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The Top 5 Places for Lunch in Downtown Houston

The Top 5 Places for Lunch in Downtown Houston

How We Picked

Atmosphere: All the restaurants we chose for lunch have a relaxed vibe, making them ideal for a short meal by yourself or with the family. 
Prices: Because lunch places are expected to be less expensive than regular restaurants, we factored pricing into our decision making for the selected establishments. 
Menu: We opted for eateries that served a variety of cuisines and had lunch options that could be consumed either sit down or on the go. 
Food Quality: The quality of the food served at a lunch restaurant is still more important than how fast the service is (most people are willing to wait as long as the food is worth it). As a result, we considered this the most important criterion in our testing.

1. Xochi

Website: Xochi

Address: 1777 Walker St, Houston, TX 77010, United States

Contact Info: 713-400-3330

Hours: Monday: Closed

 Tuesday to Thursday: 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM

 Friday to Saturday: 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM

 Sunday: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Google Reviews Score4.6/5
Yelp Reviews Score4/5
Facebook Reviews Score4.2/5
Total Reviews4/5
Score Consistency4/5
Food Quality4.6/5


  • Interesting mole amarillo
  • Smoky barbacoa de res de zaachila 
  • Fresh corn tortillas
  • Savory Mexican wines


  • Long wait times
  • Reservations needed
  • Slow service

Xochi takes your taste buds to Oaxaca with its authentic Mexican dishes. At least, that’s what we were told. 

True to the claims of others we found ourselves going on a journey to Oaxaca through Xochi’s cuisine. 

Still, it took a long time to be seated at our table—even with reservations—the service was slow and a lot of the waitstaff appeared to be distracted in social conversations.

By the time we got seated, an hour had passed. We looked through the menu and asked our waiter a few questions about the menu, which they weren’t able to answer. 

Regardless of this, we decided to sample a few different things from their menu (which was vast, almost alarmingly so!). We started off with the mole amarillo. 

The mole amarillo was complex and flavorful, yet understated with its twangy, olive-briny base and flashes of fruitiness. We enjoyed the accompanying flavors of the mole with their fresh corn tortillas. 

The barbacoa de res de zaachila was a rolled skirt steak bathed in a chile broth that arcs between smoky and fruity. It was delicious and full of flavor. 

We also liked their immense stock of wines directly from Mexico. Of course, we had to try a glass of wine with our lunch. 

Rich, gamy dried fruit and tobacco were the main features of their Cabernet and Syrah mix from the Guadalupe Valley; it had traces of dried chiles and a little pull of funk. It was easy to drink and left a dry, savory aftertaste, making it both approachable and striking. 

They also had innovative desserts alongside their wine and cocktail lists. For the most part, the emphasis was on chocolate, both in straightforwardly enjoyable and fanciful ways. 

We liked their pitcher of foamed hot chocolate made at the table. We were served the chocolate in dimpled and rippling sipping cups. 

The chocolate was gently sweet, bitter, and spiced. We accompanied it with aromatic, crispy-chewy churros that were just begging to be dunked and fought over. 

2. George James Tavern

Website: George James Tavern 

Address: 737 Preston St, Houston, TX 77002, United States

Contact Info: 281-846-6938

Hours: Monday: Closed

 Tuesday to Thursday: 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM

 Friday to Saturday: 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM

 Sunday: Closed

Google Reviews Score4.2/5
Yelp Reviews Score3.5/5
Facebook Reviews Score4.3/5
Total Reviews4/5
Score Consistency4/5
Food Quality4/5


  • Flavorful mushroom sauce
  • Well-seasoned pork chop


  • Warm spinach salad
  • Salty oysters

When we went on our last visit, both the cozy terrace and the sleek interiors of Georgia James Tavern were packed with customers. 

We found the food and wine selection at Georgia James Steakhouse both well-executed and refined enough to delight both fine-dining connoisseurs and those dining on a budget. 

The combination of Georgia James Tavern’s art deco style and the building’s smaller scale makes for a warm and welcoming atmosphere too.

Picture this: hand-dipped marbleized silk curtain panels, vintage-inspired hand-blown glass wall sconces, and marquee-style lighting around the bar. All contribute to the inviting atmosphere.

There’s indoor seating at the tavern, the bar, and seating outside on the patio. We found a plush leather tufted bench in a corner inside with a commanding view of the entire restaurant and the ambiance. 

We started with the baked pimento cheese, country ham, and toast points. The flavors of the crispy cheese and the slightly salty ham meshed together well.

For one of our main entrees we tried the ham-brined Berkshire pork chop with poblano cheese grits and lone star mushroom sauce. The mushroom sauce was flavorful and the pork chop was well-seasoned. 

Additionally, we had the warm spinach salad along with roasted oysters. The roasted oysters were fresh but too salty for our tastes. We also didn’t like the texture of the spinach salad. 

3. Phoenicia Specialty Foods

Website: Phoenicia Specialty Foods

Address: 1001 Austin St Houston, TX, 77010

Contact Info: 832-360-2222

Hours: Monday to Wednesday: 9:00 AM to 7:30 PM 

 Thursday to Saturday: 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM 

 Sunday: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Google Reviews Score4.6/5
Yelp Reviews Score4.5/5
Facebook Reviews Score4.8/5
Total Reviews4.6/5
Score Consistency4.5/5
Food Quality4.8/5


  • Juicy, flavorful lamb shawarma
  • Variety of healthy sides
  • Delicious homemade garlic sauce
  • Reasonably priced wine


  • Bland falafel sandwich

Phoenicia Specialty Foods is known for being an international supermarket in Downtown Houston. But many people have raved to us about the little deli inside that sells Mediterranean delights.

