Nom Noms with Nam-My: Must-eats in the Third Ward
I came to UH in 2010 with the intention of becoming a Houstonian as well as a Cougar, and quickly found that it was impossible to be that without falling in love with its diverse food scene. As a 5th year senior, I’ve had the pleasure of eating authentic foods from every continent as well as trying modern, mismatched dishes that only our high level of diversity can bring to the table. While it’s impossible to keep up with the ever changing nature of food, I’ll do my best to equip you with the knowledge to take the first step in your food journey.
Ignore the Third Ward label and remember what your elementary school teachers told you: don’t judge a book by its cover. Aside from UH’s on-campus dining options, the surrounding area is surprisingly diverse in its offerings, ranging from vegan/vegetarian options to some of the best fried chicken in the city.
3919 Scott St.
Houston, TX 77021
What the original Frenchy’s on Scott lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for with old-school fried chicken and po’boys done right. The location is effectively a food stand, one that has survived since it first opened up in 1969; while there are more modern franchises around the city, the original’s location on campus makes it too good to pass up. If you’re ever feeling unsure about giving Frenchy’s a try or that you’re too good for a place that looks run-down, just remember: it’s good enough for Beyonce.
736 1/2 Telephone Rd.
Houston, TX 77023
One of the first Thai restaurants in Houston, Kanomwan effectively serves up authentic dishes, spice and all, at reasonable prices. The Thai coffee or tea are must-haves at dinner, and family style options (table-sized orders where each person picks what they want) paired with ample space make this long-time favorite convenient for large groups with different preferences. I recommend getting the Tom Yom Gai soup and finding a specialty dish to pair that with. Be sure to let your server know if you’re not a fan of spicy food and check their unusual hours before you head out.
3509 Elgin Street
Houston, Tx 77004
Sure, it won’t win an award for Best Vietnamese Food in Houston or Best Banh Mi, but Hoàng comes pretty close. Given its proximity to campus, it’s a treasure for die hard Viet foodies (like me) and an ideal starting point for those looking to try banh mi and pho for the first time. Cheap, authentic Vietnamese dishes across the street from the UH softball field… Need we really say more than that?
Green Seed Vegan
4320 Almeda Rd.
Houston, TX 77004
If you’re new to the Third Ward, you might be surprised to find a place like Green Seed in the area. Its menu size is impressive and “burgers” like the Big Tex Burger are definitely worth a try. Granted, this isn’t going to be the best for you carnivores, but if the idea of cauliflower nuggets gets you excited, this is probably the place for you.
4105 Leeland St.
Houston, TX 77023
The first time I ordered at Mandola’s, Frank Mandola, the owner who opened up the Deli in 1975, asked me: “And what part of campus are you from? Business, engineering?” That sums up the quasi-partnership this homey Italian deli has made with the campus community. The restaurant delivers a nostalgic feel, with historic UH memorabilia from football seasons past adorning the walls while favorites like their chicken parmesan po’boy are served up. It also helps that students receive a ten percent discount with their Cougar Cards.
By no means is this a comprehensive list and the places I listed above are in no particular order. The wonderful thing about Houston is that no matter where you are you’ll find a unique approach to food, and if you’re new to campus or Houston, don’t be afraid to explore and find your niche. Like the UH campus, the city is a melting pot of different cultures and people and chances are, if you can imagine it, it’s out there for you.
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