Hard to believe it, but May is here. Need a lunch or dinner recommendation? Here’s where you should eat right now in Houston.
Eleven XI officially opened on May 7 (in the former Bibas space on W. Gray), and the team here puts forth an impressive resume. The “Southern coastal” menu focuses on seafood, but it’s the tea-brined game hen that’s earned top marks so far. Eleven XI has taken the “restaurant within a restaurant” idea and multiplied it; in addition to the standard restaurant and bar, there’s a chef’s table, patio, raw bar, private wine room, and tasting menu.
Branch Water Tavern has up and left us, and in its place is the new Federal Grill. The menu is an updated version of the previous iteration, full of “New American” classics: steaks, roast chicken, fried oysters, and fish. You’ll recognize some of the old favorites, too — like the duckfat popcorn, wedge salad, and Akaushi burger — and the bar offerings are as nice as ever. The Federal Grill is open for lunch and dinner.
Houston’s got a new Neapolitan pizza shop in Pizzeria Solario. The small shop on Weslayan (near Richmond) offers 10 or so pizzas, plus a smattering of other items. With an impressive list of coffees and wines, it’s also a great place to relax. While Solario is usually open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, B4-U-EAT recently reported that they’ve temporarily gone to dinner service only due to staffing concerns.
The Goodie Box
The hot season is nigh, so cool off with a gourmet popsicle from The Goodie Box on wheels. Owner Candice Quino is a former mixologist, who now uses her mad flava’ skills on these all-natural frozen treats (sans booze). They’ve got classic popsicles (like lemon and lime) or modern twists (like pineapple-basil and pomegranate-prickly-pear). Follow the Goodie Box on Facebook or Twitter for a location.
The latest outpost of Ruggles Green — on 11th at Studewood in the Heights — opened at the end of April. The newly remodeled space (which is completely unrecognizable if you knew it as the old 11th Street Café) and health-conscious menu are already luring in neighborhood diners like a siren song. We were unimpressed with the burger, but the salads and fish dishes have proven top notch.
It’s never a bad time for noodle soup, and that’s exactly why it’s a great idea to stop by the Miso Yummy food truck for a big ol’ bowl of their kimchi ramen. It’s a rich and s-s-s-spicy broth, packed with all kinds of goodness: excellent noodles, spinach, egg, breaded chicken, jalapenos, and kimchi. The rest of the menu is small, but quality. If ramen’s not your thing, try the potstickers. Follow Miso Yummy on Twitter for a location.
Who has the better pizza: New York or Chicago? Pizza lovers can now get both varieties from the same shop at Pizza L’Vino on Waugh. Dine-in seating is available, though limited, and you can also check their delivery zone via the website. Perhaps best of all, Pizza L’Vino delivers wine and beer right alongside your pizza pie (know before you go: permits specify that alcohol options are for delivery only). We give a thumbs-up to the Spinach Pie and the “Most Ordered.”
The Cajun Stop
Have you been to Calliope's (in EaDo) for a po’ boy lately? They changed their name to The Cajun Stop a few months ago — and that’s not all that’s different. Recently they’ve added breakfast service to their repertoire of good eats. There are some tried-and-true’s, but opt for the Cajun-style dishes: crawfish omelets, hot beignets, shrimp-n-grits, and more. (Breakfast is served 5-10 a.m. on weekdays.)
A holdover from last month, Batanga is still earning praise from all directions. Why? It’s got all the makings of a perfect meal out with friends: tasty and sharable dishes, live music, and a patio that’s already earned much praise. The menu features plenty of things that “oink, moo, fly, or swim,” but we especially love the long list of veggie items — like the marinated beets, Swiss chard, and eggplant fries.
Goro & Gun
Another holdover from last month, the new Goro & Gun has had a polarizing effect on Houston’s food community. But even if their signature ramen isn’t your thing, the rest of the small menu is fun for a try. Recently they’ve added some new options — some seriously rave-able hot wings — and lunch service. Follow Goro & Gun on Twitter to hear about their happy hour deals and steals.
Need more recs? Try our where to eat right now lists from previous months: