The parrillada at Sal y Pimienta

Image: Kate LeSueur

Bistro Provence

French • At this petite gem on Memorial Dr., owner Genevieve Guy feeds her guests as if they were her own kin. No surprise, then, that this French bistro has a lot of regulars, who pack the small dining room each night. Join in and cozy up to dishes like honey-lavender-roasted duck breast or poussin roti, a Cornish hen cooked in the same wood-fired oven that produces the excellent pizzas. The wine list is heavy on Bandols, which complement the rich food well.

Coco Crepes & Coffee

Coffee/Pastries, Dessert, Sandwiches • The fourth location of this Houston-based chain lies around the corner from Bendwood Park, removed from the mad rush of CityCentre and Town & Country Village—though just barely—making it feel like a quiet getaway. Enjoy the calm pace here over one of the menu’s many crêpes (we prefer the breakfast version with lamb sausage, eggs, and cheese) or simply indulge in a gelato and espresso al fresco.

Escalante’s

Tex-Mex • For a lighter update on Tex-Mex favorites, Escalante’s hits the spot with its array of salads, seafood campechanas, and fat-free refried beans that come standard with all entrées. During Sunday brunch, though, we like to indulge in the homestyle migas con chorizo and a pitcher of sangria—both best enjoyed on the always-packed patio.

Grub Burger Bar

Burgers • This College Station import is a favorite at CityCentre for its inventive line-up of gourmet burgers along with a full bar serving excellent cocktails, craft beer, and even adult milkshakes like the Bourbon & Caramel. Besides the Angus beef burgers, Grub also offers a nice selection of alternative patties, from turkey and chicken to tuna, salmon, and even chickpea.

Hungry’s

Continental, Global • An area institution, Hungry’s is where Memorial families have come for over 35 years to enjoy Mediterranean-inspired favorites like gyros, kabobs, and couscous. Over the years, the menu has expanded to other healthy options such as grilled salmon with basil pesto and quinoa salad with shrimp and vegetables. After dinner, head to the adjacent Next Door Bar & Lounge for a cocktail or a glass of wine. 

Nirvana

Indian • Vegetarians, this is your nirvana—literally. Half the menu at this cute-as-a-button Northern Indian restaurant is vegetarian. The dishes rotate frequently according to what’s freshest, so the bhindi amchoori (stewed okra) you enjoyed one day on the lunch buffet may be gone the next. But experimenting with new dishes is part of the fun. At dinner, bring a bottle or a six-pack to enjoy with the à la carte menu; Nirvana is BYOB and doesn’t charge a corkage fee. 

Seafood pho at Pho & Crab

Pho & Crab

Vietnamese • True to its name, this modern Vietnamese restaurant serves plenty of two things: pho, in several varieties, and crab. The crab is served only at dinner, when you can choose between snow, Dungeness, Alaskan king, and soft-shell crab in roasted garlic butter or tamarind sauce. The pho is served all day from an extensive menu, and you’ll also find non-Viet items such as pad thai and kung pao chicken. 

Pinto Thai

Thai • What was formerly a Nit Noi Thai has been transformed into something more authentic, in spite of a name that would suggest otherwise. You’ll still find standards like pad thai and curries, but look for new additions like mee rad nar (crispy egg noodles and vegetables with a rich brown sauce) and larb (a cold chicken salad dish with spicy lime dressing). Many folks take their food here to-go, but you’ll find cheerful, welcoming service if you dine in.

Pizaro’s Pizza Napoletana

Pizza • Regarded as the best pizza parlor in Houston, Pizaro’s has developed a reputation for strict adherence to the Naples style of pizza production, which uses only fine Italian flour, San Marzano tomatoes, imported olive oil, and housemade mozzarella, cooked in a wood-fired oven at 900 degrees for 90 seconds. The result is a thin-crust pizza that’s intensely flavorful and admirable in its simplicity. Bring a bottle of wine and prepare to dine in; Pizaro’s pizza should not and does not travel well. 

Sal y Pimienta

South American, Steakhouse • Part parrillada, part steakhouse, Sal y Pimienta is a meat-lover’s retreat, where you’ll find all manner of options presented to you tableside by your waiter on a big, wooden board. Choose an Akaushi flank steak or a pork tenderloin, or get one of everything on a parrilla that includes Argentinean sausage, sweetbreads, and lamb chops. Whatever you get, pair it with a bottle of wine from the extensive South American selection.