Five Things the Houston Bar/Restaurant Scene Is Missing

Categories: Off the Wall

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Photo by Diana Schumate
Where are all our great delis?!
Let's get one thing straight: Houston has a pretty rockin' restaurant scene.

This is largely thanks to the sheer number of restaurants we have in town (by some estimates, one of the highest numbers per capita in the country) and the huge variety of ethnic food available.

Still, there are some areas for improvement. We asked the Twitterverse what they think the Houston bar and restaurant scene is lacking, and responses poured in. Pizza and authentic Thai food were two popular suggestions, along with nose-to-tail restaurants (RIP, Feast), Eastern European fare and anything worthy of two-to-three Michelin stars.

Based on your suggestions and our own unsatisfied cravings, we've compiled a list of what this great city is still missing, restaurant-wise. We're fairly certain that if we could just master this few areas...we'd be pretty darn near perfect.

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Photo by Stegop
This. Where is Houston's great Moroccan food?
5. Downtown Nightlife
With the exception of the 300 block of Main Street and Market Square Park, Downtown Houston is pretty lackluster. Drive any out of town visitor from New York, Chicago or even cities like St. Louis or San Antonio, and they'll be confused by the absence of after-hours happenings downtown. The majority of Downtown Houston is made up of office buildings and parking garages, all of which shut down after dark, leaving most of the area a wasteland. The revitalization of Main Street and Market Square Park is definitely helping the matter, but there's still a large area between there and Midtown that only sees action during the day. For the fourth-largest city in the country, the vast majority of our downtown sure isn't that exciting.

4. Moroccan Food
Houston used to have a few Moroccan restaurants, but they slowly shuttered, and with them went our North African feasts filled with tagines, couscous and orange flower water. Moroccan food is surprisingly approachable; One of the most popular dishes in the country is chicken with lemons and green olives cooked in a tagine, a traditional pot with a conical top (tagine is also the name of the dish). Houstonians would love that! We'd also love pastillas--essentially meat pies--lamb cooked with prunes, preserved lemons, vegetable couscous and sweet treats made with a multitude of almond paste. So where are all the great Moroccan restaurants?

This story continues on the next page.

Location Info

Local Foods

2555 Kirby, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Phoenicia Specialty Foods

12141 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Revival Market

550 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

House of Pies

3112 Kirby, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Spanish Flower Mexican Restaurant

4701 N. Main, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Chapultepec Lupita

813 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Katz's Deli and Bar

616 Westheimer St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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91 comments
Niki Marshall
Niki Marshall

More Indian food up North, and more restaurants that deliver.

Jorge Delaflor
Jorge Delaflor

Different types of music, people need to stop being so narrow minded in Houston. Any other major city people party and dance to all types of music old or new. In Houston people are like "if it's not on the radio, then it's not cool" even if the song sucks.

Danny Rios
Danny Rios

Originality, quit bringing in these Austin hipster franchises

h_e_x
h_e_x

I understand that people in the inner loop want more choice, but they do realize that everything they want does exist, it's just not close to them. Want to know why they aren't close to them? Because rent is getting pretty steep within the inner loop, meaning that the people moving there are contributing to the problems that they bemoan. You can't have everything.

kflann06
kflann06

Houston has more parking than most major cities.  However, it doesn't have any reliable form of public transportation that all other cities do have!  If we could get around using public transportation we wouldn't need to pay valets to park our cars.

TheBestCritic1
TheBestCritic1

NUMBER ONE NEED....  Get those damn bloody sucking, car scavenging, "not responsible for damage or thief", valet slugs out of the way!!!  Love the comments in this article.  It's not a convenience to the customers, it's an INCONVENIENCE for customers.  Valets are to be used when the parking is not available and remote parking must be used.  In Houston it's only used as a revenue stream.  Why do you need a valet when you can park 10-30 feet from the front door of the restaurant????

Restaurants save the up-close parking for the valets and make customers how prefer not to turn their car over to perfect strangers who can have their way with your car and NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR DAMAGE OR THEFT!!!  I've had several things stolen out of my car at what's considered "nice upscale restaurants" (Del Frisco's and Marriott in Sugar Land), from a bluetooth ear piece to a $229 Navigation System DVD.

The other night I parked in a "coned" valet spot, the valet (not a restaurant employee)  ran over to my car and started barking at me.  I told him the parking was for the strip center and he was blocking public space.  He continue to argue so I gave $5 and told I didn't want him touching my car, smiled and said "OK" and took my money.  The parking was 20 feet from the front door.

At Au Petit Paris they block the PUBLIC STREET PARKING with cones and then charge you $5 to park you car on the city streets.  I explained to the valet guy he legally couldn't do that, but he could barely understand English.  Won't ever be going back there!!

toddk63
toddk63

Downtown does not have a single Indian restaurant.  Bombay Pizza does not count.  I eat there weekly for the burgers and pizza which are good . They have only a couple of mediocre Indian items.  There is a sign up the street for a "Bombay Grill"- Coming Soon.  I hope it is decent

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Actual Szechuan/Hunan restaurants outside of Bellaire would be nice, so sick of Americanized overly fried nasty food that masquerades as Chinese. But I guess in Texas "pepper steak" and "sweet and sour pork" is still considered by many a redneck as exotic?!? 

