Editors’ Picks

Where to Eat in the Energy Corridor

Our top 10 picks for diverse cuisine in Houston’s booming wild west

By Katharine Shilcutt September 1, 2014 Published in the September 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Spinach pastelitos at Pastelitos Cafe are a favorite.

Aka Japanese

No relation to Aka Sushi on Kirby, this Aka has a much quieter vibe, along with solid sushi and rolls. Inexpensive weekday lunch specials that come heaped high are the main attraction, though the all-day happy hour on weekends is also quite the bargain. And despite the low prices, quality and freshness are always on point here.

Annam Indian

You can order off the menu at Annam during the week, but the real time to visit is on the weekends, when the restaurant lays out a lavish spread of lunch-buffet specials, from crab curry to the famous South Indian shark dish sura puttu. For dinner, ordering off the tandoori menu is the way to go; the sampler sizzler is our favorite, featuring everything from yogurt-marinated shrimp to lamb kebab. And don’t forget to order a side of naan, plain or Kashmiri-style, stuffed with mixed nuts.

Cafe Taipei

The family-run Cafe Taipei raises the bar for Americanized Chinese fast-casual food by making its kung pao delight, orange beef, and General Tso’s chicken with super-fresh ingredients (including all-white-meat chicken) and serving it up with a genuine smile. If you’re in the mood for excellent, old-fashioned Chinese take-out, look no further.

Lasagna House III

For anyone who grew up on its chicken parm, gnocchi, and garlic bread, west Houston institution Lasagna House III can do no wrong. Those looking for modern Italian may want to look elsewhere, however; this 30-year-old restaurant serves devotedly old-school, red-tablecloth Italian classics best enjoyed with a glass of Chianti. And true to its name, the lasagna is excellent, whether eaten in the cozy dining room or taken to go.

Matsu Sushi

The flagship location of Matsu Sushi on FM 1960 has been serving fresh fish since 1995, while its second location in the Energy Corridor has only been around since 2009. Today both are favorites for their friendly service, high-quality fish, and unique dishes. We love the pine-nut tuna tartare in a spicy kochu garlic sauce as an appetizer, as well as uni, amaebi, and kanpachifor dinner. The wine, beer, and sake menu isn’t extensive, but it does the trick.

Chicken and waffles are served on the weekend at Pecan Creek Grille.

Pastelito’s Cafe

As the name implies, the flaky, house-made pastelitos are the best item at Pastelito’s Cafe. At lunch, get the spinach alfredo–stuffed pastries, followed by sweet guava and cream cheese for dessert. In the mornings, try a Venezuelan breakfast on the sweet shaded patio with a freshly pulled shot of espresso on the side.

Pecan Creek Grille

You can order breakfast all day long at Pecan Creek Grille—and you should. In addition to free wi-fi, the cafe encourages guests to linger with bottomless cups of serve-yourself coffee (the cinnamon version is a must). We recommend the creamy jalapeño-cheese grits and hearty biscuits and gravy to really get you going, though lighter options abound.

Petit Cafe

Packed almost since the day it opened in 2008, Petit Cafe is a popular option for lighter fare thanks to its heart-healthy Mediterranean menu. For lunch or dinner, the makanek plate—Lebanese sausage sautéed with lemon and vegetables, served with a side of excellent hummus—is a favorite. The wine menu isn’t extensive but pairs well with the fare. Fridays bring jazz night, and Saturdays, belly dancers.

Pho Basil

What’s the best dish at Pho Basil? If you guessed pho, you guessed right. The broth can be a little on the light side flavor-wise, but it’s nothing a few dashes of Sriracha and a good squeeze of lime can’t cure. The cafe also gets bonus points for its nicely sweet Thai iced tea and cute, cheerful decor featuring colorful photos of Vietnam.

Rattan Asian Bistro

Rattan’s incredibly well-stocked wine bar and chic decor make it a more than suitable date-night destination, though it’s just as fun to hit up for post-work happy hours. Owner Ron Chen’s diverse pan-Asian menu has something for everyone, from sushi and sashimi to Thai beef salads and bowls of Vietnamese bun. There’s even a large gluten-free menu with its own specials, like halibut in a spicy XO sauce.

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