Top 10 Restaurants in the East End

Categories: Top 10

eastendpeople.jpg
Photo by Marco Torres
True facts.
The East End is undergoing some necessary growing pains right now as a new generation of Houstonians rediscover the neighborhoods right next door to downtown. Construction of a METRO light rail to connect the East End with the main line has had Harrisburg torn up for some time, but is nearly complete. The much-anticipated Dynamo stadium in EaDo has already hosted one successful season and the Dynamo are now headed to the 2012 MLS Cup playoffs. And these are just two of the things attracting business to the east side of town.

Moon Tower Inn owners Brandon Young and Evan Shannon aren't just planning on reopening Moon Tower itself on Canal Street in the coming months -- they're also opening two additional concepts in their East End neighborhood. The Gift Horse Lounge will be a "small neighborhood bar with good drinks and great prices," said Young in August, while The Slice and Foam Co. will sell New York-style pizza by the slice and craft beer. And the Laurenzo family is betting on Navigation by opening a new, $1.75 million El Tiempo alongside longtime Tex-Mex warhorse Ninfa's.

Add to that the recent listing of the old KBR site -- a 136-acre parcel of land with stunning skyline views of downtown and a location directly along a scenic portion of Buffalo Bayou -- and you'll see the East End is ripe for further redevelopment. Although what will be done with the acreage is still up for debate, one thing is certain: The East End is changing rapidly, and this entire Top 10 list could well be moot this time next year.

So gather ye taquerias while ye may and enjoy the spots that have anchored the East End for years, places like Fiesta Loma Linda, 888 Chinese, Taqueria Alma Latina, Villa Arcos and Merida -- and our ten favorite places below.

Disclaimer: The cartographic basis for selecting these restaurants was the official map of the East End, which roughly places its boundaries at Clinton Drive to the north, I-45 to the south, 610 to the east and parts of 59 to the west. That means nothing in EaDo, which will be a separate entry coming in the next few weeks, but plenty in neighborhoods such as Eastwood, Magnolia Park and the Second Ward.

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
10. Taqueria el Alteño

The atmosphere at Taqueria el Alteño is the main draw, as the food is simply average-to-good. That said, the food is simple, sturdy and inexpensive -- so there aren't any real complaints there (and the chilaquiles with crema at breakfast are genuinely outstanding, even if they come with french fries). Tortas are enormous and so are the refreshing licuados, which are served in fishbowl-size glasses. On Sunday mornings, a live emcee croons norteño favorites and makes general commentary on everything from the weather to the sports scores from over the weekend. In a hurry? There's a drive-thru, but you'll miss the friendly service and live music inside.

9. El Greco

This hybrid Greek restaurant/panaderia offers a cuisine not often found in the heavily Hispanic neighborhood -- but this cross-pollination of cuisines is very Houston nevertheless. One side of the giant strip center that houses El Greco is a nicer-than-normal panaderia with cafe tables and chairs, while the other side offers homemade Greek food from owner Anestis Papadopoulos, who once owned an auto parts shop down the street. His pita bread is as good as his pastries, and his pastichio comes topped with a thick, fluffy mantle of nutmeg-warmed béchamel sauce. Gyro meat can occasionally be tough, but El Greco's strong Greek coffee will help overcome one of the rare poor meals here.

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
8. Bohemeo's

The beloved East End gathering spot for live music, coffee and open mike nights was recently sold by longtime owners Lupe and Sid Olivares to a pair of Houstonians who are fast becoming fixtures themselves: Kent Marshall, owner of TK Bitterman's and Market Square Bar & Grill, and Keith Adkins of Fontana Coffee Roasters. Marshall and Adkins have already brought some big changes to the space, including a great new tap lineup of local and craft beer. The limited food menu has so far remained intact, but daily specials like a Swiss chard quiche (made with chard from The Last Organic Outpost) are being added. And although the new team plans to move away from live music, husband-and-wife team Lupe and Sid will still be around: Sid still plans to do art nights and Lupe will still rock the weekly Beatles nights.


