Restaurants / Lists

Where to Eat in Houston Right Now

New Heights and EaDo Restaurants Dominate the Summer Hot List With Barbecue, Fried Chicken and More

BY // 07.12.18

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 at a constant swelter, it’s time to check out July’s hottest must-eat Houston restaurants.

Nobu

After two years of persistence and patience, Houston foodies can finally dine at Nobu. The most hyped sushi hotspot in the world is buzzing in its serene Galleria mall setting.

Founding chef Nobu Matsuhisa will tell you his cuisine is both Nobu and Nikkei style — a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines. The menu is chock-a-block full of originals, based around jalapeno, cilantro, onion, citrus and fresh fish.

Hot menu favorites include Nobu’s trendsetting miso black cod dish and rock shrimp tempura with ponzu butter or spicy cream. To cool things down, you can go for the red snapper sashimi or lobster ceviche. Whatever you choose, know this: it’s 100 percent Robert De Niro approved.

De Niro is a co-owner of the ever-spreading Nobu concept.

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  • J McLaughlin - Card Deck 1 - Animal Print
  • J McLaughlin - Card Deck 1 - Animal Print
  • J McLaughlin - Card Deck 1 - Animal Print

Hughie’s Vietnamese Tavern & Grille

Hughie’s Heights

One thing’s for sure. This Vietnamese gastro pub’s shaking beef will leave you shook. It’s the go-to order at this Asian-meets-American tavern with locations at 1802 W. 18th and 4721 Main. Hughie’s masters sizzle the savory cubes in a pan before sliding them on your plate, decked out with a kale salad.

The place is the perfect blend, ideal for an all-American burger and a beer or a traditional bahn mi sandwich and well, a beer. Hughie’s craft beer list is a mighty one, with breweries repping cities and towns all over Texas, from Brookshire to Magnolia. We’re talking sours, Saisons, IPAs, Scotch Ales and more.

Keep the daily specials in mind when you’re planning your tasty trip. Beers and wines get a little love with promos like $3 crafts and 50 percent off wine bottles, and special menu items pop up, too.

Street Food Thai Market

My, oh Thai. At this kicky hole-in-the-wall, what you see is what you get. The small market at 1010 W. Cavalcade sells all the Thai essentials, curries and snacks you could ever dream of. It’s low-key digs with colorful decor and bright foods.

The spicy Pad kee mao, or drunken noodles, are an all-time favorite, with ground pork and tons of fresh basil, and so is the tom yum noodle soup. The nuar nam tuck is another go-to, a grilled beef dish with mint and roasted lemongrass served over a bed of rice.

There’s some decent spice factor in the dishes, so you’ve got to go with the Thai green tea. And if you’re feeling a little adventurous, try a snack with Street Food Thai’s special butterfly-flavored seasoning.

Willow’s Texas BBQ

This one’s the height of Texas barbecue, an unassuming-yet-unmatched food truck propped up next to a Heights icehouse. You can find the savory, smoky setup at 1005 W. 19th Street outside of Big Star Bar. Drive up and dig in for pork spare ribs, jalapeno cheese sausage, prime brisket and more.

The bright red truck might be new on the scene, but the pit master’s been around town. The owner of this hidden gem (Willow Villarreal) is famed for his barbecue pop up stints at Grand Prize Bar in Montrose and his concessions at Wet ‘n’ Wild SplashTown.

You can go for the meaty pork ribs and smoke-bathed brisket market style or combo style. Stick around till 8 pm for the barbecue dish of your dreams. From then till 11:30 pm, you can dine off the Night Menu items such as tacos with your choice of meat and barbecue sauce aioli, or lightly sauced brisket sandwiched between two glazed jalapeno cheese donuts.

Blue Onyx Bistro

It’s safe to say that Blue Onyx is red-hot. The upscale seafood, steak and sushi spot at 4720 Richmond is getting rave reviews for its refined dishes and trendy, modern ambience. It’s high on the list of places to check out for a date night in Highland Village.

