Often relegated to the "last resort" category of travel dining, hotel restaurants and bars have something of a bit of a bad rap for being high cost but low quality—but not all are created equal. When done well, accommodation-based eateries can become destinations in and of themselves.
Whether you're in town for just a short while or local but looking for an extra special night on the town, these hotel restaurants and bars are well worth the trip—regardless of where you're staying.
Part & Parcel opened in 2016 after its parent hotel, the Whitehall, underwent a major renovation. Since then this patio bar has become a favorite after-hours haunt for downtown office workers looking to relax after a long day in a Houston high rise.
From the outside, Ristorante Cavour at the Hotel Granduca is reminiscent of an Italian villa. The red-clay tiled roof and ornate greenery contrast sharply with the sleek and modern buildings common around the Galleria area. Inside, the crisp white table cloths, attentive wait staff and lavish decor emanate elegance and class.
The menu boasts some of the best Italian food in the city, and the ambiance is decidedly romantic. For a real splurge, go for the Seasonal Italian Regional Tuscan Menu with Antinori wine pairing. Prices are a bit on the higher side, but worth the extra cost if you can swing it.
For a great date night, swing by the Monarch at the Hotel ZaZa before taking in a show at Miller Outdoor Theatre or perusing the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This Museum District restaurant is classy inside and out—from its simple-yet-stylish interior to the (air-conditioned!) patio's view of the Main Street circle's fountains.
Rumor has it celebrities attending the Houston Rodeo and other major events have been known to dine at Monarch while in town. But you don't have to be a star to get the royal treatment here. The staff are friendly, the sea scallops succulent, and the cocktails are stellar for everyone.
Pro tip: For visitors looking for upscale accommodations where their pup is welcome, the Hotel ZaZa is one of the few pet-friendly boutique hotels in Houston.
This Memorial-area restaurant in the Hotel Sorella is located in the heart of CityCentre, one of Houston's best shopping districts. The menu offers a contemporary spin on traditionally Italian cuisine: Pizzas are topped with truffle cream and aged balsamic, and burger toppings include cucumber pico de gallo and harissa mayo.
While prices are a little on the higher end, portion sizes are generous. And unlike many fancy hotel restaurants, the atmosphere here is more hip than stuffy—making it a great spot for a nice-but-casual lunch date or a girls night out on the town.
Quattro offers the kind of fine dining one would expect from the Four Seasons. Upscale but not pretentious, this more traditional Italian eatery sits on the third floor of the hotel near the lobby's grand staircase. Large windows in the dining room overlook the city streets, offering an understated but pleasant view.
The food is tasty, but the presentation is what's really impressive. With pops of color and texture, every dish comes out Instagram-ready. For an extra special treat, order the tiramisu. The dessert is assembled at the table right in front of your eyes.
Pro tip: If you're there on the weekend, be sure to try the brunch buffet. With a ton of food options and bottomless cocktails, it's worth the higher price tag.
The JW Marriott's 806 Lounge—and its connecting restaurant the Main Kitchen—is the kind of place where bartenders are "mixologists," mustard greens are the lettuce of choice, and pastrami can be served alongside massaman mussels.
In Houston's revitalized downtown area, it's become the perfect spot to grab dinner and drinks before going clubbing, or a fun place to blow off some steam with some friends.