Houston is a beacon of diversity, both culturally and economically. Ranked as even more ethnically diverse than New York, Houston is a sprawling metropolis that also runs the gamut of socio-economic classes.
Luckily, no matter how low or high-income a neighborhood is, there will still be a wealth of different cultural attractions, especially through food.
River Oaks is one of Houston’s wealthiest neighborhoods, its mansions set far back on perfectly manicured, giant lawns. Visitors and locals alike can make a day of it driving through the residential streets gawking at these massive abodes.
While we may associate rich neighborhoods with stuffy fine dining, River Oaks restaurants bestow the same cultural and socioeconomic diversity as any other Houston neighborhood.
Of course, you can still find world-class bistros. However, if you want a family-friendly Tex Mex feast or a mid-range Southern comfort restaurant, River Oaks has it all.
3736 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77027
Teetering between River Oaks and Greenway Plaza, Frank’s Americana Revival offers a modern twist on classic American comfort food served in a refurbished old-school diner space.
Run by seasoned restaurateur Michael Shine and his sons, Frank’s Americana Revival makes refined diner fare presented in fine-dining fashion.
The excellent menu and fun atmosphere have won Frank’s the Diner’s Choice Award. They serve lunch and dinner at Frank’s with daily specials like Prime Rib Roast with baked potato on Sundays or meatloaf with whipped potatoes, green beans, and tomato bacon jam on Thursdays for discounted prices.
3258 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Another take on old-school Houston nostalgia, State of Grace is a historical and culinary haven where customers can relive the glory days of the 50s.
Located inside the perfectly preserved 1950s Lamar-River Oaks Shopping Centre, State of Grace’s Executive Chef Bobby Matos puts a modern twist on comfort foods from around the world.
Whether you want Southern, Latin, German, or Asian, State of Grace offers global comfort foods prepared authentically with high-quality ingredients. There’s a full bar to accompany a lunch, brunch, or dinner.
I started dinner with a plate of hushpuppies with Texas blue crab and cane syrup butter. My main dish was an incredible Iberico pork jowl with mushroom and sunchoke.
Giacomo’s Cibo e VinoPhone: 713-522-1934
Located a few blocks from Rebecca Meyer Park, Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino is a casual and friendly Italian eatery and wine bar.
They have a picturesque outdoor patio to enjoy scratch-made plates of hot and cold antipasti with copious glasses of Italian wines. Giacomo’s is the perfect place to share a happy hour family-style meal with friends to unwind.
They offer both scratch-made and imported Italian semolina pasta along with a vast menu of antipasti, salads, soups, and main dishes.
I loved their Cavatappi ai Cinque Formaggi with baked corkscrew pasta and a five-cheese cream sauce topped with cauliflower.
2630 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Armandos is a fine-dining Tex Mex restaurant and beloved Upper Kirby haunt since 1978. Owned by Armando and Cinda and their daughter Alexandra, Armandos is a beautiful dining space with antique Mexican mirrors, textiles, pottery, and cookware adorning the walls and antique wooden cabinets. The food is as beautifully presented as the surroundings.
Their large menu features tequilas, margaritas, Mexican cocktails, beer, and wine to accompany an abundance of salads, seafood, red meat, and Tex Mex classics like chalupas and enchiladas.
I loved their crab enchiladas with mozzarella cheese and creamy lobster sauce served with Mexican rice and twice refried beans.
2555 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77019
Located across Kirby Drive from Armandos, Local Foods- Upper Kirby District is a festive, farm-to-table American eatery in a trendy industrial-chic warehouse building with pained brick walls and exposed metal beams.
Chefs create a seasonal menu sourced from local farms. They also support locals by engaging in charitable projects with their food and restaurant profits.
The menu features a vegetable-heavy menu of salads, sandwiches, and scratch-made soups. Vegans will love their cashew queso with vegan taco meat and pico de gallo accompanied by house-made tortilla chips.
Meat eaters will love the Banh Mi sandwich, a French baguette stuffed with charred pork, pickled onions, jalapeno, cilantro, sambal, aioli, and cucumber-carrot slaw.
2810 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
Relish Restaurant and Bar is a refined yet family-friendly traditional American restaurant with fair pricing and a lively atmosphere.
Located a few blocks east of Rebecca Meyer Park, Relish combines fine dining accents like luxurious service and high-quality meals with unpretentious surroundings and pricing.
The menu puts a European twist on classic American fare, taking inspiration from the Mediterranean countries of Italy, France, and Spain.
They have a great daily happy hour with half-off cocktails and cheap martinis and house wines, not to mention a full happy hour menu of discounted bar fare like deviled eggs, beets, and bleu cheese, and an extravagant burger.
2002 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019
Located in the high-end River Oaks Plaza Shopping Center a block from Live Oak Park, La Griglia is a beloved Italian eatery with over 30 years serving the River Oaks neighborhood.
The atmosphere is a perfect combination of elegant and inviting, with a wonderful outdoor patio surrounded by lush oak trees.
They have a massive wine list, focusing heavily on Southern Italian wines from Tuscany, Rome, and Sicily. Expert servers will guide you through the pairing process, optimizing both the food and the wine’s flavors.
I started with a wood-fired Neapolitan pizza with Italian sausage and roasted red peppers, followed by delicious braised short ribs with wild mushroom risotto.
2706 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77098
If you’ve been to Texas, you know that Chuy’s is synonymous with Tex Mex. Chuy’s originated in Austin, Texas in 1982 when owners John Zapp and Mike Young opened the first location in an old barbecue joint, serving heaping portions of cheese smothered Tex Mex dishes in a funky atmosphere with Elvis paraphernalia lining the walls.
Now there are multiple locations around Texas including the Upper Kirby location right next to Relish Restaurant.
Chuy’s has the best tortilla chips in the world. Who knows how they get them as thin, light, and crunchy as they do, but you can eat bottomless baskets to your heart’s content with a tangy frozen margarita while you wait for a massive plate of enchiladas, burritos, or hard-shelled tacos.
1962 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019
Brasserie 19 is a classy, elegant French bistro a few locales down from La Griglia in the River Oaks Shopping Center.
The award-winning wine list, high-brow, fashionable atmosphere, and authentic, world-class French brasserie cuisine has garnered wide acclaim from the Houston Press, the Houston Chronicle, and CultureMap Houston.
You can order a la carte or reserve the wine room for a pre-fixe, chef’s tasting menu. Whatever you order, it will be one of the richest, most decadent culinary experiences.
I recommend the caviar with crème fraiche onion dip and house-made chips. The roasted half hen with marble potatoes, garden vegetables, and tarragon jus was amazing.
4444 Westheimer Rd Ste C-220, Houston, TX 77027
Located right across loop 610 from the Galleria, The Tuck Room is a creative cocktail bar and contemporary American restaurant with a vibrant, high-energy atmosphere conducive to a fun and sociable night out.
The cute bar area overlooks a luxurious fireplace surrounded by plush sofas for you and your friends to enjoy a lazy cocktail by the fire before heading into the dining room.
The Tuck Room has one of the best happy hours in town, with ultra-cheap beer, wine, and discounted cocktails to accompany small plates.
The refined bar fare menu features innovative starters that fuse global cuisines. I loved their short rib bao bun sliders.