In Houston for the first time last week and used Chowhound to help figure out where to go. Generally impressed with the variety of dining options in town. First night out went to Max's Wine Dive. Overall a fun place - huge portions of food, nice wine list that was very fairly priced, great service. We went about 9, reserved table waiting, lots of action at the bar but very loud. On the menu especially loved the sliders (mini-burgers), the kobe burger, the chicken and the tomato salad. Definitely worth a visit but can easily share the dishes.
T'afia a little more mixed. Wife accosted by a homeless person while I was parking. Despite a reservation had to wait 40 minutes for our table. Waitress unpleasant, unhelpful and disorganized. That being said the food was very good, and prices reasonable. Especially recommend the stuffed dates, appetizer potatoes and the ribeye. Wine list interesting, although wine service from our waitress horrendous - first wine ordered when we sat down didn't show up till after our first course. Part of this I think is the tyranny of the automatic 20% tip for large parties (we were 8). Overall the food saved the night - hoping the front can catch up to the kitchen.
Mark's was half empty on a Sunday night and I can see why. Overpriced, obnoxious waiter who frequently disappeared (?automatic tip again), food reasonable but not worth the effort. Salads small and unremarkable, of the main courses the duck was our favorite. Wine list pricey but wide-ranging. The sommelier was very helpful and pointed us to a nice South African pinot which worked with a mix of fish and meats. Our first wine, a Numanthia, was brought promptly but their cellar must be very cold as it took 20 minutes to warm up to drinking temp.