Want to try Nepalese food in Houston? Head south, where Cuisine of India specializes in the rarely found cuisine—as well as, obviously, Indian food. The family-run restaurant opened in 1989, and the prices barely seem to have risen since then. If you can’t choose from the vast menu (from which we recommend the Nepalese achari fish), try the combination dinners: the Maharani gets you an assortment of favorites, while the Vegetarian gets you an all-veggie spread.
La India Bonita is known chiefly for two things: endless refills on its delicious free charro beans and only accepting cash. Mornings are a popular time to visit the sweet little taco shack, when it serves up giant breakfast tacos and burritos. At lunch, we like the wonderfully fatty barbacoa, juicy mollejas, and well-seasoned carnitas tacos.
No list of Clear Lake restaurants would be complete without this classic Mediterranean outpost, decorated with photos of the astronauts, rock stars, and other celebs who’ve enjoyed its baklava, beef gyros, and baba ganouj over the years. Although the place is incongruously located in a Tudor-style strip mall that evokes Merry Olde England, once you’re tucked behind the lush foliage of its beautiful patio, you’ll feel like you’re vacationing on the Mediterranean shore—and the sea breeze certainly helps this vision along.
Merlion isn’t your average Thai restaurant; being this close to the bounty of the Gulf means the seafood comes straight off the boats. Andrew Lobeck, a second-generation Thai chef, showcases this bounty in dishes such as raad prick (catch of the day in a red curry and Thai basil sauce) and pla choapraya (market catch topped with crawfish and mushrooms in a ginger-sake sauce). A fine-dining destination, Merlion also boasts a well-curated wine list, with a huge by-the-glass selection.
The original location of Michiru Sushi (which opened a second spot in Greenway Plaza in 2012) is known for its inventive, Japanese-inspired dishes that go beyond simple sushi and rolls. Our favorite is the delicate tuna dumpling, which wraps spicy tuna and avocado inside a paper-thin, nearly translucent square of tuna—you’ve never had an appetizer like this. Don’t miss the Angus roll filled with asparagus, grilled Portobello mushrooms, and filet mignon.
Save room for dessert—you’re going to want to make a special trip to Seabrook Waffle Co. just for its legendary Liège waffles. Found nowhere else in Houston, these are real-deal Belgian waffles made with a brioche batter and pearl sugar. The result is a waffle that’s caramelized and crusty on the outside, chewy and cakelike inside. Get it topped with vanilla ice cream and Nutella for maximum effect.
There’s no need to fight the boardwalk crowds in Kemah for good food; instead, grab a seat at the charming Skallywag, run by brothers Demetri and John Kouloumoundras, and dig into its modern pub grub. Pair your pulled pork sandwich or buffalo burger (served on Slow Dough Bread Co. buns) with one of the many craft beers on draft. Skallywag has everything from microbreweries like Galveston’s Galactic Coast Brewing to larger locals like Saint Arnold and Karbach.
Keep driving on Highway 146—past Tookie’s and its long lines—and head to Stomps instead. The service and, dare we say, the burgers are far better here. Order a Round-Up for the table (that’s a plate of fries topped with chili, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, jalapeño, and bacon) and try to decide between the Hog Wild burger that blends bacon into the beef patty or the Yippy Ki Yay that marinates its burger patty in ranch dressing. Welcome to Texas.
It’s tough to find late-night options in the Clear Lake area, but T-Bone Tom’s in Kemah offers great barbecue, burgers, and boudin balls until 1:30 a.m. seven days a week. During the daytime, we like Tom’s lunch specials, especially chicken-fried steak on Mondays and Southern-fried chicken on Thursdays; both come with excellent mashed potatoes and buttermilk biscuits.
Top Water Grill
You can’t be this close to the water and not enjoy some simple, straightforward Gulf seafood. That’s what Top Water Grill specializes in, from raw oysters to pecan-crusted red snapper or a stuffed flounder in a crawfish cream sauce. Not drinking? You can still pretend you are, with an assortment of fruit smoothies like a virgin strawberry daiquiri and a “fuzzy mango.”