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10 International Gems That You Need To Try Now

Updated: May 28, 2019

Today we have the honor of having the blogger behind the Instagram and Blog, Houston's Got Spice, guest write here on Houston Hotspots! Christina has a sweet spot for International cuisines and has dedicated her time to spotlighting these restaurants in Houston. Her photos are stunning, and the food she highlights here looks absolutely delicious. I personally have added ALL of these spots to my must-try list. Without further ado, here's Houston's Got Spice:

I'm Christina, the food & culture enthusiast behind the iPhone at @houstonsgotspice. My husband Steven and I love exploring Houston's best international food spots - especially the hidden gems. Here are some of my favorite restaurants (and one market) that I think you would love, too!

Variety of Northern Thai specialties; make sure to try the Khao Soi Goi (noodles and chicken in coconut curry)

1. Street Food Thai Market – The Heights 

Street Food Thai Market is owned and operated by a Thai couple who specialize in Northern Thai and Lao dishes. Many menu items may be unfamiliar to you, because most Thai restaurants in Houston cook Southern Thai style food. You’ll be rewarded for ordering outside of your comfort zone here; the food is packed with flavor that will keep you coming back for more. Make sure to try the Curry & Roti appetizer, and the Khao Soi Goi noodle soup!

1010 W Cavalcade St suite d

Houston, TX 77009

Shinwaray Kebabs on Palau rice and Mantoo dumplings with yoghurt sauce

2. The Afghan Village – Hillcroft

The Afghan Village offers an authentic taste of Central Asia. Featured in an Eater video hosted by Sheldon Simeon, the restaurant remains popular with both native Houstonians and Afghan refugees who have made Southwest Houston home. Try the Mantoo dumplings or the Chapli Kabab, but whatever you try, it’s essential that you pair it with a traditional cup of “kahwah” (green tea), an important part of Afghan hospitality. 

6413 Hillcroft St

Houston, TX 77081

Torta #24: Lomito Argentino (steak, ham, cheese, eggs, jalapeno mayo, mustard), Burrito #37: Pastor and Cheese

3. Mexico’s Deli – West Houston

Mexico’s Deli has been satisfying Houstonians’ over-the-top meat and cheese cravings the way that few other places can. Tucked away in an inconspicuous strip center, this diet-buster should be high on your list of must-try Mexican lunch spots. The Queso Fundidos (cheese dip) is a delicious way to start your feast, followed by one of 25 tortas, or burritos, or tacos.

2374 S Dairy Ashford Rd

Houston, TX 77077

Hand-pulled Dry Chinese Erkuan noodles (beef, cilantro, leek, chili flakes, chili oil)

4. Niu Yi Zui – Chinatown 

Once you choose your desired thickness of noodle, and whether you’d like them “dry” or “wet” (as soup), your noodle dreams will come to life at Niu Yi Zui. Watch as the chef behind the glass window rolls, stretches, swings, and tosses your noodles into a boiling pot. These freshly made, hand-pulled noodles are best topped with chili oil, provided on the tables of this modern, aesthetic little Chinatown restaurant. 

9968 Bellaire Blvd #220

Houston, TX 77036

Filipino platter (Pork belly, curried shrimp, fish, lobster balls, shrimp fritters, clams, papaya salad, fish balls, chicken wings)

5. Tuk Tuk Crab – West Houston

Grab about 8 of your hungriest friends, and a phone, and pre-order the Filipino Feast for a tasty sampling of the Philippines. Take your pictures quickly (if you do that kind of thing) as the platter is best eaten fresh and hot. Your hardest decision will be whether to start with the pork belly, curried shrimp, chicken wings, or the other delights on this giant dish. Make sure to save room for the classic Filipino Halo Halo: shaved ice, jellies, coconut milk, topped with purple ube ice cream. 

6128 Wilcrest Dr

Houston, TX 77072

Vegetarian platter and family-sized meat platter

6. Blue Nile – River Oaks

Injera, the rolled-up, fermented, spongy bread served with Ethiopian meals, is unlike any other bread you’ll find in Houston. The bread is a utensil and a food; it’s used to scoop up portions of tender spiced meat and vegetables. Ethiopian food is meant to be eaten with company, so make sure to grab a few people and order a shared meat or veggie platter, and wash it down with some Ethiopian coffee or tea. 

3030 Audley St

Houston, TX 77098

Matcha soft serve with gold leaf topping 

7. Matcha Café Maiko – Chinatown 

Matcha Café Maiko’s gold leaf-topped soft serve should satisfy your sweet tooth and your Instagram goals. This is my personal favorite spot to get matcha soft serve in Houston. I love their creamy, bold, but not overwhelmingly strong matcha flavor. Grab it in a waffle cone, or in a cup, in which other ingredients, like mochi, cake, sweet beans, can be added for a little extra texture and variety. 

6650 Corporate Dr suite e-1

Houston, TX 77036

Tonkotsu Ramen, Black fried rice

8. Ramen Bar Ichi – West Houston

Ramen Bar Ichi will give your current favorite ramen place a run for its money. Their fresh vegetables, rich broth, perfectly runny eggs and tender meat make for a drool-worthy ramen experience. They also offer rice bowls with all of the same tasty ingredients, Takoyaki (pancake balls with octopus) The restaurant is right next door to the Japanese grocery store Seiwa Market, and Japan House, a little shop with a lot of irresistibly cute products.

1801 S Dairy Ashford Rd Ste 108

Houston, TX 77077

Steamed and Beef Soup Dumplings

9. Golden Dumpling House – Chinatown 

If you want the best dumplings for the best price, look no further than Golden Dumpling House. For between $5-6, you can get 18 boiled dumplings, or 10 fried or steamed dumplings. When the kitchen doors swing open, you can see the chefs sitting around a table, forming the dumplings by hand. The Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) are tasty hot pouches of broth and meat or veggies. My go-to is their steamed dumplings covered in house-made chili oil. 

9896 Bellaire Blvd

Houston, TX 77036

Scenes around the outdoor market

10. The Houston Farmers Market – The Heights

Exploring the stalls of Houston Farmers Market is like traveling abroad without leaving Houston. This outdoor market has been putting Central and South American products on display since 1942. Wandering your way through the eclectic collection of stands, you’ll see unique fresh produce like cactus, humungous sticks of cinnamon, and the best mangos around. For the past 42 years, the Flores Spice & Trading Co. stall has sold bags of spices and herbs to help with “Stress Relief,” “Asthma,” “Sterility,” and more. 

2520 Airline Dr

Houston, TX 77009

For more international food recommendations around Houston, follow me at @houstonsgotspice, or find my website at Happy exploring!

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