Houston is the southern United States' most populous large metropolis, known for world-renowned attractions such as NASA's Johnson Space Center, the Houston Ship Channel, and the Houston Grand Opera. Visitors can explore the city's gorgeous 19th-century architecture or peruse its world-class museums within its Museum District, which attracts more than seven million tourists each year. Lively new restaurant openings in the city include Red Circle Ice Cream, noted for its trendy looped churro offerings, and the upcoming Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine, the latest offering from the restaurateur of the city's top-voted seafood restaurant. New multipurpose shopping and dining destination Heights Mercantile also brings several national chains to the Houston area for the first time, including Warby Parker and Chubbies.
© Present Company
Present Company is a lively tropical-inspired patio bar in Houston's Montrose neighborhood, opened in 2018 by restaurateur Shawn Bermudez. The bar, which takes its cues from the lush oceanfront atmosphere of Palm Springs, is known for its excellent craft cocktail selections and hip weekend brunch specials. A clever menu of all-day fare includes bacon and brussels sprouts pizzas, slow-roasted barbecue pork butt sandwiches, buffalo burgers, and hip shareable plates like smothered queso fries and green chili mac and cheese. On the weekends, brunch diners can choose from selections like breakfast tater tot nachos, Tex Mex skillets, carnitas breakfast melts, and breakfast pizza options, paired with several flavors of LaCroix or bloody marys served up in Campbell's soup cans. House cocktails include the Stranger Danger, which pairs honeysuckle liqueur with watermelon vodka, or the Whispering Eye, which infuses ginger liqueur with lavender syrup and butterfly pea elixir.
1318 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006, Phone: 281-974-4752
© Cavo Coffee
Cavo Coffee is the latest caffeine-infused project from former Siphon Coffee co-owner Michael Caplan, known for its high-quality siphon beverages. The coffee shop, which opened its first location at Greenway Plaza in 2017, offers two locations throughout the city today, including a new West University location. Beans are roasted in-house at their Cleo Roasting Co Next Store to the West U location. They offer slow brew methods such as sourced from Houston's Amaya Roasters and Portland's Heart Roasters, prepared in halogen siphons or classic espresso-based beverages like Americanos, macchiatos, and cortados. Classic deli sandwiches with modern twists are available throughout the day, along with a menu of inventive tacos with ingredients like avocado, chorizo, and Grafton cheddar.
3773 Richmond Ave #1F, Houston, TX 77046, Phone: 346-320-4195
3.Sam's Fried Chicken
© Sam's Fried Chicken
Sam's Fried Chicken is the vision of restaurateur Michael Sambrooks, known for his works at popular area restaurants Star Fish, Pi Pizza, and The Pit Room. The homestyle fried chicken joint in Houston Heights, which was opened in 2018, prepares all of its meals with antibiotic and hormone-free chicken. Diners can choose from combination fried chicken feasts prepared standard or Hi-Town Hot, paired with hearty side dishes like black-eyed peas and rice, collard greens, cole slaw, and mashed potatoes with cream gravy. Excellent chicken sandwiches are also served up throughout the day, including the Double Donut, which places fried chicken tenders and bacon marmalade between two glazed doughnuts as buns. At breakfast, diners can enjoy housemade doughnuts, kolaches, and specialties like chicken and waffles or Southern-style biscuits and gravy.
601 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007, Phone: 713-880-3550
4.David Shelton Gallery
David Shelton Gallery was opened in 2009 in San Antonio by its namesake gallerist and moved to its current location in Houston's Montrose neighborhood in early 2016. The gallery is known for its unique program emphasizing unique technical aspects and narratives of contemporary art works, exploring what the idea of "handmade" means to each artist exhibiting. Mediums highlighted include painting, photography, drawing, and collage, exhibited by artists working on regional and national levels. Emerging and established artists showcased at the gallery have included Alejandro Diaz, Sara Frantz, Tameka Norris, Rodrigo Valenzuela, and Jules Buck Jones. The gallery is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays throughout the afternoon hours.
