A Local's 10 Favorite Restaurants in Alief
Alief is a mecca for many different cuisines with roots from all over the world. Sure, there are your typical mainstream franchises (shoutout to Shipley’s Do-Nuts), but as a local, I encourage you to take a look at some spots with a little more regional flair. Whether you’re craving tacos, sushi, burgers, or tripe pho, you can’t go wrong with any of the choices below.
This casual eatery has become a staple for Houston’s West African community thanks to its menu full of extensive Nigerian-influenced food options. There's ofada stew (sometimes called ayamase stew), fish porridge, jollof rice, as well as a variety of options depending on your dietary preferences. Some of their iconic entrées include ewedu and ggbegiri, yamfishdodo and efo riro soup–all available with a your choice of amala, poundo or eba aemo. Not sure where to start? Just ask for their recommendations. While you're there, make sure to grab a mouthwatering side of plantains and semolina fufu.
This classic Alief sushi restaurant is the definition of a “hole in the wall” gem. Sitting at the corner of Diho square, Hokkaido offers a variety of sushi delicacies, including sashimi and hand rolls. The restaurant also offers classic appetizers like takoyaki and special dishes called domburimono (your choice of meat with egg and onion over rice)—all served with a complimentary miso soup appetizer. We highly recommend dining in and doing things the Texas way: enjoy a Mighty Texas Roll (spicy soft shell crab and tuna) and a Tiger Eye Roll (cream cheese, salmon, and jalapeño) with a large side of fried rice.
The dishes at Izakaya Hi check all the boxes for astonishing Japanese cuisines: unique, flavorful, and fresh. Besides the Japanese delicacies, they also offer a range of Korean-fusion dishes like grilled pork belly with kimchi, Hamachi kama, and the Korean seafood pancake. If you are heading on a date or sharing lunch with a friend, Izakaya Hi also offers shareable plates and appetizers, so grab some shrimp/calamari tempura and the maki combo (four specialty rolls of your choice served with two sides of miso soup). Add some sake, just for fun.
Kravin’ Fruit Bar
Conveniently located near the busy cross section of Wilcrest and Bellaire, Kravin’ is one of the best local hangout spots in Alief. It’s also home to the famous Kravin’ Fries: crinkle-cut fries with bacon, cheddar cheese, spicy mayo, egg, kim-chee, cilantro and your choice of chicken or beef. The dine-in atmosphere is cozy and quirky, making it the perfect place to grab some drinks—the extensive beverage menu includes boba, tea, smoothies, and frappuccinos—and fries with friends.
La Guitarra con Sazon
This Peruvian hotspot exceeds expectations all around. There’s a diverse menu with seafood and traditional Peruvian options (del menu criollo), a full bar, a beautiful outdoor patio section and a super attentive staff. If you are into seafood, the ceviche de camarones con mango is the plate to try; a nice medley of fresh shrimp with cubed mango marinated in lime juice topped with peruvian spice, sweet potato, choclo corn, and cancha. You can also go the more traditional route with their distinguished cuisines, such as the tacu tacu con lomo or the arroz chaufa de puerco.
López Mexican Restaurant
This list wouldn’t be complete without López Mexican Restaurant. This family-owned establishment, opened in 1978 by founders Rodrigo López and wife Bertha, is one of Alief’s hidden gems. So much of what you’ll taste in the dishes is made in-house, including the tortillas. Try out the chile relleno or the enchiladas with your meat of choice topped off with their signature cheese and gravy (if that wasn't already a given). Besides having two different locations across Houston, they also have a charitable churro truck, Dulce de López, where a percentage of proceeds go to help different charities.
Sitting at the heart of Alief, Pho Dien is one of the trendier spots in town to grab some pho and knock back a cold signature smoothie or sip some tea. The menu offers a variety of traditional Vietnamese pho. Of particular note is the pho dac biet, a combination of rare steak, flank, tendon, tripe, and meatball, only available in a large serving. If you are steering away from eating meat or prefer a vegetarian option, their noodle-only pho is a good bet.
Ramen Okidoki & Lims Chicken
Can’t decide between ramen or fried chicken? No worries, this restaurant offers both so you don’t have to choose! Formerly two separate eateries, Ramen Okidoki and Lims Chicken joined forces and offer a delicious range of ramen and chicken. The fried chicken, double fried and finished off with a savory sticky sauce, has to be some of the best chicken in Alief. More of a ramen person? Their spicy miso ramen is outstanding. Top off your entree with a side of corn cheese or a shareable kimchi bulgogi fries. (Pro tip: Ramen Okidoki & Lims Chicken offers daily specials from 5 p.m. to close.)
Rice to Meet You
Rice to Meet You, located in the Sterling Plaza on Bellaire and Corporate, is known for Cantonese comfort foods. If you’ve never tried homemade clay pot rice dishes, it’s one hundred percent worth it to make the trip from wherever you are in Houston. They also offer classic Chinese dishes like lo mein and noodle soups. Pin black pepper beef is a must-try for those who like a little heat—just pair it with your choice of milk tea; you’ll need it.
Stacatto’s stands out for its authentic (and delicious) halal cuisine at an affordable price. Offering a unique mix of Palestinian and Mediterranean flavors woven into classic American dishes, Stacatto’s is widely popular for their burger/sandwich options, pasta, and specialty pizzas. If you want to go with a more traditional dish, the chicken or beef shawarma are both killer. Pair your Philly cheesesteak or chicken parmesan pasta with some delectable fried okra and an espresso shake, and you’ll be more than satisfied. (You might also have heartburn later.)