#Trending: What's heating up Houston's food scene this month

Photo: The Rustic/Yelp

Want the inside word on Houston's most happening local spots?

We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to analyze which local businesses have been on the tips of diners' tongues 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 riding a trend, right now.

The Rustic

Photo: The Rustic/Yelp

Open since November, this bar, music venue and traditional American spot is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "Bars" on Yelp.

Citywide, bars saw review counts increase by a median of 5.2 percent over the past month, but The Rustic saw a 95.1 percent increase, with a slight downward trend from a 4.5-star rating a month ago to four stars today.

Located at 1836 Polk St. in downtown Houston, The Rustic has two other locations in San Antonio and Dallas. It offers an outdoor patio, a huge bar and even a retractable roof.

On the menu, the restaurant offers starters like Texas goat cheese and cactus fritters. For the main course, try the cedar plank fish, the popular rustic burger or the chuckwagon, which is the chef's special of the day. You are in luck if you are in the mood for beer, as the spot has more than 40 varieties on tap.

Pastelitos Cafe

Photo: Bern A./Yelp

Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about Eldridge / West Oaks's Pastelitos Cafe, the popular cafe, breakfast and brunch, and Venezuelan spot is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.

While businesses categorized as "Breakfast & Brunch" on Yelp increased their review count by a median of 3.6 percent over the past month, Pastelitos Cafe bagged a 4.1 percent increase in reviews within that time frame, maintaining a convincing 4.5-star rating. It significantly outperformed the previous month by gaining 3.0 times more reviews than expected based on its past performance.

There's more that's trending on Houston's breakfast and brunch scene: EggHaus Gourmet has seen a 18.4 percent increase in reviews.

Open at 1809 Eldridge Parkway since 2011, Pastelitos Cafe offers traditional Latin breakfast and lunch options. Look for huevos rancheros or the signature Criollo Breakfast, which includes eggs, beef and beans. Of course the cafe also has plenty of its namesake pastelitos, which are savory and sweet Latin-style pastries. The cafe is also now serving dinner on Friday and Saturday.

Big City Wings

Photo: rosie c. /Yelp

Spring Branch East's Big City Wings is also making waves. Open since 2017 at 7620 Katy Freeway, Suite 460, the traditional American spot, which offers chicken wings and burgers, has seen a 13.8 percent bump in reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 4.3 percent for all businesses tagged "American (Traditional)" on Yelp. Moreover, on a month-to-month basis review counts increased by more than 550 percent. Over the past month, it's maintained a mixed 3.5-star rating among Yelpers.

This Big City Wings is one of six Houston-area locations. The spot offers wings, beer and burgers. The menu includes starters like jalapeno poppers and onion rings, with chicken and waffles, salads and burgers also available. Happy Hour, which includes drink specials, is from 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

Padna's Cajun Eatery

Photo: Padna's cajun eatery/Yelp

Neartown - Montrose's Padna's Cajun Eatery is the city's buzziest seafood spot by the numbers.

The Cajun/Creole spot, which offers seafood and more and opened at 403 Westheimer in May 2018, increased its review count by 30.4 percent over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median review increase of 3.2 percent for the Yelp category "Seafood."

Padna's Cajun Eatery offers authentic Cajun menu items. Appetizers include fried oysters, gumbo and gator bites. In the mood for a sandwich? Choose from more than 10 varieties of Po'boys. The seafood menu is extensive, and the fried seafood platter allows diners try a bit of everything: shrimp, oyster, catfish and soft shell crab.

Pi Pizza

Photo: Pi pizza/Yelp

Open since 2016, this popular cocktail bar, which offers pizza, sandwiches and more, is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "Sandwiches" on Yelp.

Citywide, businesses tagged "Sandwiches" saw review counts increase by a median of 3 percent over the past month, but Pi Pizza saw a 15.6 percent increase, maintaining a healthy four-star rating throughout.

Located at 181 Heights Blvd. in Washington Avenue Coalition/Memorial Park, Pi Pizza offers pizza, salads and sandwiches. If ordering pizza, you can "build your own" by choosing the sauce, the cheese and the toppings. One popular choice includes the "Who's the Mac," which has mozzarella and provolone blended cheeses topped with smoked bacon and mac and cheese. The spot makes everything fresh on site and tries to use locally-sourced ingredients.
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