The Best Restaurants In Downtown Houston

Where to grab a bite to eat the next time you’re in downtown Houston.
A couple sit at the bar at Mamajuana Cafe.

photo credit: Quit Nguyen

So you’ve found yourself downtown, and you’re in need of a good meal. Maybe you need a quick grab-and-go lunch, or maybe you want a sit down dinner that isn’t in one of those mysterious steakhouses with blackout windows. We’ve sifted through the downtown dining options to find the best of what the neighborhood has to offer in any situation. So the next time you’re hitting the Toyota Center to see your favorite artist, or want a place to grab some grub before an Astros game, check out our list of some great restaurants and bars in downtown Houston.


photo credit: Quit Nguyen



$$$$Perfect For:See And Be SeenFeeling HotA Clubstaurant


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Mamajuana Cafe lets you control how fun your night will get. Quietly appreciating good music is totally acceptable, as is hitting a bachata step and letting out an involuntary “woo”. The New York transplant is now Downtown serving Latin food that’s exciting even without flaming sparklers. It’s full of couples toasting their drinks or smoking hookah, and on the main floor, long tables are reserved for crews celebrating birthdays and bachelor parties. You can keep it calm and let the most over-the-top part of your night be the stuffed cassava topped with thin strips of churrasco steak, or dance the night away to the high-energy reggaeton mixes.

You’ll be able to find the West African spot ChopNBlok by the line of folks extending past the stall at the Post Market food hall. Take a free sample (which will hopefully be of their sweet fried kelewele), and devote your time in line to deciding which bowl will be yours. Get the golden bowl, because it’s loaded with the best of what ChopNBlok has to offer like jumbo briny shrimp and fried plantain. And while you might not be able to sit inside the small and stylish food stall to enjoy your loaded bowls, the flavors of the bowls will carry with you even sitting in the middle of the food court.

One of the stalls in the food hall Understory, Flip ‘N Patties specializes in Filipino-American street food. The brightly colored counter service spot typically blasts 90’s hip-hop, and there’ll usually be a few folks filling the high top chairs at the counter tearing into their lunch. There are a slew of options to choose from, like the chicken pupu platter, crispy pork belly bites, and seared spam served with a fried egg. But make sure to at least get one of their beefy akaushi burgers that can barely be contained in their pillowy buns. Sure, you might have to unhinge your jaw to get a bite, but that’s half of the fun.

photo credit: Michael Anthony



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Whether you walk in for Happy Hour or a big group dinner, the hosts at Bungalow greet you with a glass of sparkling wine before leading you to a plush booth or bar seat. The upscale steak and seafood restaurant serves decadent food and over-the-top cocktails, and makes you feel incredibly glamorous while enjoying both. Order a massive whole-fried snapper or thick and juicy pork chops to split with a date, a few friends, or keep it all to yourself.

The downtown location of Phoenicia Specialty Foods, an enormous, fully-stocked Mediterranean grocery and prepared food store, always backs up with a line at the hot food counter around lunch time. Office folks and nearby apartment dwellers circle one another around the salad bar waiting for hot plates of falafel, spiced shawarma wraps, and rice pilaf. Pick up a few sodas, boxes of dessert, or even an armful of groceries with lunch.

The Tex-Mex restaurant Irma’s has two locations, and both happen to be downtown, just a few minutes away from each other. But only at the original location on Chenevert Street will you find a small dining room that could be the envy of all of the best thrift stores in town. At Irma’s you get the family treatment, which means that they’ll probably call you “hon” or “sweetie” after every interaction. It also means that they’re only serving whatever they feel like cooking that day, so cross your fingers and hope that the subtly spicy chicken mole makes the menu. Swing by for breakfast, or come for a midday meal to try one of the daily specials like a plate of carne guisada or beef fajita enchiladas.

Like the original Galleria location, the downtown version of Pappas Bros. Steakhouse also serves the best steaks in town. Squeezed beneath a high rise, and a few blocks away from the convention center, Pappas replicated the swanky, luxurious steakhouse vibe here, including an opulent meat case, plush red booths, and shelves and shelves of wine. Visit Pappas for a truly excellent dry-aged steak, and maybe to escape the office or whatever convention-scale group dinner you’re hoping to avoid.

A part of the Bravery Chef Hall food stalls, the sushi counter Kokoro comes from the team behind Handies. A minimalist dream, it’s decorated only with a neon sign or two, and of course the rubber duckies that the team loves so much. Swing by for a maguro crudo or a few pieces of nigiri for lunch, or stop by later in the day and grab a slice of wagyu toast and some sake from the bar across the way.

The Peruvian restaurant Andes Cafe serves up ceviche, rotisserie chicken, and lomo saltado stir-fry beef from a stall at the back of the Post Market food hall. Make a reservation at the ceviche counter for lunch or dinner, and watch chefs dress seafood like razor clams and octopus with heaps of lime and coconut-spiked leche de tigre. Or share a plate of fries smothered in churrasco beef and chimichurri with friends before a show at 713 Music Hall next door.

Frank’s Pizza is where to go when you’re in need of a quick and dependable meal. Whether you come during lunch when you’ve got 20 minutes to hovel some food, or at 2am at the end of a serious downtown bar crawl, this pizza parlor has you covered. Get a New York slice of pepperoni for yourself, or the whole pie for your crew. But whatever you get, it’ll be quick, and remind you why Frank’s is a reliable spot from the moment they open to late at night.

If you go to the tunnels for lunch, it’s best to have a specific destination in mind. We usually land at Mayuri Express, an Indian restaurant with speedy service. Meals here are packed into styrofoam trays, assembly-line style and around the cafeteria you’ll see people tearing into steaming veggie samosas and hoveling butter chicken and lamb biryani by the forkful. Swing by Mayuri express for a quick lunch downtown, and be sure to grab some extra naan bread.

Tucked below the Underground Food Hall staircase, Figata Italian Street Food makes fresh sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, and salads. Grab a “Soprano” sandwich with buffalo mozzarella, pancetta, and fig jam or a “Goodfellas” pizza with pepperoni. Sensing a theme here? Yeah, other dishes are named “Scarface” and (what else?) “Godfather.” Hit up Figata for a midday lunch, possibly some personal movie trivia, and some fresh Italian food.

We don’t know of any Downtown spot that makes multiple kinds of fresh tortillas and nixtamalizes heirloom corn—except Papalo Taqueria. The counter-service spot inside Finn Hall makes excellent Mexican-style tacos and enchiladas, like one stuffed with tender brisket. Whatever you’re in the mood for, whether that’s a bowl of pozole before a long commute or a couple of tacos between meetings, hit up Papalo first.

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