Welcome to Lodgeur’s guide of the best restaurants and bars in Downtown Houston!
We understand that what’s perfect for a business traveler is not always perfect for a family vacation. So we’ve identified each location and activity with an emoji to give you a quick visual and help you make easier decisions. Your trip should be about exploring, not researching.
We’ve also provided indicative pricing from $ to $$$$.
(Lodgeur also has a post on What to Do in Downtown Houston.)
If you close your eyes and imagine the perfect, classic steakhouse, Pappas would be it. With its appropriately dim lighting, aged steaks, deep wine list, and attentive service, the downtown location is well suited for a relaxed but impressive client dinner. Traveling for work sometimes means eating alone, and you can do that comfortably here. Cozy up to the bar for the full menu and the expertise of the bartenders on all things food, drink, and culture in Houston. There is usually a talented piano player that just adds to that old school ambiance you’d expect. Pappas is a Houston institution on everyone’s list of best restaurants in Houston.
Reservations recommended for tables, the bar area is first come first serve.
This art deco-inspired food hall brings together the best of local Houston haunts such as Goode Co. Taqueria, Dish Society, and Amaya Coffee all in one convenient spot. Head here for a group lunch so everyone can get what they like, just make sure to grab a table in the back. After work, grab a glass of wine or local craft beer (we’re partial to Eureka Heights) at their ground floor bar, St. Jac’s, or head up to their mezzanine, Swallow’s Nest, for a fantastic cocktail and good vibes.
No Reservations needed at the Food Hall, but they are suggested for Swallow’s Nest.
From the minds of Houston’s own bar genius Bobby Heugel and his business partner Peter Jahnke, this is where the epicenter of Houston’s local bar scenes converge. Head toward the back door inside The Pastry War (a wonderful bar it in its own right), up the staircase, and you’ll feel like you’re transported to another time. Inspired by travels to Japan, London, and Oaxaca, it’s evident that you can get the perfect, classic Martini yet not feel like you’re imposing or underdressed. Definitely the spot to unwind after a busy day, to head to for a nightcap, or to spend the entire evening sitting at the wooden bar watching the bar masters create beautifully crafted cocktails.
Reservations recommended, but walk-ins accepted if there is room. Text to make reservations.
This gastro-lounge, located in a turn-of-the-century building near Market Square, serves innovative, upscale pub grub paired with great craft beer, wine, and cocktails. Their extensive cocktail offering reflects a dedication to a classic aesthetic while the atmosphere lends itself to more lively conversations and happenings. Great for after-work happy hour or a late-night bite before heading back to your hotel. Make sure to have the Flaming Leah, named after one of FOUND’s founders!
Reservations accepted, but walk-in’s welcome.
In the mood for some really good pizza by the slice? A Houston staple both for food and the late-night scene, Frank’s knows its ‘za. Definitely a sleeper item here is their fresh hot wings. If you’re in the mood for a cocktail or beer, head next door to Frank’s Backyard, bring your pizza and wings, and gear up for a great time!
This bourbon and whisk(e)y bar is close to perfect for a business traveler and one of the most populars bars in downtown Houston. The food is good, the drink selection is outstanding, and it’s great for dining alone or grabbing a drink with coworkers. If you’re looking for a lunch-time activity for a client, they have the only TopGolf driving range simulator around – definitely worth checking out if you can’t make it to a course. Because of its location in the Four Seasons Hotel, you never know which celebrity (local, sports, or otherwise) might be sitting next to you.
Reservations accepted but generally only needed for the TopGolf lunch experience.
Grab & Go Food
Part grocery store, part restaurant, part hot/cold salad bar, part bar, this place has it all! Need somewhere quick to grab an artisanal sandwich or hit up a salad bar that has top quality ingredients? What about some shawarma or even good quality sushi rolls? This is the place. Perfect for the business traveler on the go or a family to grab picnic supplies on your way to Discovery Green. Inside Phoenicia Market, there’s a great cafe called MktBar that is best suited for an evening drop-in before a show at House of Blues or post-Rockets game at the Toyota Center.
No reservations necessary, but expect to wait in line during the lunch rush.
What can we say about Warren’s Inn? Part dive-bar, part-legend, and all-around oozing a no-frills nostalgia vibe. It’s one of the few dive bars in Houston that serve top-notch classic cocktails (try the martini) alongside beers and a bit of attitude from the bartenders. Be warned: the drinks here are STRONG, but that’s what keeps the diverse group of regulars coming back. All the cool kids sit in the gazebo, so try and snag a spot before it gets too crowded at night.
No reservations required.
You know that neighborhood bar that feels classy yet unpretentious? Where you can get a classic Manhattan and a Lone Star brew? Yeah, it’s here. Some of our favorite bartenders in Houston will make your visit one for the books, and teach you about the history of the building, the original watch company, and its relationship to the railroad. Don’t be surprised by the huge safes in the bathroom. It’s just where they kept all the expensive watches and jewelry in the early 1900s.
No reservations needed.