Top 10 Restaurants in Memorial

Categories: Top 10

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Photo by Joseph Holloway
Memorial's newest piece of love-it-or-hate-it architecture.
The last time we rounded up the 10 best places to eat in Memorial was in 2009. CityCentre was still under construction and Memorial City Mall had just emerged from years of redevelopment to rival The Galleria as the city's best shopping center. The Memorial you see today is not the Memorial that I grew up in -- a sleepy suburb where most of the restaurants were mom-and-pop places and where the neighborhood's best bar was owned by my high school English teacher.

But I'm not one to shun this new, vibrant Memorial either; the resurgence (or continued growth, depending upon your perspective) is something that many once-glorious Houston suburbs never get to experience. Look upon Sharpstown or Gulfgate or Alief, ye mighty, and despair. For all the moaning about the "Decepticon"-esque medical tower at Gessner and I-10 or the closure of Town & Country Mall, the restyled Memorial has been a boon to property values in the area and has brought a bevy of interesting dining options that didn't exist this far west even 10 years ago.

And although I love old-school joints like LaHa, Napoli's and Sam's Deli Diner as much as the next Memorial kid, this Top 10 list contains restaurants that can be considered among the best in the city -- not simply the most nostalgic.

Disclaimer: For the purposes of this post, Memorial is defined as north of Buffalo Bayou, west of Loop 610, east of Highway 6, and north of Katy Freeway to Westview. This area includes Spring Valley Village, Piney Point Village, Bunker Hill Village, Hedwig Village, Hilshire Village and Hunters Creek Village. Some entries are excerpted from previous Best of Houston® issues, as the reasons we awarded the restaurants such accolades still stand.

Honorable Mention: Georgia's Farm to Market, A Moveable Feast and Leibman's Wine & Fine Foods

The reason I list these three places together and haven't given them individual spots on the list is because they're all grocery stores/specialty markets first and foremost. That said, these three spots are three of my go-to favorites for a quick, simple and [occasionally] healthy lunch. If you love deli-style sandwiches, you'll love these three places.

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
A tall stack of pancakes at Union Kitchen.
10. The Union Kitchen

The second location of Bellaire-based Union Kitchen is warm and inviting, with a full bar to one side and a tiered dining room to the other. You almost wouldn't recognize the revamped dining room as the former location of Chinese haunt Hunan Emperor. Union Kitchen's bar makes some excellent Bloody Marys during Sunday brunch, which are the perfect companion to a seven-layer stack of its buttery pancakes. Lunch and dinner are more scattered affairs, but the burgers -- especially the signature onion ring-topped Angus burger -- are reliably good.

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Photo courtesy of Brenner's
A 30-ounce Tomahawk chop and a view at Brenner's.
9. Brenner's Steak House

German immigrant Lorene Brenner and her husband, Herman, opened the first Brenner's Cafe in 1936. When their original eatery was bulldozed to make way for the Katy Freeway, the Brenners relocated to a little house with a big garden and changed the format. From the beginning, Brenner's Steakhouse has served only USDA Prime beef. The 14-table main dining room was softly illuminated by antique light fixtures, and the woodwork was installed with the kind of craftsmanship you don't see much anymore. One wall is made of flagstone with a built-in fireplace, and the opposite one is a floor-to-ceiling window looking out over the enormous garden. The charming little cottage with the excellent steaks became a favorite of Houston's new western suburban set, who were building houses along Memorial in the 1950s and 1960s. Herman Brenner died in 1976, and Lorene Brenner operated the restaurant alone for many years. When she retired, Tilman Fertitta's Landry's Restaurant Group bought the place. Fertitta spent more than $1 million to restore Brenner's to its original state. He even brought Lorene Brenner back as a consultant. In a city that routinely razes its landmarks, Brenner's revitalization is nothing short of amazing.

