South Africa vs. MexicoOut of Africa (Closed)
14019 Southwest Fwy, Suite 204 Sugar Land
Yes, Houston even had its very own South African restaurant, blending the Malay and Indian cuisines into one adventurous buffet where you can sample the national dish: bobotie, a ground lamb meatloaf-like hash with raisins and chutney. You can even order the popular traditional trainsmash. You have to love a country that names its national dish "train" and "smash. It's a shame we didn't find out about it before the closed recently.
14529 Memorial Dr Houston 77079
Founder and store owner, Etienne Leibman, emigrated from South Africa in the 1970's and stocks her small wine and food shop with the City's finest selection of imports from her native country. Need some Boerewors and Droewors or Black Cat Crunch? You'll find them here amongst aisles of specialty food products and fine wine.
Peli Peli - Flame Pepper Fusion
110 Vintage Park Blvd Ste Houston 77070
It is not the varied, global menu, but rather, the ambiance, that will transport you to South Africa in this new themed restaurant that is arguably one of the most romantic in town. Dine under a 30 foot acacia tree as you feast on South African specialties such as biltong (dried beef), Boerewars sausage and beef sosaties (kebabs).
9889 Bellaire Blvd Houston 77036
Although South African cuisine is derived from a myriad of cultures, its culinary scene is often described as "Cape Dutch" as it was settled by Dutch traders who brought foods from their various colonies in the East Indies. As a result, Malaysian flavors heavily influence modern South African cuisine. Popular local dishes such as spicy curries, sambals and fish stews can be sampled from this Malysian café's extensive and exotic menu.
1602 Westheimer Rd Houston 77006
In a sea of tex-mex joints, Hugos stands alone in offering haute Mexican cuisine. The menu spotlights the type of fine dining menu items you would actually find in Mexico, such as octopus, quail and an assortment of tender grilled meats that varies from quail to goat. Adventurous diners should order the chapulines (grasshoppers), served fried and in a taco.
Pico's Mex-Mex Restaurant
5941 Bellaire Blvd Houston 77081
A menu rich in ceviches and moles makes Pico's a classic Mexican establishment.
El Bolillo Bakery
2428 Airline Dr Houston, TX 77009
The panaderia supplies the lifeblood of any Mexican neighborhood and few in Houston are more authentic, varied and delicious as El Bolillo.
Uruguay vs. FranceSaldivia's South American Grill
10234 Westheimer Rd 77042
Houston's resident Uruguayan restaurant serves a variety of parilladas and the popular Uruguayan sandwich, chivito. If you feel adventurous, try the morcillas and mollejas.
3815 Westheimer Rd Houston 77027
As the result of CM's recent "Flavors of Argentina" festival, you can find Uruguayan classics such as choripan, milanesa and alfajores. You'll also be able to pick up a pasta course to go with them, because Uruguayan cuisine, although very similar to Argentinean, is more heavily Italian and accompanies most meals with gnocchi or ravioli.
217 S Avenue Humble TX 77338
Award winning traditional French dining in an unsuspecting location serves up classics like chateaubriand, foie gras, vichyssoise and escargot along with a variety of rotating specials and a wine list of the suspected caliber to compliment it all.
1400 Eldridge Pkwy Houston 77077
If the drive up to Humble seems a bit much, this more casual French bistro is just as authentic and tasty.
Brasserie Max & Julie
4315 Montrose Boulevard Houston 77006
For those more centrally located and a bit more hip, get your fix of cassoulet, steak frites or foie at this neighborhood brasserie.
Argentina vs. NigeriaManena's Pastry Shop
11018 Westheimer Rd 77042
Transport yourself to a Buenos Aires café where you will sip richly brewed espresso while nibbling on palmitas, empanadas of every variety and of course, alfajores. The cafe also offers a small selection of Argentian groceries. For a true Argentian experience, order some maté - you can even use the gourd you picked up at Central Market's Argentina Festival.
El Gaucho Café
3820 S Gessner Rd 77063
A traditional Argentinean steak house, Gaucho serves parrillada for two for only $31.90. Each cut of meat is served with ample chimichurri, the salsa of Argentina. For the true taste of Argentina, ask about their upcoming tango classes and milongas.
