Widely known as the country’s most ethnically diverse city, Houston has the dining scene to match, ranging from Vietnamese Cajun to Texas barbecue. Here's where to fill your glass and clinch those deals in this Texan gem...
Coffee pit stop
Creamy flat whites and potent cortados made with locally roasted beans reign at this snug coffee shop in the historic Sixth Ward neighbourhood, north-west of Downtown. The feel is no-frills industrial (exposed brick, bench seating) and the customers are a mix of hipsters, locals and in-the-know corporate types. There’s a small selection of pastries, scones, muffins and croissants but if you’re really peckish, the tacos from the truck parked across the street are a standout.
2201 Washington Avenue, Sixth Ward
Within the gorgeous grounds of a Provençal-style nursery, Tiny Boxwoods champions seasonal produce, superb coffee, housemade pastries and heartier dishes – such as breakfast pizza with a poached egg – in its dining room bathed in sunlight. Bustling yet quiet enough to get work done, the ambience is relaxed and chic.
3614 West Alabama Street, Highland Village
Housed in a converted church, this buzzy restaurant from famous Houston chef Chris Shepherd changes its concept annually. The current iteration is “Romance languages”, meaning French, Spanish and Italian cuisines. Sidle up to the main bar and select your whiskey, hit the raw bar – where you might encounter the chef assembling a seafood tower – or order life-changing duck-heart bolognese with lemon whipped ricotta or a Spanish tortilla piled with caviar. Despite the white-tablecloth environs, the service is as warm as it gets.
1658 Westheimer Road, Montrose
Drinks with clients
You enter this hidden 25-seat cocktail bar, named after a Japanese fable, through a door at the back of The Pastry War mezcaleria. Upstairs, a formally attired host escorts you to a low-lit table, where warm towels, bowls of bar snacks and a list of 15 well-crafted classic cocktails await. Walk-ins are welcome but it’s better to make a booking – 25 seats means 25 sitters, no standers.
310 Main Street, Downtown
BCN TASTE & TRADITION
Catalan-born chef Luis Roger, who worked under Ferran Adrià at El Bulli, sends out impeccable small plates (sea cucumber atop lobster rice, sprightly pickled anchovies) and artfully detailed mains (sous-vide rabbit loin, Ibérico suckling pig) at BCN’s polished dining room. Pair those with big-ticket Spanish reds and the best gin and tonics in town. And yes, the works by Picasso and Miró on the walls are genuine.
4210 Roseland Street, Montrose
- Houstonians are not as intense as, say, New Yorkers but they’re punctual and like to get business done in a timely manner, preferably over a cold beer and with a hearty handshake.
- It’s customary to tip at least 15 per cent in restaurants and bars – hospitality industry workers’ livelihoods depend on it. If you’re given a drink or dish on the house or you’ve enjoyed the service, increase the tip. If you use valet parking, even if it’s advertised as complimentary, a tip of at least a few dollars is expected.
SEE ALSO: Where to Stay on a Stopover in Houston