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Kebobs at Cafe Rita.
8. Cafe Rita

This Armenian/Lebanese restaurant is a small, one-of-a-kind place run by an elderly Armenian couple, George and Rita Sarikhanian. Eating here makes you feel like you're a guest in their home -- everything is homemade and served with pride -- and there are even pictures of grandchildren stuck all over the sides of the deli case, which is stuffed to overflowing with goodies. Rita prepares traditional breakfast foul -- the ancient fava bean soup -- with lots of lemon and garlic. George and Rita always have something cooking that's not on the menu. "Taste this, we don't make it all the time, you better get some while you can," George will say, stuffing your mouth with something wonderful as you stand in line. How can you say no? Their hummus, mouhammara (red pepper spread) and falafel are excellent, and all of their kabobs -- lamb, chicken, kefta -- served hot off the grill, are scrumptious. Expect a wait at lunch.


Location Info

Georgia's Market Memorial Village

9201 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

A Moveable Feast

9341 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Leibman's Wine & Fine Foods

14529 Memorial, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Union Kitchen

12538 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Brenner's Steak House

10911 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cafe Rita - CLOSED

2352 S. Dairy Ashford St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Straits Restaurant

800 W. Sam Houston Parkway N., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bistro Provence

13616 Memorial Dr., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Empire Turkish Grill

12448 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Sushi Jin

14670 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Jonathan's The Rub

9061 Gaylord St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bistro Alex

800 W. Sam Houston Parkway, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana

14028 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
26 comments
Joshua Justice
Joshua Justice

Marshall: Joyce's Seafood and Kasra aren't in Memorial, and A Moveable Feast is on the list...

Joshua Justice
Joshua Justice

Marshall: Joyce's Seafood and Kasra aren't in Memorial, and A Moveable Feast is on the list...

SpringBranchFoodie
SpringBranchFoodie

We love many of these places and have wanted to try some of the others listed that we haven't been to yet.  Wishing the boundaries extended a block or two north to Hammerly!!

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

For all the hype Pizaro received, I just don't get it.  The pizza comes out soggy and limp, and can't even hold the slightest of toppings on its incredibly thin crust.  I ordered a second one, just to be sure, with the same result.

 

This one baffles me.

salynch
salynch

@jatorres We've been half a dozen times, always excellent. Plus I love the unique pies - arugula, potato & mushroom, etc.

Kyle Jack
Kyle Jack

As Honorable Mention, that is.

ghibelline
ghibelline

Love that shot of the Osterizer headquarters!

Shelbie Burgett
Shelbie Burgett

I have to agree with the comment regarding Nirvana. It's really good Indian food! And the owners are wonderful as well!

Girlboss
Girlboss

All favorites of ours for those of us lucky to live in the forest. Try Nirvana next time too! Just want to point out that the Memorial is WEST of 610 and EAST of Hwy 6

EatingOurWords
EatingOurWords

@T_Tow Noooooo! *sticks fingers in ears* LA LA LA LA LA. (Seriously, though. Gross. I am so sorry to hear that.)

Kelli
Kelli

No Bistro Le Cep?

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

 @FattyFatBastard So order one with less toppings, as the style should be. Have never had limp pizza at Pizaro's.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

 @Girlboss I've been meaning to try that place. Glad to hear it's good! And thanks for the heads-up; my dyslexia strikes again.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

 @Kelli It's south of Buffalo Bayou, which would place it outside the boundaries of Memorial. That part of town is Westchase, and Bistro Le Cep would definitely be on a Westchase Top 10 list in my book.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

 @Kylejack The two I had were the margherita and the arugula.  I'm not trying to put a deep dish on there.  But to be honest, it would have been limp regardless of the toppings.  And regardless, it;s too far away to try a 3rd time.  If your pizzas have not been limp, then I have to fault their consistency, at the very least.

timblack2
timblack2 topcommenter

 @kshilcutt  @Kelli You oughta do a Westchase top 10 some time. Also, I miss Rotisserie for Beef & Bird.

aplumbersson
aplumbersson

I don't get it either. Ditto on the soggy/limp pizza. But I am clearly in the minority!

timblack2
timblack2 topcommenter

 @kshilcutt  @Kelli Lol. Yea, it's kinda weird. Get your Cheap Cremations here!

 

I like le Cep too but Beef and Bird was just a classic.

 

Man, would love to see a Westchase list. I would vote for Kasra to be on that list....that's probably obvious though.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

 @timblack2  @Kelli Can you believe it became a funeral home? The ultimate death of a restaurant, as it were.

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