3055 Sage Rd 77056
You will find the best Argentinean pastries at this unassuming cafe laid out in the crowded, bustling style of Buenos Aires including medialunas and empanadas baked in flaky, Argentinean style dough. Espresso is made with all the detail and love of the Italian culture that permeates Argentina.
11611 West Airport 77477
Traditional Nigerian restaurant featuring suya, their national dish. It is a sort of Nigerian BBQ, served in kabob form and traditionally eaten with miyan soup or a rice dish.
9817 Bissonnet St 77036
Ok, so I've never been here and per the reviews, I'd never go or recommend going, but for the record, Houston DOES have more than one Nigerian restaurant.
Korea vs. GreeceSuper H Mart
1302 Blalock Rd 77055
This national Korean grocery chain boasts everything from an entire aisle devoted to kimchi to an inner food court where you can find the classic Korean dish, Bibimbop.
10078 Long Point Rd 77055
Feast on traditional Korean BBQ.
Korean Noodle House
1415 Murray Bay St 77080
Know for its authentic home cooking, this Spring Branch noodle house is the best place for Jjambong, the spicy seafood noodle soup that is a national specialty.
Alexander the Great
3055 Sage Rd Ste 170 77056
Authentic Greek owned and run with everything from traditional dishes such as dolmathes, saganaki (flamed tableside) and moussaka to live music and belly dancing so that you can feel like you actually went to Greece. My favorite part of the menu is that they offer a "Greek Village Salad" in addition to the usual Americanized version that is more like a traditional Greek salad.
5210 Bissonnet St 77401
Cheap and tasty gyros made by a local family of Greeks, all served up in a former Taco Bell. It's the essence of Houston with the taste of Greece.
EKKO's Greek American Deli
5216 Richmond Ave 77056
Yes, it is a gas station, but it also serves up some of the velvetiest moussaka and most authentic Greek combo plates in town. If you like gas station Greek, try Al's Quickstop on Waugh for the cheapest, most scrumptious gyros around.
England vs. USAFeast
Although an adventurous mix of modern European fare, one of Houston's most acclaimed restaurants is also your go-to place for British classics such as black pudding (if you think its a dessert you really need to go), fish pie and sticky toffee pudding. Each of these dishes is prepared more artfully and with more flavor than you'll find in your standard British pub. Feast gives British cuisine a good name!
Red Lion Pub
2316 S Shepherd Dr 77019
Eating at this truly authentic pub will make you feel as though you stepped into your average London joint right down to the dark woods and the prices, which have seemingly been translated directly from the pound to the dollar. Despite the steep pub fare prices, you will find the utmost British experience here such as fine fish and chips, curry night (Wed.) and even the epitome of British luxury cuisine: roast beef on Yorkshire pudding. Wash it all down with an all-Irish Black and Tan.
4100 Montrose Blvd 77006
Generous, tasty portions of British classics such as Shepherds Pie, Bangers and Mash, and Fish and Chips are served up in a delightfully cozy atmosphere tucked into a brick building shared with a library and a jazz club. We think that's very posh.
519 Shepherd 77007
Go to the homepage of BRC and you'll see the word "American" featured at least 5 times. Touted as a "revolutionary American gastropub," I can think of few places that better encompass American dining. From BBQ to burgers, from cheese that is mac or grilled, right down to the finale of shakes, a Snickers themes dessert and the ubiquitous bread pudding, this is the place to experience American food. Even the name, which stands for Big Red Cock, is obnoxious. Any place that pours a fine selection of American craft brews says that there is still much to love about the old USofA.
Mo's, A Place for Steaks
1801 Post Oak Blvd. 77056
Is there anything more truly American than the old fashioned, testosterone fueled steakhouse? It may be difficult to define the cuisine of the USA, but few will argue that 1)Americans like menus with dishes from all over the world even if they make no sense whatsoever and 2)Americans love ordering a giant chunk of meat and calling it a fine dining experience. The name says it all: this is a place for steaks, but it also offers a variety of dishes listing as many countries as possible: ceviche, Chilean sea bass, Australian lobster, "Sicilian chicken" and sushi. Steak sauces vary from chimichurri to bearnaise and desserts strawberry shortcake and a $9 cookie. The wine list is dominated by California and your encouraged to conclude your meal with a cigar on the patio; that's American.
