Food and Drink

The 15 Most Romantic Restaurants in Houston

Caviar service in Montrose, chic Heights wine bars, and other date night gems.

Photo by Julie Soefer
Photo by Julie Soefer
Photo by Julie Soefer

Need a little assistance in the romance department? These Houston restaurants will up your game so you don’t have to. Our city’s sexiest, swaggiest restaurants go well beyond your typical candlelit fine dining spot (though we’ve included a few of those, of course). There’s an exotic lounge and breezy patio that’ll make you feel like you’re in a place far, far away from the gritty Bayou City, a lush wine bar where you can make googly eyes over piles of fries, and a 22-seat handroll spot with a naughty-feeling secret bar stashed next door. Here’s exactly where you want to spend your next date night in Houston.

Photo by Julie Soefer
Photo by Julie Soefer
Photo by Julie Soefer

Bludorn

Montrose
What is sexier than Baked Alaska set aflame before your eyes? That’s what you’ll be asking yourself at chef Aaron Bludorn’s absolute whopper of a restaurant, one that’s been steadily sliding into its role as the hottest ticket in town since opening last year. Vamping up the old Pass & Provisions space on Taft, the moodily lit interior makes for an intimate date night, while the breezy outdoor canopy brings the charm with lush greenery and twinkling cafe lights. Both are perfect settings for taking down Bludorn’s refined, satisfying fare, from oysters, foie, and risotto specialities to a gorgeous Lobster Pot Pie for two.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

Photo by Julie Soefer
Photo by Julie Soefer
Photo by Julie Soefer

Musaafer

Galleria/Uptown
Whisk yourselves off to far-flung place by date nighting in a gilded dining room, cozying up on tufted sofas in a sultry lounge, or wining and dining on a patio inspired by the breezeways of Indian palaces at this well-traveled fine dining spot. Opulence flows abundantly as chef Mayank Istwal churns out seasonally inspired Spice Route dishes bound to titillate the senses. Get the juices flowing with indulgences like Coriander Prawn, Truffle Chaat, and Braised Lamb, and end the journey with a mosaic of rich, silky Kheer scented with saffron and cardamom.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable or order take-out via Toast.

Photo courtesy of Tonight & Tomorrow
Photo courtesy of Tonight & Tomorrow
Photo courtesy of Tonight & Tomorrow

Tonight & Tomorrow

Montrose
Tucked away in the luxurious reimagined La Colombe d’Or hotel lies this alluring newcomer, which serves up coastal European cuisine with a side of local intrigue. Whet your appetites with Gulf Crudo paired with a killer caviar service, then linger over Steak Frites, Whole Market Fish, and Ricotta Chantille Honey Cake complemented by a glass of fine Port. Afterwards, keep the vibes going by relocating to the storied hotel bar… or perhaps even a room upstairs.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Photo by Jenn Duncan
Photo by Jenn Duncan
Photo by Jenn Duncan

Ostia

Montrose
Go ahead and lick your fingers after scarfing down chef Travis McShane’s enviable Roast Chicken-just try to make it sexy while you do. Ostia’s ambiance will help, with tiny tables and mood lighting, an open kitchen firing scratchmade pastas and Whole Branzino, and a verdant greenhouse and patio combo known to ratchet the romance factor up quite a few notches.
How to book: Reserve via Resy or order take-out via Toast.

Nobie's
Nobie’s
Nobie’s

Nobie’s

With a revolving supper menu and plates you’ll definitely want to go Dutch on, this intimate neighbourhood staple is where locals do date night right. Pop a few Stuffed Dates and tear into pull-apart Milk Bread with Smoked Trout Roe, swipe right on Roast Chicken and Truffle Jus, and go all Lady and the Tramp on a bowl of Tagliatelle Bolognese. And if there’s a wait, no problem-loosen up with one of beverage director Sarah Troxwell’s excellent libations at the well-stocked bar.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.

Potente
Potente
Potente

Potente

Downtown
This Downtown stunner oozes sophistication, with a dark and luxe space that evokes a modern Italian villa. Set the mood with a superb bottle of wine, and keep the excitement going with fancy-pants Italian steakhouse gems (think Aleppo-crusted Tonno, housemade Cacio e Pepe hit with black truffles shaved tableside, and a Prime Porterhouse for two). Finish the night with Limoncello-spiked cocktails and a delectable Amaretto Crème Brûlée.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Savoir Restaurant
Savoir Restaurant
Savoir Restaurant

Savoir

Heights
It may sit in what was once a neglected warehouse, but after a little polishing up, this Heights haunt now has charm for days. Details like exposed brick, plush seating, and tealight candles in Old World-style glassware set the stage for you to flirt over plates of Jasmine Tea-smoked Yellowtail, Five Spice Foie Gras, and Curly Fry Flights, which are obviously the sexiest thing on the menu.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

