Top 10 Restaurants in River Oaks
It's not surprising that one of the most exclusive zip codes in the country has some pretty fantastic food -- but rest assured that the 'hood isn't all iced tea and crumpets. So excited were we about the ten below that we didn't find room for neighborhood icons like Avalon Diner, Andre's, and the French Gourmet Bakery. Oh well.
Standing in the shadows of Central Market, the diminutive Wesleyan Café is a sandwich shop by trade, yet the menu also claims "Houston's best" pan-fried dumplings, handmade with love daily. The delicate dumplings certainly are fantastic -- perfectly molded and gracefully bursting at the seams with fresh pork or vegetables. But the burgers deserve just as much credit: Angus patties are rich with flavor and topped with a variety of fresh accoutrements (like jalapenos, horseradish cheddar, or a fried egg). An impressive Club anchors the list of sandwiches, but our favorite is the deliciously healthy tuna salad and hummus wrap.
Stop by Blanco's for lunch or an early dinner before the Stetson-covered, honky-tonkin' crowd at Blanco's gets going for the night. The menu boasts a nice burger -- made the old-fashioned way with a flatter patty -- but we also like the chicken soft tacos. Not into it? You certainly can't complain about the chicken fried steak, one of our favorite versions in town. Meals are served by sweet-as-pie servers... Hell, you might even enjoy it enough to stick around for a little Gary P. Nunn later that night.
Tapas restaurants are always plagued by complaints of price -- the small plates almost always seem over-valued -- and Tinto's is no exception. The dishes here are not cheap in any way, but you do seem to get a bit more food and a higher quality than at other places around town. We love the ham-wrapped asparagus and the peppered cod, and the goat cheese and artichoke glazed snails are an adventurous dream. The paella is fabulous, stuffed with generous portions of seafood, chicken, and chorizo. We love the oaky atmosphere, too.
7. Tiny Boxwood's
It's not surprising that the café arm of the Thompson & Hansen landscape architects is among Houston's loveliest atmospheres. Tiny Boxwood's has become the favorite spot of the ladies-who-lunch, who on nice days vie passive-aggressively for the beautifully serene outdoor garden tables. They snack on small, fresh salads of mixed greens and picturesque sandwiches of heavenly meats. We prefer to go at dinnertime, where we get the small, thin-crust pizzas or the always-outstanding chef's daily seafood special. Tiny Boxwood's isn't cheap, but not much in River Oaks is.
6. Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen
Tony Mandola's has been serving up Gulf Coast seafood in the fancy-pants River Oaks Shopping Center for more than 20 years now (though it's about to relocate). This place combines the Mandola name for Italian cooking with local oceanic gems, and certainly the snapper dishes -- with their fresh meat and appetizing combinations -- steal the show. our favorite is the "Snapper Martha," grilled to golden and topped with shrimp, crawfish, and crabmeat, though we just can't quit the crawfish ravioli in a light cream sauce.