Even during bust years, you could eat well in Houston. Now, thanks to an urban boom, it’s better than ever. Dine downtown at the new 17 in the handsomely rehabbed Sam Houston Hotel, and y’all will see what we mean. Texas newcomer Jeff Armstrong is a veteran of trendy Whist in Santa Monica, and at 17 he adopts a Texas accent, cooking Gulf-region seafood in Southwestern style. Given raves for clams and chorizo, and shrimp curry, 17 has quickly come of age. (832) 200-8888, www.samhoustonhotel.com
— Elaine Glusac