Image: Jenn Duncan

Six rave-worthy restaurants that are no longer under—but on—our radar, and should be on yours, too:

Ambrosia

It’s been around since 2012, but late last year this Montrose Asian-fusion spot got a shot in the arm with a new menu from former Uchi and Kuu chef Micah Rideout. Creative shareable plates span Asia: Japanese chicken nuggets known as karaage sit in a pool of spicy orange sauce, while Vietnamese shaking beef is served as an unlikely version of “steak frites,” with crispy, tangy fried noodle salad in place of the usual fried potatoes. 

Street Food Thai Market

To most American diners, Thai food means spicy coconut milk curries. And believe us, this cheerful Heights-area restaurant excels at those. But we recommend skipping them in favor of the complex flavors of the Isaan region, the northeastern tip of the country that abuts Laos and Cambodia. Try the yum nam khao tod, crispy rice dotted with tangy fermented pork sausage in chile dressing.

Fresco Café Italiano

What’s more comforting than a bowl of freshly rolled pasta in homemade sauce? Nothing, except knowing that it costs less than $16. At his Greenway Plaza–area restaurant, Umbrian chef Roberto Crescini keeps prices low with a casual self-service model, but the cuisine, especially the standout tagliatelle with Texas lamb ragú, is anything but fast food. In fact, it would fit right in on a white tablecloth.

Image: Jenn Duncan

Kura Revolving Sushi Bar

Conveyor-belt sushi is nothing new to Houston, but this Japanese chain provides novelty through quality. The rolls—made with firm, vinegar-kissed rice—and nigiri cycle around the room in clear pods, and you’ll want plenty of both. But there are other delights to consider, too: red snapper with yuzu pepper, garlic-ponzu marinated tuna, and mini bowls of ramen and udon soups, all ordered from the kitchen via a tableside tablet.

Pho Shack

The beef broth here, simmered for 14 hours, is imbued with all the richness—and sweet, aromatic spices—a pho connoisseur could want. But the magic of chef Danh Le’s Sugar Land noodle soup doesn’t end there. High-quality meats, most notably luscious prime brisket, also make the dish a standout. And don’t overlook the crispy egg rolls bursting with garlicky pork, or the vermicelli bowls suffused with smoke from Le’s excellent charbroiled meat.

Aga’s Restaurant & Catering

Tough and gamy? Not these goat chops. The signature dish at this Indo-Pak grill on 59 just outside the Beltway melts in your mouth, in a burst of aromatic spice. While sizzling meat platters are the main draw here for good reason, there are plenty of vegetarian-friendly options, too, including curries and wraps filled with eggs or paneer—you can even order an omelet. Just make sure whatever you fancy comes with saffron-flavored sheermal bread, and finish with a homemade frozen treat.

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