Cheap & Good Eats: Top 5 Budget Lunch Spots in the Heights

Photo by Troy Fields
Our No. 5 pick makes a Frito pie mac & cheese...Need we say more?
We've been rounding up our favorite budget lunch spots in different neighborhoods around town (See the complete list at the end of the post).

This time, we're moving to the antique shop, bungalow, and dining mecca that is the Houston Heights. There were certainly no shortage of great eateries before, but in the past year even more have been popping up -- like the much-anticipated fried chicken joint Funky Chicken, market-restaurant-hybrid Heights General Store, and soulful Cajun spot Mozelle's Cajun Seafood Market.

We're excited about the new guys, but we've narrowed down the list to a few tried-and-true favorites. Here's our list of the best cheap (less than $10) lunch spots that this area has to offer:

Note: For the purposes of this list, "the Heights" is defined as south of Loop 610 West, east of North Shepherd, north of the Katy Freeway and west of Airline Drive.

Honorable Mention: Hot dogs at Happy Fatz and the new storefront of Good Dog Houston, the Tex-Mex lunch specials at Teotihuacan Mexican Café, and gravy-dipped beef sandwiches at Chicago Italian Beef.

5. Jus' Mac

This mac-and-cheese haven's Frito-topped Chili Cheese Mac has made our critics' 100 Favorite Dishes for two years running. But it's not just the frito-pie hybrid that should have you headed there. There are plenty of other gut-busting-in-a-good-way macaroni and cheeses to be had -- like the Tikka, loaded with spicy chicken masala and pepperjack cheese; or the Homerun, stuffed with colby-jack and an all-beef hot dog. A personal skillet will run you between $4.75 and $9 (that's for the decadent Friday-only crab macaroni), and large salads and loaded paninis can be had for $5.95 and $7.95 to $8.95, respectively. But who are we kidding? You're gonna get the mac', right?

4. Chiloso's Taco House

Chiloso's house-made tortillas are things of legends -- fat, fluffy and warm, we love them stuffed with eggs, chorizo, potatoes, and salsa. Luckily for us, the taco spot serves up their infamous breakfast tacos 'til close (3:00 p.m Tuesday through Saturday, 2:30 p.m. on Sundays).

But really, we think their lunch tacos are just as good. Grab a spot on the patio (when it warms up) and dive into a couple of tacos ($2.69 to $3 each) loaded with piping-hot fillings like tender pollo verde, carne guisada, and beef fajita. Or try the daily lunch specials -- think chicken flautas or quesadillas served with rice, beans, and all the fixin's -- for just $6.55.

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Location Info

Jus' Mac

2617 Yale, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Chiloso's Taco House

701 E. 20th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

El Gallo De Jalisco

3220 White Oak Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Teotihuacan Mexican Cafe

1511 Airline, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Funky Chicken

181 Height Blvd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Heights General Store

350 W 19th St, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Mozelle's Cajun Seafood Market - CLOSED

126 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Good Dog Houston

903 Studewood St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Happy Fatz

3510 White Oak, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Chicago's Italian Beef

1777 Airline, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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While Asia Market is in the heights, Esther's definitely is not.  I'm sure the food is good, but I'm not driving up Yale to 45 to eat if I just want something in my neighborhood.  I'm sure Esther's is good, but I think you are eschewing better neighborhood options.

What about Papa Geno's, or Tacos A Go Go, or Carter and Cooley?  How about Thai Lanna, on the fringe of the Heights, which makes some excellent cashew ginger chicken, and Thai dumplings?


@rgwalt Thank you -- you're totally right about Esther's. I had it on a list of Heights area restaurants and forgot to remove it when I changed the boundaries. 

Look out for the others as we do expanded Heights area lists.


Bourdain is right about a Frito Pie: it is indeed a "warm bag of crap".

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