14 Great Houston Restaurants For A Birthday DinnerGo shawty, it’s your birthday.
Making birthday plans can be tricky. Wrangling all of your besties into one place, wrestling with your own mortality, finding the perfect outfit—the list goes on. After doing the hard work of surviving another trip around the sun, you deserve the gift of having your birthday dinner sorted out (or, at least, narrowed down to a few choices). So whether you’re looking for something fun and casual, or a more intimate, celebratory experience—here’s our guide to the best spots for a birthday dinner in Houston.
When the birthday mood leans classy and classic, turn to Hugo’s, the upscale Mexican restaurant in Montrose, where margaritas get shaken tableside and little details matter, like having a coat rack brought out for your handbag. It’s scientifically impossible to fight back a smile when your birthday dessert arrives at the table with “Happy Birthday” written on the plate in chocolate sauce (like it is every year). Go to Hugo’s even once to celebrate your big day, and it’ll easily become a tradition.
If you want your birthday dinner to be between you and your special someone, make a reservation at Nancy's Hustle in EaDo. Everything at the American restaurant feels suave, from the warm service, to dishes like squid ink linguine with chili butter, to the lighting that’s set to the perfect hue of amber. Celebrate yourself in the small-but-might dining room, and thank your lucky stars that you’ve lived another year in a world where you can have a moment with the buttery Nancy cakes.
OK so you’ve jam-packed your birthday weekend with events and need to have a birthday dinner that’s efficient, but helps you make the most of your big day. For that, there’s Handam BBQ in Chinatown, AKA our favorite place to go when we want to speed-run a KBBQ dinner. Service is lightning fast but still attentive—servers will begin cooking your meat for you if your grilling isn’t fast enough. Which gives you more free time to sip soju from a watermelon because what else would you drink soju from on your birthday? Handam only takes reservations for parties of six or more, so roll deep with your crew and divide and conquer the corn cheese, banchan, and combination platters.
When your birthday sneaks up on you, and there’s no time to plan something extravagant, there’s always Grand Prize Bar, which all but specializes in low-lift occasions. Settle in for a few hours at the two-story dive bar in the Museum District, and your pals can breeze by, shoot a round or two of pool, and toast to your existence over a $3 pilsner. And if you work up an appetite, the kitchen keeps some solid bar food in rotation (anything from birria tacos to chili-cheese hotdogs). The first floor has mostly single seats at the bar, but there are plenty of booths on the second story, and tables out on the patio.
If you’re more of a low-key, quiet birthday type—someone who wants to eat incredible food in peace, either alone or with a very select set of people—an omakase experience or sushi bar seat at Kata Robata, one of the best sushi restaurants in town, awaits you. Because during the omakase, the nigiri is the center of attention, not you. So relax and indulge. Just make sure to call ahead for an omakase reservation at the sushi bar.
With over 25 beers on tap, cocktails, and wine, Axelrad Beer Garden in Midtown has enough options for your whole birthday entourage. After drinks have been acquired, a big birthday posse can easily set up camp for the evening on the sprawling outdoor patio. Park it on a picnic bench, carefully balance a beer while bobbing around on a swinging chair, or hole up in a hammock and let the breeze, a pale ale, and your favorite people help you celebrate.
A birthday at the Gao’s Kabob in Chinatown means being whisked away to a world of skewered meat, beer towers, and karaoke. Head here before a bar crawl to load up on grilled proteins and garlic chives. Or, show up to this late night spot after you’ve painted the town red and get tender beef skewers as a late night snack. The later you show up, the more likely you’ll feel emboldened to serenade customers with karaoke numbers as you pour from the beer towers, like taps of liquid courage. Go forth and sing your heart out.
Approximately 90% of the Third Ward clubstaurant Bar 5015 is a patio, and most people head here to dance the night away with their besties. You’ll find all of the clubstaurant essentials here—neon signs, outside bar, artisanal hookah blends—plus all of the latest hits being played low enough for you to actually talk to your crew. And with a full kitchen serving Cajun-Creole food, Bar 5015 can easily be both the beginning and end of your birthday night. We love efficiency.
Nothing says birthday camaraderie like experiencing collective taste bud numbness brought on plates and plates of pepper-spiked Sichuan food. Mala Sichuan in Chinatown (the original of five locations around the city) has an entire menu of Sichuan classics. Pile a group of folks around a lazy susan and split mountains of red oil dumplings, dan dan noodles, and bowls of water-boiled fish. The food at Mala is likely going to impress everyone, and will keep you fighting over each and every last bite.
The birthday turnup begins as soon as you sit down for dinner at Lost & Found, a Cajun-Creole clubstaurant in Midtown. With cheery staff, top 40 hits bumping through the speakers, and pretty backdrops for all of your birthday flicks, Lost & Found is the birthday locale for main characters only. Plus the extensive menu—which covers everything from smothered crab legs to a glazed ribeye to jerk lamb chops—has enough options to satisfy even the fanciest birthday divas (and their crew). After your meal, kick back on the patio with a pastel-colored drink and a little hookah before starting your birthday bar crawl for the rest of the evening.
We will literally come up with any excuse to go to Jūn in The Heights: whether it’s for a birthday, a pet’s birthday, a friend’s anniversary, or a frenemy at the office’s last day. The wine and sake cocktails, menagerie of different and yet coordinating small plates, and warm service at Jūn seems like a no-brainer for a celebration. Invite an intimate group of friends or family (it’s a small restaurant), and cuddle up in a booth with some roasted sweet potatoes and whole-roasted fish until your butt leaves an imprint.
At the self-described “vibe dining” restaurant Kiss in the Sixth Ward, people come dressed to impress. The dark and moody Cajun-Creole restaurant is the peak destination for couples having a romantic b-day celebration and elegant birthday crews composed of bougie aunties. Go big and have a tomahawk ribeye to celebrate another trip around the sun, and if you’re feeling particularly extra, finish your meal off with a cupcake ferris wheel, because it’s your birthday and nobody can stop you.
Choosing Hai Cang in Chinatown for a birthday celebration let’s people know two very important things about you. One, you really, really like to eat (a lot of) seafood. Two, you probably have, like, a lot of friends. Hai Cang’s massive menu, lazy-susan ready tables, and wall of fresh seafood tanks are there to crush you with incredible food. Get pounds of Dungeness crab dressed in sticky tamarind sauce, dry-fried lobster, and platters of noodles and rice. Bring at least 10 people—you will need their stomachs—and revel in knowing that on your birthday, you are both full of great food and also very popular.
Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino was made for folks who want to spend their birthday going in on charcuterie and pasta, sipping natural Italian wine, and dining al fresco. The small neighborhood Italian spot in River Oaks has all of that for a reasonable price. Throw back a bowl of lamb orecchiette, or a board of shaved prosciutto and fresh figs, and feel like you’re on a tiny trattoria patio in Venice. Call ahead for reservations and linger with your besties over a bottle or two.