soba (buckwheat) noodles, which get a luxe boost thanks to foie gras and duck breast, plus green onions and a soy sauce vinaigrette spiked with wasabi and sake.
3600 Kirby Dr.; 713-526-8858
Banana split at Cloud 10
Kids — and kids at heart — will appreciate this decadent, nostalgia-inducing ice cream sundae. It all starts with a bottom layer of brown sugar crumble, followed by caramelized bananas and heavenly scoops of vanilla bean, chocolate and Nutella-marshmallow ice creams. The frosty treat is further lavished with milk chocolate Magic Shell, mixed berry jam, fluffy whipped cream, hot fudge, candied pecans and Nutella powder.
5216 Morningside Dr.; 713-434-6129
Crunchy chicken sandwich at Local Foods
This satisfying sandwich — the restaurant's best-seller since day one — features nut-crusted chicken, green goddess dressing, romaine lettuce, tomato, housemade pickles and a slice of provolone cheese, all on a Slow Dough pretzel bun with a choice of two sides or a soup. It's a jam-packed summertime meal.
Spike Tyson Rum Punch-Out at Anvil Bar & Refuge
The island-inspired punch combines two styles of rum and freshly juiced lime and oranges with a spiced backbone of cinnamon syrup and Angostura Bitters. Your ticket to paradise gets a sweet finish from Punch alla Fiamma (a Martinique Rhum-based liqueur infused with vanilla caramel) and spiced pineapple whipped cream.
1424 Westheimer Rd.; 713-523-1622
Fruit and flower salad at Peska Seafood Culture
Cool down with this eye and stomach-pleasing salad of seasonal berries, chia seed-lime vinaigrette, spicy pecan meringue and a refreshing lemon-olive oil sorbet.
Mussels at Etoile Cuisine et Bar
Take a trip to the French coast with mussels at Etoile, served one of two ways: Mariniere (with white wine, cream and parsley) and Saint Jean de Luz with chorizo, leek and piment d’espelette (a type of dried pepper popular in Basque country). Add a glass of sparkling rosé and your summer will be magnifique.
1101-11 Uptown Park Blvd.; 832-668-5808
Grilled cantaloupe at Pax Americana
You can't go wrong with this sweet and savory fruit platter at the popular Montrose spot. Cantaloupe — dressed in toasted hazelnut vinaigrette — is served with goat feta, wildflower honey and oregano.
4319 Montrose Blvd.; 713-239-0228
Crab cake at Killen's Steakhouse
Every delectable bite of the jumbo lump crab cake (topped with jumbo Gulf shrimp, no less) at this Pearland restaurant is extra luscious thanks to the lemon butter sauce.
2804 S. Main St.; 281-485-0844
Fried chicken at Dak & Bop
Korean fried chicken is the specialty at this Museum District destination. The made-to-order wings and drumsticks are twice-fried, and each flavorful piece is individually sauced. The chicken bao, which stuffs chunks of the bird in a soft bun with cucumbers and slaw, is a definite can't-miss. It comes with your choice of two dipping sauces: our favorite is the half 'n' half, a blend of the soy garlic and hot and spicy.
1801 Binz St.; 713-528-0280
Apple pie at Flying Saucer Pie Co.
What's summer without apple pie? This family-owned and -operated spot has been turning out heavenly creations since 1967, including this apple variety on a hot flaky crust. Dare we say, it's better than our grandmother's.
436 W. Crosstimbers Rd.; 713-694-1141
Duck-confit salad at Bistro Provence
This dish — which hits the menu Memorial Day — begins with housemade duck confit, a 24-hour process. The ultra-tender bird is served with grilled slices of potatoes over mixed greens, sliced bell peppers and tomatoes. Dijon mustard vinaigrette, fresh herbs, crispy bacon and a poached egg are added on top.
13616 Memorial Dr.; 713-827-8008
Frozen push-pop cocktails at Reserve 101
These boozy frozen treats at the Downtown whiskey bar comes in a multitude of flavors, including a must-try salted caramel and bacon and bourbon.