4411 Montrose Blvd b, Houston, TX 77006, Phone: 713-393-7319
5.Cloud 10 Creamery
Cloud 10 Creamery is a delicious handcrafted ice cream parlor in Houston, owned and operated by award-winning pastry chef Chris Leung. All ice creams and sorbets are prepared in small batches, crafted with premium ingredients free of artificial flavoring, extracts, or additives to ensure the highest quality final result possible. 10 specialty seasonal flavors are showcased at any given time along with the parlor's 10 traditional flavors, ranging from classics like sea salt caramel or maple butter pecan to decadent selections like goat cheese milk chocolate, strawberry jam, or brown sugar cookies and cream. Chinese, Vietnamese, and Mexican cuisine influences are frequently highlighted in flavors, including selections like Vietnamese iced coffee and roasted plum with bay leaf. Small-batch sorbets are also available, along with ice cream treats, including treats for four-legged friends.
3201 Louisiana St Suite 100, Houston, TX 77006, Phone: 713-485-4770
6.Red Circle Ice Cream
© Red Circle Ice Cream
Red Circle Ice Cream is a unique ice cream joint in Houston's Chinatown neighborhood, known for its trendy looped churro desserts and handcrafted ice cream flavors. The restaurant is named in honor of the significance of the color red in Asian cultures, which is often considered to be a good luck and good fortune symbol. More than 90 memorable ice cream flavors are served up throughout the week, ranging from clever fruit variants like lychee strawberry and guava to Asian-inspired selections like durian or Thai tea. Adventurous diners can select from savory and spicy flavors, including barbecue or Hot Cheetos. Churros are available in flavors like the Cookie Butter Blast, which pairs shortbread cookie crumb topping with a cookie-flavored drizzle, or the signature Churro Daddy, which pairs a cinnamon sugar churro with an ice cream flavor of diners' choice.
6838 Ranchester Dr, Houston, TX 77036, Phone: 832-767-5679
© Mai's Restaurant
Mai's Restaurant is a traditional Vietnamese-style restaurant and bar in Houston's Midtown district, originally opened in 1978 by Phac and Phin Nguyen. The family-operated restaurant, which was rebuilt in 2011 following a downtown fire, is named in honor of the Nguyen family's daughter Mai, a traditional Vietnamese name meaning golden flower and known for its luck and prosperity. Authentic Vietnamese cuisine options are offered throughout the day, including excellent specialty dishes like nhung dam fondue, ech chien deep-fried frog legs, and lau ca hot pots with catfish filets and Vietnamese spices. Diners can also enjoy classic favorites like bo luc lac garlic beef, scallop rang muoi in spicy sauce, or suon rim man simmered pork ribs. Traditional Vietnamese drinks like ca phe sua iced coffee and soybean milk are served up alongside a selection of domestic and imported beers and sodas.
3403 Milam St, Houston, TX 77002, Phone: 713-520-5300
8.Bovine and Barley
© Bovine and Barley
Bovine and Barley is a hip bi-level bar in Houston's Downtown district, opened in 2015 by Jason Lowery and Michael Collins of The Refinery Burgers and Whiskey. The intimate bar space offers 42 taps of regional and national craft brews, with a focus on locally-produced microbrews. Six draft cocktails are also served up within the bar's industrial-chic space, which features warm wood accents and a unique lighting fixture crafted from burlap coffee sacks from local roasters Katz Coffee. Meat-heavy menu offerings are served up throughout the day, including hearty entree selections like buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches, slow-cooked brisket tacos, and bovine ribeye steaks. Shareable plates include dry-rubbed buffalo wings, Texas-style smothered tater tots, and jalapeno bacon bites with pineapple and cream cheese.
