Houston‘s culinary scene is a delightful reflection of its multicultural population, offering a wide range of dining experiences, from fine dining to traditional Southern cuisine.
As a former port town and the fourth largest city in the US, Houston boasts an impressive array of restaurants serving diverse culinary delights. From Vietnamese Pho to comforting chicken pot pie and delectable seared red snapper, the city’s eclectic mix of eateries ensures there is something for everyone’s palate.
Moreover, Houston’s proximity to the South American border infuses its culinary landscape with authentic Mexican flavors, all served with the warm embrace of true Southern hospitality.
For a taste of the best dining experiences in the city, Elite Traveler has collated a comprehensive guide to the best restaurants in Houston.
The best restaurants in Houston
On Westheimer Road, Da Marco restaurant serves up Italian cuisine in an elegant atmosphere. The restaurant was first opened by chef Marco Wiles, who aimed to reflect authentic Italian meals and traditions in the establishment’s menu and style.
To this day, Da Marco is one of the most appreciated Italian eateries in Houston, only providing the freshest ingredients and the most authentic recipes. Though Mediterranean cuisine is the focus, there is still an unmistakable Texas influence on the menu.
Well-dressed patrons dine on classics like artichoke alla giudia, pappardelle with wild boar or a simple pizza margherita.
Opened in 1967 as the sister restaurant to Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, Brennan’s has long been a Houston favorite for its Texas Creole cuisine.
Brennan’s of Houston is a culinary institution in the city, steeped in history and tradition. The restaurant’s elegant setting and warm ambience create a welcoming atmosphere for diners to experience the finest in Creole and Southern cuisine.
With influences from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region, Brennan’s menu is completely locally-sourced and changes seasonally. On weekends, diners can enjoy Brennan’s Creole Jazz Brunch, characterized by dishes like duck and pork boudin kolache and fried soft shell crab & waffle while listening to entertaining jazz tunes.
Brennan’s Kitchen Table experience seats guests in the middle of the kitchen for an immersive degustation journey, while the Wine Table invites guests to a five-course tasting.
Located in Uptown Houston, Étoile Cuisine et Bar is the ideal spot to sample classic French cuisine. Owners Philippe Verpiand and Monica Bui have created a city staple, highly regarded for its take on well-loved French classics and warm and inviting atmosphere.
“One can pretty much assume from a name like Étoile Cuisine et Bar that something French is happening inside. What one might not assume is how French and how excellent,” its website declares.
In particular, the name translates to ‘star’ in French, and it lives up to its name by shining brightly in the city’s gastronomic landscape. Indeed, at Étoile, the cuisine pays homage to the rich culinary traditions of France, with an emphasis on high-quality ingredients and time-honored techniques. Its guests can savor their dinner surrounded by a rustic French atmosphere, with a hint of romanticism.
Open from brunch to dinner, this restaurant offers dishes like bisque de Homard, made of marine lobster and tarragon creme fraiche, to the classic coq au vin, which is chicken thighs braised in red wine accompanied by a creamy potato puree.
If quality Italian fare is what you’re pining after, look no further than Sorrento in the bohemian Montrose district.
Located just moments from Bayou Music Center, this classic venue – complete with live piano – is perfect for everything from a pre-show meal to a swift business lunch. The interior of Sorrento exudes a dark and romantic ambience, with rustic elements that transport diners to the charming trattorias of Italy. The cozy dining area and attentive service create an intimate setting for guests to enjoy their Italian feast.
There are four kinds of menu: one a-la-carte one, a $75 per person set one, a $85 per person set one and a $95 per person set one. From dishes like lamb chops to perfectly-cooked sea bass, Sorrento takes its diners on an authentic Italian journey.
Pappas Bros Steakhouse
A Texas staple, Pappas Bros Steakhouse has locations in Houston Downtown and Houston Galleria as well as Dallas.
The legendary steakhouse group has maintained a family feel since the first restaurant opened in 1976. All the ingredients are fresh and every steak and dish is prepared fresh on the spot, with at least three chefs overseeing the kitchen.
All branches of Pappas Bros Restaurants not only cater to the restaurant’s guests but also drive the freshest meat and seafood from the restaurant to clients every day.
As the perfect blend between high-quality steaks and seafood, some of the items on the menu include shrimp cocktail and prime ribeye, with more prestigious cuts like filet mignon and dry-aged porterhouse available too.
Mastro’s Steakhouse is hailed as one of the best restaurants in Houston, but also in the whole of the US. It belongs to Mastro’s Restaurants, also located in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York and Washington DC.
This restaurant is primarily known for its prime-grade steaks, sourced from the finest ranches and aged to perfection. The menu also offers a variety of fresh seafood options, including lobster, salmon and crab.
The interior of Mastro’s Steakhouse is characterized by a contemporary and elegant atmosphere, with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and dim lighting. Plush furnishings and a stylish bar area are also vital elements of the overall vibe. To enhance the experience, Mastro’s Steakhouse also often organises live music performances, often featuring jazz or blues artists.
Another iconic dining spot in Houston is Masraff’s, especially famous for its extensive wine collection and fine contemporary cuisine. If looking for the best Euro-American dishes in town, look no further.
It is a family-run establishment, as father and son Tony and Russel Masraff have opened and contributed to the eatery’s reputation. From candlelit dinners to enthralling bar lounge areas, Masraff’s offers it all.
The menu, apart from providing some of the best cuts of meat, also includes a raw seafood bar, with oysters and king crabs available, and also light and refined fish dishes such as shrimp linguine and Alaskan halibut.
The Palm is an iconic steakhouse in Houston, part of The Palm Restaurants group. The concept of The Palm was first born in 1926, when Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi opened the first branch in New York City. It soon became the meeting spot for artists, tycoons and writers.
The website describes that the restaurant “continues to serve as a place where you can take a moment, connect through real conversations and enjoy an exceptional meal with the important people in your life”.
Surrounded by a lavish and luxurious dining room, accompanied by live music, guests can enjoy varied dishes from Wagyu burgers to oysters.