HOUGuide

The Toughest Reservations In Houston Right Now (And How To Get Them)

Our thoughts on the busiest restaurants in Houston and advice on how to get in.
The Toughest Reservations In Houston Right Now (And How To Get Them) image

photo credit: Liz Silva

At any given time, there are a handful of Houston restaurants where trying to get a table feels like trying to hit every key change in “Love On Top”—it’s sort of impossible. Right now, these are those restaurants. The spots on this list aren’t necessarily the best restaurants in the city, but they are the hardest places to secure a reservation. You deserve to know if these spots are actually worth the energy, and if so, the best way to go about getting in. Below, you’ll find our verdicts, alongside some info that’ll help you grab that table (or bar seat). Check back for regular updates.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Richard Casteel

American

Montrose

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightFirst/Early in the Game DatesOutdoor/Patio SituationSmall Plates
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Verdict: What looks like a tiny house in Montrose is actually Nobie’s, a farm-to-table restaurant that keeps new dishes rotating seasonally. There aren’t many other restaurants that balance exciting and comforting quite like Nobie’s, so find any excuse to try the latest small-plate drops, or check in on the mainstays (hello, dilly bread). Or come for a dependable date night, or with a few pals when you’re in the mood to take down an herb-roasted chicken dinner. 

How to get in: Nobie opens reservations four weeks in advance. Mark your calendar for when they do open because prime-time reservations get snatched up like the Texas tartare. If you miss the reservation drop, put yourself on the waitlist for your desired date and hope for the best. Or, try swinging by right when they open for a seat at the bar.


Verdict: With a menu full of nothing but hits—everything from buttery nigiri, to wagyu katsu sandwiches, to paper-thin slices of octopus crudo—we get why seats at this Upper Kirby classic are hard to come by. And thanks to the canonically cool-tempered staff, the dining experience at this Japanese spot feels smooth and easy. Until it’s time to decide who gets the last piece of grilled hamachi kama.

How to get in: Reservations at Kata Robata open up a month in advance, so keep your eyes peeled for when they go live. If you have no clue what your body will want a month from now and need to get here ASAP, swing by as a walk-in at lunch or come solo and scout out a seat at the end of the sushi bar.


photo credit: Liz Silva

Verdict: Self-described as “New Asian American,” Jūn in the Heights does a little bit of everything. You’ll find yourself diving into bowls of grits topped with delicate cherry tomatoes and picking apart a charred whole fish until the bones are bare. No matter how different the dishes may seem, the flavors blend together perfectly and make us excited for more. Plus, the interior of Jūn feels a bit like a meditative retreat, so get here under any circumstance.

 How to get in: You can book a reservation for Jūn a month in advance. So plan your occasion, have your group ready, and grab a table as soon as you can to get the best dining time. Otherwise, first-come-first-serve bar availability, or a dreaded hour-long wait time might be in your future.


Verdict: The small-but-mighty American restaurant in EaDo is where to go for the quintessential date night or a solo dine with a cleverly named cocktail, like the calico crush. The menu at Nancy’s gets a refresh seasonally (we suggest giving a few a try), but leave room for the lamb tartare and the cheeseburger served between an english muffin, both of which never leave the menu. Once you’re floating in their dreamy bubble, it’ll be hard to part ways with this restaurant, or their famous Nancy cakes.

How to get in: Space at Nancy’s Hustle during peak dinner hours will be pretty limited if you’re walking in. Either commit to going for a sexy late-night dinner with someone who makes your heart sing, or try your luck at the bar or patio when they first open up.


Verdict: While the Austin-based import Uchi has been in Montrose since 2012, seats at this Japanese spot are still highly coveted more than 10 years later. The best way to experience Uchi (and navigate the miles-long menu) is either through the omakase, or to ask your server to point you in the direction of the best nigiri, cold plates, and maki this place has to offer (just be sure that the walu walu makes it to the table).

How to get in: Uchi reservations open up 30 days in advance, and unless you grab one right when they go live, you won’t find a reservation before 9pm. Walk-in availability is limited, but if you insist on rolling the dice (look at you, living on the edge), try snagging a seat at the sushi bar when they open.


Verdict: Deep in the East End lies the Thai powerhouse Street To Kitchen. Attached to a gas station and impossibly small, Street To Kitchen pumps out impressively spicy drunken noodles, bowls of tangy tom yum, bottles of well-paired natural wine, and damn near the best mango sticky rice you’ll ever eat. Once cocooned by the restaurant’s colorful embrace, you may never want to leave. We sure don’t. 

How to get in: Due to the tiny size of the dining room, reservations at Street To Kitchen are already difficult to get. And since the chef won a James Beard Award in early 2023, getting one (especially at peak hours) is now actually impossible. Unless you’re able to plan a couple weeks in advance, try going for a table right at 5pm or get a little European with a 9pm visit. Walk-ins are not recommended.


Verdict: Refuge is small, dark, and full of fancy alcohol, a.k.a. it’s a great spot for an intimate date, an invite-only birthday celebration, or nights when you feel like sitting at a bar alone with some expensive barrel-aged rum. Service at Refuge is impeccable and suffused with high-end touches like cloth coasters, stainless steel garnish picks, and chic little bowls of bar snacks. We always appreciate the fantastic, ever-rotating cocktail menu spiked with harder-to-find spirits like Mexican gin.

How to get in: Refuge makes a lot of space for walk-ins, so that means the bar is almost always at capacity. If you stroll up the stairs with a date or a group of four at prime drinking hours, you’ll likely be met with the dreaded: “It’s about an hour wait.” Avoid the sting of rejection by making a reservation at peak pre-game or post-game hours, around 5pm or 10pm, especially on weekends.


Verdict: Neo HTX’s tiny omakase counter is tucked in the back of a Montrose townhouse turned bespoke clothing couturier (say that five times fast), but it curates what feels like a thrill ride of nearly non-stop nigiri. The tasting menu runs about $200 per person, and the nearly 16-ish course dinner starts with perfectly sliced nigiri and ends with a special Underground Creamery dessert topped with an optional heaping of caviar. 

How to get in: Of all the tough reservations to secure in Houston, grabbing a coveted seat at the 10-seat omakase counter may be the toughest. Prior to summer 2023 (heretofore known as the “before times”), Neo offered reservations online, but one day the link mysteriously disappeared, replaced with the ominous, “DM to inquire.” Yes, prospective diners must now message Neo on Instagram, and/or sign up for a newsletter, and then hope their name is selected like some kind of secret red rose ceremony.

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