by Amy McCarthy 

1. Indigo - 517 Berry Rd Houston, TX 77022

Chef Jonny Rhodes’ new tasting menu destination is all about turning people’s notions of soul food upside down. Look forward to plates with socially-conscious names like Cornrows and Convictions, a dish of braided squash served with pumpkin butter glaze. The restaurant hosts two seatings per night, one at 6 p.m. and one at 8:45 p.m.


2. La Vista 101 - 1805 W 18th St Houston, TX 77008

La Vista founder Greg Gordon and chef J.D. Woodward are firing on all cylinders at this brand new eatery in a very familiar space. Look forward to dishes like grilled Spanish octopus and whole fried fish, plus a solid list of European wines and an excellent Sazerac cocktail.

La Vista 101/Facebook

3. Blackbird Izakaya - 1221 W 11th St Houston, TX 77008

Formerly known as Republic Noodle Bar, this new izakaya from chef Billy Kin brings innovative new fare to the space. Look for small plates like ribeye grilled over binchotan charcoal, and a ridiculously over-the-top foie gras slider called “The Duckadent.”

Blackbird Izakaya/Yelp

4. International Smoke - 600 Sorella Ct Houston, TX 77024

Making its Houston debut on July 5, this smoky new eatery from Chef Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry has already been a little bit of a controversy thanks to Curry’s association with the Golden State Warriors. Nonetheless, expect for this CityCentre restaurant to be packed as soon as the doors open thanks to dishes like soy-braised short rib and the wildly popular “Instant bacon.”

International Smoke/Facebook

5. Poitín - 2313 Edwards St #100 Houston, TX 77007

Its name is a type of Irish moonshine, but the cuisine at Poitín is the definition of refined. Chef Dominick Lee is serving up dishes like harissa and ras al hanout-spiced lamb neck, aguachile, and cauliflower steak, all that can be paired with a poitín-spiked cocktail.

Photo by Mai Pham

6. Theodore Rex - 1302 Nance St Ste A Houston, TX 77002

Fresh off being named one of the country’s best new restaurants of 2018, Justin Yu continues to prove that Theodore Rex is a worthy successor to Oxheart, the restaurant that helped put Houston on the map. The tomato toast, with its rich fondant and bright bursts of cherry tomato, is an instant Houston classic.

Photo by Jenn Duncan

7. Nancy's Hustle - 2704 Polk St Ste A Houston, TX 77003

This EaDo newcomer is earning rave reviews from Houston diners thanks to its menu of exciting, broadly influenced fare. Find dishes like Turkish dumplings served with labneh and lamb jus, tagliatelle made with sourdough and tossed with burrata, honey, and brussels sprouts, and Parmesan cheesecake.

Nancy's Hustle/Instagram

8. Vibrant - 1931 Fairview St Houston, TX 77006

This health-focused eatery keeps things gluten, dairy, and refined sugar-free, but those restrictions have created a menu that is endlessly creative. Find coconut chia pudding for breakfast, bone broth soup and soba noodles for lunch, or swing by for a sesame milk “rose elixir” mixed with pearl (known for its beauty-enhancing properties) and honey.

Photo by April Valencia

9. One Fifth Mediterranean - 1658 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 77006

With a wood-fired grill at his disposal, chef Chris Shepherd’s newest reinvention of his Montrose restaurant One Fifth is pita paradise. Pair the freshly-charred bread with Turkish hummus or muhamarra (a dip made with roasted walnuts and red pepper), then move on to heartier proteins grilled “al ha’esh,” or over an open fire. Perhaps lamb sweetbreads and eggplant?

One Fifth/Facebook

10. UB Preserv -1609 Westheimer Rd Houston, TX 77006

The evolution of Underbelly has arrived, and Chef Chris Shepherd is as creative as ever. A diverse menu of dishes, ranging from Vietnamese short rib fajitas to duck egg curry, will satisfy pretty much any adventurous diner, and the crispy rice salad is already earning major raves.

Julie Soefer Photography

11. Nobu - 5115 Westheimer Rd suite c-3515 Houston, TX 77056

The legendary restaurant from Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Robert DeNiro has finally landed in Houston, making it the 39th location across the globe. Taste the classics, like Nobu’s famous yellowtail and jalapeno, or get creative with newer dishes like foie gras gyoza.

Photo by Mai Pham

12. La Villa Saint Tropez - 4315 Montrose Blvd Houston, TX 77006

Southeastern French cuisine reigns supreme at this Montrose newcomer, where dishes like bouillabaisse and lobster linguini are on the menu. Grab a seat on the outdoor terrace, then dig into classic French fare from Brittany-born chef Bruno Gallou.

La Villa Saint-Tropez/Facebook

13. Feges BBQ - Greenway Plaza Houston, TX 77046

Traditional Texas barbecue technique meets a globally-influenced menu of flavors at this newcomer to Houston’s smoked meat scene. Alongside the brisket, boudin, and pulled pork, find sides like Moroccan-spiced carrots, kale salad, and sweet potatoes mashed with banana.

Robert Jacob Lerma/Feges BBQ

14. Pizza Motus - 6119 Edloe St West University Place, TX 77005

This Roman-style takes its name from its owner’s former life as a motorcycle racer. The “never soggy” pies are topped with eggplant Parmesan, anchovies, and porcini with truffles, and salads like burrata orzo caprese make for solid starters.

Photo by Victoria Christensen

15. Shabu Zone - 11201 Bellaire Blvd #2 Houston, TX 77072

Houston’s newest destination for all-you-can-eat shabu shabu (read: Japanese hot pot) offers a bounty of quality proteins, plenty of vegetables, and perfectly-flavored broths in which all of the above can be dunked. Start with dashi broth or shoyu soup, then choose from meats like Akaushi wagyu chuck tenders or prawns and commence cooking at the table. Veggies and sauces can be found at the salad bar.

Yelp/Kristy N.