By Jody Schmal, Janunary 14, 2019

In a city with thousands of restaurants, one could hardly be blamed for having trouble deciding where to eat. For visitors, it's an even more difficult proposition.

And there could be even more visitors this year, at least if Houston's latest hot streak in major national media outlets is any indication.

To wit: The New York Times named Houston among its "places to go" around the world in 2019, as did Conde Nast TravelerTravel + LeisureAfarBloomberg and Out magazine. We came in at No. 2 on Food & Wine's list of the best food destinations and cities in America for 2019, too.


Which got us thinking: Where would we take someone visiting Houston for the first time, to give them a taste of our city and its food scene? What restaurants define Houston?

On Alison Cook's Top 100 Restaurants

What we came up with is by no means a definitive list; restaurants, and food, are subjective beings after all — not to mention, of course, Houston's identity looks different to each of us.

The restaurants featured in our slideshow may be prized for having a distinct sense of place, or historical importance in our civic dining landscape. They also might simply be one shining example of a restaurant serving one of the many types of cuisine beloved by Houstonians.

Click through to see some of our selections, and feel free to comment with your own suggestions.
Brennan's of Houston:
Brennan’s of Houston There are many terrific Creole restaurants in Houston, but, for its history and gracious setting, it’s impossible to look past this Midtown landmark. Opened in 1967, “Terms of Endearment” was filmed in one of the dining rooms, and the city cheered when the restaurant bounced back after a fire engulfed the New Orleans-style John Staub building in which it resides. Must-orders: Turtle soup, Bananas Foster, seasonal specials 3300 Smith, 713-522-9711; Photo: Gulf Coast Shrimp Chippewa