Top 10 Restaurants in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest

Categories: Top 10

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Photo by Troy Fields
Plonk serves as the unofficial clubhouse of the area.
It wasn't too long ago that the Houston Chronicle called Oak Forest "the new West University." The neighborhood just north of Loop 610 and to the east of Highway 290 has been attracting young families in spades -- families who are helping to reinvigorate the subdivisions that make up Garden Oaks and Oak Forest. Along with the influx of residents is a slow influx of new restaurants, which is making the area a hotspot for both new and old coexisting side-by-side.

Lance Fegen and Lee Ellis are opening Surfing Cowboys soon in the vacant space that recently housed That Pizza Place on Ella, and there's a full-sized restaurant planned for its neighbor across the street: Facundo Cafe, which serves burgers and breakfast tacos inside a car wash. Meanwhile, spots such as Cottonwood Bar and Shepherd Park Draught House are drawing people north of 610 with craft beer, cocktails and above-average pub grub.

And just a bit further south -- while not technically in the Garden Oaks / Oak Forest confines -- restaurants such as El Gran Malo, Pappa Geno's and the Rainbow Lodge give the larger area personality and a wide range of options. But for today, we're just focusing on the spots that make GOOF great.

Note: For purposes of this post, Garden Oaks / Oak Forest is defined as north of Loop 610, east of Highway 290, south of Tidwell and west of Shepherd.

Honorable mention:

El Rey Taqueria for terrific breakfast tacos and lattes and Yo Mama's Soul Food for rocking oxtails.

10. Roznovsky's

Ron Roznovsky has been grilling old-fashioned burgers and making homemade chili for more than 40 years, so he's had plenty of time to perfect his technique. Step back in time, admire the gimme cap collection on the walls, crack open a longneck and enjoy a hot, juicy burger topped with cheese or bacon. Seasoned fries and onion rings are the only sides, and the Frito pie comes highly recommended. And with the departure of Mytiburger this past August, Roznovsky's is one of the few truly old-school burger joints left around here. Note: Mytiburger was heroically rescued by local restaurateur Shawn Salyers, who bought and reopened it two weeks after it was closed.

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Photo by Troy Fields
Belly up to the breakfast bar at Facundo Cafe.
9. Facundo Cafe

Could food from a car wash be any good? Facundo Cafe and chef Danny Harper prove that it can be, with a small but capable kitchen that turns out everything from omelets and sandwiches to gourmet burgers and fish tacos with mango slaw. As a bonus, you can get your car's oil changed, get it detailed, or have your inspection sticker updated while you wait. In a hurry? Call ahead and they'll have your food ready and waiting for you to pick up, curbside, although it's far more fun to eat inside at the perpetually busy grill.

8. Cottonwood Bar

A new addition to the Garden Oaks family of bars, Cottonwood is sure to be a hit in the coming years. The bar -- from the folks that brought you Liberty Station on Washington Avenue -- is packed almost nightly. The list of beers is massive, which suits the neighborhood surroundings (the area already includes craft beer mecca Petrol Station as well as equally beer-heavy spots such as Plonk and Shepherd Park Draught House) and make it a destination spot for beer snobs all over the city. The menu is short and sweet here, but the Jamaican jerk wings are a favorite as are the BBQ oysters and pork belly corn dogs -- fun dishes that perfectly match the quirky icehouse atmosphere.


Location Info

Venue

Map

Yo Mama's Soul Food

5332 Antoine Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Roznovsky's Hamburgers

3401 W. T C Jester, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Facundo Cafe

3103 Ella, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cottonwood

3422 N. Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Doyle's Restaurant

2136 W. 34th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Cafe Red Onion

12440 Northwest Frwy, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Pho Dalat

7758 W. Tidwell Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Shepherd Park Draught House

3402 N. Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Little Bitty Burger Barn

5503 Pinemont Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Petrol Station

985 Wakefield, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Plonk Beer & Wine Bistro

1214 W. 43rd St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
17 comments
kingofbongo
kingofbongo

Everyone is clearly entitled to their own opinion and I very much respect the author's; however, to me, it is sad and surprising that Plonk is ranked as #1. Service is terrible. Unless you are part of the "regular crowd" you are in for a disappointing evening. The food is OK but does not make up for the lack of luster in service. This is known fact among area residents.

It is also surprising that Doyle's made it to the list (although t is almost an institution considering how long it has been open) but Cavatore's and Rainbow Lodge were left out. Granted they are a bit further out of the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest neighborhood area (or the "hood" as ReginaDupuis would have it) but, they are much better restaurants.

@ReginaDupuis - I would like to think you are kidding (your comment is kind of funny). If not, you really missed the target on the city, you should move to Dallas. You'll fit right in!

Ryan Johnson
Ryan Johnson

Frida Mexican kitchen is solid traditional mex.

Lizzy Alcala
Lizzy Alcala

I was wondering what that cottonwood place was...yes it is always packed good thing it has lots of space for parking

Houstess
Houstess

Rosnovsky's was a destination back in the 80s.  I loved the buttery griddled buns.  I wonder if it's the same ownership?

ReginaDupuis
ReginaDupuis

That entire area is far too run-down and dangerous to contemplate eating anywhere. My driver won't even venture into those neighborhoods. 

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

Yo Shilcutt, at some point you will be covering the Clear Lake area.  I'm generally a fan of yours, but the last time you made a Clear Lake list you really phoned it in. So before you publish a new Clear Lake list, here are some things to consider:

Korean BBQ needs to be on the list.  And one of the Indian places like Cuisine of India; their lunch buffet is excellent. King Chicken is a must.  Seabrook Classic Cafe is worth considering.  Maybe NASA Fast Food.  Maybe Boondoggle's.  Nobi Public House has great beer and decent sandwiches.

And don't include Sudie's or Egg & I (really?) , or places like Gilhooley's that are not even in the Clear Lake area.

aguilar.charlotte
aguilar.charlotte

Your report of the death of Mytiburger is premature. Although it did close briefly last summer, Shawn Salyers, who owns the Baskin-Robbins franchise down the block on 43rd Street in Oak Forest, rescued it. He spruced up the place, added special events and kids-eat-free nights, home delivers during big football games -- and the place is thriving. --Charlotte Aguilar, Editor, The Leader News

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@kingofbongo Cavatore's and Rainbow Lodge were simply outside the boundaries we used for this post, although I do especially love Rainbow Lodge.

H_e_x
H_e_x

@ReginaDupuisDriver? How pedestrian. I only travel on top of war elephants. No amount of danger is too great for my mighty pachyderm.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@Bruce_Are Hehehe. I heard that quite a bit last time. Truthfully, I don't get down to Clear Lake as often as I'd like to, so I'm really hoping that one of our more well-traveled EOW bloggers will pick that post up because it's definitely an interesting culinary landscape down there. Either that or I'll have to commit to a two-day food crawl in Clear Lake one of these weekends...

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@FattyFatBastard @Bruce_Are  

Sure, Tookies qualifies as Clear Lake.  And a lot of people would put them in the top 10 in Clear Lake.  I haven't been there since they reopened under new owners so I can't offer an opinion.

T-Bone Tom's was featured on Diner's and Dives.  So maybe they warrant a look as well.

Spitzberg
Spitzberg

@FattyFatBastard @Bruce_Are 

 Let's just call it the South Plain and be done with silly designations. There are probably some good restaurants there, as it was settled by the Cajun Dutch

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