Algeria vs. SloveniaSaffron
2006 Lexington St. 77098
Houston lacks an authentic Algerian restaurant but luckily, the dishes of Algeria are very similar to those of Morocco. Enjoy the belly dancing at Saffron while feasting on merguez, the spicy lamb sausage that is a quintessential dish of Algerian cuisine. Order from an array of couscous dishes and finish off with a cup of mint tea, and don't forget the honey (Algerians are the 2nd largest consumers of honey in the world).
Russian General Store
9629 Hillcroft St 77096
While there is no uniform cuisine in this country of over 40 distinct cuisines, Slovenian cooking is heavily influenced by border countries such as Croatia and Hungry, and its specialties can be found at various Eastern European stores such as this one.
Phoenicia Specialty Foods
12141 Westheimer Rd 77077
While you may be hard pressed to find authentic Slovenian dining in town, you can wash down your meal like a true Slovene with a fine selection of wines from all the major Solvenian wine regions of Podravje, Posavje and Primorska.
Germany vs. AustraliaRudi Lechner's
2503 S Gessner Rd 77063
Traditional German outfits, German music and all the schnitzels you can imagine make this place THE German dining experience this side of Fredericksburg.
10630 Commerce Row Montgomery 77356
Those up for a bit of a drive will find what is reputedly the best German cuisine around with the added plus of an authentic biergarten. And seriously, how DO you enjoy schnitzel if not in a biergarten?
1710 Durham Dr 77007
While Australian cuisine is difficult to define, much less find, perhaps the most we can hope for is an Australian chef. While we used to be able to see the Australian influence at his former joint, Gravitas, Chef Jason Gould's recent departure and new gig at Cyclone's leaves us desperately in need of a local Aussie fix.
13240 Northwest Fwy 77040
Did I really just go there? Unfortonately, yes. Houston Aussies need to step it up. Until then, see above for English restuarants such as Feast and Red Lion where you can eat popular Aussie Dishes such as fish and chips and meat pies. Don't forget to stop at Phoenicia and stock up on your Vegemite.
Pete's Fine Meats and Deli
5509 Richmond Ave, 77056
This family owned neighborhood butcher has been supplying Houston with exotic meats since the 1960's. Pick up some kangaroo fillets and alligator meat, go home and throw them on the barbie, open up a can of Foster's and call it a day, mate.
Serbia vs. GhanaCafe Pita
10890 Westheimer Rd 77042
Influenced by Mediterranean, Turkish and Hungarian cuisines, Serbian fare can be found locally at this Bosnian cafe in Westchase. I love the fried sardines but many go for the famous national dish of cevap.
14045 Westheimer Rd 77077
A more formal approach to Bosnian/Serbian dining in Houston, Balkan Grill serves the traditional cevap along with gulas (the local version of Hungarian goulash), dolmas and sarma cabbage rolls.
Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant
9400 Richmond Ave 77063
While the most traditional West African cuisine in town can be found at the above mentioned Suya Hut, we need to venture to Ethiopia to capture some of the more sophisticated subtleties of Ghanian flavors. You won't find the national dishes of Ghana here like jollof rice and fufu (mashed plantain), but you will find a rich, distinctly African dining experience that represents the blend of tribal and global cultures with exotic ingredients and flavorful spices. You'll also eat with your hands.
The Netherlands vs. DenmarkLittle Dutch Girl
210 Gentry St. Spring TX 77373
This little sundries shop in Spring promises to stock everything from Holland including imported Dutch foods like Stroopwafels, Douwe Egberts Coffee and Tea, Dutch Cheese (is there more than Gouda?), more than 30 kinds of licorice, Dutch Cookies, Chocolate and Candy. Now, Dutch food is so famously bad that troops being fed by Dutch cooks in Afghanistan actually made Foreign Policy headlines as "The worst part of the war," so eat at your own risk.
