East Downtown just may be Bayou City’s next boomtown. The area—the city’s original Chinatown, before the majority of our Asian community migrated to southwest Houston—is going through a culinary renaissance, blending longtime favorites with shiny new concepts and making it a bona fide foodie destination.
You’ll want to start with the Nancy Cakes at this packed bistro—the crisped, fluffy corn cakes come in a trio with creamy whipped butter and smoked trout roe (if you’re dining with four, ask kindly, and the kitchen may just throw in an extra one). It’s but one of the many tastes you’ll want to savor on your visit; other musts include Turkish dumplings in lamb jus, supple sourdough tagliatelle, and tea-smoked crème brûlée. Complete the experience with a gin, honey, and lemon spritz.
Offering flawless flat whites, picnic plates, pizza, and wine, this chic restored bungalow is a choice spot to unwind. Weekend brunch brings deliciousness in the form of blood-orange mimosas, deep-dish quiche, and scratch-made biscuits and jam; weekdays showcase special events like Thursday Steak Night and Second Wednesday Trivia.
This industrial-chic bar and kitchen draws in soccer fans thanks to its winning television setup, including a monster projector screen, and its lineup of British and Indian pub fare. Catch a match while you nosh on traditional butter chicken and naan, crispy fish and chips, and fusion dishes like masala-spiced sliders. For scenic views of the downtown skyline, check out the rooftop patio.
Set in the space that formerly housed the old Arlo’s Ballroom, this charming newcomer serves breakfast, lunch, and brunch along with wine, bubbles, coffee, and beer. The cozy porch-café setting lends itself to lingering over shrimp-and-smoked-gouda grits, cast-iron brisket hash, and curry-chicken-salad sandwiches complete with kettle chips and pretzel buns. Settle in further by adding a latte or local IPA.
This family-run Vietnamese joint has been an area favorite for over 10 years. Bring your own bottle and cozy up to a bowl of bun mang vit (duck noodle soup), crispy Cornish hen and rice, and bo luc lac (luscious hunks of stir-fried beef tenderloin). It’s a great place to pre-game before a show at Warehouse Live across the street.
Burgers are king at this unfussy Fort Worth import. The icehouse offers up fatty grass-fed beef burgers, ground fresh in-house and topped with everything from brisket chili and corn chips (the Terlingua) to candied bacon and grilled peaches (the Sugar Burger). You can order any burger with a chicken, turkey, veggie, or quinoa patty subbed in. Tack on a big old plate of bacon-and-jalapeño cheese fries—ordered with a “surprise” (hint: there’s chili) or “no surprise”—and don’t miss the fried goat balls, fried brie with blackberry compote, for dessert.
In a market bursting with build-your-own poke spots, this trendy joint sets itself apart by sourcing its produce from local Texas farms and focusing on sustainably caught fish. Choose your own adventure, or go with a signature bowl like the Truffle Yellowtail—precisely cut yellowtail dressed in shoyu-truffle sauce with puffed black rice, freshly cut cilantro, and superfine shreds of dried chile. Wash it all down with a Topo, because we’re in Houston, after all.
It’s all about brews, tunes, and good times at this newly opened backyard bar. Oh, and cheesesteaks: The Dallas import is known for its sloppy, cheesy, beefy sandwiches. Take a spin on the bar’s Ferris wheel, cool off with draft cocktails and local brews—perfectly chilled at 29 degrees—and, on weekend afternoons, look out for a lineup of food trucks and live music.
Agricole Hospitality (Coltivare, Eight Row Flint, Revival Market, Night Heron) is making a new home in EaDo, with a trinity of exciting concepts—as of this writing, set to open at any time. Named after a port-of-entry for Europeans coming to Texas in the 1800s, Indianola plays on the myriad cultural backgrounds that make up America, offering a comfortable space suited for date night or weekday breakfast. Attached is a relaxed bar and courtyard dubbed Miss Carousel, with a small kitchen featuring a revolving list of specials. Those looking for something quick and easy can enjoy a “nice slice” at Vinny’s, a pizzeria with a short but smart beer and wine list.