By any measure of success, 2014 has been Houston’s year when it comes to food.

A year when 50 restaurants could open their doors by July while only six closed. A year that Underbelly chef Chris Shepherd could bring the James Beard Award back to Houston for the first time since Robert Del Grande in 1992. A year…that’s not even over yet. And as our finest restaurants have flourished, the city and its appetite have grown exponentially. Is this sort of growth untenable? Of course, but for now we are gourmands dining at the richest buffet Houston has seen in ages.

In a lesser town, record population increases and a robust economy would inspire a proliferation of chain establishments, or the umpteenth iteration of fast-casual modern American that’s as non-threatening as a basket of Cheddar Bay biscuits. But not here. In Houston, as any good energy trader knows, success is all about calculated risk and diversification.

Increasingly, we’re not only developing our own cuisine—Mutt City, Third Coast, call it what you want—but tapping deeper into the vibrant currents of the international cuisines already flowing through our city. The restaurants that open these days don’t do boring. They don’t do trite. They don’t do basic.

So go ahead: bury your face in a bowl of ramen, dive messily into a peanut butter–topped burger, nibble on deep-fried blood sausage for dessert, enjoy salad greens grown mere feet from where you’re sitting, gnaw the meat off grilled lamb ribs, fill up on tres leches French toast and vanilla-cinnamon margaritas at brunch, polish off chicken liver po-boys, and slurp roasted Gulf oysters from their wood-fired shells. Whatever you want, Houston has it.

Read on to learn all about our 38 favorite new restaurants to open in the last 12 months, plus the five very best. —KS

In This Feature:

The 5 Very Best New Restaurants of 2014

Of all the amazing restaurants that opened this year, it was tough to pick our five absolute favorites—but somehow, we managed.

10/01/2014 By Robb Walsh and Katharine Shilcutt

Best New Restaurants: Upping the Steaks

What could possibly be new and interesting about that old Texas mainstay the steakhouse? Oh ye cutting-edge carnivores of little faith!

09/30/2014 By Robb Walsh and Katharine Shilcutt

Best New Restaurants: Seafood

Now more than ever, chefs are fishing the rivers and oceans of the world—not to mention the waterways of our own backyard.

09/30/2014 By Robb Walsh and Katharine Shilcutt

Best New Restaurants: Americana

Comfort food is back, as classics are classed up and chefs draw inspiration from our collective nostalgia.

09/30/2014 By Robb Walsh and Katharine Shilcutt

Best New Restaurants: Asian Fusion

The cuisines of Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and East Asia—everywhere in East Asia—are once more at the forefront of the city’s culinary scene.

09/30/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt

Best New Restaurants: Café Society

Exceptional coffee shops where coffee is far from the only exceptional thing on the menu

09/30/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt

Best New Restaurants: Ramen

Sure, noodle shops are everywhere, but a few places have turned a simple pleasure into a special one indeed.

09/30/2014 By Robb Walsh and Katharine Shilcutt

Best New Restaurants: Burgers

What becomes a legendary burger most? Perfecting the patty and gussying it up with gusto.

09/30/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt

Best New Restaurants: Dives

Finding high-quality food in low-key settings is a local tradition.

09/30/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt

Best New Restaurants: Desserts

Our much-loved mingling of cuisines and flavors isn’t just having its way with our main dishes. Desserts are now fair game too.

09/30/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt

Best New Restaurants: Common Fare

Elevating everyday food beyond the, well, every day, is no mean feat, except in the hands of this handful of places.

09/30/2014 By Robb Walsh and Katharine Shilcutt

The Five Hottest Chefs of 2014

The heat is on in the city's best restaurants, and these five pros are responsible for turning it up.

09/30/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt Illustrations by Sebastian Gomez de la Torre

Houston’s Best New Restaurants

Still looking for reasons to believe Houston is the country’s most dynamic food city? How about 38 of them?

10/01/2014 By Robb Walsh and Katharine Shilcutt

Best New Restaurants: 5 Restaurants to Watch

Get excited: these five soon-to-open restaurants will be worth the wait.

09/30/2014 By Katharine Shilcutt