Alhambra Cafe makes legit shakshuka.
B.B. Italia is Benjamin Berg's spin on pasta.
You won't find a better pepperoni pizza than this one at B.B. Pizza.
Cielito Cafe adds Mexican flair to brunch.
Tamashi Ramen and Sushi offers the best of both noodles and rolls.
Killen's Steakhouse is open in The Woodlands.
Polanquito brings a piece of Mexico City to Houston.
The Rice Box finally has a River Oaks location.
Squable is open for bustling business.
Tropicales' cocktails are killer.
Editor’s note: The Houston restaurant scene is constantly changing, with new hotspots, must-try places and major food events coming along on a daily basis. Even the most dedicated foodie can have trouble keeping up. Don’t worry, PaperCity has you covered.
This season is most definitely a time of growth, and Space City’s showing it off more than ever, with new concepts coming from premier chefs and restaurateurs, including Benjamin Berg, Ronnie Killen and Bobby Heugel. And then there are the eager newcomers splashing onto the scene. Established and aspiring chefs always keep it fresh for foodies.
There’s no correct spelling or squabbles to be had here. Squable, the latest from dream team of cocktail crackerjack Bobby Heuguel and the ever-talented Justin Yu, has already made a mark after just a few weeks.
The Heights spot boasts a France-inspired cheeseburger full of gooey raclette, pork neck schnitzel and kona kampachi crudo, among others, courtesy of chef Drew Gimma of Better Luck Tomorrow. The old Southern Goods space will never be the same.
This long-awaited restaurant in The Woodlands does not disappoint. Meat maven and chef Ronnie Killen finally brought his delicious meats and eats to The Woodlands. The menu is massive, as expected.
Think the classic chicken-fried steak, Akaushi ribeye and filet mignon and pecan-smoked bone-in short rib with coffee barbecue sauce. It just wouldn’t be Killen’s without dessert. He delivers with crème brulee bread pudding and handmade macarons.
Washington Corridor welcomed this regional Mexican restaurant last month, and it’s been making waves ever since. Polanquito is, in, fact “little Polanco” — the Mexico City neighborhood where these taco experts hail from.
Owner Santiago Navarro and his brother, chef Diego Navarro, whip up dishes straight out of the Yucatan, Puebla and Veracruz provinces. Their flavorful, handmade corn tortillas might just be enough to make a flour tortilla fan reconsider their life decisions.
The Rice Box
River Oaks finally got its very own Rice Box, the Chinese-American sensation that’s been heralded for its locations in The Heights and Greenway Plaza. Another outpost of this “Chinese takeout from the future” is in the works.
It’s got all the traditional dishes you’d ever want, like General Tso’s Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken and Pepper Steak. Plus Orange Peeled Beef and House Fried Rice.
It’s all Mexican brunch and breakfast at this charming and unassuming home-turned-restaurant. People are already praising it as the best brunch in Houston, even though it only had its soft opening last month.
It’s no wonder why, when you consider the huevos divorciados, tostadas de aguacate, Cielito Bowl with yogurt, granola and fruit, plus authentic Mexican sweetbreads and cinnamon-y coffee.
Tropicales Cafe Y Comida
Havana has hit Houston, thanks to Tropicales. The Latin-influenced fare comes courtesy of Greenway Coffee Company owner David Buehrer, located over in West University. Coffee and cocktails are almost as key as the food here.
Avocado toast is amped up as pan con aguacate, gluten-free thanks to blue corn masa base. The house-made plantain chips are a specialty, and you can wash it all down with the perfect pairing for the aforementioned toast — the avocolada, with lime juice and rum.
Restaurateur and red-meat-master extraordinaire Benjamin Berg‘s reinvented Carmelo’s is up and running. B.B. Italia has officially taken over the space. It may be share the same regional cuisine as Carmelo’s, but the two are hardly alike. Imagine 50-plus dishes, ranging from standout pastas like grandma’s ravioli with short rib stuffing and marsala rags to fruity di mare with mussels, clams, shrimp and calamari.
But it’s not just the food that wows. You can enjoy one of the straightforward, classic Italian drinks at the massive horseshoe-shaped bar that sits front and center.
It opened alongside its interior eatery, a legit stop for authentic pizza to-go. Pizza is a big thing for Berg, a New Yorker. He made sure these specialty pizzas, which come in either 12 inches or 6 inches, plus calzones, rolls and subs, were done right.
Think The Tommy pizza with thick-cut bacon and a balsamic reduction, The Garden with onions, mushrooms and eggplants, and The Upstate with spicy buffalo chicken and bleu cheese. You can even get one of these pizza pies gluten-free for an extra $3.
Tamashi Ramen and Sushi
You’ll find a bounty of noodles at Tamashi, whether you go to the original or hit up the Holcombe restaurant or now 43rd Street one. This underrated chain may fall under the shadow of Tatsuya and Jinya, but it can definitely hold its own.
Think ramen with a skewer of six shrimp, spicy tonkatsu ramen, plus many signature sushi rolls like the Mt. Fuji with smoked salmon, avocado and jalapeno or the New Moon with peppered tuna and sweet chili sauce.
This recently opened hidden gem on Westheimer is all about Moroccan, Mediterranean and halal dishes. It’s an expansive list, covering appetizers, pastilla, soup and sandwiches — plus smoothies and even sweet crepes.
Favorites include the classic grape leaves stuffed with rice and tomatoes, beef shawarma plate with two choices of sided— fries, rice, tabbouleh, hummus, baba ganouj or salad — and lamb shank with saffron rice.