As it should be, with finds such as the chef’s special sea bass sprinkled with Parmesan and a red wine reduction sauce, a 35-day house-dried age ribeye steak with a peppercorn cognac demi-glace and a grouper filet with bacon wrapped scallops served in a ginger-key-lime sauce.

It’s a bit unusual for a sushi restaurant in that people talk about the plentiful portions at Blue Onyx. But we all know, the more, the merrier.

blue onyx bistro
Blue Onyx Bistro is a perfect date-night destination.

Pepper Twins

If you’re desperately seeking Szechuan, head to Pepper Twins. It’s your choice of which one to head to, but nothing quite compares to the OG Pepper Twins at 315 Fairview. It’s the perfect place to go when the munchies attack in Montrose.

It’s authentic, tasty and above all, spicy. Set your taste buds on fire without leaving your tongue completely burned. The flavor profile shines through on dishes like spicy fried chicken cubes, hot diving fish or spicy boiled fish with veggies.

The best part: Pepper Twins thrives on organic ingredients. There’s a health factor you don’t see at a lot of Chinese restaurants, even the higher end ones.

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

Do we really need to work hard to sell you on a fried chicken restaurant bold enough to put “World Famous” in its name? This unique hot and spicy fried chicken has made its way all the way to 1815 Washington Avenue from Memphis — and it brings plenty of devotees.

Gus’s World Famous is the hot — pun intended — spot for Southern, down-home chicken. The secret recipe for this chicken, which you should never confuse with Nashville Hot Chicken, is a whopping 60 years old. It’s got enough just kick to keep you coming back for more. And more. And more.

Gus’s claim to fame is legit. Juicy, tender chicken covered in soft, crunchy, crispy skin. There’s sprightly cole slaw, fresh green beans and greens, creamy mac n’ cheese. Check it out and see what the fuss is all about.

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
Gus’s Famous Fried Chicken knows it’s all about the chicken.

Truck Yard

We all know EaDo’s the new place to be. But in case you had any doubt that this is the most inspired part of Houston, get this. The brand new Truck Yard at 2118 Lamar is always jam-packed with people around an actual, all-real Ferris Wheel.

If that’s not enough of a draw, consider a rotating array of food trucks with everything from baos to burgers. And if you’re not big into surprises, there is a regular Philly cheesesteak menu, too.

The atmosphere really makes Truck Yard, with indoor seating full of tables and booths with standing room. Outside, the massive space has round tables and a series of truck beds-turned-seating for groups.

The second level has cornhole, ping pong and more. Game on.

La Vista 101

Here’s a little Houston restaurant 101: you hear about the inspired new spot at 1805 W. 18th Street, you check it out. Easy as that.

La Vista 101, the bold new brainchild of the now-shuttered La Vista, doesn’t disappoint.

From the baroque skull wall paper to the optical illusion carpeting, from the moment you walk in you know you’re like nowhere you’ve been before. The Mediterranean menu covers a broad swath of cultures and cuisines, from Greece and North Africa to Spain and Italy.

It’s heavy on pizza and pasta — like the standout wild boar fettucine Bolognese — but don’t call it Italian. Think grilled Spanish octopus, deviled eggs with smoked trout caviar, whole beer-can yard bird and beef tenderloin on house focaccia with bone marrow butter.

Calle Onze

Leave it to the founders of Edison & Patton to come up with a bright new idea. The masterminds behind that North Houston restaurant have just opened Calle Onze, a hip new spot for New Mexican cuisine at 222 W. 11th Street next to Eight Row Flint.

Go for the chips and salsa before you get to the main eats. It’s all about a mix of Mexican and Tex-Mex at Calle Onze, with dishes inspired by chef’s heritage with some innovative updates thrown in. You can count on mainstays like quesadillas, fajitas and tamales. But you can also expect the unexpected with chorizo and nopales ravioli, and compressed watermelon.

But don’t forget the drinking component of eating and being merry. The cocktail program here’s a real head turner. Think robust offerings based on 400 different bottles of agave spirits.

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