Dining out for us has always been about the experience and when the service, food, and ambiance are spot on, we call that a home run. I’ve been eating my way through a few “new” and “somewhat new” spots lately that have left a lasting impression, and this time it is all about the food!

Not that the service and ambiance were lacking by any means, but one thing held true for all of these restaurants – they all had that one dish that I craved days later – and I can’t wait to go back for more. From hearty pastas, to healthier salads, and not-so-healthy desserts, these six dishes are sure to satisfy. But don’t take my word for it…

Chicken Madeira Rigatoni at Moxie’s

Chicken Madeira Rigatoni at Moxie's

Chicken Madeira Rigatoni at Moxie’s

Located in the Galleria area, Moxie’s has become quite the scene and place to be ever since it took over the old Canyon Cafe spot. A very large two-level restaurant, you can think of Moxie’s as a lively sports bar with a lounge vibe offering entrees and cocktails that will make you stay just a little while longer. I’m crushing hard on their Chicken Madeira Rigatoni tossed in a rich mushroom and madeira cream sauce. The sauce is rich, but not overly thick which creates a nice pool of savory goodness just perfect for the al dente rigatoni and sauteed mushrooms to soak up and enjoy.

Sea Bass Bites at Willie G’s

Sea Bass Bites at Willie G's

Sea Bass Bites at Willie G’s

Willie’ G’s has a new home and they have pulled out all the stops. Their massive selection of raw seafood hits you as soon as you walk through the front doors and although the classic dishes were left in tact, they have some new additions to the menu that you must try! Three words…Sea Bass Bites. Slightly blackened and served with ponzu syrup, wasabi aioli, mango purée, avocado, pistachios, and tobiko, these bite-sized luscious chunks of sea bass are just heavenly.

Sourdough Tagliatelle at Nancy’s Hustle

Sourdough Tagliatelle at Nancy's Hustle

Sourdough Tagliatelle at Nancy’s Hustle

It doesn’t get any better than Nancy’s Hustle. It may be small but this East Downtown restaurant packs quite the punch. And that includes the food, the cocktails, and the wine. I love that the menu is straight to the point with only a few selections for each course. This may be too limited for some, but every single thing they plate is perfection at its best. For example, take the Sourdough Tagliatelle where they have transformed pasta, burrata, honey, pistachios and crispy shaved Brussels sprouts into something deliciously unorthodox.

Burrata Peach Salad at Leibman’s

Burrata Peach Salad at Leibman’s

Burrata Peach Salad at Leibman’s

Leibman’s is back ya’ll and they are even better than before! Is that even possible? Yes! Felice and I are both fans and were super excited when we heard they were back in business. With their new digs comes all that you loved before plus some. Head to the deli for homemade anything and everything made in-house daily, dine-in or order to go, and grab a dessert on the way out. That’s the Urban Swank way. For the perfect lunch, order the Burrata Peach Salad. She is a beauty and mighty divine. Picture this: Grilled Fredericksburg peaches, heirloom tomato, arugula, basil, fig balsamic, glaze and tarragon vinaigrette. I would eat salad everyday if it taste like this.

Bruschetta at Postino Wine Cafe

Bruschetta at Postino Wine Cafe

Bruschetta at Postino Wine Cafe

The Heights Mercantile area just got a new tenant and this one hails from Arizona. Part wine cafe and part restaurant, Postino has a lot to offer. With $5 wine by the glass before 5 p.m., all you need is a laptop or a date and your time spent here will be equally amazing. But don’t visit without enjoying one or all twelve of the bruschetta options. The Ricotta with Dates & Pistachios and the Brie & Apples with Fig Spread were both fantastic. They are oh so simple, yet oh so good.

Signature Warm Butter Cake at Mastro’s Steakhouse

Signature Warm Butter Cake at Mastro's Steakhouse

Signature Warm Butter Cake at Mastro’s Steakhouse

I couldn’t close out this list without paying tribute to the most important part of the meal…dessert. When I tell you this dessert is out of this world, I mean it. Big enough to share with three other food lovers, the Signature Warm Butter Cake at Mastro’s Steakhouse is worth a trip to the new Post Oak Hotel just to snag a taste. This cake has leaped onto my best desserts in Houston list where it will most likely stay for some time. Topped with vanilla ice cream, it is unbelievably moist, decadent, and truly love at first bite.

Shanna Jones

Shanna is the co-founder and editor of Urban Swank. She focuses on food and travel.

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