BCN Taste & Tradition
BCN Taste & Tradition
BCN Taste & Tradition

BCN Taste + Tradition

Montrose
An exceptional wine list, anchovies straight from the Cantabrian Sea, and desserts like Aged Rum Raisin Catalán BrĂ»lĂ©e are just a few of the reasons to bring your date to this Barcelona-inspired fine dining spot. Intoxicatingly good dishes like grilled Spanish Octopus, Foie-stuffed Quail, and Suckling IbĂ©rico Pig are a few more. You’ll find it all tucked away in a quaint 1920s home turned contemporary chic escape in Montrose.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Rainbow Lodge
Rainbow Lodge
Rainbow Lodge

Rainbow Lodge

Shady Acres
If you’re looking for a space with character, this lodge-style restaurant in a century-old log cabin on the rolling grounds along White Oak Bayou is your jam. The longtime Houston institution has some serious game-provided your date’s not averse to antler-based decor-as well as some actual game on the menu in the form of venison, elk, and wild boar chops. Cozy up next to the fireplace and settle in for a delightful (and adventurous) night.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable or order take-out online.

Hando
Hando
Hando

Hando

Heights
There are only 22 seats at this hot new hand-roll sushi bar. Snag a pair and you and your date can go all in on temaki tubes stuffed with toro, yellowtail, scallop, and shrimp katsu, offered a la carte or in sets of three, four, and five. Japanese Highballs and House Spiced Milk Punch only sweeten the deal, as does a neighbouring speakeasy-style cocktail den dubbed the Kanpai Club.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out via Toast.

Doris Metropolitan
Doris Metropolitan
Doris Metropolitan

Doris Metropolitan

River Oaks
This Israeli steakhouse dry-ages its beef in a chandelier-lit meat locker, while the menu itself takes inspiration from the Middle East with dishes like Cheese-stuffed Beetroot and Demi Glace Sweetbreads. You’ll find luscious, top-quality cuts like Prime Bone-in Ribeye and Japanese A5 Wagyu, and there are even little piles of seasoning on the plate so you can unleash your inner Salt Bae.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

Bar Boheme
Bar Boheme
Bar Boheme

Boheme

Montrose
Is there anything more sensual than sharing a bottle of wine and a mountain of fries? Perhaps only when said wine is consumed on a dreamy, string-lit patio and said fries come absolutely stacked with devilish add-ons like smoked pork shoulder and yellow curry mayo. Did we mention there’s pizza, too? Because there is.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

MAD Houston
MAD Houston
MAD Houston

MAD

River Oaks District
Sexiness and weirdness often go hand-in-hand, and this avant-garde concept is about as weird as it gets. You’ll feel like you’re going down the rabbit hole as you slice open a tomato only to realize it’s not a tomato at all, but a gelatinous veil for Parmesan Mousse and Pesto over Pumpernickel Crumble. The showy light fixtures and wacky decor are straight out of a Picasso painting, and there’s a top-notch collection of gin to enhance the whimsy.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable, order take-out via Toast, or get delivery via DoorDash.

Mutiny Wine Room
Mutiny Wine Room
Mutiny Wine Room

Mutiny Wine Room

Heights
Save a ton on airfare by skipping the flight to Napa and opting instead for a few wine flights at this buzzy Heights tasting room instead. The space screams Cali-cool with its farmhouse looks and superlative library of boutique wines. Pair your grapey sips with Drunken PEI Mussels, Chicken Liver Mousse Toasts, and Pumpkin Butter Pasta.
How to book: Reserve via Resy.

Brenner's on the Bayou
Brenner’s on the Bayou
Brenner’s on the Bayou

Brenner’s on the Bayou

Memorial Park
Nestled into lavish grounds along the banks of the Buffalo Bayou, this wooded retreat has served as backdrop to many a romantic evening (and even some weddings). Maybe it’s the cascading waterfall or dramatic, two-story dining room. Or maybe it’s the Fire-roasted Oysters, Crispy Duck Leg Confit, and steaks of all kinds dripping with truffle butter and Cognac sauce. Regadess, there’s something seductive about this place. Triple bonus points if you start your date with bayouside drinks and live blues at the al fresco Blue Bar.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat!

Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who obviously believes fries are romantic. @ her about it IG @brookiefafa or on Twitter @brookeviggiano.

Food and Drink

The Best Ways to Dress Up Your Summer Beers

From micheladas to shandies to fruit infusions, the power is in your hands-and kitchen.

Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Today, just about any flavored beer a person could dream up already exists in a can, from micheladas to shandies to, yes, pickle beers. But there’s still much to be said for the DIY versions of these dressed-up beers.

For one, they’re fresher (you could squeeze your own lemonade for a shandy right this instant). For another, they’re customizable: spiciness, fruit choice, how strong you’d like the final drink to be-all those are in your hands. And perhaps more importantly, they’re fun. Whether you want to spend two minutes constructing a beer-lemonade shandy or spend an hour infusing your IPA with real chunks of pineapple, there are plenty of ways to get creative in gussying up your beer this summer.

