Top 10 Restaurants in the Heights

Categories: Top 10

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Photo by Rob Holland
Let's get one thing out of the way before we get started: This is a list of the ten best restaurants in the Heights, as "the Heights" is defined by the Houston Heights Association. That means that restaurants outside of its boundaries -- north of Loop 610 West, west of North Shepherd, south of the Katy Freeway or east of Studewood/Airline Drive -- are automatically excluded.

This means that truly excellent restaurants such as Gatlin's, Hubcap Grill, El Gran Malo, Pappa Geno's and Rainbow Lodge didn't make the cut. But it also means that future lists such as "Top 10 Restaurants in Oak Forest/Garden Oaks" or "Top 10 Restaurants in Timbergrove" are forthcoming.

With that in mind, here are our picks for the top 10 restaurants in the Heights, proper, which still proved quite a challenge to select despite the small territory. If there's one thing the Heights is richer in than antique shops or bungalows, it's amazing food.

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Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
Honey ham and brie at Carter & Cooley.
10. Carter & Cooley

The winner of our 2009 Best of Houston® award for Best Atmosphere, sandwich shop Carter & Cooley has been serving excellent BLTs, Reubens and warm honey ham and brie sandwiches for more than 20 years. The Simon Lewis building in which it's housed was erected in 1921 as Ward's Drugs and has been lovingly restored by owner Neil Sackheim. Eat your corned beef on dark Bentwood chairs under a pressed tin ceiling and enjoy the sense of being lost a few decades back in the Heights' history.

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Chicken mole at El Gallo de Jalisco.
9. El Gallo de Jalisco

A small, unassuming, family-run place in the Heights, El Gallo de Jalisco is one of the few joints left in the increasingly restaurant-saturated area that's remained ungentrified. It's still cash-only, and very limited English is spoken inside, but you'll also find wonderfully authentic tacos, tortas and perhaps one of the finest chicken mole plates in town. Interestingly, the homemade salsas aren't at all spicy, but they taste great with basket of warm chips and a cold glass of jamaica.

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Photo by Troy Fields
The gumbo at Liberty Kitchen is among the best in town.
8. Liberty Kitchen

BRC Gastropub chef and owner Lance Fegen shows off his Cajun side at Liberty Kitchen, an oyster bar that manages to feel like Louisiana and New England at the same time. The relaxed restaurant is perfect for slurping down East Coast oysters over local brews (which is why we gave Liberty Kitchen a 2012 Best of Houston® award for Best Raw Bar) or enjoying a huge bowl of gumbo topped with fried oysters. Other big winners: burgers made from fresh-ground beef that taste like upscale Big Macs and shakes made with tangy custard from dessert spot Petite Sweets.

Location Info

Venue

Map

Shade

250 W. 19th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Revival Market

550 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Asia Market

1010 W. Cavalcade St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Zelko Bistro

705 E. 11th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe

1511 Airline, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Triple A Restaurant

2526 Airline Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Liberty Kitchen

1050 Studewood St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

El Gallo De Jalisco

3220 White Oak Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Carter & Cooley Company

375 W. 19th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
31 comments
HeightsRez
HeightsRez

Hmmm....Almost seven years in the Heights, taking care of locals and out of towners, active participants in many local charities and doesn't crack the top ten?  Many Heights residents consider Glass Wall their "go to" spot, their very own bar and kitchen where the staff really do know their names.  I wonder how they stay in business! ;)

Andrew Felton
Andrew Felton

great list overall. especially glad to see the shout out to Jalisco! I think you missed Lola's though. And if you're gonna talk up hot dogs, go Happy Fatz's down the street instead.

j5uh
j5uh

@HoustonPress I can't believe down house made it as #1. Over priced and overrated.

common-sense
common-sense

Carter & Nothing Cooley?  Sandwiches made by microwave and the same utensil being used for mustard, honey mustard, mayo, and olive tapenade?  Come there after 2 on most days and you will catch a very fat Elvira chain-smoking cigarettes in their kitchen in the middle of service.  Also, don't bother asking to add or remove an item from your sandwich.. You might hurt a very old gay man's ego in the process. 

KublaConn
KublaConn

As usual, vegetarians need not apply.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Quick preview of the Sugarland edition. 

