Top 10 Restaurants in River Oaks

Categories: Top 10

Photo by cosmic_omar
The last time we tackled the Top 10 restaurants in River Oaks, Tony Mandola's was still open in what is now Brasserie 19's spot in the River Oaks Shopping Center. Needless to say, things have changed a bit in three years. And in spite of its ritzy exterior, River Oaks still has plenty of inexpensive holes-in-the-wall and divey spots to go along with the big-name restaurants that make bank with their society patrons.

Note: For the purposes of this post, River Oaks is defined as south of Buffalo Bayou, west of Dunlavy, east of Suffolk and north of Westheimer.

Honorable Mention: Weslayan Cafe, Tiny Boxwood's

Although these spots fall outside the boundaries of River Oaks, they're still thought of as area classics. Get the pan-fried dumplings at Weslayan Cafe, and coffee with cookies at Tiny Boxwood's (if you can endure the long line).

Photo by The Rocketeer
10. Avalon Diner

Avalon Diner has been serving up some of the best greasy-spoon food in the city since 1938. The place is usually filled with regulars, and the waitstaff has been there for ages. There's something for every diner craving, from Blue Plate Special comfort food to arterially challenging breakfast staples. The lure of breakfast food all day long is reason enough to stop by and check it out at least once, and the milkshakes -- some of the best in the city -- long ago cemented Avalon Diner as a true Houston classic.

Photo by chiolachic
9. Crescent City Beignets

Except for the updated accents, this no-fuss coffeehouse in a mid-century strip center looks like a New Orleans original, with exposed brick walls, black-and-white photography and zydeco music in the background. The specialty here is, of course, beignets, which are as hot and fluffy as you remember them at Cafe du Monde. (Just remember not to inhale or exhale while taking a bite, unless you're looking for the perfect powdered sugar storm.) The house beverage, café au lait, is a vacation in a cup, but we recommend another treat: granitas, akin to frozen coffee smoothies. Crescent City also serves Cajun/Creole entrées, but it's the beignets that always draw me in -- especially late in the evening, after dinner has already settled. It's a good thing Crescent City stays open until 10 p.m.

Photo by Tam Vo
8. Red Lion Pub

Don't let the red pleather-upholstered booths and faux Tudor timbers fool you. This isn't just another fake British pub. This is an authentically fake British pub, right down to the iconic red telephone box inside. Founder and owner Craig Mallinson is the son of British folk singer Sarah Mallinson, and he bakes the Cornish pasties himself. He even has the "Fruity" variety of HP sauce to slather on your sausage rolls. But it's not all Sunday roasts here; true to England's food culture (which incorporates Indian food much in the same way we do Tex-Mex), you'll find excellent curries on the menu, too. In cold months, enjoy the warmth of the cozy interior fireplace. But in warmer months, the tree-shaded patio is the place to be.

Location Info

Weslayan Cafe

2900 Weslayan St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Tiny Boxwood's Cafe

3614 W. Alabama St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Avalon Diner

2417 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Crescent City Beignets - CLOSED

3260 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Red Lion Pub

2316 S. Shepherd, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Ouisie's Table

3939 San Felipe St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Relish Fine Foods

3951 San Felipe, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Americas Restaurant

2040 W. Gray St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

3215 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Mockingbird Bistro Wine Bar

1985 Welch St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Backstreet Cafe

1103 S. Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX

Category: Music

Brasserie 19

1962 W. Gray St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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Seriously?  Brasserie must be judging on decor and not food.  I would recommend the exec chef take a little trip to place called Bouchon in Yountville or Vegas. If you can’t get a Croque Madame right you don’t deserve to be no. 1.

Backstreet is a hit & miss. Sadly the wait staff is part of that equation.There is nothing more appetizing that having a server with cuts all over his hands waiting on you.And don’t forget to drink 8 glasses of water with all the salt they put on the food.

Sadly Houston if full of nicely decorated restaurants with mediocre food but that is what happens when you have one of the most overweight patrons in the nation…they will eat anything as long it looks pretty.

FattyFatBastard topcommenter

All good choices.  I'll recommend the veggie melt at Weslayan Cafe.


Although located just south of Westheimer, but closer to the perameters than say, Tiny Boxwoods, how can you not include Hawthorne?  My meal there was one of the BEST I had in 2012!  I have attempted a second visit but reservations are tight on weekends without advance planning.  So want another serving of their beef tartare.  And the scallops -- best I have ever had!


I remember when La Griglia would have topped this list. 


Roost?  Just wondering - I haven't been there yet but I thought everyone was all in love with them...

kshilcutt moderator editor

@susanterrywilhelmHawthorne made our Top 10 in Upper Kirby list. Montrose and River Oaks and Upper Kirby all overlap so much, it can complicate matters

kshilcutt moderator editor

@jasonofthesea Roost made our Top 10 restaurants in Montrose list. Montrose and River Oaks and Upper Kirby all overlap so much, it can complicate matters.

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