HOUGuide

The Best Houston Restaurants For A Special Occasion

Congratulations, you have something to celebrate. Here are the best places to go.
The Best Houston Restaurants For A Special Occasion image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Special occasions remind us of the famous saying about obscenity: You know it when you see it. Sometimes it’s obvious—maybe you’re getting engaged or celebrating a major birthday—and sometimes you just want to go big at a fine dining spot on a particularly awesome Tuesday. It doesn’t matter why you’re celebrating, but if that’s what you’re doing, you’re going to want to go somewhere exciting, and maybe a little fancy. Someplace that probably requires at least a few days of advance planning, costs more than you’d usually spend, and has extra-good food and service.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Steaks

Montrose

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Part steakhouse, part fancy-just-cause, Andiron in Montrose has oversized plush booths perfect for making your meal the envy of other diners squished into common tables. Unlike most steakhouses around town, Andiron has smaller sides, like a tiny hunk of wedge salad doused in hot bacon, but still cranks up the smoky open-fire grill in the meat department. Nothing says “I just got a new job that pays way too much” like a caviar souffle and a $225 45-ounce porterhouse.


Scoring a notoriously difficult-to-get reservation at the Montrose omakase spot Neo HTX is a special occasion in and of itself. Neo’s 13-seat counter—essentially the center of a nesting doll that includes a Montrose townhouse and a bespoke clothing store—serves a $175 to $225 16-course dinner of almost all nigiri. The fish and the rice are served at the perfect temperature, with only the slightest hint of sauces or toppings. Plan to spend a little extra cash to top the final dessert with an a la carte bump of caviar.


photo credit: Richard Casteel

$$$$Perfect For:Special OccasionsDate NightDining Solo

Much like an Acqua Di Gio commercial or taking an everything shower, BCN radiates luxury and sensuality. Here, you’ll be eating silky slices of jamon Iberico beneath an actual Picasso. Nothing on the Spanish restaurant’s menu tastes revolutionary, but dishes like a grilled branzino with grapefruit or a grilled octopus will make you say, “Oh, this is tasty, right?” before boasting about getting your security deposit back (which you might need to pay for this meal).


photo credit: Richard Casteel

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Pappas is the pinnacle of Houston steakhouses—a fancy meat beacon amongst the stretch of Westheimer strip centers near the Galleria. Expect a staff that could sell you a beach house in Idaho, an stacked wine cellar, and nutty cuts of dry-aged beef served with a perfect salt and pepper crust. Want fancy French wine, a 72-oz tomahawk, or an after-dinner scotch? Why yes, of course you do.


MF Sushi's a la carte menu is perfect for a regular ol' Wednesday dinner, but for momentous occasions (like an anniversary, or filing those pending back taxes) reserve a spot for the roughly $300 omakase. While you must physically call the restaurant to book a sushi bar seat (so analog), the relentless courses of beautifully crafted nigiri and resistance to AI taking over the world make it worth it.


If your special occasion also includes a hard out, go to Bludorn. Food gets sent out as though fired from some kind of cannon, but everything tastes incredible. No one does fried oysters quite like Bludorn, which you will be gulping down between breaths and bites of short rib ravioli, lobster pot pie, and beef wellington. So unless you’re treating a functionally mute parent to dinner, we recommend grabbing a seat at the bar for a solo, martini-fueled celebration.


Katami feels fresh, new, and somehow precious. Like the precisely plated toro tar tar with a raw quail egg, tiny pickled enoki mushroom caps, and perfectly square little toasts. Or tiny sheafs of raw Japanese wagyu dotted in edible flowers paired with simmering shabu broth atop miniature konro grills. You come here for an elegant meal with refined and simple details, that also happens to feel luxurious whether you spend $50 or $500. For anyone whose idea of fun is a well-folded napkin, dinner at Katami borders on the divine.


Even though getting into Da Marco in Montrose feels like cracking a Fort Knox vault—the windows are shuddered, the entrance is tented, and the main dining room is obscured by a thick curtain—once inside, Da Marco hums like any other old-school Italian restaurant. Out-of-breath servers whisk plates to and fro, urgently offer to split dishes, and know every single ingredient on every single plate, as if pleasing you were their one true calling in life. You are important, and so is the amount of burrata on the menu, fork-tender braised ribs, and the dainty caramelized bananas laced over chocolate cake for dessert.


This place is built for dressing up, mostly because it’s inside a museum, surrounded by Noguchi sculptures, and every server wears some kind of suit. Translated as “the gardener” in French (conspicuously, there’s no garden), the fine dining restaurant inside of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston serves an excellent five-course tasting menu. If you’re looking for a quiet, intimate spot to (quietly) commemorate a special occasion, a reservation at Le Jardinier won’t disappoint you


Wanna party like it’s 1999, or at least like a Desperate Housewife in the early 2000s? Head to the Greenway Italian spot Tony’s, because this massive restaurant hasn’t changed much since it opened and still oozes with over-the-top pastel pop Art Deco decor. The menu feels delightfully retro with tiny servings of fresh pasta or dishes like cognac-drenched veal chops. But surprising touches like busts of a woman with cotton candy hair spiked with sparklers and novelty hat box-sized souffles (there are over a dozen flavors to choose from) are what makes Tony’s memorable. 


The Korean BBQ spot Karne in The Heights is where you go when you’re in the mood to feel fancy. Karne is decadent: glistening chandeliers, marbled tables, and $30 drinks that come coated in gold or sitting in a billowing pool of smoke (or both). Everywhere you look a couple is celebrating an anniversary, or people celebrating being alive. Cuts of wagyu, rib meat, and hanger steak come straight from the dry-age room to your table. And no matter what you order, the staff will flip every piece of meat for you, so the only effort required is lifting the food off of your plate, and plotting your next over-the-top drink order. 


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