4500 Richmond Ave, 77027
Those who critisize Houston for lack of a proper deli are obviously yet to discover Nielsen's, which has been serving up an assortment of meats, cheeses and lovingly prepared sandwiches to our local Danish community for over 55 years. Liverpaste on rye will have you feeling mighty Danish real fast.
Three Brother's Bakery
4036 S. Braeswood Blvd. 77025
Five generations of family baking have turned Three Brother's into Houston's beloved bakery for all matter of special occasions and sweet fix needs. An old fashioned bakery, no $3 cupcakes to be seen, it is also the finest collection of cheese and fruit Danish in town. This pastry, now as American as the donut, was actually brought to Denmark by Austrian laborers during a strike in the late 19th C.
Japan vs. CamaroonKata Robata Sushi and Grill
3600 Kirby Dr Ste H, 77098
Former Kubo's chef, Hori-san, churns out what is arguably the best Japanese and the closest thing to Japanese fusion that we have in town.
Osaka Japanese Restaurant
515 Westheimer Rd, 77006
Japanese born but Texas trained, Osaka's chef serves up some of the best loved sushi in town at affordable prices.
Umai Japanese Restaurant
8400 Bellaire Blvd, 77036
Innovative Japanese dishes for the non-sushi eater in a most nondescript Bellaire strip, including the bargain priced $9 "texas sized" bento box.
West Africa is far better at futbol than it is at churning out restaurants, so see above for Nigerian and Ghanian food because that's as close as you are going to get to Camaroon.
Italy vs. ParaguayDa Marco Cucina E Vino
1520 Westheimer Road, 77008
Marco Wiles's Northern Italian menu features classics such as osso bucco and the most succulent of gnocchi along with oxtails and calf liver for the more adventurous. Whatever you order it will be sure to overwhelm you with pleasure in this long touted "best of Houston."
1609 Westheimer Rd, 77006
If Poscol were only slightly more crowded and a bit louder, the service a bit slower, it would feel just like Italy...add a few hams hanging from the ceiling. One of my personal favorites and my choice for most authentic Italian in menu and setting.
1080 Uptown Park Blvd, 77056
Fine dining in the true Italian style of three courses: antipasti, primi, segundi; each served in opulence in one of Houston's only grand hotels.
Nundini Enterprises Inc
500 N Shepherd Dr Ste B 77007
A panini and gelato bar hidden in an importer's warehouse, Nundini supplies Houston with all the Italian essentials from 5 gal buckets of olive oil to San Marzano tomatoes.
Goya Foods Of Texas/ Fiesta Markets
Paraguayan cuisine may be similar to Uruguay and Argentina (see above) but does have a number of regional specialties as the result of the guarani indigenous. Houston falls short on Paraguayan restaurants, but thanks to Goya's superpowers of mass-hispanic imports, you can buy traditional foods such as bollos de yuca (mandioca) and chipas (patties made from yuca flour) at your neighborhood Fiesta.
Lemon Tree Restaurant
12591 Whittington Dr, 77077
All Peruvian fare aside, Lemon Tree is Houston's go to spot for chicha, the ever popular (and traditional Paraguayan) fermented corn beverage. Order anything labeled "asado" and you'll be sticking to the Paraguayan diet regardless of the restaurant's Peruvian roots.
New Zealand vs. SlovakiaSpec's Wine Spirits and Finer Foods
2410 Smith St, 77006
Get thee to a Specs to garnish all supplies for kiwi-style drinking - ample bottles of Steinlager and a variety of New Zealand whites. You can also buy a variety of mild and sharp cheddars from the smaller island down under along with imported avocado oils, first used in cooking by the Kiwis in the 1990's.
Hearsay Gastro Lounge
218 Travis St, 77002
One of the few spots in town still serving New Zealand's quintessentially gamey and once favored by all chefs, lamb. It has now been replaced by more local or Colorado pastures on the modern menu.
1900 Blalock Rd # R, 77080
Heavily influenced by it's neighbor, many of Slovakia's national dishes grace the menu of Houston's resident Polish restaurant. These include a variety of pierogi (the Slovak version is called Bryndzové halušky), blood sausages and potato pancakes (Lokše).
