Best Houston Restaurants In The Galleria Area

As a major business and shopping district, the Galleria area is one of the most-visited parts of Houston. It only makes sense for it to also be home to great restaurants. Whether diners are in the mood for casual or fine dining experiences featuring either  international or local cuisine, they are likely to find it in this cosmopolitan district.

To help narrow the choices in such a large field (there are easily over 50 restaurants from which to choose), here are our top 10 dining destinations in the Galleria.

The number 10 spot is a tie for steak lovers.

Meat is serious business at Tango & Malbec. Photo courtesy of Tango & Malbec.

10. (tie) Tango & Malbec, 2800 Sage: This Argentinian steakhouse, decorated in rich, bold reds and exposed brick, is a Latin charmer. Carnivores can choose from a selection of premier rib eyes like Akaushibuffalo and a bone-in, 20-ounce rib eye. There are also ample pasta selections. Seafood lovers can consider the pulpito, or sautéed octopus with fingerling potatoes and Puttanesca sauce; and the Spaghetti Nero with house made squid ink pasta, shrimp, clams, mussels and crab fingers in basil-tomato sauce. While the bar at Tango & Malbec has signature cocktails, the red wine list is where it’s at. There are over 30 Argentinian Malbec options to choose from in addition to more than 25 red blends. For entertainment, there are live Tango performances on Saturday nights and weekly dance lessons on Sundays.

A prime example at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. Photo courtesy of Bread & Butter Public Relations.

10. (tie) Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, 5839 Westheimer:  One of the many Pappas family restaurants, this locally owned steakhouse has been a preferred destination for steak lovers since opening the doors in 1995. While there are items on the menu to satisfy poultry and seafood cravings, most people come here for the beef — especially dry-aged, prime beef like the 40-ounce porterhouse carved table-side. It would be wrong to not also mention the generously portioned sides and decadent starters like the Lobster Deviled Eggs. While a hit with diners,  it is expensive enough to be considered a special occasion or expense account restaurant. In 2018, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse was a James Beard nominee for its impeccable wine list.

Picture of a crock pot of a tomato soup with cheese curds
Rise Noº 2’s marshmallow soup is savory and creamy, with just the right touch of brightness from the tomato base. Photo by Holly Beretto.

9. Rise Noº 2, 1700 Post Oak Boulevard: This genteel spot for soufflé lovers is located on the second floor of BLVD Place. With a patio view overlooking San Felipe, Rise Noº 2 has a French country farmhouse feel that lets diners relax and forget the hustle and bustle of the Galleria. Before diving into the assortment of freshly prepared savory and sweet soufflés, start with the signature Marshmallow Soup — a tomato and carrot bisque topped with goat cheese marshmallows. Surefire hits among the savory soufflés include Truffle-Infused Mushroom, Herb & Spicy Sausage and Jambon (French ham) and Gruyere. There are also seasonal soufflés, such as Crawfish and Oyster Rockefeller. There’s also a gorgeous cheese cart. While the varieties are not listed on the menu, there are usually 10 to 12 selections wheeled around. Diners can just take a look and order the ones they want. The sweet soufflés are a great conclusion to a meal and include flavors like Cranberry Champagne and Cassis (black currant). The soufflés do take up to 20 minutes to bake (and rise, hence the restaurant name), but the wine list can help pass the time, especially the flights of bubbles, French whites, French Reds and Bordeaux vs. California.

Fresh Pizzas at North. Photo Courtesy of Fox Restaurant Concepts.

8. North Italia, 1700 Post Oak Boulevard:  Also located in BLVD Place, this Italian outpost of Fox Restaurant Concepts is known for handmade pizzas and pastas, handcrafted cocktails and its seen-to-be-seen bar scene. Make no mistake, North Italia is one busy spot. On most nights, tables are hard to come by, even on the patio, so reservations are a must. Menu staples include the Prosciutto and Mission Fig pizza and the Short Rib Radiatori, a pasta dish with big hunks of beef short rib, Parmesan cream, fresh horseradish, wilted arugula and herbed breadcrumbs. There are just over a dozen cocktails to choose from, including standout signature drinks like the Quiet Italian Gentleman, made with rye, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Campari and Disaronno amaretto; and the Last Great Wine Thief with Plymouth gin, hopped grapefruit bitters, Sauvignon Blanc and clover honey.

