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Where to eat right now: 10 must-try Houston restaurants for March

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Raw oysters at Gilhooley's. They're huge! Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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A spicy crawfish po' boy outside at Zimm's Little Deck Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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A crab cake at the green Haven Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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The turkey, provalone and fig sandwich with a cajeta latte at Black Hole Cafe Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Conveyor-belt sushi at the new Convey on Market Square Park Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Shrimp Gilhooley, oysters topped with shrimp, Parmesan and garlic butter Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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Petrol Station is known for their beers, but the burgers are pretty fine. Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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A spider roll at Convey Photo by Ruthie Johnson Miller
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News_Ruthie_Black Hole Cafe_sandwich
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Need a lunch or dinner recommendation? Here are 10 hot places to try for March. Some are new restaurants entirely, while others are seasoned venues with new offerings, but all are worth a visit.

REEF
Midtown’s REEF is truly a Houston treasure, and others are certainly taking notice. The sultry seafood haven was recently named one of the top 100 restaurants in America by The Daily Meal.

Chef and co-owner Bryan Caswell was also named a Rising Star restauranteur and was nominated for the Best Chef (Southwest) award by the James Beard Foundation. Haven’t stopped by lately? Time for a revisit.

Zimm’s Little Deck
March means Mardi Gras, so if you’re looking for a Creole fix, head to Zimm’s Little Deck for a crawfish po’ boy. The nicely sized ‘dads are lightly fried and stuffed into a hearty side of bread with a smattering of lettuce and tomato.

Add a sprinkle of Crystal hot sauce, and you’re cookin’ Cajun. Zimm’s also features a nice outdoor seating area and decent happy hour deals — Monday through Thursday from 4-7 p.m.

Petrol Station
Beer lovers have long loved Petrol Station for its fantastic assortment of quality taps. And now that the weather’s nice, the backyard patio is the perfect place to take in a burger and a brew.

You can even sign up for the second Petrol-Beaver dinner, which takes place Monday. It’s at Beaver’s, though, so while you will get to try some exceptional beers, you won’t get to take in that great Petrol space.

Bootsie’s Heritage Cafe
Reports of Bootsies’ greatness are not at all exaggerated — and everyone’s starting to notice. Recently chef Randy Rucker was awarded a Rising Star Chef award, and the James Beard Foundation honored Bootsie’s with nominations for Best Chef  and Outstanding New Restaurant.

But no need to take everyone else’s word for it. It’s high time you headed to Tomball to try it out for yourself.

Haven
After a spotty few months of service, Houston’s green restaurant has stepped up its game. Daily vegan soups have always impressed, and new menu items — like a recent pan-fried Gulf snapper — show that the restaurant is regaining its form.

Stop by Haven on Saturday afternoons for Chef Randy Evans’ new farmers market, which features both produce and prepared foods, all locally-sourced.

Black Hole Café
Take in a quiet meal or get some work done at this new Montrose coffee house and café from the same owners as Antidote and Poison Girl. You can get your coffee buzz on with one of the famous cajeta lattes, or fill up with something from the kitchen: Sandwiches, snacks, or steel-cut oatmeal. With comfy, vintage-looking furniture and plenty of natural light, you might not ever want to leave.

Ava
New to the recently opened West Ave development on Kirby at Westheimer is Ava, a beautifully low-key Mediterranean spot. Standouts include housemade pastas and beautifully prepared seafood.

And since owner Robert del Grande, of restaurant RDG + Bar Annie, was recently nominated as an Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation, you know the menu will be well worth a trip.

ERA
Pizza seems to be trending in Houston these days — not that anyone’s complaining. ERA is a small, but swanky new pizza joint on Market Square Park. The place cranks out beautiful thin-crust pizzas, some traditional, some a little more creative. Margherita pizza is often the yardstick by which pizza places are judged, and the one at ERA is worthy of affection.

Convey
Market Square’s filling up fast! Convey is another new addition offering standard Japanese fare: miso soup, seaweed salad, gyoza, and dozens of rolls. When the place is filled, you can choose your sushi from a conveyor belt that flows through the restaurant; when it’s not, a sunny server will happily take your order.

In addition to drink specials at happy hour, you can also get four pieces of any roll for just $4.

Gilhooley’s
If the buzz from the recent Foodways Texas symposium in Galveston has oysters on your brain, head to out-of-the-way Gilhooley’s for the biggest and freshest around. Sure, you can find your fair share of the tasty bivalves in the Loop, but nowhere else serves the famous Oysters Gilhooley, a plate of oysters topped with parmesan and garlic butter, and then placed in the smoker for a searing minute.

Even better? Try the Shrimp Gilhooley — Oysters topped with shrimp, and then dusted with Parmesan and garlic butter.

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