Though located some 40 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, by 1920 Houston was a booming port, known as the city where 17 railroads meet the sea—hence the name of this restaurant, situated just off the lobby of the Alden Hotel. Undoubtedly the best-looking spot in town, it's a gorgeous bordello of a room. Red brocade covers the walls, white wing chairs cozy up to tables draped in crisp white linens, and long glittering strings of chandelier crystals hang from the ceiling. Under chef Wes Morton and pastry chef Jamie Kling, the restaurant is busy morning, noon, and night. Start breakfast or Sunday brunch with Texas ruby red grapefruit—like everything else in this state, they're bigger and better—before moving on to lemon and ricotta pancakes, classic Mexican chilaquiles, croque madame, or steak and eggs. For lunch, try the pan-seared crabcake sandwich with matchstick fries. Save room for the restaurant's most popular dessert: sticky toffee pudding with mascarpone gelato.
Tip: The sides (black truffle mac and cheese, roasted fingerling potatoes, spicy autumn greens) are fantastic, so order lots.
Signature Dish: Morton's braised Wagyu short ribs and bacon-baked Gulf redfish will convince you that you are indeed visiting a rising culinary capital.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.