Location Info

Venue

Map

El Alteno

6917 Harrisburg Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

El Greco Grill

5420 Lawndale St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bohemeo's

708 Telephone Road, Houston, TX

Category: General

Taqueria Monterrey Chiquito

1713 Telephone Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Champ Burger

304 Sampson St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

El Petate

7433 Canal St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Mandola's Deli

4105 Leeland, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kanomwan Thai

736 1/2 Telephone Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Los Corrales

7515 Navigation Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Original Ninfa's On Navigation

2704 Navigation, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
28 comments
Laura
Laura

The owner of El Greco Diner always the illegal towing of cars from his parking lot.  The tow truck company El Greco Diner hired does not even have a license to tow cars. They are there every day towing cars. Shame on El Greco Diner of Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn.

panchovilla86
panchovilla86

wow no love for Villa Arcos...most important meal of the day!

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Lol at El Alteno.  I frequented the #7 location on Bissonnet back in the 80's when they were known for their, ahem, "service."  It's been years, but I bet they still make a damn good Torta or queso flameado; especially if you are a buzzed 17 year old.

Steve1152
Steve1152

Also props for recognizing Bohemeo's again. They don't have tap space like the Flying Saucer but Jessica consistently has a very well-chosen draft selection.

 

Vegan places aren't exactly catnip to food critics but Sunshine's is worthy of consideration.

marksthespot33
marksthespot33

Katharine, Any idea on what the delay is with Moon Tower, Everything I initially read indicated it was a temporary 3 month closure, while they did some remodelling. Then I thought I heard they were opening back up sometime in July or August. Looking forward to them getting back into the Houston restaurant game.

jkellymassey
jkellymassey

Thanks Katharine! We just moved to the east end from Montrose and this list will come in very handy.

lupe22
lupe22

Thanks for giving Bohemeo's a nod of LOVE!!!!

Thank you Keith and Kent for keep the fires burning in our Hood!!!

Much Love Bo's

Lupe and Sid Olivarez

Joel Cirilo III
Joel Cirilo III

La Silla, Pete's BBQ, Dona Chela on 76th. Don Carlos is way better than Ninfa's! I hope the person that wrote this has spent time in the area.

Steve1152
Steve1152

Merida is really underappreciated. I would have liked to see them get some love.

 

Oh and the El Greco Bakery has been closed for months. There's a Kolache place going in there.

Jalapeno
Jalapeno

Re: Champ's shakes, I do recall you have had harsher thoughts about the Hershey's syrup in the shakes at Beck's Prime.  

Salvie
Salvie

Beers are $1.50 at Mandola's Deli whenever a train is going by!

MWC2
MWC2

Nice list.  FYI, the KBR site has not sold yet.  

aperezece
aperezece

@Steve1152 I completely agree about Merida. I've been going there ever since I was kid. My parents would drive the family 30 minutes from the southeast side of town ("the 'burbs") to eat breakfast there on the weekend. It's my favorite breakfast taco in town. @kshilcutt if you haven't had the jumbo breakfast taco from there I'd highly recommend it. $2.95 for a meal that'll fill you for the rest of the day is a good deal. Have it with a generous serving of salsa and you're good to go.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

 @Steve1152 Love Merida when it's on target, but have had some consistency issues.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

 @Steve1152 Oh no! I had no idea. It's obviously been a few months since I was over there. Thanks for the heads up.

MadMac
MadMac

@Jalapeno I got a mouth full of mix minus the milk and now I stick to the burgers, rings, and fries. Whenever my Mrs. and I have a common day-off during the week, (about three times a year) we drive in from Pearland to indulge.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

 @MWC2 Oy, that should really read "recent listing" to make more sense, huh?

MadMac
MadMac

I agree, @Kylejack I drive too far for hit/miss so we stick to Ninfas or breakfast at Pollos Asados La Silla. @Steve1152

MWC2
MWC2

 @kshilcutt i suppose so.  the site has huge potential, i hope it lives up to it!  

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