Max’s Wine Dive is best described by their mantra: ‘Fried Chicken and Champagne?… Why the Hell Not?!’. This unique dining experience pairs Southern comfort food with some of the best wines found worldwide, proving that Houston is indeed a foodie mecca. Founded by Jerry and Laura Lasco, who believe that unpretentious dives are the best places to enjoy upscale food, Max seamlessly blends comfort and haute cuisine with modern innovative cooking and Texan classics. Try the Famous Southern Fried Chicken that is marinated in-house with jalapeno and buttermilk, or the pulled pork-stuffed peppers that are unique to this establishment. If Washington Ave. is full head to the restaurant’s second site in Fairview St. for a little more space.
Max’s Wine Dive, 4720 Washington Ave, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 880 8737
Underbelly offers ‘the story of Houston food’ with its fresh, local, underused ingredients in honor of Houston’s history as a center of agriculture and a port city. Drawing from his visits to dive restaurants in interesting neighborhoods around the city, Chef Chris Shepherd creates dishes inspired by these dynamic spots. His dishes accent the unique taste of Southern foods, but also mix in inspiration from various other regions of the USA. The interior décor too can be described as modern with a Southern twist: barn-like ceilings and photographs reflecting the people who have had the largest influence on the chef over the years create an intimate, cozy ambiance.
Underbelly, 1100 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 528 9800
Mexican food is a staple in Texas, and finding authentic dishes can be a challenge for Houstonians. Fortunately, Hugo’s Restaurant in the Montrose district exemplifies Mexican food done right. Opened in 2002, this restaurant is praised for its ability to bring traditional, regional Mexican cuisine to the people of Houston. Chef Hugo Ortega does not waver from his origins and uses fresh ingredients with heated spices to create a signature nostalgic flavor. In addition to great food, Hugo’s is noted for its stunning architecture: sweeping staircases, wide windows, and intricate detailing on the brick facade are part of the building designed by architect Joseph Finger, also responsible for the city hall’s impressive Art Deco style.
Hugo’s, 1600 Westheimer Houston, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 524 7744
Kata Robata prides itself on being Houston’s premier sushi and Japanese tapas restaurant featuring an exclusive menu from Executive Chef Manabu ‘Hori’ Horiuchi. When it opened in 2010, Kata Robata changed the face of sushi dining in Houston: blending both traditional and modern Japanese cuisine, the grilled meats, vegetables, and sushi ae prepared with great care and guaranteed to be the freshest they can be. For a signature meal try the chawan mushi, ramen, or donburri, unless you feel like attempting the lobster mac and cheese. The extensive list of signature rolls presents interesting ideas from ever-creative chefs, served inside the trendy interior.
Kata Robata, 3600 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 526 8858
Local Foods is a hip, modern spot serving up a gourmet selection of sandwiches, salads, and prepared meals made from local ingredients; much of the produce is sourced straight from the farms of Gundermann, Atkinson, and others, alongside the famed Texas Wild Gulf Shrimp. The original Rice Village location offers seasonal menus that change often depending on the availability of natural ingredients, meaning that the food is as fresh as can be. The sides are slightly experimental but definitely worth trying – go for the quinoa or couscous. To refresh after a hot summer afternoon also try the mintade which combines orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit into one amazing drink.
Local Foods, 2424 Dunstan Rd, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 521 7800
While many Houston diners prefer the taste of sushi, those looking for a taste of India can find it at Pondicheri, where classic home-style street foods of India are brought to the masses of Houston. By inventively pairing these traditional flavors with locally sourced ingredients, each meal is nourishing and tasty. Pondicheri also features daily fresh baked goods from the Bake Lab and sells spices, chutneys, and other Indian snacks for take home from the shop. With a casual and comfortable environment, Pondicheri encourages patrons to spend time working with outlets and free wi-fi.
Pondicheri, 2800 Kirby Dr B132, Houston, TX, USA, +1 713 522 2022