There are plenty of tapas restaurants in Houston, but the one that continues to speak to me is the westside Rioja, where Spanish chef-owner Ignacio Fonseca turns out simple, classic dishes with well-chosen Spanish wines to match. Potatoes ali-oli with an impossibly fluffy house-made garlic mayonnaise are a must with the Rioja-marinated tenderloin skewers or the crackly-skinned chorizo spiced with paprika and cumin. Morcilla, the darkly compelling blood sausage, arrives with a nifty pear confit. And oh, those roasted piquillo peppers filled with a cloudlike mousse of cod. To finish, try the molten disk of goat cheese caramelized in port and served with romesco sauce. The outdoor terraces and the late-night Spanish and South American crowd are an invitation to linger.
Entree price range: $$-$$$
Where: 11920 Westheimer