West Houston, at first glance, seems to be no more than urban sprawl at its worst: strip malls, gridlock, billboards, and more strip malls. Yet one need not travel far from the interstate to discover a trove of hidden gems: tranquil parks, the absolute highs and lows in both upscale and bargain shopping, and an endless variety of exotic, authentic eateries - as proof, look no further than New Chinatown.
Despite a plethora of rundown apartment complexes and a reputation for crime, Southwest Houston was the center of much of the city's suburban development from the 1940s through the 1970s, today it is one of its most diverse quarters and is also home to some of the city's most desirable neighborhoods, including Meyerland and the charming City of Bellaire. This area is almost completely outside of the 610 Loop, although the City of Bellaire is partially inside the 610.
New Chinatown (AKA Little Saigon or Asiatown) would be the largest Chinatown in the world area-wise, but the term Chinatown is misleading due to the fact that the majority of the shops and restaurants cater to Houston's large Vietnamese population. This area is outside the 610 Loop and near the Beltway, Houston's outer freeway loop.
The Mahatma Gandhi District located along Harwin Drive between U.S. Highway 59 (Southwest Freeway) to the south and the Westpark Tollway to the north has a large concentration of Indian and Pakistani shops and restaurants catering to the large Indian and Pakistani population in the Houston area.
- Forbidden Gardens, . Outdoor museum (expensive and sadly incomplete) replicating some of China's historic scenes (Closed 2011)
- WorldFest-Houston Film Festival  Totally dedicated to Independent Film screenings. All Screenings at the AMC Studio 30 on Dunvale, the HQ Hotel is The Renaissance Hotel, Greenway Plaza. Featuring 55 new international feature films and 100 new short films, all introduced by their directors with a Q&A after the screening.
- CityCentre, 800 Town and Country Blvd., ☎ 713-629-5200, . A new mixed use development built on the former site of the Town & Country Mall featuring several retail stores including Z Gallerie, J. Crew, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Anthropologie, etc.
- Hong Kong City Mall is a very large grocery store/shopping center in this area catering to Houston's Chinese community.
- Memorial City Mall, 303 Memorial City (IH-10 West at Gessner), ☎ 713-464-8640 ([email protected]), . Has many department stores and also an indoor ice skating rink.
- Traders Village, 7979 N. Eldridge Rd.. A giant outdoor flea market with all sorts of wares. Deals are to be sought here. Unlike in the rest of the US, you can actually try to bargain in flea markets like this. Should not be missed by those looking to shop.
- Phoenicia Specialty Food Market, 12141 Westheimer Road (Located in a retail center on the south side of Westheimer, just past Kirkwood Road), ☎ (281) 558-8225, . 8:00 AM - 9:00 PM. This market has the largest selection of Mediterranean food and specialty items in Houston. The 55,000 square foot market has an amazing selection of foods and spices from the mid-east and southern europe. If you just want to eat they have a ready made food deli and bakery.
- PlazAmericas, 7500 Bellaire Blvd. (US 59 South at Bellaire), ☎ 713-777-1111 ([email protected]), . Formerly known as Sharpstown Mall, it was renovated and remodeled with a Latin American theme and nowadays caters to the Hispanic and Latino American community in the surrounding area.
- Katy Mills, 5000 Katy Mills Cir., ☎ 281-644-5015, . An outlet shopping mall with over 200 specialty stores including Last Call Neiman Marcus, Off 5th Saks Fifth Avenue, Michael Kors, H&M, Kate Spade, Bass Pro Shops, etc.
- Blue Nile, 9400 Richmond Ave, ☎ 713-782-6882, . One of the most authentic Ethiopian restaurants in Houston.
- Café Byblos, 6134 Richmond, ☎ 832-251-0505, . Mediterranean restaurant specializing in Lebanese fare.
- Cafe Pita+, 10852 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77042, ☎ (713) 953-7237, . Although the decor isn't much to look at, this mom-and-pop in West Houston offers affordable, hearty Bosnian cuisine. Try the meza platter, cevap sandwich or one of the pizzas. Cafe Pita+ was once featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. BYOB.
- Fung's Kitchen, 7320 Southwest Fwy #115, ☎ 713-779-2288, . Chinese restaurant known for their dim sum.
- Go Hyang Korean Restaurant, 1400 Blalock Rd Ste E, ☎ 713-464-6653. Korean restaurant known for their Korean style barbeque.
