Some of Houston's most interesting restaurants are located in the central area of town. Here are 10 recommended restaurants found along Houston's light rail line:
Bombay Pizza Co.: It’s India meets Italy on a pedestrian-only block of the rail line. The folks here are serious about their fusion menu and they’re making seriously good pizzas. Consider the Sonu’s Rita with basil, tomatoes, paneer, mozzarella, cilantro chutney and a spicy pizza sauce. Or, perhaps, the Berry Bombay with trawberry sauce, paprika, roasted pine nuts, gouda and basil.
914 Main St., 713-654-4444
The Breakfast Klub: This H-Town institution is all about soul food. The casual, folk art-filled dining room is buzzing all day with patrons fueled by wings with waffles, catfish with grits and a smiling staff. And if the line is around the corner, don’t fret. It moves quickly. Breakfast and lunch only.
3711 Travis, 713-528-8561
Damian's: This cozy Midtown dining room has been charming guests for more than 20 years with attentive service, house-made pasta and a no-nonsense wine list.
3011 Smith, 713-522-0439
Reef: Bryan Caswell’s first — and still best — restaurant rarely disappoints. Seafood is the star of the show, but we’re fans of his unfussy apps and sides, including fried mac and cheese, beef sliders and sweet-potato ravioli. The dining room is lovely, but grab a spot at the bar for a truly fun night.
2600 Travis, 713-526-8282.
Samba Grille: Houstonians’ love of steak has made us suckers for South American fare. This downtown spot has swayed hearts with its attractive dining room, enthusiastic wine service and sophisticated menu. Go and be seduced.
530 Texas, 713-343-1180
Hubcap Burger Grill: The problem with Hubcap: it ruins burgers forever. How will you go back to eating at your hometown burger after you’ve had the world’s best bacon burger? The patties are shaped by hand from fresh beef. The buns are just study enough to absorb the ooze. The condiments are neither skimpy nor overloaded. The ambiance is trailerlicious. Go there now.
1111 Prairie St., 713-223-5885
Ibiza: You can’t go wrong at this sleek Midtown wine bar. The Mediterranean-inspired menu is filled with gems like six-hour braised lamb shank and grilled octopus with chili sauce. And the wine menu is hailed for its value.
2450 Louisiana St., 713-524-0004
Les Givral Kahve: There’s no room to explain “the why” here, but for H-Town, Vietnamese food is almost as comforting as barbecue. This little blends a hip, urban feel with delicious traditional food. If you’re hankering for a quick bite, snag a chargrilled BBQ pork sandwich (an extra crusty piece of bread with pork, sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots and enough cilantro to chew) for under $3.
801 Congress, 713-547-0444
Reef: All buzzy restaurants should be as buzz-worthy as Reef, would-be-Iron-chef Bryan Caswell’s midtown chic seafood spot. The crispy skin snapper is ridiculously delicious. So are the non-seafood (and unstuffy & offbeat) sides and appetizers — a deep fried mac & cheese bomb and decadent little sliders. As splurges go, this is one to consider.
2600 Travis St., 713-526-8282
Tacos A Go-Go: With décor inspired by old Mexican cinema, Tacos a Go-Go is an oasis of cool. Stop in for breakfast tacos, or the regular lunch kind. All versions are tasty and filling. Quesadillas, tortas and nachos also are on the menu. Open until 2 a.m. on the weekends.
3704 Main St., 713-807-8226
T'afia: Chef Monica Pope’s passion for locally grown ingredients and her market-driven menus make a visit an education if not a treat. Two real values: a three-course lunch offered only on Fridays and free appetizers in the bar during happy hour.
3701 Travis St., 713-524-6922
This story originally was pubbed March 11, 2011; it was updated April 26, 2012.