If you haven’t sampled downtown’s culinary offerings lately, you really don’t know what you’ve been missing. Across the city core, new spots and treasured favorites are upping their cuisine game, proving yet again that Houston’s diversity is writ large on the plate.
Sample some of our suggestions to get a feel for the flavors of the in the city core.
Headed by Justin Yu, the 2016 James Beard Foundation Best Chef (Southwest), Oxheart has garnered superlatives from the minute it opened its doors. Yu’s tasting menus are praised for their imaginative presentations as well as lauded for regional ingredients. Two six-course menus are offered nightly, showcasing Yu’s commitment to extracting the most exquisite flavors from local fare. Reservations are a must – and you could be in for a wait. Oxheart is one of the hottest tables in town.
Pappas Bros Steakhouse
Long lauded for its clubby, old-school atmosphere and expertly prepared meats, Pappas Bros is what comes to mind when you think of a traditional steakhouse. Every cut of steak is dry-aged in house for at least 28 days, and offered with classic seasonings. Ribeyes, strips, filets and porterhouses cram the menu, which also provides ample opportunity for surf-and-turf options, with lobster, crab and a classic shrimp cocktail making an appearance. A wine list rich with ready-for-steak reds from around the world and near-white-glove service make this downtown newcomer a must-try.
300 Main St
Downtown’s Market Square is dotted with eclectic dining options – and The Honeymoon is a prime example of why city core dwellers and workers alike flock to this spot tucked into Main Street. Offerings include locally roasted coffees, craft cocktails and a funky food menu that blends comfort with flair. Dawn to dark offerings include a fried shrimp po’boy with cherry tomatoes and remoulade, braised lamb shank with cheddar and andouille grits, and a breakfast BLT on a flaky croissant. Check out the Key Lime Fizz cocktail, perfect for Houston’s sizzling summer temperatures, with white rum, lime, pineapple, vanilla, egg white, cream and a splash of soda.
Gudalajara del Centro
1201 San Jacinto
One of the most happening spots at GreenStreet, Guadalajara’s homey Mexican fare makes it a popular lunch, happy hour and dinner destination. Generous portions of favorites like fajitas, fish tacos and Abeulita Enchiladas, made with chicken and tomatillo sauce mean there’s plenty to share – or not. The weekend brunch menu is served until 3:00 p.m. and each item comes with fresh fruit, chorizo hashbrowns and refried beans. Sample the Huevos Rancheros or the Del Centro Benedict, the perfect start to a Saturday or Sunday Fun Day.
Jackson St BBQ
209 Jackson St
Partners Brian Caswell, Bill Floyd and Greg Gatlin opened this much-anticipated barbeque restaurant, pulling in the talents of pit master Brandon Allen. The result is old-school Texas ‘cue, and it’s been causing a stir since the joint opened in 2015. In this big, red barn you’ll find smoky brisket, German-influenced pork sausage, a yardbird burger and piles of ribs. Dine in or take out, Jackson St BBQ oozes Southern hospitality in every smoky bite. Bonus: it’s in the shadow of Minute Maid Park – so this should be your pre-game destination when the Astros take the field.
800 Bagby St
From its patio are sweeping views of downtown skyscrapers, while in the dining room, you’ll find modern white and wood tones, all of which signal that a meal at Artista is a dramatic experience. Housed in the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, this Cordua Restaurant Group mainstay is destination dining before Broadway blockbusters. Don’t miss the fried oyster and beef crostini, a fun pairing of perfectly prepared filet and lightly battered Gulf oysters on crunchy bread rounds or the Churrasco, the Cordua family’s signature steak with chimichurri. Savvy diners know to ask for dessert to be served during intermission – an experience that adds a further touch of class to your night out.
1010 Prairie St
Think the food hall at Harrod’s in London – only more fun and closer to home. Prohibition Supper Club partners Lian Pham and Ahn Mai are co-owners in this culinary newcomer, which is already making itself known as a dining must-do. Melange Creperie, El Burro & The Bull, Samurai Noodle and Myth Kafé are all vendors here; adding further to the draw is a beer garden with seating for 250 and more than 60 beers on tap. The boisterous space brings together fans of the vendors, as well as food lovers looking for a different dining experience. Eclectic and fun, Conservatory is come as you are casual – as long as you come ready to sample terrific cuisine.
Phoenicia & MKT Bar
1001 Austin St
This downtown market/bar is a one-stop yummy shop! Downtown grocery store, Phoenicia, carries various international offerings like their signature pita bread, along with staple gourmet foods, household basics, quality produce, fresh meats and seafood, boutique wines, beer, and more. Also located inside Phoenicia is MKT BAR, a hip urban wine and beer bar clad with local art and buzzing with live music and DJ sets 7 days-a-week. The menu includes a wide variety of yummy options like delicious salads, sliders, pizzas, fish, and a unique gelato selection. MKT BAR’s versatility lends itself as the perfect spot to unwind with coworkers after a long day, to grab a bite and a drink before a game, or to have a delicious brunch on the weekend.