The prolific remnant of Texas' Czech heritage, Kolache Factory may churn out jalepeno sausage kolaches by the masses, but the also bake more authentic Czech/Slovak style kolachkys. These are the open faced pillows of dough that you see with cheese or sweet toppings. For those heading to Austin or willing to make a trip for authentic Czech pastries, stop at Hruska's in Ellinger, an assuming service station on the side of 71, for fluffy pillows of kolachky goodness in every variety imaginable.
Cote d'Ivoire vs. PortugalOporto Food and Wine Bar
3383 Richmond Ave,77098
While Houston is generally lacking in Iberian cuisines, Oporto is a shining star in that otherwise abysmally black sky. Other than Phonecia, this is the only place in town to get linguica, the distinct and flavorful Portoguese style sausage. A tapas bar in essence, the menu at Oporto is expiremental but stays true to traditional dishes in Bacalhau, caldo verde and ample use of piri-piri, all complimented by the largest selection of Portuguese wines in the City. The irony of being voted "Best Spanish Restaurant of 2009" only serves to drive home the local ignorance of Iberian cultures, but don't let it fool you - Oporto serves some authentic dishes from the other side of the peninsula, all Spanish misconceptions aside.
Addisaba Ethiopian Restaurant
7668 De Moss Dr,77036
Our other resident Ethipoian dining experience will have to sub in here for the Ivory Coast, a country made up of over 60 indigenous ethnic groups. The traditional Ivioirian diet is similar to its neighbors (see Ghana above) with its heavy reliance on slow-simmered stews and starches. Order any dish based on cassava and plantains or any of the chickens stewed in eggplant, onions and spices.
Brazil vs. North Korea
Emporio Brazilian Cafe
12288 Westheimer Rd Ste 210a, 77077
In a sea of churrascarias, Emporio claims to serve the "true taste of Brazil" in authentic, home cooked dishes. Make sure to try the feijoada, a black bean and meat stew that reached across all ethnic backgrounds to become the Brazilian national dish. Run by true Brazilians, Emporio will be sure to throw a good party in honor of any Brazilian win.
Tradicao Brazilian Steakhouse
6800 Southwest Freeway,77002
A local hangout for the Brazilian expat community (you won't find any Brazilians at Fogo de Chao unless entertaining clients), Tradicao serves the familiar all-you-can-eat meat on a stick and endless buffet, but for a considerably cheaper in a far more Brazilian atmosphere, Sharpstown.
7633 Dashwood Dr, 77036
The host of the annual Brazilian Carnival Houston is also hosting a party for the Cup premiere where you will be sure to find every Brazilian in Houston. If that does not satisfy your need for samba and caipirinhas, head to the Omni hotel on Sunday for a Brazilian pool party featuring churrasco and samba lessons.
Bonga Korean Restaurant
9861 Long Point Rd, 77055
Northern Korean cuisine differs only slightly from that of it's hippie brethren to the south, so you best be careful of what you order to make the trip authentic. Stick to the least flavorful, non-spicy dishes you find on the menu and whatever you do, do NOT eat cold noodles!
Nam Gang Restaurant
1411 Gessner Dr Ste A, 77080
Ok, so this isn't technically North Korean either, but what do you want from me on the subject of a country known more for its famine than it's cuisine? Regardless, the only thing totalitarian about this authentic, inexpensive bulgogi is that its totally tasty.
Honduras vs. Chile
Mi Bella Honduras
1806 Wirt Rd 77055
Try a baleada. It's the new pupusa. Yet another form of tortilla with bean and stuff on top, the national dish of Honduras is a simple yet satisfying and relatively unknown dish in our world of pupuserias. More familiar favorites like carne asada and pollo frito may top your baleada of choice. In the mood for escargot? Try the Honduran specialty, sopa de caracol, a coconut milk based snail soup. Beware of dark lighting and blaring latin music.
Cafe Red Onion
3910 Kirby Dr 77098
A pioneer in the Latin fusion trend that has since swept the Nation, this local Honduran chef has created a pan-Central American menu with distinctly Honduran influences that are most notable in a dessert menu full of guava, mango and guanabana, including the Central American version of tres leches - a rum and mango topped spin that I consider much improved upon the blandness of the ubiquitous Mexican dessert.
