September is here! Need a lunch or dinner recommendation? Here’s where you should eat right now in Houston.
Mockingbird Bistro has been a timeless classic in Houston, so we’re sure its new sister restaurant — Osteria Mazzantini — will be just as great. The new venture officially opened Monday in its Galleria-area home, and rumor has it that chef John Sheely used family recipes to create the casually elegant menu of pizzas, pastas, and seafood.
Rice Village has a new coffee destination and take-away joint in the new Mercantile on Morningside across from Torchy’s Tacos. Owner Max Gonzalez (also of Catalina Coffee and Amaya Roasting) calls the place “barista meets bodega” as he prepares a beautifully heat-squelching iced Americano. Stop by for a grab-n-go sandwich or parfait and browse the nice selection of dried pastas, cheeses, snacks, and more.
Radical Eats earned top marks a few years ago for bringing vegan and vegetarian food deliciously into the spotlight. Their good eats are even more accessible now that they’ve moved into their new spot on lower Westheimer (in the space formerly occupied by Roots Bistro). They’re open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch — and they’ve added several meat options to their menu, too.
La Casa del Caballo
La Casa del Caballo continues to crank out consistently wonderful meals (in the former La Strada space on Westheimer). Steaks are top notch, enchiladas sing, and the place offers what might be the best tortilla soup in town — for real. La Casa del Caballo would be a fantastic choice for date night. It’s open for lunch and dinner.
It’s Spanish cuisine in the spotlight at Bellaire’s beautiful Costa Brava. The tapas-style small plates will grab your attention — especially the jumbo shrimp and steamed mussels—but don’t look past the classic paella. The grilled meats, too, are delicious, and soup fanatics will want to seek out the white bean and chorizo. Costa Brava makes for a nice night out, though it’s open both lunch and dinner.
Timbergrove recently welcomed Hughie’s, a Vietnamese grill on 18th near Ella; they’ve got the Vietnamese dishes you might expect, plus an oddball line-up of American classics. Skip the vermicelli bowls and opt instead for the Bo Luc Loc. Hughie’s makes a decent banh mi (try the pork one with a fried egg), and they’ve got a surprisingly nice line-up of taps (think Karbachs, Saint Arnolds, and the like).
Despite what the name implies, Thai Jin (in Spring Branch) offers a medley of Asian cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, and Thai. While normally that would cue the largest of red flags, the place somehow manages to do fine by each region. That said, the Thai noodles, soups, and curries are the menu’s standouts. Don’t mess with the too-sweet Pad Thai, but do try the drunken noodles, tom kha ga, and green curry. (Thanks for the rec @chicchickeats!)
Summer’s still very much here, so cool off with a treat from Bambu (in Bellaire’s Chinatown, with several more locations coming soon). The small storefront receives a steady stream of visitors, but the bubble drinks, smoothies, and desserts never seem to take long. I liked my #1 Bambu Special, but it was far outpaced by this fabulous yogurt concoction, a near-perfect iteration of tangy and sweet.
Mozelle’s Cajun Market
The good times are rollin’ at Mozelle’s, a new take-away place and fish market on Heights Blvd. The po' boys are nice, but the real winners are the Cajun favorites — jambalya, hot wings, boudin, and some righteous seafood gumbo. You can grab fresh fish or a rotisserie chicken from the counter, plus various sundries from the shelves. The affable owner promises that Abita beers and Café du Monde’s beignet mix are forthcoming.
Sleepy’s is a tired little shop on South Main that cranks out a bangin’ po boy. Do *not* go for the ambiance or service — both of which are nonexistent — but do go for the smoked sausage or shrimp po' boys. While the innards are flavorful and well cooked, the key is the bread at Sleepy’s, a soft, lightly sweet roll. Put a positive word with about the Saints to curry favor with the staff. (Thanks for the rec @csfrankel!)
Need more recs? Try our where to eat right now lists from previous months: