The 7 Deadly Queues: Restaurants Where You'll Always Have to Wait in Line
I greeted last week's news of a second Banana Leaf with a bittersweet kind of joy. It's sad to lose the only good Chinese halal restaurant in Chinatown, but if the trade-off is getting another Banana Leaf location...then I guess it's almost an even trade. Because -- hopefully -- this means not having to endure a one-hour wait for the city's best Malaysian food.
Photo by Ronald Woan The longest line of them all...
Currently, the only way to avoid the interminable wait at Banana Leaf is to go during its off-peak hours. Which means you'd better be hungry for lunch/dinner at 3 p.m. Its new location is roughly four times the size of the original in the sprawling Dun Huang Plaza just across Bellaire Boulevard, which could mean those long waits at Banana Leaf will soon be a thing of the past.
Or not: The opening of a second Tiny Boxwood's location has yet to lessen the wait time at the original bistro in River Oaks, ditto the downtown location of Niko Niko's and the still-hopping original on Montrose.
7. Brasil (weekends only)
Photo by Jeff Balke A rare, non-crowded day on Brasil's back patio.
If you want to eat breakfast at Brasil (and you really should; it's fabulous stuff, especially the Eggs El Salvador), go during the week. Monday through Friday, it's a warm and calm setting for catching up on newspapers or reading a book over a leisurely breakfast and endless cups of the strong house coffee. On the weekends, the same counter service that functions just fine during the week goes haywire. Get there early or prepare yourself to wait at least half an hour in line, and probably longer for your food to arrive.
6. Niko Niko's
The line at this Montrose institution has actually gotten better with time and a long overdue expansion. The long-lived Greek eatery is still as popular as ever, but the expanded seating area can accommodate crowds far better than it used to. That doesn't mean there isn't usually a line stretching to the door, however. On the plus side, the food is usually delivered to your table swiftly, and you can always call ahead to get your gyro to-go.
5. Banana Leaf
Photo by Troy Fields The food, at least, is very worth the wait at Banana Leaf.
Part of the reason there's always such a long wait at Banana Leaf is because it's one of the few Malaysian restaurants in town. But the larger part of the reason is that the food -- all one million menu pages of it -- is amazing. I admit it: I am fully willing to wait 30 minutes for just one plate of that roti canai.
4. Tiny Boxwood's
Tiny's without a line?! Off-peak is the time to go, if you really must.
I'm not as willing to wait the one-hour-plus it takes to even reach the counter at Tiny Boxwood's; the food is just not good. It's not. I'm sorry. But feel free to queue up with all the other pretty people for an overpriced, flavorless brunch so you can be part of the herd. It leaves more room at better brunches for the rest of us.