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Travel guide: Houston

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© Julie Soefer / Bonnier © Julie Soefer / Bonnier
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By Chris Shepherd

Houston is the most dynamic culinary destination in the country. It's also a city that is close to my heart. It opens your mind, challenges your thoughts, and humbles your soul—all through food. Many cultures thrive here: Vietnamese, Thai, Salvadorian, Nigerian, you name it.

I am asked all the time, "Did you grow up traveling a lot?" And the answer is no—instead I got to experience global flavors by exploring the streets of my own city. Some of my best moments in Houston have happened when I got off of the beaten path and headed for family-run restaurants, where people were willing to show me what they know. Many of those places are listed here. I hope that you come and visit them, and enjoy seeing Houston the way I see it.

1. Saigon Pagolac

This classic Vietnamese place is hard to find, but it's worth it. Try the beef seven ways and the whole catfish. In a city where there is a large population of Vietnamese, these guys never seem to disappoint.
Saigon Pagolac
9600 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX
713/988-6106


2. Asia Market

At Asia Market, you'll be served up some of the best Thai food in the city by some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. You pull up to this little grocery store, grab a table, sit back and relax. I order the papaya salad, kee mao noodle, and whatever else they recommend.
Asia Market
1010 W Cavalcade Street
Houston, TX
713/863-7074


3. Atkinson Farms

Now open to the public seven days a week, Atkinson is our largest supplier of local vegetables. You can visit them in Spring, Texas or at any one of our local farmers markets.
Atkinson Farms
3217 Spring Cypress Road
Houston, TX
832-/381-8202

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4. Anvil Bar & Refuge

Anvil Bar serves up amazing, innovative cocktails. I never order off the menu, I just ask them to make me something and I've never been disappointed.
Anvil Bar & Refuge
1424 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX
713/523-1622


5. Gatlin's BBQ

Nicest family in the business, not to mention the best barbecue around. Just get there early because they are bound to run out.
Gatlin's BBQ
1221 W 19th Street
Houston, TX
713/869-4227


6. El Hidalguense

One of the truly authentic Mexican restaurants in Houston. Visit on weekend, and try their slow roasted goat and lamb barbacoa.
El Hidalguense
6917 Long Point Road
Houston, TX
713/680-1071

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7. Lucky Pot

With a name like Lucky Pot, you would think the item to order would be a hot pot, but go for the crispy duck wings or the Peking duck instead.
Lucky Pot
9888 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX
713/995-9982


8. HK Dim Sum

This family-owned place is always packed. They have classic, fresh dim sum, but don't expect cart service. Try the steamed shrimp dumplings and the pork ribs
HK Dim Sum
9889 Bellaire Blvd
Houston, TX
713/777-7029


9. Pho Binh by Night

Bone marrow pho. Enough said.
Pho Binh by Night
12148 Bellaire Blvd #101
Houston, TX
832/351-2464

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10. Revival Market

These guys set the bar when it comes to cooking sustainably with local ingredients. They have amazing meats (they raise their own pigs) and are all around good guys—ask for Morgan or Ryan.
Revival Market
550 Heights Blvd
Houston, TX
713/880-8463


11. London Sizzler

London Sizzler has the best Indian food in the city and is run by some of the nicest people—my adopted Indian family, the Patels. Just go in and tell them to order what Chris gets.
London Sizzler
6690 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX
713/783-2754


12. Houston Culinary Tours

If you're planning a trip to Houston, look into these chef-led tours: you get a ticket, and then see the city through our eyes.
Houston Culinary Tours



Midwest-raised Chef Chris Shepherd, a graduate of the Art Institute of Houston, opened his restaurant, Underbelly in March 2012, to feature locally-sourced food inspired by the ethnic diversity of Houston.  

 

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