7. La Table, 1800 Post Oak Boulevard: The second French-influenced spot on the list, La Table is like three concepts under one roof. There’s Château, the fine dining area upstairs; a casual eatery and bar downstairs named Marché; and Macarons, the bakery counter near the front entrance. Each area has its own feel and color scheme all designed to complement the others. Marché has an easygoing, cheerful atmosphere offering lighter dishes like salads, dips and raw bar selections as well as heavier fare like braised short ribs and Texas Akaushi Cheeseburger. Upstairs in Château, the menu is more fine dining-focused with dishes for two carved table side. Those impressive entrées, which include a whole organic heritage chicken, Parmesan-crusted Colorado rack of lamb and Texas Long Bone Akaushi Ribeye Flambé Au Cognac, are sure to impress in both presentation and taste. La Table’s market wine list offers sommelier-selected French white and red wines along with specialty cocktails like the Freckled Pepper martini made with Sobieski vodka, strawberries, basil and agave and La Provence comprised of The Botanist Islay dry Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and lavender bitters. As for the bakery counter, while diners can order and eat at the counter, baked goods and pastries, like the popular French-style macarons, are also available to go.

Spicy giant prawns with Calabrian chili glaze and hazelnuts at Ciao Bello. Photo by Pat Sommers.

6. Ciao Bello, 5161 Sage: The second Italian restaurant on the list, Ciao Bello, recently got a new head chef: former Triniti alumni Pat Sommers. This Tony Vallone-owned family spot is situated inside an unassuming strip center and more casual than the legendary restaurateur’s namesake restaurants, Tony’s and Vallone’s. There’s a strong focus on Roman-style pizzas — like the salsiccia with crumbled Vallone sausage and sweet peppers — and on fresh pastas. The bread basket alone, accompanied by good olive oil and featuring soft squares of focaccia and crispy bread sticks that arch to the sky, is worth the trip. Ciao Bello’s large, outdoor patio and a cozy, booth-lined interior is reminiscent of old-school Italian family style dining. The menu weaves traditional items, like the Fedelini Carbonara with guanciale, pecorino Romano and Tellicherry pepper, with innovative dishes that Sommers changes seasonally like Spicy Giant Prawns with Calabrian chili glaze and hazelnuts; and scallops with favata, chickpeas and olives. 

Spaghetti Squash at Peli Peli. Photo courtesy of Peli Peli.

5. Peli Peli Galleria, 5085 Westheimer: The second outpost of the South African restaurant that originated in far northwest Houston occupies a first-floor corner of the Galleria on the Westheimer side. (There’s convenient — albeit pricey — valet parking for those who don’t want to deal with the mall’s labyrinth-like garage.) Chef-owner Paul Friedman fuses South African cuisine with ingredients and influences from Portuguese, Indian, British and Dutch fare. Appetizers like the South African Samosa and the Bobotie both feature curried meats with a touch of heat that’s nicely tempered with the accompanying mango chutney. The entrees at Peli Peli are almost all gluten-free. Meat lovers will gravitate to the Espetada selections. These are skewers of meat like garlic herb-basted chicken or beef with onions. The skewers dangle over side dishes on a platter below and bestow meaty juices atop sautéed baby spinach, roasted red potatoes and carrot bredie. Vegetarians have plenty to choose from, too, like the Curried Spaghetti Squash with green curry, tomatoes, cilantro, toasted coconut, mango chutney and seasonal vegetables. Peli Peli’s multicultural take also extends to the beverage menu. There’s a selection of private label wines (including a South African Pinotage that would go well with the beef espetada) and cocktails like the Madagascar Mule and the Cape Town Cucumber Martini. Friedman’s warm Sticky Toffee Pudding is one of the best in Houston and a must-have for the end of the meal.

Brisky Business indeed at Kenny & Ziggy’s. Photo by Paula Murphy.

4. Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen, 2327 Post Oak Boulevard: This spacious New York-style delicatessen offers sandwiches that can appease even the most discerning Yankee. The flagship location (there’s also a West University spot) has extensive menus for its all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner. On the starters or “noshes” section of the menu are Jewish favorites like housemade chopped liver and whitefish salad. While Kenny & Ziggy’s serves its own knishes, it also imports Gabila’s Coney Island Knishes. Owner Ziggy Gruber also flies in fresh fish daily from New York, like that aforementioned whitefish, sable, nova lox, and lake sturgeon, most of which can also be found on the catering menu. There are over 30 great sandwich options, but the “Sandwich Stars” part of the menu is where it’s at. The One and Only Reuben, served open-faced or closed upon request, is piled high with corned beef, hot sauerkraut and Russian dressing, then smothered with melted Swiss. It can transport anyone mentally straight to Times Square. The Brisky Business is a triple-decker threat of brisket, turkey, onions, lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing. Jewish favorites like matzo balls and latkes also grace the menu and there is an ample dessert selection, just in case diners have any room left.

