Top 10 Restaurants in Downtown Houston

Categories: Top 10

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Photo by Troy Fields
Mustard-roasted wild boar chop with sauerkraut at Line & Lariat.
3. Line & Lariat

Chef David Luna's modern Texas fare at Line & Lariat showcases the best the Lone Star State has to offer, from surf to turf. Try the Gulf-caught red snapper or cobia for lighter fare that doesn't skimp on flavor, or go whole hog with an antelope steak or mustard-roasted wild boar chop. You'll find everything from German and Mexican to cowboy and Cajun influences on the menu, which ranges from pulled pork tostadas (which make a great bar snack with a pint of locally brewed beer) to filé gumbo filled with Gulf shrimp and local chicken -- all of it served in a converted two-story bank lobby that's simply the most stunning dining room downtown.

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Photo by Mai Pham
Venison carpaccio at Quattro.
2. Quattro at the Four Seasons

Lunch is rather standard at this downtown hotel restaurant, offering Continental business fare. Dinner is where Italian-born chef Maurizio Ferrarese is allowed to shine, however, and when the prices reflect the quality of Quattro's simple, streamlined dishes and house-made pastas. Ferrarese's signature short rib ravioli with black truffle and corn purée is a favorite, as are his perfectly executed risotto dishes. Sunday brunch is a popular draw, too, with a lavish buffet that's justifiably famous.

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Roasted squash at Oxheart.
1. Oxheart

Chef Justin Yu joined forces with his pastry chef wife, Karen Man, to create a restaurant that's wholly Houston except for one notable thing: Instead of sprawl, the tiny Oxheart only seats 30 people. Yu and Man highlight locally grown produce and locally raised meats on their veggie-heavy menus, which change from week to week. Three different chef's tasting menus are available at night, priced from two affordable four-course menus to a more extravagant affair with seven courses. All three tasting menus are available with wine pairings, which are as joyfully unusual as the food: a sweet Blandy's Sercial Madeira paired with a dusky, savory sunflower seed soup, for example, or Kalin Cellars Semillon drunk with a rabbit saddle cooked with green garlic ash. Oxheart is one of the restaurants chiefly responsible for bringing waves of national attention to Houston's current dining scene, which is all the more satisfying given the restaurant's entirely humble setting and cozy appeal.

Check out our other Top 10 neighborhood lists:

Top 10 Restaurants in Montrose
Top 10 Restaurants in the Heights
Top 10 Restaurants in Rice Village
Top 10 Restaurants on Washington Avenue
Top 10 Restaurants in the East End
Top 10 Restaurants in the Galleria
Top 10 Restaurants in Midtown
Top 10 Restaurants in Memorial
Top 10 Restaurants in Upper Kirby
Top 10 Restaurants in Greenway Plaza
Top 10 Restaurants in The Woodlands
Top 10 Restaurants in Spring Branch
Top 10 Restaurants in Little India
Top 10 Restaurants in Far Northwest Houston
Top 10 Restaurants in Chinatown
Top 10 Restaurants in EaDo
Top 10 Restaurants in River Oaks
Top 10 Restaurants in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest
Top 10 Restaurants in Westchase
Top 10 Restaurants in the Third Ward
Top 10 Restaurants Near Hobby Airport
Top 10 Restaurants Near Intercontinental Airport



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Location Info

Goro & Gun - CLOSED

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


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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 editor

@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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