We can attest to the fact that the deli at Phoenicia Specialty Foods does sell a variety of Mediterranean dishes but there’s also other healthy options for lunch such as a salad bar and freshly prepared soups.

When we arrived for lunch hour, there was a long line going from the deli to the produce section. Yet the service behind the deli counter was quick so the line moved rapidly.

As it is a deli, this is a more grab and go type of lunch. However, they do have a few tables located towards the front of the store if you want to sit down and eat lunch.

We ended up trying their lamb shawarma sandwich. The lamb was tender, juicy, and full of flavor. 

Moreover, their housemade garlic sauce drizzled on top of the lamb made our taste buds dance in delight. It was delicious! 

Furthermore, we liked the variety of sides at the salad bar varying from pasta salads to roasted beets and marinated artichokes. 

They also had a variety of beverages such as kombucha, different teas and even a selection of wine. Yes, the glasses of wine they offered were at a decent price. 

We also tried their falafel sandwich. However, we did not like how dry the falafel was and how bland it tasted.

4.  Bravery Chef Hall

Website: Bravery Chef Hall

Address: 409 Travis St Suite A, Houston, TX 77002, United States States

Contact Info: 713-909-0691

Hours: Monday to Wednesday: 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM

 Thursday to Saturday: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM

 Sunday: 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM

Google Reviews Score4.6/5
Yelp Reviews Score4.5/5
Total Reviews4.5/5
Score Consistency4.5/5
Food Quality4.5/5


  • Budget-friendly prices
  • Diverse cuisine
  • Helpful staff members


  • Limited seating space
  • Small food portions

Many in Downtown Houston raved to us about Bravery Chef Hall being the place to go if you need a quick fix for lunch. We can verify that these claims are true. 

Bravery Chef Hall is a huge, open, and impressive space. Wall hangings, music, and projected films playing in the background while people come and go all serve to set the mood here. 

These elegant elements distinguish what could be mistaken for simply another food market but which quickly reveals itself to be a great place to spend a considerable amount of time if you’re a foodie like us. 

We liked how Bravery Chef Hall makes it simple for everyone to gravitate toward their current foodie desires. You can order whatever you like, from sushi to Italian to Korean/Vietnamese to Mexican/Latin, and even alcoholic beverages.

We also liked how all of the booth staff members we interacted with were upbeat, kind, and helpful. Although the majority of the restaurants we sampled here were budget-friendly, the portions were smaller than we would’ve liked.

Additionally, there wasn’t much seating here. You can choose to dine in the designated areas of each restaurant booth or take your food to go.

By the way, if you want to save time on your lunch hour, we recommend placing your order ahead of time, and you’ll get a text message when it’s ready.

5. Osso & Kristalla

Website: Osso & Kristalla

Address: 1515 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002, United States

Contact Info: +1 713-221-6666

Hours: Monday to Thursday: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM 

 Friday to Saturday: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM

 Sunday: 10:00 AM  to 9:00 PM

Google Reviews Score4.3/5
Yelp Reviews Score4/5
Facebook Reviews Score4.2/5
Total Reviews4/5
Score Consistency4/5
Food Quality4.4/5


  • Affordable Italian wines
  • Salty sweet Kristalla salad
  • Delicious lemony arugula salad


  • Underwhelming tortellini
  • One page menu

Osso & Kristalla is one of Downtown Houston’s more known lunch spots that provides authentic Italian food. At least that’s what we were told.

When we walked in, we found the atmosphere at Osso & Kristalla bright and airy because of the floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around it. 

Large slabs of marble and slatted beams rise to the ceiling at the restaurant’s front bringing our attention to the bar, which, oddly, had no cocktail menu and instead had a friendly bartender standing by to mix us a drink. 

The service at Osso & Kristalla was prompt. We were quickly seated at a table.

Although Osso & Kristalla’s menu was only one page, they had a massive list displaying thier bulk of Italian wines for affordable prices. 

There were some hearty options on the menu, such as wood-fire-roasted chicken or steak frites served with spaghetti fries, but we went with the suggested four-cheese tortellini. 

The tortellini were about the size of a palm, with a cheesy mixture of parmesan, ricotta, fontina, and mozzarella encased in a gently chewy pasta. What could have been a hefty pasta meal is tempered by the addition of arugula, gently marinated veggies, and parmesan. 

We thought the marinated veggies and extra parmesan took away from the sole taste of the tortellini itself. 

The salads, both the light, lemony arugula salad that came on top of the tortellini and the eponymous Kristalla salad that we had were delicious. 

The Kristalla salad is served in a large bowl to hide the substantial mound of creamy ricotta behind a mountain of purple kale. With a preserved lemon dressing that strikes just the right mix between salt, sweet, and acidity, the kale is vivacious without being scratchy. 

This salad was delicious without the addition of the salty pancetta. Yet, the thin slices of apple and the toasted pine nuts were a welcome crunch. 


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