By Baylea Jones
August 9, 2018
Houston is finally getting its due as a national food destination, but the city has always been home to excellent cuisine. Though trendy eateries open daily in Space City, these 14 restaurants have stood the test of time, some of them open for nearly 100 years.
In search of dining nostalgia? Hit one of Houston’s most classic restaurants for excellent burgers, killer Tex-Mex, and Beyonce-approved fried chicken.
1. Barbecue Inn
Houston, TX 77018
Diners have flocked to The Barbecue Inn for seven decades to sample the Skrehot family’s recipes. Menu standouts include the St Louis style barbecue ribs, the Gulf seafood platter, and the fried chicken—perfectly golden, crispy, and fried to order.
2. Yale Street Grill
Houston, TX 77008
Housed in the old Yale Pharmacy building, the Yale Street Grill has been serving up classic shakes and malts since the ‘20s. Iconic red stools line the diner counter while matching booths and shelves of nostalgic knick-knacks fill the rest of the room. Order up a breakfast plate piled with pancakes, bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns.
3. Brenner's Steakhouse
Houston, TX 77079
Open since 1936, Brenner’s rustic wood interior coupled with white tablecloths creates an upscale, but unpretentious atmosphere. The patio features a lush garden with a picturesque waterfall. Try the gulf red snapper topped with jumbo lump crabmeat or the filet mignon paired with one of the 200 wines on hand and famous apple strudel for dessert.
4. Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue
Houston, TX 77007
Pizzitola’s has been firing up their brick barbecue pit for over 80 years, and it’s the only one of its kind allowed inside the city limits. Indulge on tender, melt-in-your-mouth brisket, pork ribs seasoned with a no-frills salt and pepper rub, fall off the bone chicken, and hickory smoked sausage. For dessert, have some of Mama’s decadent bread pudding.
5. Lankford's Grocery & Market
Houston, TX 77006
Head to Lankford’s Grocery, open since 1938, for one of Houston’s best burgers. This long standing Montrose staple offers 20 burger varieties from an old fashioned hamburger to the fiery wasabi burger. Sides include heapings of curly fries, onion rings, and the Tex Mix: a fried jalapeno and onion string combo.
6. Brennan's of Houston
Houston, TX 77006
Brennan’s, the sister restaurant to New Orleans’ world-famous Commander’s Palace, is renowned for their unparalleled Creole cuisine and New Orleans style jazz brunch, available in Houston since 1967. Snapping turtle soup, Cajun fried frog legs, and the tableside flambéed bananas foster are just a few Louisiana inspired offering.
7. Christie's Seafood & Steaks
Houston, TX 77057
Beginning as a seafood stand in Galveston, Christie’s has gone through many iterations over the last 100 years. The current building, nautically painted white with blue trim, is easy to spot, and the lighthouse on top guides diners to plates of fresh seafood including the famous fish sandwich, an original menu item since 1917.
Houston, TX 77046
Tony’s has given Houstonians a world-class dining experience for over 50 years. The restaurant utilizes real crystal, silver, and linens imported from Italy. For a sampling of Italian fine dining, try the burrata to start, the branzino or the duck confit cappelletti with Norcia black truffles as an entree, and a towering souffle for dessert.
9. Cleburne Cafeteria
Houston, TX 77005
Rising from the ashes of two fires, one in 1990 and another in 2016, Cleburne Cafeteria is back and better than ever. The cafeteria style eatery has traditional menu items like chicken fried steak, turkey, and blackened catfish and updated offerings like beer, wine, and hand selected, made to order steaks. Don’t worry, the glass case of Texas-sized cake slices remains.
10. Houston’s This Is It Soul Food
Houston, TX 77004
Looking for the city’s oldest soul food joint? This Is It. The cafeteria style diner offers combo plates featuring oxtails, smothered pork chops, ham hocks, chitterlings, and pig feet; sides of mac and cheese, candied yams, and black eyed peas; and old fashioned tea cakes and banana pudding for dessert.
11. Frenchy’s Chicken
Houston, TX 77004
Now a beloved franchise, Frenchy’s has humble beginnings as a po’ boy shop in the Third Ward. Po’ boys remain on the menu, but the fried chicken is Frenchy’s famed (and Beyonce-approved) dish. Succulent, seasoned chicken joins southern sides of collard greens, dirty rice, and gumbo.
12. Molina's Cantina
Houston, TX 77025
The Molina family has been running Molina’s Cantina for three generations. Enjoy Tex-Mex favorites like fajitas, tacos, and enchiladas. Be sure to order the Original Jose’s Dip, a crowd-pleasing blend of chili con queso and taco seasoned ground beef.
13. Dot Coffee Shop
Houston, TX 77087
This 24-hour spot serves up southern comfort food, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast, and homemade desserts like the can’t miss pecan pie. For breakfast, feast on a giant omelette loaded up with meats, cheeses, and veggies. Daily plate specials include entrees like homestyle pot roast and meatloaf served with three sides.
14. Frank's Grill
Houston, TX 77087
Massive plates of southern homestyle breakfast has kept Frank’s Grill packed with regulars for over 60 years. Bring a big appetite, because the pancakes here are plate-sized and the chicken fried chicken and catfish fillets spill over the sides.