Editor's Picks

Holiday Shopping at the Galleria? Here’s Where to Eat Nearby.

Our picks for the best spots in the Galleria, Tanglewood, and Uptown.

By Timothy Malcolm December 1, 2019 Published in the December 2019 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Our new obsession: fast-casual falafel at Craft Pita.

If you brave a trip to the Galleria this holiday season, reward yourself with a visit to one of these great restaurants.

Blanco Tacos + Tequila

Occupying a prime bit of Galleria real estate, in the old Saks space a floor below Nobu, this Cali-Mex spot from Fox Restaurant Concepts brings loaded San Francisco Mission–style burritos, grilled-fish-and-avocado tacos, and big salads like the Mexican tostada with black beans, corn, pico, and chipotle-buttermilk dressing. After a long day of shopping, indulge in one of the $6 happy hour margaritas (we love the original with Michelada salt).

Craft Pita

Perfect for a quick lunch or breezy dinner, this new fast-casual spot with a cute patio offers fresh Mediterranean pitas, bowls, and flatbreads, along with Turkish coffee, Lebanese wine, and local craft beer. The falafel is crispy and warm, the bread is soft and lightly charred, and the service is exceptional.

Fu Belly

Once in a while we all need a heaping helping of General Tso’s chicken, and one of the best versions of the old-school classic is hiding in plain sight at this no-frills strip mall spot: light, crispy, juicy chunks of chicken with just the right amount of heat. Want something different? The Chinese avocado chicken, a dish we’d never heard of, is delicious. Whatever you get, wash it down with one of the restaurant’s milk teas.

Los Tios

The new Tanglewood outpost of this popular local Tex-Mex chain is handsomely appointed, all wood accents and Mexican tile, while the food is both familiar and fun. The popular queso over puffy corn shells, mesquite-grilled fajitas, seafood entrées, and margaritas are as tasty as ever.

Mico’s Hot Chicken

Looking for Nashville hot chicken? This Galleria-area food truck offers the best version in the city, either as tenders or in something called the Sammich: a massive breaded chicken breast—your choice of mild, medium, hot, or x-hot—plus pickles, slaw, and a creamy special sauce, served inside a soft bun. Hot and x-hot will make you sweat. Open Thursdays through Sundays only.


The iconic Japanese restaurant from celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa and actor Robert De Niro, which arrived in Houston in 2018, is best enjoyed at the bar during its post-work Tanoshi Hour. There, order chef Nobu’s famous yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, plus salty-sweet salmon with dry miso. You’ll spend plenty for a sit-down dinner, but you’ll get snappy service and the opportunity to enjoy Chef’s heavenly, buttery-soft black cod with miso (take it).

North Italia

The availability of “pasta made fresh in house daily,” as the menu has it, only hints at the quotidian output of a kitchen that takes ownership of its spaghetti and strozzapreti, tortelloni, and gigli—all of it fresh and tender. (Only the gluten-free noodles are made off-site.) The sauces are irresistibly buttery (don’t miss the parmesan cream), their accompaniments wonderfully portioned (see chicken, pesto) and perfectly cooked (see scallops, seared).

The Original Ninfa’s Uptown Houston

Don’t expect the living room vibe of the Navigation location here; instead, this Uptown offshoot is a contemporary space with plenty of windows and a commanding bar. Get one of the creative tequila-based drinks—such as a refreshingly sweet tamarind mole margarita—with an order of beef tacos al carbon or Texas redfish tacos, and feel the day’s stress melt away.

The Owls at Voss

Kung Fu Kebab recently rebranded as The Owls at Voss, adding a menu of tropical cocktails to its roster of pan-Asian flavors. Start with crunchy complimentary house kimchi before dining on sushi or, our favorite, Chinese barbecue skewers—beef, lamb, pork, chicken, eggplant, and shrimp, among others, which you season yourself with one of the restaurant’s tasty spice blends.

The Roastery

Before going into battle at the super-charged H-E-B on San Felipe, fuel up at the flagship location of the grocery store’s coffee-and-lunch concept. Get the Roastery burger with cheddar and bacon, plus a side of crispy, delicately salted homemade chips, and you won’t be disappointed. The house roast is strong and tasty and—of course—fits perfectly in your shopping cart cupholder. 

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