Trend alert: What's heating up Houston's food scene this month

Tamales Don Pepe. | Photo: Rene H./Yelp

Want the dirt on Houston's most talked-about local spots? We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to deduce which restaurants have been seeing especially high review volumes this month.

To find out who made the list, we looked at Houston businesses on Yelp by category and counted how many reviews each received. Rather than compare them based on number of reviews alone, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month, and tracked businesses that consistently increase their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance.

Read on to see which spots are extra cool, right now.

Rhotey Rotisserie

Photo: Matthew R./Yelp

Open since August, this sandwich spot is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "Sandwiches" on Yelp.

Citywide, sandwich spots saw review counts increase by a median of 3.5 percent over the past month, but Rhotey Rotisserie saw a 100 percent increase, maintaining a stellar five-star rating throughout. Moreover, on a month-to-month basis review counts increased by more than 260 percent.

It's not the only trending outlier in the sandwich category: B&T Cafe has seen a 31.5 percent increase in reviews.

Located at 9296 Westheimer Road, Suite 132 in Mid West, Rhotey Rotisserie offers sandwiches such as rotisserie chicken, triple pepper beef, sweet and spicy feta chicken and roasted lemon feta cauliflower. Desserts, sides and salad options are also available.

Tamales Don Pepe

Photo: Rene H./Yelp

Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about the Willowbend area's Tamales Don Pepe, the Mexican spot is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.

While businesses categorized as "Mexican" on Yelp increased their review count by a median of 3 percent over the past month, Tamales Don Pepe bagged a 42.9 percent increase in reviews within that timeframe, with a slight downward trend from a five-star rating a month ago to its current 4.5 stars. It significantly outperformed the previous month by gaining 1.8 times more reviews than expected based on its past performance.

Open at 3816 Link Valley Drive since May 2018, Tamales Don Pepe specializes in tamales; but they also offer huaraches, sopes, enchiladas, chilaquiles and tacos.


Photo: Pala/Yelp

Pala, a New American joint inside George Bush Intercontinental Airport, is also making waves. Open in Terminal C since April, it has seen a 33.3 percent bump in reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 2.6 percent for all businesses tagged "American (New)" on Yelp. Moreover, on a month-to-month basis review counts increased by more than 220 percent.

There's more than one hotspot trending in Houston's New American category: The Classic has seen a 32.7 percent increase in reviews.

Using locally sourced ingredients, Pala offers a variety of salads including a roasted broccoli option; with appetizers, pizza, paninis and breakfast sandwiches. Breakfast is offered from 5-11 a.m. Over the past month, it's seen its Yelp rating improve from 3.5 stars to four stars.

Lukas Barbecue & Steakhouse

Photo: Nick S./Yelp

Clear Lake's Lukas Barbecue & Steakhouse is the city's buzziest steakhouse by the numbers.

The steakhouse, which offers barbecue and more at 17052 Saturn Lane, Houston, TX 77058, increased its review count by 29.7 percent over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median review increase of 2.4 percent for the Yelp category "Steakhouses."

Lukas Barbecue & Steakhouse offers specials such as pork rib dinner, chicken dinner, Lukas Special three-meat dinner, chicken fried steak and an 8-oz ribeye. The spot also serves traditional barbecue meals including brisket, link sausage and smoked ham. The meals generally come with two sides and rolls.

La Lucha

Photo: Christine R./Yelp

The Heights's La Lucha is currently on the upswing in the seafood category on Yelp.

While businesses categorized as "Seafood" on Yelp increased review counts by a median of 3.2 percent over the past month, this bar and traditional American spot, which offers seafood and more, increased its by 43.2 percent--and kept its rating consistent at four stars.

There's more abuzz in the world of Houston seafood: The Cedar has seen a 26.2 percent increase in reviews.

Open for business at 1801 N. Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX 77008, the business offers seafood including shrimp, crab and oysters; special dishes such as blackened catfish and a whole or half fried chicken with biscuits; and a variety of drinks including champagne, beer, cocktails and mescal.
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