Top 5: Restaurants You May Not Know

Categories: Top Five

Thumbnail image for Top5Unknowns_Esthers.jpg
Esther's.
Houston has an endless amount of restaurants--some popular, some trendy, some bad, and some just average. I love finding great places that not many people know about or ones that just don't get much attention. These are my Top 5: Restaurants You May Not Know.

5. El Hidalguense

Vieng Thai on Long Point is super-popular, but have you ever checked out the restaurant just down the way? It's called El Hidalguense, and many moons ago, it won a Houston Press award for Best Cabrito. You know what else is the best there? The charro beans. Ask for the biggest bowl they've got, let them charge you whatever they'd like, and then commence to devouring. I also love the tortas. El Hidalguense is a great lunch spot, but don't choose this place for the aesthetics. It's all about the food.

4. Red Balloon Cafe (4410 Westway Park Boulevard, Suite 300)

Head west, my friends, and when you get to the Red Balloon Cafe, stop and eat. You'll be glad you did. This cafe is a real gem, especially for lunch lovers in the area. All the American cuisine standards show up on the menu -- burgers, salads and sandwiches. Red Balloon does a variety of chicken breast sandwiches. I've had the fried one, and it's excellent. You'll also find a wonderful outdoor patio shaded by big oak trees --perfect for this time of year in Houston.

3. Sarita's Taqueria (10305 Bauman Road)

Never heard of Sarita's Taqueria? You wouldn't be alone. But you are missing some of the best breakfast tacos in the city. The interior isn't much to look at, but who cares? Just walk in, make a few simple choices from their glorious steam table, and go on your merry way. All the classics are there, and although Sarita's version of the breakfast taco is on the smallish side, you won't be disappointed with taste.

2. China Doll Restaurant

Save me the speech, authentic Chinese food enthusiasts. I could give a rat's ass about what constitutes authentic or not. What I care about is taste, and China Doll brings it in that department. The food is inexpensive, the portions are plentiful, and the flavor is outstanding. The eggs rolls and fried rice are amazing. Don't even get me started on the pork egg foo young. It's the best in Houston.

1. Esther's Cajun and Soul Food (5204 Yale)

I am constantly hyping this place up to friends. And I always get the same reaction--where, who? It's on Yale, close to Tidwell. Choose from a variety of soul food classics from the steam table. Just please make sure to get some sweet potatoes. I've yet to find better. Check out the cabbage, macaroni and cheese, and cornbread as well. Finally, make sure you meet Esther. She's as nice as the food is good.



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Location Info

El Hidalguense

6917 Long Point, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

China Doll Restaurant

5630 Antoine Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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26 comments
DK
DK

Fried rice? Egg rolls? Egg foo young? At least you've covered all the staples Americans think is actually Chinese food.

Dumlingdimples
Dumlingdimples

There's a tiny low-slung, dark-windowed place next to a laundrette in Montrose. They serve the most incredible wines and bar foods from Italy, just tiny portions mind you, as well as some house cured meats and homemade cheeses. A wonderful crock of cod spread served with warm pressed bread is one of my favorites. I can't recall the name; it was on Westheimer, open fairly late....

the cruncher
the cruncher

the Chinese place behind the hospital at 1-10 and Gessner, I think it's called North China used to be really good...haven't been in awhile

Maureen Hall
Maureen Hall

We discovered Esthers right after she opened! There was a birthday party going on for one of her daughters... she welcomed us with open arms, we shared our wine, took pictures all around and felt like part of the family! The food rocked of course....

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

Daniel Wong's Kitchen on Bissonnet. Americanized Chinese done better than anywhere else in town. Ask Daniel what's good that day, and don't pass up the gumbo.

Kevin Shalin
Kevin Shalin

Great suggestions everyone, please keep them coming. This was one of the reasons I wrote this post. I'm always looking for a good hole-in-the-wall.

Jeanclauderinas
Jeanclauderinas

kanomwan thai....they're finally back next week and re-open after attending the funeral in Thailand for Mr. Yut, the owner and beloved Thai restaurant nazi.

and down the street from kanomwan, the lovely Loma Linda Mexican.

Guest
Guest

Tel-Wink Diner: heart-clogging goodness for mere pennies.

Scott Lynch
Scott Lynch

Cafe Chopstix on I-10

http://www.allmenus.com/tx/hou...

I'm also going to use the "I don't care if it's authentic or not" clause. I've never had a bad meal here, and the owner and staff are all really friendly.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

It's like you read my mind! I just went to Esther's for the first time in my life this past Tuesday. And, like you said, the food is amazing. Glad I finally found my way there.

Richard
Richard

China Doll's been there for decades. My dad was a banker in that area in the late '70s, and the bank lent the money to open the place, so we stopped by regularly. Perhaps there's a nostalgia trip in my future.

Ornryeye
Ornryeye

"endless amount of restaurants"?

Gusdamato22
Gusdamato22

Poscul, ding dong dumpling dimples, it's owned by Hugo's across the street! but Italian and dang dawg good!

smoky888
smoky888

North China actually moved to I-10 @ hwy 6, and yes it was very good when it was located at Gessner, but it changed a little bit with the new location. Still great! but just perhaps not "as" good as before. Worth a visit though!

LandeckerJ
LandeckerJ

The buzz about Daniel Wong's is less than stellar; something about his proud penchant for using 'roadkill' in several dishes.

LandeckerJ
LandeckerJ

Fascinating place, Kanomwan. They break all the rules that are taught at the Hilton school of restaurant management around the corner, yet still succeed mightily in terms of customer retention and great food.

Laurie
Laurie

This place is awesome. Super nice owners too.

Kevin Shalin
Kevin Shalin

Thanks for sharing that with me. I've been going to CD for many, many years.

Darcyrifordrd
Darcyrifordrd

Poscol it is! But the rest of what you say is bullpuckey

Kimberckn
Kimberckn

Someone mentioned that he's roasting Spotted Texas Buzzard, hence the bad buzz he's been getting all around town.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

He uses the term "roadkill" on the menu, but it's in jest. His Roadkill Pork is one of my favorites.

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very interesting.

The buzz I heard on Daniel Wong's was that they are experimenting with a multi-tiered marketing platform - consisting of Value Justification, Impact Analysis (for Real-Time Benchmarking the ROAS), and Experience Personalization.

Knowing this, it has definitely earned them a HIGH spot on my "to try" list.

john ross
john ross

When I last went there (1984ish), they had the best won ton soup, hands down in Houston.

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