Bacon wrapped quail at Cafe Annie. Photo courtesy of Cafe Annie.

3. Café Annie, 6 Boulevard Place, 1800 Post Oak Boulevard: James Beard award-winning chef Robert Del Grande’s restaurant is a staple of Houston’s power lunch crowd. Originally named RDG + Bar Annie, Del Grande, one of the godfathers of Southwestern cuisine, renamed it for his original restaurant in 2016 and restored some classic Cafe Annie dishes to the menu. Open for lunch and dinner, stand-out starters include the bacon-wrapped quail with jalapeño, molasses and buttermilk ranch dressing and the crab tostadas. Meaty entrées include rabbit and pheasant game dishes alongside fresh fish and wood-grilled steaks. The Prime Rib Room opened inside earlier this year, offering carnivores two choice cuts: the 10-ounce Paillard and the 14-ounce The Prime Room cut. Both are slow-roasted prime rib served with buttery au jus, horseradish cream and spices, On the boozy side, Café Annie offers several wines by the glass, as well as signature cocktails like the refreshing Ruby Soho with Aperol, ruby port, grapefruit juice and sparking rosé; and the Fig Leaf, Café Annie’s take on a Manhattan made with rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, mission fig syrup and Angostura bitters.

Soup Dumplings are just one of the many choices at Yauatcha. Photo courtesy of Yauatcha.

2. Yauatcha, 5045 Westheimer: This replication of the original Michelin-starred, modern tearoom in London offers patrons a menu emphasizing upscale Cantonese dim sum, cocktails, complex desserts and, of course, tea. There are four menus to choose from for dinner: a la carte, Taste of Yauatcha, Signature Menu 1 and Signature Menu 2 (plus vegetarian versions). The a la carte section offers an extensive list of dim sum served steamed, baked, grilled and pan fried, along with rice, noodles, tofu and vegetable plates. The entrée selections feature fish, seafood, meat and poultry. Top a la carte picks include Scallop Shuimai, Chinese Chive Flower Dumplings and Prawn and Crispy Bean Curd Cheung Fun (rice noodle rolls). The Taste of Yauatcha is a nine-item sampling menu while the Signature Menus offer more dishes. All three sampler menus are for a minimum of two people. The drink list is equally expansive, with over 20 wine, sake and sparkling options, over 25 cocktails, selected beers, and non-alcoholic drinks like tea and fruit blends. Gin lovers should be sure to order the Gin & Tonic 2.0 made with Plymouth gin, ginger liquor, cucumber, yuzu, green apples, tonic, and cucumber Collins ice. Whiskey aficionados should try Cedar Maple Smoked Old Fashioned made with the drinker’s choice of Johnny Walker Blue, The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14-year, Glenlivet 25-year, or Macallan 18-year.

Jurel Verde at Caracol. Photo by Paula Murphy.

1. Caracol, 2200 Post Oak Boulevard: Our number one spot on the list belongs to another James Beard Best Chef Southwest winner:  Hugo Ortega. Caracol’s well-lit open floor plan gives diners a spacious feel combining clean lines with rustic and metal accents, which results in a relaxed but refined atmosphere. When it comes to the menu, Caracol is a seafood lover’s paradise, with don’t-miss crudos like Ceviche de Chile Canario with lime cured snapper, chile canario, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, pearl onions, cilantro and radishes and the Jurel Verde with Baja yellowtail Hamachi, green apples, cucumbers, mangos, red onions and serrano. Signature starters like the Ostiones Asados, wood-roasted gulf oysters with simmering chipotle butter, are worthy starters for every meal. On the bar side, Caracol features a selection of wines with helpful descriptions on what dish to best pair them with as well as modern takes on cocktails incorporating regional mezcals and tequilas. Original cocktails like the Hard Sun showcase beverage director Sean Beck’s knack for blending bold liquors with hints of sweetness like passion fruit and touches of spice thanks to a slowly melting jalapeño-and-coriander ice cube.

About the author: Beth Levine writes about food, drinks, lifestyle and travel for local and national publications including My Red Glasses, Houstonia, Local Houston Magazine, Charlotte’s Book and Houston Food Finder. An executive assistant by day and freelance writer by night, Beth is originally from both New Jersey and California, but currently calls Houston home. You can follow her on IG @Yogaspots.

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  • March 13, 2020 at 7:26 pmJanet

    Thanks for posting!

  • January 22, 2020 at 12:34 pmEric

    The quail looks delicious!