Houston Intown residents have been know to eat out more per capita than any other city according to Zagat’s survey. Part of the reason is what makes Houston such a great city with its’ many divergent tastes and origins. Our list of 30 plus year old Houston restaurants still going strong today illustrates our melting pot of a city. The Italian and Greek influence lead the way when it comes to our restaurant heritage. The name Mandola is the most common family thread in our list of longevity. There are four women originating eateries on the list. Three of them can still be found at their eateries today. 1977 was a vintage year with four on our list opening that year. One commonality among the list is that it appears the most obvious recipe for success is the continuity of management and personnel.

Molina’s Cantina

Established 1941 Purchased Old Monterrey

Originators: Raul and Mary Molina

Main Fare: Tex Mex

Locations: 4720 Washington Ave.

7901 Westheimer

3801 Bellaire

Notable: Raul Molina,JR. was inducted into the Texas Restaurant

Association Hall of Fame

Cleburne Cafeteriarsz_cleburne

Established:1952

Originators: Nick and Pat Mickelis and now George Mickelis

Location: 3606 Bissonnet

Main Fare: Home style freshly prepared

Notable: Pat has worked there for 70 years

Demeris Bar-B-Q

Year established 1964

Owners Billy Vlahakos and Yonny Demeris

Locations: 2911 S. Shepherd

1702 West Loop North

6722 Marinette

Main Fare: Traditional barbeque

Notable: Extensive dessert offering of fresh baked pies including ice cream pies

Tony’s

Established 1965

Originator: Tony Vallone

Main fare: Italian, steaks, seafood “Innovative Fine Dining”

Location 3755 Richmond

Other restaurant: Ciao Bello 5161 San Felipe

Notable: Vallone created La Griglia and Grotto’s which was sold in 2003 to Landry’s Restaurants

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Established 1967

Originator: Owen Brennan in New Orleans 1946

Ella Brennan and Alex Brennan-Martin in Houston

Location: 330 Smith Street

Main Fare: Louisiana Creole

Notable: Houston restaurant was opened as a sister restaurant to Commander’ Palace in New Orleans

Damian’s

Established 1983

Location: 3011 Smith Street

Originator Frankie Mandola

Main Fare: Italian

Notable: Waiter Ben Garcia has been there since the year it opened and Chef Napoleon 29 of the 30

Ouisie’s Tablersz_1_7812dameggplant

Established 1973

Originator: Elouise Jones

Main Fare: Southern American

Locations: 3939 San Felipe

Ouisie’s The Bird and The Bear 2810 Westheimer

Notable: Predecessor was the Traveling Brown Bag Lunch Company. Still use large blackboard for daily menus

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Established 1974

Originators: Ray Hay, Frankie B. Mandola and Luke Mandola, Sr.

Main Fare: Louisiana Seafood

Locations: 4302 Richmond (original location)

9600 Woodlake Square

930 Main St.(Downtown Tunnel)

16100 Kensington

Notable: First Houston restaurant to offer fresh Louisiana boiled crawfish

Pappas

Established 1976

Originators: Pete and Jim Pappas

Main Fare: Mexican and Seafood

Locations: Over 100 including Pappas Steak House and barbeque.

Over half of their locations are in Houston

Notable: In 1967 Pete and Jim Pappas opened Dot Coffee Shop in downtown Houston

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Established 1935

Originators: John and Leila Davis

Main Fare Pit Style Barbeque

Location: 1703 Shepherd Drive

Notable: Texas Monthly has called it the best barbecue in Texas

Rainbow Lodge

Established 1977

Originator: Donnette Hansen

Main Fare: American Wild Game and Seafood

Location: 2011 Ella Blvd.

Notable: Located in a century old log cabin and still has the Tied Fly Bar from previous location off Memorial Drive

Niko Niko’s

Established: 1977

Originators Chris Fetokakis now son Dimitri

Locations 252 Montrose

302 Milam (Market Square)

Main Fare: Greek

Notable Winner of 12 Blue Ribbon awards by Marvin Zindler for cleanliness

Nino’s and Vincent’s

Established: 1977 Nino’s first then Vincent’s

Originator: Vincent Mandola

Main Fare: Classic Italian

Locations Nino’s - 2817 Dallas

Vincent’s - 2701 Dallas

Notable: First opened with Nino’s with renter’s above the restaurant

Goode Companyrsz_jim_goode

Established 1977

Originator: JIm Goode and Joe Dixie

Main Fare: Texas Barbecue

Location 4902 Kirby

Other locations: Goode Company Seafood 2621 Westpark

Goode Company Taqueria 4902 Kirby

Notable: Known as much for their pecan pies as their barbecue

Tony Mandola’s

Established 1982

Originator: Tony Mandola

Main Fare: Seafood

Location: 1212 Waugh Drive

Notable: Formerly The Blue Oyster Bar on the Gulf Freeway

The Original Ninfa’s On Navigation

Established 1973 as a taco stand

Location:2704 Navigation

Main Fare Tex Mex

Notable Original owner Mama Ninfa Laurenzo’s offspring spawned El Tiempo and is widely known for popularizing fajitas

James Coney Island

Established 1923

Founders James and Tom Papadakis

Main Fare: Coney Island hot dogs,shakes and fries

Locations: Twenty one stores throughout Houston

Notable: Family owned and run until 1990