Unlike so many other Thai restaurants, which dial down the heat levels, you can order a curry “spicy” here and it may actually be a challenge. If you order it “Thai spicy,” have a napkin handy to wipe away the tears (of joy). Roasted duck goes well in the red curry; meatless options include mock duck, vegetable, and tofu. The tom kha gai (chicken and coconut soup with lime) is the best in Northwest Houston, and beef lovers won’t want to miss the addictive “Tiger’s Tear” salad, with sliced grilled steak, onion, and cilantro with a spicy lime dressing.
The brisket here is moderately seasoned, tender, and moist—it goes well with the restaurant’s Backyard BBQ sauce, which is sweet, salty, spicy, and tangy all at the same time. Portions are unexpectedly large; even the “small” is generous enough for two people with moderate appetites. Friendly service, locally brewed beers, and comforting, country-style entrées, including excellent chicken-fried steak and burgers, are all great reasons to stop by this rustic joint. There’s also breakfast on the weekends.
No matter the day of the week, Cypress Breakfast House is always packed all morning. There’s a reliable chicken-fried-steak–and–eggs breakfast, and wonderful blueberry pancakes—fresh blueberries are mixed in before the cakes are turned, and the finished product comes with a generous dollop of blueberry compote. The plump biscuits are a delight, and if it’s a sin to cover them with sausage gravy, we don’t want to hear about it. For lunch, the menu transitions to salads, sandwiches, and down-home entrées like pork chops and sirloin steak. Don’t show up here for dinner; they don’t serve it.
Pub, New American
Though it’s often mistaken for a dive bar, Kilburn’s Tavern is an upscale Irish pub with a dark-wood interior and a lovely back patio. The menu includes such must-try items as corn ragout— big, slightly charred fresh kernels bathed in cream, served with finely chopped red onion and a bit of tomato. Burgers are huge, served on specially baked sweet sourdough buns, and there’s a fine craft beer selection from all over the world. Check the website for the live music calendar.
While the soups and entrées are similar to what’s offered at its sister restaurants (the original Pho Binh trailer and Pho Binh by Night), the Cypress outpost, equipped with a big, open grill area, features a larger menu with layer cakes, macaroons, and fresh juices. It’s also got more of a self-service vibe: you order at the counter, then pick up herbs and sauces from a salad bar–style cart, in addition to utensils. A friendly staff member delivers the food to your table.
Gerry Sarmiento and his wife Adriana opened Piqueo to showcase the Peruvian cuisine of Sarmiento’s youth. Standout small plates include crispy chicken chicharrones, meaty yet delicate empanadas, and charred carrots. The full-size entrées, such as paella valenciana (with seafood, chicken, and chorizo), lomo saltado (steak with fried potatoes), and short ribs “seco” are noteworthy—as are fun entrées showcasing the Chinese and Italian influences on Peruvian cuisine, like linguini “saltado.” There’s a reasonably priced South American wine list, a variety of tequilas, and, of course, plenty of pisco sours on offer.
This unassuming oasis of Cuban cuisine is hard to find but worth the effort. Try the lechón asado (roasted pork), which delights with its crisped, bacon-like skin and, like most of the entrées, comes with luscious black beans and rice and lightly sweet, thick slices of plantain. Other homespun favorites include ropa vieja (shredded beef), beef picadillo (ground beef, tomato, and spices), and red snapper with shrimp in a garlicky mojo. Prices are reasonable: the vast majority of entrées range from $9.95 to $16.95, unless you go for the seafood paella for two ($58.95; allow 45 minutes cooking time).
Long a destination for burger lovers, Rockwell has taken the lead in bringing interesting Texas craft beers to Cypress, with selections from Texas Big Beer Company, Brazos Valley Brewing Company, and Buffalo Bayou Brewing. Many of the menu items are made with the beer, too, like the Sympathy Wings made with Karbach’s Sympathy for the Lager, and the Convict Hill Outlaw burger (fork and knife required) topped with pastrami braised in Convict Hill Stout and Spicy Mustard. The service and atmosphere are Texas-casual.
Cactus-shaped glasses, a terra cotta–roofed indoor bar, and serapes are all part of the kitschy charm at Rudy’s, where the house margaritas are icy-cold, the perfect balance between sweet and tart, and a bargain at $3.50 for a generous “small.” In fact, Rudy’s claims it’s “home of the best margarita in Texas,” and while there’s stiff competition for that title, the ones served here are very tasty indeed, not to mention perfect paired with an order of mini pork tacos (served with pineapple, like traditional tacos al pastor.) Don’t miss the expertly seasoned black bean soup, served with pico de gallo and shredded queso fresco.
It helps to know that this new wine bar and restaurant is located next door to a ReMax realty office, which is much easier to spot. Once you find Three20Three, head inside for some of chef Brandy Graesser’s outstanding pomegranate lamb chops and a glass of red wine. Other recommendations include the “potato chip nachos” featuring housemade chips topped with pico de gallo, bacon, jack cheese, and jalapeño ranch dressing for a fun twist on an old stalwart, and the “signature grilled cheese,” a sophisticated version of brioche, with bacon, ham, and pinot noir jam. The wine list leans heavily on the California side, but there are some international options as well.