HOUGuide

The Best Restaurants In Spring Branch

Where to eat in Spring Branch before (or after) getting lost in the Ikea marketplace.
The Best Restaurants In Spring Branch image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Spring Branch might be named after a bayou tributary that looks like a concrete-walled gully, but the neighborhood is best known for the Korean restaurants, Mexican counters, tasting menu spots, and barbecue joints stuffed in between. Check out these 11 restaurants the next time you’re swangin’ Long Point.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Richard Casteel

BBQ

Spring Branch

$$$$Perfect For:Casual Weeknight DinnerKidsImpressing Out of Towners
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Despite the giant, semi-menacing metal pig head mounted on the patio, we promise Feges BBQ is a friendly spot. The new-school-meets-old-school barbecue here tastes familiar yet novel thanks to the inventive sides like pimiento macaroni and cheese, or the loaded potato mash. Feges opts for an order-with-a-cashier model. So while there’s no showy meat slicing, the trays of glistening barbecue, sides, and mini cast irons of hog fat cornbread that arrive at the table will be the only show you need.

photo credit: Richard Casteel

El Hidalguense exemplifies the rustic cooking style of the mountainous south-central Mexican state of Hidalgo. Here it’s all about the earthy barbacoa lamb served with deep, smoky consommé and a tart nopales salad that cuts through the meat’s richness. A must-have for breakfast is the huastecas: roasted salsa with scrambled eggs over corn tortillas, refried beans, and a side of wafer-thin smoky beef cecina.

Every Friday night at this casual BYOB Argentinian restaurant, a man with an incredible voice belts out opera and old crooner tunes for hours. People pack the dining room to watch, sing along, and perhaps shed a tear at the height of an Andrea Bocelli aria over a giant griddle of sizzling steak. Bring a bottle of wine and split cheesy empanadas, picanha, and morcilla sausage while a mustachioed tenor lulls you into a state of bliss.

Doña Lena serves the best birria in town. This strip center spot stuffs chile-stewed beef into tacos, quesadillas, gorditas, machetes, tostadas—with a little extra consommé on the side for dunking—and bowls of ramen. The broth has a punch of chili and rich beef that’s smooth without being overly greasy. You should probably wear something you don’t mind getting stained because you're going to want to devour every ounce with wild abandon.

photo credit: Richard Casteel

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Tatemó's seven-course tasting is a quiet, dark, delicious meditation on corn. A meal at this Mexican restaurant begins with the smell of masa leading you to a blacked-out door in an empty strip center. Inside is moody, like if a new age spa focused on house-nixtamalized heirloom corn varieties. The only light comes from candles on the tables spotlighting plates of blue masa quesadillas or squash-stuffed tamales.

Tia Maria’s enchiladas have just as much cheese as they do chili con carne. Together with the sauces, the plate becomes one boiling-hot entity of Tex-Mex nuclear fusion. One bite will rocket your brain back to post-sports meals of childhood, when the only thing that solved both hunger and waning adrenaline was a plate of sizzling hot cheese and corn tortillas. Factor in the queso that’s more liquid than solid, some warm salsa in little plastic molcajetes, and a free soft-serve machine, and Tia Maria’s is riding a deep nostalgia wave. Or maybe that's the mind-erasing frozen margaritas talking.

The sandwiches at Las Tortas Perronas seem to defy the laws of physics, or at least the laws of how many ingredients one sandwich should contain. The Chilanga torta here gets loaded with at least six kinds of meat, as well as cheese, and another six toppings like guacamole and refried beans, all squished between soft bolillo bread. For all the jamón, salchicha, and breaded skirt steak on the torta, it’s a miracle you don’t have to unhinge your jaw to eat this. Every bite tastes rich, slightly spicy, and light—especially if you get extra salsa poured on top.

Vieng Thai is a no-nonsense restaurant with punchy, expertly seasoned Thai food. Think sour sausage, bright purple sauteed eggplant, and spicy drunken noodles that'll make you consider your esophagus in a pleasant way. This place might look worn on the outside, but kind of like when a $100 bill falls out of a crumpled discount card your uncle gave you, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Take only those who are worthy of big flavors here, and then change locations for dessert (‘cause Vieng Thai doesn’t serve any).

Cascabel is where to go for vegan Mexican food. Most folks here snuggle into booths eating plant-based tamales and warm bowls of pozole rojo. But no inaugural trip to Cascabel would be complete without a taco platter, which comes with your choice of five tacos on either corn or flour tortillas. Make sure you get your hands on the soy-based smoked barbacoa wrapped in a corn tortilla.

Bori adds flares to the classics in the same way that you might add a shiny brooch to a well-tailored blazer. This upscale KBBQ restaurant is great for celebrating a birthday, a promotion at work, or any other time you want to go big with the “Butcher’s Feast” platter. It'll run you about $200, but the price is well worth the experience. You get your pick of any cut of meat, and everything is grilled right in front of you. Then, after spending an hour or two slinging back hot pieces of pork jowl wrapped in perilla leaves, finish the night off by strolling through the art gallery inside the restaurant.

Everything at One Shot Pocha feels high energy, but we’d come for the food even if the backdrop were a library. Unlike other party-forward spots, the food at this soju bar is more than just a means to soak up alcohol. The menu is full of shareable, well-executed dishes meant to support people partying until 2am, like sticky glazed, deep-fried chicken wings that require extra napkins, and an army stew that tastes even better with a soft chewy noodles add-on. Don’t let the thinly sliced bulgogi fool you—the sweet beef (and the banchan that comes with it) will fuel your fiercest power ballads for the rest of the night.

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