Best Value

Trying to pin down words like frugal, value, and deal can be exasperating because different people have different ideas of cost savings. For 10Best, the range is broad - we include impossibly cheap eateries with amazing menus, and we share really nice restaurants that have perks like an impressive wine list with no corkage fee or a terrifically affordable prix fixe menu. If you're looking for Best Value restaurants in Houston, let us introduce you to a few of our favorites, starting with Harry's Restaurant and Pappas Bar-B-Q. They're low in expenditures and high in appeal.

A casually hip neighborhood restaurant, Shade is romantic but unpretentious thanks to muted colors, clean lines, and broad windows. A menu that revels in flavor and texture pulls guests back again and again, eager to sample dishes like pan-seared red snapper with a wasabi kick, squid salad, rustic baked pastas, creative salads, and pork enlivened with citrus and herbs. Outdoor dining is available, along with a bar, a pleasantly affordable wine list, and service that's attentive without being intrusive. (713-863-7500)

Luling City Market
Designed to look like a building in a 19th-century Western town, Luling City Market cultivates an air of past days. It even smokes its meats over wood for an authentic taste. Inside the place, the rustic theme continues, letting diners feel as if they've stumbled into an age-old dining room. Just like famished cowboys, patrons dive into hearty servings of beef sausages, ribs, brisket, turkey, and chicken, all accompanied by homemade sides and desserts. If you become enamored of the spicy sauce, they bottle it for shipping across the country. (713-871-1903, 877-526-2271)

Josephine's Italian Ristorante
When you're downtown and trying to score a quick, tasty lunch, Josephine's should be high on your list. While dinnertime patrons are often regaled with seafood main courses and more elegant sit-down fare, lunch-goers can depend on pastas, pizzas, soups, and salads. A midday cafeteria line guarantees that things move quickly, and affordable prices are especially welcome. The restaurant also serves more than a dozen health-conscious items. (713-759-9323)

House of Pies
For decades now, this diner has been bringing together young and old, traditional and alternative, uniting them all with the allure of homemade pies and short-order fare. Don't come if you're on a diet, but do show up if you're in the mood to indulge your sweet tooth. Chocolate cream, Dutch apple, coconut cream, and strawberry rhubarb pies are all delicious, but regulars especially adore the Bayou Goo, which features cream cheese, vanilla custard, chocolate chunks, and whipped cream on a pecan crust — oh, yeah! Other sugar fixes are available, and delicious breakfast dishes are served all hours of the day. Burgers, sandwiches, soups, and salads also satisfy. (713-528-3816)

Patu's Thai Cuisine
A "diamond in the rough," this narrow eatery serves delicious Thai fare at some of the most reasonable prices you can imagine. Flavorful, exotic dishes fill the menu, as evidenced by mee krob, steamed pork dumplings, curried eggplant, and coconut-chicken soup. Add to the mix an impressive yet moderately priced wine list, and you've all the makings for a terrific evening without a hefty price tag. During the work week, it's not uncommon to find business folks lining up at the buffet for seconds on spring rolls and shrimp curry. (713-528-6998)

Pappas Bar-B-Q
Pappas Bar-B-Q, one of the only barbecue dives downtown, is a popular lunchtime destination with everybody from cops and construction workers to suit-wearing lawyers and brokers. Portions are Texas-sized, and it's not uncommon for poor souls standing at the back of the line to stare jealously while you start in on a huge plate filled with BBQ ribs, an enormous baked potato, and ranch-style beans. Bring your appetite, and don't forget to ask for extra napkins. (713-659-1245, 877-277-2748)

Harry's Restaurant
You can't go wrong with a morning meal at bright, sun-filled Harry's. Frequented by a host of locals, the cafeteria-like restaurant knows how to do down-home food well, and the busy place shows it. At the break of day, you'll find biscuits, Greek omelets, pancakes, bacon and eggs, and French toast. Lunchtime brings out burgers and tasty fare like meatloaf, baked chicken, fried fish, and more, served with delicious vegetable sides. You may even catch up on the latest soccer stats and political goings-on while you dine, courtesy of regulars and downtown business types. (713-528-0198)

Coffeehouse culture runs strong at Brasil, which mixes artsy and hip sensibilities with aplomb. Original works enliven the walls, and live music and poetry readings are frequent occurrences, drawing out university folks and others with an affinity for words and rhythms. Along with coffee and tea drinks, wine and beer are served, not to mention sandwiches, pizzas, and quiche. If you're able, claim a spot on the front or back patios — favorite haunts when the weather's mild. (713-528-1993)

Within its unassuming environs, Pico's delights patrons with authentic regional Mexican cuisine, which it dubs "Mex-Mex" (in contrast to the less inventive "Tex-Mex"). You can, of course, order customary enchiladas and tacos, but why would you want to when fresh ceviches, achiote-marinated chicken, and red snapper Veracruz are available? Broiled steaks, chicken with Oaxacan black mole, and roasted, pork-stuffed poblano peppers with walnut sauce are also fantastic. Outdoor dining and terrific tequilas serve as added perks. (832-831-9940)

Mockingbird Bistro
A charming dining room with stained glass accents and self-proclaimed "funky gothic" decor welcomes enthusiastic guests to this appealing bistro. Sophistication and comfort mix in the setting and in the food, which is rustic, flavorful, and impeccably prepared. Steak frites is a natural classic, as are roasted chicken with mushroom risotto, grilled ahi tuna, cider-glazed pork chop, and tagliatelle with slow-braised lamb. Desserts keep up the creative theme, and the international wine list is delightfully well priced. A wonderful neighborhood institution. (713-533-0200)

Maps and Directions

Shade 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
Neighborhood: The Heights
Cost: $$
Luling City Market 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, Local Specialty
Neighborhood: Galleria
Cost: $
Josephine's Italian Ristorante 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Italian
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cost: $
House of Pies 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Bakery, Diner
Neighborhood: River Oaks
Cost: $
Patu's Thai Cuisine 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Asian, Thai
Neighborhood: Rice Village
Cost: $
Pappas Bar-B-Q 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Barbecue, Regional
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cost: $
Harry's Restaurant 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, European, Greek
Neighborhood: Montrose
Cost: $
Brasil 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Coffee Shop
Neighborhood: Montrose
Cost: $
Pico's 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Latin, Mexican
Neighborhood: West Houston
Cost: $
Mockingbird Bistro 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Continental, New American
Neighborhood: River Oaks
Cost: $$$
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