Lemon Tree Restaurant
207 Gray St 77002
Midtown sister to the restaurant of the same name mentioned above, Lemon Tree serves a distinctly Peruvian menu. However, since our resident Chilean restaurant closed down last year, we are destined to send you here for the national dishes of ceviche and all imaginable preparations of mariscos. Though the selection is small, the wine list at Lemon Tree is one of the very few in town where you'll find a Chilean selection.
1050 N Post Oak Rd # 200 77055
Though I would be one of the last people to recommend this chain of Latin Fusion theme parks, few restuarants come close to capturing the varied cuisines of a vast and diverse country such as Chile. A mixture of Peruvian, Argentinian and distinctly European cultures, the cuisine of Chile is vaguely resembled in the tangled menu of Americas. Having hired two of Houston's most talented chefs to spice up the menu, I would further recommend the Woodland's location (not CS add-friendly) for its emphasis on seafood and even broader selection of Chilean wines, which is by far the best in Houston that I've found aside from Spec's (wtf, Houston?). Just stay clear of the desserts which have not been modified in decades and invent the LOL misnomer "crème brulée catalana" that will leave any knowledgeable diner wondering 'well, which one is it?
Spain vs. SwitzerlandRioja
11920 Westheimer 11920 Westheimer Rd, 77077
Head over to Westchase for Houston's most authentic Spanish dining experience. Traditional tapas such as patatas ali-oli, gambas and croquettas make the perfect prelude to the paella mixta with house-made chorizo. Make sure to save room for dessert because this is the only place in Houston that serves authentic Spanish desserts such as tocino del cielo and natillas in addition to the ubiquitous flan. Even better, the prices are affordable, allowing you to order a bottle of Rioja or splurge on that Priorato to compliment your meal - because Spanish food without wine is not Spanish food at all.
Catalan Food and Wine
5555 Washington Ave 77007
I will openly declare my own bias when I gloat that one of the best restaurant's in town is Spanish. Less traditional than Rioja but far more representative of modern, experimental Spanish cuisine, Catalan's menu is playful without being overwhelmingly avante garde. For the taste of Spain, start with a glass of fino, share a few tapas and move on to the Barcelona street food (Octopus, chorizo, housemade Sriracha aioli) and ajo blanco, a soup so garlicky only a Spaniard will love you once its hit your lips. If you dine for lunch, don't forget to add a fried duck egg to everything you order. The wine list is impressive not only in its vastness and variation but in price. It is also one of the best sherry selections in town since Tio Pepe left us this past year (I'm still crying).
Andalucia Tapas and Taverna
1201 San Jacinto St 77002
If it is the quintessential Spanish dining experience that you seek, more atmosphere than food, than this Spanish venture by the former Mi Luna owners offers flavorful, well-prepared Andalusian dishes in a romantic, dark woods dining room complete with murals of bullfighters, flamenco dancers and everything you could want to complete that Spanish tourist fantasy.
Roland's Swiss Pastry
9434 Old Katy Rd, Ste 310, 77055
First, for the German side of Swiss cuisine, few places could be more appropriate than Roland's, a former Swiss cafe taken over by a German chef and his wife. The result is all the pastries and breads you would expect from a Swiss bakery with an emphasis on the locally quite rare Black Forest Cake and linzertorte.
Andre's Swiss Pastry Shop & Café
2515 River Oaks Blvd, 77019
This authentic Swiss patisserie and bistro offers one of the more authentic tastes of Alpine Swiss flavors in town, from the quiche lorraine to the tarte lyonnaise, along with a seductive pastry case filled with pithiviers, napoleons, Swiss fruit tartes and tarte l'operas.
6100 Westheimer Rd, Ste 146 77057
After celebrating the culinary diversity of our fair City, I am ashamed to conclude on this note, capable of invoking the essence of French Swiss only with a chain mass-marketed to teenagers on prom night. ::Sigh:: A breath of fresh air in our apparently anti-Swiss local is Cru, a wine bar in the Woodlands that offers a proper cheese and chocolate fondue in a bistro atmosphere. Raclette, nowhere to be found in possibly the State of TX, would be your adventure. You can procure supplies at any local Specs or Central Market.