And I'll second the notion that a good curry house is needed, red lion is not what I deem good.  I want a good vindaloo, rogan josh,  or a good Pakastani pasande not effing butter chicken and warmed over weak tikka masala -- and agreed it would make a killing especially with good beers on tap.

rasclot123
rasclot123

Parking?  Downtown Houston has plenty of parking, along the street.  Houston needs more greasy spoons.  I'm a fan of Maxwell Street Grill on Almeda.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

24 hour restaurants, (or at least the one's open beyond 2 a.m.)?  We also have Mai's, Biba's, BB's, Fu Fu cafe, Theo's and LITERALLY every Taqueria.  Have you never tried Ruchi's, El Alteno or any of the other vast multitudes of places after 2 a.m.?  As someone who used to frequently dine at that hour, there were always plenty of options.  (RIP Mama's Cafe on Westheimer)

birchbein
birchbein

We sorely lack Churrascarias and Farm to Table Concepts and Cupcakeries!

mark.t.tran
mark.t.tran

a lot of this exists outside the loop, step outside your bubble people!

paval
paval topcommenter

-More ethnic would be great, spread around town so parking is not as much as a problem.

- problem with parking is also due to areas becoming hot for a while and then subsiding. Washington was like that, Midtown was and is again like that, Galleria has always been like that. not worth it to invest in an expensive garage. Some cities I know have parking garages in entertainment areas, but if the areas keep moving garages wont be able to.

Building city centres all over the Greater Houston Area, may seem artificial to me, but it may help reducing congestion in some parts of the city, by keeping the Johnny Cowboys from the suburbs in the same. And of course, i bet you that if parking in Downtown Houston or Midtown would be 20 bucks an hour like in NY, people would find very quick, that there is a different possibility, cabbing it, metro rail, metro bus, etc. Which would also cause less drunk drivers on the street. (quite frankly, how many times you drive into town, start drinking and then take the car with you, because you do not want to have to come the next day and get it? If you do not have the car with you that temptation is gone and you as a danger to others too)

- better quality quick grub. Not only pizzas, tacos, hamburgers. Banh Mi is a good alternative. Need more alternatives.

- better and more bakeries. Almost everywhere in the world you have a corner bakery (and to my great disappointment the recently arrived Corner Bakery chain is more of Madeleine copy cat than what you would expect), you can walk to and get good bread. Here you have three locations of El Bolillo, Common Bond (with no parking) and Riviera Bakery. Other than that you are lost. For 4million people definitely not enough. Asking some German Bakers to come over and open stores here. But i want Italian, French and Czech Bakeries too

-  more real Mexican. Being the neighboring country I would like to have food from every region in Mexico. Right now only Hugo's hones pan-mexican food. The rest is mostly Tex-Mex. 


BobbyFreshpants
BobbyFreshpants topcommenter

Depending on your interpretation of quality but Supreme Sandwiches does very basic but good sandwiches and very very cheap!

Lacey Molina
Lacey Molina

Hawaiian food! I moved here from Utah last year and was surprised it wasn't anywhere to be found in Houston. I just thought it was everywhere...I'm considering driving to Austin for a chicken katsu plate with mac salad.

666_
666_

how about good, authentic hoagies, grinders, Italian sandwiches?

William Cody Lincicome
William Cody Lincicome

A CHEESE BAR!!! I'm looking to open here in Houston in the next year, so BRIE on the look out!

Andria S Ward
Andria S Ward

More breakfast dives and mom and pop steak places. A great German restaurant would be great, too. I agree with Ryan, K&Z's is to die for!

raceytay82
raceytay82

1. bagels bagels bagels and gooood cream cheese. There are literally two places in the inner/outer loop. 


2. good non-chain authentic italian restaurants and bakeries


3. more authentic ethnic food period. you don't need to "tex-ify" everything although mexican and tex-mex is one of my favs!


4. delis


5. more quality non-chain coffee shops outside of montrose


6. more healthy options

R Anthony Rodriguez
R Anthony Rodriguez

We have a good share of delis for being in the south. More 24 hour Restaurants and parking is a definite must. I like that Houston is spread out and not confined like other cities. That being said better transportation Also a must

vonSchliessen
vonSchliessen

@toddk63 You could say Montrose, next to downtown, has Indian....Indika (tho many Indians would protest that it ain't real Indian). Or Shiva in West U...tho many would say it's mediocre. But no one lives Downtown anyway. And those who would appreciate an Indian lunch are few among the hamsters scrambling back to their desks within 60 minutes of being un-caged.

Gretsky
Gretsky

@gossamersixteen 

Yeah agree with the commenter earlier who said that real Chinese BBQ inside the loop with minimalist veggies would be welcome.

Honestly, very few people would like real Szechuan cooking.

C051n3blu3
C051n3blu3

@FattyFatBastard Second that RIP for Mama's.  Best CFS I ever had so drunk off my ass it wasn't until reading your post that I verified that it was indeed on Westheimer)

ClaghornStag
ClaghornStag

@BobbyFreshpants 

More Aussie restaurants! Bangers and Pies and those breakfasts that leave you weeping behind sunglasses!

Brazos
Brazos

Sugar Land has Bagel Express. Made from scratch. Excellent.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@Gretsky @gossamersixteen Actually Mala and other real Szechuan places do quite a bit of business. You want Chinese BBQ go to long sing market by BBVA compass stadium, best around.. It's a bit of a hole in the wall so don't bring the squeamish with you. Whole duck is like $13-15! 

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@tadeusz Actually, it would appear they are currently closed; albeit only roughly a year ago.  They've been around at several addresses over the last decade.

Gretsky
Gretsky

@FattyFatBastard @tadeusz ....wrong again...Fatty. Albeit a great guess. Keep trying.... actually

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

@Gretsky Exactly what do you think I'm wrong about?  Last review is showing to be in November 2012.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

It's not logic. It is knowing how to use technology...

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