Top 10 Restaurants in Montrose
This ain't your average buffet; the Sunday brunch at Hugo's requires reservations.
Owner/chef Hugo Ortega has become a Houston legend alongside wife and restaurateur Tracy Vaught -- who also operates Prego, Trevisio and Backstreet Cafe -- and their longtime sommelier, Sean Beck. The Hugo's team established the interior Mexican restaurant as one of the finest restaurants in the city, period, and set the bar for modern Mexican food across the country with their success. Ortega has continued to turn out stunning food since opening in 2002, including his famous lamb barbacoa, mole poblano and the best Sunday brunch in town.
Photo by Mai Pham Shiro sake at Uchi: King ivory salmon, fennel, cataloupe, lemon and mustard seed.
James Beard Award-winning Austin chef Tyson Cole's ultramodern Japanese import, Uchi, occupies the old building that housed Houston classic Felix Mexican Restaurant for half a century -- and the young restaurant is already just as popular, positioning itself as a neighborhood restaurant that emphasizes high-quality food and the city's best service. You'll have to make reservations for this dinner-only spot if you want to sit in the steely-chic dining room, but walk-ins can usually be accommodated at the cozy bar. A spot-on sake list (as well as beer and wine) accompanies a menu of "hot" and "cold" "tastings" along with more traditional Japanese items such as sushi, sashimi and rolls. Happy hour is every weekday and offers some of Uchi's favorites -- machi cure with smoked yellowtail, for example, and the skewers of pork belly called bacon sen -- for a drastically reduced price (and you don't need reservations for happy hour!).
Photo by Troy Fields The calm before the dining storm at Underbelly.
So many of what we've named Houston's best restaurants over the years have been in Montrose -- Da Marco in 2011, Feast in 2009, Da Marco once again in 2007 -- and Underbelly is no exception. The 2012 winner of Best Restaurant in our Best of Houston® issue made Time's list of places to eat prior to Armageddon before it was even open. Billed as "the story of Houston food," chef/owner Chris Shepherd's menu is heavy on the Mexican, Vietnamese, Korean, German, Middle Eastern and other ethnic influences that have shaped Houston's food scene in the last generation. It's heavy on meat, too, as befitting a chef known for his charcuterie, with a full butcher shop attached to the kitchen and a case full of cured meats as a focal point in the dining room. Lunch is quiet and the wood-toned wine bar inviting after work, but dinner services are consistently packed. And expect them to be even more crowded lately: We just named Underbelly's Korean braised goat and dumplings No. 1 on our 100 Favorite Dishes list and Houston Chronicle food critic Alison Cook just gave the restaurant a coveted four-star rating.
Check out our other Top 10 neighborhood lists:
Top 10 in the Heights
Top 10 in Rice Village
Top 10 on Washington Avenue
Top 10 in the East End
Top 10 in the Galleria
Top 10 in Midtown
Top 10 in Memorial
Top 10 in Upper Kirby
Top 10 in Greenway Plaza
Top 10 in The Woodlands
Top 10 in Spring Branch
Top 10 in Little India
Top 10 in Far Northwest Houston
Top 10 in Chinatown
Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords