Todd Patterson There are so many delicious restaurants in Houston, it was hard to choose just a few! These are some of my personal favorites and recommendations. Be sure to comment on this post and let me know if you find a great spot I've missed; I'm sure there are plenty!

Hugo's is no plain old enchilada joint. This upscale restaurant serves up regional Mexican dishes that are carefully crafted and certainly not the usual fare you'll find at other Mexican restaurants in the Houston area. There's plenty of room and comfortable seating to add to the authentic experience. As an added bonus, the drinks are good and strong. Meals range from $15 to $30.

The best ribs and barbeque for my money are at the Luling City Market. This tasty barbeque joint's claim to fame is their tangy mustard which they ship all over the world. All meat is smoked in a ring pit to give it authentic smoky flavor- no gas is used. The flavor shows! Profiled in magazines ranging from Texas Monthly and Esquire, it's certainly worth a visit. Meals range from $10 to $20.

This charming restaurant boasts authentically French food so delicious, it may seem like you've just jetted off to Paris. It's no wonder Au Petit Paris has been voted best romantic restaurant in Houston and a Top Ten restaurant in Texas. Everything is made fresh each day, which of course includes delicious bread options. Meals range from $20 to $30.

Tex Mex
Lupe Tortilla is a great restaurant for all ages! Kids will love the restaurant's play areas while adults can relax with refreshing margaritas and my personal favorite, the fantastic Queso Flamedo appetizer. The fajitas are never a disappointment either. There's plenty of outdoor seating too if you prefer to enjoy your Tex Mex afuera. Meals range from $10 to $25.

Niko Niko'sGreek People watching on a fun outdoor patio and delicious Greek cuisine await you at Niko Niko's. However, it's small and usually crowded so you might think about going during the early afternoon. Niko Niko's is similar to a Mediterranean burger joint with very generous portions, so sharing is common and a good idea. Meals range from $10 to $20.

If you're a beer fan, you must add the Flying Saucer to your itinerary. This is a fun spot that has a wide variety of quality craft beers in addition to a full menu where sandwiches, wings, pizza, and fries await you. They offer hundreds of varieties of beer- literally! Meals range from $10 to $20.

Becks Prime is a great spot for a bacon cheeseburger that's grilled over mesquite coals and served with a heavy dose of Beck's Prime Sauce. Jimmy Buffet may just have been singing about this place. Be sure to sip on one of their shakes too! Meals range from $10 to $15.

Indian For those of you interested in a vegetarian option, you might want to take advantage of one of the multiple Indian/Pakistani vegetarian restaurants on Hillcroft Street. I recommend Shri Balaji Bhavan Pure Vegetarian Restaurant. They offer south Indian food.

Another Indian vegetarian option is Bhojan Restaurant . They offer Gujarati dishes that are as close as you can get to Gujarati food without buying a plane ticket to India.

Vegetarian Options
For other vegetarian options you might also consider Hobbit Cafe. They have friendly menus for vegetarians. If you are in the mood for Vietnamese food, you may consider trying the vegan curry at Café TH.

This curry made the "We Love Food" article in the Houston's Press February issue. This article is also a fabulous place to find 100 of the best dishes in Houston and the restaurant names and locations to go with them. I encourage you read it!

If you get down to Galveston, (and you have to get down to Galveston- learn why in this previous blog post), enjoy the best seafood around at this Gulf Coast restaurant. Gaido's staff does it the old-fashioned way, peeling shrimp, shucking oysters, and filleting fish by hand to create some exciting dishes. Casey's Seaside Café offers a more casual atmosphere with lower prices. Meals range from $15 to $40 at Gaidos, $10 to $25 at Casey's, and there's a good, inexpensive lunch special each day. And there's nothing like a walk along the beach after a delicious meal!

What types of food are you most excited about eating in Houston? For those that have been or live in Houston, what restaurants would you recommend? What additional vegetarian options are in Houston?

Other Options

Want to Find Something Near the Convention Center?

Be sure to stop by the Conference Information and Hospitality Center near the Registration Desk. You can pick up some brochures and information on what dining options are close to the Convention Center. I'd also recommend plannning ahead and looking at Urban Spoon for some guidance.

On a Budget?

Can't beat James Coney Island since 1923 for delicious hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken strips, and even salads! $5 to $10 Many locations, including one in the Museum District and in the Galleria.

Enjoy the many great meals offered here in Houston, and as it will be late May, I recommend an ice cream cone from Blue Bell for dessert.

Tip! Follow these restaurants on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates, specials, and events!

Todd Patterson is the Center Director at ELS Language Centers/Houston-Clear Lake at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.