Top 10 Restaurants in River Oaks

Categories: Top 10

Photo by Mai Pham
3. Mockingbird Bistro

Mockingbird Bistro is so sequestered in a little neighborhood south of West Gray, finding your way back can sometimes feel like searching out Brigadoon in the mists. But this just part of the charm at John Sheely's funky neighborhood cafe, which has been serving what seems like the same rotation of patrons for the last 11 years. Sheely, along with talented sous chef Jose Luis Vela, pack them in at lunch and dinner every day with a solid and well-executed menu of bistro classics: foie gras, onion soup, roasted chicken, steak frites and and Old World-heavy wine list. While over-the-top burgers like the $32 foie-topped Wagyu burger hold court at night, happy hour is a less expensive time to visit and indulge in $5 bar bites, cocktails, wines and beer.

Backstreet Cafe 002.jpg
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
2. Backstreet Cafe

Backstreet Cafe hasn't changed all that much since we awarded it Best Brunch back in 2004, but that's why we like it. The classic River Oaks restaurant is the oldest of Tracy Vaught and Hugo Ortega's restaurants -- tucked into every nook and cranny of a century-old house, including its lush backyard -- and has run smoothly for years precisely because of that consistency. The menu doesn't stagnate, but does continue to offer old favorites like gingerbread waffles and perfect Eggs Benedict over cheddar-chive biscuits for brunch. The service -- including longtime sommelier Sean Beck -- has remained consistently excellent, too, guaranteeing that pretty much every meal at Backstreet will be a success.

Note: Backstreet Cafe is currently closed for remodeling, but will reopen on January 24.

Photo by Troy Fields
1. Brasserie 19

A River Oaks playground for Houston's rich and famous, Brasserie 19 nevertheless has the food to match the crowds and the hype, turning out classic French and Belgian staples like steak frites and cassoulet alongside an impressive list of beers, wines and cocktails to match. Executive chef Amanda McGraw has also begun to branch out into more modern daily specials such as a 63-degree over parmesan custard and pickled shrimp with smoked crème fraîche -- all of which have been equally well-received. The sleek, marble-topped bar is the place to be if you're young and single, while the restaurant's main floor is a gathering point for socialites and food-lovers alike. The egalitarian patio is the most pleasant spot to dine, however, with far less noise and a pretty view of the brightly lit River Oaks Theatre marquee across West Gray.

Check out our other Top 10 neighborhood lists:

Top 10 in Montrose
Top 10 in the Heights
Top 10 in Rice Village
Top 10 on Washington Avenue
Top 10 in the East End
Top 10 in the Galleria
Top 10 in Midtown
Top 10 in Memorial
Top 10 in Upper Kirby
Top 10 in Greenway Plaza
Top 10 in The Woodlands
Top 10 in Spring Branch
Top 10 in Little India
Top 10 in Far Northwest Houston
Top 10 in Chinatown

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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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