The Five Best Hidden Restaurant Gems in Hillcroft

Categories: Local Spotlight

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Photo courtesy Darband
Check out the kabobs at our No. 5 choice.
Two weeks ago, I highlighted some of my favorite relatively unknown restaurants in Chinatown for your eating pleasure. There are so many spots there, it was hard to narrow it down to just five, but before I revisit even more delicious and authentic hole-in-the-wall eateries on Bellaire Boulevard, I thought I'd detour and scope out some hidden favorites in the Hillcroft neighborhood, sometimes referred to as Sharpstown.

I've also heard the area referred to as the Mahatma Gandhi District or Little India due to the large Indian population there. As such, the neighborhood--whatever you want to call it--is rife with Indian and Pakistani restaurants.

When I approached local ethnic food guru Chris Frankel, formerly the beverage director of RDG + Bar Annie but currently eating his way across the United States, about checking out some lesser-known spots around Hillcroft, he presented me with a single criterion: They can't all be Indian places. In spite of its reputation as an Indian neighborhood, the strip centers up and down Hillcroft are full of other ethnic cuisines that don't get enough media attention for being cheap, unique and, most importantly, totally tasty.

Here are some of the best.

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Photo by JC Reid
Turmeric infuses every morsel of tender lamb at Darban.
5. Darband ShishKabob
Open since 1986, Darband claims to be the oldest Persian restaurant in Houston. Regardless of whether it's actually the oldest, it is one of the best. For just $6.95, you can get a hearty plate of ground beef kabobs with bread, grilled tomatoes and herbs. From what I've heard the prices have hardly changed since the place first opened, and the food has continually gotten better and better. Even more impressive than the kabobs is the lamb shank, marinated in turmeric and garlic, and so tender it falls off the bone with little prodding. Oh, and the whole lamb shank is only $8.95. Try finding that value inside the Loop.

This story continues on the next page.


Location Info

Darband Shish Kabob

5670 Hillcroft, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bijan Persian Grill

5922 Hillcroft, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Bismillah Restaurant

5702 Hillcroft Ave, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Hot Breads Bakers and Confectioners

5700-A Hillcroft, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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20 comments
Amber Emam
Amber Emam

Barbara Oppen please please do not let the statistics keep you away from this street. Hillcroft NORTH of 59 is not the Hillcroft of SOUTH of 59. All of these restaurants are within a few blocks of each other. You will be pleasantly surprised by this short strip of businesses that take you all over the world. glad my favorite was #1!

CR250
CR250

In Hillcroft...sometimes referred to as Sharpstown...Katherine, Hillcroft is a street, not a place.  Sharpstown development started in the late 1940's and is one of the country's first massive suburban developments and was deveolped by Frank Sharp who also developed Oak Forest.  The original Sharpstown section one essentially starts at the corner of Hillcroft and Bellaire.  Google Frank Sharp, Sharpstown Mall and the Sharpstown Scandal.    Many, many, many native Houstonians hail from all parts of Sharpstown.  I am 50, grew up in Sharpstown, went to Sharpstown High School, witnessed a neighborhood dramatically change over a period of 20 years, still live close to the area and never ever, have I heard Sharpstown referred to as The Hillcroft.    Is that what the Foodies are calling the Indian/Paki stretch of Hillcroft from Westpark to 59?

Stacie Arthur
Stacie Arthur

Hieu Trong Do, Nomah Sirf Nomah, Emy Aninzo-Wong, Tammy Price..look who made #5.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

How on earth could ignore Schwarma King, Bombay Sweets, and Busy boy deli? My goodness this list is sorely lacking.

Barbara Oppen
Barbara Oppen

Sharpstown is the number one neighborhood in Houston with the most incidents and criminal activity. Although I'm interested in those restaurants, I wouldn't go because of the neighborhood they're in. :-(

Bryant Revels
Bryant Revels

Darband is one of my Favs...glad to see it on the list.

erichenao
erichenao topcommenter

Darband for the win! The "bread" there that's served with the dishes is freaking amazing and fresh fresh freshly made!

Kelsey
Kelsey

Great call on all these, especially on Hot Breads, a French-Indian place where the family has been baking three generations doing savories as well as sweets. 

They don't do naan (as Houstonia erroneously claimed recently) but if you're looking for a chicken tikka croissant, or vindaloo puff pastry, Hot Breads has you covered for a couple bucks.

del.martinis
del.martinis topcommenter

We live on the crossroads of Hillcroft/Voss and wouldn't want to live anywhere else.  Great pick of places, among so many more that most people don't suspect.

fiorello
fiorello

Hillcroft has long been one of our best food streets!!

Good job.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@CR250  Yes, I've heard a lot of people refer to that neighborhood as simply "Hillcroft." I realize it's a long street, but when people are talking about eating "in Hillcroft" that's the neighborhood they're referring to. I think maybe identifications evolve. Also, my name is Kaitlin, not Katherine, but I see your point.

lothario
lothario

@CR250

Yes, agreed, "On Hillcroft" please! not "in Hillcroft" or even the "Hillcroft neighborhood", as the street is one of Houston's longest N/S thoroughfares.


KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@gossamersixteen  I feel like all those places are too well-known to be in a "hidden gems" roundup! Especially Bombay Sweets, though it is one of my favorites. These are all places that we've written about very little, if at all.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@KaitlinS @gossamersixteenOk, fair enough.  :)  10 to 1 says you've never had the crispy chicken sandwich at busy boy though (it's halal and probably one of the best I've ever had).

lothario
lothario

@gossamersixteen @KaitlinS Interesting place, that. I recall the original owner saw himself as a mega-franchising star and gave it the innocuous and crappy name 'Busy Boy', before photographing all his food professionally, and then opening to a never very busy room. It stood out like an odd duck on Hillcroft, but I have to try it now that Arabic is on the windows and the menu has suddenly come to its senses.

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