Top 10 Restaurants in Downtown Houston

Categories: Top 10

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Photo by telwink
New restaurants and bars are opening in downtown Houston faster than we can keep up, thanks to a renaissance around the Market Square Park area that's bringing new life to downtown's north side. But that's not the only part of downtown that's blossoming -- nor are those new restaurants the only game in town.

Note: For the purposes of this post, downtown is defined as the 1,178-acre area bounded by I-45, Highway 59 and I-10.

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Photo by Troy Fields
Niko Niko's in Market Square Park.
Honorable mention:

Treebeard's, for holding it down with badass red beans and rice since 1978; Hearsay, for helping lead the revitalization charge on Market Square and concocting delicious cocktails; Niko Niko's, for offering pitas in the park; Mia Bella, for hosting the best brunch on Main Street; Macondo, for serving excellent Colombian cuisine and coffee; Kobecue, for bringing Korean fusion to the heart of downtown; and Spindletop, for boasting the best view in the city.

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Wings and cocktails at Goro & Gun.
10. Goro & Gun / Batanga

Because these two restaurants are still so new, it's risky to put them any higher on the list, but they both deserve a lot of credit for bringing something bold and new downtown. Batanga offers a modern take on tapas and a beautiful patio to enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner on Market Square. Goro & Gun is the city's first full-scale ramen shop, but also offers a menu of pan-Asian-inspired dishes and a cocktail program to rival that at Anvil, plus outdoor seating on this newly-busy stretch of Main Street.

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MKT Bar by night.
9. MKT Bar

Dining inside MKT Bar is slightly akin to an out-of-body experience. You're in a familiar Houston institution (Phoenicia Speciality Foods, which adjoins MKT Bar) and those are definitely Houston's streets outside, but there's an urban European feel to the scene that's unusual and appealing. Credit the long, sleek marble bar and its eccentric wine and beer selection, or the gelato case and menu of Lebanese-inspired pizzas. Grocery shopping in the Phoenicia -- the United Nations of food -- only adds to the fun, while live music in the evenings and specials like MKT Bar's popular steak night keep it busy every night.

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Photo by cosmic_omar
The Lake House at Discovery Green sits on the opposite side of Kinder Lake.
8. The Grove / The Lake House

These two restaurants in plush downtown park Discovery Green are both owned by the Schiller-Del Grande group, although they each offer different experiences. Enjoy an upscale dinner inside the architecturally stunning Grove, which provides a beautiful view onto the park by day or night. For something far more low-key, get a burger and fries from the fast-casual Lake House and take in fun from the sprawling lakeside deck.


Location Info

Goro & Gun

306 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Batanga

908 Congress Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

MKT BAR

1001 Austin St., Houston, TX

Category: Music

The Grove

1611 Lamar St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Grove

1611 Lamar St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Burger Guys - CLOSED

706 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bombay Pizza Co.

914 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse

1510 Texas St., Houston, TX

Category: Music

Hubcap Grill

1111 Prairie St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Irma's

22 N. Chenevert St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Line & Lariat

220 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Quattro

1300 Lamar St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Oxheart

1302 Nance St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
32 comments
Nojusticenopiece
Nojusticenopiece

I hope the next critic doesn't feel the need to mention 20 restaurants on his or her TOP TEN LIST!

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

I love the atmosphere at Grove, and that's where the love ends. The food is a real drag and feels like a waste of money. Lake House is alright, but I'd replace with Perbacco.


Bombay Pizza is at the top of my tentative shit-list, pending resolution of the wage theft lawsuit against them.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Irma's over Vic & Anthony's is just silly.

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

Lets have any of these places that will still be in business in a year take a step forward...whoa whoa Goro & Gun/Batanga , not so fast......

Joshua Justice
Joshua Justice

Les grivals is closed and Stanton's isn't downtown.

Lauriston Brewster
Lauriston Brewster

Frank's pizza, Zero's (across the from HPD HQ), Stanton's city bites, any bahn mi place in mid-town

DominicWalsh
DominicWalsh

Can't disagree with Oxheart or the Grove.  Great choices.  I can't agree with Goro & Gun/Batanga already on the top 10 for the best downtown.  I believe it's way too early for such a distinction.

jeffbalke
jeffbalke topcommenter

The Goro & Gun/Batanga choice seems very premature. Macando really deserves to be in the top 10.

vonTafeldienst
vonTafeldienst

17 at the Sam Houston Hotel has some pretty good grub

tinyhands
tinyhands

I count 13, not including honorable mentions.

Matthew
Matthew

so with you leaving, what will become of the traditional summer event: top 100 dishes?!?

DominicWalsh
DominicWalsh

@texmex01While I believe that Goro & Gun/Batanga will be around in a year, I find it almost unimaginable that so many other establishments weren't worthy of the top 10 while they are/were.  I believe it is way too early for Goro & Gun/Batanga to be considered worthy of such a list while other restaurants must be scratching their heads, thinking - "We've been around 4, 6, 8 years.  How do we not get consideration and this brand new spot makes the list???" 

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editortopcommenter

@DominicWalsh @jeffbalke  Yeah, I knew there'd be some dissent there. But the two restaurants are also far too interesting to disregard entirely. And I honestly feel that with time, they'll be working their way up this list -- which is why I went with a No. 10 slot instead of an honorable mention.

DominicWalsh
DominicWalsh

@kshilcutt @DominicWalsh @jeffbalke Thank you for replying.  Perhaps if the list was about the '10 Most Interesting Restaurants Downtown' I might consider agreeing with you.  But regardless if they are interesting or not, I don't understand how that qualifies them to be legitimately listed as one of the 'Top 10.'  Regardless, it's your list...not mine.

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@DominicWalsh @Kylejack  

And the winner is ... Kylejack. As he said, there is no time component in this.  Although the restaurants mentioned haven't been around long, they've been around long enough for a diner to make repeat visits and consider them Top 10.

DominicWalsh
DominicWalsh

@Kylejack OK.  Gotcha.  Even by Katharine's writing 'the city's first full scale ramen shop' doesn't need to have great ramen. Makes perfect sense.  So the top 10 best bakeries can sell mediocre pastries. The top 10 steakhouses can have awful beef.  And if the best overall doesn't require a time component at all, I'd like to see how we'd all react if one of the restaurants would make the list before they even open their doors for business.  If you make the overall top 10 list, you have to be the best overall.  I'm quite confident that I'm understanding the nature of the rating.  It's pretty simple.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@DominicWalsh @Kylejack @kshilcutt @jeffbalke Now you're getting hyper-sensitive and offensive. "Very best overall downtown" has no time component. It is the very best overall downtown.

There are many delicious things at Goro that aren't ramen at all, such as the squid ink gnocchi, the shishito peppers, and the brussel sprouts.

DominicWalsh
DominicWalsh

@Kylejack @DominicWalsh @kshilcutt @jeffbalke If you think that I'm being hyper-technical, then I feel sorry for you.  Maybe I can explain this with sock puppets and a chalkboard.  The Top 10 most expensive restaurants would related to price.  The Top 10 most beautiful restaurants would relate to decor.  The Top 10 friendliest would relate to customer service.  So the Top 10 restaurants downtown would mean that these spots are the very best you can find (overall) downtown.  And my point is - if a restaurant opens in March and makes the 'very best list' by May, it's premature...especially when we all know they opened before their ramen was really ready for the masses.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@DominicWalsh @kshilcutt @jeffbalke If you want to be hyper-technical about the title, then what does time have to do with it at all? The top 10 are the top 10, even if they've just arrived.

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