Your guide to the 5 top spots in Houston's Second Ward neighborhood

Andes Cafe. | Photo: Paul Y./Yelp

Visiting Second Ward, or just looking to better appreciate what it has to offer? Get to know this Houston neighborhood by browsing its most popular local businesses, from a Tex-Mex eatery to a burger joint.

Hoodline crunched the numbers to find the top places to visit in Second Ward, using both Yelp data and our own secret sauce to produce a ranked list of neighborhood businesses. Read on for the results.

1. Ninfa's

Photo: Yaning L./Yelp

Topping the list is Mexican and Tex-Mex spot The Original Ninfa's on Navigation. Located at 2704 Navigation Blvd., it's the most popular business in the neighborhood, boasting four stars out of 1,161 reviews on Yelp.

On the menu, expect to find fare such as the grilled Texas redfish tacos with chipotle slaw on house made corn tortillas; the Del Mar enchiladas filled with gulf shrimp and lump crab meat, covered with chipotle sauce; and the pork tamales, made Oaxacan-style in banana leaves with beef gravy.

Yelper Kate L., who reviewed it on Dec. 10, said, "Some of the best Mexican food I have ever had! The chicken fajitas were cooked perfectly and the house made tortillas were to die for. I asked if they had elote even though it wasn't on the menu and we were sure in for a surprise. The waitress brought it out and lit it on fire, and it tasted as amazing as it looked!"

2. Moon Tower Inn

Photo: E F./Yelp

Next up is dive bar and beer garden Moon Tower Inn, which offers hot dogs and more, situated at 3004 Canal St. With four stars out of 725 reviews on Yelp, it's proven to be a local favorite.

As a self-proclaimed "cookshack and sudworks," the eatery offers sandwiches, tacos, specialty hot dogs, burgers and, of course, beers. Look for offering like the wild boar hot dog with garlic, marsala and provolone cheese; the Orgasmatron sandwich with chevre, pancetta ham, bacon and hotberry compote; and the Willie burger with smoked ham, chipotle pimento cheese and roasted pepper slaw. (See the full menu here.)

Shawn P. wrote, "A Houston institution. Cool, laid back and hip vibe. Beer selection to die for. People are friendly, courtyard is dope and the staff knows their beers. Ask for a recommendation--you wont be disappointed!"

3. Champ Burger

Photo: Acuafina C./Yelp

Champ Burger, a spot to score burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches, is another top choice. Yelpers give the business, located at 304 Sampson St., 4.5 stars out of 171 reviews.

The diner offers burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and more. You can also order something off the breakfast menu, including breakfast tacos. Pair your entree with some beer battered onion rings or an order of chili cheese fries, and wash it all down with a milkshake. (Explore the menu here.)

Alissa V. said, "Best place in downtown Houston for a burger! Champ Burger has never disappointed! Always greeted with great service and a friendly smile!"

4. Andes Cafe

Photo: Rob S./Yelp
Andes Cafe, a Venezuelan, Colombian and Peruvian spot, is another neighborhood go-to, with four stars out of 342 Yelp reviews. Head over to 2311 Canal St., Suite 104, to see for yourself.

The restaurant serves up pan South American fare. Look for options like the lomo saltado with stir-fried beef tenderloin, aji amarillo, fries, red onion, tomatoes, oyster sauce and soy sauce; the hornado with roasted pork leg, sauteed hominy, llapingacho, lettuce, avocado and vinaigrette sauce; and the lengua a la criolla with slow-cooked beef tongue, avocado, sweet plantains and Creole sauce. (See the full menu here.)

Karem R. wrote, "Oh wow! This place is a gem. Loved, loved, loved it. Their lomo saltado is out of this world! It was incredibly tasty and the meat was very tender. I also tried their churrasco and was equally pleased. Husband had the ceviche and was impressed. We've been to Peru and have had authentic food. Offerings at this restaurant are just as good as what you'd get there."

5. Dona Maria

Photo: Erin D./Yelp

Finally, there's Dona Maria, a local favorite with 4.5 stars out of 97 reviews. Stop by 2601 Navigation Blvd. to hit up the Mexican spot next time you're in the neighborhood.

The spot is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering Mexican staples such as tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and more.

Shana S., who reviewed it on Dec. 28, said, "This place is so great! The food is delicious--hands down the best breakfast tacos in Houston. We got the tacos gordos. They are huge, with everything you need in them. Great atmosphere--definitely family owned and you can feel it."
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