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Restaurants / Lists

Where to Eat in Houston Right Now

10 Must-Try Restaurants for September — It’s Pizza, an Old Fashioned General Store, Pho Power and More

BY // 09.14.18

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.

With the weather finally starting to cool down, it’s time to check out these cool, must-eat Houston restaurants.

Vibrant

This brand-new health-centric Montrose restaurant will have you feeling good inside and out. Vibrant took over the space of an old dry cleaner at 1931 Fairview, going from clean clothes to clean eating. Either way, you feel fresh and ready to take on the world.

But at Vibrant, clean doesn’t mean bland. It means powerful potions that are a little less witchcraft and a little more whimsical to promote health and energy. It means root veggie muffins that taste sweet and wholesome — ones that are made strictly out of almond, coconut, carrot and zucchini.

Breakfast runs from 7 to 4, allowing you to stop in even in the afternoons to snag coconut chia pudding or a savory toast with pasture-raised eggs. Eating clean never felt so easy.

One Fifth Mediterranean

It’s the latest to bear the torch for the One Fifth family, and it doesn’t disappoint. Chris Shepherd’s experimental Houston restaurant brings major Mediterranean and mezze vibes with small plates such as black shallot tehina and lamb tartare.

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It’s all about paying homage to cuisines from ancient lands with a savory-and-sweet seven-part menu. You can go on a sweeping “sightseeing tour” without ever leaving your seat at 1658 Westheimer. The entire table dives in for a sampling across the board.

Think classic dishes with a Shepherd twist. That’s three types of hummus, chicken shawarma, octopus with green chermoula, coffee-roasted beets,  lamb sweetbreads and more. And to move on to the actual sweets, you’ve got your baklava and your mezze, too — with chocolate hummus, a corn cookie and snacks.

Pizza Motus

Pizza Motus has roared into West University and it’s ready to rev you up with Roman-style pies and slices. Owner Will Gruy brings the verve from his former motorcycle days and his time in Italy.

This street pizza isn’t your New York, Chicago or even Neapolitan-style pie. It’s crisp and airy, cut into small rectangles and fermented with high-protein dough. You can have it Gruy’s way with San Marzano tomatoes and anchovies, go for something simple or try something decadent such as porcini mushrooms with truffle cream sauce.

The spot at 6119 Edloe also offers a variety of salads and sandwiches made with pizza bread. And don’t forget that this place is BYOB — with no corking fee.

pizza motus veggie pizza pile
Vegetarian pizza is best when it comes in a pile.

Saint Arnold Beer Garden & Restaurant

If you worship all things beer, this is the place for you. The brew masters at Saint Arnold built a cathedral for booze. You can spend heavenly afternoons in the chapel, each painted with a saintly motif, or sit out on the covered patio next to the brewery itself.

Outside, it’s an industrial chic vibe fitting with the neighborhood. Take your pick of picnic tables, Adirondack chairs and even place bets with your friends on bocce games.

They didn’t pull any punches with the menu, serving up heavyhitters like Texas Hot Fried Chicken, grilled lamb chops and fresh Gulf shrimp risotto. If you’re more into light bites, there’s chips and queso lovingly made with signature Santo beer, pretzel sticks and beyond. Bottoms up.

Neo Baguette

When it comes to The Heights, the restaurants just don’t stop coming. Neo Baguette is the latest in a long line of restaurants fueled by creative cuisine and eclectic environs in Houston’s hottest restaurant neighborhood. The building at 201 E 20th street is all restored brick walls and wood paneling, not to mention the chandeliers and orange leather banquettes.

Owner and chef Karim Kasri draws on his background — his culinary school training in France blended with his time in New York and his Moroccan heritage. Add that all up and you get traditional Italian and French dishes with some North African here and there.

This all-day cafe is big on, you guessed it, baguettes. They come from local bakery Kraftsmen Baking. For sandwiches, imagine merguez sausage with sautéed mushrooms and eggplant spread and chicken with avocado, manchego and roasted bell pepper. 

Peli Peli

We’ve got plenty of good eats here in the South, but you’ve got to search far and wide for solid South African dishes. Peli Peli is the answer, an intimate, romantic restaurant in The Galleria area — with another one set to soon open in the new Whole Foods 365.

Peli Peli means Bird’s-Eye Chili, a South African spice that runs rampant through the fusion menu. It’s a merry marriage of the continent’s seasonings, marinades and spices and Portuguese, Dutch and Asian influences.

Bobotie makes for the signature shareable: curried ground beef with carrot bredie, flaky pastry crust and mango chutney. For entrees, people rave about the Chicken Espetada and the Cape Town Skillet — an enticing mix of tiger prawns, scallops, Peli Peli shrimp, mussels and calamari.

peli peli
Head to Peli Peli Kitchen for casual South African fare.

Flower Child

Newly opened Uptown Park restaurant Flower Child isn’t just for the hippies among us. There’s something for everyone at 1101 Uptown Park, the crowd-pleasing fast-casual import from Arizona.

You can expect starters, salads, bowls, plates, wraps and a series of proteins: steak, chicken, salmon or tofu. So while die-hard vegetarians can eat gloriously and gluten-free with dishes like Vegan Poke with tofu, marinated beet, pickled mushrooms, wasabi peas and more, carnivores can chow down on the The Rebel wrap with grass-fed steak, charred onion and port salut cheese.

If you want, you can pair  your flavorful, eco-friendly choices with Japanese Mango Sencha Green tea, a crisp chardonnay, a local beer or even a too-good-to-be-true “Skinny beer.” Bottoms up.

Henderson & Kane General Store

This general store may have just opened recently, but it’s super old-fashioned. It’s tucked in a cozy vintage-style building at 715 Henderson in the historic Sixth Ward. Get your morning started off right with a visit to Henderson & Kane’s full-service coffee bar and snag a pastry while you’re there. Tarts come in blueberry, cherry, Nutella, pear and key lime.

But the real takeaway is the barbecue. The place is something of a hidden gem, unassuming on the outside and bursting with flavor on the inside. You can go for smoked meats like brisket, pork ribs or boudin, or munch on your meats in a sandwich.

Just as an aside — don’t you forget about those sides. We’re talking meaty mac n cheese with your choice of smoked meat, Frito pie, Texas red chili with ground chuck and old-school potato salad.

True Food Kitchen

Some people just can’t get enough of the delicious, health-conscious dishes at True Food Kitchen. The food is as fresh as it is full of flavor, with gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options — but everything is fully customizable at this spot a 17o0 Post Oak.

Take a cashew pad Thai bowl and throw in chicken or tofu. Order a spicy Panang Curry bowl and toss in some shrimp. Or if you don’t want it DIY, order an entree like Moroccan chicken with mission fig and heirloom carrot, or spaghetti squash casserole with caramelized onions and zucchini.

You’ll keep coming back for the inspired seasonal cocktails. Right now, you can get your hands on a refreshing watermelon mojito, lemongrass margarita or Thai grapefruit martini.

Flying Pho

Oh, pho. This Houston favorite takes flight in Garden Oaks at 3434 Ella. You can’t find it quite like this at your major pho stops. This pho is Northern for real, the original preparation of the addictive soup.

Pho bac, or Hanoi pho, gets boils it down to the basics at Flying Pho. It’s not laden with all the accouterments like meats and veggies. It’s simple: clear broth, a rice noodle, minced beef and green onion. More pho is on its way — pho ga tron, a sort of salad served with a side of chicken broth.

Tradition trumps trend here, but you can bet there’s brunch. There’s Vietnamese fried chicken and fried rice. Butter buns are an excellent way to finish off the meal.

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