Top 10 Restaurants in Midtown

Categories: Top 10

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Photo by Secret Squirrel
Tacos a Go-Go keeps it funky fresh.
7. Tacos a Go-Go

The shrine to Our Lady surrounded by bright jalapeño-shaped Christmas lights or the giant Carmen Miranda head out front should give you an idea about this place: It's a funky cantina with colorful decor serving cheap and tasty breakfast tacos all day long, including some of the best lamb barbacoa you'll taste in the city. The fish tacos are good, but even better when spiced up with some of Tacos a Go-Go's bright salsa and the famous chocolate taco can't be missed for dessert. There's a reason we bring all our out-of-town friends here.

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Wings and grits at the breakfast klub.
6. the breakfast klub

There's a reason why there is a constant line outside the door here: the food. The hustle and bustle of this place is all part of the show, from hungry onlookers on the outside eagerly watching the food being delivered to tables, to the expression of satisfaction on the faces of customers leaving this shrine to soul food cuisine. Signature dishes include the incredible Katfish & Grits and the equally good Wings & Waffles, but my personal favorite is a combination of the two: Wings & Grits. While catfish and chicken may strike some as not suitable for breakfast, those people simply don't know what they're missing. While the breakfast klub has added tents to shade those standing in line each day, it's only encouraged the lines to get longer. Expect to wait about 90 minutes on a good day, and have your order ready when you get to the counter by God.

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Ibiza's wall of wine is a focal point in the dining room.
5. Ibiza

Ibiza -- the flagship restaurant in Charles Clark and Grant Cooper's mini-empire (the duo also run Coppa and Brasserie 19) -- offers a package deal of great value: an adventurous list of nearly 4,000 bottles of wine at prices close to retail, combined with imaginative, Cajun-gone-upscale dishes that show off chef Clark's Louisiana roots: Trailer Park Gumbo with roasted Guinea hen, a Basque green pepper and crab bisque or buttermilk-fried catfish with crawfish mashed potatoes. Red is the word to remember. Red meat dishes are generally what Ibiza does best, and the restaurant also boasts a long list of boutique red wines.

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Photo by Mai Pham
Fresh Alaskan Halibut with grilled chanterelles, black rice, edible flowers and beurre blanc foam at Charivari.
4. Charivari

Charivari is the little German restaurant that fell to Midtown -- although there's much more to it than that. If you went to Germany, you probably wouldn't order the French food, yet that's the secret of eating well here. Romanian-born chef Johan Schuster is a master of the dishes of the European Borscht Belt, or what he calls "European Continental and New Contemporary Cuisine." If you order pasta di casa (a German spaetzle), risotto al Piemontese, Wiener schnitzel, veal Zurich, ribeye "Cafe de Paris," blini and caviar or Schuster's own "Budapest-style" foie gras, odds are you are in for an incredible treat. And don't miss Schuster's seasonal menus, where he serves everything from white asparagus to black bear.


Location Info

Spec's Deli

2410 Smith, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Natachee's Supper 'n Punch

3622 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Kim Tai

2602 Fannin St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Les Givral's Sandwich & Cafe

2704 Milam St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Majorca

207 W. Gray, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Tacos A Go-Go

3704 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

the breakfast klub

3711 Travis St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Ibiza

2450 Louisiana, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Charivari Restaurant

2521 Bagby St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Reef

2600 Travis St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Brennan's of Houston

3300 Smith, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Sparrow Bar + Cookshop

3701 Travis St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
paval
paval topcommenter

Since I work in the bigger midtown area, I appreciate the list, it gives me some additional ideas. Also that Majorca is not really in the boundaries was obvious to me, but that whole stretch of Gray almost till taft still sees itself as part of Midtown. Junction bar for example.

Reef is indeed one of the big ones in Midtown and so is Sparrow.

On Charivari i have a comment i had posted a long time ago in a Chronicle article. What makes a restaurant German?

a) The fact that they serve German food?

b) that the owners are German?

c)Or that a restaurant calls itself German?

d)Or the general perception of the people?

