I looked back at my Lasagna recipe that I posted beginning of the year and it made me do a knee-slapping laugh – I was talking about big things happening in 2020 and it is hilarious to go back and read about it.
You would think during quarantine, I would have posted a million recipes on here with all the extra time I had working from home. Don’t get me wrong – I cooked a lot. If being in quarantine for two months taught me anything, it’s that I realized I don’t love cooking as much as I thought I did.
Well, I still love it, but cooking 5-6 times a week, and sometimes even up to twice a day started to feel like a chore. And then came the worst of it all– those damn dishes. So. many. dishes. This fueled my lack of motivation to take ‘professional’ photos of my cooking process. All I wanted to do was eat at a restaurant, share stories, and laugh with friends. Do I sound like a brat yet?
Which leads me to today’s post – I’m reminiscing and want to highlight all my favorite restaurants & foods in Houston! These are the ones that I dreamed about during quarantine. These are the food and restaurants that I recommend to e v e r y b o d y. These are the ones that make me happy when I’m sad… or just make me happier in general.
Needless to say, I am looking forward to the day when things get back to “normal” and I can once again dine-in at my favorite spots with friends and family.
*Note: photos below are not my own.
*Another Note: this is not a food-critic review post!
My Favorite Foods in Houston
Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant: Relish Restaurant & Bar
This restaurant has a special place in my heart. Relish Restaurant & Bar is described as a “contemporary classic American comfort food with French and Italian influences” and I think that is very accurate. I could go on and on why I love this place. I have a couple of all-time favorite foods here: Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit (found in their Brunch menu only, which they’re not currently serving), Fried Chicken with Hot Honey (the breading is unbeatable and you can purchase in buckets!), Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes (it is mostly crab meat and not so much stuffing), and Brussels sprouts (roasted with some type of balsamic glaze). Honestly, I don’t think I’ve had a bad item on their menu. Their wine list and cocktails are amazing as well.
Relish is only serving curbside for now, but typically they are counter service for lunch & brunch and seated service for dinner.
Favorite Barbecue Restaurant: Killen’s BBQ
Confession. I did not enjoy eating barbecue until I had Killen’s BBQ. Their Brisket, Beef Ribs, and Pork Ribs are excellent – packed with flavor, tender, and juicy. But my favorite part about this restaurant is their unrivaled sides options.
Contrary to popular belief, I think that execution of side dishes are just as important as the meat when it comes to barbecue. I’ve tried other popular BBQ spots in Houston (…and in Kansas City) – Rudy’s, Goode Company BBQ, Truth BBQ, etc. – it’s not that they don’t have good barbecue, it’s just that their sides are subpar and Killen’s BBQ’s sides are magnificent. My top two favorite sides are the mouth-watering Mac ‘N Cheese (so creamy and cheesy) and Creamed Corn (sweet and creamy but with a hint of spice). Even their desserts are some of my favorites around town – Banana Pudding (very Southern traditional) and Bread Pudding (made with croissant).
Killen’s BBQ is offering both dine-in and takeout service at the moment. If you’ve lived in Houston and haven’t had Killen’s BBQ before, you are missing out. Venture on out there and your taste buds will thank you.
Favorite Authentic Mexican Street Tacos: TacoKeto
My sister and I first discovered this little food truck during college. We were craving something good… and something greasy. I don’t know how my sister found this place, but I feel lucky to have stumbled upon this eatery. I remember it clearly – we both ordered beef tacos (we had to add cheese) and Mexican coke. It was the most glorious little meal I’ve ever had. The beef tacos were greasy, slightly crunchy, and delicious. The green salsa that came with it was amazing too.
It’s been a while since I’ve visited, but I’m drooling as I’m typing, so I will have to make a trip down I-45 soon.
TacoKeto, 1401 Cullen Blvd, Houston, Texas 77023
Favorite Americanized Tacos: Velvet Taco
I know, I know. Some of you are probably shaking your head at me. Americanized Tacos… and a chain?! What can I say – sometimes, it’s done well. In this case, I truly believe that Velvet Taco is not just a copycat Mexican taco restaurant – I think that a good chunk of their menu is unique and you cannot find at other taco places.
My go-to tacos are: Picnic Chicken (rotisserie chicken, avocado crema, warm honey-dijon potato salad, crispy chicken skin) , Nashville Hot Tofu (crispy tofu, napa slaw, ranch crema, house brined pickles), and Spicy Tikka Chicken (crisp tenders, spicy tikka sauce, buttered cilantro basmati rice, raita crema, Thai basil).
Velvet Taco is currently offering dine-in and takeout service.
Favorite Crêpes: Melange Creperie
This was another spot that my sister & I discovered during college that still frequent even now. Melange Creperie was a Parisienne street style creperie stand that started in Montrose (corner of Taft & Westheimer) and now they have their own restaurant in the Heights! The crepes speak for themselves. My favorite is a basic Nutella-Banana crêpe – the actual crepe is thin and crispy and they put just right amount of Nutella. This is one of my go-to comfort foods in Houston.
Melange Creperie is currently taking takeout orders. It’s perfect because their crepes are wrapped “street-style” – you can eat while taking a walk around the neighborhood!
Favorite Coffee: Luce Ave
This one was a battle. I contend that great coffee is extremely subjective, but I believe this place exceeds expectations. I had a few runner ups, but ultimately, Luce Ave won. I’m a little picky when it comes to coffee (and espresso drinks) because I have 6+ years of experience working as a barista. I’m not an expert, but I guess know more than the average person. I won’t bore you and get into technicalities, but I love how consistent their drinks are. Their baristas are thorough – from measuring the ground espresso in the portafilter to extracting it with perfect timing. Their espresso drinks are top-notch quality each time.
My go-to drinks are: Cortado (half espresso, half steamed milk), Iced Creamericano (when I have a sweet tooth), and Black Peach Iced Tea (they brew the tea upon order, so it’s fresh each time).
Bonus: Their chocolate chip cookie is amazing and a must-try.
#1 Favorite Restaurant: State of Grace
State of Grace is a “jubilant medley of old favorites played with new spice, accent, and freshness: southern, American, Latin, Gulf Coast, German, and Asian.”
This restaurant is brilliant, excellent, and amazing from food to service. I’ve eaten here perhaps 182638x over the last couple years and have eaten through their different menus – lunch, Sunday brunch, dinner, and Sunday Supper. I’ve never eaten anything here that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. This is my favorite restaurant for date night, small celebrations, and just-because.
Again, I’ve tried a majority of their dishes but my top recommendations are: Redfish “On the Half Shell” (with ginger and lime vinaigrette, pearl onions – always cooked perfectly – dinner menu only), Chicken Fried Chicken (topped with butter biscuit, sausage gravy, and sunny side-up eggs – brunch menu only), and their Sunday Supper, which is a prix-fixe menu for $29 pp.
Bonus: For Happy Hour, they have $1 oysters (and it’s just not the Gulf oysters )!
State of Grace is currently offering dine-in and takeout service. Kaykay and I ate here last month and felt very, very safe (at least safer than grocery stores).