 

10:  Applebees

9: Chili's

8: Outback Steakhouse

7: Red Lobster

6: Macaroni Grill

5: Subway

4: TGI Friday's

3: Denny's

2: Olive Garden

1: Los Tios

ssegraves
ssegraves

@EatingOurWords if Asia Market is barely outside the Heights isn't Triple A way outside?

Gary Dzierlenga
Gary Dzierlenga

What's the favorite Heights wine? 1. My Property Values. 2. The City Needs to Fix the Alley. 3. I'd Never Live Outside the Loop.

Mike Collins
Mike Collins

The best restaurants in the world will not redeem the obnoxious Heights residents.

bradsnead
bradsnead

@heightslife @EatingOurWords Glad you included El Gallo de Jalisco. If you haven't tried their nopales (cactus) breakfast tacos, you should.

JMTexas
JMTexas

before even reading the list, kudos on defining the Heights proper. it kills me to hear from those fools on Washington call it the Heights.

BlackjackDavid
BlackjackDavid

No Glass Wall? Hmmm. Very interesting. And sorry, but Shade is just a shadow of its former self. A little high at No. 2, I'd say.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

 @KublaConn I'm sorry not to have specifically pointed out the vegetarian dishes at the restaurants above, as I'm usually pretty sensitive to vegetarian diets (and go through weeks where I adhere to one myself quite often). So let's see what we can find...

Asia Market has tofu curries that are just as good as the meat-based ones and the <i>som tam</i> I mentioned is a great veggie dish if you ask them to leave out the dried shrimp.  Revival Market always has a few great vegetarian options on its menu, as does Down House (example: Down House has a butternut squash and piave risotto with mustard green salad on the menu right now, as well as chicken-fried portobello mushrooms with mashed potatoes).

Shade likewise has some good veggie options going, from a baked eggplant and four cheese involtini to a really cool vegetable plate with stuff like pattypan squash ratatouille and spanakopita. Even old-school Carter & Cooley has a ton of vegetarian options: homemade pimento cheese, homemade egg salad, a "veggie delicious," a "veggie supreme," et cetera.

In fact, a hefty amount of good-to-great restaurants these days are sensitive to the fact that more and more customers are choosing plants over meat (or at least should be). I no longer find it odd when restaurants have clever, thoughtful vegetable dishes on their menu; I find it disappointing when they don't, however.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

 @FattyFatBastard Haha, you can apply this also to Katy, Friendswood, Spring, and really anywhere with add water and stir clear cut neighborhoods..

EatingOurWords
EatingOurWords

@ssegraves It's on Airline just south of the Loop, so it's in the far northeast corner of the Heights. :)

TheHeightsLife
TheHeightsLife

 @JMTexas 

Agreed. I wouldn't call Coppa or Max's Wine Dive or even Pollo Campero "fools" but they are certainly not in the Heights. I recently posted last year's list on my Facebook page, noting that 3 of the 10 weren't in the Heights at that time. This is a much better list.

KublaConn
KublaConn

 @gossamersixteen  Ah, nice.  Asking for a food reviewer to make mention of any vegetarian dishes a restaurant might have on the menu or if they even HAVE any vegetarian dishes on the menu is being neurotic? Glad I don't live in your world.

ssegraves
ssegraves

@EatingOurWords ah. When we lived on 28th near Airline we were told that north of Cavalcade and east of Main wasn't really "Heights".

JMTexas
JMTexas

@TheHeightsLife @JMTexas ...fools referred to folks, not foods.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

 @KublaConn  @gossamersixteen Sorry having dated and lived with a vegetarian for 10+ years; finding a suitable place to eat is akin to pulling teeth.  All they have is side dishes, and other factors/excuses are akin to dealing with a picky child who won't eat anything but hyper processed garbage. Being vegan only ramps that level of neurotic up ten fold. Making what should be a simple pleasure lunch/dinner an overtly annoying exercise in appeasing an overly particular, and occasionally downright neurotic person. I'm sure this notion isn't lost on you, maybe you're easy going and eat a wide variety of vegetables but most are not and tend to be exceedingly picky and uptight.

ssegraves
ssegraves

@JavaPeg @EatingOurWords didn't see it for some reason.

JavaPeg
JavaPeg

@ssegraves @EatingOurWords the article had a link to the HOA map used as the basis :)

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