Top 10 Restaurants in Memorial
Photo by Troy Fields The dining room at Straits before the lunch rush hits.
Although it'd be easy to flesh out this entire list with CityCentre restaurants, I kept it to only the two that inspire me the most. The first, Straits, serves modern Singaporean cuisine with Thai and Vietnamese influences in the type of lounge-like atmosphere that was missing in old Memorial. Hip decor, a large outdoor dining area and swift, friendly servers make it an upscale hangout by night and a relaxing lunch spot by day. The San Francisco-based restaurant has adapted well to Houston thanks to chef John Sikhattana, who runs a tight ship and keeps the food hot, fresh and spicy -- just as Singaporean dishes should be. Standouts include the whole fried striped bass, a creamy-sour laksa noodle soup, fragrant Hainan chicken and the flaky, addictive roti prata.
One of Houston's oldest and most authentic French restaurants is owned by French husband-and-wife team Jean-Philippe and Genevieve Guy, both of whom are as inviting as the cozy restaurant itself. As the name would indicate, Bistro Provence serves Provençal cuisine such as wood-oven pizzas, lamb shank Provençale and seafood specialties made by chef Jeremy Griffin as well as French classics like escargot, rillettes, duck liver and an outstanding poussin rôti cooked in that same wood-fired oven. The wine list is all French, as you would expect, and both lunch and dinner always require a wait -- come early or late if you don't want to stand around, salivating over the other diners' meals.
5. Empire Turkish Grill
Turkish kebabs at Empire.
Partially hidden behind a dry cleaner, this Mediterranean restaurant in a primarily residential area of Memorial doesn't get the credit it deserves. We've never had a meal here that was less than perfect. The authentically Turkish menu ranges from luscious appetizers like the nutty ezme (you'll never go back to baba ghanoush) and the stuffed eggplant dish imam bayildi to savory yogurtlu sis with lamb and more than a dozen mixed grills to choose from. Even better, if you're enjoying a glass of wine at the neighboring Vine Room wine bar, Empire will deliver its delicious food to you free of charge.
4. Sushi Jin
Photo by Troy Fields
When it first opened, Sushi Jin helped raise the bar for Houston's raw fish lovers. Years later, it's still one of the best sushi restaurants in town. Flown in straight from Japan, the mouthwatering pieces of salmon, tuna and yellow tail are sure to impress even the snobbiest connoisseurs. Wanna walk on the wild side? Jellyfish, sea cucumber and other exotics are hidden away in a secret stash -- all you have to do is ask and prove you're no novice. Private karaoke rooms allow diners to sing and dance, or you can just relax in one of the booths and enjoy the restaurant's simple, elegant decor.