The 7 Deadly Queues: Restaurants Where You'll Always Have to Wait in Line

Categories: Local Spotlight

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Photo by Ronald Woan
The longest line of them all...
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.

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.

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Photo by Jeff Balke
A rare, non-crowded day on Brasil's back patio.
7. Brasil (weekends only)

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.

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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.

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Photo by Troy Fields
The food, at least, is very worth the wait at Banana Leaf.
5. 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.

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Tiny's without a line?! Off-peak is the time to go, if you really must.
4. Tiny Boxwood's

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.


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20 comments
KAC
KAC

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it the job of a food critic to critcize the food and tell us his or her opinion about it?

Andy Phifer
Andy Phifer

"On the plus side, the food is usually delivered to your table swiftly"Do food bloggers get special privileges us normals don't know about? I've always gotten a buzzer that tells me when to pick p my food from the counter. I know that's a silly thing to nitpick on...

Jeff
Jeff

Queue? What is this, jolly old England? ;)

RM
RM

I love the desserts at Tiny Boxwoods. I don't care if you don't agree, but do you really need to insult me for it? That seems a little uncalled for.

Ed T.
Ed T.

BTW, Katharine - love the photo!

~EdT.

soon76
soon76

Tel-Wink Grill on Telephone

KnittingReader
KnittingReader

I dream of the grits at the Breakfast Klub, but am only able to get in at odd times when I have a morning off at work. Our routine is to drive by, laugh at the line and then go to Harry's.

guest
guest

the trick during the week at The Breakfast Klub is to call in your order. I do it all the time and I never have a problem with the line. 

GCF
GCF

I'll never understand waiting in line at Baby Barnaby's when Harry's is just up the road with more room, better food and hardly ever a long wait. 

Doc
Doc

Yes, and she does that regularly. She's also a blogger, hence this blog item.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I was writing too quickly the other day, although the sentiment is the same. You're correct; there are buzzers at Niko Niko's. But the food always comes out really fast considering the volume of people it serves each day.

MadMac
MadMac

That's what I'm talking about. How about a LINE, you know as in between colloquialism and pretense.

JaSm
JaSm

Ms. Shilcutt's harping on Boxwood's - and its clientele - after visiting the restaurant only once seems odd. There are many beautiful people there, of course, just as there are beautiful people at every upscale restaurant inside the loop. I have no doubt that she had a dreadful brunch experience, however, her reaction seems extreme. I have to wonder if this has less to do with her single dining experience than with Boxwood's being an easy target for her.

I also agree that even if she found her sole brunch unappetizing, that is no reason to insult everyone who eats there by referring to them as a "herd," and implying that they are only there to "be seen." You are not the arbiter of all things tasty, Ms. Shilcutt. That line exists for a reason, and it isn't because those occupying it are looking for social validation. It's because people like the food - nothing more sinister or haughty than that.  It's Ms. Shilcutt who needs to grow up.

MadMac
MadMac

If you want food poisoning or to score a rock in the parking lot maybe.

Kelli
Kelli

i love the lamb and potatos at Harry's that they serve on Sundays, and the feta fries....omg those fries.  Harry's is severly underated.

Ed T.
Ed T.

I have found that the best time to arrive at BK is about 10 minutes before it opens.

Ali
Ali

This comment was voiced with in snooty man's British accent voice in my head. Do it and I bet you all will find it hilarious.

KnittingReader
KnittingReader

We've joked that we need to camp out at midnight, but your idea is much more reasonable.

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