Head to the 10 hottest restaurants in Houston for upscale Oaxacan cuisine, stylish steak and a lobster tasting with Indian flair.
Must-order: Lamb Wellington ($42) offers a tasty spin on tradition with Creole mustard, crimini mushrooms and hard squash purée.
Insider tip: Gather a group and order the Baller Board, which comes loaded with chef's choice of proteins and sides. The giant wooden board feeds six to eight people and requires two servers to bring it to the table. Cost varies per daily selection.
Must-order: Tlayudas, or oversized thin tortillas, are a popular street food in Oaxaca. Here they come topped with assorted items like skirt steak, roasted mushrooms or shredded chicken with mole negro (prices vary per topping selection).
Insider tip: Create your own midday meal with the two for $22 lunch menu offering scallops in mole verde, a half-dozen wood-roasted oysters and corn soup.
Must-order: The meaty beef short-rib tamale ($12) was originally dreamed up during a cooking competition several years back. It comes topped with a rich brisket chili and cotija cheese.
Insider tip: Time it right and you can get your hands on three off-menu items including short-rib burnt ends caramelized with brown sugar and tossed in espresso habanero BBQ sauce, foie gras with celery-apple grits or miso-aged beef skewers. Availability is never guaranteed, but if the ingredients are in the house, the kitchen will prepare them upon request.
Must-order: The lobster tasting menu (MP) available at dinner offers five decadent courses highlighting the luxurious crustacean including a tandoori lobster tail with saag paneer ravioli plus dessert.
Insider tip: Lunch and dinner are bustling affairs, but opting for afternoon tea (now available Fridays and Saturdays) offers a quieter experience with a multicourse food and beverage pairing.
Must-order: The chicken and dumplings ($18) offer a creative twist on tradition with layers of whole wheat gnocchi, roasted baby carrots, three kinds of wild mushrooms and skinless chicken thighs served in a personal cast-iron skillet.
Insider tip: A large focal wall of picture frames currently showcases a repeating image of Eloise Nichols, the restaurant's namesake, but over time these will be replaced by photos of regular guests.
Must-order: Coconut brisket curry ($12) features flavors of onion, Thai chile pineapple and coconut cream. Sop up the curry with made-to-order naan in classic, garlic butter or chile bullet.
Insider tip: Regular hours are not posted, so consult the red neon business sign especially late at night — if it's on, the restaurant is open.
Must-order: Drink your beer and eat it too with the IPA grilled onion burger ($12), topped with sautéed beer onions and housemade beer cheese sauce.
Insider tip: Find exclusive special allocation brews on a regular basis alongside more than 150 bottles including 40 craft beers on tap.
Must-order: The two-meat BBQ plate ($14.95) with smoked brisket and homemade sausage offers a cross section of Central Texas–style 'cue.
Insider tip: Look for collaborations with local businesses like Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company's Smoke on the Bayou beer made with malt smoked at The Pit Room.
Must-order: Sweet meets savory in the Outdoorsman pie, which combines cheese, Broken Arrow Ranch venison sausage and cherries in a port wine syrup. It's as addictive as it is unusual.
Insider tip: Pair fancy pizza with drinks to match, including four frozen cocktails and six bottled cocktails. Even dessert gets tipsy with four spiked ice creams from Lee's Creamery.