416 Main St, Houston, TX 77002, Phone: 832-742-5683
9.Christie's Seafood and Steaks
© Christie's Seafood and Steaks
Christie's Seafood and Steaks was originally opened as a food stand in 1917 by Theodore Christie and has been operated as a full-service restaurant since the 1930s. The restaurant, which moved to its current Westheimer location in 1979, continues to craft all of its entrees from its original recipes, continuing a tradition that has become legendary in the Houston area over the past century. Fresh Gulf seafood entrees are served up throughout the day, including famed wild shrimp platters prepared blackened, pan-grilled, Creole-style, or stuffed with housemade crabmeat dressing. Seafood platters highlight Mississippi catfish, fried oysters, and stuffed crabs, while entrees include Cajun favorites like crawfish etouffee and opelousas. Diners can also enjoy clever po'boy sandwiches, U.S. Choice steaks, and house specialties like Gulf snapper almondine or chicken madeira.
6029 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77057, Phone: 713-978-6563
© La Lucha
La Lucha was opened in 2018 by celebrity chef Ford Fry, known for his Georgia-based restaurants JCT Kitchen and Bar, The Optimist, and King + Duke. The restaurant is inspired by Fry's visits to the famed San Jacinto Inn, named after a Spanish term for "the fight," a reference to the Battle of San Jacinto. Indulgent seafood favorites served up throughout the day at the lively diner include peel-and-eat boiled shrimp tossed in Thai basil garlic butter, wood-roasted Gulf oysters prepared with smoked jalapeno, and Texas blue crab fingers. Diners can choose from unique selections like fried oyster loaves with Duke's mayonnaise or enjoy pressed po'boy sandwiches or crispy shrimp tacos. Land entree options include fried chicken platters or classic Pharmacy Burgers, prepared with pickles, mustard, and onions. Extensive drink menus highlight local craft brews, imported mezcals, and fine champagne selections.
1801 N Shepherd Dr #A, Houston, TX 77008, Phone: 713-955-4765
11.Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
© Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
Giacomo's Cibo e Vino is a quirky Italian restaurant in Upper Kirby, opened in 2013 by executive chef Lynette Hawkins. The casual neighborhood cafe is known for its Venetian-style small plates, offering both counter service and full table service for diners. Rustic selections include fennel-seasoned meatballs with tomato cream sauce, roasted eggplant rolls with mozzarella and ricotta, harissa-marinated shrimp, and za'atar and sumac-spiced chicken wings. Cold tapas selections include Italian-style chicken rillettes, imported charcuterie boards, and crostini topped with unique toppings like ricotta-whipped mousse, Tuscan-style chicken liver pate, and goat cheese and sun-dried tomato pesto. A full menu of delicious authentic pasta entrees are also available, along with Italian favorites like pollo guido or porchetta e fagioli. For dessert, top-notch gelatos are available a la carte or served affogato-style with espresso.
3215 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098, Phone: 713-522-1934
12.Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine
© Max Tactic/stock.adobe.com
Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine is the latest offering from acclaimed restaurateur Kyle Teas, opened in August of 2019 and named in honor of its owner's father. Teas is known for his work at popular dining destination Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen, which was named as Houston's best seafood restaurant by The Houston Press. Fresh seafood entrees are served up throughout the day in a warm, inviting dining space, including signature selections like blue crab-stuffed redfish filets, seafood Courtboullion with fresh fish and oysters, and blackened catfish enchiladas prepared with chipotle cream sauce and jack cheese. Diners can also enjoy traditional Cajun favorites like shrimp etouffee or select from a wide menu of fish, seafood, steak, or chicken cuts to be prepared as part of Gulf Coast platter dinners.
