Gourmet Guide to Houston
At once funky and cosmopolitan—a little Austin, a little Dallas—sprawling-but-arty Houston has fast emerged as one of the country’s most dynamic gourmet cities. Here’s where to eat and drink in H-Town.
While its mint-laden namesake might be the star of this Sixth Ward lair, Julep serves up scores of other intriguing concoctions, including a spicy rum Creole Crusta with a red pepper-infused shrub.
Downtown, the Nightingale Room (pictured), whose bar backdrop is an envy-inducing vinyl record collection, is a cozy spot to linger over one of Michael Criss’s finely wrought Cognac old fashioneds.
A stone’s throw away is Warren’s Inn, a welcoming cowboy dive tricked out with mirrors and a curvy bar that’s a favorite among locals in search of beer and cocktails that pack a wallop.
If you want to end your late night on a more sophisticated note, head straight to Camerata at Paulie’s, an alluring and surpisingly warm industrial space where esoteric wines, like a Sicilian red blend from natural-wine champion Frank Cornelissen, complement the house’s mouth-watering bar bites.
Hugo Ortega has long charmed Houstonians with the regional Mexican cooking at Hugo’s Restaurant and his American Bistro Backstreet Cafe. At Caracol, a gleaming Uptown space, Ortega spotlights coastal seafood with dishes like chili-flecked, Oaxacan-style shrimp soup. Start the feast with a Sotol Paloma featuring housemade Tajin soda.
Another native Mexican, Jose Hernandez, embraces Italian cuisine at Radio Milano (pictured). A brandy-amaro-maraschino liqueur aperitivo will pave the way for his crab ravioli cloaked in huckleberry gelée.
Chris Shepherd’s eclectic menu at Montrose hotspot Underbelly is always changing—and always good. But there is one must-try mainstay: Korean braised goat and dumplings. Pair it with a sparkling Gewürztraminer.
Ryan Pera’s thick-cut pizzas and a sublime cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) pasta are the draws at much-buzzed Coltivare, as are the cocktails, like its gin & tonic enlivened with mint and grapefruit peel.
Two distinct experiences await at Pass & Provisions: A choice of a swank tasting course menu or far more casual grub like the famous burrata raviolo. The fun and affoardable wine list works with whatever style of fare you choose. The brunch—with flaky buttermilk biscuits and baked eggs with meatballs, mozzarella and pickled peppers—has cured many Texas-sized hangovers.