Brennan’s of Houston
Self-billed as “Fine Creole Dining,” Brennan’s of Houston combines Creole and Southwest cuisine in dishes like the Gulf Coast Seafood Gumbo. The smoky, spicy palette is complemented by the crisp, bright décor; Brennan’s also has several private dining options for small groups.
Those familiar with the original Uchi in Austin know to expect nothing short of excellence from its sister sushi bar. Flavors are so layered that no one bothers with soy sauce or wasabi. Appetizers include edamame, sure, but it’s char-grilled rather than steamed and salted, and the Brussels sprouts (yes, Brussels sprouts) are not to be missed. Unapologetically high-end, and worth every penny.
Pappa Bros. is the quintessential top-notch steakhouse: a dark, clubby atmosphere plus piano player in the corner. At the same time, the menu leaves room for ingenuity—just ask anyone who’s ordered the Lobster Deviled Eggs. The primary décor is quiet and classy, but there’s nothing more impressive than the private dining area tucked away in a working wine cellar.
With its lack of menus (the wait staff has all the day’s dishes memorized) and eclectic crowd, Irma’s may not be the high-powered litigator’s first pick for a serious business lunch, but the homestyle Mexican food is consistently terrific. Add to that the incredible guacamole, bottomless lemonade and the decidedly convenient downtown location, and Irma’s is definitely a winner.
América’s River Oaks
It’s said that Chef Michael Cordúa, a Nicaraguan native, has revitalized Latin cuisine the way Julia Child did for French dishes back in the day. América’s River Oaks, just one of Cordúa’s Houston restaurants, features incredible food—like the Fois Gras Tamales, or the Lobster Corn Dog—in equally impressive surroundings.
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