Over the past decade or so, Pearland — the fastest-growing city in the Houston metro area — has quietly built a reputation as a respected food destination. With an extremely diverse population and an ongoing explosion of new housing and commercial developments, the formerly sedate fruit-farming town has become an expansion of Houston’s renowned culinary scene.

Pearland is less than 10 miles from the south side of the 610 Loop, making it the closest of the major suburban areas to Houston proper. This proximity to the city is reflected in the diversity of its food offerings as well. In fact, this list of 10 restaurants represents nine ethnic cuisines from over a dozen countries. Pearland has become a bonafide melting pot of worldly dining from the Far East to South America — which means residents don’t have to go far for a worthy dining experience.

Grazia Italian Kitchen, 9415 Broadway: The first Grazia Italian Kitchen opened in Pearland in 2014 and has since expanded with locations in Clear Lake and Katy. Chef-owner Adrian Hembree opened the first one after a long career in food service and distribution. The cozy Italian-meets-southern concept serves innovative dishes that pair Texan tradition with Italian comfort food. A case in point is a multi-award winning specialty, the smoked beef short rib. The succulent boneless short rib is bathed in a sweet and smokey bourbon chipotle glaze and plated over a savory pancetta risotto. Much like Grazia itself, the dish is an inventive fusion of Italian comfort with Texas barbecue and a splash of southwestern charm. Housemade pastas and wood-fired pizzas are additional points of pride, along with a fun spirits program than includes house-infused vodkas.

Grazia Italian Kitchen is open Mondays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m and Sundays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The combination of diverse ethnic options, fine dining and authentic regional cuisines like barbecue and Tex-Mex is what makes Pearland a culinary destination in its own right. More than a simple extension of Houston’s scene, Pearland has created its own — one that keeps growing and evolving, offering choices that rival those in the big city. As the Pearland continues to grow, additional new and exciting restaurants are going to inevitably follow.