The Best Restaurants In The Medical Center  guide image


The Best Restaurants In The Medical Center

Because you can only get the #7 combo at that one chain restaurant so many times.

Houston’s Medical Center is the largest medical complex in the world, making up an entire neighborhood in H-Town. While this neighborhood is home to some of the brightest minds in medicine who save lives daily, it isn’t exactly known for its expansive dining options. Finding a good restaurant in the area can be something of a treasure hunt, and we’ve already found the gold. These are the best spots to head to before your next physical, or after a day of keeping Houstonians healthy.


photo credit: Richard Casteel

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Bourbon Sizzler


2114 Holly Hall St, Houston
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The Bourbon Sizzler, a counter-service Caribbean restaurant, is a great place to melt the day away with spicy beef patties with flaky crusts, sweet brown stew chicken with rice and cabbage, and sweet ting soda. This is primarily a takeout operation, but there is a dining room that's mostly free for you to hunker down with a hearty meal. Keep this lo-fi spot in mind for a solo lunch or dinner after a long day. 

Filipino bakery The Baker’s Son originated in Jacksonville, FL and the first Houston location is right here in the Medical Center. Fresh baked goods are mostly sold in multiples here, but there are some individual treats for sale at the counter. After shopping around and filling your basket with pandesal, ensaymadas topped with parmesan cheese, and ube-flavored everything, grab a passion fruit calamansi for a citrusy refreshment loaded with fresh fruit and herbs. The Baker’s Son is open daily until 8pm, and it’s perfect for healthcare workers (or anyone, really) in the mood for a sweet treat at any time of day. There aren’t any seats in this action-packed bakery, but biting into a pan de dulce filled with ube always tastes delicious from the driver’s seat. 

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M&M Grill has just about everything. The modest halal restaurant has Mexican food, Mediterranean food, as well as dependable burgers and crispy fries. Inside, there are about 10 tables that are usually full of U of H students discussing their latest chemistry quiz and the ambient sounds of metal spatulas flipping burgers on flat-tops. While your order here could go in many directions, we have a penchant for the mushroom swiss burger, because the cheese is perfectly melted between the double patties burgers, and a pile of onions and mushrooms sit under the meat like a support system. 

If you find yourself in need of a quick meal, head to Viet’s Express, which also happens to be the best Vietnamese place in the neighborhood. It seems that the chefs here have learned to cook at the speed of light, which means instead of waiting for your food, most of your precious time will be spent toggling between bites of bánh mì slathered in rich pâté and golden phở broth. Viet’s Express is a go-to spot for a speedy lunch or a foolproof takeout dinner. 

There’s never a wrong time to stop by Mellow Manna for a casual Indian dinner or lunch buffet during the week. Bollywood music videos play from a TV, which happen to be an excellent accompaniment to scoops of tender lamb biryani. The menu here is pretty big, but the creamy butter chicken and naan are non-negotiables. Mellow Manna sets a gentle and relaxed vibe, but the spice here is serious, so be sure to tack a mango lassi onto your order as a fail-safe for burning tongues. 

Taro is a casual Japanese restaurant in the Medical Center that serves sushi and ramen. Snuggle into one of the cozy blue booths and order pieces of seared hamachi and unagi to your heart’s content. Or, if you’re feeling soupy, order tonkotsu ramen—the roasted pork slices are especially tender and the soft-boiled eggs are particularly creamy. And if you’re in need of a Happy Hour, the one at Taro happens every weekday, featuring $2 sushi, $5 appetizers, and $2.50 beers.

photo credit: Richard Casteel

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Like many other hotel restaurants, you’ll have to shell out some serious doubloons for your meal at Safina, a Mediterranean spot at the InterContinental. But stick to the tender braised lamb shanks and maybe a side of roasted brussels sprouts that could pass for dessert, and it’s all worth it. Food aside, hanging out at the hotel is reason enough to come here—the inside of Safina is open and breezy with metallic art installations hanging from the ceiling and pastoral oil paintings on the walls.

Wedged between two unassuming buildings is the Mexican food truck Tacos Y Tortas El Pastorsito D.F.. Come here for spicy al pastor and beef fajita tacos on corn tortillas or chorizo gorditas so good that you won't care when juice from the meat drips down to your elbows. The hardest thing about eating at this spot is finding parking, so call ahead and grab your food without waiting, or come with a friend who can sit in your questionably parked car while you order.

Miller’s Cafe serves no-nonsense burgers at the base of Methodist Hospital’s Scurlock Tower. Even though the restaurant sort of resembles a concessions counter that was built inside of a theater backdrop for a homey southern restaurant, the food is pretty fantastic. Every burger comes on a (plot twist!) poppy seed bun with toppings you’d find at a standard backyard cookout: iceberg lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onions. So whether you’re in the mood for a beef or black bean patty, or an escape from hospital food, Miller’s is always there for you. 

A solid option if you need a brisk solo meal or want to submerge yourself in cheese with a couple of pals, Two Guys Pizzeria is where to go for a quick slice when you’re short on time. There’s usually a steady stream of people flowing through, ordering one of the daily specials or grabbing a giant pizza slice (which is more like a kind-of-big pizza slice). The pizza highlight is the Med Center Special, which is topped with hearty meatballs, spicy jalapeños, and gooey mozzarella. But the real star of the show is the stromboli calzone that’s stuffed with a montage of meats, plus mushrooms and black olives. 

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