9 Houston Restaurants That Should Be Getting More Love

By Robin Sussman  |  March 16, 2016
Credit: The Union Kitchen

With the head-spinning array of new eateries opening daily in H-town, it’s easy to get obsessed with the latest hits. Let’s face it, we’re spoiled. But excellent, well-established restaurants might be missing our radar. So here’s a refresher on eateries that deserve a shot, from Himalayan fare to artistic Latin cuisine, plus a few options in an up-and-coming culinary neighborhood. 

  • Credit: Lasco Enterprises

    Handsome? Check. Tasty? Check. Great margaritas? Check. Plenty of self-parking? You bet. What’s not to love about this newest venture from the Tasting Room folks? Granted, Uptown Park's Anejo doesn’t tout a nationally lauded chef (like Hugo’s, for instance), but you wouldn't know it from the savory, upscale fare. And with a brand-new spring menu from chef Alberto Gutierrez (including an impressive list of global wines), it's prime time to add Anejo to your dining rotation.
    Must-order: Short-rib enchilada with velvety, chocolaty mole sauce — the bomb!

    1180-1 Uptown Park Blvd.; 713-963-9032

  • Union Kitchen
    With convenient neighborhood locations in Bellaire, Memorial and Kingwood (and coming soon to the Heights area), the “Kitchen” brings suburbanites together for solid and affordable American fare in relaxed environs. Modern comfort food headlines the menu — think meatloaf sandwich on Texas toast with fried onions; tenderloin steak salad with corn and arugula, and crab-stuffed avocado, along with an extensive wine list and kids' menu.
    Must-order: Pistachio-crusted chicken; lobster grilled cheese sandwich with avocado and Brie (when available).

    4057 Bellaire Blvd.; 713-661-0025
    12538 Memorial Dr.; 713-360-2000
    23918 US-59; 832-644-9067

  • Kuu Restaurant
    Finding high-style Japanese fare in Memorial on par with Kata Robata in Upper Kirby or Uchi in Montrose was completely unfathomable until sleek Kuu bowed in Memorial City Gateway. Talented chef-owner Adison Lee has a penchant for flavor combinations and gorgeous plate presentations, whether a salad of wild greens with a quail egg and housemade scallop chip, delicate duck nigiri or tuna-belly tartare with mustard seeds. Yes, it’s pricey, but try it at happy hour and you’ll be rewarded with explosively flavorful small plates, a killer wine list and Asian-inspired cocktails.
    Must-order: Smoked salmon and taro chips or uni-crusted King crab leg.

    947 Gessner Rd.; 713-461-1688

  • Credit: Clark Cooper Concepts

    Coppa Osteria
    After the dizzying array of new openings from Clark Cooper Concepts between 2014 and 2015 (Punk’s, Coppa Osteria, SaltAir, The Dunlavy), the hype behind Coppa Osteria started to dwindle. But with corporate chef Brandi Key consistently churning out rustic Italian fare, including lush pastas, fresh seafood sautés, crispy wood-fired pizzas and daily specials, rest assured, it’s still top notch. The airy modern space and sidewalk patio don't hurt, either.
    Must-order: Housemade ravioli; lamb sausage burger; zeppole (fried Italian donuts with melted chocolate and berry conserva); lemon pudding cake

    5210 Morningside Dr.; 713-522-3535

  • Credit: Latin Bites

    Latin Bites
    Chef-owner Robert Castre has been dazzling guests with his adventurous culinary program since opening his relocated Briargrove eatery in early 2013. Although he has a strong expat following, many Houstonians have never tried it or don’t understand the concept, and that’s a shame. The menu is vast with South American and Peruvian flavors showcased in beautifully plated ceviches and tiraditos, rib-sticking parilla platters and hand-crimped, crusty empanadas served with creamy dipping sauces. Try it for happy hour, when you can enjoy half-off bites and drinks.
    Must-order: Lomo saltado (Peruvian cubed beef stir-fry) or the scrumptious beef tenderloin empanadas.

    5709 Woodway Dr.; 713-229-8369

  • Himalaya Restaurant
    Flavor-packed Indian and Pakistani specialties are the calling card of this unassuming Sharpstown spot. Occasional language barriers with the staff can cause confusion with about what to order, but just trust the heavenly smells and order butter garlic naan piping hot from the tandoori, bold meaty chargrilled dishes, mixed kebab platters and spicy vegetable curries.
    Must-order: Paneer hara masala in green curry; vegetable samosas.

    6652 Southwest Fwy.; 713-532-2837

  • Credit: Just Dinner

    Just Dinner
    This intimate Montrose area circa-1920s bungalow is ideal for guests who want to duck away from the trendy (read: packed) restaurant scene and also for wine lovers who would prefer to BYOB. The fresh, tightly edited menu is inspired by its organic garden tucked behind the restaurant, which means seasonal veggies, lettuces and herbs are intertwined beautifully with beef, seafood and pasta dishes. 
    Must-order: Jumbo lump crab cake with celery citrus salad; all-spiced duck breast with bacon Brussels sprouts and sage brown butter (pictured).

    1915 Dunlavy St.; 713-807-0077

  • Credit: Vallone's

    The suburbs of Memorial are blessed with beautiful trees, lawns and mansions but historically get less love in the trendy restaurant department. That’s starting to change. Folks who haven’t tried the newest jewel in restaurant emperor Tony Vallone’s crown probably assume it’s just an overpriced steakhouse. But there’s more to the menu than the signature 55-day dry-aged bone-in rib-eye. Housemade corn raviolini with sage essence or spinach cannoli with béchamel is the stuff of dreams. There’s also an express prix fixe lunch deal, a lauded Wednesday chicken-fried steak plate and, surprise, a Tex-Mex cheese and chili enchilada dish that rivals Ninfa’s.
    Must-order: Chocolate tower cake; creamless cream spinach; wild salmon carpaccio.

    947 N. Gessner Rd.; 713-365-6100

  • Credit: The Houstonian

    Olivette at The Houstonian
    Much to the surprise of many non-members of The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, Olivette is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This spring, take advantage of the luxurious and spacious dining room with floor-to-ceiling views of the lush grounds. The open kitchen churns out modern American cuisine with a Mediterranean accent, including kale salad with roasted beets, bouillabaisse, sweet pea ravioli with rock shrimp and crisp duck confit. Desserts are divine! Insider tip: the historic Manor House on the property recently opened to the public for lunch only.
    Must-order: Berkshire pork chop with bourbon reduction; blackened snapper; all desserts.

    111 N. Post Oak Ln.; 713-680-2626