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Great Lunches in Houston

Walnut, goat cheese and beet sandwich from Brasil.
Walnut, goat cheese and beet sandwich from Brasil.

I’m always on the look out for a good lunch joint. Someplace where the atmosphere isn’t too serious but the food is. Most of these are centrally located and fairly inexpensive- also hallmarks of good lunch places. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list- merely 5 of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Les Givral’s Sandwich & Cafe
Located at 2704 Milam in the midst of Midtown, Les Givral’s is tasty, inexpensive and quick. If you’ve never had a Vietnamese sandwich (or even if you have), this is the place to go. For the uninitiated, the aforementioned sandwich is a small french loaf that’s loaded with fresh cilantro, carrots, a sliver of fresh jalepeno, cucumber, and your choice of a tasty meat. If it sounds fresh and delicious, that’s because it is, and Les Givral’s makes them by the hundreds every day. They also have vermicelli and soup, for those not in the mood for sandwiches. It can be a little hard to find parking during the lunch rush (and there is DEFINITELY a lunch rush- so if you go between 11:15 and 1:30, be prepared to stand for a table for a minute or get them to go) due to the tight parking lot. It’s also pretty cheap- you can get a filling meal for around six bucks. The cafe itself is bright and open, clean and modern with just the right playlist to match the brisk but casual business. (713) 529-1736

Right along Westheimer on the curve is a strip shopping center that contains an unassuming looking thai restaurant. Don’t let the look fool you- Nidda may be the best thai food in the city. Inside, a quiet panelled dining area is surprisingly large and relaxed. The lunch special menu is a “best of” list of thai cuisine. The pad thai is great- as my standard go-to at a thai restaurant, I was incredibly pleased with Nidda’s. The green curry and vegetable delight are also stand outs. For the less adventurous palettes in your party, the garlic pepper chicken is also quite good. Your main choice dish is served with a soft spring roll and either a salad or soup for around eight dollars. Weekday lunch is served 11:30 until 2. (713 )522 – 8895

Brasil is a little further west along Westheimer at the corner of Dunlavy (2604 Dunlavy), and there’s not a sign. It’s a small brick building with a patio that sort of looks like an aviary. Parking is scarce, so be prepared to walk a little bit from the streets in the neighborhood behind it. Behind the large dark wood door, however, is a cool and very open dining space that is worth the work. The menu consists of sandwiches, sandwiches and pizza, as well as coffee and baked goods. The cheese and pesto sandwich is my favorite, although the pizza margherita and a glass of pinot noir (beer and wine are also available) is hard to beat. Most entrees will run around ten dollars or so, plus whatever you decide to drink (I highly recommend a coconut mocha, if you are so inclined). If you can, snag a seat on the patio- it’s one of the best people watching spots in Houston, and if the heat isn’t out of control, the shade and the fans can make for quite a delightful al fresco dining experience. (713) 528-1993

Lil Bigs
Feet from the epicenter of Montrose (2703 Montrose), Lil Bigs is un-missable. A giant black and white burger on a sign above a little building with a big deck and lots of picnic tables. Parking is not usually a problem (as much as parking ever is, anyway) but seating might be tight if it’s hot out- the building itself is pretty small and only seats a couple dozen. If it’s nice out, however, the deck is very pleasant. And the sliders- well the good news is, they’re all good. I’ve had them all (even the pulled pork and slaw filled one) and there’s not a bad bite amongst them. The fries are magnificent. The wine selection, should you choose to partake, will take your already amazing sliders and fries to the next level. Three sliders and fries will run you around ten bucks. 713-521-2447

Frank’s Pizza
Ok, you should go get a slice of Frank’s ridiculously tasty pizza RIGHT NOW. Open from 11 until 9 on weeknights and later Thursday through Saturday, Frank’s (417 Travis) is a little bit of pizza-by-the-slice heaven. They have other stuff, too, like lasagna and wings, but really, you want the pizza. You can’t go wrong with a slice of classic pepperoni or simply cheese, but they have a number of different pizzas available at any given time. The Scrumptous Surpreme is great- but really, there’s no wrong step, or slice as it were. Parking is, while not scarce, hard to find- lots of metered streets and spots, but most are going to be full. If you’re anywhere downtown though, it’s totally worth the walk. Better yet, call them and they’ll deliver to a limited area. 713-227-4992