Image: Jenn Duncan

Sometimes—when a place across town is truly great—a mini road trip is in order. Here are five worth the drive:

Murdoch’s Backyard Pub | Cypress

Not every pub in Cypress offers goat yoga, but the Franke family’s goal to keep their restaurant “beyond normal” never wavers. Every day here is full of quirky fun, particularly when you’re sampling the various homemade Freedom Dogs. Whether you choose the Fancy Sanchez, filled with chunks of mango and Oaxaca cheese, or a wild-boar-and-veal bratwurst, we give you permission to get it fried, “corny style.”

Number 13 Prime Steak & Seafood | Galveston

You’d be forgiven for assuming a steakhouse in Galveston would be on the fusty side, perhaps with a salad bar taking precedence over prime meat. But this modern eatery is a cut above. Angus steaks are dry-aged in house, grilled over Texas oak, then finished in a 1,400-degree oven for a delectable char. But there are rewards beyond steaks, too—for example, tamale-stuffed quail in house mole.

Gaúchos do Sul | Champions

This corner lot in Vintage Park near Champion Forest isn’t easy to find, but once you’re inside, it’s hard to miss the gigantic salad bar. The meats, brought to the table by gaúchos, are prepared with exceptional care. Chicken wrapped in crispy bacon is first marinated overnight in Cognac and beer, while meltingly tender lamb chops are soaked in wine, mint, and tangy lemon pepper. The only thing missing: some help with self-control.

Image: Kate LeSueur

Killen’s Barbecue | Pearland

It’s no secret that it’s worth traveling from anywhere—and standing in line—for a beef rib at this famous Pearland smoke palace. What’s not as well-known? The fact that you can make a reservation for dinner service. The regular barbecue menu is available in the evening, but there’s also grilled-to-order steaks and Tex-Mex specialties, including brisket enchiladas with chili gravy, ultra-juicy fried chicken, and ribeye chicken-fried steak.

Image: Alice Levitt

Broken Barrel | The Woodlands

Chef Hilda Ysusi’s global cuisine stands out among other restaurants, not only in The Woodlands, but in the greater Houston area. While the Mexico City native doesn’t shrink from cerebral surprises like pasta in chamomile cream sauce with speck and corn, she also serves fun snacks along the lines of popcorn, paella arancini, and deep-fried olives. In one of her most beloved dishes, she combines high- and lowbrow indulgence, pairing caviar and fried chicken with sparkling wine.

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