Phil’s Texas Barbecue


Tastefully framed photos of the old Heights neighborhood add the only “antique” notes to this spanking-new, freestanding dining room and bar on Houston’s fastest-growing restaurant row. We moved quickly through the cafeteria line at lunch, eager to relish the generous portions of pork ribs and sausage and the wide range of sides (after extensive sampling, we suggest you go for the garlic-cheese grits, the meaty pintos, and the onion rings—or maybe the sweet potato fries and the mac and cheese). If they were to ask us for suggestions on fine-tuning the product, we’d say more smoke in the meat and more oomph in the too-sweet barbecue sauce. Bar. 110 S. Heights Blvd, at Washington Ave (713-862-8600). Open Sun–Wed 11–10, Thur–Sat 11–1 a.m. $$–$$$ W+

Dive Coastal Cuisine


Everything we tried at this new seafood joint was terrific. If we had to choose our two favorites, they would be the pan-seared mojo-marinated grouper with mango-avocado salsa and spicy black beans and the creamy chickpea-and-white-bean hummus with crisp lavash. But we very much liked the seared ahi wrapped in a spinach tortilla with chile-ponzu sauce and the grilled-fish tacos (the fish marinated in soy, ginger, and lime) with ginger slaw. And we finished with some of the finest Key lime pie in this neck of the woods. The airy white-and-gray room, polished concrete floors, and turquoise-tinted photos of swimmers (we spotted Esther Williams in one) give the place a relaxing, beachy vibe. Beer & wine. 3404 Rankin, at Hillcrest Ave (214-891-1700). Open Mon–Sat 11–9 (Sun brunch coming soon; call ahead). $–$$ W+