The UB Preserv chef had trouble narrowing down his list, but here are a few of his favorites.
Earlier this year, David Chang deemed Houston the most exciting food city in the country.
"On paper, it has the most diverse population in the world," he told F&W, adding that the city "is trying to forge a new narrative for itself." Chris Shepherd, the chef behind the just-opened Houston restaurant UB Preserv, is one of the people shaping that narrative.
Beginning with Underbelly, which closed this year, Shepherd is continuing his project of understanding and celebrating the neighborhoods that make Houston (and its cuisine) so unique at UB Preserv, which features dishes spanning genres, flavors, and traditions.
"Everything we did at Underbelly is gone except for the idea—it's living to understand people and cultures and where you’re at on a daily basis," Shepherd says. At the moment, he's especially excited about the city's growing Salvadorean, Mexican, and Nigerian populations and what that means for the restaurant scene.
If you're planning a food pilgrimage to Houston, let Shepherd's four must-visit Houston restaurants help shape your itinerary.
The Vietnamese-Cajun restaurant actually inspired one of Shepherd's favorite dishes at UB Preserv, which is also called "Crawfish and Noodles." At the restaurant, helmed by James Beard Award semifinalist Trong Nguyen, Shepherd loves the turkey neck prepared in a spicy overnight stew, served with French bread. He cites this dish as inspiration for another one of his UB Preserv favorites, the Turkey Neck Yakamein.
"This is the missing link between New Orleans and Creole-style food in Houston," says Shepherd.
11360 Bellaire Blvd, 281-988-8098
The popular family-owned bar and grill features Indian cuisine that draws influence from "British colonialism and African spices."
6690 Southwest Fwy, 713-783-2754
"I always get the scrambled eggs and shrimp, or the Dungeness crab with tamarind sauce," Shepherd says of the Chinese-Vietnamese seafood restaurant, which has become a Houston staple.
11768 Bellaire Blvd, 281-564-4288
Justin Yu's playful bistro showcases hyper-local ingredients. (Yu, a 2013 F&W Best New Chef, was behind the dearly missed Houston institution, Oxheart.)
1302 Nance Street, 832-830-8592