As the most diverse city in America, Houston, Texas boasts an incredible restaurant scene that is truly a melting pot of flavors, including barbecue, Tex-Mex, Creole, and even Vietnamese cuisine. This up-and-coming culinary destination is on the radar of everyone from the hit television showTop Chef to the James Beard Foundation. Now it’s time that this city is on your radar, too. That’s why we’re sharing our own roundup of the top 10 restaurants in Houston.
How did we decide what are the best restaurants in Houston? We scoured the internet to find the award-winning, storied, top-rated, and most popular restaurants in the city – from longtime favorites to exciting newcomers – to bring you the ultimate list for 2023. We hope you brought your appetite!
Top 10 Restaurants in Houston
Creative culinary entrepreneurs are central to Houston’s food scene and most of this list is made up with up-and-coming independent restaurants But we’ve also included a few great restaurants that are part of groups and chains. So, what are the best restaurants in Houston? Let’s get to it!
When a restaurant wins a James Beard Award (often referred to as “the Oscars of the food world”), you know it’s worthy of being called one of Houston’s top restaurants. Cocktail bar Julep won the award for Outstanding Bar Program in 2022 – and its bar is indeed outstanding, with an intimate atmosphere that highlights Houston’s international flavors. The establishment has also been named one of North America’s 50 Best Bars.
What makes Julep so noteworthy? Its classic cocktails like the Cherry Bounce Sour, made with Whiskey, or the Farmhouse Gibson, made with Vermouth and orange bitters – and of course, the Mint Julep – are just a few reasons. On the food menu, Southern favorites like pulled pork sliders, mussels in gumbo broth, biscuits and jam, and collard rolls are all sure to delight.
Seafood lovers will feel right at home here, with a menu that features Viet-Cajun garlic butter seasoned crawfish, blue crabs, shrimp, and snow crabs – all served with corn, potato, sausage, butter, and Crawfish & Noodles’ secret sauce. With locations in Asiatown and the Houston Farmers Market overlooking a green space that spans an entire acre, Crawfish & Noodles is a perfect place to relax and indulge.
This fan favorite’s restaurant specialty is authentic Neapolitan pizza – and they sure do know how to make a pizza. Bollo Woodfired Pizza was named among the 2022 Top 10 Pizza Restaurants in the Country by Gayot.com. It was also called Houston’s best pizza by PaperCity and OutSmart magazine (2016 and 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards), and given The A+ Award by KPRC Channel 2 News.
With everything from classics like Margherita to the Carne Trio and Pesto Pollo, Bollo Woodfired Pizza offers a culinary creation for everyone. You can even build your own pizza! The menu offers small plates, too, with a focus on regional cuisine like gulf shrimp and local marinated beets, as well as hearty big plates like pork with mashed potatoes.
Hugo’s is located inside a 100-year-old building with the original tin ceiling still in place. The Latin-inspired space features both contemporary design and traditional Mexican design. But the food is the real star of the show, with dishes like an Aztec tortilla soup, slow roasted pork shank, chile-marinated lamb, lobster tacos, and grilled octopus. Hugo’s also offers private parties and catering in its Zoila Room, named after Chef Hugo’s and Chef Ruben’s mother, complete with beautiful artwork and chandelier lighting.
5. Roasti Pollo
Returning to Latin America, Colombian restaurant Roasti Pollo is another of Houston’s top restaurants, with hundreds of positive Google reviews. It’s well worth a visit, especially if you love rotisserie chicken. Roasti Pollo makes its chicken dishes with fresh ingredients daily and its own blend of spices, putting authenticity and quality at the forefront of its food.
Roasti Pollo’s owners, the Betancur family, are a young couple with a lot of heart. On their website they write, “Bringing our communities together keeps people coming back.” Their food does exactly that with a mix of traditional Southern favorites like mac and cheese and coleslaw, alongside Colombian staples like fried yucca, sweet plantains, and tostones.
Texas and barbecue go hand in hand, so it’s no wonder that Pinkerton’s Barbecue is beloved by locals and visitors alike, with a restaurant social media following of nearly 45,000 on Instagram. Run by Grant Pinkerton, the restaurant has been listed on Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ Joints list, and featured on the Travel Channel, Food Network, and Cooking Channel. Grant himself has made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and won Memphis in May Beef Grand Champion in 2019.
Diners can expect hearty helpings of Prime brisket, beef ribs, pulled pork, smoked sausage, and more at Pinkerton’s, served with sides of potato salad, coleslaw, jalapeno cheese rice, south Texas beans, mac and cheese, and jambalaya. The restaurant also offers catering services.
7. Dandelion Cafe
Known for its chicken and waffles, an iconic Southern dish, the Dandelion Cafe recently beat The Breakfast Klub in a competition for the title of best breakfast spot in Houston. Rightfully earning its place as one of the top restaurants in Houston, the Dandelion Cafe went on to compete for the title of America’s best breakfast.
Aside from the legendary chicken and waffles, the Dandelion Cafe is also known and loved for its friendly service and vibrant atmosphere, with a commitment to serving local food. The breakfast and lunch menu nods to Tex-Mex cuisine with a breakfast taco and black bean tostadas, and features Southern favorites like an egg with a biscuit and gravy.
According to the restaurant’s website, “Jūn is a celebration of our differences and funky flavors coming together.” And that’s exactly what you’ll find on the menu, which features everything from lamb curry to oysters with fermented mango to Chinese sausage to grits.
This Nashville-inspired chicken restaurant is a small chain with a location in Houston that is serving up tenders by the piece, as well as baskets. Urban Bird Hot Chicken offers every level of spice, right from mild to “will burn you twice.” And reviewers on Google are loving it! The restaurant has something for everyone, including vegetarians, with meatless tenders and kale slaw being staples on the menu.
No time for dine-in? This Veteran-owned and operated restaurant offers catering services, for those looking to enjoy their cuisine at a private event. Or, you can get it to go anytime from Uber Eats, which, according to the 2023 Houston Restaurants Report, is the #1 online ordering platform in Houston.
10. Trill Burgers
Last but not least of the top 10 restaurants in Houston is Trill Burgers, owned by local rap legend Bun B. In 2022, the restaurant won Good Morning America’s coveted prize for the best burger in America, so it has certainly earned its spot on this list. More recently, Trill Burgers also won the top spot for the best classic fair food at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.
Trill Burgers keeps its menu simple but delicious, with items like the OG Burger, Triple OG Burger, and Vegan OG Burger. Diners can also order combos with fries as well as kids’ sized meals.
Which of these top 10 restaurants in Houston will you try next? Or, maybe you have an idea to add to our list. Did we miss your restaurant? Shoot us a message!
Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.