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Restaurants / Lists

Houston’s 10 Hottest Restaurants for Summer — Where to Eat Right Now

From a Dramatic Harvey Return to Trendy Dumplings to Hipster Havens

BY // 06.05.19

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.

It’s palpably, unavoidably summer time here in Space City, and the foodie scene is heating up. And it’s not just hot new restaurants hitting the scene, from secret coffee shops to authentic ethnic spots making their mark. Some Houston treasures are being reborn, and others are getting some much-deserved love from major publications.

Reef

Acclaimed seafood spot Reef was left adrift after Hurricane Harvey. Now, it’s comeback city for Reef in Clutch City. The restaurant made its triumphant return recently with the promise of chef Bryan Caswell’s memorable dishes.

There’s a bevy of new menu items that have yet to be revealed, but you can bank on fresh-caught Gulf Coast fish. Old school favorites include steamed mussels with Shiner, snapper carpaccio and sweet potato ravioli — and who can forget Reef’s signature fried mac n cheese?

Indigo

Indigo has been a shining star on the Houston foodie scene for awhile — no surprise, since its chef Johnny Rhodes was nominated for Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Award Foundation just this year.

But the intimate, 13-seat restaurant, which curates meals with resounding cultural insights about African and African American history just earned another nod. It landed a coveted spot on Food & Wine’s list of Best New Restaurants 2019. Rhodes’ techniques wowed with his perfect execution of neo-soul dishes like potato ashcakes.

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Trendy Dumpling

What’s in a name? Well, everything at Trendy Dumpling. The brainchild of Spicy Girl and Wula Buhuan’s creators, Trendy Dumpling opened last month to satisfy those salivating over soup dumplings and more.

The authentic Sichuan cuisine ranges from your crispy pan-fried pork dumplings to steamed veggie dumplings, plus a broad array of protein-driven dishes like tea smoked duck with cucumber, orange chicken, Mongolian beef and more.

trendy dumpling
Trendy Dumpling has quite the broad menu.

Blood Bros. BBQ

Just this spring, renowned smoked meat joint Blood Bros. BBQ was honored by Texas Monthly as one of The Top 25 New Barbecue Joints in Texas! The Bellaire hot spot snagged a slot largely due to its Thai chile-spiced boudin sausage.

Asian twists on classic barbecue flavors solidified Blood Bros. BBQ’s prowess, run by brothers Terry and Robin Wong, plus pitmaster Quy Hoang, who’s been endorsed by none other than Chris Shepherd at a popular pop-up. Expect the epic smoked turkey banh mi with house-made chicken liver pate to knock your socks off.

Maggie May’s Coffee

If this offbeat coffee shop isn’t the definition of hipster, we don’t know what is. The pint-sized cafe is tucked into The Heights’ resident vinyl hangout, Black Dog Records on 19th Street. The specialty coffee shop is definitely hip enough to mesh with the eccentric environs.

Offerings include hot and cold espresso-based coffee drinks, nitro cold brews, hot and cold flavored loose leaf teas, sparkling Italian sodas, frappes and smoothies galore.

La Lupita Taco Restaurant

This recently opened taco haven is legit — the kind of hidden gem that doesn’t even need a website to draw in business. La Lupita’s hand-made corn tortillas and Mexican eats —that’s right, not Tex-Mex — speak for themselves.

The authentic menu boasts complimentary charro beans that are truly out of this world, papa asada and wide range of tacos, making it the real deal. And you can wash it all down with an agua fresca.

Honest

This new Hillcroft addition comes from Honest’s humble beginnings back in 1975. The former family-run street cart was based out of Ahmedabad, then spread to Thailand and now the U.S. and Canada.

It’s no surprise that each and every dish is made from scratch and cooked to order. The menu really and truly harkens back to its roots, with chili garlic noodles, mango lassis, masala dosa and more.

honest indian restaurant
Honest is as authentic as it gets.

Burganic Hub

What’s all the hubbub about Burganic Hub? Well, the halal-heavy burger joint is passionate, free-range and organic fast food at its finest. It takes healthy to new heights without sacrificing any of that meaty flavor.

While the Original Burger comes with cheddar cheese and the aptly named Guilt Sauce, the next-level veggie burgers are guilt-free. Consider the vegetarian-approved falafel burger with tahini sauce, or the eggplant burger with homemade garlic tomato sauce and hummus.

P.king Authentic Chinese

This popular Bellaire classic has made its way to 3701 South Shepherd, and Chinese food lovers couldn’t be more grateful. It’s been called the best Chinese food ever by some, thanks to its fresh veggies, generous portions and affordable prices.

The underrated restaurant also offers up some Thai and Vietnamese fare. Tuck in for some crispy tofu vermicelli, crab puffs, curry fried rice chicken and more.

Pondicheri

With the news of Montrose mainstay Indika’s imminent closing, it only seems fitting that Houstonians flock to Pondicheri for their tantalizing Indian food fix. After all, the former chef-owner of Indika, Anita Jaisinghani, is the mastermind behind the River Oaks favorite.

The industrial-chic restaurant serves up unique, Mumbai-inspired dishes. And you can even get breakfast all day, and inventive breakfast at that — masala eggs with carrot paratha, keema and eggs and coconut pancakes. But if you’re in for something even more filling, go for the coastal fish curry kalonji lamb chops or more off the dinner menu.

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