Froberg Farm strawberry shortcake at Brennan’s
A sweet way to ring in the summer season is with the strawberry shortcake at Brennan's. A buttermilk biscuit is filled with Chantilly cream and sweet, ripe strawberries, then sprinkled with sugar.
3300 Smith St.; 713-522-9711
Squash blossom quesadillas at Hugo's
The squash blossom menu at Hugo's is here and we can't get enough of the squash blossom quesadillas. Folded blue corn tortilla pockets (three per order) come stuffed full of squash blossoms and Chihuahua cheese.
1600 Westheimer Rd.; 713-524-7744
Vichyssoise soup at Mockingbird Bistro
Chef John Sheely's roster of seasonal summer soups includes silky vichyssoise, an elegant cold French soup made from potatoes, leeks, cream and chicken stock. It's perfect for chillin' out on a scorching hot day.
1985 Welch St.; 713-533-0200
Garden pea salad at Coltivare
From the blend of English, sugar snap, purple snow and yellow snow peas to the arugula, prosciutto, mint and lemon vinaigrette, this dish boasts plenty of splendid summer flavor.
3320 White Oak Dr.; 713-637-4095
Summer Pils by Saint Arnold Brewing Company
Whether accompanying your summer dishes or a solo act, there's nothing like an ice-cold beer on a hot day. A true bohemian-style pilsner, Saint Arnold Summer Pils has a delicate, sweet malt taste complemented by an abundant hop aroma and flavor.
2000 Lyons Ave.; 713-686-9494
Barbecue at Killen's Barbecue
Great barbecue is the highlight of any summer. Killen's fires up the grill with finger-licking good ribs, brisket, sausage, turkey, pulled pork and more. Just add an ice cold beer and you're good to go.
2804 S Main St.; 281-485-0844
Cebiche de pescado at Andes Cafe
Ceviche is so good that its originating country of Peru created a national holiday in honor of it. This super-fresh version is a mix of lime juice-marinated corvina chunks, aji "limo" Peruvian hot peppers and cilantro. Corn and onions add the finishing touch to this raw dish, served on sweet potato bedding.
2311 Canal St.; 832-659-0063
Chi-town dog at Good Dog
This rendition of the iconic summer ballpark fare is an homage to the Windy City. The tasty dog, dressed with pickled vegetables and homemade condiments, knocks it out of the park.
903 Studewood St.; 832-800-3647
King cake snoball with cream at Mam's House of Ice
Instead of plain crushed ice and standard sweet syrup flavors, this New Orleans-style snoball combines super fine ice with the tastes of cinnamon bread king cake and vanilla ice cream for a delectable, frosty treat.
1040 W Cavalcade St.; 832-265-1706
Pasta salad at DaCapo’s Pastry Cafe
Chill out this summer with this pasta salad of artichoke hearts, black olives, bell peppers and sundried tomatoes doused in Dacapo's housemade sundried tomato vinaigrette.
1141 E 11th St.; 713-869-9141
Salted lemonade at Huynh Restaurant
Pucker up for this mix of sweet, sugary lemonade and tart Chanh muÿi (salted, pickled lime). The interplay of flavors is refreshing on a long, hot day.
912 St. Emanuel St.; 713-224-8964
Ice cream at Eatsie Boys
Cure your ache for a frozen summer indulgence with the "In A World Gone Mad Whiskey + Cereal" ice cream from Eatsie Boys. Made with Makers Mark Whiskey and Golden Graham's cereal, it's the breakfast of champions.
Chilled Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup at Kenny & Ziggy’s
A family recipe, this addictive chilled soup is made with the likes of pitted sour cherries, sour cherry syrup, sour cream and half and half. While it will carry you through the hot summer months be forewarned: it goes on the menu as soon as the weather stays hot, then disappears around October.
2327 Post Oak Blvd.; 713-871-8883
Summer orzo salad at Backstreet Cafe
Perfect for a light summer dinner, this orzo salad is made with grilled shrimp, cherry tomatoes, roasted corn, grilled zucchini, haricot verts, avocado and purple onion. A bed of sliced heirloom tomatoes provides a delicious taste of the season.
1103 S Shepherd Dr.; 713-521-2239