If a) what is really german food. Hamburgers supposedly came from a dish prepared by immigrants from Hamburg, Germany. So are hamburgers German food? The same is to say about CFS which is a bastardized version of Wiener Schnitzel, which itself is not a German but an Austrian dish

b) The owner of Le Peep is I believe german, as the owners of Charivari, and so is Michaels Burger Place in Galveston and I am sure a lot more places. Are those German restaurants?

c) Olive Garden calls itself the Italian Restaurants. If you would ask an Italian he would never let them qualify as the first. For some people they do not even qualify as the second.

d) probably the most important of characterizations. To continue beating on OG: When I came to the US OG was seen by my hosts as an Italian Restaurant. I believe in the last seven years the perception of what Italian restaurant is may have improved a tad. But the same is valid for Le Madeleine which due to its name is seen as french by many, but having lived many years in France I do not find anything French in it.

 

To me a restaurant should mostly be qualified according to a combination of 35% of c) and 30% of d) and a) and 5% b).

Nationality should not matter almost at all, since I would never deny even a Chinese to be able to cook German food if he assimilated the cooking culture, techniques, ingredients knowledge and a lot of practice.

Perception is important but sometimes the mass errs. Specially if the mass is confronted to a new concept. I remember when "Feast" opened to hear and read it defined as "British", "pork", etc. Nowadays the definition of "from nose to tail" has gained hold and is generally accepted and used.

The kind of food served is important, but how many Americans can define exactly what New-American means? And what happens with all the fusion confusion trends. I recently saw a Venezuelan who cooks Italian and since he lives in Houston calls his restaurant Gulf Coast-Italian-Continental.

The way how a restaurant sees itself seems hence to be the most defining factor. That's why Arturo defines his restaurant this way, and I believe most people should be able to get an idea of what he serves in a Gulf Coast-Italian-Continental as difficult as that name may come off one's tongue.

 

 

nate
nate

Tacos a go go?  Really?  Sigh.

BP88
BP88

You've been such a stickler on the other lists about restaurants being in the boundaries. Majorca doesn't quite fit the definition of Midtown you've given. It's a block and a half west of Bagby.

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

"Expect to wait about 90 minutes on a good day" 

 

Breakfast Klub loses me here, its Chicken and Waffles with a mural of Obama people, not a museum opening......

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

I've had two misadventures with Reef. First visit--when I still drove limos--while dropping a party there, we had beer bottles thrown at us from the roof bar. After 45 minutes, my party called for a pick up. Even though they had reservations, they waited and waited but no table. Years later, after reading how great this place is, I took my Mrs. for our monthly night out. We had reservations, we were early, and NO ONE WAS THERE. Still these CHILDREN left us standing at the door like MoMos while they caught up on gossip. We went to Brennan's where the PROFESSIONAL host remembered my name and graciously seated us without reservations.

Jenandtonic
Jenandtonic

Natachees is so uneven. They do some stuff ok, but I had to give up after about half a dozen bad meals there (I was in denial). I've had the meatloaf pictured and it was inedibly salty, and their CFS is chewy and stringy. No thanks. Good call on Sparrow Bar though. Those shiitake dumplings are astonishingly delicious.

jeffbalke
jeffbalke

I'd pick Cali over Les Givral's myself, but otherwise, good list.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt editor

 @BP88 True, true, but I think it's safe to place that whole little area there within the Midtown boundaries. I should have perhaps pushed the boundaries west a bit more, but even the Midtown District admits that those boundaries (which are theirs) are a bit rough.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

 @texmex01 It's not something I'm going to do every weekend, but every once in a while it's fun to grab a couple of friends and some coffee, then wait it out together while you all catch up. The wings are grits are worth the wait -- just not all the time.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

 @jeffbalke I go back and forth between Cali and LG. And then there's poor Thien An. I hope they reopen again soon.

BP88
BP88

 @kshilcutt  @texmex01 The wait isn't nearly that bad if you can make it on a weekday. In fact, I've walked right up around 9 am or so. The wait is usually less than 15 minutes at lunchtime. I've never even tried to go on a Saturday

jkellymassey
jkellymassey

 @kshilcutt  @jeffbalke WHAT?!?! Thien An is closed? That is the best Vietnamese food in the area hands down, without driving out to Bellaire.

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