Want the intel on Houston's most talked-about local spots?
We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to analyze which local businesses have been in the spotlight 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 increased their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance.
Read on to see which spots are sizzling hot this summer.
Open since April, this Mexican and breakfast and brunch spot is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "Breakfast & Brunch" on Yelp.
Citywide, breakfast and brunch spots saw a median 3.5 percent increase in new reviews over the past month, but Polanquito saw a dramatic 107.1 percent increase, maintaining a convincing four-star rating throughout. Moreover, on a month-to-month basis Polanquito's review count increased by more than 210 percent.
Located at 404 Shepherd Drive in Washington Avenue Coalition / Memorial Park, Polanquito offers Mexican morning favorites like chilaquiles, molletes, eggs and tacos. Try the Veracruz-style picaditas with handmade tortillas pinched on the corners with your choice of green, red or bean sauce, crumbled fresh cheese and white onion. (Check out the full breakfast menu here.)
Decatur Bar & Popup Factory
Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about Washington Avenue Coalition / Memorial Park's Decatur Bar & Popup Factory, the cocktail bar is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.
While businesses categorized as "Cocktail Bars" on Yelp saw a median 4.3 percent increase in new reviews over the past month, Decatur Bar & Popup Factory bagged an 86.7 percent increase in new reviews within that timeframe, with a slight downward trend from a 4.5-star rating a month ago to its current four stars. It significantly outperformed the previous month by gaining 4.3 times more reviews than expected based on its past performance.
Open at 2310 Decatur St. since January, Decatur Bar & Popup Factory offers a rotating menu from a local rising chef. Right now, try chef-in-residence Evelyn Garcia's salmon ceviche dinner, Malaysian fried chicken or Larb lettuce wraps (citrus pork, lemongrass, Thai chilies, steamed rice, lettuce wraps). (Here's the rest of the menu.)
The "popup factory" side of the business hosts classes and events throughout the year, such as the recent floral arranging and adult crafting workshops.
Mid West's BurgerIM is also making waves. Open since April at 5887 Westheimer Road, Suite K, the burger spot has seen a noteworthy 106.2 percent bump in new reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 6.1 percent for all businesses tagged "Burgers" on Yelp.
BurgerIM offers 11 types of burgers, wings, onion rings, milkshakes and more. Yelpers recommend ordering the trio sliders, the garlic aioli fries, the Hawaiian salmon burger and the vanilla milkshake. Over the past month, it's seen its Yelp rating improve from four stars to 4.5 stars.
Big City Wings
Spring Branch East's Big City Wings is the city's buzziest traditional American spot by the numbers.
The popular traditional American spot, which offers chicken wings and burgers, has eight area outposts. The location at 7620 Katy Freeway, Suite 460, open since 2017, has increased its new review count by 9.3 percent over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median new review count of 3.1 percent for the Yelp category "American (Traditional)." It outperformed the previous month by gaining 2.2 times more reviews than expected based on past performance.
Big City Wings offers comfort food like chicken wings, burgers, sandwiches and potatoes. Menu standouts include the Wing Basket (10 wings in your choice of sauce, served with fries, dressing and celery) as well as the Big City Wings & Waffles (choice of 10 wings or chicken tenders served with your dressing of choice and homemade waffle served with butter and maple syrup). (Find the full menu here.)
Downtown Houston's popular Kulture is currently on the upswing in the Southern category on Yelp.
While businesses categorized as "Southern" on Yelp saw a median 3.2 percent increase in new reviews over the past month, this Southern, soul food and New American spot increased its new reviews by 8.8 percent — and kept its rating consistent at four stars. Review counts increased by more than 220 percent on a month-to-month basis.
Open for business at 701 Avenida De Las Americas, Suite A, since 2017, the business offers Southern comfort food such as meatloaf meatballs (stewed tomato ragout, potato crisps, potato creme), Calas & Collards Dip (rice fritters served with a collard green dip), shrimp & grits as well as Johnny Cakes (cornmeal cakes, crispy ham and chili maple glaze).