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Restaurants / Lists

Where to Eat in Houston Right Now

The City’s 10 Coolest Summer Restaurants

BY // 06.06.18

Editor’s note: The Houston restaurant scene is constantly changing, with new hotspots, must-try places and major foodie events coming along on a daily basis. Even the most dedicated eater can have trouble keeping up. Don’t worry, PaperCity has you covered.

With temperatures already heating up, it’s time to check out Houston’s best summer restaurants.  Here are June’s must-eat spots:

Wanna Bao

You wanna bao? How ’bout now? This spot for tasty Midtown munchies just opened last month. Take the trip to 2708 Bagby if you’ve got a craving for Shanghainese, or even Szechuan. It’s a pairing of the best of the best Chinese cuisine.

Wanna Bao is true to its name, cooking up delicious crispy bottom bao and traditional Chinese xiao long bao, also called soup dumplings. The authentic xiao long bao are anything but doughy or bland. They are thin-skinned and bursting with flavor.

Tender dancing pork belly and jasmine tea smoked duck are a must. Be adventurous and try the water-boiled fish. The name may make you a bit skeptical, but the tender, spiced fish filets won’t disappoint.

Pro tip: You get an 8 percent discount for paying in cash.

UB Preserv

Underbelly may have left a void in our lives after it closed this spring, but UB Preserv is here to fill it and your belly. Chris Shepherd’s latest is a microcosm of the Underbelly ethos, an intimate 80-seater with inspired dishes but a relaxed set of rules.

At 1609 Westheimer, UB Preserv’s just a few blocks from its iconic predecessor.  You’d better believe it’s got a major seafood tower. But overall, it’s more of a tapas joint, meant for sampling anything and everything, with delectable shareables like queso fundido with blood sausage and boudin shu mai.

They take this concept to the next level with dim sum-style brunch on the weekends. You can go for small options like fried pickles with masala ranch, medium-sized crawfish and noodles and even a whole roasted snapper.

Poitin

This hot spot’s new on the scene, and it’s already making quite the mark. It’s the kind of place you just have to try out after driving by, with a restored warehouse-vibe, massive windows and a huge patio in the heart of the Washington Avenue Arts District at 2313 Edwards.

The restaurant’s menu does the creative digs justice. It’s full of internationally inspired dishes. The slow-braised lamb neck’s emerged as an early favorite — it’s tender and served on a bed of cooked-to-perfection cauliflower couscous.

Another go to? Pick ya flavor pork skins, in either tomatillo-Guajillo, Cajun or Saigon kick.

Named for an ancient Irish spirit, it’s no surprise that Poitin is heavy on craft cocktails. Think the smoky Sancho with mezcal, Iago’s Patience with pisco and the Swayback with fennel liquor. Brunch launches in early June.

East Sandwich Hampton Co.

The hotly anticipated sandwich company has finally thrown open its doors in River Oaks District at 4444 Westheimer. So far, it’s welcomed eager Houstonians and even celebrity power couple Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott.

East Hampton is perhaps best known for its heavenly Lobster Roll, one fourth pound of Atlantic lobster knuckles and claws slathered with herbs, lemon zest and Old Bay Mayo. There’s even a toasty counterpart, the ooey-gooey Losbter grilled cheese with Havarti and sriracha dijonnaise.

These mighty sandwiches aren’t for the faint of heart, but there are smaller sides such as the classic clam chowder. Whatever your heart desires, don’t forget the buzzy-worthy Froze.

East Hampton Sandwich Co.
East Hampton Sandwich Co.’s dishes are anything but small.

 

Himalaya

Bring your own bottle of wine and be sure to bring your appetite to Himalaya at 6652 Southwest Freeway. It’s a haven for Indian and Pakistani dishes, vegetarian options included. The authentic restaurant is a longstanding favorite, but got an extra boost after a 2016 trip from Anthony Bourdain.

The extensive menu can be a bit overwhelming for beginners, but you simply can’t go wrong. There are seven different types of crisp, buttery naan, along with dozens of curries from house specials to fusions.

Steak Tikka is a big Bourdain highlight, melt-in-your-mouth tender pieces of beef marinated in aromatic spices and chargrilled perfectly. If chicken’s more your thing, you’ve got to go for Chicken Methi, a Punjabi dish with a creamy and spicy spinach, mustard green masala sauce.

Bungalow Heights

Head on over to Shady Acres for a taste of the brand-new Bungalow Heights at 1919 Beall. The spacious bungalow, surrounded by picnic tables on the long green lawn, doesn’t serve up your average bar food.

You’ve got your sweet and savory standards, like a big ass pretzel and sticky ribs. But then there’s the unexpected — bungalow poke, a Southwest-spin on the healthy Asian dish, and cowboy eggrolls with pulled pork and cheddar grits.

Stop by this little gem to watch the game, chill on the porch or camp out at a table outside.  

Lua Viet Kitchen

This new Vietnamese restaurant recently hit Montrose at 1540 West Alabama. A few blocks from The Menil and The Rothko Chapel, Lua Viet Kitchen’s crisp, clean architecture fits in well with the artistic hood.

People are shook over Lua Viet’s shaken beef, a Vietnamese classic. The meat is tender, flavorful, expertly seasoned and mixed with nice big garlic chunks. The restaurant doesn’t want to leave anyone out — there’s a superb tofu version, as well.

Diners are raving about the local Boomtown coconut iced coffee, a fresh alternative to the traditional café sua da, and the perfect complement to coconut sticky rice.

Padna’s Cajun Eatery

It’s Creole, it’s Cajun, it’s comfort. Most importantly, it’s your new crawfish spot. After a soft opening in late May, Padna’s is coming into its own with etouffee that’s more than worthy.

In a sea of fusion crawfish, Padna’s stands out for mudbugs that aren’t lathered in sauce but flavorful all on their own, with key spice mixes.

It’s gourmet and real, with an ambience of a crawfish oil out in the backyard.

Don’t forget about the sides, like green beans and potato salad with that same Cajun seasoning.  Laissez les bon temps rouler.

Padna's
Padna’s wouldn’t be Creole comfort without beignets.

 

Carmelo’s Cucina Italiana

After a recent renovation and new partnership with B&B Butchers owner Benjamin Berg, Carmelo’s is back and better than ever. The storied Italian restaurant at 14795 Memorial in The Energy Corridor brings the good ol’ classics along with some innovative delights.

The authentic Italian restaurant serves up light, fresh, and not-too-filling antipasti like Carmelo’s famous veal meatballs or the chef’s special rigatoni with mussels.

You can’t beat Carmelo’s traditional pastas such as the Spaghetti Pomodoro, Spaghetti alla Carbonara or Lasagna Bolognese. Don’t forget to sop up the sauce with the crispy, airy bread. 

Tea + Victory

This one’s a Space City first: a legit board game cafe. The Heights spot at 2030 East T.C. Jester has a lot to chew on, from its many dishes to its catalogue of more than 500 different games, fit for a variety of different skill sets and number of players.

Tea + Victory features a menu of updated English eats, like its signature Cottage Pie with ground beef and the fluffiest mashed potatoes. The Chicken Tikka Masala ranks as a favorite main dish, with lemon pepper popcorn as a must-try app or side.

Wash it all down with craft beer, wines, loose-leaf tea and local coffees, like the ever-popular lavender latte. Game on.

Home, chic home.

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