Houston >Food & Dining > Artista
800 Bagby, Houston, TX | Directions 7700229.761763 -95.368794
Tues - Fri: 11am-9pm
Sat: 12pm-9pm Sun: 10:30am-9pm
Mon - Tues: 11am-2pm
Wed - Fri: 11am-9pm
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Central
Part of the Cordua empire (Americas, Churrasco's, Amazon Grill), Artista offers fine Southwestern cuisine as spectacular views of Tranquility Park and the downtown skyline. Perfect for dinner and a show at the Hobby Center or just dessert and bubbles afterwards. Don't miss the Delirio de Chocolate - a decadent chocolate trifecta of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache!
Surprisingly great view – Located at the Hobby Center, Artista's entrance is kind of weird: you have to take a small elevator or a flight of stairs to get there. The bar is usually bustling if a performance is scheduled, which good and the bad. The good: dressed up denizens of theater goers make for great people watching. There is usually excitement in the air in anticipation of the show, so the atmosphere is animated. The bad: service can be slow because the waitstaff is slammed with everyone at the same time. We ordered some bar food, which was surprisingly good, and some drinks that were just so-so. But the view from the second floor was stunning with the high glass windows and the slanted architecture. This is definitely a great place to have dinner, drinks or a snack pre-theater.
Oh for the sake of convenience!! – We have had tickets to TUTS for the past 5 years. In the beginning we only ate at Artista due to the location and they typically can get you in and out rather quickly. However I have never had a meal that I could say was outstanding.
I am in sales so entertaining is part of the job as is dining out with clients. I am always looking for places of interest that carry their menu well.
I have dined at Artista for the last two performances the first due to timing and last night because nothing else was open.
In the past my wife had tried the misto soup and found it to be flavorless and the consistency dishwater. Last night she tried the Potato Leek soup and found it better. Upon my sampling I thought it flavorful but extremely gritty. My cesears salad was acceptable with a nice crisp dressing but portions of the romanine were wilted and mostly white and bitter.
Empanadas were good with the accompanying sauce.
This was the second time in the recent visits I have tried the pan seared snapper. I am no chef but can prepare this dish better at home. Portion was fine but the crust soggy. Worst of all was the huge portion of spinach that seemed to have enough garlic to last me until next Halloween. Our 32 year old son had the same dish and could not eat the fish due to the excessive garlic absorbed into the fish. The saving grace out of 5 entrees was the Shrimp Al Ajillo. Nicely grilled shrimp with yuca fries.....not a tough dish to pull off.
Wine by the glass last night was interesting. Out of the 3 Sav Blancs one the list the Cordua wine was all that was available. Out of the red wines two of the first choices were not available......
To recap, the food here is hit/miss and has always seemed that way to me. The wait staff has some gems but there are two of the waiters I will dodge due to past lack of attention.
If it were not for the location I do not think this place would last in the Houston real world.
I rarely comment on a meal but take it from a native Houstonian, dine here only when it is convenient!
Spicing up the mediocrity of typical theater food – This Cordua empire dining room aims to add its characteristic Latin spice to typical pre-theater dining. Its prime location withing the Hobby Center and expansive patio offering views of the Downtown city lights should serve as a warning that you will be paying for just that - a patio and convenience. The Latin touch, however, surprises the typical theater goer and tricks them into thinking they are getting something special while the staff is making fun of them in the back discussing how unbelievable it is that someone would pay such a price for that food, all in Spanish of course.
To offer up further novelty, the menu at Artista lists various items and lets you decide how you want your to dish prepared and what you want it to include. It does not seem to occur to anyone that no self-respecting chef would ever entertain such a concept. It is a shame that Michael Cordua has sold himself short here but after his years of hard work bringing innovative Latin cuisine to the City, I suppose he deserves to be laughing in the back with the rest of the kitchen staff.
Fabulous Pre-Theater Dinner – Went there with a friend before a show and had a fabulous girls' night out. Although the restaurant is definitely upscale, our waiter was very attentive and friendly. Everyone starts with fried plaintains with three different sauces that were delish. We had the empanadas as an appetizer and loved them. I chose the salmon for the entree, and it was cooked perfectly. We ended the night with the most delicious Tres Leches I've ever had. I will DEFINITELY be going back!
You'll need a reservation – Wonderfull after show dininng expereince. Fabulous food, great service and the interior is very interesting. Nice view of the Houston skyline. The dinner menu is a bit expensive, but that's what you'll pay for upscale dining with a highly recommended rating. The lunch menu is a better value. Go often. If you like the restaruant, then you'll need to try Churasco's next. Cordoba is doing a good job.
Note; if you prefer boot seating, make sure you reserve it. The Hostess is very protective of whom sits in thier booths. The best booths are on the main dining floor, are curved back up to the glass wall.
Disappointed Twice! – I really wanted to love Artista because I am huge fan of the other Cordua restaurants (Americas and Churrascos and Amazon Grill) BUT twice I have had bad experiences for weekday lunches. First, the menu is an unsophisticated pick and choose. As a fine diner, I want the menu to describe the dishes as the chef makes them and not just list the entrees like a burger joint. A pro: the executive lunch is a good value especially if you get the signature tres leches as the dessert choice. Other than the tres leches, the food is my second complaint. The chicken and steak dishes were dry, unflavored and poor choices of meat. The empanadas tasted like they were from the frozen food aisle. The meals I?ve sampled in the two groups I?ve dined with are not bad but not at the level you would expect for the price or expectation. Finally, the service. Like the food, it just doesn?t live up to one?s expectations for a nice lunch downtown. I had to continuously flag down staff to get refills on drinks and sauces. It was very distracting. Overall I felt like it was everyone?s first day, the chef, the wait staff, and the hostess. Very disappointing!
