Around the World in Houston: Discover New York & the East Coast

Kenny & Ziggy's New York Delicatessen on Post Oak | Photo courtesy of Kenny & Ziggy's

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences. Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

This week, we’ll travel to the Northeast Coast of the United States, looking at major hubs like New York City and Philadelphia. Here’s how to discover a taste of the East Coast in Houston. For a look at places like Boston and Rhode Island, check out our Discover New England guide.

Annual Festivals & Museums

  • Houston Italian Festival Place like Mulberry Street’s Little Italy, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, Staten Island, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn are known for their Italian-American culture, which you’ll find plenty of at the annual Houston Italian festival taking place each fall. Hit it to dig into some favorite Italian eats, from lasagna and eggplant parm to baked artichokes and meatball subs.
  • Houston’s Museum and Theater Districts – With 19 museums, galleries, cultural centers, and community organizations, Houston’s Museum District rivals that of New York. As does its Theater District, which is home to 8 performing arts organizations offering over 12,000 seats in Downtown.

Food & Drink

  • B&B Butchers & RestaurantSet in a nearly century-old building and evoking the charms of a traditional New York steakhouse, B&B rocks the finest USDA Prime beef and superior meats, all dry-aged and hand cut daily in The Butcher Shop. Go for Wagyu carpaccio, raw bar selections, and steakhouse classics from Châteaubriand for two to the Carpet Bagger steak. At the adjoining butcher shop, pick up delicatessen subs, salamis and cheeses, and bagels with salmon cream cheese.
  • EataliaThis younger sibling of the New York style Romano’s Pizza brings Italian classics to the Briargrove area. Hit it to find specialties like baked clams, sausage and peppers, manicotti, and shrimp parm.
  • Fung’s KitchenThose looking to get their Chinatown dim sum fix can head to this Asiatown favorite, which rocks carts whizzing by with dumplings, buns, chicken feet, sticky rice and more. For the full-service experience, head there Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 3pm.
  • Good Dog HoustonGo for the sauerkraut and whole grain mustard topped New Yorker dog at this hot dog temple, and some fresh-cut fries and an old-fashioned cream soda for good measure.
  • Golden BagelGet New York caliber bagels at this fresh-faced Heights haunt, plus fun stuff like house-cured and smoked salmon, build-your-own reuben bagel sandwiches, pizza bagels, and bagel dogs with mustard.
  • Grimaldi’s Pizzeria This coal brick-oven pizzeria chain has humble beginnings at its first location under the Brooklyn Bridge in 1990. Today, you’ll find locations across the country, including a bunch in town. Find one to dig into authentic Brooklyn-style pizza, with its scorched and bubbly crust, handmade mozzarella, and toppings from anchovies to Italian sausage.
  • Halal GuysThis NYC street food cart sensation has opened outposts in Houston, offering its signature chicken and gyro rice platters smothered in white and hot sauce.
  • Hot Bagel ShopThis River Oaks bagel shop has been fostering bagel cravings fix since 1984. Get daily made bagels in varieties like poppy, everything, sesame and banana walnut with cream cheese spreads from veggie to lox. Pro tip: add on a few mini bagel dogs, too.
  • Jersey Mike’s SubsThis sandwich chain got its start at the Jersey Shore. Stop by a location to pick up a sub filled with ham, provolone, and capocollo or grilled onions, peppers, and cheese steak.
  • Jonathan’s the RubBrooklyn native Jonathan Levine mixes local fare with Brooklyn Italian classics at his original and Memorial Green locations of Jonathan’s the Rub. Feast on meatballs marinara, eggplant parmesan, seafood fra diavolo, and chicken saltimbocca.
  • Katz’s DeliThis old school delicatessen is open 24/7 at two locations. Go for Reuben sandwiches, Yankee pot roast, open-faced tuna melts, kosher-style footlongs, and chicken parm heros. And don’t miss out on a big ol’ slice of New York cheesecake.
  • Kenny & Ziggy’s New York DelicatessenThe deli sandwiches are bigger than your head at this New York delicatessen, which boasts locations on Post Oak and Buffalo Speedway. Get the triple deckers loaded with housemade corned beef, pastrami, turkey and Russian dressing, or go for deli favorites like Coney Island knish, kreplach, matzo ball soup, bagels and lox, homemade cheese blintzes, egg creams, and Ebinger’s Style Blackout Cake.
  • La Sicilia Italian Bakery & CafeIf you’re looking for an Italian bakery like you’d find in NYC’s Little Italy, look no further than this Montrose gem. There, you’ll find filled-to-order cannoli, fresh loaves of bread, sfogliatella, and mix-and-match cookies.
  • Mr Hoagie’sGet loaded Philly cheese steaks and Italian hoagies at this Northwest sandwich shop.
  • Murray’s Cheese at KrogerGet a taste of the famous Greenwich Village artisanal cheese shop with a stop at a local Kroger.
  • New York Bagels & Coffee ShopNew Yorkers know to load up on the good stuff at this Meyerland bagel shop; the family-owned spot has a history in bagel making dating back to the end of World War II. Grab a dozen in flavors from onion and garlic to cinnamon-raisin and pumperknickel, along with a schmear of scallion, honey-nut or lox cream cheese.
  • NobuHead to The Galleria and you’ll find this world-renowned sushi restaurant, which got its start in Tribeca. Treat yourself to signature dishes like black cod with miso and yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño.
  • The PalmPio Bozzi and John Ganzi opened the first Palm in New York City in 1926. The Houston outpost offers the same old school steakhouse charm, with prime aged steaks, jumbo lobster and lump crab cakes, and colossal New York style cheesecake.
  • Pappa Geno’s Steak & CheesePhilly cheese steaks are the name of the game at this local favorite. Get the monster steak sandwiches smothered in onions, Cheese Whiz or provolone, gravy, and hot oil peppers. Gravy and cheese-topped Freaky Philly Cheese Fries are the perfect answer to East Coast style disco fries.
  • Rita’s Italian IcesThis Bucks County, Pennsylvania chain is known for its legendary Italian Ice and decadent frozen custard.
  • Romano’s Pizzeria Italian RestaurantFrom the Mets paraphernalia to the big ol’ Italian flag, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the Big Apple at this Neartown pizzeria. Get New York style pizza by the slice or pie, alongside specialties from calzone and chicken parm subs to homemade fettucini and veal Francese. And don’t forget the cannoli.
  • Shake ShackThis NYC icon has made its way to Houston, bringing its tasty ShackBurgers, shakes, flat-top dogs, and crinkle cut fries along with it.
  • Tony Luke’sHead to this Philly favorite for Philly cheesesteaks, pizza fries, loaded roast pork hoagies and more.

Other Notables

  • Alumni Clubs and Meetups – Houston is a transplant city, so be sure to check out local meetup groups and college alumni clubs, with groups from NYU, Rutgers, and Penn State.
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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .