Being the fourth largest city in the country, Houston has a lot of eating choices in downtown. But you can only eat a $50 lunch at a five-star restaurant so often. Then you want a great, inexpensive meal. Luckily, Houston has that too. And since these are all lunch options, you can go in a business suit or shorts and a t-shirt. But most of them still require shoes.
604 Fairview Street
414 W Gray Street
Barnaby’s Café serves soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as some great light entrees for between $10 and $15 dollars. This is a hometown place, and the atmosphere feels just like it, especially at the W Gray location. The lunch crowd is usually chipper, energetic and large. You may have to wait a bit but you can people watch and socialize. Have one of the generously-sized burgers or huge salads.
1200 Smith St #110 (Two Allen Center)
Jason’s Deli is a national chain offering healthy deli food including gourmet sandwiches, soups, salads and pastas. Almost all of the menu items are under $10, but the best and most popular deal is a bowl of soup and unlimited trips to the all-you-can-eat salad bar for around $7. Clean, bright and no artificial trans fats!
1110 Preston St
Want a quick, cheap but tasty lunch on the go? Stop by La Palapa, a take-out only Tex-Mex joint. They have quite the variety for such a small place, plus homemade chips & salsa, and burgers. This is a lunch review, but you should take the time to stop by for a super breakfast taco someday – soon!
Lankford Grocery & Market
88 Dennis St
This is, or was, a hidden gem! Lankford’s has the most amazingly juicy burgers in Houston. Period. And the daily specials really are special. Try the enchiladas, mac&cheese;, and chicken-fried steak, but start with the down-home cheeseburger and onion rings. The atmosphere is exactly you’d expect – a small, busy, odd little family place. If you can’t get a table, try the bar, but either way, you’ll probably need to get there early. The word is out!
Les Givral’s Kahve
Les Givral’s Kahve is the definitive downtown spot for inexpensive, healthy and tasty Vietnamese food in a clean, urban atmosphere. No wonder it was listed as one of the “City’s Best” for the past three years. The soups, sandwiches, noodles and rice dishes range from $2.50 to $8.00 – a great deal for a tasty, authentic lunch. Try a sandwich your first time – you can’t go wrong.
2245 W Alabama Street
Mission Burritos is on a mission to serve fresh, quality food, and they succeed. Their website lists soup, salad, tacos and custom-ordered burritos, as well as their numerous critic and reader awards. Even the $6 “regular” burrito can serve two small appetites for lunch, especially with chips & salsa. Sit out on the patio under the large shade tree if possible.
Thelma’s Bar B Que
1020 Live Oak St
No list of food in any Texas town would be complete without at least one BBQ place. Thelma’s serves BBQ brisket and chicken, plus ribs, chicken-fried steak, and salads. This converted little house has a great view of the skyline, but show up early for a seat or just take your meal with you. The baked potato with chopped brisket is an excellent on-the-go lunch.
1117 Texas – The Cloister
700 Rusk in the Tunnel
1100 Louisiana in the Tunnel
Treebeards is well-known around Houston for their fresh Southern food. It’s easy, since they have four downtown locations, but I prefer the oldest location on Travis where you can choose one of three dining areas including one patio. Be quick, though, because they’re only open from 11am to 2pm. Go with the classics or check their website to plan for the specials. Whatever you choose, make sure to get it with Jalapeno Cornbread and finish with buttercake. Yum!