The Ultimate High-Low Houston Dining Guide

By Amber Ambrose  |  February 17, 2014

We've taken seven dishes and found two versions of each: a high-end version and a low-end version. Don't confuse low-end with "lesser;" it simply means the dish costs less at one place than it does at the other, or uses more traditionally inexpensive ingredients. It's all about what you're in the mood for or the context of your meal. Either way, you've got plenty of options when it comes to chicken fried steak, pizza, hot dogs, burgers, chicken and dumplings, banh mi and pork chops.

  • Chicken Fried Steak
    High: Vallone's 
    Why it's worth it: You're eating in an elegant atmosphere, and this dish is made with a great cut of meat (plus, it's really affordable)
    Price: $9.95 (lunch only)
    947 Gessner Rd., Ste. A-100; 713-395-6100

    Low: Hickory Hollow 
    Trade-off: Counter service
    Price: $8.99 for a "Small Plowman" size
    101 Heights Blvd.; 713-869-6300

  • Pizza
    High: Dolce Vita 
    Why it's worth it: The pizza is some of the most authentic Neapolitan-style available in town
    Price: $9-$17 per pizza (suitable for one person's meal)
    500 Westheimer Rd.; 713-520-8222

    Low: Star Pizza 
    Trade-off: Casual atmosphere and minuscule wine selection in comparison
    Price: $7.25-$7.75 for the 8-inch focaccia personal pizzas
    Multiple Locations

  • Hot Dogs
    High: Eatsie Boys 
    Why it's worth it: "Frank the Pretzel" is chicken poblano sausage, sauteed onions, Chardonnay mustard and a soft pretzel hot dog bun.
    Price: $7
    4100 Montrose Blvd.; 713-524-3737

    Low: James Coney Island 
    Trade-off: Having to eat in a fast-food locale
    Price: $3.99 for a foot-long Coney
    Multiple Locations

  • Credit: Paula Murphy

    High: Mockingbird Bistro
    Why it's worth it: The burger is made with the American version of Kobe beef with an optional foie gras topping
    Price: $32 with foie, $16 without
    1985 Welch St.; 713-533-0200

    Low: Becks Prime 
    Trade-off: Counter service and zero ambiance
    Price: $10.25 for a hamburger and your choice of side
    Multiple Locations

  • Chicken and dumplings
    High: Haven 
    Why it's worth it: The chicken is free-range and from a local farm, and the dumplings are actually bacon spaetzle
    Price: $24
    2502 Algerian Way; 713-581-6101

    Low: Cleburne Cafeteria 
    Trade-off: You'll be eating in a cafeteria, and it's only available on Tuesdays
    Price: $5.99
    3606 Bissonnet St.; 713-667-2386

  • Banh Mi
    High: Fusion Taco 
    Why it's worth it: The fried chicken banh mi is massive and comes with a huge side of tasty salad
    Price: $8.78
    801 Congress St. #101; 713-422-2882

    Low: Les Givral's Kahve 
    Trade-off: No side salad
    Price: $3.25

  • Pork Chops
    High: Perry's 
    Why it's worth it: It's carved tableside, and it's cured, roasted, smoked and caramelized before it ever even lands on your plate
    Price: $32.95 (though there are specials on certain days)
    Multiple Locations

    Low: Zydeco Louisiana Diner
    Trade-off: Available only for lunch, and only on Tuesdays and Fridays
    Price: $10.50
    Multiple Locations