The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Bistros

Categories: Top 10

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Photo by Jeff Balke
Shade's side patio.
7. Canopy / Shade

This pair of cozy spots -- Canopy in Montrose and its older sister, Shade, in the Heights -- is owned by Claire Smith, who's made a solid career out of delivering simple, straightforward yet creative cuisine with a panoply of influences. Try the four-mushroom pot pie or the lamb stew at Canopy, or enjoy a sumptuous breakfast with freshly-baked pastries. At Shade, get the pan-seared duck or steamed littleneck claims -- and don't pass up the clever cocktail list at either place.



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Photo by Troy Fields
6. Plonk Beer & Wine Bistro

Plonk bills itself as a Garden Oaks/Oak Forest wine bar, but it's so much more than that. The impeccably compiled wine list (owner Scott Miller was once the wine director for Pappas Bros. Steakhouse) is complemented by an eccentric beer list that's heavy on local and craft brews. And both lists are bolstered by a full dinner menu that features both modern American cuisine and bistro favorites like an aged hanger steak and wine-steamed mussels.


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5. Bistro Provence

There is something intensely European about this jewel of a spot, run by ex-pat Frenchwoman Genevieve Guy. Perhaps it's the small kitchen with a roaring, wood-fired oven or its rustic seating with cozy tables or the sensation of being pleasantly removed from the hectic, traffic-filled urban streets for an evening. Or perhaps it's all of these, with an added dose of plush foies de canard or delicate poussin rôti to really drive the point home. The all-French wine list doesn't hurt, either.


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Photo by Troy Fields
4. Nosh Bistro

New Upper Kirby restaurant Nosh is a bistro with a modern, South Asian spin -- a place where outstanding burgers mingle with curried fish, where charcuterie and cheese boards keep company with lamb flatbreads, where you can get a roasted Cornish game hen or a tandoori chicken. The wine list is studiously compiled and the upscale atmosphere is tempered with whimsicality, so it never feels stuffy or fancy. The fire pit on the cozy patio is incredibly inviting on cool evenings.


Location Info

Roost

1972 Fairview St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bistro Des Amis

2347 University Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

3215 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Nosh Bistro - CLOSED

3983 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bistro Provence

13616 Memorial Dr., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Plonk Beer & Wine Bistro

1214 W. 43rd St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Canopy

3939 Montrose, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Shade

250 W. 19th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Mockingbird Bistro Wine Bar

1985 Welch St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Arturo Boada Cuisine

6510 Del Monte Dr., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Zelko Bistro

705 E. 11th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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15 comments
David Rosas Jr.
David Rosas Jr.

Seems like a great list sans the moderate prices you quote at the beginning of your article.

badfish
badfish

Sad to see Cafe Rabelais didn't make the list.

gustafsonD
gustafsonD

I would add L'Olivier and some others, Poscol maybe. I mean if you include places like Mockingbird Bistro, which largely entertains older, suburban folks from the Memorial Villages, how could you pass on L'Olivier and Poscol? Both are more rooted in the neighborhood. Hell, so is Cuchara for that matter if you want to go outside the Francophile traditiion.

Jay Francis
Jay Francis

Surprised you didn't mention the interesting history of the word bistro.

FRL713
FRL713

La Tapatia (Chimney Rock) serves as my local bistro with a great staff and consistently useful food/drink.  Shandy's Cafe in Rice Military is another spot that comes to mind.

Melia Hughes
Melia Hughes

I think I've only tried half of them, and that's not nearly enough. The ones I have tried have all been great, but that's some camera magic to make Zelko look almost roomy. That is one of the tightest dining rooms in town!

Kyle King
Kyle King

Zelko, Shade, and Canopy have served me some great food. Now to try the others! :)

Tina Marie
Tina Marie

nope, don't know how these became "Best"

Dragana Arezina Harris
Dragana Arezina Harris

Kris Bistro - delicious food, great service, pleasant ambiance, reasonable prices.

Michael Myers
Michael Myers

"Unpretentious" may not be the right word for a few of these. Zelko has great food, but that floor... the servers stomp on the floor back and forth during the entire meal and shake the table.

kipsook
kipsook

@gustafsonD  I'd say several of these places on the list consider themselves 'destination restaurants' where people would brave snowstorms and traffic to eat with them. Agree with your point about Mockingbird and the older sports-coat set. Good list overall!

piscosour
piscosour

@Jay Francis Surprised you're not telling us now, Jay. That's not like you.

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