Embrace red beer

A brunch staple across the western half of the U.S., “red beer” is essentially a stripped-down michelada: just your preferred light lager of choice, plus tomato juice. But the devil’s in the details-folks can get mighty particular about their red beer specifications.

My preference is Coors Light with just a splash of Campbell’s tomato juice. It’s a pet peeve of mine when bartenders go too heavy on the tomato juice; it’s called red beer after all, not tomato juice. To make this yourself, start with your light lager of choice, then add just a splash of tomato juice so that the beer has a strong orange hue. Sip, taste, and add more if necessary.

Upgrade your salt rim

Another component of some micheladas, salt rims are more versatile than they might seem-and they complement several styles of beer. Just coat the rim of a beer glass with lime juice or water, then dunk the glass in a shallow dish of salt. Try the following combos:

• Mexican lager with a Tajin rim: Try substituting Tajin seasoning for straight salt for a bit of a chilli-lime kick. Pair this with a red beer for a michelada-like vibe.
• Gose with a herbal-salt rim: Goses are a beer style with a light salinity already, so pouring them in a glass rimmed with a rosemary salt or basil salt can add an additional flavour that doesn’t clash. Try mixing and matching fruited goses with herbal salts-how about a watermelon gose with a basil-salt rim?
• Dark lager with a smoked salt rim: Smoked salt is a surprisingly versatile ingredient because it’s way less powerful than liquid smoke. Try a dark lager (like Modelo Negro or a bock) in a glass rimmed with smoked salt for a subtle campfire vibe.

Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez/iStock/Getty Images
Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez/iStock/Getty Images
Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez/iStock/Getty Images

No shame in a shandy

Radlers and shandies are often used interchangeably to refer to a light-coloured beer blended with fruit juice (typically lemonade or grapefruit). Packaged versions exist, but with so many fruit-flavoured non-alcoholic beverages on the market, it’s worth playing around with some creative combos in your own kitchen. A good rule of thumb is to start light with the base beer, either a pale lager, cream ale, blonde ale, or (if you’re really a hop head) a pale ale. From there, most people blend in a splash of their favourite juice.

But here’s my preference: Use a fruit-flavoured soda. I find that adding straight fruit juice to beer often makes it too sweet and a bit flat. A high-quality fruit-flavoured soda, like the ones from Sanpellegrino, adds carbonation and fruit flavour with too much sweetness. Also, go easy on the ratio of soda to beer to start, because you can always add more soda. I find a ratio of about one part soda to three parts beer is ideal.

Infuse your beer with fruit

Your French press isn’t only for coffee-it can also act as a device for infusing fruit or other flavours into beer. If you end up with a bumper crop of strawberries or melons from the farmer’s market, this is a great way to use them.

1. Start with a new or perfectly clean French press to avoid coffee flavour leaching into your beer (unless that’s what you’re after).
2. Pour in your beer of choice. Almost any style could work here: light lagers, blonde ales, saisons, IPAs, even porters and stouts. Pour the beer into the French press, leaving a couple inches empty at the top.
3. Add some cut-up fruit. The possibilities are limitless: porter and raspberry, IPA and pineapple, blonde ale and mango, wheat beer and oranges, saison and cherries…
4. Allow the fruit to infuse. How long to leave the beer in contact with the fruit is up to you, knowing that the longer the mixture sits, the more pronounced the flavours will be. Start with 10 minutes, push the plunger down slightly, pour and taste some of the beer, and wait longer for a more intense flavour.
5. Push the plunger down all the way. Pour your infused beer into a glass and enjoy!

Make a mighty michelada shrub

Micheladas are typically a mixture of Mexican lager, lime juice, tomato juice, and salt. But recently, premixed michelada shrubs (like those from Pacific Pickle Works and Real de Oaxaca) have popped up, adding some vinegar tartness and other ingredients like Worcestershire sauce and spices to the mix.

A shrub combines vinegar with fruit or, sometimes, vegetables, and they’re easy to experiment with at home. Michael Dietsch, author of Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, suggests that if you’re creating a shrub to mix with beer and tomatoes, beginning with a base of apple cider vinegar or malt vinegar (to match the malt in beer) plus lime is a smart start. From there, savoury additions like soy sauce will lend a Bloody Mary feel-just be sure to use a light hand with those umami-packed additions. Because vinegar and soy or Worcestershire sauce are tangy and savoury, Dietsch notes that you may want to add just a pinch of sugar to your shrub for balance.

From there, the sky’s the limit. Swap apple cider for white balsamic if you’re feeling bold, or add orange juice as well as lime. But regardless of what ingredients you use, Dietsch says it’s important to let a shrub sit and mellow for a couple days before using it. That time will let the intensity of the vinegar mellow and will ensure all the flavours meld together in perfect harmony. Once the shrub has sat a few days, give it a taste, then add a few splashes of it to your favourite Mexican lager.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Kate Bernot is a certified BJCP judge and freelance reporter whose work regularly appears in Craft Beer & Brewing, Thrillist, and Good Beer Hunting. Follow her at @kbernot.

Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.