- Honduras Maya Cafe and Bar, 5945 Bellaire Blvd Ste B, ☎ 713-668-5002, . One of the most authentic Honduran restaurants in Houston with menus in both Spanish and English. They also have karaoke on Friday nights.
- Hong Kong Cafe, 9108 Bellaire Blvd Ste A, ☎ 713-772-9633. Chinese restaurant known for their BBQ Pork and BBQ Duck. They only accept cash.
- Kim Chau Restaurant, 11210 Bellaire Blvd. Suite #125, ☎ 281-498-9888, . Hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant.
- Korean Noodle House, 1415 Murray Bay St, ☎ 713-463-8870. Korean restaurant known for their kimchi, noodles, and jeon (seafood pancake).
- Mi Pueblito, 9425 Richmond Avenue, ☎ 713-334-4594, . One of the most authentic Colombian restaurants in Houston with menus in both Spanish and English. Be sure to try the Bandeja Paisa.
- Original Marini's Empanada House, 10001 Westheimer Rd, ☎ 713-266-2729, . Restaurant specializing in authentic Argentinean cuisine. They are especially known for their empanadas. They will even ship out frozen empanadas for those living outside the Houston area.
- Pepper Soup Cafe, 10010 Bissonnet St, ☎ 713-776-8989, . Restaurant serving Nigerian cuisine.
- Pho VN 21, 5800 Bellaire Blvd Ste 101. Vietnamese restaurant known for their pho. Be sure to try the white meat pho ga.
- Taste of Texas, 10505 Katy Freeway (IH-10 between BW-8 and Gessner), . The finest steaks and prime rib (only certified Angus Beef) money can buy. Award-winning wine list, lobster, freshly baked breads, etc. Menu is translated into 12 different languages.
- Crawfish & Noodles, 11360 Bellaire Blvd., Suite 990, ☎ 281-988-8098, . Fusion restaurant that is known for combining elements of Vietnamese and Cajun cuisine.
- Bear and Bull Tavern and Eatery, 11980 Westheimer Road (Located at the back of the retail center at the southeast corner of Westheimer and Kirkwood.), ☎ 281-496-6655, . 11-10. The Bear and Bull is popular with British expats and Soccer fans. The food is good with daily lunch specials and 30 domestic and imported beers on tap.
- Cafe Thanh Quynh, 10804 Bellaire Blvd Ste H, ☎ 281-530-8488. Vietnamese coffee shop known for their scantily clad waitresses. This place serves Vietnamese condense milk coffee (with iced tea), bac xui, and smoothie: avocado, soursop, and durian. Smoking is also allowed on premises.
- Cafe Window, 6230 Wilcrest Dr, ☎ 281-530-8787. Guan Nhau or Vietnamese sports bar with karaoke and a full bar. Smoking is also allowed on premises.
- Rioja, 11920 Westheimer Road (Located at the southeast corner of Westheimer Road and Kirkwood Road.), ☎ 281-531-5569. Lunch 11-2, Dinner 5:30-11. Closed Mondays. A tasty selection of Spanish food including a large tapas selection and very good paella. Inexpensive Spanish wines and an outdoor patio. Live music Friday and Saturday nights.
- Watson's House of Ales, 14656 Grisby Rd, ☎ 281-920-2929, . Features a full menu and full service bar, state-of-the-art audio and video systems, live music several nights a week, and traditional games of skill such as billiards and English steel tip darts.
- Omni Houston Hotel at Westside, 13210 Katy Freeway, ☎ +1 281-558-833 ([email protected], fax: +1 281-558-4028), . A luxury hotel featuring an atrium lobby complete with indoor lakes and waterfalls, tropical fish and glass elevators.
- Residence Inn Houston West/Energy Corridor, 1150 Eldridge Parkway, Houston, Texas 77077, ☎ 281-293-8787, . checkin: 3pm; checkout: 12pm. All-suite, extended-stay hotel in Houston combines warm touches such as crackling fireplaces with modern amenities including free Wi-Fi and fully equipped kitchens. The hotel is pet friendly and provides a free shuttle that will take guests to businesses and attractions within a 5-mile radius. The Residence Inn Houston West/Energy Corridor is near businesses including Sysco, Dow Chemical, BP, Shell and Citgo. Memorial City Mall is close by.
- Sheraton Houston West, 11191 Clay Road, Houston, TX, 77041, ☎ +1 281-501-4200, . 128 rooms. Pet friendly. Free Wi-Fi