All 52 Restaurant Reviews of 2012, Broken Down and Mapped Out

Categories: Leftovers

View 2012 Restaurant Reviews in a larger map.

In 2012, I reviewed 50 restaurants. Jeremy Parzen and Mai Pham graciously stepped in when I went on vacation two weeks, filling in for me and each writing a full restaurant review of their own. Together, the three of us wrote one restaurant review for every week of the year.

The restaurants we reviewed this year ranged wildly in price, cuisine, location and even the traditional definition of a restaurant. I reviewed Tandoori Nite, a food truck in far west Houston that serves dhaba-style Indian cuisine under the stars, and Facundo Cafe, a tiny speck of a cafe inside a car wash on Ella.

Photo by Gary R. Wise
Middle Eastern chicken at Al Aseel, the first restaurant to be reviewed in 2012
We covered all cuisines, too: Portugese and Angolan at Portugallia, German and Austrian at King's Biergarten, Korean hwe at Dadami, Argentinean at Pampa Grill, Malaysian at Banana Leaf, Salvadoran at El Petate, Palestinian at Al Aseel, Singaporean at Straits, Cajun at The Rouxpour and Indian-Italian fusion at Bombay Pizza.

We covered the heavy-hitters, from Underbelly to Uchi, and the smaller yet no less exciting gems of 2012: Peña's Donut Heaven in Pearland, where the kolaches are stuffed with chorizo in true South Texas, Czech-Mex fashion; Arturo Boada Cuisine, where a longtime chef still dazzles with dishes like pizzas topped with carnitas, cilantro and asadero cheese; Doshi House, where each evening meal in the transitional Third Ward neighborhood is vegan, egalitarian and purposefully affordable; City Cafe in South Houston, a time capsule of a restaurant where men still take their morning coffee and cigarettes at the diner counter.

Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
An Ethiopian feast at Lucy, the first restaurant to be reviewed in 2013.
Jeremy Parzen took on the Italian food and wine at the newly-expanded Nundini's while Mai Pham used her sushi skills to assess the rolls at The Blue Fish. And we even hit a few places that have since closed: Samba Grille, Vida and Nabi. And thanks to Houston's constantly expanding dining scene, we can't wait to see what's in store for 2013.

See the full list of this year's reviews, in order of oldest to most recent:

Al Aseel
Samba Grille (closed)
City Cafe
Jus' Mac
Los Corrales
Vida (now closed)
Facundo Cafe
Pampa Grill
Nabi (now closed)
The Seafood Shoppe
Arturo Boada Cuisine
Shepherd Park Draught House
Sorrel Urban Bistro
El Petate
Peña's Donut Heaven
Aldo's Cucinia Italiana
The Blue Fish
Liberty Kitchen
Lankford Grocery
Banana Leaf
La Fisheria
Local Foods
That Pizza Place on Ella
Tandoori Nite
BlackFinn American Grille
Sushi Tora
Maggie Rita's
Taqueria La Macro
Bombay Pizza
Torchy's Tacos
N'Joy Thai
The Rouxpour
King's Biergarten
Kraftsmen Cafe
Doshi House
The Refinery
Guru Burgers & Crepes
Sparrow Bar + Cookshop
1252 Tapas
Triniti (coming this week)
Lucy (coming next week)

What restaurants would you like to see reviewed in the coming year? Let us know in the comments section; readers steered me to some of my favorites finds in the last year, after all.

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My Voice Nation Help

Interesting - seems to be very little love for south of 59.

BTW, I would like to see more reviews of restaurants along the Hillcroft strip.


The 3 best meals I have had in 2012 came from Hawthorne, L'Olivier and Phillipe.  Already had my 2nd visit to both L'Olivier and Phillipe and anxiously awaiting my 2nd visit to Hawthorne!

kshilcutt moderator editor

@kevin818 South of 59? I'm not trying to be pedantic, but I'm wondering if you meant east or west of 59? Or south of the Loop? Or the Beltway? 59 runs north/south, and then southwest on its way out of town... And yes, agreed - I need to hit more spots in Little India this coming year. It's been too long! And I'm craving dahi puri...


@kshilcutt well, to be precise, inside the loop, south and east of 59.

While covering Hillcroft, check out the Middle Eastern, Iranian, and El Salvadoran places as well :)

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