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Mexican comfort food at Tacos el Jaibo

Image: Alice Levitt

Located between Sharpstown and Bellaire, this neighborhood features a mixed bag of traditions: Indian, Latin American, and surprises from around the world.

Café Piquet

In strip-mall central, this Cuban restaurant’s free-standing building, complete with column-bordered front patio, stands out. The way to go is to order samplers. Appetizers including croquetas, tamales and empanadas come stacked on a single plate, and entrée combos hit the high points of the meaty, garlicky cuisine—but no worries, there’s a vegetarian platter, too.

Cocina Latina Pupusa Buffet

All-you-can-eat pupusas are $7.86 at this cafeteria-style Salvadoran buffet. The corn pockets can be sampled with basic fillings like plain cheese and beans, but they also come stuffed with more unusual ingredients, like squash or the flower bud called loroco. With salsa and curtido on top, of course, everything tastes good. Don’t forget an agua fresca or two—we love the cashew juice.

India’s Restaurant

Whether you come in the evening for the à la carte menu or at lunchtime for the buffet, service is impeccable at this Northern Indian spot. The majority of the offerings are the Anglo-Punjabi dishes we expect: tandoori chicken, saag paneer, rogan josh. Go for comfort, or try something surprising, like the gingery Chicken Ceylon.

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Chicken-and-waffle sandwich, fried chicken, waffle fries and tater tots from Krisp Bird & Batter.

Image: Alice Levitt

Krisp Bird & Batter

This is the first in a franchise that opened in Gulfton early this year; there’s already another in the Heights, with more to come. The restaurant carefully sources antibiotic- and hormone-free Crystal Ranch Farms chicken for tenders and whole breasts, which feature in a variety of sandwiches ranging from Korean fried chicken with kimchi to waffle buns with hot sauce and maple butter.

Parilla Colombiana

The rounded figures of Fernando Botero’s paintings dominate the décor here. Expect the greatest hits of Colombian cuisine, from indigenous sodas and juices to desserts. The mixed grill known as bandeja paisa is available in full or half sizes, stacked with marinated steak, sausage, pork belly, egg and avocado atop rice and beans. It’s even better with a chilly guanábana (soursop) juice.

Roostar Vietnamese Grill

Yes, there’s a make-your-own option that lets diners assemble their own vermicelli, rice or salad bowls using their choice of protein. But the real reason to visit is the restaurant’s way with a banh mi. The bread is as soft and airy as cotton candy, with a thin exterior that shatters as you bite in. The Special, made with thinly sliced pork belly, smoked ham and pâté, is the best bet, but there are options for vegetarians, too.

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The soul food at Sweet Times by Sweetie Pie's is among the best in the city.

Image: Alice Levitt

Sweet Times by Sweetie Pie’s

Want to see reality TV happen while you dine on exceptional soul food? Episodes of the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s are filmed here. The walls are decorated with record sleeves by artists including Prince, Jay-Z and A Different World star Jasmine Guy, and there are music-themed cocktails, too. But the real news is the fried chicken and mac ‘n’ cheese, both among the best in the city. 

Tacos el Jaibo

There’s a crab in the logo, but this is not a seafood restaurant. Instead, it’s homemade Mexican comfort food, heavy on the grilled meats. The thinly pounded, marinated steak is best served on a plate with cheese enchiladas in fat, homemade tortillas and a flavorful pool of beans. If the aguas frescas include fresh watermelon the day you dine, you’re in luck.

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Roasted duckling at Thai Gourmet

Image: Alice Levitt

Thai Gourmet

When your server tells you the food is spicy here, listen. Whether it’s roasted duckling or curried rice noodles with chicken, if it’s prepared at “medium heat,” there’s a good chance it will leave your eyes watering and nose running. A Thai iced tea will calm your palate, and a look through the Thai pants in the gift shop will prepare you to face the world again.

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Editor’s Pick

Thai Gourmet

$$ Thai 6324 Richmond Ave.

Houston favorite Thai Gourmet, opened in 1995, is surrounded by lush foliage. The decor is simple, in favor of the restaurant’s true focus: its enticing curr...

Tacos El Jaibo

$ Mexican/Tex-Mex 5821 Bellaire Blvd.

There’s a crab in the logo, but this is not a seafood restaurant. Instead, it’s homemade Mexican comfort food, heavy on the grilled meats. The thinly pounded...

Sweet Times by Sweetie Pie's

$$ Soul Food 6356 Richmond Ave.

Want to see reality TV happen while you dine on exceptional soul food? Episodes of the Oprah Winfrey Network's "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's" are filmed here. Bu...

Roostar Vietnamese Grill

$ Sandwiches, Vietnamese 1411 Gessner Rd.

Fusing French and Vietnamese influences, Roostar's sandwich creations are unique and masterful. Specializing in authentic banh mi (Vietnamese for "bread"), R...

Parilla Colombiana

$ Colombian 6053 Bissonnet St.

The rounded figures of Fernando Botero’s paintings dominate the décor here. Expect the greatest hits of Colombian cuisine, from indigenous sodas and juices t...

Krisp Bird & Batter

$ American/New American 5922A Richmond Ave.

Craving a chicken sandwich but want it ethical, too? Chef Ben McPherson's fast food is a cut above with pasture-raised, humane-certified, non-GMO-fed birds a...

India's Restaurant

$$ Indian 5704 Richmond Ave.

India's popular lunch buffet is available daily and is sure to satisfy both seasoned pros and newbies alike. It's the best way to sample 19 hot and cold dish...

Cocina Latina Pupusa Buffet

$ Central American 5920 Bellaire Blvd.

All-you-can-eat pupusas are $7.86 at this cafeteria-style Salvadoran buffet. The corn pockets can be sampled with basic fillings like plain cheese and beans,...

Editor’s Pick

Cafe Piquet

$$ Cuban 5757 Bissonnet St.

Billing itself as “the Cuban restaurant where Cubans eat,” Café Piquet is popular among Houston’s expat community and it’s not hard to see why; eating here f...