1985 Welch St, Houston, TX 77019, Phone: 713-807-8883
13.Amalfi Ristorante Italiano and Bar
© Amalfi Ristorante Italiano and Bar
Amalfi Ristorante Italiano and Bar is a traditional Italian trattoria offering from Salerno natives Lisa and Giancarlo Ferrara, opened in 2014. The laid-back restaurant is anchored around an authentic stone pizza oven, featuring a spacious bar and white-tablecloth seating. Delicious pasta offerings served up throughout the day include hearty favorites like lasagne Bolognese, housemade potato and ricotta gnocchi with beef ragu, and saffron-infused tagliolini with pancetta and creamy egg sauce. Pizza selections range from traditional margherita and funghi variants to clever offerings with toppings such as rapini broccoli, marinated salmon, and hot soppressata. A thoughtful cocktail menu is complemented by an extensive wine list featuring international options.
6100 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77057, Phone: 713-532-2201
© Pi Pizza
Pi Pizza is a lively pizza joint known for its specialty and build-your-own pizza selections prepared with locally-sourced and housemade ingredients. The restaurant opened in 2016. Diners can choose from individually-sized eight-inch pizzas or larger shareable 12-inch or 16-inch varieties, with individual monster slices served up at lunchtime. Clever specialty pizzas include the Fancy Pants/Fancy Hair, which pairs fried brussels sprouts with Mike's Hot Honey, or the Sorority Girl Surprise, which features jalapeno ranch dressing, chicken, and thick-cut smoked bacon. Philly cheesesteaks and meatball subs are also served up, along with shareable apps like fried buffalo cauliflower, housemade mac and cheese balls, and honey barbecue chicken wings.
181 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007, Phone: 832-767-2433
© Ono Poke
Ono Poke offers two locations throughout Houston, including a Montrose location and a former Space City pop-up that has been converted into a full-service restaurant. The lively poke joint is known for its specialty Hawaiian bowls, which are served up from counter service and can be enjoyed at communal tables or outdoor patio seating. Diners can choose from house bowls like the spicy ahi poke, which pairs marinated tuna with togarashi and green onions, or the Wasabi Mama, which features white shrimp, wasabi cream, furikake, and cucumbers. Build-your-own bowl options are also available, letting diners choose from a base of rice or mixed greens and add toppings like salmon, tofu, spicy mayo, avocado, or edamame.
607 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77006, Phone: 832-831-9453
© Heights Mercantile
Heights Mercantile is a lovely new low-rise urban market district located within Houston's historic Houston Heights neighborhood, opened to the public in 2017. The district showcases unique architecture and shopping and dining destinations, located adjacent to Donovan Park at the intersection of Heights Boulevard, Yale Street, and 7th Street. Reimagined abandoned spaces have been converted into unique adaptive retail spaces, housing businesses such as Warby Parker, Will Leather Goods, Luluelmon, and Chubbies. Visitors can also shop at trendy boutiques like The Impeccable Pig or Saint Lo Boutique or enjoy beauty and wellness services from providers like Paloma Beauty and Define Yoga. Restaurant offerings include health-conscious eatery Local Foods and ice cream parlor Cloud 10 Creamery.
Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007, Phone: 713-783-4444
16 Unique Things To Do in Houston This Summer
- Present Company, Photo: Present Company
- Cavo Coffee, Photo: Cavo Coffee
- Sam's Fried Chicken, Photo: Sam's Fried Chicken
- David Shelton Gallery, Photo: denys_kuvaiev/stock.adobe.com
- Cloud 10 Creamery, Photo: lizavetta/stock.adobe.com
- Red Circle Ice Cream, Photo: Red Circle Ice Cream
- Mai's Restaurant, Photo: Mai's Restaurant
- Bovine and Barley, Photo: Bovine and Barley
- Christie's Seafood and Steaks, Photo: Christie's Seafood and Steaks
- La Lucha, Photo: La Lucha
- Giacomo's Cibo e Vino, Photo: Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
- Eugene's Gulf Coast Cuisine, Photo: Max Tactic/stock.adobe.com
- Amalfi Ristorante Italiano and Bar, Photo: Amalfi Ristorante Italiano and Bar
- Pi Pizza, Photo: Pi Pizza
- Ono Poke, Photo: Ono Poke
- Heights Mercantile, Photo: Heights Mercantile
- Cover Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com