Just in case you’re coming into town for the Superbowl (omg sportsball!) and need some recommendations on where to eat, I thought I would do a round up of some of my favorite places that I’ve returned to again and again over the past 8 years.
Hot new restaurants have been opening up left and right in anticipation of the Superbowl and in the event you didn’t have the foresight/budget/celeb status to book a super trendy restaurant ahead of time, this is a list of some of my favorite casual, vegetarian-friendly spots around Houston.
Since I’m a pescatarian, some of these veer more pescatarian-friendly while others are more vegetarian-friendly. There is literally SO MUCH AMAZING FOOD in Houston, it was hard to pick 10…but here is my attempt:
Local Foods: In my round-up last year of my 5 Favorite Places to Eat with Friends in Houston, I talked about my love for Local Foods. I still love it for anytime hearty-but-healthy sandwiches, salads, soups, sides and even cocktails (and beer). They just opened a new Downtown location that has THE CUTEST BAR and the food is always top-notch. Try the market veggie sandwich (on a pretzel bun!), the vegan chili, the Tuscan kale side, the vegan Caesar salad or the lox sandwich. Menus will vary slightly from location to location, but never fear because you really can’t go wrong.
Aladdin: For a vegetarian feast, Aladdin has a buffet-style assembly line where you select your entree, pick up your tray and are greeted with some of the best puffy pita bread hot out of the oven. I always get the 4 vegetarian sides for like $10–you can select from a variety of hummus, baba ganoush, cold vegetable salads and hot sides like roasted cauliflower. For a more hole-in-the-wall option, you can venture down the street to La Fendee, which has my favorite fries (battered and extra crispy) and hummus (uber dense and creamy) in town (everything else I’ve tried is okay, not as exciting as Aladdin, but they do have a patio for hookah).
Tacos-A-Go-Go: When in Texas, everyone will direct you to Torchy’s, which is undeniably delicious. However, I find myself frequenting Tacos-A-Go-Go more often for their enormous, cheap, crave-worthy breakfast tacos which you can customize with various toppings (I love spinach and mushroom or tomato and cheese). It’s right off the lightrail, so it’s easy to get to via public transporation (though parking on side streets can be a bit difficult during peak hours). The buzzy, funky atmosphere is grungier than Torchy’s, but still fun and very quick. If you visit Houston without eating a breakfast taco, you’re doing it wrong.
Pizaro’s: Probably my favorite pizza in Houston, Pizaro’s does Neapolitan-style pizza that comes out so quickly, you can’t even place to-go orders over the phone–they’ll tell you to just come in and order (because the pizza takes like 3 seconds to cook). It’s expensive, but the spinach and ricotta-stuffed crust is SO WORTH IT. Other pizza places worth trying: Pizzeria Solario, Luna Pizzeria, Cane Rosso, and Bollo Woodfired Pizza. If you need a late night slice, the eggplant pizza at Gotham Pizza ($10 for a HUGE slice) is my ultimate fav.
Les Givral’s: Vietnamese food abounds in Houston, and Les Givral’s is the cult favorite for dirt cheap (we’re talking $3), super-fresh banh mi. I love the tofu banh mi at Les Givral’s, but wouldn’t recommend much else. If you’re craving a vermicelli bowl, I recommend heading next door to Red Pier Asian Bistro, the birthplace of my favorite tofu vermicelli bowl in town.
Cafe Brasil: I actually haven’t loved some of the drinks I’ve tried here, but I LOVE the vegetarian quiche and tamales here. The menu is wide and varied, and they often have an array of house-made baked goods on display. Brasil is a great jumping off point to other cafes and shopping around Montrose–if Brasil is packed, try Empire Cafe, Agora or Common Bond.
Asia Market: My favorite Thai spot in town–it’s worth the trek up to the Heights-ish area (they re-opened several years ago on Fulton Street). I constantly crave the pad see ew and omelets from this place. Disclaimer: I’m unsure whether true vegetarians would have trouble eating here if you prefer to not consume fish/oyster sauce. However, you can always call ahead and ask–they have a ton of vegetable-based curry dishes and stir fries that are really delicious.
Kraftsmen Cafe: If you need a brunch spot, this is one of my favorites (although they also serve dinner until 8:30pm). Aside from the fact that they have some of my favorite pancakes in Houston, they also have a just-right menu chock-full of delicious things–veggie-packed omelettes, breakfast tacos, mind-blowingly fluffy challah French toast, and they usually have a vegetarian quiche available. Plus, the light-filled interior is intensely charming and homey. If this is too far out of the way, Baby Barnaby’s is another favorite brunch spot, though I would recommend going early because the wait tends to be long.
Bombay Pizza: This is my nod towards Indian food since I still haven’t found a go-to place in Houston. Bombay Pizza puts an inventive spin on its pizza by topping nearly cracker-thin crusts with toppings like saag paneer or a strawberry-infused sauce on its margherita pizza. They also happen to have REALLY FANTASTIC sweet potato fries and other Indian fusion items on the menu. It’s conveniently located downtown just a few blocks away from all the good downtown bars, so I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the area anyway. (In other downtown news, Honeymoon Cafe is great for brunch!)
Ripe Cuisine: If you can manage to track down the Ripe Food Truck (typically at the Eastside Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8am-noon), DO IT. Ripe makes super inventive vegan food that always tastes so good it shouldn’t be allowed to be vegan. I love the baked doughnuts and anything they do with jackfruit, which has an oddly convincing meat-like texture.