Awful Service – Been coming here for a long time, because traditionally it's been a great business lunch spot. The last two times have been awful though, with the last time arguably the worst service I've ever experienced. We had reservations, but had to wait close to ten minutes to get seated. Then once we were seated, we didn't have a waiter wait on us for another 15 minutes, at which point I got up and grabbed someone. After we ordered, which we did right away, we didn't see the waiter again until the check came. In the meantime, they had forgotten to bring out our salads (they never came), never refilled our drinks, and the bus boy I grabbed didn't bring the ketchup I asked for. Then it was like pulling teeth to get the waiter to bring the check. And it wasn't even a theater day!!
Food was fine, but like I said, simply awful service. Time for me to find a different business lunch spot.
Not a winning lunch combination – I had a lunch meeting with a business associate followed by a business meeting at city hall. Artista seemed like a perfect venue since it's directly across the street. I had eaten at Artista before-but it had been a year or two. The room is quite lovely and my waiter was charming and helpful. HOWEVER, the
food was absolutely dreadful. We both had the Executive Lunch which features a first course, a main course and dessert for 15.95--a very good value. I made the mistake of opting for the corn fettucine with grilled shrimp for my main course--it arrived before the first course was completed and as soon as I looked at it I knew it had been sitting in a warming oven--and we were there at 11:30 AM! The fettucine was a complete schmooy glop--looking very much like the 3 pound pasta tv spots that Pizza Hut is running right now. My companion's chicken breast was dry and tasteless. All of a sudden it came back to me why I had not been back to Artista. When there are terrific high-end choices for lunch within a short drive or a nice walk (LaGriglia, The Grove, The Strip House, Morton's), why in the world would ANYONE patronize this restaurant?
Humiliated by waiter? Please! Response to Houston727Gal – I wouldn't let the experience with the rude waiter stop me from enjoying dinners at Artista (for all you know he's probably not around anymore). I think you are over-exaggerating...I have traveled to many different places and wouldn't feel "humiliated" for not knowing the "etiquette" of the hospitality industry in that country...I would take it as a learning experience for the future and laugh it off. Period.
Free Humiliation at Artista!: Response to Houston 727Gal – HoustonGal, that is TOTALLY UNEXCUSABLE!!!!! I would leave a comment on their website so Mr. Cordua can see it. I left a positive comment for Americas long ago (when it was still in the right decade, CULINARILY SPEAKING), and I am guessing they still have that feature on the site. The nerve of that server... and for him/her to use the Manager as an excuse is terrible respresentation!
On to my experience which was a few months back. My family and I were in for lunch before Jersey Boys, and we had a very mediocre experience. The food was definitley nothing to write home about, and I have always despised places who want you to design your own meal with mix-and-match sauces, proteins, and sides. Isn't that why you hire a skilled chef?...... to create something the layman wouldn't think of?
Whoever came up with this concept is either lazy, not a real chef, or just plain ignorant to what true diners want. Can we say "revamp time"? The prices at Artista suggest ALL the food is spectacular, and don't get me wrong, the asian-inspired crawfish taquito appetizer, and the Angel Wings (fancy chicken wings in brown butter and blue cheese) are delicious-- but thats where it ends as far as I'm concerned. I would suggest drinks and appetizers in the bar only.
Service: Our waitress seemed like she was on another planet. "Glazed look" service including a lack of menu knowledge, AND... slow refills, slow clearing of plates, forgot requested sauces, cleared entrees before mom was finished, served coffee with milk instead of cream, had to flag down for the check, and she would NOT return o the table to do anything past the time we paid the bill (or should I say, "the tip"?) And incase you are wondering, we tipped 15%, and NOT the usual 20% because of it. Thank goodness we didn't get "called out"......
In summary, nice patio and beautiful decor, but if you want fine dining food and service, your money (and tip) is better spent elsewhere!
My guests were insulted by the staff/management – I used to love Artista. I am a frequent theater patron and always enjoyed having dinner at Artista before a show. That was before the Great Insult of 2008. A good friend of mine is from London and her parents were visiting Houston. I invited them to the theater as my guests. My friend's father wanted to treat us all to dinner. I recommended Artista believing that it would be a wonderful experience for them. We had a lovely dinner - food was great, had a super bottle of wine. This kindly old gentleman paid our bill, and we sat enjoying our coffee for a few minutes waiting for showtime. The waiter approached him and asked if there was a problem with our service. Mr. U.K. said that everything was fine. The waiter then said that his manager insisted that he ask becuase the tip was so low! I couldn't believe it! I found out later that my dinner host had tipped 10%. But please bear in mind, this was not out of being cheap or unsatisfied with the meal. In Europe, they don't tip at all for meals. It's just the way it is. This sweet little old man thought he had tipped generously and simply wasn't quite in tuned with the American rules of the road. But he was thoroughly humiliated by the Artista staff, and I simply can't forgive them for that! I will never return.
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